pFriem’s Coolship Sets Sail

pFriem Family Brewers is another step closer to making closer to authentic Lambic-style beers with their new coolship. A coolship is a large open vessel traditionally used to cool wort before it is fermented. Usually left out in the open, in Belgium the wort would become innoculated by wild yeasts and bacteria naturally carried in from the air and surroundings to naturally ferment the beer without adding a controlled yeast pitch. This is one of those techniques that were not that long ago were thought impossible to recreate in America. Brewers are in love with spontaneously fermented beer because it captures a real terroir of it’s surroundings that the wine world has always boasted about. Fellow gorge brewer Logsdon Farmhouse Ales has been on the coolship terroir trip for awhile.

“We’ve been actively pursuing the commissioning and installation of a coolship for about three years now,” writes the brewery in a recent newsletter. “This has always been something that we were interested in, but we really wanted to make sure we were ready – that we’d done our homework and that we could tackle the project with confidence before we installed the vessel.”

pFriem has been chasing better ways to capture the gorge terroir for awhile, including working with local farmers and capturing native yeasts for their fruit to glass Lambic-inspired beers.

“About a year ago, we completed a detailed comparison of the climate of Hood River with that of Brussels, Belgium. What we found was encouraging. Beginning in November the two areas are, climatically speaking, remarkably similar for about four months out of the year. These four months will constitute our main brewing window as far as this vessel is concerned.”

“This past month we did our first run with the coolship – filling it with Lambic-inspired ale and then barreling the beer so it can rest for a couple of years.”

It should be really interesting to see how pFriem’s wild ales develop, I can imagine some more funky flavors and complexities and perhaps some house flavor making their way into future releases.

Samurai Artist
Samurai Artist

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: