Hello Sour Beer Friends!
Making waves on the American sour and farmhouse brewing scene, Crooked Stave is a brewery located in Denver Colorado and run by Chad Yakobson. Yakobson has studied the characteristics of brewing with Brettanomyces for years and actually wrote the dissertation for his degree on the subject. From these studies was born his brewery Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, an all-Brettanomyces fermentation brewery. Today I will be reviewing one of his excellent beers, Vieille Artisanal Saison.
As can be seen in the photo this beer pours a brightly-clear, pale, amber color with a fine white head. The aroma is very pronounced with a lemony citrus character. Additionally, the beer presents mild aromas of grass, tropical fruits, and yeast. The beer has a moderate level of carbonation and a nice medium body despite finishing very dry.
The sour profile on this beer is subtle. There is a mild lactic tartness which blends nicely with a low to medium hop bitterness. The beer is dry hopped and this hopping presents with a grassy, herbal, noble-hop character both in the flavor and aroma. There is no acetic acid (vinegar) presence in the beer. Brettanomyces is evident mainly in the mouth-feel, dryness, and aroma of the beer. The Brettanomyces fermentation in this saison is relatively clean for the family of yeast and its flavor contributions are bready and tasting of tropical fruits. There is a mild spiciness to the flavor profile which is likely coming from the yeast but could also be from a light-handed addition of spices to the recipe. These spicy notes remind me of a tiny amount of black pepper mixed with a larger dose of lemongrass. The combination of a low sour presence with a medium hop bitterness result in a complex but refreshing finish leaving you ready for another sip.
Overall, this is an excellently crafted beer. The light tartness works very well with the dry hopping and tropical fruit flavors of the Brettanomyces. I would most definitely recommend trying this beer whenever the opportunity presents itself.