We are very excited to announce that we will hold a bottle release for Wild Wild Brett Violet on May 19th!!! In order to celebrate the completion of the Wild Wild Brett Series and bottle release for Wild Wild Brett Violet, we will be hosting a ROY-G-BIV Day (or Rainbow Day as it has been informally mentioned)!
The bottle release of Wild Wild Brett Violet will START at 12:00pm and last until the bottles are sold out. Also, there will be a 6 BOTTLE LIMIT for Violet. Beginning at 1:00pm we will tap limited offerings of ALL the Wild Wild Brett Series. Below is a list of details:
What? ROY-G-BIV Day (Rainbow Day)
When? Sunday, May 19th @ 12:00pm
Where? Crooked Stave Barrel Cellar (1441 W. 46th Ave #19, Denver, CO)
1:00pm Wild Wild Brett Rouge
1:30pm Wild Wild Brett Orange
2:00pm Wild Wild Brett Yellow
2:30pm Wild Wild Brett Green
3:00pm Wild Wild Brett Blue
3:30pm Wild Wild Brett Indigo
*Wild Wild Brett Violet, as well as St. Bretta and Hop Savant will be on tap ALL DAY!
If your excitement allows you to continue reading we will now give a concise introduction to Wild Wild Brett Violet. Like all of the Wild Wild Brett Series, Violet is a 100% Brettanomyces beer. Violet was brewed with pomegranate and lavender and fermented on whole fruit passion fruit. After fermentation Violet was then dry-hopped with an experimental hop (Ex. 366) that we received from our growers. Last week we laboriously hand-bottled Wild Wild Brett Violet into 750ml bottles in order to stay true to the Wild Wild Brett Series. As some of you know, we have switched over to 375ml bottles, so this will be our last 750ml bottle in the foreseeable future.
At the moment, Violet is bottle-conditioning and preparing itself for the release on May 19th! Not only is this a meaningful occasion for Crooked Stave, but also for everyone who continues to support the wild and sour beers we are so passionate about! We can’t wait to spend ROY-G-BIV Day with all of you!
St. Bretta is our 100% Brettanomyces Whitebier that was just released this week! Not only is St. Bretta an evolution of Wild Wild Brett Orange, but also it will be ever-changing depending on the fresh citrus available that season. For our spring release we decided to brew St. Bretta with fresh Minneola Tangelo. Each seasonal release of St. Bretta will have a diverse range of citrus fruit added to keep the beer fresh and exciting (the summer release was brewed with blood oranges)!
In February we brewed up three batches of St. Bretta on River North Brewery’s 15bbl system. We then loaded up the fresh wort from River North Brewery, and trucked it back to the Barrel Cellar before filling up one of our new upright foeders. Once the foeder was full, we pitched our Brettanomyces yeast strain with a steady fermentation lasting almost two weeks. St. Bretta spent a total of six weeks in the foeder before packaging into bottles and kegs.
Everyone at Crooked Stave loves the phenomenal label that our Graphic Designer, Travis, put together for St. Bretta. Above you can see a picture of the St. Bretta label for our spring release. We work our hardest to put personal inspirations and experiences into everything that we do at Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project and we feel that this beer exemplifies just that. St. Bretta will hit our distribution chain in the state of Colorado so we hope that each of you gets the chance to try this wonderful beer!
In celebration of Colorado Craft Beer Week, Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project will be releasing our first batch of Origins bottles on March 22nd in the Barrel Cellar taproom. Origins is our hommage to the history of barrel-aging and those who have influenced us along the way. This Burgundy Sour Ale is made up of two blends, the first sitting in French Oak barrels for two years, and the second for one and a half years. For our release, we will begin selling bottles at 5:00pm and there will be a THREE BOTTLE LIMIT per person. We look forward to seeing everyone doing Colorado Craft Beer Week!
What an exciting start to 2013! In January we received four more oak foeders that are each roughly 60 hectoliters, bringing our total number of foeders to eight! We realize that many people are unfamiliar with the term “foeder”, so we wanted to provide a simple background on these beauties for you to better understand a critical element in Crooked Stave’s fermentation and blending process.
For hundreds of years coopers have crafted foeders for wineries and breweries. Since wineries limit their usage of these large oak fermentation vessels, breweries will scoop them up to use for wild beers. Since the 17th century foeders have been an important part of the Belgian beer culture and have helped evolve the iconic Flanders, Saison, and Lambic styles that are so prevalent in society today. The benefits of aging beer in large foeders compared to wine barrels are numerous. Brewers love the larger oak vessels because they breathe life into the wild yeast and mixed bacterial cultures present, but have a much lower level of oxygen ingression due to a decrease in overall surface area. Additionally, foeders make it easier to blend young and older beers together because of their larger capacity compared to individual barrels. The process of blending into foeders adds a level of complexity, sometimes gained from the smaller wine barrels, as well as palatable nuances that cannot be achieved by fermenting beer on its own in a stainless steel fermenter.
Furthermore, we have received a lot of inquiries as to what we are going to be doing with these four foeders. The first foeder will be designated to a beer called St. Bretta, a continuation of our Wild Wild Brett Orange, and it will have different citrus fruits added depending on the season and availability. Our second foeder will house a beer by the name of HopSavant, a continuation of our Wild Wild Brett Green, and we will use different hops in each batch depending on what we think would compliment the beer best…starting to see a pattern??? The last two foeders will be used for the base blend of Vieille Artisanal Saison and Surette Provision Saison. Ultimately, with the addition of these four foeders we are able to increase our production significantly and get a Crooked Stave beer in your glass (or cellar) more often!
To stay up to date with Crooked Stave’s progress and updates please subscribe to the Crooked Stave Artisan Beer List in the upper right corner. And for those of you who live in Denver or will be passing through, we hope to see you in the Barrel Cellar taproom!
UPDATE: Memberships are all sold out for 2013
It’s that time of the year again! We have officially started selling our Cellar Reserve membership for the 2013 year. Like last year, the membership will include 10 different Barrel-aged Sour beers (each bottle release includes (2) 375 ml bottles per release, with additional purchases available if the yield permits) a few pieces of exclusive Crooked Stave members gear/items including stemmed glassware, first opportunity at all additional beers coming out of our Barrel Cellar and a member discount when visiting our taproom. The membership runs from Jan 1st through Dec 31st, 2013. Now in our second year we are again very excited about the beers we have aging in oak and some of the small offerings we’ll be making available. We are again keeping the membership small to a total of 400 members so we can keep the offerings unique. Many of last years members have already re-signed up and all Cellar Reserve members have first right of refusal for following years memberships, securing their place in the Cellar Reserve. For more information visit our Cellar Reserve Membership page.
No Holding back! Planning on visiting any Colorado breweries during GABF week? I would make sure you get out to come visit us in our taproom at the Barrel Cellar. Starting Monday We’ll be extending our hours for the week and tapping a new barrel-aged sour beer each day at 12 noon. We’ll be open starting at 10am each day and staying open till the beer is gone or no one is left..
The following is the tapping schedule for the week of October 8th thru October 13th. Opening hours: 10am to ~9pm..
Cuvaison – Rustic 5 Grain Saison blended with various sour barrels.
W.W.B.I – 100% Brettanomyces fermented with Blueberries aged in oak.
Surette Reserva blended with Grape Kombucha – Rustic 5 Grain Saison with Grape Kombucha.
Sentience Bourbon Barrel aged Wild Quadruple
Batch #1 – 100% Brettanomyces, 100% barrel fermented
Surette Reserva Chardonnay Barrel-aged (Batch 1 of Surette Aged 12 months in Chardonnay Barrels)
Oculus – Belgian-style Golden ale fermented with Colorado Biodynamic grapes and aged for 12 months in White wine barrels with our house sour culture.
Sentience Cognac Barrel aged Wild Quadruple
Nightmare on Brett Bourbon Barrel-aged – 100% Brettanomyces Baltic(ish) Porter, Aged in Heaven Hill Barrels!
Blackberry Petite Sour – Classic!
On top of all the specialty tappings we’ll also have bottles for sale including Batch#1, Oculus, Sentience Bourbon Barrel and maybe we’ll pull some rare oldies out of the cellar to pour as well!
We’ll see you soon!
For the past two months we have been quietly readying the Crooked Stave Barrel Cellar, located just north of Denver’s Highlands neighborhood at 1441 W. 46th Ave. Unit 19. On Wednesday September 5th at 2pm we will officially open our doors for the first time welcoming guests into our small intimate tasting room. The Barrel Cellar houses all of our production from the fermentation cellar with our library of barrels to our new bottling equipment. We currently have nearly 100 wine and spirits barrels gracefully aging at the Barrel Cellar with everything from Saison’s to 100% Brett Baltic Porters. While many of these are ready for bottling we are undergoing a major expansion which will see us reach nearly 200 wine and spirits barrels by the years end, plus 3 large oak foeders (65 hl or 1700+ gallons) which previously aged white wine are arriving next week from Napa.
It’s an exciting time here at Crooked Stave, please stop by and join us starting this Wednesday, September 5th from 12pm to 7pm in the Barrel Cellar taproom. We’ll have an assortment of Crooked Stave beers on tap including the fist tapping of L’Brett d’Or aged in Leopold Bros Peach Whisky Barrels which previously held New Belgium Love! As well, some Wild Wild Brett’s will be on tap, and other goodies from the cellar. We’ll also have a small array of bottles e’ve been holding on to and merchandise available for purchase as well.
The Barrel Cellar is located at:
1441 W. 46th Ave. Unit 19
Denver, CO. 80211
Regular hours of operation will be Weds. and Thurs. 12pm to 7pm and Fri. and Sat. 12pm to 8pm. We look forward to seeing all the friendly faces and meeting many new friends!
We are fresh back from the 2012 Craft Brewers Conference held in San Diego, California. This year was a World Beer Cup year with the competition being held every two years. As we have only been making beers for a short time this was our first chance to enter our beers into any type of competition and with the brand new American-style Brett Ale (Category 19) what better time to enter a few beers for the fun of it. Well fun it was, Crooked Stave’s Wild Wild Brett Rouge took home the Bronze medal at this years competition. We are very excited to see WWB Rouge once again selected as a top beer and this time one of the top 3 beers in the world for it’s “style”. It’s a great honor to have our beers recognized along side many of the top brewers in the world. Thanks to everyone who has been enjoying our beers and know there is plenty more to come as we are getting ready to build our Denver brewery and embark on our Denver brewery project. Cheers!
Greetings friends, fans and craft beer enthusiasts!
With the details in place and the website infrastructure hopefully taken care of, we are pleased to announce the inaugural formation of Crooked Stave’s Cellar Reserve Membership. We mentioned previously that we had been working on the details to our annual membership and after putting a lot of time and thought into the structure, we are very excited with the beers that will be available to this years members as well as all the exclusive extras.
