To make Roswell, Black Project cooked up fifteen barrels (about thirty kegs) of base beer last fall and then cooled the batch overnight in an open-topped vessel known as a coolship. During the night, the wort (or unfermented beer) collected wild yeast and bacteria from the air, which began the fermentation process. The liquid was then aged in oak barrels. Then, in the spring, brewery owners James and Sarah Howat selected barrels with the least amount of acidity — so that the beers would have a dry flavor and mouthfeel — and separately added the fruit, which also fermented using the same wild yeast.
Beers like these are known as lambics in Belgium, where brewers have a centuries-old tradition of using airborne yeast and microorganisms to ferment the beer, giving them sour, wild or funky aromas and flavors. U.S. brewers are only just beginning to experiment with the style and are often hesitant to use the world "lambic," out of respect for the style's regional origin.
Over the last few weeks, the Howats have been heavily promoting Roswell with a series of cool videos and Facebook posts that tie the beer to Roswell, New Mexico, where a UFO supposedly landed in 1947. Black Project regularly names its beers and events after planes, rockets and other aerospace-related technology — going so far as to announce its releases with mysterious coding, as if they were secret government projects or undercover operations. Roswell has been no exception.
Even with only 420 bottles available for sale to the public, this will be the brewery's largest-ever release, about double that of previous releases — thanks to a recent expansion that saw the addition of 140 new wooden barrels, more space next door to the brewery and the brand-new coolship.
Since there are six versions of the beer, they will be highly sought after and heavily traded following the release. Traders, lambic lovers and beer geeks from other states, and even Canada, have said they are flying in to try to score some Roswell, and there are others looking to acquire it from people who have promised to pick up bottles, even though that likelihood is far from certain, James says. "People are already trading them online," he points out.
For starters, they are only going to allow people to buy two (or possibly three bottles) each, meaning drinkers won't be able to collect an entire set. While limits on bottles are nothing new, the Howats are hoping that this will encourage people to open their bottles with friends so that they can try all five bottled variants (and stick around to sample the blueberry version at the brewery).
"We want to get this into as many hands as possible," Sarah explains. "The idea is that we want people to get out of their house, get together and share it with each other."
The bottle release takes place at 2 p.m. on Saturday; Brewed Food will be on hand to pair the beers with Tender Belly bratwursts served on pain de mie buns with kimchi, gochujang mayo and a side of Hop Ash potato chips (first come, first served). The official names for the six variants of beer are: MOGUL | Apricot; MAJESTIC 12 | Blackberry; HIGH DIVE | Cranberry; BLUEBOOK | Guava; GRUDGE | Raspberry; and SIGN | Blueberry.