Classic Pain: What’s the deal with coolships?

Austin L. Ray


It doesn’t look like much Unlike the tall, gleaming fermenters you have likely seen on a brewery tour, the device consists of a simple metal pan, usually longer than it is wide and only a foot or two deep. No one knows exactly where the coolship originated (there is evidence of shallow, uncovered brewing vessels dating back to at least medieval times), but its practical application is clear to anyone who didn’t sleep through physics in high school.


“I would imagine someone was boiling that liquid a millennium ago, adding spices or hops, and they said, ‘Well, it’s not going to ferment until it cools down,’” says Dan Carey, co-owner and brewmaster of Wisconsin’s coolship-rocking New Glarus Brewing. “And then somebody had the bright idea, ‘Let’s increase the surface area by putting it in a pan.’”


As the years went by and technology advanced, coolships as old-fashioned heat exchangers were no longer necessary. Most modern breweries—adopting the cleanliness-is-next-to-godliness mantra you see in most commercial spaces today—eschewed these shallow pans in favor of more modern refrigeration techniques.


But not everyone.


The Belgians realized that, in addition to speeding up the cooling process, these open vessels also exposed wort (the sugary liquid that ferments into beer) to naturally occurring yeasts and bacteria in the atmosphere. While these microorganisms can easily spoil a brew through contamination, they are also capable of producing stunningly complex flavors under the right circumstances. The catch is that you can only control the process so much; mostly, you just have to sit back and let nature take its course.


Cantillon wasn’t first brewery to make spontaneously fermented sour ales, but it may be the best.

It’s hard to pinpoint which brewery first started making spontaneously fermented sour ales, but Cantillon in Brussels is the most commonly cited reference point—both because it’s been around for a while (since 1900), and also because it feels like every U.S. craft brewer interested in wild ales worships at the feet of its tippling, chair-tipping label mascot. Cantillon wasn’t first, but it may be the best.


Jean-Pierre van Roy, Cantillon’s fourth-generation brewer, has owned the Brussels institution since 2011. He says very little has changed in Cantillon’s 114 year history aside from the bottling line, and that time and patience are simply part of the process when it comes to making these carefully crafted sour brews. “We don’t control our fermentation, so some beers could take less than one year to be ready for a blend, and some even two years,” van Roy says. “Patience [is important for brewers considering a coolship] because a brewery has to build its own natural environment, and it takes a lot of time. Love and passion are very important for me, as [they are for] a lot of craft brewers.”


Inspired by forefathers like Cantillon, U.S. breweries have caught coolship fever in recent years. Allagash Brewing Company in Portland, ME is widely cited as the first to set one up for spontaneously fermented sour beers, back in 2008. (Anchor Brewing, it should be noted, has used one for a while, but not to make sours.) Others, like Russian River, Anchorage, New Glarus, and Bluejacket have followed suit in the years since. Their motives vary, from lambic admiration, to a thirst for innovation, to a desire to make beer with a sense of terroir.


Oftentimes, it’s a mix of these and other factors. Denver’s Crooked Stave Artisan Ales was born from a dissertation that owner/brewer Chad Yakobson wrote on a wild yeast called Brettanomyces. (Crooked Stave has a coolship, but hasn’t put it to use yet.) Jester King in Austin, TX incorporates local yeasts from the surrounding Texas Hill Country into its coolship batches. Allagash is experimenting with different blends and aging with cherries and raspberries—a traditional technique used to balance out sourness with natural sweetness from fruit.


These beers, collected under the nebulous umbrella of “American wild ales” by the microbrewing community, are still very much a small niche in an exploding craft scene that for years has been dominated by the arms race to make bigger, hoppier IPAs. But breweries like Boulevard, Surly, The Lost Abbey, and Wicked Weed are taking home Great American Beer Festival medals in various sour-leaning/wild beer categories, and there are more and more events cropping up to celebrate this funky corner of the brew world, like Chicago’s annual Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer and the roving, collaborative bottle-sharing meet-up, Where the Wild Beers Are. All signs point to a continued rise in the production of complex, tart beers in years to come.


