"Beer in Colorado" is dedicated to that divine elixir born of the marriage of water, malt, hops, and yeast as interpreted
by those living in Colorado. Follow the author as he visits every brewery in the state, creates experimental homebrews,
attends beer festivals, tries interesting beers from around the world, and spreads the good word of beer. Prost!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Source, Crooked Stave, and the Craft Beer/Hipster Assumption

Hipsters: with their retro design t-shirts, skinny jeans, and ridiculous facial hair, they infiltrate our urban areas, bleed our ears with vinyl recordings, and deride average folk for their enjoyment of mainstream entertainment (“Yeah, I’m really into Klaus Scheißmusiker, this Austrian xylophonist and Tuvan throat singer.  You’ve probably never heard of him, he only plays on Leap Day in an abandoned subway station under Istanbul.”).  Worst of all, this wacky cultural phenomenon has somehow become associated with craft beer.

How this association came to be is a mystery to me.  As a beer blogger, I’m quite familiar with craft beer culture and, even though Denver isn’t the hipster breeding ground that is Chicago, Brooklyn, or Portland, the Mile High City nonetheless has its fair share of the invasion.  Ergo, I’ve also had many an opportunity to study hipster drinking habits.  The beers I usually see being placed to curlicue-mustachioed lips are Pabst Blue Ribbon, Mickey’s, or something ending in the word “Ice.”  That’s because those beers are ironic; hipsters want suds that are cheap and cool-because-they’re-not-cool i.e. not craft beer. 

So who drinks craft beer, then?  The answer is convoluted, there is no one type of craft beer drinker.  Across the bar at my local brewery, I see the dreadlocked, jeans-patched-with-corduroy hippie sipping on a saison.  I see the dirt-streaked mountain biker and goggle-tanned skier putting down a few porters.  I see young couples, middle-aged couples, and old couples enjoying each other’s company over a flight.  I see sharp-looking business men and women rub shoulders with Carhartt-bedecked blue collar workers.  And, yes, I even see hipsters from time to time.  Craft beer is a libation for all walks of humanity; hipsters make up a small slice of the pie and so does every other type of person until there’s an aggregate whole.  Craft beer belongs to no one faction, it is the people’s drink.

The common space at The Source
The common space at The Source
Sometimes, even though craft beer in general serves all manner of people, one of those aforementioned factions opens their own brewery, focuses their recipes and décor on their specific culture.  The hippies, for example, have Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery and Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place.  The outdoorsy, sporty people have Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery and Eddyline Brewing.  The traditional suburbanites have Brewery Rickoli and Lone Tree BrewingCompany.  And the hipsters?  They have Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project’s new location at The Source.

Let me amend that statement slightly.  I actually don’t view Crooked Stave as a hipster brewery.  If you had to say something negative about Crooked Stave, you could call it highfalutin, fancy-schmancy.  If you had to say something positive about Crooked Stave, you could call it a daring, innovative brewery, among the most influential in Colorado and possibly the country.  I tend to find myself in the latter camp. 

What's behind the gate? A brewery? Or a velociraptor? 
Nay, Crooked Stave isn’t hipster—The Source itself is hipster.  It’s trendy, it’s got a vintage vibe, it’s hidden in such a way that the hip kids will know about it before the general public, and its urban, artistic aura is thicker than a zebra fart.  And I can’t help loving the place.  It’s so damn cool!  Built in a once-disheveled 1880’s foundry building, this meeting-point for all things artisan is vibrant yet, with brick walls and vaulted, beamed ceilings, retains its gritty, rough-necked past.  The location of the building, likewise, adds to its charm; situated in the River North neighborhood, with pretty much no other retail spots within spitting distance, The Source is a true destination—an oasis in the industrial zone. 

The Source boasts many tenants beyond Crooked Stave: eateries Comida and Acorn, CapRock bar, a butcher, a bakery, a coffee shop, a grocer, a design studio, a flower store, a bank, a cheese and spice shop, and a small bottle shop which, diminutive as it is, features some impressive craft beers.  While CapRock is placed out in the open, in the middle of the building, the rest of the tenants are pushed to the side behind massive, metal gates that seem to have been repurposed from the set of Jurassic Park.

Crooked Stave
Crooked Stave
Crooked Stave
When Nicole and I along with our cohorts Robin, Justin, and Stephen visited The Source a few days ago, we didn’t have the time to see all it had to offer.  We did, however, have some of the best freakin’ tacos at Comida (the grilled bacon and jalapeno taco will melt your face with deliciousness) and, because I view Crooked Stave as one of the top three breweries in the state, we had to pop in there for a drink, too.

"HmmMMM, a buzz I will catch." 

I won’t talk too much on Crooked Stave (because I already have in previous posts) but I will say that the barrel-aged Nightmare on Brett is a pucker-inducing tart beer with the amazing power of salivation inducement.  If you ate 20 saltines and then took one sip of Nightmare on Brett, it’d be like a waterpark just opened up in your mouth; you’ll be slobbering like a St. Bernard in no time.

I still don’t listen to The Decemberists, I wear no oversized, plastic sunglasses, and a courier bag is quite absent from my list of possessions.  No, I am not a hipster; that is a culture I don’t see myself breaking into.  You will, however, see me at The Source.  When out-of-town beer geeks visit Denver, I will point them in The Source’s direction.  When somebody claims that Denver is white bread, boring, I will assume they haven’t been to The Source.  When I feel I need a brett beer or a fantastic taco, I will go to The Source.  It is too badass to ignore.



1 comment:

  1. I also thought the source reminded me of the embarcadero