I am always pretty leary of a hazy IPA from a brewer more well-known for its non-hoppy offerings. Denver-based Crooked Stave certainly fits the bill as a powerhouse sour and wild ale brewer that has only more recently tried to capitalize on the haze craze. But my first foray into Crooked Stave’s hoppy offerings, its double IPA Trellis Buster, was one of my favorite new IPAs of the year, so when I saw the brewery’s flagship IPA had been given the unfiltered, juicy hop treatment, I knew I had to give it a try too.
Crooked Stave IPA pours beautiful, bright and hazy. While totally opaque, it is lighter than most similar hazies leaning more golden orange than dark or burnt. A pillowy white head of foam caps the beer and clings to the glass as it fades. Crooked Stave’s IPA looks very juicy, like a frothy glass of OJ.
That juicy appearance comes through in a big way on the aroma. Crooked Stave IPA smells like orange and mango juice, with a pineapple twist. It has a very fruity and juicy aroma, and honestly doesn’t really smell like beer. The aroma is stunning, but it doesn’t fill the room. Instead, it requires you to get right over the glass before revealing its potency.
Style be damned, sometimes good brewers make really good beer—who would have thought?”
Surprisingly after the juicy appearance and aroma, Crooked Stave IPA drinks extremely dry. The juicy fruit is there but dryness is the dominant trait of each taste. Given that pop of dryness, the beer is not very sweet at all. It’s extremely different in the world of hazy IPAs to bring this much fruit flavor without the accompanying sweet juiciness. Crooked Stave’s IPA tastes like chewing on orange pith, if the orange was crossed with pineapple and mango too. A prickly dose of carbonation adds to that dry mouthfeel in a beer with none of the oily slickness of more rindy, resinous IPAs.
Talk about a unique take on a hazy IPA. The amazing aroma and appearance boost the overall rating tremendously, with the aroma in particular pulling more than its fair share of weight. The toned-down fruitiness and turned-up dryness keeps Crooked Stave IPA from achieving its ceiling, but it is still more than solid. Style be damned, sometimes good brewers make really good beer—who would have thought? Next time you see a brewery taking on a style outside its perceived wheelhouse, don’t be afraid to try it. It probably won’t always turn out as good as Crooked Stave IPA, but then again, you never know unless you try.