Firkin steampunk alba! Sounds like something you’d blurt out after stubbing your toe, right?
Actually it’s a list of things that I found most unique about Beard Engine Brewing Co. I put it together in that particular way because every time I read it aloud, it makes me laugh.
Behind the silly-sounding words are the unique characteristics that make this brewery and taproom worth visiting.
Located 20 minutes north of Joplin in the sleepy town of Alba (population 555), Beard Engine Brewing Co. is a destination brewery. It’s a great place to spend a Sunday afternoon sitting in the beer garden, playing games and catching up with friends. It’s my go-to place to escape to on sunny days when I want experience a change of scenery.
But it’s worth making the trip to Alba at other times, as well, like on Firkin Fridays (there’s that fun word that I love saying). What’s a firkin, you ask? I asked the same thing when I went to Beard Engine one recent Friday evening. Nate Artinger, who owns the brewery along with his wife Tiffany, took the time to explain it to me.
A firkin is a smaller barrel, the size of one-quarter of a regular barrel, to be exact. Ingredients are placed into the barrel while the yeast is still alive, resulting in a beer that has gentle carbonation from the natural fermentation process. Using a firkin allows for experimentation with flavors. Recent releases at Beard Engine include German Chocolate Cake Oatmeal Stout, Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds, and Birthday Cake Beer.
The only downside to firkin beer is that is doesn’t last long once the barrel has been tapped, so try to make it to Beard Engine on a Friday night at least once so that you can taste one of these unique brews.
The other beers on tap are mostly European styles, with a few American styles.
The best way to figure out which one suits your palate is by ordering a flight. On a recent visit to Beard Engine with my friend Carrie, we each ordered a flight, and then compared the slips of paper with our choices listed.
We each had picked the same things, but in reverse order. We had the Duke (a double IPA), the EyUp (a pale ale), and the Clash (a vanilla cream ale – and my current favorite). The smooth, subtle vanilla taste in the Clash tickled my taste buds, and was the perfect for sipping on a sunny afternoon.
The last drink in our flight was not a beer; it was a seltzer – a pomegranate-flavored one. This is a great option for people who don’t like beer, or can’t drink it because of dietary restrictions. Low-carb and gluten-free, Beard Engine’s Helter Seltzer flavor changes periodically.
As I’ve mentioned before, the patio is the place to be on sunny afternoons. Not only can you bring your friends, but you can bring your pets, as well. Beard Engine provides a dog waste station for easy clean-up after Spot uses the outdoor facilities.
There are outside games to challenge your friends to, as well, like the cornhole toss.
Returning to Beard Engine’s taproom from the patio is always a treat because we get a glimpse of the brewing process as we pass the barrels. The chemistry involved in brewing beer boggles my mind.
The taproom itself is a steampunk paradise.
Pieces of Victorian era technology are reimagined here in works of art, creating a one-of-a-kind, science fiction-y atmosphere.
Behind the vintage brass bar is the beer menu and the tap, and the friendly faces of owners Tiffany and Nate.
When I asked Tiffany why the brewery was named Beard Engine, she told me that it was because her bearded husband, Nate, is the engine that keeps the place running.
In addition to brewing delicious beer, Nate and Tiffany keep things lively by providing a variety of board games for patrons to play, and featuring fun events, like live music nights, and Sunday Funday Trivia.
And while Beard Engine does not have a kitchen, a local restaurant, La Familia, delivers to the taproom, and food trucks take turns parking outside of the patio, offering a variety of dining options.
So, the next time that you’re looking for something fun and different to do, just remember this: firkin steampunk alba!
Beard Engine Brewing Co. is located at 208 Main Street in Alba, MO. Follow Beard Engine on Facebook and Instagram.
Christine is a Chicago native and has lived in Joplin for almost two decades. Growing up in the Windy City, she loved to explore the wide variety of museums, restaurants, sports venues, theaters and parks. When she moved to Joplin her goal was to learn about the unique culture and attractions in the area. Now Christine discovers new things each week, whether it be a little-known park, a new restaurant or a community event. Joplin can be just as exciting as a major city if you dive in to all the community has to offer.