Introducing the 2016 Imbibe 75

When James and Sarah Howat were planning Denver's Former Future, they launched a Kickstarter to buy barrels and a custom coolship, spontaneous fermentation in their crosshairs. Though the fundraising failed, "we decided to do this on a shoestring," says Howat, a former science teacher. While making reinterpreted historical styles (salted caramel porter, sherry cask-aged gose) he secretly stuck wort-filled stockpots on the roof and let native microbes feast. "We didn't tell people we were doing it, partly because we didn't know how it was going to work out," he says of what became Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales, one of America's smallest, and most exciting, wild-beer initatives. Instead of following Belgian tradition, Howat uses spontanoues fermentation as a jumping-off point and ferments a range of base beers-some dark, some heavy with oats or rye. The common thread is his neighborhood's microflora: "We get a really great peach flavor," says Howat, whose singular creations, aged 10 to 12 months, have medaled at the last two Great American Beer Festivals. "We're doing what lambic breweries aren't doing, or aren't suppose to be doing," he says. -JMB