2016 | 25 Breweries on the Rise

James and Sarah Howat began fermenting the first Black Project beer in February 2014 in a back room at Former Future, the Denver brewery they were preparing to launch. Both breweries have found success, but Black Project stayed under classified status for a while.The husband-and-wife duo didn’t even tell most Former Future employees what was happening in that room; it remained an Area 51 until eight months later. Once the first Black Project beer was released, the floodgates opened. Geeks clamored for the sour and funky brews, all made with native, wild microflora (the Howats don’t purchase any yeast for Black Project beers from a lab). After two Black Project beers, Flyby and Ramjet, won medals at GABF in 2014 and 2015, word spread nationally. “You hear about engineered scarcity, but we’ve never been able to produce more than a few barrels at a time on our four-barrel system,” says James. “Right now, we’re literally trying to brew and bottle them one beer at a time.” The beers age 10-12 months on average and don’t lend themselves to repetition. But that’s not what the Howats seek anyway; Former Future is their outlet for clean, if not always repeated, beers including the Singularity Principle series of single-malt, single-hop pale ales. Black Project prizes variation. “Wild fermentation isn’t boring and it’s not even really understood,” James says. “It takes a long time to find your answer.” The Howats favorite results have been Ramjet, a red wine barrel- aged dark sour brewed with cherries, and Kalmar, a spontaneously fermented gose that has only improved in the bottle since its November 2015 release. Black Project is currently looking to expand production and distribute to other states. Safe to say the secret’s out.