Beer Review 0590: Fullsteam Cack-a-Lacky Ginger Pale Ale

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Fullsteam Brewery is located Durham, North Carolina, which makes it a local brewery for me. The craft beer world is going crazy here in North Carolina; not only have some of the big boys came to our backyard with east coast facilities (New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, and Oskar Blues), but we also have a ton of smaller, truly local breweries that are hitting home runs with their beer.

And while beer is exploding here in NC, Fullsteam are seeking to create an identity for beer created in the South: brews that celebrate the culinary and agricultural heritage of this area. Cack-a-Lacky Ginger Pale Ale is a collaboration with Cackalacky, a southern spice company, located in nearby Chapel Hill. The beer is described as a “zippy, hoppy ginger pale ale that’s enjoyable on its own and a perfect compliment to spicy food.” The beer is Fullsteam’s first ever canned offering, and the beer registers 5% ABV (alcohol by volume).

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The pour issued up an average size, frothy and lasting head. The beer was orange-amber in color, and had an exceptionally clear body, free of particles and sediment. It’s a typical pale ale; very clear, a little past golden, and with a fair amount of carbonation. Lacing is excellent, leaving behind solid sheets of foam.

You want some ginger? Well, it’s here on the nose, large and in charge. In fact, it nearly overwhelms everything else; but there are some subtle things going on: hints of lemon peel and herbal spice show the way to some light and sweet caramel malt. But otherwise, this is mostly really fresh ginger with a dusting of complementary lemon peel. Reminds me of a nice sushi plate.

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But the taste is much more than ginger; the initial notes ring out like a great Pale Ale, delivering dry and almost soapy grapefruit with a pinch of caramel. Then comes the ginger, along with lemon peel. The ginger is actually quite sweet in the middle of the mouth, but the hops tame it, crushing the tongue with bitter grapefruit and a touch of pine. In the end, the ginger wins out; the hops dry out the palate but the long, lingering finish of soft and sweet ginger remains. Cack-a-Lacky is medium-bodied, with a thin, foamy mouthfeel.

Yes, I had my doubts: you see, I’m not the biggest fan of ginger to start with, but this is a very refreshing beer and the ginger plays the part of gentle giant. There’s a lot going on in this little beer, and I think you’ll be surprised by it. I’d love to taste the base beer without the ginger, and I’m not suggesting I’d prefer it without ginger, just that it tends to vanquish some of the softer hop flavors that I’m sure are here. This brew is a killer palate cleanser, and it’s no kidding that Fullsteam suggest pairing it with spicy food. I went in with reservations, but left really digging this one. Cool stuff.

Fullsteam Cack-a-Lacky Ginger Pale Ale, 89 points. Price: $1.79 US for one 12 oz. can.

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