Declassified: Coolships, Fermentation Secrets, and Black Project


Black Project was born in the shadow of James and Sarah Howat’s former brewery: Former Future.After winning a few medals at the Great American Beer Festival, the owners decided to cease production of Former Future beers and focus solely on Black Project.

Altering course

It wasn’t easy swapping from a small craft brewery and jumping full fledged into the spontaneous game.James described the transition from Former Future to Black Project as an evolving process.

“What if we just did this type of beer…the demand was there and it was unique.”

Former Future held hugely successful Black Project tap takeovers, where people flocked to the brewery in droves. After eight months of planning and work, they were “out of money, but thankfully, we made beer.” James also talks about the difficult transition from FF to BP and coming to the realization it was time to switch.Thankfully, they made the switch and Black Project is already talking about increasing production.

So, coolships.

What are they, and why does it matter to the ‘average’ beer drinker? Basically, think of a large vat that is exposed to the local environment. This allows the wort to cool efficiently due to the wort/surface area. Coolships have allowed brewers for hundreds of years to cool down wort, even though they didn’t know exactly why they needed it to cool.After fermentation this spontaneous beer is ready to drink. The end result? A complex, funky, and tart/sour beer that is taking Denver and the whole beer industry by storm. Black Project’s latest release saw people waiting outside for nearly four hours to buy one bottle.

Going all in with fruit

Roswell is Black Projects’ newest venture into Lambic-inspired ale with six fruits. While the beer is unique and tasty, the real plan was to study and advance spontaneous fermentation.The bottle release was late in July, and Black Project is asking their customers to post their experience sharing the beer on social media.(The funniest social media share will win ROSWELL:SIGN – Blueberry, the only version Black Project didn’t sell to-go.)Use the #ShareRoswell to check out other submissions and create your own. As you can see, Roswell is intended to share the experience of spontaneous fermentation. One of my favorite things to do with ‘non-beer drinkers’ is to share beers like Roswell and have them experience what beer CAN (and perhaps, should) be.While Roswell is sold out, you can still get to Black Project and have a tasting with friends. We recommend getting to the bar early, as it fills quickly.I can’t say enough about James and the folks at Black Project. James has unbelievable passion for his new take on this old brewing method.