In the meantime, the proliferation of coolships around the country is a testament to the mouth-puckering, refreshing appeal of lambics; the maturing craft-beer market, which is looking for a break from hop bombs and imperial stouts; and the enduring influence of old-world breweries like Cantillon. Asked if it’s fulfilling to see this movement happening in the states, van Roy seems pleased, if modest. “Yes, for sure, but I don’t consider it a success for Cantillon itself,” he says. “More as a success for traditional lambic.”

Welcome Month – April 2020

Hello and welcome to the April issue, dear painters and augmenters of the flesh canvas. We hope you’re enjoying the warming of the air and the lengthening of the days as much as we are, and that you’ve already jumped through the necessary hoops to keep the Taxman at bay for another year. Old Uncle Sammy needs his sugar, so make sure you fork it over. He gets awfully cranky when his levels drop.

While we’re on the subject of calendar-based pleasantries, happy Easter and a joyous stoner holiday to all of you. To those of you who are giving out pot-themed flash tats for $42 on 4/20, we salute you. To those of you hadn’t thought of that yet, you’re welcome. It’s what we’re here for.

We’ve got a fantastic issue put together for you. As always, it’s chock-full of solid tips and savvy tricks, along with a healthy helping of tattoo eye candy. And as a bonus for the nerds this month, we’ve put together a short history piece highlighting some of the pioneers of tattooing. No, we’re not talking about Lyle Tuttle or Sailor Jerry. We reached back further—back to the carnival days. Take a peek, give it a read and add a wrinkle to your brain. Meanwhile, enjoy your month of April and all the festivities within. We’ll see you after the showers have brought the flowers, or whatever it is they say.

The Old(er) School

Getting to Know Your Roots: A Brief History Lesson

Alright, kids. Take your seats and pay attention. Today, we’re going to learn a little history. Tell me, what names come to mind when you think of “old school” tattoo artists? Lyle Tuttle? Ed Hardy? Mike Malone? Sailor Jerry? Fair and respectable choices; by today’s standards, they are definitely old school. But what about the older school? Everyone we’ve mentioned worked mostly in the second half of the 20th century, but anyone with a rudimentary understanding of American tattoo history knows that the traditional style really came into vogue at the end of the 19th century. Who preceded our great predecessors? Who influenced our influencers? Obviously, there were hundreds who contributed to the iconic style we now call American Traditional, but we don’t have room to cover more than a few. Thus, we’ve curated a small list of three tattoo legends we think you should know about. Enjoy, but please understand that the histories we are providing here are painfully brief. Consider it a move to save paper. We love trees, etc.

Oh, and one other thing. While we’re on the subject of history, you should know Sailor Jerry spent most of his life sober—and he definitely never came up with a spiced rum recipe. That’s all. Carry on.

Cap Coleman

As far as American artists, it really doesn’t get much more O.G. than Agustus “Cap” Coleman. Hailed as one of America’s best tattoo artists throughout the ‘20s, ‘30s and 40s, Coleman was known for his distinctive style, bold lines and impressive use of shading. Legend has it that he was obsessed with perfection and exhibited a confidence in his own work that bordered on narcissism. Born in Ohio in 1885(?), Coleman is believed to have lived more or less as a carny in his early years, working in a variety of sideshows and traveling festivals, wherein he began actively collecting tattoos. Back in those days, the traveling shows were the primary outlets in which the public sought out tattoo artists. In fact, the term, “flash,” originated in the carnival circuit, initially referring to the artwork that carnie tattooers would post up in hopes of luring festival goers into their booths. Coleman acquired so many tattoos that he would eventually exhibit himself as the “Human Picture Gallery” in a travelling carnival called the Sheesly Shows before opening his own tattoo parlor in Norfolk, VA around 1920. He passed away amid mysterious circumstances in 1973, when he allegedly fell into the Elizabeth River behind his house and drowned, just a few days after his 89th birthday. To this day, Coleman is remembered as one of the most important and influential tattoo artists of the early American tradition.

