For the first time, bottles of Coolship Resurgam will be going out to our entire distribution footprint.
“Where can I find some Coolship?” This was a question we’ve heard frequently since we started brewing our Coolship beers way back in 2007. Finally, we have an answer that those living outside of Maine will love.
For the first three years, the answer was “sorry, you can’t find it.” Which was true, because there wasn’t any Coolship beer that was ready to drink. The beer took up to three years to age in oak barrels. So for that first agonizing batch, we had to wait it out and see what our barrels held—which would basically determine if the whole experiment had worked at all.
“We had no expectations, really,” said Rob Tod, our founder and brewer.
The Allagash crew enjoys some Lambics on the first Coolship brew day back in 2007.
The process of brewing our Coolship beers is much more time and labor intensive than any other beer we brew. If you’re interested in the nitty gritty, we’ve written about it extensively right here. But as a brief overview, this is how Coolship beers are brewed. A complex and cloudy wort (unfermented beer) is left out overnight in our coolship, a traditional brewing tool that looks like a room-sized brownie pan. While it cools, it’s inoculated with wild yeast and microbiota from the air. The beer then goes into oak barrels, where it ferments and ages for up to three years. The beer is then tasted, blended, and bottled.
“The conventional wisdom, at the time, was that you couldn’t make a Lambic-style beer outside of a magical radius that surrounded Brussels.” This was Jason, our brewmaster—whos title was Head Brewer back in 2007. “The Belgian brewers that we knew looked at our attempt to brew spontaneously fermented beer in Maine as a curiosity, at the time. Because it had never been done outside of Belgium.”
Fast forward to 2011, we released our first Coolship beer, Coolship Resurgam. This was our take on a classic Belgian beer called a Gueuze—a blend of one-, two-, and three-year-old spontaneously fermented beer.
Filling the coolship.
“We didn’t call it a Geueze out of respect to the Belgians,” said Rob. “Lambic, Gueuze, Kriek, all those beer styles are tied to Belgium in the same way Champagne is tied to France. So we came up with Coolship, not thinking at all that these beers would catch on.”
“If you had told me in 2007,” said Jason, ”that we’d see breweries across America using coolships, I’d have called you crazy. I’d have called you crazy if you told me that in 2012.”
After 2011, the answer to the question, “Where can I find some Coolship?” was, “at the brewery, and not very often.” Coolship releases were small, and would sell out incredibly quickly given the small quantity and labor involved. For reference, one Coolship brew only yields around 20-21 barrels of beer—we brew around 70-80,000 barrels of Allagash White per year. As a test to see how our first batch would be received, we were invited to pour at a festival called “The Night of the Great Thirst” in Belgium. This festival pours only Lambic (and Lambic-style in our case) beers. We’re proud to say that we were the first and only brewery outside of Belgium to be poured for the next four festivals—Night of the Great Thirst 2018 saw us joined by our friends at Oxbow Brewing.
Jason helps Rob to a little pour of Coolship Resurgam at the Night of the Great Thirst.
“Pouring our Coolship beer beside breweries like Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, and Boon was a surreal experience,” said Jason.
Even back in 2007, when the future of the Coolship program was uncertain to say the least, we had a goal: to brew enough Coolship beer so that if someone came by the brewery, they could find a bottle. From 2011-2017, that was still the goal. Coolship releases became more frequent, and more plentiful, with other takes on Coolship beer like Coolship Red, which was aged on fresh raspberries, or Coolship Pêche, which was aged on peaches. But still, there wasn’t enough Coolship to stock our brewery’s store year-round.
In 2018, we reached our goal. We’ve had bottles of Coolship Resurgam available in our tasting room all year. It has been seriously rewarding to see people stop by, learn about what the heck a Coolship beer even is, and then be able to walk out of the brewery with one in their hand.
And now, with our biggest Coolship brewing season behind us in 2017, we’re confident that we have enough Coolship Resurgam to send out to our fans across our entire distribution footprint. That being said, the release is still going to be extremely limited.
What it looks like when spontaneous fermentation really takes off.
“This beer is not just a part of our brewery culture, it’s a part of Maine,” said Rob. “The environment here has a huge effect on the end result. So when a person in say, Los Angeles, tries Coolship Resurgam, they’re experiencing a slice of our brewery—and a slice of Maine. That’s pretty amazing.”
Bottles will begin shipping out in early November, which means they should reach our full distribution within around a month.
Keep a lookout for Coolship Resurgam if you’re in one of our areas of distribution—ME, NH, VT, MA, CT, DE, RI, NY, NJ, SC, NC, GA, CA, MD, VA, DC, Chicagoland, and Philadelphia. You can also keep tabs with our beer locator.
We hope you enjoy this rare taste of Maine, wherever you are.