This week saw the release of Burning Sky’s Coolship Release no. 2, very exciting for those who love their beer sour & blended.

It got us thinking. Talking about blended alcoholic beverages often brings to mind fancy wines, however, there has been a long tradition of blending beers together as well – especially in Belgium. Younger, modern breweries have also begun taking inspiration from their older counterparts so we thought it would be a good time to highlight a few of our favourites.

3 Fonteinen, Oude Geuze, 6.0%

An old Belgian brewery, 3 Fonteinen was founded in 1887 in a cafe in Beersel, near Brussels. Their speciality lies in sour, spontaneously fermented beers. In this case, the Oude Geuze is a blend of 1, 2 and 3 year old lambics that have been aged in oak barrels. They are one of a few breweries whose regular beers are blends of not only their own lambics, but also that of other breweries including Boon and Lindemans. These different ages act together to create a wonderfully rich and complex sour beer. The funky aromas that come from the beer point towards the sourness to come. It remains rounded however, ensuring it never becomes too lip pursingly sour.

Wild Beer Co., The Blend 2018, 4.9%

Wild Beer Co. are one of WBB’s favourite breweries. Their incredible range of sour beers go from 3% all the way up to 10%, from lip pursingly sour to pleasantly refreshing. The Blend is perhaps their acme. For the last three years they have been barrel ageing almost everything that they have brewed, in preparation for this series. As a result, this beer is a tour de force of flavours. Sour fruits, oaky chardonnay flavours from the barrels, and funky sherbet aromas all explode out of the glass. Buy two, one to drink now, and another to save for later as this beer ages like few others.

Boon, Oude Geuze, 7.0%

Much like the 3 Fonteinen, this is a blend of old and young lambic sour beer to create the Oude Geuze style. The idea behind the blending is that the beers change as they mature, but there are also some qualities of the younger lambics that are desirable. The older lambics have the intense sour flavour wanted, however, having been aged for several years, will have little sugar for secondary bottle fermentation to occur. The young lambic contributes these sugars to allow further maturation. Boon’s geuze has a dry finish, which makes it incredibly sessionable, along with the slightly fruitier notes. It’s also one of our core range available year round. Boon-Geuze

De Cam, Tres Bessen, 6.5%

De Cam-Tres-Bessen
De Cam Geuzestekerij (Geuzerie) is a lambic blendery based in Gooik, not far from Brussels. They are a relative newcomer to the lambic scene, having only opened 1997, at which point it became the first new traditional lambic blender to open in Belgium in nearly forty years. They don’t brew the beer, instead they specialise in blending sour beers that have been brewed by other lambic brewers, often adding fruit. Tros Bessen is a blended sour beer that has been aged in barrel for several months along with red currants, producing a tart, fruity ale, pleasantly different to the usual cherry or raspberries that are more commonly used.

Burning Sky, Coolship 2, 7.2%

Well we could hardly leave this one out given it inspired us to write this blog, right? Burning Sky’s second Coolship release is a blend of beers from the 2016/17 and 2017/18 brewing seasons, that “continues our journey into the world of blending and spontaneous fermentation unique to our terroir”. Limited to only 1500 bottles, it has an oaky character following a long fermentation and ageing period in barrels, complemented with a pleasant acidity.
If you’re interested in finding out a bit more about lambics, coolships and blending of beers, here’s a few useful resources to check out.

For those that don’t know (which let’s face it is most normal people) a Coolship is the name given to the vessel (usually a large open top steel or copper pan), that is used prior to the fermentation process to cool down the unfermented wort. It is used in the brewing of wild or spontaneously fermented beers, predominately lambics but it has seen a recent renaissance here in the UK.

In this blog, Wild Beer Co. give us the lowdown on their first ever Coolship release, whilst over on the Burning Sky website, they also talk in detail about their own beloved coolship.

Portland, Maine based Allagash have blogged about their use of a coolship whilst this article from American beer site October talks about the rise of coolships in the USA.