Coolships, Clear vs. Hazy + N’owt But Stout

Craft Beer Los Angeles

Before we delve into this week’s Brew & You column, it is new and improved! New posts will land every other week and will cover each topic a little more in depth. In addition, there will be no Beer of the Week. There will be two! I will compare and contrast the selections. Finally, instead of Homework, I’ll suggest an event to attend in the Los Angeles area.

Let’s begin with Koelschips or as we call them in the U.S. of A., Coolships. For an area that doesn’t conjure up Belgian countrysides, Los Angeles has its fair share of the shallow, rectangular “pans” to create Belgian-style wild ales. Beachwood Blendery and Phantom Carriage both employ coolships for some of their offerings.

Burbank’s Verdugo West Brewing is the latest brewery to join the “wild” revolution. A germ of the idea started with their Turning 1 Saison. Head Brewer Chris Walowski gave all brewery staff wild yeast harvesting kits and directed them to their backyards to capture what was floating in the SoCal air. Those microbes and yeast teamed with a traditional French yeast to create their 1st year anniversary beer.

In mid-February, Walowski built upon that beer and brewed his first specific batch destined for his brand new coolship. The equipment was custom made not by someone in Belgium but by the restaurant equipment supplier that the Verdugo West owners have used in the past. Two weeks later, the beer was happily bubbling away in barrels where it will sit for a long, long time. We will not see the beer in a glass for up to two years! Instead of drinking, we will have to vicariously follow the Verdugo West Brewing social media for updates on this initial foray into coolshipping.

Let’s backtrack a bit and get into some coolship 101:

1. Coolships are used to cool down wort to a determined temperature where the yeast and microbes can do their work. This was obviously a much greater need pre-refrigeration.

2. Coolships vary in both size and depth depending on the brewery and how much beer they want to produce. Some coolships are placed near windows and under accumulation of spider webs.

3. When local yeast settles onto the wort, that is known as “spontaneous fermentation.”

4. Once cooled and exposed to the yeast, the in-progress beer is moved to barrels like the puncheons (approximately 70 gallons) that Verdugo West bought.

5. Coolship use follows the seasons. Too cold and the yeast slows down and too hot and the yeast slows down. Like Goldilocks, the temperature has to be just right which is why Walowski employed a Wi-Fi enabled temperature gauge where he could track the rise and fall in spreadsheets or on a phone.

With the use of coolships growing amidst the Los Angeles brewing scene, will we be able to pinpoint aromas and flavors of say Long Beach vs. Burbank? Or will there be a rise in a larger Los Angeles terroir?

Time to Compare a Japanese Session IPA and Contrast it against a murky Haze bomb. Coedo [pronounced Co“A”Doh] is from Saitama, and was established in 1996 and have brought out a new seasonal IPA called Marihana (“hop flower” in Japanese). Coedo is a Japanese brewery that follows traditional German brewing techniques creating what is an American style. The beer is crystal clear. So clear that you can literally read words through the full glass. The texture is really light, but it also has a bright floral and citrus bite to it as well.

On the other end of the spectrum is the hazy / NorthEast IPA whose popularity shows no sign of abating. Shelves are full of this style, and the best recent comparison is Uber Everywhere NE-Inspired Double IPA, a collaboration between Track 7 Brewing of Sacramento and Electric Brewing Co. from the Inland Empire. This beer looked, well, it was the single cloudiest beer that I have encountered. It was like dark, grapefruit juice and it was a lot more complex, but also due, I guess, to the Citra Cryo Powder, very dank and near vegetal.

You too can make an IPA comparison of hazy to clear at the L.A. IPA Festival held at Mohawk Bend on March 3 & 4, 2018.

Put the N’owt But Stout Festival onto your calendar. On March 17, Yorkshire Square Brewery will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with casks and kegs of the dark stuff at their taproom in Torrance. Head Brewer Andy Black has gathered some great breweries together (Craftsman Brewing, Beachwood Brewing, Firestone Walker – Propagator and Smog City for starters) to bring their malt based beers filled with roasty, toasty coffee and chocolate notes.

There will also be dark beer education. At noon, Black will give you a crash course in how cask ales are made from malt to cask and all brewing points in between and then at 2 p.m. a panel of brewers and beer writers will gather to discuss all things dark beer which will be followed by Q&A to fill in the knowledge gaps. This is a ticketed event so pick up your tickets today.

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

Address: 156 W Verdugo Ave, Burbank, California 91502

Sean Inman

Find more of Sean Inman's writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

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