Sunday, May 26, 2013

Crooked Stave Surette Reserva Chardonnay Barrel 2012 review

Crooked Stave Surette Reserva Chardonnay Barrel 2012Sour ales by themselves can be impressive. Put a great one in a Chardonnay barrel and age it and it can become outstanding. If the popularity of Crooked Stave beers has been surprising, just wait, it's going to become a cult following soon. This beer review is from their 2012 Cellar Reserve Membership. It's a beer they call Crooked Stave Surette Reserva Chardonnay Barrel - a rustic five grain Saison artisan ale aged in Chardonnay barrels.

Many of the beers fermented with Brettanomyces get a funky taste, but when they are aged in wine barrels they can take on a whole new perspective. The barrels add a wine and woody character and can often add a few more wild "bugs" to the beer which can sour them further. When Crooked Stave originally released this beer, they warned that they wanted to age this beer further. In my case, I let it age another 8 months!

Surette Reserva Chardonnay Barrel weighed in around 6.5% ABV and came in a smaller 375ml bottle with a bottle cap top (no wax on this one). It was meant to be served between 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. I chose a tulip glass for this beer in order to help capture more of the aroma and flavor.

Appearance:Surette Reserva Chardonnay Barrel (SRCB) poured out a medium golden color with a tight nearly white bubbly head. The beer itself was cloudy and I could not see all the way through the glass. There was a modest amount of carbonation in this beer. Down to the last few drops, I could not see any noticeable sediment or yeast cloud. Saisons typically have some cloudiness and sediment, but this beer looked a bit cleaner than most. This beer was bottle conditioned, yet the yeast sediment was not very noticeable.

Aroma: SRCB started out with a powerful Brett and barrel aroma. The Chardonnay barrel added wonderful wood and grape and sour apple-like tones. This beer had the usual acidic funk and tart aroma that many Crooked Stave beers have. For the sour beer lover in me, this was already smelling like heaven even before I tasted it. There's just something about a barrel-aged brett beer that really stands out.

Surette Reserva Chardonnay close-upTaste: Bingo again! Spot on sour Saison. This beer had a fresh tart and fruity taste with some funk and wood tones in the mix. It was medium bodied and with a powerful flavor that made me say "Oh wow" when I tried it. This bottle had been aged at least 7-8 additional months after it was released and age hasn't diminished the flavor and complexity at all. This beer tasted like it was meant to be put away for a while. This was also a touch of acidic bite on the tongue and it felt tangy the entire way down. A very unique and exciting sour beer.

Overall: So far, I can't get enough of their 2012 Cellar Reserve beers. I'm kicking myself now for not resigning up for their 2013 Cellar Reserve Membership. Sure, it is pricey, but I know much of my membership fee was going towards helping the brewery to get better established and prepared for moving into their newer Denver location later in 2013. Crooked Stave made a wonderful beer by aging this version of Surette Reserva in Chardonnay barrels. I hope they continue to do more of those wine-barrel beers.

If ever anyone offers you a taste of this beer say "Yes absolutely"! Sour fans will absolutely love this beer. Even those who've never tried a sour beer might just like this one. It's fruity, tart, sour, bitter and quite complex. The barrel aging did wonders for this beer to change up the taste over their non-barrel-aged version.

A top of the line beer. One of my favorite sours.

Disclosure: I got this bottle as part of the 2012 Crooked Stave Cellar Reserve Membership.

Related articles:
- Crooked Stave L'Brett d'Or 2012 review.
- Crooked Stave Sentience Wild Quadrupel Cognac Barrel review.
- A visual tour of Crooked Stave Barrel Cellar. (2013)

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