Black Project Releases Two New Beers

Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales will release two new beers on April 22, 2017 at 12pm.

ROCKET SLED and REHEAT will join the expanding list of bottles that Black Project has released over the past three years. Customers looking to buy a bottle should expect to wait in line at least an hour before the release. Most customers arrive at 11am, but some show up much earlier, often several hours before the release to setup chairs or blankets. 

This year, Black Project has been able to increase production, with one or two new beers available for sale each month. In 2014, when the brewery first started selling bottles in secret under the former, Former Future Brewing Company, each release would be limited to a single bottle every three months. This limitation on production was caused by a small 4BBL (barrel) system and the size restriction of the taproom. This limited availability is also exacerbated by the fact that each beer takes 8-10 months to ferment in oak barrels and then may spend several more months refermenting in stainless steel fermenters with fruit or to be dry hopped. In October, the brewery expanded into the space next door by leasing an area that they dedicated to 100 new oak barrels and a custom-made copper coolship.

While each bottle release is still extremely limited, sometimes only producing 100 bottles for sale, customers should expect to get a bottle if they are in line before 12pm.

ROCKET SLED is the first beer fermented with 100% coolship-caught microbes and then dry hopped with Mosaic and Simcoe Cryo Hops. Cryo Hops™ is a concentrate luplin powder that doubles the resin content, creating a super "juicy" hop character. The base beer is 100% wheat, made using only coolship-caught microbes. This beer is low alcohol and lightly tart, which is refreshing and full of complexity. ROCKET SLED showcases Mosaic and Simcoe, with an exquisite hop-forward aroma. The use of Cryo Hops allows Black Project to create a super dry hoped sours, without any leafy hop flavor, creating a unique combination. 

"Cryo Hops™ represents the most innovative technology in hop processing. It uses a proprietary cryogenic separation process which preserves all components of each hop fraction, producing two simultaneous co-products, LupuLN2™ and Debittered Leaf.

LupuLN2 is the concentrated lupulin of whole-leaf hops containing resins and aromatic oils. It is designed to provide intense hop flavor and aroma, enabling brewers to dose large quantities of hops without introducing astringent flavors or vegetative cone material. During early R&D trials, brewers specifically cited ‘juicy’ and ‘resinous’ characteristics. LupuLN2 offers twice the resin content of traditional whole-leaf and hop pellet products, and should be dosed at approximately half the amount by weight." -YCHHOPS

REHEAT is a variant on the brewer’s popular wine-hybrid beer series. SUPERCRUISE and MACH-LIMIT start with wine grapes from locally-sourced, family-owned vineyards in Palisade, CO. Once the grapes have been destemmed and crushed, Black Project allows the juice to rest for a few days - developing rich color and depth of flavor - before finally transferring the juice to neutral oak barrels along with our base Golden Sour. 

After emptying a SUPERCRUISE barrel, REHEAT is added back into the barrel to referment and age on the remnants of the SUPERCRUISE series. Instead of rinsing and steaming the barrels, Black Project adds fresh coolship wort on top of the 2-5 gal of SUPERCRUISE "dregs" (yeast and souring microbes). Subtle, mild grape flavor comes through with an interesting fermentation profile owing to the active wild yeast that is still present and hungry from the SUPERCRUISE refermentation.

Both beers will be bottle conditioned in 750mL cork and cage brown bottles. ROCKET SLED will cost $22 per bottle and REHEAT will cost $26 per bottle

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Black Project Signs Distribution Agreement

Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales is announcing an exclusive distribution agreement with Shelton Brothers Importers.

Shelton Brothers is predominantly an importer of many traditional beers from Europe, however they also work with a small group of traditional and quality-minded brewers that are based in U.S. They’re a company that appreciates unique and well-crafted beers and they have a distribution network in place across most of the country that also values and understands these types of beers.

In 2014, Black Project was the first brewery in Colorado to brew a spontaneous ale on a production system. That same year, Black Project was awarded a bronze medal for FLYBY, a brettanomyces-centered spontaneous ale at the Great American Beer Festival. In 2015, Black Project was awarded a bronze medal again at GABF in the same category for RAMJET, a spontaneous ale with Montmorency Cherries. Last year, at the end of 2016, the brewery was named Colorado’s Best Brewery by the Denver Post. 

The success and recognition that Black Project has received has created tremendous demand nationwide, with long lines at beer festivals and monthly bottle releases selling out. This demand is only been exacerbated by the fact that each beer takes months, if not years to create, and the brewery operates on a small 4BBL brew house.

To overcome these challenges and to increase production, Black Project expanded in 2016 by purchasing 100 additional oak barrels. This has allowed the brewery to keep its small system, while still being able to produce enough beer for the taproom, beer festivals, and limited events. This has also created an opportunity for distribution.

By partnering with Shelton Brothers, Black Project will be able to distribute to beer festivals, events, and supporting events in tap rooms across the United States, plus a bit extra for limited retail distribution in the area. This partnership allows for beer to easily get across state lines to various festivals and will create the relationships needed to tell fans where to get Black Project beer around the event.

Black Project will not be available across the entire Shelton network for now, the limited quantity does not allow for this. Instead, with this partnership, Black Project will be able to work with local distributors to deliver small amounts of product to select markets on a limited basis.

This will not affect local distribution.

Black Project will continue to self-distribute in Colorado out of the taproom with bottle releases and in limited amounts to select stores. The increase in production also means that there will be more beer on tap and available in bottles for onsite consumption at the brewery. Customers that are interested in purchasing bottles and keeping up with events are encouraged to join Black Project’s email list.

Black Project Hosts Live Q&A

On March 17, 2017, Black Project Spontaneous and Wild Ales hosted a live Q&A with James Howat, owner, brewer, and blender, on Facebook and Instagram to discuss the taproom only release of COMPASS OWL and TOMCAT, two new beers that were released the same day. COMPASS OWL is a New England IPA made with wild yeast, Belma hops, and Motueka hops; TOMCAT a bold, roasty, and dry 12% ABV stout made with the same wild yeast that was foraged from a crab apple tree.

Participants joined the conversation to discuss the unique fermentation and production of “wild ales”, something that Black Project has become known for. Unlike most traditional breweries, Black Project only uses yeast that is collected from the environment. These organisms are naturally found in the air, plants, and foliage around us. James Howat, a former high school teacher and microbiologists, used his experience and knowledge in microbiology which he applied to brewing to cultivate select organisms. 

Wild yeast (brettanomyces), like brewer’s yeast (saccharomyces), creates alcohol by consuming sugars. By doing this, wild yeast helps break down complex starches into more simple sugars that other organisms can consume. In beer, this process creates esters and phenols which are expressed as tropical fruity flavors and aromas. Wild yeast can also act like a brewer’s yeast, where more traditional flavors and aromas are created. Both COMPASS OWL and TOMCAT will be on tap until they are gone.

In addition to wild beers, Black Project also creates one of a kind spontaneous ales. These beers ferment by collecting wild yeast, souring microbes, and other cultures directly from the air without any additional yeast added. This process starts in the “coolship”, a custom-made copper container that is fabricated based on specific volume requirements. Once it is filled with hot wort (the name for beer before it ferments) it is left to cool overnight. In the morning, the beer is moved to oak barrels where it ferments for 8-10 months or longer. This creates incredibly complex sour beer that cannot be replicated and is truly one-of-a-kind.

Black Project Spontaneous and Wild Ales will also be tapping Magic Lantern : Apricot | Blood Orange on March 29 at 4pm. This beer was made using the same methods discussed in the Q&A. A different strain of wild yeast was grown to produce the base for Magic Lantern, a salted gose {g-oh-suh}, which is then refermented with apricot and blood oranges. If people still have questions for James Howat, Black Project will continue to take questions on the original Facebook video in the comments section - Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales Live Q&A.