Origins (Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project)

Style: American Flanders Red Mixed Fermentation

6.5% ABV

Batch #5 May 2015

From: Denver, CO

Brewery’s Note: “Base Burgundy Sour aged in Oak Barrels. Our Hommage to the history of barrel-aging and those who have influenced us along the way.” “We like to call Origins our homage to the history of barrel aging and those who have influenced us along the way. This beer is one of our best examples of what barrel aging can really bring to a beer. It’s really a basic beer, but after extended time conditioning in oak, it becomes so complex. Robust vinous notes and charred oak are rounded out by the tartness we love from our mixed culture fermentation.”

The beer pours out like rich, brown candy syrup. It sits in the glass with an amber tinge that borders on ruby. It forms a healthy head of creamy, tan bubbles that settle to a tightknit, quarter of a fingers width above the glass, and leave a slick set of fat, uniform sheets of lacing. In body, the beer is dark and a little murky, but not fully opaque as a clear clean light and vision of the other side of the glass breaks through on the bottom. On the nose, the beer smells of apple skin, soft but tannic oak, subtle vanilla, cherry cola, chocolate covered cherries, and a lacquered woodiness. When you agitate the glass juicy raisin, cranberry, and grape notes enter, but the lacquered woodiness is rather strong on the nose. As it warms, the lacquer dissipates into more complex and interesting barrel characters, noting almond, vanilla, caramel, and rich oaky notes. There is no definite acetic character, but a subtle layer of funky vinegar ghosts on the nose to add complexity and acidity. The sour cherry and green apple are very light, but they aren’t missing from the nose. On the tongue, the beer tastes of rich, chocolate covered sour cherries with some green apple and a little malt vinegar added in. There is balsamic vinegar, and layers of oak too. The beer begins sweet, and then mildly acidic with an acetic tinge to the finish. The tastes are all restrained and very well structured within the sip, playing off one another while never overshadowing the others. It comes off almost restrained in taste, and I’m left wondering if maybe my bottle was served too cold (it was served right at the suggested temp on the bottle, so probs not). There is dry, earthy wood that nips lightly of tannic bitters, but also rumbles with rich oak sugars, and it is honestly more so the acidity that gently bites in this beer, and not the mellow bitters. Instead, the bitters linger on the edge of the sip, and help put a nice structure into the sip; they gently pucker and pop the mouth, and bring the rich oak sugars more to the fore. There is a lingering sense of subtle char, vanilla, and chocolate covered cherries in the aftertaste, which is lovely. The flavors are beautifully delicate and interwoven, but this beer tastes distinctly of Flemish influence in the mouth. Malt vinegar mixed with chocolate covered cherries, served on a lightly toasted oak slat with a very light balsamic drizzle. In the mouth, the beer is medium bodied with a tight, attenuated feel. There is a prickle and fizzle from the acidity of the beer, but the carbonation seems mellow and soft. Meanwhile, the mouth is expertly structured by the bitterness and acidity on the edges, and the sweet flavors in the middle of the mouth. When the beer leaves, the mouth is left slightly dry like you licked a plank. Spittle wells on the lower gum-line, but nothing is drenched and the mouth is left at a mostly neutral and pleasant state. As a whole, this beer is deceptively delicate, but masterfully tasty. It doesn’t smack you over the head with flavors like others in the Flemish-styles, and the beer actually comes off rather restrained and subtle. It reminds me a lot of Trillium’s New England Red only with more acidity. I’m finding myself drifting more and more towards subtle beers as my palate grows a new coat. They once upset me for their “understated-ness” but now I love that I can get such unique character from them without weighing down my palate as I sip. Still, I wouldn’t hold this in my upper echelon of Flanders Red-style beers. It’s a great beer and Crooked Stave is definitely killing it in the game right now, but this one just left me happy to sip it and did not blow me away in any manner.


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