Just got back yesterday from Colorado, and before I get to my post about my epic trip to Crooked Stave, first you all MUST see this picture of my son Nolan with his very first cousin, Quintin. Congrats to my sister and brother in-law on this amazing little baby. What a great visit!!
On to the beer. Our trip to Colorado was obviously a family driven vacation. This doesn't mean I would completely shut out beer. Within a few hours of arriving in Denver I had Pliny the Elder in my glass at Falling Rock Tap House. For what it's worth, Falling Rock has a great tap selection, but when we were there the bartenders had zero clue what was going on which I found strange.
Anyway, I knew that during this trip I wouldn't have a lot of time for a brewery visit, and so I picked only one to visit. In Denver I chose Crooked Stave. I met my friend and trading partner, John, for a few early afternoon beers on Thursday. Turned out to be a phenomenal visit. The bartender, Ben, is actually from Illinois, and so we spent a lot of time talking about Midwest beers and such. If you don't know about Crooked Stave, read up about them here. Initially I didn't know if I was in the right place. The brewery is in the middle of an industrial park in what looked like an oversized storage unit complex. Seriously. Here is the picture of the entrance.
While small, which might be an over-statement, Crooked Stave is putting out massively awesome beers. Only a few were on tap during my visit, but the Vieille with Motueka hops and Summer St. Bretta stood out as favorites, along with Nightmare on Brett and Razzy Vieille. I've had a problem in the last year with getting on board with Saisons and Brett beers. Crooked Stave is the brewery that showed me I could enjoy these styles. In talking with Ben I also learned that a large amount of their visitors are from the Midwest or outside of the Denver area. He said that they don't advertise and that a large amount of locals have never heard of them. Which I can attest to because my brothers in-law live about 3 miles from the brewery and they had no clue what I was talking about.
Ben graciously allowed us to take a stroll through the back, where we saw barrels and foudres and barrels and foudres and Cantillon bottles and fermentation tanks. It's amazing how many barrels they can store in such a small space. Here are some pictures of the barrels and such things:
One of the things I found humorous was the picture below. Ben spoke about how they are pretty much renting this space and one of the signs is explicitly about storage. Clearly they are breaking rules, which is partly why they are moving soon.
I managed to get 2.5 pours of beer from the tap room, in addition to 2 samples of the Razzy Vieille and Nightmare on Brett. The Nightmare on Brett was my favorite of the day along with the Summer St. Bretta. The Saisons were quite lovely. Bright, smooth, loaded with citrus and just enough funk to make you quiver with joy. Can't wait for a return trip. These guys are gonna blow up the beer scene in a matter of years.
I was able to get some proper glassware and several bottles to bring home with me. Thanks to the staff at Crooked Stave and to my friend, John, for such an incredibly awesome trip!!