Veiled by a shroud of mystery and intrigue, Denver’s Former Future Brewing shuttered taproom operations earlier this week and promptly began transmitting a series of cryptic messages, videos, and an equally arcane Facebook event page as a teaser for bigger things to come.
As of 10 am, Friday morning, that cloud of suspense has finally been lifted with a familiar, but now fully identity. What was previously Former Future has now “evolved” into Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales.
Black Project began as the side project of James and Sarah Howat, co-founders of Former Future Brewing. This passion project spin-off aimed to showcase beers made from spontaneously fermented yeast and microbes that already exist in the air right here in Denver. James, who graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in microbiology found greater resonance in the nuances of these wild and spontaneous ales, but the couple also drew from the theme of Cold War espionage, conspiracy theories and most of all the secrecy of the project, which first inspired the name Black Project.
Those early batches fermented in makeshift coolships on the roof the the Former Future brewery, or open cover vessels that allowed those naturally occurring microbes to enter the brewing process. “Some of the first batches we brewed were being coolship-ed and spontaneously fermented, they didn’t see the light of day till 8 months later,” explained James Howat. “But our bartenders didn’t know what was going on, they just knew we were back there brewing beer.”
And while Former Future favorites like Salted Caramel Porter and Cat Sabbath have gained a following of their own, over the years, the Howats have shifted their focus toward producing these 100% spontaneously fermented projects that have already begun garnering national attention. Black Project has now won back-to-back bronze medals in the Experimental Beer category, in 2014 for Black Project #1, now called Flyby, and most recently in 2015 for Ramjet. While most offerings will consist predominantly of funky, sour, and wild beers, other clean offerings such as hoppy beers that are brewed with wild yeast strains will still fall under Black Project’s domain and will be available as well.
Over the last month the tap board at Former Future has slowly begun phasing out its classic lineup and instead featuring a greater sampling of the Black Project brand beers. Today that evolution becomes complete as Former Future quietly fades into the ether and Black Project becomes the sole focal point for the South Broadway Brewery. Over the next few months the Howats plan to undergo a significant expansion including a new coolship that will increase their kettle volume form 120 gallon production to 340 gallons. Additionally the Howats expect to add nearly 100 new wine barrels to fill out their barrel house, as well as foeders or puncheons as larger barrel-aging vessels.
Tonight’s launch party features a lineup which includes HYPERSONIC Wild Pale Ale, DREAMLAND, a base Golden Ale, ELSEWHERE, a base Amber, STILETTO Wild Saison, LUNEX a Corvus Coffee Sour, and EJECTOR. Festivities kick off at 2pm this afternoon.
For more on Black Project’s evolution, have a listen to our full interview during Episode 24 of The PorchCast.