Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Crooked Stave Fertile Soil Golden Ale

Type: Fresh-hopped (Belgian) Golden Ale
Origin: Fort Collins/Denver, CO
Price: $8.49/750 mL
ABV: 7.0%
NSP: 6.18 (unscaled)

I hope Andy's not too bitter that all the beer I used to share with him from my recon efforts I now drink and review myself.

I was a little confused about this one. The bottle says 'Brewed and Bottled at Funkwerks, Inc. in Fort Collins, CO'. So naturally, I thought this beer was a product of Funkwerks, a new (late 2010) brewery that focuses exclusively on saison-style beer. But I went on their website and found no mention of this beer. So then I looked up Crooked Stave, and I find a website for the Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project. Crooked Stave appears to be a registered but not yet built brewery in Denver started by a guy who wrote a Master's thesis on brettanomyces, the yeast strain responsible for the sourness in sour beers. I'm not sure about the details, but from what I can tell the Crooked Stave folks have been based in Fort Collins and are on the verge of opening their facility in Denver. And this beer appears to be either a) a collaboration between Funkwerks and Crooked Stave, or b) Funkwerks allowing Crooked Stave to use their facility to make a small-batch special release before their own place has opened. That's a whole lot of BS when I was just looking for a URL to link up at the top.

But enough of that, and on to the beer. These guys are clearly very meticulous about their craft- the bottle includes the batch number (1-11/11) and the bottle number within the batch (427/838). It also recommends a temperature range for serving, 40-50 degrees F (I checked, mine was at 47). Every single ingredient is locally grown in Colorado. So how's the beer? Pretty delicious. It's highly carbonated- the bottle coughed when I opened it, and the head exploded despite my best efforts at a smooth pour. The front part of the label contains no mention of Belgian yeast, but make no mistake, this is a Belgian golden ale, not an American golden ale. The yeast is definitely the most prominent thing that jumps out in the nose, with all the banana and cloves and such that you'd expect from a Belgian ale, though they're a touch muted relative to some of the others I've had. There's also a bit of the musty dubbel-style malt in there, but very little obvious hop aroma. The flavor's very nice, refreshing and well-balanced, with a nice tinge of bitterness from the hops and the usual Belgian fruitiness. There's also a touch of sourness in there...maybe the guy brought some of his brettanomyces into the equation? In sum, I quite enjoy it, and have no problem drinking it while watching Tom Brady carve up the Broncos like a Thanksgiving turkey.

I'm intrigued enough by this beer and what info I've found on Crooked Stave to keep my eye on them in the future. For the time being, I will be perfectly content to drink Cali-Belgique or the incomparable Le Freak if I want a hoppy Belgian, but this is a pretty impressive product for a brewery that's not yet a brewery.


  1. As Tupac might say: I aint mad atcha. You threw me a bone with Ska Pinstripe, though.

  2. My wife and absolutely LOVED this beer! We're from Fort Collins (home of Funkwerks...and we're Broncos fans...I'll let that comment slide...), and we've tried a few others from Crooked Stave - good stuff. I started homebrewing last year and would love to reculture the yeast from this for my next brew. Nice review!

  3. See the logo on the hat peeking through between the glass and the bottle? I certainly didn't enjoy the trip to Brady's slaughterhouse either.