A friend of mine that I hadn't seen a while came to visit recently. We had a party. A sour party. My contribution was a bottle of Cantillon's Iris. I was tempted to not share either my friend's attention nor my rare bottle.
I was tempted by greed.
In many ways, I am richer now for having resisted both temptations. The most surprising thing might be that my bottle may not have been the best bottle at the table, despite the relative price tags.
Here was the lineup. Having had a few Crooked Staves that I didn't love, I was skeptical. I was wrong.
- Nightmare on Brett Grand Cru (Crooked Stave)
- Origins (Crooked Stave)
- Origins Grand Cru (Crooked Stave)
- Vieille (Crooked Stave)
- Petite Sour (Crooked Stave)
- Surette Provision (Crooked Stave)
- Surette Reserve (Crooked Stave)
- St. Bretta (Crooked Stave)
- The Flavor (Trinity Brewing)
- TPS Report (Trinity Brewing)
- Face (Trinity Brewing)
- La Folie (New Belgium)
- Transatlantic Kriek (New Belgium)
- Deconstruction (Odell)
Using our fancy new leaderboards, you can see just how good this lineup was in full customized, filtered form. It's basically the Tigers' lineup this year, even if it lacks the top-end talent of a Miguel Cabrera.
Well, I thought I was bringing Miguel Cabrera to the party. Technically, I was. The Iris is a seven-win beer, and part of the hard-to-find list of Cantillon offerings that are all over craft beer wish lists America-wide. Of course it was good. As a dry Lambic, it fit the night perfectly. But it might have suffered from the palate-busting of the sours that came before, because it didn't wow me. I'd had it before and loved it, too. The finish was lighter than most of the rest, and it didn't quite have the effervescence of some of its competitors that evening. Lastly, while we'd been having beers infused with hibiscus, cinnamon, and large heapings of Brett yeast, the restrained classiness of a well-balanced citrussy Lambic didn't really stand up.
I brought an MVP candidate but I was wowed by some of the lesser all-stars of the evening. Crooked Stave's Origins beers were, in particular, highlights of the evening.
And though I came wanting to hog all the time from that one visiting friend, of course it was great to see everyone at the gathering. And of course I enjoyed the Venture-Brothers' themed cupcakes. And of course frivolity embiggens exponentially as you add ingredients to the mix.
Crooked Stave Origins Grand Cru
Appearance (4.25/5): Maybe not the best aspect of this beer, the maroon body only produces a small white head that disappears fairly quickly. Nice lacing anyway.
Smell (4.5/5): Grapes. Or Raisins? Cherries. Tart cherries. Oak. A red velvet chair by the fire with some fine pipe smoke and a bear rug at your feet.
Taste (4.5/5): All those things, but with some funk. Sweet up front, funk in the middle, dry finish, leaving you wanting more. Like putting on a little Funky Meters while you contemplate the fire.
Mouthfeel (4.25/5): Medium to light body, enough carbonation, at least on the front end, and that sour pucker at the end.
Overall (4.4/5): Excellent barrel-aged sour with some fun notes that set it apart. Lots of taste, medium body, light finish: what the style is supposed to be.