Brothers Ed and Sim Cotton, founders of London Beer Factory, are seeking to raise £50,000 on Crowdfunder for the project.
So what’s a coolship, and why does it need to be mobile? According to the London Beer Factory team, a coolship is a traditional vessel used to cool down wort and capture yeast in the air, allowing for the fermentation of the beer.
By designing a mobile version, London Beer Factory hopes to take the process to different parts of the country, working with brewers across the UK to create ‘beer that is a living record’ of the journey.
‘We got the idea from trips to lambic breweries in Belgium and from hearing how breweries are starting to use installed coolships in America,’ said Sim. ‘Taking it a step further, I thought by travelling around the UK we would be able to recreate what the Belgians have been doing for hundreds of years.’
‘We are always following America in craft beer,’ added London Beer Factory barrel master Brett Moore. ‘[American brewers] are much better at taking other countries’ traditional methods and running with them, [making styles] like IPAs and Berliners.’
Therefore, the London Beer Factory’s mobile coolship idea is, at its heart, a particularly crafty effort to develop beer that is distinctly British, but influenced by other styles and traditions as well.
‘We’ve had interest from brewers already and are keen to start heading out to do these joint coolship brews,’ said Sim. ‘It's really an essential part of the concept as we will need locally sourced wort to ferment, which adds to the locality of the beer.’
After taking the coolship on the road, London Beer Factory plans to return the liquid to its taproom, where it will be moved to French oak wine barrels for up to three years to continue the fermentation process.
‘These beers ferment really slowly. Some can take weeks or months to even begin fermentation,’ explained Moore.
‘The flavours after six months or a year can be harsh and take time to soften. Brettanomyces will continue to break down certain compounds, changing the flavour completely. Having barrels of different ages like gueze – one-, two- and three-year-old barrels creates even more complexity.’
Once the coolship beers are aged to satisfaction, London Beer Factory plans to release them in partnership with the brewers they collaborated with on their travels.
By crowdfunding, London Beer Factory aims to foster interest in these traditional styles of brewing.
‘[The coolship] is intrinsically a community affair,’ Cotton said. ‘We are literally going out into the public and making beer – taking the operation away from the brewery and into the world. The more supporters we engage the more people learn of the process, gain an appreciation for, and can choose to drink this style of beer.’
London Beer Factory’s mobile coolship crowdfunding campaign closes 12 November.