What's in a Name?

What's in a Name? is a weekly series where the Brewtography Project explores the origin story of brewery names. This week's brewery is Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales. This is their story.

Black Project first got its name around this time of the year (early-mid July) in 2014. We were about to enter our first GABF competition, having opened Former Future Brewing Company at the beginning of 2014. Being a young brewery, funds were tight - we decided to only pay the fee to enter one beer into the competition. We were producing a wildly popular robust porter with sea salt at the time and my wife and business partner Sarah, along with our employees, assumed that would be the beer we would enter. Instead I went back to the half-dozen barrels of so that I had begun filling with spontaneous wort from my earliest experiments with our rooftop coolship.

There was one barrel, barrel #3, that had developed particularly well and was already essentially ready to serve. I told the staff that we would enter this beer in the Wild Ale category, and explained how the beer was fermented only with microbes that had been captured from the air while the wort cooled. Most of our staff were taken by surprise that these barrels of spontaneously fermented beer even existed. Although they weren't necessarily meant to be a secret from anyone, I intentionally refrained from telling anyone the details as I wasn't sure how they would turn out and I wanted to make sure the beers were given as much time as necessary (we still have some of the beers aging in barrels that were brewed around the same as this beer).

From this lack of information, promotion, and pseudo-secrecy of the spontaneous program I had started came the idea of the name Black Project. The name is a reference to government black budget items / black projects like various spy and stealth aircraft. In the case of government, these are usually military projects that congress votes to approve spending on, but where all or most of the details of the project are classified. These programs typically involve new, cutting edge technology - which was the second reason for the use of the name for our beers.

Our tagline is "Research and Development in Spontaneous Fermentation" - and this related perfectly to the cutting edge nature of many US military black projects. I've always wanted to make beers inspired by the traditional Belgian Lambic process - it is a no-brainer place to start - Belgian Lambic is the only historical example of spontaneous fermentation that survived to the modern era. However, I also wanted to take spontaneous fermentation and begin using it to make beers of all types, with lots of experimental techniques and ingredients. In essence, I wanted Black Project to be rooted in the tradition of Belgian coolship beers - but also on the cutting edge of spontaneous fermentation.

Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales
Innovation in the research and development of spontaneous fermentation