2017 | NJ.com - The 99 Best Bottles of Beer (and Mead) on our Wall

8. DIVISION: Echo (Black Project Wild & Spontaneous Ales, Colorado)

The backstory: Former Wayne resident James Howat and his wife Sarah opened their brewery, then called Former Future, in Denver in 2014. James, who studied microbiology at Colorado State University, wanted to experiment with beers fermented using only the wild yeasts that float through the air in Colorado -- a process called spontaneous fermentation perfected by the lambic producers of Belgium.

Thus was born Black Project.

Now, just three years later, James and Sarah find themselves as the owners of one of the hottest and most sought after breweries in the world.

Most of my #beerfamily came together at The Dog & Cask in Rochelle Park, where bartender and award-winning beardsman Joshua Safer manned the taps most nights. But Joshua left us for Denver this past winter and of course he landed a job at one of the hottest breweries in America.

Unfortunately, being his friend didn't help me win a lottery spot in Black Project's coveted Agent bottle society. Maybe next year!

Oh, right, the beer. Black Project created an ambitious set this year called ROSWELL, which consisted of five fruited sours. The brewery also made four different blends using two of the ROSWELL beers, with a third fruit added to each, and called it DIVISION.

I acquired a set of ROSWELL for myself, and Joshua brought a set with him from Denver, including the DIVISION bottles, when we went to Maine for the Beer Meets Wood festival in September. 

Every bottle was stunning in its own regard, as Black Project is at the forefront of a movement in beer called super-fruiting, where as much as five or six pounds of fruit is added per gallon to the spontaneously fermented beer.

Or, as Raf from Bokkereyder said to me each time he tried one of my fruited sours, "more fruit. More fruit."

The best of the ROSWELL/DIVISION bunch, for me, was Echo, a blend of raspberry, blueberry and mango, undoubtedly one of the best beers produced anywhere on the planet in 2017. -NJ.com