Recently in Crooked Stave Category

I'm not always great about aligning my drinking up to the occasion, but Halloween is one holiday where I try to make the extra effort. I embark upon a six week horror movie marathon and generally attempt to drink some seasonally appropriate beers (or, at least, rationalize completely irrelevant choices). Halloween night always begets something special. Last year, I watched a duo of Wes Craven movies and paired with beers inspired by his work.

One of those beers was Crooked Stave's Nightmare on Brett, a series of sour baltic porters (all of which clock in at the vaguely antichristian ABV of 9.666%) aged in barrels. There are tons of variants, but the one I had last year was aged in Leopold Bros. whiskey barrels with cherries. This year, we take on their newest variant, which is basically the same thing, but aged with blueberries instead of cherries. Sounds glorious, so let's grab our fedora and knife-glove-thingy and haunt the dreams of some beer:

Crooked Stave Nightmare On Brett with Blueberries

Crooked Stave Nightmare On Brett with Blueberries (Leopold Bros. Whiskey Barrel-Aged) - Pours a very dark brown, almost black color with a finger of tan head. Smells great, hints of roast and chocolate, I don't know if I get blueberries specifically, but it's definitely got a nice chocolate covered berries sort of feel, maybe a note of whiskey and oak too. The blueberries actually do come out in the taste though, their distinct flavor inflecting the sourness, which is pretty substantial (I want to say moreso than the cherry version I had last year, but who knows?) Less in the way of roast or chocolate, as the balance has flown towards the blueberries, but this is still very clearly a sour stout and you kinda get that. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, crisp, medium bodied, with a sharp but pleasant acidity. Moderate richness from the barrels, and a bit of warming booze too. Overall, this is great, but I want to say that the one I had last year was better. I guess I need to do a taste test with both at some point. Woe is me. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 9.666% ABV bottled (375 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 10/31/16. Batch: January 2016 (pretty sure it was only released in September though).

Crooked Stave does it right, as per usual. Will always be on the lookout for more of their wares. Many thanks to Kaedrin friend Danur for procuring this bottle and smuggling it back to PA for me.

Wes Craven Double Feature

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session_logo.jpgOn the first Friday of every month, there's a beer blog roundup called The Session. Someone picks a topic, and everyone blogs about it. This time around, I'm hosting a discussion on Double Features:

So your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to drink two beers, compare and contrast. No need for slavish tasting notes, but if you want to, that's fine too. The important part is to highlight how the two beers interact with one another during your session (pun intended!) For extra credit, pair your beers with two films to make your own Double Feature. Now, I'm a big tent kinda guy, so feel free to stretch this premise to its breaking point. The possibilities are endless!
Endless indeed! This is the second iteration on the theme I've posted this week.

This time, we've got a more harmonious double feature, two beers and two movies themed around Wes Craven. Since his passing, I've been catching up with some of his work I hadn't seen before and revisiting his classics. On Halloween, we had a little mini-marathon, starting off with his most famous work, A Nightmare on Elm Street. The premise alone establishes it as one of the purest distillations of horror ever committed to film. Is there anything more inescapable and terrifying than a monster that can get you in your dreams? We could debate some third act issues, but it's still a classic.

Nightmares on Brett Street

To pair with this, we've got a doozy from Colorado, Crooked Stave's Nightmare on Brett, a clear reference to Craven's masterpiece (also paired with some Eclat Chocolate, because why not?) There are a bazillion variants of this beer, but this one was aged in Leopold Bros. Whiskey barrels with cherries. Previous iterations indicate that the base for this was a soured baltic porter, and the aging intervals are usually pretty long (1 year plus). I'm also not sure if the cherries were included in the past, but this one is pretty clear. Clocking in at the cheeky ABV of 9.666% ABV, it was the perfect accompaniment and tribute to Craven and his movie:

Crooked Stave Nightmare On Brett

Crooked Stave Nightmare On Brett (Leopold Bros. Whiskey Barrel-Aged) - Pours like a stout, a murky black color with a finger of light brown head, quite nice looking. Smells fantastic, an almost chocolate covered cherry aspect that pervades the nose, but also a hint of roast and musty funk. Taste goes in with sweet and sour up front, cherries, actually let's call them rich caramelized cherries, less in the way of chocolate but those dark malts are there and come out more towards the finish, which is also quite sour and a bit funky. Lingers a bit on those sour and funky notes. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium to full bodied, with a barrel aged richness cut by moderate acidity. Pretty easy going for the ABV. Overall, this is quite spectacular. A

Beer Nerd Details: 9.666% ABV bottled (375 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 10/31/15. Bottled September 2015.

