Around a corner, lurking in the looming shadows of some grain storage vessels, is a small, unassuming cabin with a stained glass ‘A’ on the door. What goes on behind those doors is shrouded in secrecy…
Ok, maybe not. If you are familiar with Allagash Brewing Company, you may know that they have an extensive lineup of beers outside of the typical White, Saison and Black that are most commonly available. In addition to a growing barrel-aged repertoire, Allagash also has a traditional and interesting vessel for fermenting beer using just the yeast and bacteria in the air: a coelschip or “coolship.” A coolship is a room that has a steel tray into which unfermented beer is poured, and then is open, slightly, to the elements. Whatever is in the air naturally comes in through the windows on cool evenings and ferments the beer. The result is a semi-unpredictable and wild beer with a taste that is specific to the region in which it is brewed.
Allagash has released a series of these “coolship” beers – and will do so with another it’s been making for several years named Ghoulschip – which is as close to a pumpkin beer as Allagash has ever brewed. Ghoulschip will be released at the brewery this Saturday at 9am, bottle limit of 2 per person.
The process for making Ghoulschip sounds fun, and involves the violent destruction of this season’s favorite gourds – complete with a trip through a wood chipper. Allagash then includes pumpkin seeds and is allowed to ferment in the cool air.
“With a mash that included shredded pumpkin and pumpkin seeds the wort then spent the night outside, in our Coolship, possessed by the yeasts of beers past. In the morning, the cooled wort was racked into oak barrels and pitched with our house yeast. Ghoulschip fermented and aged in the dark recesses of our cellars for 1-2 years. The resulting beer is light bodied and pumpkiny in color. Apricot dominates the aroma, with vanilla and caramel lurking in the background. The flavor profile is scarily clean, with a dry, tart finish that will haunt you.”
If you want to see a video of some pumpkin-smashing goodness from the 2012 batch, Allagash produced a really neat video of the process.
The taste of Ghoulschip is not like any pumpkin beer you’ve ever tasted. It is earthy, dry, tart and interesting and strange – and worth a visit to Allagash to grab a bottle of the spooky stuff. Boo!