Paul Rogers

Paul Rogers isn’t far behind Cap Coleman on the O.G. scale, having begun his tattoo career in 1928, just two years after receiving his first ink from a travelling circus artist. Rogers spent his early years in the trade working and travelling in sideshows and carnivals, during which time he

also trained as an acrobat. In 1945, he ended up in Norfolk, VA working under Cap Coleman, who by then had already achieved legendary status. The two parted ways five years later after the Norfolk City Council banned tattoo parlors and Rogers moved to Jacksonville, NC, where he teamed up with Huck Spaulding to form the world-renowned tattoo supply company, Spaulding & Rogers. He moved to Jacksonville, FL in 1963, and in 1970, began building his now-famous tattoo machines out of a small tin shack, which he dubbed the “Iron Factory.” It is for this reason that tattoo machines are referred to as “irons” to this very day. Rogers had a stroke in 1988, allegedly 60 years to the day that he began his career. He passed away in a nursing home two years later, at age 84.

Bert Grimm

Bert Grimm is an icon of America tattooing, revered as a pioneer who made countless contributions to the trade and arguably set the standard of professionality that is still followed today. Born in Greene, MO in 1900, Grimm ran away from home at the age of 15 and made his living in the carnival/sideshow circuit. It was during this time that he first learned to tattoo and began to do it professionally, but he eventually abandoned the carny lifestyle to seek out mentors who could help him hone his craft. This personal pilgrimage took him from the Midwest to Portland, OR and then down to Los Angeles, CA, before he returned to Missouri to open a shop of his own in St. Louis. Over his 70-year career, Grimm became a legend, having developed his own niche within the American traditional style; a less-is-more approach that combined simplified, open designs, a limited color palette and flawless outlines and shading to achieve unforgettable results.

Article written as a collaboration between staff writer, David Pogge and 30-year veteran tattoo artist, Kevin Hinton.

Make It Personal

How to win over clients with confidence, concern and consideration

Can you imagine losing one-fifth to one-third of your clients in a single day? Gone. For good. That’s exactly what could happen after just one bad experience with your business. Even if people love your studio and your work 59% will walk the other way after several bad experiences, and 32% of all customers say they’d stop supporting a business they loved after one negative experience.

So why are so many people — whether potential clients looking to get inked or just those who wandered in wondering what the tattoo scene is all about — disappointed? Call it an experience disconnect: studios tout custom designs or the latest technologies, but they haven’t focused on—or invested in—the aspects of customer experience that are the most meaningful.

What truly makes for a good experience? Attentiveness. Education. Consistency. Friendliness. And one big connector: human touch—that is, creating real personal connections.

There is a formula for getting it right. The right culture, new ways of working and empowered talent are key to unlocking revenue opportunities through better experience.

Price and quality remain top of mind for customers — in all industries, as they make purchasing choices. And it’s not just about finding the artist with the least expensive rate. A study done by the White House Office of Consumer Affairs discovered 80% of consumers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. A majority consider friendly, welcoming service as uniquely defining a success business they would proudly support.

Confidence is okay, even expected of tattoo artists. Clients want to know that the artist they are working with knows their stuff and will be able to serve them in a professional manner. But there is a fine line between confidence and cockiness. Lets face it — those that come off as “rock stars” are usually more concerned about themselves than others. When your job is related to delivering exceptional customer service, you cannot be thinking of yourself first. You need to demonstrate a genuine concern for your client and his or her needs.

One of the best ways to show your clients that you care is to available and allow them to interact with you. Those who are new to tattoos often have questions, and if there’s nowhere for them to go to get answered, or you don’t respond in a timely manner, you could begin to lose credibility. A knowledgable manager or front desk person can take some of the basic queries, but they’re not the one putting ink to skin — ultimately, your client is YOUR responsibility.

These are some practical ways you can use to make yourself available to your clients. Consider providing a point of contact for all inquiries, starting with your social media channels and online community; maybe livestream a question and answer session or even host an open house night at your studio where you give personal tours and explain the tattooing process from design conception to safety practices and aftercare procedures.

