Beer Man

Crooked Stave still selling bottles, will negotiate with the state over draft beer

Update, September 28: Crooked Stave is now serving draft beer again after having come to resolution with the Department of Revenue's tobacco and liquor enforcement division. It turns out that Crooked Stave owner Chad Yakobson, who has researched Colorado's odd liquor rules, had asked Funkwerks Brewing in Fort Collins, where he used to make his beer, to designate Crooked Stave as the sole distributor and wholesaler for eighteen specific Crooked Stave beers. Since Funkwerks has a manufacturer's license, Crooked Stave doesn't need one in order to sell those beers on tap at its taproom.

Chad Yakobson, owner of the Crooked Stave Barrel Cellar, plans to meet with the Colorado Department of Revenue sometime this week to see if there is a way to sort out the licensing issue that forced him to stop pouring draft beer on Friday.

Crooked Stave is still open and can still sell its bottled beer off the shelf, but because the operation doesn't have a manufacturer's license, it can't pour pints -- as it has been doing since September 5, when Yakobson opened the small north Denver taproom.

"Our intention is in no way to be operating illegally," he says. "This is a bummer."

See also - Crooked Stave Barrel Cellar ordered to stop selling draft beer - Crooked Stave adds funk to Denver's beer culture with a barrel cellar and brewery - Like a winery, Crooked Stave is raising money with a reserve membership program

Yakobson, who will open a full-scale brewery this spring at The Source, an under-development project in the nearby RiNo neighborhood, says his original plan for the Barrel Cellar was only to sell bottles, but that changed about six weeks ago.

"We were told in a conversation with the [liquor and tobacco enforcement division] that we didn't need a manufacturer's license, that all we needed to operate our taproom was a wholesale license, which is what we have," he explains. "So we put our efforts into other things, like getting the taproom open and pouring our energy into that."

So he was surprised when an agent from the division showed up last week and told him he had to stop serving beer on draft.

Since Yakobson feels like he was told the wrong thing by the division, he is hoping that the state can do something to help him get the right license quickly -- possibly in time for the Great American Beer Festival, which runs from October 11 through October 13 in Denver. If not, he says he will simply go back to his original plan and sell bottles from the Barrel Cellar.

Yakobson opened his brewery, Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, in Fort Collins last year and moved the operation, which specializes in making wild and sour ales, to Denver in June. He opened the Barrel Cellar on September 5.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes