Allagash Coolship Series To Debut This Summer

CoolshipPORTLAND, ME – It’s a project nearly four years in the making, but Portland-based Allagash Brewing Company knows that sometimes a great beer is worth waiting for.

The brewing process began in 2007 for each of the four beers in the “Coolship Series,” which is set to debut this summer.

“The first year we did the Cerise, the first cherry we used was a Montmorency cherry and it didn’t give us all the qualities we were looking for,” said Dee Dee Germain, a brewery spokesperson. “We then used the Balaton cherry. So there is the Cerise and a Cerise-Balaton. In addition there is the “Red” which was made with raspberries and finally a blend of just straight spontaneous beer which we are calling Resurgum.”

But it’s not the fruit additions that make these beers unique, its the fermentation process.

After an unusually long boil process of over four hours, during which hops that have been aged at least three years are continuously added, hot wart is transferred to a “coolship.”

The coolship, a long tray roughly 12-feet long, eight-feet wide and one foot deep, is not typically seen outside of Belgium and is very seldom used amongst U.S. craft brewers. It is here that the beer will ferment for 24 hours in the cool Maine air, which contains natural bacteria and wild yeast.

Once the beer reaches the right temperature (approximately 60-65 degrees F), it is transferred back into a stainless steel tank for one day to allow all the wild yeasts proper time to mix. From there, it makes its way into French oak barrels, where it rests (in this case for over three years).

Both the Cerise-Balaton and the Red were bottled in the later part of 2010, and the Cerise was bottled in January of this year.

According to Germain, a period of at least 3-4 months of bottle-refermentaion is necessary to achieve the ideal carbonation levels.

If it sounds like a complicated process, its because it is, which is why the brewery is only releasing a limited supply to the public through the brewery store itself.

Germain could not confirm the exact release date, but did promise that it would be released before the end of August.

A very limited supply of each beer (roughly 300-500 bottles) will be available for purchase. The beer is packaged in 375ml cork-top green bottles, which Germain explains is true to the Belgium form.

“Since aged hops are used to make the beer, you don’t have to worry about it getting light struck,” she said.

The brewery plans on announcing the official release date via their Facebook and Twitter accounts. No official price has been set for the beers, but the brewery is planning to limit purchases to just two-bottles per person.

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