As we have mentioned briefly before, we are currently working on plans that would locate us in Denver, Colorado. We never imagined we’d be making the move from Fort Collins so soon, but it‘s time we built our brewery! As we are working on the plans for our future and taking on investment, we thought the best way to get our friends and fans involved was to create a Cellar Reserve Membership and offer up beer from our barrel cellar along with other exclusive merchandise. The proceeds from the purchased memberships will be going directly to our Denver expansion project and be the first big push needed to lay the groundwork for the rest of the project and our future brewery.
2012 Cellar Reserve Memberships will be $300.00 each through membership.crookedstave.com and go on sale at 10am MST on December 17th, 2011. Given the low production for most of the beers on the list (some only being a single barrel) space is limited to 400 members for 2012.
One detail that was difficult for us to make a decision on was whether to open up membership to people outside of Colorado through direct shipping. As difficult as it was, we could not come up with a solution on how to logistically ship beer to interested customers without the possibility of legal action being taken against us, as well as up holding a high standard of customer service and satisfaction. We are however allowing the designation of a trustee or “mule” that resides in Colorado and can be made responsible to pick up the beers for you upon release. We anticipate pick-up will be in Denver, Colorado at our future brewing facilities so someone local to Denver not Fort Collins may be ideal.
Below are the details for the 2012 Cellar Reserve Membership which will be available through membership.crookedstave.com starting at 10am MST on December 17, 2011. We look forward to seeing you at future Cellar Reserve Member events!
Crooked Stave Cellar Reserve Membership 2012:
- 2012 Membership Card
- 2 Cellar Reserve stemware glasses
- Exclusive members only T-Shirt
- Neoprene Dual Bottle Beer Tote
(1 bottle) Blackberry Petite Sour (upon release, estimated Feb 2012)
(2 bottle) Batch #1 (100% Brett, 100% barrel fermented) (upon release, estimated March 2012)
(1 bottle) *Surette Reserva Chardonnay barrel-aged (upon release, estimated April 2012)
(1 bottle) L’Brett d’Or – 100% Brett Golden Sour (upon release, estimated May 2012)
(1 bottle) *Persica – Sour Peach (upon release, estimated July 2012)
(1 bottle) *Nightmare on Brett Street (Cognac barrel) (upon release, estimated Aug 2012)
(1 bottle) *Nightmare on Brett Street (Brandy barrel) (upon release, estimated Aug 2012)
(1 bottle) *Sour Quad (Cognac barrel) (upon release, estimated Nov 2012)
(1 bottle) *Cellar Reserve Blend (upon release in 2012)
*Denotes beer is a Cellar Reserve exclusive.
- Access to purchase specialty bottle releases at 20% discount (subject to allocation limits)
- First right of refusal for 2013 membership
- Future discounts to be added once our taproom is open.
- Future planned Cellar Reserve Member events (additional charges apply)
As well as receiving the above listed beers and merchandise, the following beers are planned for release from our Barrel Cellar in 2012 and available to Cellar Reserve Members.
- Blackberry Petite Sour
- Batch #1 (100% Brett, 100% barrel fermented)
- L’Brett d’Or – 100% Brett Golden Sour
- Burgandy Sour (not yet named)
- Oculus – Sour Belgian Golden Ale with Vignole grapes
- Barrel Aged 2012 Petite Sour (w/soon to be added fruit)
- Dark Sour (not yet named)
- Sour Quad (Bourbon barrel) (not yet named)
- First Anniversary Blend
**Please note that a few of these beers will likely be available to the public for purchase. As a Cellar Reserve Member you are guaranteed the first opportunity to purchase these beers, to some limitation, before they go on sale to the public.
DISCLAIMER: Crooked Stave Cellar Reserve Memberships are open to USA residents over the age of 21 only. If you reside outside of Colorado and decide to purchase a Cellar Reserve Membership make sure to designate a Colorado Trustee or you are responsible for picking up your allocation which will be held at the brewery until March 21st, 2013. We are unable to ship beer as FedEx, UPS, and USPS does not allow us to ship beer direct to customers. No refunds will be given after placing an order.
For more information about listing a Colorado Trustee and any other questions you may have, visit the FAQ page.
DRAFT Magazine recently published it’s annual list of the top 25 beers of 2011 in their November/December issue. To our surprise Wild Wild Brett Rouge was selected as one of their top 25 beers of 2011. We were extremely honored to be listed amongst so many other great breweries and their beers. Below is the description written by the beer writers at DRAFT Mag.
Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project
The concept of Crooked Stave’s Wild Wild Brett Series—100-percent Brettanomyces beers brewed to match all seven colors of the rainbow—truly takes a masterful touch to do right. W.W.B.R (aka Wild Wild Brett Rouge) incorporates Hawthorn berries, rose hips and hibiscus for a reddish brew with an exquisitely delicate blend of floral, fruity notes and a gentle acidic bite.
Great description and a nice teaser for the rest of the the Wild Wild Brett Series beers. The entire article can be found in the November/December issue of DRAFT Magazine which is out now and on-line at DRAFTMag.com. A big conrgrats to all the other breweries listed this year as well!
A few weeks back we were featured in an episode of New Brew Thursday. Stephen, Dr. Bill, Matt and the whole crew were out visiting for GABF and stopped in to pay us a visit. It’s a pretty in-depth interview covering many aspects of Crooked Stave and barrel-aged beers. Sit back, pour yourself a glass of one of our wild and funky beers and have a watch!
