Denver’s premier sour beer purveyor Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project occupies a corner of The Source on Brighton Boulevard in Rino. The mixed-use development features a collection of artisan shops, food stores, restaurants and even a hotel in a former old factory, so visiting is somewhat of an immersive experience. On the beer side, Crooked Stave has expanded from typical sours and now serves several traditional styles for non-sour-drinkers along with even more experimental sour options.
BEER LINEUP: Crooked Stave now offers a lot of options going in all different directions. Originally the brewery featured only a small lineup of sours and bottle-aged beers, most which were made with Brettanomyces. Crooked Stave has gradually expanded those offerings with more experimental beers and the addition of spices and other flavors, but has also added non-sour beers for less-adventurous drinkers. In summary, you’ll find standard beers here but Crooked Stave is really a place to get your sour on.
ATMOSPHERE: Sharing a building with The Source creates an interesting traffic flow where people wander out with beers, bring in prepared food or even put together a little picnic from the gourmet food shops in the building. The old brick factory lined with stores and restaurants creates an intimate and dynamic atmosphere where you can leave the taproom to stroll around or lounge in the common area. On a weekend afternoon the taproom was full of a wide range of people just hanging out, from beer geeks to hipsters and even a few families. The sliding doors at the back of the taproom hide a huge stash of bottles and we noticed many people taking bombers to enjoy later.
SERVICE: This is the one area where Crooked Stave fell flat. Despite the three servers behind the bar, we watched a perpetual line of just six or eight people waiting (and waiting) for 15 minutes to get a beer. We tried to work out the cause – perhaps excessive sampling, nitro pours or quirky taps – but nothing seemed to account for the delays except simply massive disorganization from the (friendly) serving staff.
NEIGHBORHOOD: The brewery and The Source sit along the quickly-developing portion of Brighton Boulevard closest to downtown. In addition to exploring the businesses in The Source, several other restaurants/bars are within walking distance and a short drive will bring you to downtown in one direction or to a handful more breweries, restaurants or the Denver Coliseum in the other. Numerous transport options exist, including a nearby light rail stop, bus lines, and easy highway access. The parking lot is posted for 30-minute parking but longer paid street parking and lots are just across the street.
STANDOUT BEER: On this one I’m going to have to push. As someone who is not a sour fan I tried a couple of the traditional beers and while they were solid, at Crooked Stave the sours are going to hit the home runs. I’d encourage you to draw your own conclusions if you’re a sour fan, or want to get into that game.