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Behind The Scenes At Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project

Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project.  Wow!  You haven’t even been open a week and I’m already wondering how I’ve survived so long without you.

In honor of Sour Beer Day, I’m bringing you a full report on the newly opened Crooked Stave Tap Room and Barrel Cellar.  You ready?!?!

I made the trip over on Wednesday to partake in the highly anticipated Grand Opening of the Taproom and Barrel Cellar.  More HERE.  They opened the doors at 2 PM and within ten minutes, the room was already full.  I’m not complaining and I’m glad they’re off to a great start, but they definitely had their hands full.  I decided to take the fam back on Thursday because there were just too many tasty beers left to try and I wanted to see if things had quieted down a bit.

The beers are amazing.  They’ve currently got 5 barrel-aged beers on tap that include a variety of unique ingredients, from Colorado Blue Spruce Tips to Vignole Grapes to Blueberries.  There’s also a non-alcoholic, barrel-aged Kombucha drink, made with jasmine, green and sumac teas, mangosteen and blueberries that tastes like a cross between fruit juice and iced tea.  It’s tasty and refreshing.

Things were definitely a bit more relaxed on Thursday and owner / brewer Chad Yakobson was kind enough to spend over an hour giving me what was probably the most thorough and interesting brewery tour I’ve ever had in my life.  He shared the entire process and discussed his plans for the newly opened Barrel Cellar and Taproom, as well as The Source, which is set to open in 2013.

Come on in!

At the taproom, three additional foeders are getting delivered this week, 375mL bottles will soon be hitting the market, bright tanks and more barrels are on the way and a lab for culturing yeast is in the works.  For now, brewing will continue at Prost and River North.

A tour of the Barrel Cellar included a bit of barrel history.  Each barrel really has its own unique story, characteristics and personality.  Some were from New Belgium, others from various wineries and distilleries.  One famous barrel is even from Vinnie’s herd at Russian River.  Beer geek’s take note and meet pH2.  Beatification anyone?

Chad even pulled the nail out from a few barrels to check the progress on some of his beers.  He’s got a Sour Quad in the works which is tasting awesome.  I believe his exact words were “bourbon marshmallows”.

He’s also got several different Saisons, a Sour Porter, a Dark Sour and fingers crossed, another batch similar to Persica.  Persica’s a Sour Peach beer that was only available to members of his Cellar Reserve club.  I tried it at the Avery Sour Fest earlier this year and is by far, my favorite beer of 2012. Amazing beer!

As for the upcoming brewery over at The Source, a 20 BBL brew system will be installed and a coolship is in the works.  Yep, a freakin’ coolship!  It just keeps getting better and better!  Just in case you don’t know what a coolship is, it’s a flat, shallow, open vessel, designed to allow the wort to cool, while permitting exposure to wild, airborne yeasts.  All those wild critters in the air create sour, funky traits that are highly desirable in this style of brewing.  Many lambic brewers in Belgium use coolships, but only a handful have them in the U.S.  Glorious!

Here’s a view of the coolship at Cantillon in Brussels, Belgium.  Note the windows to allow the wild yeasts to enter and infect the beer.

Chad’s a master at his craft and Denver is lucky to have him.  If you haven’t been to his place yet, you owe it to yourself to pay him a visit.  I can’t say enough good things about his beers and his hospitality is second to none.  My mind is blown from everything I learned this week.  Thanks Chad and once again, Welcome to the neighborhood!

Cheers!

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Brewery Spotlight: Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project

Crooked Stave is here!  After months and months of waiting, dreaming and drooling about owner Chad Yakobson’s funky, sour brews, I’m happy to report that the beer is flowing at his new Taproom and Barrel Cellar in Denver.

Since opening in 2011, Crooked Stave has been operating out of Funkwerks in Fort Collins.  This past June, Chad packed up his barrels and made the trek down to Denver to open his own facility.

Today’s Taproom and Barrel Cellar opening is part of a bigger plan to also open a brewery and taproom in a market called The Source, scheduled to open in Denver next Spring.  In addition to the brewery, The Source will bring together a chocolatier, winemaker, coffee roaster and more, all under one roof.  For now, Chad is brewing his beers at Prost Brewing and River North Brewery and transferring them over to barrels in his Barrel Cellar.

For today’s opening, they’re pouring:

Wild Wild Brett Blue (WWBB) – Dark hoppy ale brewed with Colorado blue spruce tips and fermented with Brettanomyces.

Wild Wild Brett Indigo (WWBI) – Brewed and barrel aged with blueberries and fermented with Brettanomyces.

Vignole – Belgian golden ale with Vignole grapes.

Petite Sour – A true farmhouse beer, brewed with lacto and Brett.

L’Brett d’Or – Aged in Leopold Bros Peach Whiskey barrels that were previously used to make New Belgium’s Love.

Unfortunately, I was short on time and only had the chance to enjoy one glass.  Decisions, decisions…  I went with The L’Brett d’Or, which was amazing!  Medium tartness, fruity, crisp and complex.

During my visit, I talked beer with Jonathan Shikes aka Big Shikes, the Beer Man from the Denver Westword. He shared his WWBI with me, which was tart, earthy and lightly fruity.  Also a winner.

The bar has roughly 10 seats for fans to get their funk on, plus several tables and a small patio out front.  The Barrel Cellar is behind the bar in the warehouse area of the building.

There’s no growler fills, but several bottles are available to go (WWBI, Surette Reserva and Batch 1) along with glassware and shirts.

I feel like Crooked Stave completes the Denver Beer Scene.  The Coasts have their Russian River, Cascade, Allagash, Bruery, Lost Abbey and so on.  The middle of the U.S. has their Upland, Destihl and Jolly Pumpkin.  And now we’ve got our Crooked Stave.  So raise your glasses with me fellow Colorado Beer Geeks, as we toast to Chad and Crooked Stave.  Congrats and Welcome to Denver!  I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project is open Wed – Sat from noon – 7 PM and is located at: 1441 W 46th Ave, Unit 19, Denver, CO 80211.

Cheers!