If breweries had human personalities, Wild Provision Beer Project would be a wizened grandparent with smile lines, a patient demeanor and plenty of life advice — at least for those who choose to listen.
That's partly because the new Boulder brewery specializes in two different styles of beer that have centuries-old traditions, Belgian wild ales and Czech lagers, but also because of the amount of thought that went into creating Wild Provisions Beer Project, which will host a grand opening at 2209 Central Avenue, this Saturday, July 18.
"When you set out to earn a degree or publish a paper, you ask yourself, 'How does this add to the body of knowledge that is already out there?'" says Wild Provisions head brewer Brandon Boldt. So when he and co-founder Tommy Bibliowicz, who also owns 4 Noses Brewing, began discussing the idea for Wild Provisions two years ago, they asked themselves, "'What is there to add to the industry, and what is left to explore?'"
The answer was to adhere to a set of specific brewing and serving processes for both styles that is guided by tradition but also gives the brewers room for some experimentation — and to wrap the whole thing in an elegant, contemporary package that belies that old soul.
For example, the brewery has invested in several sets of extremely specialized brewing equipment, including a decoction mashing system and five horizontal stainless-steel lagering tanks, as well as open-topped fermenters and six eighteen-barrel wooden vessels, known as foeders, for aging its wild ales. Time and patience are key ingredients in brewing both lagers, which take around two months, and wild ales, which can take years.
Wild Provisions also has two separate coolships, which are unusual open-topped basins that look like room-sized casserole dishes. In Belgium, they're used to inoculate hot wort with free-floating yeast in the air.
Here’s how the brewery describes these basins. “At Wild Provisions, we house both a koelschip and a coolship. While there's not typically a difference, we've distinguished between the two by how we use them. The wild koelschip that our sours rest in earned its Flemish spelling due to its traditional use as both a cooling vessel and a tool for the inoculation of local microflora, in the spirit of the Belgian brewers before us. The clean coolship, on the other hand, is used for an entirely different purpose, leading to a more modernized American nomenclature. The traditional lagers we brew first pass through a heat exchanger before entering the coolship, where rather than inoculation, the vessel's geometry is utilized to assist in rapid cooling and create a ‘cold-break,’ separating proteins from liquids and allowing us to fine our beer early in its lifecycle.
"This is a wonderful example of how our wild sours and traditional lagers live in parallel, yet on completely different paths," the description concludes.
“The easier thing to do would be to chase the trends,” Bibliowicz says about WIld Provisions, which is an offshoot of 4 Noses (and will serve some of its beers). “But this appealed to our personal passions… it also adds to our knowledge base” — something that he plans to use at 4 Noses, as well.
The original idea for Wild Provisions was a taproom that brewed only wild ales that had been inoculated in an open-topped coolship and then aged in large wooden vessels before being infused with huge amounts of Colorado fruit, like peaches, grapes and cherries.
But after Boldt and his wife, Lisa, who also own Primitive Beer in Longmont, took a trip to the Czech Republic two summers ago, he and Bibliowicz began talking lager, too. “As we explored what Czech lager meant, it became obvious that there were some parallel processes with wild ale,” Boldt says.
And while its soul may be old, the taproom itself is sleek and loaded with special touches that bring something new and different to Colorado's already elaborate brewery culture.
The wood-paneled half-circle bar and brewery evoke the wooden barrels that fill the back area, while the glassware is designed to showcase each style of beer. The tap tower also includes several traditional side-pull, Czech-style faucet taps that allow for quick pours and frothy heads. "They are a big part of the presentation for us," Bibliowicz notes, "as is pouring the lagers with the right texture of foam."
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Wild Provisions opened quietly in May with three wild ales, which it still has for sale on tap and in bottles; its original opening in March was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. For the grand opening, which begins at 1 p.m. on Saturday, the brewery will debut its two Czech-style lagers on tap and in cans. The first, Premium Pale Lager, is a Czech pilsner, while the second, Czech Dark Lager, resembles a traditional Tmavy. The sixteen-ounce cans, which come in four packs, are jet black, as are the bottles for the wild ales.
Wild Provisions will also offer free tours for up to four people at a time. Spots can be reserved on Eventbrite.
And finally, the brewery is building a cellar of guest beers for on-site consumption that already includes offerings from European notables like Drie Fonteinen and Brasserie de la Senne.