A coolship is a large open vessel traditionally used to cool wort before it is fermented. This beauty lends itself to spontaneous fermentation where native yeasts and bacteria inoculate the beer. By doing this form of fermentation, the characteristics in taste and flavor of the beer is a result of the surrounding environment - a real expression of terroir.
We’ve been actively pursuing the commissioning and installation of a coolship for about three years now. This has always been something that we were interested in, but we really wanted to make sure we were ready - that we’d done our homework and that we could tackle the project with confidence before we installed the vessel.
About a year ago, we completed a detailed comparison of the climate of Hood River with that of Brussels, Belgium. What we found was encouraging. Beginning in November the two areas are, climatically speaking, remarkably similar for about four months out of the year. These four months will constitute our main brewing window as far as this vessel is concerned.
This past month we did our first run with the coolship - filling it with Lambic-inspired ale and then barreling the beer so it can rest for a couple of years.