Next up, some lesser Craven, a movie called Deadly Blessing. One of the few Craven directed movies I've not actually seen, there's certainly a reason for that, but as with literally everything I've seen from Craven, he has this X-factor, a way of getting under your skin that is usually present in varying levels. It's true, this isn't a tremendous film, but it's got lots going for it, and some really effective sequences that make it worth seeking out for students of the genre. To match, we cracked open a growler of an unsoured baltic porter from Tired Hands called, appropriately, Craven (part of their Horror Auteurs theme for the season - which includes beers named after Carpenter, Argento, Hitchcock, and others!) Just one of the many reasons I love Tired Hands so much. The beer's pretty good too:

Tired Hands Craven

Tired Hands Craven - Pours a deep, dark brown color with a finger of tan head. Smells nice, sweet dark malts, hints of roasted marshmallow, baker's chocolate, maybe even coffee (maybe even coffee with sugar and creme). Taste has much more of a roasted character to it, some coffee-like flavors coming through, but also dark chocolate and just a hint of molasses, finishing back on that roasted tip. Mouthfeel is full bodied, well carbonated, and well attenuated (not dry, but not a sugar bomb either), no hints of the booze at all despite the highish ABV of 9.8%. As it warms, it feels a little more rich and chewy, but nothing ridiculous. Tired Hands isn't really known for their darker beers, and this probably won't change that, but it's certainly worthy. Overall, a rock solid baltic porter here, tasty and complex enough to stand apart from the crowd. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 9.8% ABV from a growler (1L swingtop). Drank out of a charente glass on 10/31/15. Growler filled 10/31/15.

It was quite a night. Is it really fair to compare a soured baltic porter with a non-soured baltic porter? Nope! But it was interesting nonetheless, and while it's hard to compare the two against each other, they do work well as contrasts. Anywho, we popped in Scream after Deadly Blessings, though we were still working our way through Craven. It's very much a product of its time, but if you keep that in mind (as you should), it holds up reasonably well.

Big thanks to Kaedrin beverage compatriot Jeff for smuggling the Nightmare on Brett bottle back from Colorado when he went to GABF back in September!

There may be one more Double Feature this week, or maybe not, depending on my mood (it wouldn't be beer anyway, so don't hold your breath), and of course, the roundup will be posted this weekend. I hope you're all toiling over your posts as we speak!

April Beer Club

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Beer club was yesterday! For the uninitiated, beer club is a monthly gathering of like-minded coworkers and acquaintances at a local BYOB for good food, optional libations, and general merriment. Since the last beer club was sparsely attended, we ended up back at Couch Tomato for some excellent pizza, strombolis (having had both, I would recommend the stromboli over the pizza), and some sort of weird greek plate. Better weather means better attendance, and we had a rather fantastic selection of beer to work our way through:

April Beer Club

For the sake of posterity, some thoughts on each are below. As per usual, I'm going almost purely from memory, and this was from last night, so take these notes with the appropriate shakers of salt. Or call it a sacred text and analyze it like the Zapruder film. I'm not here to tell you what to do. I am here to write indefensible notes on beer, so let's get to it:

  • Kaedrin Crom Approved - So it appears that this is doing ok, but I really feel like my challenges that lead to a clogged keg and having to transfer it to another keg really ruined this beer. Ok, perhaps ruined isn't the right term. This has a fantastic, tropical fruit hop nose. The taste definitely feels a bit oxidized, which I unfortunately makes sense and definitely detracts from what I was going for. I'm giving it a B, but the really disappointing thing is that when I first kegged it, I was thinking this was A level stuff. Oh, well, lessons learned, onwards and upwards. My next batch of this beer will be great.
  • Adroit Theory New Zealand Rye (Ghost 179) - I heard about this Virginia brewery a while back and have been curious to try their beers. A regular beer club attendee got down there last weekend and picked up a few beers to try. This one was a pretty solid rye DIPA, more malt and spicy rye than hops, but it also clocks in at a hefty 11% ABV and didn't feel like it at all. It was very nice. B+
  • Crooked Stave St. Bretta (Autumn) - Absolutely delicious beer, funky, light sourness, juicy fruit, really fantastic stuff, along the lines of the Summer (which I've had before)
  • Flying Dog Supertramp - This had a sorta berliner weiss feel to it, but not quite that tart, and while you could get some cherry character out of it, it also had a weird aftertaste. I just never got into this beer. C
  • Modern Times Blazing World - Dank, piney hops with a nice, hefty malt backbone, this is very nice. Just about in line with anything I've had from Modern Times, who seem pretty fantastic. B+
  • Intangible Ales (Pizza Boy) Acidulated Hive - One of Pizza Boy's Intangible Ales label beers (not sure why this is listed as a separate brewery), this is a great little saison. It reminds me of Saison Dupont, except with a lightly funky addition (I don't get much honey out of it, but it does perhaps remind me a bit of funky version of Dupont's Bier de Miel). Well worth seeking out B+ or A-
  • The Lost Abbey Lost & Found Abbey Ale - A pretty standard dubbel that is overwhelmed by raisiny flavors. Nothing bad here, but also nothing particularly special. B-
  • Adroit Theory Lux (Ghost 132) - This is labeled as a wheatwine, and unfortunately, it falls prey to a saccharine, sticky sweet character that would be cloying if I were trying to drink a whole bottle. As a sample in a situation like this, it was fine, but it's not really my thing. C+
  • Central Waters Bourbon Barrel La Petite Mort - A beer I've already reviewed, and it was just as good, if not better this time around. In fact, I think I'll bump it up to an A-
  • Oskar Blues Bolivia Newton John - A relatively low ABV coffee stout (6%), this is obviously not in my wheelhouse, but it seemed like a very well executed coffee stout. B
  • Weyerbacher Sunday Morning Stout - Another coffee stout, this one is an imperial stout that's also been aged in bourbon barrels. This is much more my speed, though again, I never really connected with it as much as I'd like. The coffee seems very well integrated, and the barrel aging adds a nice richness to the proceedings, even if I felt the barrel character was a little too light. Still, while not quite KBS level, it's on the same playing field, and you won't have to jump through many hoops to get ahold of this stuff. B+
  • Bonus Review: Boxcar Brewing Nitro Stout - After beer club, we walked over to Boxcar Brewing's new brewpub and had some stuff there. I grabbed this Nitro stout, a Dry Irish Stout, that might be my favorite thing I've ever had from Boxcar. Now that the brewpub is open, I'm hoping for good things from them... they're the brewery most local to me, but I've always been somewhat underwhelmed by their brews. This was really nice though. B
And there you have it. A fantastic selection this time around, and I am, of course, already looking forward to the next iteration...

Crooked Stave Origins

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This is labeled as a Burgundy Sour Ale Aged in Oak Barrels, and digging into matters, I see that batch 1 was a blend of beers aged in French Oak barrels, some for 2 years, some for 1.5 years (I assume this bottle of batch 2 had a similar provenance). Were these old Burgundy wine barrels? Or is the Burgundy just a reference to the color? Perhaps a take on the Flanders Red style? Maybe I should just drink this stuff and worry about it later? But it is later, what now?

Interesting (or lame and pedantic, take your pick) sidebar, I recently saw something that claimed the Flanders Red style was known as the "Burgundy of Beer". Given the above conundrum about why this beer is called a Burgundy Ale, I thought I should check this out. After an exhaustive 2 minute search, I found that the Burgundy of Beer could be: the beers of Bavaria, dubbels, Lambic/Geuze, and yes, Flanders Reds (with Rodenbach Grand Cru generally garnering the title). There's probably a case to be made for all of these (some better than others), but seeing as though I have no real experience with Burgundy wine, I'll just not assume what I heard on the internets is true.

Once again, I've fallen down on the job of emailing brewers and asking pedantic questions that have no real relevance other than the fact that I really enjoy these beers and don't want to rely on internet hearsay. But the show must go on, and here we've got another solid brew from our friends in Denver:

Crooked Stave Origins

Crooked Stave Origins - Pours a deep, dark amber color, almost brown (dare I say: burgundy), with a finger of off white head. The nose is beautiful, lots of oak, vinegary sour twang, vinous fruits, cherries, and the like. The taste follows the nose. Lots of vinous fruits, tart berries, and cherries, some light oak and vanilla, and a nice, tart sourness that is bracing but doesn't overpower. Mouthfeel is surprisingly light on its feet, not as big as expected but there's enough substance to hold the sourness in check, well carbonated, a little acidity playing at the edges of my mouth. Overall, this is a very good, maybe even great sour. Teetering on the border with B+, but I'm feeling generous so we'll go A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (375 ml waxed cap). Drank out of a flute glass on 5/24/14. Vintage: 2013/Batch 2.