You’re going to get a lot of the same questions. But rest assured that people can tell when you just going through the motions. If you’re not excited to interact with them, they will go elsewhere and take their money with them. The best approach is to treat each interaction as a way to meet new people or learn more about your loyal clients. Let them know and feel that you appreciate them on a personal

level — as they say, good friends are good for business.

Talisman SOM

A spoon, a guitar string, a Sony Walkman, and 20 bucks collected from a day’s worth of panhandling. In the beginning, this was Kevin Hinton’s admission price into the tattoo world.

Well, it wasn’t exactly the beginning, but it was close. We could go back few years more and discuss the half-finished chain tattoo he’d poked into his wrist with a sewing needle he’d stolen from his mom, but there’s only so much space. Let’s start with his first machine.

“I was 16 when I found out that guys in jail gave each other tattoos,” he recalls with a laugh. “Of course, I had no idea how they did it, but I knew this dude who had gone to jail. Later I found out it was a drunk in public and he only went to county for three hours, but whatever . . . he didn’t know how to make a tattoo machine, but he knew a guy who did—a scary fucking dude who just got out of San Quentin.” The guy agreed to help our protagonist, telling him to bring the aforementioned items. The first three were to build the machine. The $20? For his time.

Don’t worry. He was admittedly young and dumb, and it was the ‘80’s. That’s practically how everyone started back then. Besides, he’s all grown up now, with more than thirty years of legitimate tattoo experience under his belt.

But this story isn’t really about Kevin. Not exactly, anyway. Technically speaking, it’s about Talisman Body Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the shop in which Kevin works, alongside fellow tattoo veteran, Ed Tafoya, recent apprentice-turned-full-fledged-artist, Jordan Duran, and front of house ninja, Britney Dale. Typically, when we profile a tattoo parlor, we focus on the owner. But Talisman’s owner, Phil Montoya has a more hands-off approach to the shop than what is typical. Not that he’s neglectful of his investment; he just has three other businesses to look after in Austin, Texas, and therefore, leaves the day to day operation of Talisman largely to Ed and Kevin. Smart move, considering they both have a solid three decades of experience to their names. The shop is in good hands.

Sadly, prior obligations precluded Ed from joining the interview. In his absence, he submitted a five-minute pre-recorded monologue in which he gave a brief summary of his personal history. Spoiler alert: At the four-and-a-half-minute mark, he admits that everything he’s said prior to that point was “all bullshit.” It’s a shame, really. When someone talks about living under a bridge with a runaway Egyptian princess, you just want it to be true. Bonus points for creativity, in any case. He spun a helluva yarn.

“The truth is,” he concluded, capping off the first four and a half minutes of bullshit, “I learned how to tattoo in San Francisco from Erno Szabady. I stayed there for a long time, moved back to Albuquerque and now I’m in Santa Fe.”

Let’s be real, though. As badass as the whole bridge/runaway princess story sounds, it’s not as badass as having Erno Szabady as a mentor. Truth beats fiction here, at least for our purposes.

This sort of brings us to the magic that makes Talisman what it is; the fact that it’s staffed and managed by two multidecade veterans of the trade who learned from and interacted with the

legends and have the chops to prove it. The corresponding pictorial really says it all. They may shine most in the traditional varieties, but there really isn’t a category they can’t tackle. Well, except Kevin insists you shouldn’t ask him for photorealism.

“I don’t need some turd that needs to be polished down the street that was done by me,” he blurts out, laughing. Alright, so maybe not photorealism, but you’d be hard pressed to find another category they haven’t nailed. The best part, though, at least for the client, is that they’re sticking with their roots and staying all walk-in. Yes, that even includes those traditional Japanese pieces.

“The books are open for all three of us—walk-ins every day,” Kevin says. “No one’s walking out without getting tattooed . . . I’ll do tribal arm bands with a smile on my face. I’ll do whatever. I come from the old school. I loved it when you could walk in, point at the wall and get the tattoo. Those days are gone. Now, somebody walks in and shows me something from Pinterest on their phone, I don’t give a shit. Sit down. You’re getting it. I love tattooing!”