We were fortunate enough to be showcased in a recent article by Serious Eats on their drinks blog. Their write up and review titled: Getting Wild with Two Brett Beers from Crooked Stave is of Pure Guava Petite Sour and Wild Wild Brett Rouge, the first two beers we released in bottles. We are always happy to see people talking about the beers and were thrilled when the post went up. It’s a very well written article and the author Jonathan Moxey did a great job in detailing the beers and gives some great insight into what we were looking to achieve with these beers. Don’t take our word for it, go on and have a read!
This is a beer that will tickle the senses..and is best summed up by our friend Nathan Zeender of Desjardin Brewing
baroque beer: of, relating to, or having the characteristics of a style of artistic expression that is marked generally by use of complex forms, bold ornamentation, and the juxtaposition of contrasting elements often conveying a sense of drama, movement, and tension: characterized by grotesqueness, extravagance, complexity, or flamboyance.
So what’s in a name? Well for starters, Petite Sour is our line of seasonally inspired tart Wheat beers or Wit beer as it is more our take on an old rustic belgian-style wit or farmhouse wit as I prefer to call it. Petite in both the level of tartness and alcohol, this version weighs in at 4.5% abv. Sessionable and sour… interesting concept..
Pure Guava is the first of the Petite Sours to be released and gets it’s name from the intense Guava character that the spontaneously soured and 100% Brettanomyces fermented beer had before it was blended into the spiced farmhouse wit. There isn’t actually any Guava fruit in this beer, in fact there is no fruit at all. All the aroma and flavor comes from the Brettanomyces yeast. To make this beer we combined Berliner Weisse or Gose brewing techniques with a farmhouse attitude to brewing. Part of the blend is spontaneously soured and then my favorite Brettanomyces strain added to finish out fermentation on the sour wort. The base beer was spiced with coriander and sumac and fermented entirely in our oak foeder with one of my favorite Belgian yeast strains (actually I hear it’s from France). Combine all this and we get our baroque beer.. Petite Sour. This beer was brewed on April 27th and May 3rd respectively and bottled May 23rd. By the time of it’s release it will have been bottle conditioning for about 2 and a half months. Already on draft at a few locations in Fort Collins and Denver, the bottle release party will be announced in days. I leave you with the long description.
Deviating from conventional brewing methods and inspired by historic brewing techniques, we created our Pure Guava Petite Sour. Blending farmhouse brewing traditions with an old world souring technique this rustic wheat beer is brewed with the addition of oats and spiced with coriander and sumac. Fermented entirely in our distinct oak foeder, Pure Guava is an unfiltered, golden wild ale with tropical fruit aromas and bright citrus flavors created by a proprietary Brettanomyces strain. This beer is bottled with the natural yeast, if cellared in a cool dark place it will develop more complex Brett characteristics and evolve for years to come. Drink as you would a wheat beer, cloudy with the yeast in suspension. Please enjoy this unique offering in your favorite stemmed glassware and allow the beer to breathe and open up as you swirl it in your glass.
Thoroughly chill and open carefully, slowly degassing the excess CO2 built up from the active yeast.
…This blog, which is meant to be a way for us to be able to keep everyone reading updated on our happenings, has been seriously neglected. What can I say? We’ve been busy…very busy!
From here on out I plan to be better about posting updates. So much has happened over the past three months since I last posted making it hard to back track and who wants to read about old news anyways? I plan to write a few posts covering what we have been up to..if you follow us on facebook/CrookedStave then you’ve followed most of what has been happening already. Also, it’s about time we get this site turned into an actual company website with information about the beers we are brewing, special batch release details, who we are, locations which serve or sell Crooked Stave beers and other goodies. Yeah that’s right..we have already started releasing beer on draft to a few select craft beer bars and are about to roll out with bottles.
Cheers, and thanks for checking back in with us! We’ll be better from here on out…
Starting today at 4pm Euclid Hall Bar and Kitchen will be tapping Good Glory a beer we brewed exclusively for the restaurant. It was a really fun project, working together with some of the beer experts at Euclid Hall, specifically Ryan Conklin who was instrumental in setting up the collaboration, working on recipe development and even coming out to help brew the beer. Hopefully people will get a chance to come out and try this beer while its on tap at Euclid Hall throughout the spring and into summer. If you don’t live close to Denver don’t worry.. There will be the barrel-aged version being released and available around GABF.
DENVER, CO… On Tuesday, May 3rd at 4:00 p.m., Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen will be tapping “Good Glory,” a proprietary beer and the first commercial beer from Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project a Fort Collins brewery specializing in “sour” beers. Good Glory is a collaboration between the Euclid Hall beer experts and Crooked Stave.
Brewer Chad Yakobson will be on hand to tap the keg and discuss the Crooked Stave approach to beer making and Good Glory in particular.
Yakobson describes Good Glory as a spring inspired Belgian-style beer. The use of rich Vienna and Munich malts gives the beer a dark copper appearance with a light malt character, suggesting that winter is almost gone and summer is right around the corner. A special Belgian yeast creates plum and dried fruits on the nose with a subtle hint of spice complimented by a touch of hops and a delicate lavender aroma.
Later in the year, Good Glory Suckerpunch, an aged version of the Good Glory spring beer will be tapped in honor of the Euclid Hall first anniversary celebration and the Great American Beer Festival.
Yakobson says of Good Glory Suckerpunch, “When the employees of Euclid Hall collaborated on an exclusive spring inspired Belgian-style beer they agreed that holding on to some of the beer and aging it in red and white wine barrels for the one year anniversary of Euclid Hall would make for a fun twist. This American Wild Ale was inoculated with five unique strains of Brettanomyces adding complex citrus and tropical fruit aromas mixed with a funky earthy appeal and a tart acidic finish.”
Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen opened in early August, 2010 at 1317 14th Street in Denver’s Historic Larimer Square, the third restaurant from the team of Jennifer Jasinski and Beth Gruitch, owners of the award winning Rioja and Bistro Vendôme. Located in Euclid Hall, an 1883 building that once housed the venerable Soapy Smith’s bar, this American tavern is focused on high quality and innovative pub food from around the world including housemade sausages, po’ boys, poutine and schnitzels. An extensive beer selection and creative cocktails drive the beverage program. Call 303.595.4255 or visit euclidhall.com for more details.
Slightly animist title for this post, but it is truly deserving given our first major equipment purchase is a 25hl foeder, or large oak fermenter. Maybe not the most sound decision by most breweries standards.. Then again, Crooked Stave is not the conventional brewery so to us it’s the best first piece of equipment that we could welcome into our family and further pursue our quest to produce beers of creativity and passion. The 25hl foeder was shipped from Napa this past week where it was previously used for only 3 years to ferment and age white wine. Commissioned in 2007 and custom produced by Tonnellerie Radoux, it is made completely of French oak and has stainless steel coils on the inside for temperature controlled cooling allowing for precision fermentations to take place inside the walls of her gorgeous oak staves. I’m not really sure if it is a female as I haven’t named it yet but something so beautiful must surely be a female.. right?
I spent the majority of Tuesday trying to position the foeder in just the right place so visitors to Funkwerks brewery will have a great first glance through the glass windows which look into the brewery space. Not far from the rest of Crooked Staves barrels which rest peacefully in the Barrel Cellar, our foeder should feel at home with others of her kind. The rest of Tuesday was spent on the phone getting parts arranged and ordered. If everything works right all parts should be in on Friday, at which time I’ll get the foeder online with the glycol system and temperature controllers and then check for leaks by filling her up and swelling all the staves. If all that goes through.. It will be time to fill her.. Batch #4 will hopefully be brewed this coming Saturday and we’ll be commissioning our new foeder with a 15 bbl batch of a Belgian specialty beer brewed exclusively for Euclid Hall.
I’d love to spill all the details on this specialty brew which looks like it will be our first commercial release, but I’ll hold off till all the pieces are in place and the brew is in the fermenter. Until.. enjoy some photos of our new foeder.
Wow! It’s about time I got around to up dating this blog to reflect where Crooked Stave is at this time. With three batches now in barrels souring, it’s time to get a 4th batch brewed and fermenting. This has been difficult due to working around brewing schedules and being a one man show. Now that we have beer that has been brewed the question I keep getting asked is, “when will you have beer on the market?” That happens to be a hard question to answer. Right now our goal is to get our barrels filled and then start releasing beers which don’t take quite as long to produce. We need more fermenter space and the ability to produce the American Petite Sour which will hopefully be our year around.. seasonally changing beer. To make this happen we are purchasing a 25 hectolitre foudre or oak fermenter which we can conduct primary fermentations in. The beauty will be in it’s versatility to do mixed culture primary fermentations in. As well we have been working with a restaurant in Denver to brew an exclusive beer for them. More details soon but this exclusive beer may actually be the first beer we release to the market and brewed in the oak foudre before we start producing the American Petite Sour which otherwise will be the first beer released to liquor stores as well as on draft. As well I’m pursuing a few stainless fermenters which would allow us to bump up production given storage and tank space.
Don’t feel like waiting that long? Just announced, we’ll be pouring Wild Wild Brett Golden at Mile High Wine and Spirits Beer Tasting March 8th from 6:30-8:30PM. It is our good friend Brad’s last tasting he will be putting on as the Beer Guru at Mile High Wine and Spirits. To say thanks we’ve pulled off a little of the Golden base beer from L’Brett d’Or which is primary fermented with 5 strains of Brettanomyces to pour at the event. We have a very limited amount to pour but are very excited to be a part of Brad’s last tasting. We’ll miss you buddy!
With the previous batch transfered into barrels, I cleaned the fermenter and readied the brewhouse for batch #3. The following morning of February 16th I mashed in for the golden base beer which will over time become L’Brett d’Or. This beer is our Golden Sour, but with a twist. It is a 100% Brettanomyces primary fermented beer. I’ve chosen 5 Brettanomyces strains from my library of cultures and created a unique blend which emphasizes citrusy type characteristics from the Brettanomyces yeasts. By most brewers standards they wouldn’t let Brettanomyces get any where near their brewery, we embrace these amazing yeasts by putting them right into our fermenter. This beer fermented out beautifully starting at 14 Plato and finishing at 2.8 Plato in 6 days. Anyone interested in the practical aspect of brewing with Brettanomyces yeasts can find details on this batch at L’Brett d’Or. The beer was then crash cooled to drop out as much yeast as we could before transferring into 8 wine barrels which had previously held Chardonnay wine from Napa. From there, the beer was inoculated with Lactobacillus to undergo its souring while aging in the barrel cellar.
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“.