Not quite a world beater, but it's close, and some of the variants sound absolutely wonderful (Cherry Origins anyone?) Jay has recently sworn off sours and the likes of Cantillon and Crooked Stave, which is liable to get him branded a monster in some circles, but me, I'm just happy there'll be more of this stuff to go around.

April Beer Clubbing

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Tonight was beer club! For the uninitiated, beer club is a gathering of beer-minded individuals from my workplace who get together once a month for beer and revelry at a local BYOB. This time around, we went to a local Pizza place, got our fill of deep fried pizza pockets and other such delights, and naturally partook in lots of beer:

April Beer Club Selections
(Click for larger version)

For the sake of posterity, completely unreliable notes on each beer are below. Standard disclaimers apply, and other such waffling. Great, now I have a sudden craving for waffles. Thanks a lot. Anywho, in order of drinking (not necessarily the order pictured above):

  • Green Flash Le Freak - Labeled a Belgian IPA, I didn't get much in the way of hops out of this, but it remained a pretty solid Belgian Strong Pale nonetheless. Nice spicy Belgian yeast character. B
  • Ovila Abbey Saison - Bog standard saison material, nothing special at all, though certainly not bad or anything like that. Still, there wasn't much to make it really stand out in a setting like this. Mild Belgian yeast character, maybe a hint of lemon peel if you are really looking for it. B-
  • Stone Stochasticity Project Grapefruit Slam IPA - Rock solid IPA that feels like it's actually made with grapefruit (as opposed to only hops that lend a grapefruity character). I don't actually know if that's the case for sure, but that's what it feels like. Beautiful nose, what seems like Stone's trademark hop profile, and a heaping helping of citrusy but astringent grapefruit. An interesting beer. B
  • Evil Twin / Crooked Stave Ryan And The Gosling - One of my contributions for the night, this is dominated by funky Brett. This is quite welcome in the nose, and the front end of the taste is fantastic, but the finish is very odd. That funk turns super earthy, almost savory in the finish, which brings this down a bit. Still an interesting beer to try though. B
  • Allagash Midnight Brett - Hey, look at that, a beer I just reviewed yesterday. And it held up rather well in this setting as well.
  • Ken's Homebrewed Honey IPA - Brewed with a bunch of New Zealand hops, this was quite nice.
  • Sly Fox Nihilist - An interesting take on the imperial stout style, huge carbonation, dryer than I'd normally expect, but a nice roast character, with hints of booze (but not overpowering). It's definitely a decent brew. B+
  • Kaedrin Bomb & Grapnel - Straight up imperial stout, this one compared very favorably to the Nihilist, definitely thicker and more creamy, less roast, but really quite nice. B+
  • Kaedrin Bomb & Grapnel (Bourbon Oaked) - Interestingly, I feel like the char that came through on early bottles has mellowed out, and the bourbon seems to be lessening the roast as well, making this an interesting blend of flavors. It's turned out quite well, though not at all like your typical bourbon barrel aged stout. Still, not bad for a first attempt, and quite nice on its own. B+
  • DuClaw Dirty Little Freak - Holy hell. Huge chocolate nose, like powdered cocoa. Less chocolate in the taste, as it takes a back seat to a big coconut character. Surprisingly not super sweet, and it works well enough I guess (certainly a unique beer), though I was a little disappointed. B-
  • DuClaw Cocoa Fuego - Brewed with dark chocolate and chipotle peppers, its the latter that seems to dominate this beer, even contributing a sorta smokey flavor that's pretty tough to overcome. There's some peppery heat that takes up residence in your jaw, but it's not punishing or anything like that. Not the worst hot pepper beer I've had, but not a beer that I connected with either. C+
  • DuClaw Hell on Wood - Ah, now this is more like it. This is DuClaw's excellent Devil's Milk barleywine aged on bourbon barrels, and it turned out reasonably well. Clearly not a top tier BBA barleywine, but it works really well on its own. B+
So all in all, quite a nice night. As per usual, already looking forward to next month... In the meantime, stay tuned for another .rar wale review tomorrow.