That doesn’t mean he won’t give you his honest advice, though. It’s still a two-way street and he’s still the expert. But in the end, the client gets what they want (within reason.)

“I did a big watercolor piece on this girl’s ribs,” he offers as an example. “To me, it looked like a funky outline of a rose with a rash, but she LOVED it and that’s all that matters. She was like, ‘What do you think?’ and I said, ‘I love that YOU love it.’ I’m not tattooing for likes on Instagram. I’m tattooing for the client. You catch more bees with honey, man.”

Pain show council Bluffs

Photo by Shovey Photography

2nd Council Bluffs Tattoo Arts Convention

February 14-16, 2020

Iowa in February is the perfect setting for a tattoo show. With temperatures barely reaching the freezing level, only the bravest (or craziest) people were showing skin outside, but inside the Mid America Center the atmosphere was warm and welcoming at the 2nd Annual Council Bluffs Tattoo Arts Convention.

According to event emcee “Dr. Carl Blasphemy,” the Council Bluffs show, being in mid-America, has a more “exclusive” feel to it than many of the major shows. Still, 300 artists were in attendance and more than 5,000 tattoo fans visited over the three-day event.

We bring in a bunch of different high caliber artists, not only from the local area, but from around the country. We’re helping to expose people to tattooing other than what they see on television,” Carl said. “It was a really solid show — the artists were busy all the way up until we shut the doors.”

Tattoo contest winners in the color categories were Adam Aguas, Jake Pasons and Alexandria Barrett; top spots for black & gray went to Jae Gomez, Jordi Pla and Pete Whitlow. Best of Show was awarded to Jake Parsons, Blackwood, Adam Aguas and Patrick Oleson. All the winner earned an Axis Rotary Tattoo Machine and Holy Water numbing spray by Saint Marq.

Florida permanent makeup artist Candy Dunbar is one of the regulars on the Villain Arts tour. Not only do she and her Ink Master husband Kyle tattoo at the shows, Candy is one of the official contest judges.

“She has a great eye and everybody respects her,” Carl said. “She will straight up tell you what about your piece put it over the top or why it didn’t win.”

The convention featured not only live tattooing, but live acts including Alakazam the Human Knot, The Enigma, Olde City Sideshow and dynamic human suspension. One of the new additions to the Villain Arts shows is a giant projection screen which literally added another dimension to the stage acts and give people a judge’s eye view of the tattoos in the daily contests.

“This was a very leisurely, laid back weekend. Everyone who came to the show was really nice. There was a real family feel,” Carl said. “A lot of those who came out the first year we’re back again and it was great to see them and say hi.” If there’s a tattoo show happening it’s a good bet it’s put on by Troy Timpel and the gang at Villain Arts. They’re nearing two dozen shows a year including events in major cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans, Baltimore, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Minneapolis and Philadelphia. They’ve even expanded westward with shows in Denver and Portland. The month of April alone has Villain Arts setting up shop in Louisville, Asheville and Baltimore. “A big part of what we’re about is giving back to the artists and bettering the industry,” Carl remarked. “We’re crazy busy. It’s like, ‘Has shows will travel.’”

Nostril Piercing: Rings, Studs, & Angles

Ask Angel

Elayne Angel with Images by Jef Saunders

Dear Ms. Angel,

Do you think that rings are OK for fresh nostril piercings? If so, do you have any suggestions about the angles, depending on whether they’re wearing a ring or stud (nostril screw or flatback) for the initial jewelry? What if the client wants to go back and forth between jewelry styles—after healing, of course?

Many thanks, C.

Dear C.

I think both styles can be safe, though I’ve found that regardless of angle and jewelry size, very thick nostrils often don’t do well with rings. But above-the-neck piercings are no longer my area of expertise, so to better respond to your inquiry, I brought in Jef Saunders. He is an esteemed colleague who has written a few previous articles for this column, and he’s also produced several incredibly informative blog posts that specifically address your questions[i]. I highly suggest you read them and review the excellent graphics, which help to clarify many of the principles.

Additionally, I’m proud and delighted to say that Jef and I are working closely together on a thoroughly updated second edition of The Piercing Bible, which is due for release in June 2021!