On February 11th a big group of Colorado brewers got together for a collaborative brew called Buddha Nuvo to be released on April 16th at the 2011 Saison Festival held at Trinity Brewing in Colorado Springs. This years batch draws on the experience of many and is a unique collaborative effort. The idea behind the beer is a big 12% Saison with pumpkin and green peppercorn spice as well as Buddha Hand zest added late in the boil. The final kicker is the beer.. after primary fermentation will be barrel-aged for almost two months in freshly emptied Chardonnay barrels with 10 unique strains of Brettanomyces yeast. As for our major contribution Crooked Stave supplied all 6 of the Chardonnay barrels for the project as well 5 strains of Brettanomyces. This beer will certainly be interesting and I look forward to tasting the final product at the Saison Festival.. We should be pouring at least one Crooked Stave beer this year as well, so make the trip! I leave you with some photos from the brew day. For a more in depth look at the collaborative brew check out Focus on the Beer for a quality image recap.
Historically oak casks were a critical part of daily life. They stored everything from dry goods to liquid goods and were used extensively for shipping. Coopers were an important part of the community, and skilled craftsman who’s trade took years to perfect. Nowadays oak casks are no longer widely used, they are mostly for aging wine and spirits with a few cooperage houses or Tonnellieres still in operation. With less need for Coopers their skills are becoming a dying art form. At Crooked Stave oak barrels make up the focal point of our product and are very important in our process. I have had the fortune of being taught by Peter Bouckaert the Brewmaster of New Belgium and formerly from Rodenbach in Belgium a few of the techniques used by Coopers to keep oak barrels holding liquids and in good condition. I was able to purchase some of the tools needed for Cooperageing and make the rest.
Given the importance of the oak barrels in shaping the beer into the final product it’s important that barrels be well taken care of and the barrel staves on the inside be in good condition. Before filling each barrel we have been removing the heads through loosening the stave hoops and reconditioning the insides of the barrels. Since our oak barrels are used wine barrels there is often times lots of work to be done. Depending on the age of the barrel and how many times it was refilled with wine, there can be a thick layer of Potassium Bitartrate or wine crystals that have accumulated throughout the entire barrel. These wine crystals are scraped away with the use of a wood working knife as well as going over the entire insides with a steel wire brush. All this allows the pores of the wood to open back up and gives some character back to the barrel. The other important reason for taking the barrels apart is to remove blisters on the inner staves formed during the barrel making. Removing these limits the oxidation that could occur as well as giving acetic acid producing bacteria a place to hide as it’s not possible to clean/rinse with hot water behind the blisters. Once this is done the barrel heads are put back on, the hoops driven into place and the barrels rinsed multiple times with hot water and soaked before being tested to see if they hold pressure. After, they are left with the bung facing down to dry over night and beer transferred into to them the following day. It’s quite a process, but it’s worth knowing that the barrels are in the best condition they can possibly be and the beer will be aging in a good home!
With the barrels in house and readied for beer, we decided to produce a batch that could condition all the barrels with our house sour cultures. The idea was that we brew a beer that finishes with a higher amount of unfermented sugars after fermentation giving a good environment for all the various souring critters we would then inoculate the beer with. On February 2nd we brewed batch #2, a dark copper colored wort that primary fermented for 2 weeks before being transfered into 8 Red Wine barrels at about 5% alc. Each barrel is first re-coopered in house and hot rinsed leaving the insides virtually void of any wild yeast or bacteria. This allows us to inoculate each barrel with our own house cultures which can then take residence in each barrel. The plan is in a couple of months once the Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus take hold, we’ll brew the Burgundy Sour which these barrels are meant to hold and transfer the vagrant beer to the next set of barrels to start their conditioning as well. When it’s all said and done this beer will have been aged in over 50 different barrels… Could make for a very interesting sour beer.
Over the past couple of months we’ve slowly amassed a considerable collection of oak barrels. We had two big hauls of Red and White wine barrels which came in from Napa during the month of January. The recent additions to our barrel cellar has since brought the total count up to 50 barrels, giving us all the barrels that we anticipate needing for the first 7 batches. This means we have a lot of brewing to do in order to fill the rest of the barrels. First though we’ll be removing the heads from each barrel, refinishing the inside staves where needed and then re-tightening the heads in place.
On January 10, 2011 we brewed our inaugural batch of beer. The idea behind our first batch was to produce a beer primary fermented with 100% Brettanomyces yeasts. We thought why not take it a bit further and have the fermentation occur completely in used red wine oak barrels with a few strains of Brettanomyces that could either be blended together or kept separate as split batch fermentations. We finally decided on three different strains, each going into two oak barrels for a total of 6 oak barrels filled for our initial batch. The base beer is currently being called Rouge and is the first in a series of beers called Wild Wild Brett. We managed to snap a few photos during brew day and though this would be a good time to share them. Enjoy!
The Photo above gives a little indication of the barrel load we hauled from Denver to Fort Collins at the end of December. In all we loaded up 13 red wine barrels on the trailer and 4 into the vehicle while still managing to find room for eight barrel racks. I then made the glorious drive with high winds and no visibility out any of my mirrors up to Fort Collins with the vehicle smelling of red wine from the recently empty barrels.
On the way I made a pit stop to visit a friend who had a few spontaneously fermented brews aging away in his garage. Each was interesting with lots of organic acid production dominating the aromas and flavors. One carboy was pure gold with apricot aromas and citric acid dominating the acid profile. Expect to hear more about our spontaneous endeavor soon as the program takes shape from this one carboy made from pure 100% Colorado spontaneous micro flora..
Since then we have acquired 5 more oak barrels. These white wine barrels came from our good friends at Nebraska Brewing Co. and formerly held their Melange a Trios. Our barrel cellar is getting deep now with 29 barrels already in house and we should have another 19 by months end bringing our total to 48. The photos below are of some of the barrels stacked in the barrel cellar.
