Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project opened in Denver, Colorado in 2011, with a focus on sour and barrel aged beers. Founder and Owner Chad Yakobson did his Masters dissertation on the Brettanomyces yeast species, and this expertise has allowed him to really push the boundaries on mixed yeast culture and Brettanomyces-fermented ales. We dropped into the Crooked Stave Taproom, located in the artisan food market space known as The Source, just north of downtown Denver. The Taproom is situated in the far back of the open-courtyard styled brick building – an old 19th century foundry – and is graced with beautiful high ceilings, and large windows high up on the walls. The room was bathed in sunlight on the bright sunny day we visited.
There are several types of Brettanomyces yeast, each of ilich can produce specific flavor profiles. The beers we sampled from Crooked Stave showed off the wide variety of tastes that can be produced in a Brett-fermented beer, and we were impressed with all the offerings we tasted. Left to right below are the Hop Savant (American Brettanomyces IPA dry hopped with Amarillo – 7% ABV), Serenata Notturna (Mixed fermentation Belgian Style Golden Ale – 12% ABV), and the Nightmare On Brett Raspberry (Dark Sour Ale aged in Leopold Bros whiskey barrels with raspberries – 9.666% ABV).
The IPA was bottled about 9 months prior to our tasting. While a traditionally fermented and dry hopped IPA would lose a lot of its hop character after such a long time, the Amarillo hops were actually accentuated by the Brett species, and produced some wonderful citrus and grassy flavors and aromas. The Nightmare On Brett was just outstanding, a highly complex and deeply luscious beast of an ale, which danced on the tongue while you tried to feel out what flavors were coming from which part of the brew.
With only six beers on tap during our visit, we needed to find a few bottles to bring home. Luckily, they had a great selection of their line-up available to purchase to go. Our favorite of the takeaway bottles so far has been the Vieille Reserva Prunus Armeniaca (Golden Sour Ale Aged in Oak Barrels with Apricots – 5% ABV). This spell-check-confounding-named ale has been aged in oak with two tons of fresh Apricots from Palisade, CO. It’s surprisingly apricot-forward, and the barrel flavors dance well with the tart and sour notes. Just a lovely farmhouse style ale, one of the best we’ve discovered.
Taproom at The Source
Denver, Colorado, 80216