A Trio of Brews from Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project (Colorado)
Where in the hell have I been? Has it truly been two weeks since my last post here on The Beerd? How am I supposed to drink beer from all 50 states at this rate?
I’ve got no real excuse, to be honest. I’ve been working, but no more than usual. I’ve still been drinking plenty of great beer, so there’s no lack of material. Which means that it all boils down to one thing: laziness.
To make it up to all 17 people reading this, I’m going to review not one, not two, but three beautiful beers from Crooked Stave out of Denver, Colorado.
This is one of those breweries who has been on my radar for a while, although I didn’t know a whole lot about them. I think my first fascination with them began when I noticed that they didn’t label themselves a “brewery” but an “Artisan Beer Project.” That title lends itself to something pretty special (or pretty pretentious, depending on your outlook).
I managed to get my hands on three bottles of Crooked Stave brews through a trade. One night, while trying to find something to drink, I randomly grabbed a bottle out of a box, not knowing what I was grabbing (the bottle caps on these are plain black).
The beer that fate dealt me was Crooked Stave’s Vielle Artisinal Saison.
And it was glorious.
This beer was truly one of the most perfect examples of a saison that I’ve ever tasted. A bit of funk, a bit of tart, some wonderful citrus notes. It was oaky due to it being barrel-aged in old casks, with just a touch of hop. I can’t think of another saison that has blown me away the way that this one did. It was going to be hard for Crooked Stave to top this one.
A few days later, I decided to see what else Crooked Stave had in store, so I tried their Surette Provision Saison.
When I say that this one didn’t quite live up to the previous Saison that I’d tried, it comes out as an insult against this beer. But the truth is that this is still one of the better examples of the styles that I’ve ever had. If you take a look at their ratings on RateBeer, you’ll see Vieille sitting at a 98 while this one is just below it at a 97. They truly are that good, and they truly are that close in quality, with the Vieille just barely taking the edge.
I can’t quite put my finger on what it does that puts it on top for me though. Many of the notes are similar: barnyard funk, oak, citrus. I suppose it’s only the dry-hop process that puts the Vieille slightly on top over the Surette. If you were only able to get your hands on one of these beers, I’d recommend the Vieille, but if you come across a Surette, don’t you dare pass it by. It is truly delightful. It’s crisp and refreshing and tart and wonderfully dry. I wish I had more of these to get me through the next few weeks of this hot South Carolina summer, but alas, I only had one bottle so I’ll have to move on to something else, and forever wish that Crooked Stave would start distributing to my state.
On the same night that I tried the Surette, I opened a second bottle of Crooked Stave, their Hop Savant. This was the one that I was most leery about. Of course, at this point, I was fully trusting Crooked Stave’s ability to craft a great beer, but this one was listed as a Pale Ale, not my favorite style of beer. In the short life of this blog, I’ve well-documented my dislike of the overuse of hops.
And although this beer definitely had the hoppy characteristics of a pale ale, it was unlike any pale ale that I’d ever tasted. It is, after all, a pale ale brewed with 100% Brettanomyces. And while I’m no hop head, I am quite the Brett head (is that a thing?).
It’s got some nice floralness from the hops, but mixed with the funk from the Brett, the beer becomes incredibly well-balanced. This was my least favorite of the three beers, but again, an incredible beer from Crooked Stave.
This is a brewery who is doing things that no one else seems to be doing. They’ve got a specific focus — barrel-aged farmhouse ales — and they’ve mastered the art of the style. I’m looking forward to hunting down more of their brews.
The Shakoolie: Your Shower Beer Companion
When I saw Brian from Untamed Beer’s video review of the Shakoolie — essentially a koozie with velcro on it that you can put up in your shower — I thought it was a joke product.
Nope! Turns out it’s real and you can buy one for yourself at Shakoolie.com for $9.99. What are you waiting for?
Crucial Booze Hacks for the Accomplished Drinker
Picking the Perfect Craft Beer with CNN’s Nathan Berrong
Wait, what? Alcoholic root beer aged in bourbon barrels? and it’s only $5 for a four-pack? Can someone in Wisconsin get one of these to me so I don’t die having lived an unfulfilled life?
"Normal People" = Your boring friends who wanna drink a Bud Light Lime-A-Rita.
Zymurgy Magazine Announces the 2013 Best Commercial Craft Beers In America
So sure, you can browse the Top 50 at RateBeer.com or the Top 250 at BeerAdvocate, but good luck getting a lot of those top rated beers are your local craft store.
That’s where Zymurgy magazine comes in. Zymurgy, a magazine that’s run by the American Homebrewers Association, has for the last eleven years, surveyed their readers on their favorite American craft beers. The catch here is that their selections are, for the most part, ones that are pretty readily available. While their number one beer isn’t available nation-wide (few of the beers are), if you’re in California, it’s pretty easy to grab off of any shelf.
So, without further ado, here are the beers they’ve selected as the top:
1. Russian River Pliny the Elder
2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
3. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
4. Bell’s Hopslam Ale
5. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
6. Founders Breakfast Stout
7. Arrogant Bastard Ale
8. Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA
T9. Lagunitas Sucks
T9. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
T9. Stone Brewing Co. Ruination IPA
What do you guys think of the top beers? A lot of hop representation here, right?