“The idea for a larger scale wild ale program has been a priority since I started Jailbreak in 2013,” Founder and Chief Executive Officer Justin Bonner tells me. “The problem was incorporating it safely into our ‘clean’ brewery and also the expense of the carrying costs of multiple years before we’d have a market ready product.”
If you walk into Laurel, MD’s Jailbreak Brewing Company, you’ll notice some 750mL bottles for sale, labeled “Implexum.” They’re the result of this brewery’s foray into mixed fermentation and wild ales, which began in 2018, with an unlikely partner. “Jeppe [Jarnit-Bjergsø, founder Evil Twin Brewing] and I planned a trip to Central Coast California to visit some of my winery friends,” says Bonner. “During that trip, some deals were brokered for a truckload of high quality French Oak barrels and given wild ales were a passion of us both, we decided to work together on the project.” The importation and distribution arm of Twelve Percent Beer Project, now based out of Connecticut, signed on to distribute this brand.
But wild ales take patience, and by the time early batches were ready, the pandemic had begun; both Evil Twin and Twelve Percent dropped out of the project. Jailbreak, however, carried on. Without Jeppe and Twelve Percent, Jester King’s Jeffrey Stuffings became a “great resource,” says Bonner, as have other brewers around the country with more wild ale experience.
If you’re worried about cross-contamination of all these yeasts and bacterias, fear not. “Jailbreak and Implexum are completely separate brands housed in separate facilities and each with their own infrastructure,” notes Bonner. Jailbreak brews the base beer to “Implexum’s specs and safely transfers the beer to Implexum. All fermentation, inoculation, and aging happens at Implexum’s facility,” which is close by. Another reason for optimism is Jailbreak’s new-ish Brewmaster, Jonathan Reeves. The former Port City head brewer joined Jailbreak last fall; he keeps a close eye on the brewhouse, ensuring best practices. As an aside, if you’re a fan of ex-Jailbreak brewer Rob Fink, he now has a much quicker commute: he’s Head Brewer at Fair Winds Brewing Company in Lorton, VA.
Implexum’s first two beers were billed as American Wild Ales and have sold out. Their third bottle release, Roeselare Quad, is fermented and aged in French oak for 22 months with Belgian ale yeast, two Brettanomyces strains, Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, and Sherry Flor–a protective yeast that lives atop the surface of aging Sherry. It’s then bottle-conditioned for an additional 8 months.
Look for releases four and five, a Dubbel, aged 28 months in oak with the same fermentation profile as the quad, and a peach lambic-style ale over the next few months. Implexum bottles are available only at Jailbreak for the time being; keep an eye out on social media for release dates. As is tradition in Belgium, these bottles are cheaper for on-premise consumption than they are to go, so bring a vaccinated friend, or a designated driver.