As we get closer to brewing our first couple of batches, ordering of raw materials such as malt, hops and spices as well as barrels and some small equipment has consumed most of my time. So many suppliers and new customer application sheets already filled out and still more to be done. The holidays have been working against us with some of the small suppliers closed or having limited hours. Never the less, over the past week we have received two of our malt orders and just need to pick up and deliver the last. We will then have all our malt for the first five anticipated batches. We are still waiting on hops, a spice or two, and our precious yeast(s) before we can get brewing. Some more barrels might be nice as well, so tomorrow we have arranged to pick up 17 Burgundy and Bordeaux style Red Wine barrels, recently emptied in Napa, California and shipped out for us.
As for yeast, during the course of the Brettanomyces Project I collected many new cultures of Brettanomyces yeasts by culturing them from various bottles of Lambic and barrel-aged beers. Since then I have continued to collect dregs from bottles of beer that I know do not contain commercially available strains of Brettanomyces yeasts and grow these out looking for new yeasts and bacterias. Earlier today I shipped off 7 of my personal Brettanomyces cultures for storage and use in Crooked Stave beers. Some of those will be grown up and shipped back to use for primary fermentation in the first batch brewed.
Now things are really starting to pick up for us. On the heels of receiving our first oak barrels, we now have one of the two licenses we need in order to start brewing batches of Crooked Stave beers. In very timely fashion, I showed up on Friday to find a piece of mail had arrived from the State of Colorado, Department of Revenue, Liquor Licensing Division. Our beer license was approved by the state and we have it in hand to display proudly. All we can do now is hope that the Federal TTB will be as swift as the state and the second of the two licenses arrives soon! Back to malts and raw materials orders, more on that soon…
UPDATE: It didn’t take much longer for the TTB to approve our federal application as well, granting us the ability to start brewing!
As the weeks go on we are getting closer to our first anticipated brew day. While we don’t yet know exactly when it will be, we have been going over the recipes and contacting suppliers for raw materials. We have just purchased our first oak barrels, seven Makers Mark Bourbon Barrels. The barrels came from Odell Brewing Co. and have been used once to age their Imperial Stout. These barrels will be perfect for our Dark Burgundy Sour ale. The idea behind the barrels for this beer is to age it in various spirit barrels which have previously held beer so the Bourbon or spirit character is not overpowering and instead the oak lends softer vanilla and spice character during the long aging process.
We are working on acquiring more oak barrels. The different beers require different types of oak barrels depending on the characteristics we are looking to achieve in the beers. We have just heard back that we’ll be receiving five French oak barrels which previously held Chardonnay Wine. These barrels will be used to age the 100% Brettanomyces fermented Golden Sour ale, lending a hint of the Wine character to the beer. We’re waiting to hear back about some Red Wine Barrels from Napa and Palisade on the Colorado Western Slope. Hopefully more barrels will be coming this week.
After a few weeks of working with Travis Olsen our graphic designer, we finally have a finished logo. I think the logo turned out very well and embodies the idea behind Crooked Stave and our mission. Thanks to Travis for his hard work getting the logo ready quickly, yet still providing a quality design. There are a few variations of the logo as it lends itself very well to many backgrounds. Since Travis is also helping with out art direction, he will be designing the business card, letter head/envelopes, as well as labels and t-shirt design. Our next goal is to get the labels drafted and a template ready which can be customized for each beer release.
Starting any new business involves lots of planning and filing of documents. During the first week of November we filed all of the necessary state and federal documents to operate as a business entity in Colorado. That was only the first step. In order to produce and sell beer there is a whole other application process we must go through. At the Federal level the TTB requires Brewers Notices and Wholesale Basic Permits to be filled out and submitted along with a slew of additional documentation. Then there is the Colorado Department of Revenue, Liquor Division which has its own set of liquor license applications and another daunting list of additional documents including, lease agreements, a detailed diagram of the brewing premises, individual history reports, finger print card, etc… In what feels like our greatest accomplishment to date with Crooked Stave, we have mailed off our TTB forms and submitted in person for our Colorado liquor licenses. Now it is a waiting game until we hear back, at which time we can start brewing!
A lengthy meeting this morning with Travis Olsen our graphic designer proved to be an eventful way to round out this week. The preliminary logos looked great and it was hard to chose just one design. I think my second favorite will be saved and made into a T-shirt desing. Travis is designing the brewery logos and artwork for Crooked Stave. As well he will be helping with our art direction. Beer is my canvas and brewing is my art, and I would like for this to be reflected in every aspect of the company. I would like to not only promote the art that is inside each bottle of beer we produce but also show case it on the outside of each bottle and on the walls of our brewery. From the time we start producing merchandise to the day we open our future brewery and tasting room, I would like local art to have a focal point, further demonstrating that beer is art!
I’m freshly back from the week long trip which took me through Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan visiting a total of 11 breweries. I’ve had some time to digest my notes and think about the conversations I had with the numerous brewers throughout the trip. By far the greatest experience was visiting with Dan Carey of New Glarus. He is truly a master brewer or brewmaster as some would say. I find this to be a title often misused in the craft brewing industry, but Dan is one of the exceptions, and truly is a master of brewing!
Dan was quite interested to hear about Crooked Stave as brewery project and even had some advice for myself given the small niche beers we will be producing. Quite possibly the most exciting was Dan’s interest to do a collaboration with Crooked Stave! Rest assured all who read this, I will make sure to follow up with Dan.. here is to a New Glarus and Crooked Stave collaboration brew!
Visiting New Glarus’s newly built Hill top brewery is nothing short of entering a castle. A brewers castle with all the bells and whistles, it may be the most glorious brewhouse I’ve ever seen.
