Bringing women in the community together one craft beer at a time.

May 7

Pairings with Crooked Stave

by Riley Cowing

With inches of snow continuing to pile up around Denver in April, it seed hard to believe that spring is upon us. However, the cold weather did not hinder the Crafty Ladies and their gathering with Crooked Stave April 12th. Crooked Stave, a brewery that focuses mainly on sour beers, collaborated with Highland Tap and Burger’s own Chef Eli Odell to create a four-course beer and food pairing to showcase what new, seasonal bites are available at HTB as well as Crooked Stave’s current offerings. It was an event to educate as well as indulge.


Vielle, an artisanal saison, was served first. It was aged six months, allowing one to taste a hint of tartness while not being overwhelmed. Ben, a representative from Crooked Stave, explained – the longer the beer is aged in barrels, the more sour it can become. He then described Vielle as tasting “dry and earthy, with a bit of farmhouse funk” as well as being the most session-able of their beers. Brigitte Brown, the beer buyer and Certified Cicerone from HT&B, worked with Chef Eli to create the food pairings for the evening. They chose a grilled artichoke with truffle aioli to kick off the evening on a light note. Brown explained that the key to pairing beer with food is to match intensities. She felt that this was “a pairing that resonates with each other,” pointing out the citrus notes both the beer and artichoke had to offer.


Next, we dove into a peach version of Crooked Stave’s Surette – Surette on Peaches. While tasting this beer, Ben explained how Crooked Stave uses wild yeast, mainly brettanomyces and lactobacillus. He said that these yeasts work in their beers similarly to the cultures utilized in kombucha or yogurt. While the first beer of the evening, Vieille, was dominant in brettanomyces, Surette on Peaches was a good example of a lactobacillus dominant beer. This beer is aged one year, and with Palisade peaches in French oak for six months. Described as “funky and sour”, it was paired with smoked trout cakes. The sweetness from the malt in the beer was complemented by the sweetness in the corn pico on the trout cakes.

Colorado Wild Sage was the third beer of the evening, which is one of Crooked Stave’s original beers. It was originally created for an event by Wynkoop Brewing called “Beers Made by Walking”. The first batch contained sage brush found walking in Palisade, CO that was later discovered to have been from a mildly toxic area. So to the creators’ surprise, the beer then possessed an element that is found in absinthe. Thus, they have made some adjustments to create a more palatable and safer version of the beer. Ben mentioned that this beer is a good example of the complexity brettanomyces can offer. This beer was paired with chicken meatloaf and creamed corn topped with jalapeño cream cheese, creating balance between the sharp and acidic elements of the beer, and slaw with creamy and rich aftertastes from the meatloaf and creamed corn. This pairing seemed to be a crowd favorite.

To close out the evening, the ladies tasted Serenata Notturna, a Belgian golden ale, paired with tostones (fried plantains) that were topped with achiote marinated pork. Serenata Notturna clocks in at 12% ABV and has been aged in barrels for close to 18 months, thus creating a layered and complex taste with hints of strawberry. Ben explained that the flavor of this beer evolves as you continue to drink it. For first time attendee, Jessica Davie, the event ended on a high note. “I was delighted to be in a room full of awesome ladies who share the same love for beer and food that I do,” Davie said. “What could be better than that? I’ll definitely be back.”