Beer brewed with wild yeast strains are exploding in popularity with American craft beer lovers with more and more breweries adventuring into this subset of beers every day.
One of the foremost experts in the field of wild yeast1 fermentation is Chad Jacobson of Crooked Stave. Jacobson spent his formative years studying wine until he came to the realization that beer is better than wine.2 Jacobson went on to open a brewery that brews only brettanomyces beers but not before writing his masters dissertation on brettanomyces fermentation. He has spent his entire professional career studying brett and how to unlock the true potential of this once feared yeast.3
What Jacobson did with all of this research is what separates the craft brewing industry from almost any other industry. He published his entire dissertation for the world to read. He discovered new ways to use the yeast and ways to guide it to get new and exciting flavors, and instead of keeping it for himself and his brewery he shared it with the world. Imagine Apple sharing new iPhone technology with Android or Toyota helping Honda build a Prius knock off. Not only did he publish the information for his fellow brewers to read, he continues sharing is ongoing research as well.
If you spend any amount of time on brewing message boards discussing brettanomyces you will find Jacobson answering questions and helping other brewers. Again, this is one of the many reasons I love the craft beer industry and the sense of community and partnership it harbors.
Now back to the reason you are reading this review, the beer itself.
Today I have the pleasure of opening Origins from Crooked Stave. This burgundy wild ale is obviously fermented with brett, but bacteria was also added to produce a tart acidity. It’s released at various times throughout the year with the most recent release taking place on Nov. 19.
Origins pours a beautiful crystal clear burnt copper with minimal head. A quick whiff of the glass brings a noticeable acidity with a big dark cherry note. Lemon peel, oak, a light bretty funk and just a touch of caramel sweetness help round out the nose.
The first sip has an assertive acidity that is very present but not sharp or off putting at all. Similar to the nose the big cherry and lemon flavors mix very well with the tartness. There is just a touch of vinegary acetic acid that helps round out the bite of the sourness. After each sip the finish just slowly falls off with the sourness slowly fading to a pleasant dry finish. The dark cherry flavors also linger as the oak tannins help to dry out the finish even more. As cliché as this sounds, the finish really does leave you wanting another sip.