Chad Yacobson and his Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project have joined the ranks of the most buzzed about breweries in the US. Since starting Crooked Stave in late 2010, his beers have grown in popularity so much so that his special releases have massive lines and too little beer to meet the demand. This sort of immediate success is exciting to see in a brewery that specializes in Saisons and Wild Yeast beers. When I decided to schedule a trip to Colorado, I knew that I had to visit this brewery. I’m a huge fan of saisons and funky beers. The reviews outstanding.
I rolled into Denver on the Sunday morning after the Avery Sour Fest in Boulder, CO a little worse for wear after a long but extremely fun day and night. After settling into my hotel near the stadium downtown, I plugged the address into my phone’s GPS and took the short 20 minutes drive to my destination. The only problem was my destination wasn’t there when my GPS said I was finished driving. I couldn’t find anything that resembled a brewery!
However, a few blocks down the road that Crooked Stave was supposed to be on, I saw something that I had also planned to do in my limited time in Denver: Mile High Comics. Mile High Comics is the largest comic book store in the world. I had stumbled upon their mega store; they have 4 total locations. I parked my car and entered the massive warehouse and was greeted by comics going from floor to ceiling. Virtually every imaginable book, series, and publisher can be found here, including a very sizable collection of rare and old comics, if you’ve got the cash and the desire. Mile High specializes in paper comics; my preference is Manga and Graphic Novels. They did have a few to pursue, but it’s not their focus. It’s truly an amazing place to visit if you’re into graphic story telling, and honestly, pretty overwhelming.
After I’d gotten my fill of comics, I got back into my car and attempted to find Crooked Stave again. I found what looked to be the address, but didn’t see the brewery. It looked like an older storage facility or business park. I pulled in and drove around the building until I finally saw it. As you can see from the picture above, the sign is what you’d refer to as “subtle.”
The tasting room is a cozy and simple affair with a nice bar and some tables. I sat down and ordered a Vieille Artisan Saison, their 4.2% ABV version of a Saison. The small crowd was fairly mellow as a lot of the people who normally would be there, some of which were there anyways judging by over-heard conversations, had hit it pretty hard in Boulder the previous day at the sour fest. I enjoyed a few beers and waited for my guide to free up.
I’d contacted the brewery in advance to set up a tour. Unfortunately for me, fortunately for Portland, Chad was going to be in Portland with his beers for PDX Beer Week (I only say “unfortunately, because I was looking forward to meeting the guy behind the beer). So, they set me up with one of his employees, Nick, who turned out to be an excellent host and tour guide. Nick and I grabbed a beer and went back to the main portion of the facility. The one thing that struck me was that there wasn’t any mashing/brewing equipment.
Chad has been brewing the wort over at Prost Brewing, which is about 10 minutes away. The wort is brought back and placed inside their own fermenters, foeders, and barrels. The tiny space was overrun with wood containers so much so that they were spilling out of their space into the common space outside their unit. According to Nick, they’re in the process of expanding their barrel space and adding a production facility so they can produce their wort in-house.
As a fan of wild, sour, wood-aged beers, I was excited to see such a great project succeeding so quickly. It helps that their beers are outstanding. I chatted with Nick for a while as we leaned up against their lovely foeders and enjoyed some of their beers. The crew at Crooked Stave are happy to be a part of Chad Yacobson’s project and are doing what they can to help it along. From various articles I’ve read, the beer releases are well attended with the Denver beer community responding with real excitement.
Crooked Stave’s mix of Saison and Belgian styles brewed with Brettanomyces is proving to be a successful idea. While it probably won’t replace the English Ale inspired mainstream of craft beer, it’s certainly carving out a sizable niche that beer lovers from across the country are seeking out in increasing numbers. It’s this new wave of fermentation creativity and wood-aging that’s taking craft beer to the “next level,” and inspiring the more established Craft Breweries to take chances on this new exciting trend.
Crooked Stave is on the way to becoming a household name with wild beer fans across the country despite their limited distribution. They’ve recently signed a deal with 12% Imports that will see them distributed in New York City. They’ve also started moving into a few select western states. So far, the future looks very bright for Chad and his crew at Crooked Stave. I certainly hope to see them in Oregon soon (Hint: come to Oregon!)!Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project
Address: 1441 W 46th Ave #19, Denver, CO 80211
Phone: (720) 508-3292 Mile High Comics
Address: 4600 Jason Street, Denver, CO 80211