After New Glarus we were off to Chicago. We met up with a bunch of brewers the Friday night before the Festival of Barrel-Aged Beers at a gathering held at the Chicago Rock Bottom. It was a great opportunity to meet with Jeff Sparrow author of WildBrews. We talked traditional Lambic, Belgian sours, the types of sours Crooked Stave will be producing, as well as trying some of his sours he had brewed with Pete Crowley who previously was the head brewer at the Chicago Rock Bottom, and now has his own venture called the Haymarket Pub and Brewery. A group of us including friends from Nebraska Brewing Company left and travelled to visit Eric Salazar of New Belgium Brewing who was holding a tasting further up town. Needless to say a few La Folie’s later and it was time to judge.
Judging then next morning for the Festival of Barrel-Aged Beer was a great experience. I say this especially since I was chosen to judge the first round of sours and then went on to judge the medalling round for the sours as well. It was then a great honor to be asked to judge the best of show for all the first place medal earning barrel-aged beers. Along side me was Keith Lemcke Vice-President of the Siebel Institute as well as Ray Daniels Director of the Cicerone Certification Program. Some great beers in the best of show but it was the sours that shined over the other barrel-aged type beers as both a Sour Cherry beer and Funky yet clean Saison took Best of Show and runner up respectively.
The rest of the festival was a great time and I would highly recommend the festival as it is the premier venue for barrel-aged beers of all kinds.
Little rest and we were off again and on the road. This time to visit Jolly Pumpkin. This was supposed to be a must visit for me given the research I’ve done with Brettanomyces yeasts, my passion for barrel-aged beers as well as the chance to talk brewing philosophy with Ron Jefferies. Sadly it wasn’t all I had hoped for as Ron was extremely busy and I have a feeling we caught him on a bad day. We were able to stop into the Dexter brewery and see the operations as well as have a look around at all the barrels. Very interesting brewery and concept which I draw much inspiration from. While there we saw four barrels from Cantillon which were being used for their spontaneous fermentations. The maze of cobwebs in between some of the barrels was great to see as its natural protection from fruit flies and reminded me of the the Belgian Lambic breweries.
After visiting Jolly Pumpkin we drove up to Grand Rapids to eat lunch at Founders Brewing Company and check out some of their beers. Founders is going through a major brewery expansion and that is due to the high quality beer they are producing! Great place, awesome beers! It was then down to Kalamazoo to meet with Zeke who along with Andy are responsible for the sour barrel-aging program stationed at the Eccentric Cafe pub brewery. We spent a considerable amount of time talking over their small but growing sour program. It was especially nice as Wild One their sour beer was on tap. Gary Nicholas head of Quality Control for Bell’s also joined us for the night and a lot of great brewing talk ensued. The next day we drove out to Galesburg to see the production brewery. My interest in brewhouse engineering and operation got the better of me while we were there as it is one sweet set-up. There is essentially two brewhouse lines which all lead to a single whirlpool. The brewery is a great show case of equipment, engineering, and process control. They are also getting ready for a huge expansion so I’m interested to see what will come… Maybe a massive barrel-aging facility? For now they had their barrels chilling along the wall of cellar number two I believe it was. The barrel currently hold Expidition Stout and Oatmeal Stout and will be blended together to make one delicious bourbon barrel-aged Stout.
I’m off to Chicago for a week with fellow AC Golden brewer and friend Troy Casey. More accurately we’re flying into Chicago, immediately picking up our rental car and driving out to New Glarus, Wisconsin to meet with Dan Carey. We’ll be returning to Chicago just in time to judge for the Festival of Barrel-aged Beer and then taste the plethora of beers produced from the wood! This festival looks to be amazing and we look forward to entering Crooked Stave beer in the coming years. After the festival we are again taking off, this time to visit Ron Jefferies at Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales in Dexter Michigan. On our way back through Michigan to Chicago, we’re stopping off in Kalamazoo to visit with friends at Bell’s Brewery which will conclude our little Midwest brewery adventure.
This is the beginning of Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project. We are an artisan brewery in planning that is based in Denver, Colorado. Who are we? Well actually, we are just one person… For those of you who don’t already know me from the Brettanomyces Project let me introduce myself, I am Chad Yakobson and the Brettanomyces Project is an open source website which details the research and results from my Master’s dissertation on Brettanomyces yeast species.
This brewing endeavor is a culmination of the knowledge and inspiration I have amassed during the past four years of living, studying, brewing and traveling abroad. It’s difficult for me to articulate the many experiences and ideas that have been born during this time into a precise summary. It is only through the beers which will be produce that I can best unveil the adventures I have been on and the bestowed inspirations. However, I continue to find great inspiration from previously studying winemaking in New Zealand, where I saw how a small country of passionate artisan winemakers produce “New World” wines of great quality through the dynamic use of their sparse micro-climates. Two years and five continents later, while studying a Master of Science in Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University and the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling in Edinburgh, Scotland I refined my brewing practices as I achieved an in-depth knowledge of the biochemistry and microbiology hidden in all aspects of brewing while garnering admiration for the engineering behind running a brewery. More so I would say it was during extensive travels throughout Australia, Asia, all of South America, and Africa where I really found inspiration for the use of unique ingredients which could be used in brewing just as they were being used by different cultures to create a plethora of exciting flavors. It is our mission to create ridiculously well crafted, expressive beer and our unconventional approach to brewing science and the artistry involved is how we will bring new creations into the world of beer.