Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Crooked Stave W.W.B.R. review

Crooked Stave WWBRSour beers are here to stay! And for one new Fort Collins brewer, he decided to make a living making sour ales. Sour ales made from Brettanomyces that is. Chad Yakobson turned his passion, into a project, and that project into a business - Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project.

Crooked Stave doesn't have it's own brewery yet, rather it shares facilities with another Fort Collins business - Funkwerks. In mid-2011, Crooked Stave started releasing it's own beers. This particular brew was one of the first to be released as part of an ongoing Wild Wild Brett Series. Its name: Crooked Stave W.W.B.R. or Wild Wild Brett Rouge to be exact.

Crooked Stave WWBR is an ale brewed with Hawthorn berries, Rose hips and Hibiscus and is 100% Brettanomyces fermented. WWBR weighed in at 5.2% ABV and was sold in a bottle capped 750ml bottle. It's hand numbered - 623 of 1600 bottles produced, and also had a batch number date of 6/11 (June 2011). This is the first of hopefully many reviews from this brewer. This ale reportedly will develop even more with age.

Appearance: WWBR (aka Rouge) opened with a loud hiss and so much carbonation that the brew slowly erupted out from the top. Luckily, I didn't lose much beer, but I did stain a table cloth. Rouge poured a reddish brown with a generous off-white head. The beer itself was rather cloudy (unfiltered) even though light easily passed through it. Upon gently swirling the glass, a nice gentle lacing remained that remained for several moments.

Aroma: Ah the smell of sour ale! Rouge had a classic Brett scent. After have become accustomed to sour ales I've learned to recognize that distinct aroma. Along with the Brett, Rouge also had a floral component as well as a slightly sweet fruit distinction. It reminded me slightly of a Saison yet with a more tart, sour character.

Taste: First sips are important. I tried to sample this one cold as the label suggested serving it between 45 to 55 degrees. Rouge was just slightly sour, not puckering by any means. The acidic levels were well tamed on this which was a nice change of pace. The brew had some sweetness and fruity tones, but the Brett balanced that out nicely. A gentle maltiness gave this brew a smooth feel. The rose hips and hibiscus added an earthy accent, but was subtle behind the scenes. Nice.

Overall: I've spoiled myself in the past with some extremely sour ales. I've almost trained myself to expect something shocking when I sip a sour, but Crooked Stave W.W.B.R. was a gentle surprise that didn't feel like it had to go over the top. I liked that. It felt balanced. Chad's research into Brettanomyces seemed to have paid off. He made one tasty, slightly sour beer with a unique blend of ingredients and fit together well. I was impressed.

But no, it wasn't my favorite sour ale, but this beer was a nice slow sipping brew that I felt I could pair with a nice meal. I'd eat this with a fruit salad, or fish, or an orange chicken dish, or perhaps with a dish of ice cream. Next time I buy a bottle I'm definitely going to pair this and experiment.

Hats off to Crooked Stave for creating a wonderful sour that doesn't have to be extremely bold to be good. Cheers!

Video pouring the Crooked Stave W.W.B.R.

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- New Belgium La Folie review.

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