Vignette 15: Jason Perkins (Allagash)

These quotes came from a visit I made to Allagash way back in November of 2008, about a year after the brewery had started making lambic-style beers in a coolship. I spoke with brewmaster Jason Perkins about the project.

“Basically, our confidence came from a couple things. One, our house Brettanomyces we discovered here; it infected one of our beers in our old facility. We really liked the character, said this has got to be Brett, it's got a Brettanomyces-type character to it. Wyeast Laboratory isolated it for us and now banks it for us and we now use it in many beers.  It was not a strain they’ve ever seen before, different character, so it’s resident to this area, certainly. So we knew that was around, and of course Brettanomyces is a huge component, probably the biggest microbial component to lambics.”

“I'm sure you can spontaneously ferment anything anywhere--it just might not taste very good. Our weather patterns here—if you look on a chart—to Brussels, the Brussels area. With the exception of the really cold winters and in the summer, a couple months hot. March through June and late-October through December, they’re identical weather at that time frame. That’s basically what we had to work with and we rolled the dice.”

We were pretty skeptical, to be honest.

“To be brewing from, technically speaking from a brewing perspective, it doesn’t seem feasible. You need to pitch a certain cell count of yeast in the beer; [and] the fermentation is much, much slower, for sure. The quickest fermentation kicked in was three days, but the early batches were six or seven days. Theoretically the microflora is building up here, becoming more resident, hopefully. And that’s some feedback we heard from the Belgian brewers is that early-season brewing is often slower.”