James Howat

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What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?

I’m the head brewer and blender at Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales [in Denver]. As a founder (along with my wife, Sarah), I also oversee and plan production from a wider perspective: ingredient acquisition and testing, production planning/forecasting, QA/QC, and overall brewery vision and direction. I got started in craft brewing, like many others, as a homebrewer. After a few years as a high school teacher (and a lot more brewing at home), Sarah and I started Former Future Brewing Company in Denver. As soon as FFBC was open, we scraped together the funds and parts for a small rooftop coolship and a few barrels for our side venture, Black Project. In August 2016 we made the decision to stop making Former Future beers entirely, giving us the ability to give Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales a home with a tasting room and beers available on draft.

What’s new at Black Project?

When we opened the Black Project Tasting Room, we were able to add additional floor space for a new barrel cellar/coolship room and expand our barrel program. We currently have ~140 wine barrels, a custom-built 10-bbl copper coolship, and have more oak on the way, beginning with a 10-bbl foeder from Italy.

What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?

There are so many things I love about being a part of this industry. Overall I would say the best part is seeing so many breweries around the country that are experimenting and pushing the envelope.

Name a favorite food and beer pairing.

Bierstadt Lagerhaus Slow Pour Pils with mac & cheese with sausage from The Rackhouse (which shares a tasting room with Bierstadt). It’s a perfect combo of well-executed beer with tasty comfort food that just so happen to really complement each other.

What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?

Landing my amazing wife!

What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?

Going to China with my dad and visiting a couple of local breweries there. There are a few great breweries popping up in Beijing and Shanghai that are doing craft beer with their own local twists. Great stuff.

What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?

I love spending time with Sarah and our dogs Zeke and Penny. Traveling is a huge passion of mine. I’m trying to make more time to be able to see as much of the world as possible.

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