No Corporate Beer Reviews: Coolship Red

Beer: Coolship Red
Brewery: Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, ME)
Style: Lambic – Framboise
6.2% ABV / N/A IBU

Coolship Red is a beer that presents in a fairly straightforward manner: It smells and tastes like, and has the mouthfeel of, an Italian soda. Thanks to the copious amount of locally-sourced Maine raspberries introduced during the final few months of a long aging process, it’s pretty fruit-forward, even for a fruited lambic. And owing everything to the spontaneous fermentation process, it’s fairly funky for a beer of this style. But funky as a really funky thing.

Coolship Red’s name is a nod to both its color and the primary vehicle for its fermentation. In a more typical brewing process, fermentation starts when yeast is added to the wort (water, malt, grain and hops—if introduced at this stage). For this beer, the wort is transferred into a broad, shallow vessel called a “coolship,” before Allagash adds wild yeast and bacterial culture to enhance fermentation and souring. Coolship Red then spends two years in French wine barrels, before the Maine raspberries are added and the beer rests for an additional four months. So the bottle of this that you pick up now may have been literally three years in the making before it reaches your lips.

It takes a lot of work to produce a beer like this, and that is reflected in its price—around $16-18 for a 375-ml bottle. Times are tough, but it is absolutely worth it, Coolship Red is a beer that’s fun to share in tastings, but won’t get you hammered if you indulge in the full thing. And it starts to take on some unforeseen dimensions as it warms up to room temperature. In particular, you can really taste some spiciness from the oak, but without the woodiness that tends to torpedo otherwise decent bottles of wine. There’s sweetness from the berries, then tartness, then a hint of spice that cuts right through. A nectar made by mortals, fit for the gods.

For more info, check out Allagash Brewing Company here.