Crooked Stave L'Brett d'Or

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We've already established that Chad Yakobson is a mad scientist who makes all of his beer using various strains of Brettanomyces. He's a fan of wild yeast, and apparently also a fan of Luis Buñuel's surrealist films from the 1930s:

The idea spur for the name of this beer came from a 1930′s Surrealist film L'Age d'Or by Luis Buñuel and written by himself and Salvador Dali. In the opening scenes footage of scorpions are shown from a short science film. During this are captions in French talking about 5 prismatic articulations which finally culminate in a stinger.. For this reason we chose to use 5 prismatic strains of Brettanomyces for our surreal golden sour and name the beer L'Brett d'Or "The Golden Brett".

The movie is on YouTube, if you dare. Lord knows I've not seen enough Buñuel, and there's no time like the present.

So primary fermentation with 5 strains of Brett (picked to emphasize "citrusy type characteristics"), then a dose of Lactobacillus (a bacteria that produces sour flavors in beer) and a lengthy nap in old Napa Chardonnay barrels. Sign me up:

Crooked Stave LBrett dOr

Crooked Stave L'Brett d'Or - Pours a yellow color with half a finger of fluffy white head that nonetheless sticks around a while. Smell is pure funk, earthy, fruity Brett, and a light but well matched oak note. Taste follows suit, lots of funky Brett, some earthiness and oak up front, followed by a strong tart fruit sourness. The oak is a really nice presence throughout the taste and helps keep that sourness in check. Mouthfeel is a bit light on the carbonation, but it still works very well. It's bright and refreshing, with a pleasant acidity. Overall, this is yet another fantastic effort from Crooked Stave. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV bottled (375 ml waxed cap). Drank out of a tulip glass on 2/28/14. Vintage 2013/Batch 2.

It's pretty amazing that a brewery can sustain itself by brewing only wild beers, and I'm definitely going to be on the lookout for more from them. In fact, I have another of their beers just sitting on the shelf, ready for drinking. We'll get to it soon enough.

Crooked Stave Surette

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I bet you thought I was joking when I said that every day is saison day here at Kaedrin. No? Well, whatever, here's another oak aged, Brett fermented 5 grain badass from Crooked Stave.

Crooked Stave Surette

Crooked Stave Surette - Pours a deep golden orange color with a finger of fluffy white head that doesn't quit. Smells of pure funk, earthy and musty with a hint of lemon twang on the end. Taste follows the nose, musty earth up front, a really nice oak character emerging in the middle and lasting through the finish, which also features a tart lemon kick. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, crisp and refreshing, with some lactic acidity hitting in the finish. Overall, it's a really solid Brett focused farmhouse ale. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.2% ABV bottled (375 ml capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 11/9/13. Vintage: 2013. Batch 5.

I'm going to need to find a regular hookup for these guys, maybe even get ahold of some of their more adventurous stuff. In the meantime, I'll just have to deal with these other 10 world class saisons I've got in my cellar. Woe is me.

Crooked Stave St. Bretta Summer

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Yet another brewery that has established itself in just the past couple years, and yet has quickly achieved rockstar status amongst beer nerds. Crooked Stave operates out of Colorado, where mad scientist Chad Yakobson created his brewery as an extension of his academic work studying various strains of Brettanomyces. As such, all of the beers Crooked Stave produces are Brett fermented, which is a pretty unique approach to brewing these days.

This particular beer was evolved from Wild Wild Brett Orange, one of a series of Brettanomyces fermented beers brewed to match the seven colors of the rainbow. Each batch of this beer uses the same wit beer base, but differs depending on the fresh citrus available that season. This was the summer variant of St. Bretta, so it was made with fresh Blood Orange. Many thanks to Jay from the most excellent Beer Samizdat blog for slinging this beer my way:

Crooked Stave St. Bretta Summer

Crooked Stave St. Bretta Summer - Pours a cloudy straw yellow color with a finger or two of white head with decent retention and minor lacing. Smell is filled with funk, a little earthy, maybe even a little juicy (this is my kinda funk), with more typical wit beer spicing (citrus peel, coriander, etc...) also apparent. Taste is also driven mostly by that earthy, juicy funk, edging towards sourness but never quite reaching puckering levels. Some spice comes to the party too, and it all blends together well. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, with that almost-sour bite snapping in around the middle, finishing relatively dry. Overall, this is superb. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5.5% ABV bottled (375 ml capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/20/13. 2013 Vintage, Batch 3.

A fantastic first taste from Crooked Stave. Jay sent me another of their beers, which is burning a hole in my cellar, and I'm most definitely going to have to find a way to get ahold of more of this stuff in the future.

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