Crooked Stave of Denver stands out as a craft beer experimenter
Ryan Summerlin September 22, 2012
Squeezed between rows in what looks like a wine cellar, Chad Yakobson takes a pair of pliers and pries a nail out of an oak barrel.
He tips his glass forward, catching a stream not of pinot or zinfandel but a dark, sour beer – don’t call it an ale – fermented with a yeast strain brewers traditionally have considered a contamination threat.
“Acidic … palatable … nice,” he says. ” This is about ready.”
This warehouse-like spot in north Denver is the Barrel Cellar, the temporary home of Yakobson’s Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project.
Here, aging in nearly 100 wooden barrels, is everything from a traditional saison to an imperial pale ale and Danish-style Baltic porter, all 100 percent fermented with the wild yeast Brettanomyces.
Equal parts scientist, brewer and businessman, the 28-year-old Yakobson has an almost obsessive respect for brewing tradition and plans lurking in his head that would make Willy Wonka proud.
He is part of a younger generation of Colorado brewers – a group that includes Troy Casey at AC Golden and Jason Yester of Trinity Brewing in Colorado Springs – pushing boundaries by creating complex, delicate barrel-aged beers with wild yeast and bacteria.
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