This is not going to be one of my normal posts about news in the beer industry or an educational guide about how to do something. There are very few times in my beer drinking career (yes, career) where I am taken back by the truly inspirational qualities of such a simple product. I simply want to share with you the entire reason that I personally got into beer. We are surrounded by criticism of poor quality beers and beers lacking direction. It’s all too often that I hear consumers slam breweries for producing bad beer, dismissing the pursuit of an elusive and highly volatile art and science that is required by these professional breweries. Yes, there is a lot of room for improvement, especially in smaller breweries. But I would like to take a moment to forget all of that and remind everyone of the reason that we drink craft beer.
Beer is art. Beer is science. Beer is a product of a manufacturing plant that we romanticize because of its focus on something that has, in recent US history, been too pedestrian for any thought of having a culture based around it. Beer is an anomaly where a warehouse full of equipment becomes a centerpiece for a speakeasy. Beer is a forum where intellectuals, businessmen, artists, and service industry workers come together to cheers and play over-sized jenga.
I must congratulate Crooked Stave brewery for the inspirational beverage that spawned this article. I was at Butcher and the Boar and enjoyed a dry-hopped sour while discussing homebrewing. The bartender gave us a sample and we both ordered one as our next beer. This beer is one of very few that stand out as especially noteworthy over the last 5 years. Others in the list have been Ommegang Fleur de Houblon, Brau Bros Bancreagie Sour 26 on Raspberries, Destihl Kreik, and now Crooked Stave Progenitor.
Progenitor to me encompasses the subtle harmony of a perfectly balanced beer. It’s an intangible that can be experienced through any style of beer. I’ve had truly great pilsners and I’ve had truly great stouts. It’s not an ingredient or a style of beer. Rather, it’s the translation into flavor that comes from acute attention to detail, well-developed recipes from an experienced brewer, and a little luck from the natural variables that exist within this world of zymurgy.
The beer itself is a clear, pale gold with a white, lasting head. The aroma tantalizes your nose with sharp pineapple and white grape notes with a hint of sourness. As for the flavor, the acidity jumped out as a distinct tartness immediately upon your first sip. Primary flavors were white grape and lemon curd and a slightly lactic finish with a sweetness reminiscent of very lightly baked bread dough. Upon further consumption notes of soft wood, provencal herbs, oregano spice and subtle brett flavors came to life. Gill, my brewing partner, decided that the overall impression was like “sex in the woods on a rainy day.” I guess the enigmatic metaphor means that you should definitely try it should the opportunity present itself.
We couldn’t help but think of great pairings with this beer. It has a great diversity of options. It would be great with fatty foods (e.g. charcuterie board from Butcher and the Boar). Definitely would be a great pairing with grilled salmon, truffles, mushrooms, or caramelized onion. It worked well with most of our food, but was not a good pairing with the sweet and smokey barbecue sauce.. Bonus points if you get 3 out of 4 on a plate.
All in all, I write this not to promote the beer, but to promote beer itself. We all got into this great culture because of the great opportunity to experience expertly crafted beer. I feel as a culture, we have gotten away from that young and innocent outlook where everything was new and exciting. Instead, we’ve replaced it with harsh judgement and swift dismissal. I challenge you to open your mind once more and to approach your next beer with that child-like wonder that we once had as a beer-drinking community. Prost!