The Crunkship Rides Again

The Garage is home to our barrel- aged and sour program—and we wanted it to be a place for thoughtful experimentation. So a coolship was a no-brainer. We christened ours “Crunkship,” because, well, Atlanta.

When you walk into the Garage, you may have noticed that little room on the left with the neon sign above the window. So, what exactly is the Crunkship and what does it do? 

Simply put, a coolship (er, Crunkship) is a big, open steel box that allows for spontaneous fermentation. Back in the days before refrigeration, this was how brewers cooled down beer. In modern times, Belgian brewers use this process to create lambics—dry, cidery, tart and complex beers. Under the direction of some Belgian experts, our goal was similar: to create beers that would be unique to Atlanta—more specifically, West End, by showcasing the atmospheric terroir of the area.

During very cold weather (preferably between 26-32 degrees Fahrenheit), hot liquid (called wort) is pumped into this stainless steel, 30 barrel vessel. Then, we open vents to allow the outside air to flow in, and all over the room.

This process forces in all of the local yeasts and bacteria, which will allow the wort to undergo spontaneous inoculation, turning it into beer. This process takes roughly 16-20 hours. You’ll also notice the walls are lined with soft wood, which allows the native microflora to stick around in the room and continue to do its job year after year. 

Our orchard plays a huge role in the Crunkship brewing process. At the Garage, we planted many different types of plants and fruit trees, from which the native yeasts will inevitably (hopefully!) make their way into the Crunkship. The yeasts that do make it will ultimately impact the tasting notes of the end result…once again, making it an inherently “Atlanta” beer. 

Once the beer is sufficiently cooled down, we transfer it to barrels, where it will begin to ferment. Then we wait—typically 3-5 days before we see signs of fermentation.

This is the third year we’ve brewed a Crunkship beer. 

When is it ready? Great question, but likely a couple to a few years. 

When brewing this type of beer, there are a lot of relative unknowns, and wild yeasts take more time to break down the long chain sugars created during a turbid mash. But our brewers are constantly checking the results, and we hope it bears fruit. It’s all about experimentation, you know.