Jef says:

Nostril piercings with rings are different than nostril piercings with studs. Using rings as initial jewelry can be safe and appropriate, but the main downside is that their curvature naturally causes irritation, and on some individuals that triggers bumps to form. If a client requests a hoop for their new nostril piercing, I think having a consultation and discussion with them about the pros and cons of different initial jewelry styles is worthwhile.

The client should be informed about several important points:

· Ring and stud piercings are (often) performed at different angles.

· The client may not be able to change from one jewelry style to the other and have both look equally nice.

· A curved hoop resting in the straight channel made by the needle can cause irritation resulting in bumps.

· A slightly longer healing process is to be expected when starting with a ring.

Piercers do such consultations all the time: we warn our clients about the potential issues tongue piercings can have on their teeth and gums. We caution them about the temporary nature of surface anchors. We explain that scarring is possible on every piercing. Following our explanation, we let our clients make an informed decision to get pierced or not. Getting a nostril pierced with hoop-style jewelry is no different.

I find that most clients want a snug, thin seam ring for their nostril piercings; but, the jewelry they must wear for healing would be larger, thicker, and have a captive or fixed bead on it. If they are willing to wait for the gratification of wearing a ring without a bead, and follow my suggestions, I will proceed. That said, I have found that most of my customers decide to start with straight “stud” style pieces, and then segue into snug, thin seam rings after the healing process.


Optimal placement for a nostril piercing with a ring is essential. Ideally, it would be placed more toward the tip of the nose, at the front end of the pierceable crest of the nostril. This tissue both flattens and thins out. It also tends to be the best place on the nose to achieve a snug, “cuffed” look for the ring. Sometimes the ridge of a nostril can accommodate several hoops of the same diameter, but in most cases, as you place the ring further back, the diameter must be larger to fit.

One suggestion is the use of a handy tool called a size placement ring, or SPR for short. I was introduced to them by the Fakir Intensives.[ii] SPRs are just niobium captives without the beads, in a variety of sizes. You can distinguish the SPRs from your inventory by anodizing each hoop in two different colors.

When piercing with a ring, I will make a dot on the cleaned nostril with a disposable gentian violet marker, and then place an SPR on the mark. In

some cases, I will need to open the SPR larger than the size of the bead. Take this into account, as you may need to go with a larger diameter for the jewelry selection. The SPR helps me to determine the appropriate diameter, and also helps my client to visualize the size and angle of the piercing beforehand.

I find that many clients want a hoop that is impossibly tight. But the jewelry needs to accommodate some swelling and provide a small amount of space, so it doesn’t rub on the skin of the nostril. Therefore, they must be willing to heal with a ring that is larger than what they envisioned.


On a few clients with very narrow noses, the angles for snug hoop piercings and appropriately placed stud piercings are virtually the same. Both are perpendicular to the tissue, and both result in aesthetically pleasing piercings on this type of anatomy. But on a nose that is broader with a more pronounced flare to the nostril, the angle is significantly different for a ring and a stud. Piercing perpendicular to the tissue would cause the hoop to stick out too far. For the best results with a ring, the angle of the piercing for the average nostril tends to be almost parallel with the floor or tilted very slightly downward.

Ring-style Jewelry Options

Captive bead rings: “CBRs” are the old standby and I still like them for nostrils with hoops. l strongly suggest stocking several “half” sizes (9/32” and 11/32”). I prefer 18 gauge for nostrils with rings, as the curvature of the jewelry through the fistula tends to be even more irritating at 20 gauge. For some, jewelry as thick as 16 gauge will look appropriate, though the majority of piercees prefer thinner. Most of my clients opt to wear the bead on the inside of their nostril, so it isn’t visible.

Fixed bead rings: Obviously, these are very similar to CBRs, but they are available with slightly smaller beads than the ones commonly used in captives. This can make it easier to conceal the closure inside the nose. And, of course, there’s no possibility of losing a bead when it is attached.

Seam rings: I advise against starting a piercing with this style, as the small seam can be irritating and is a great place for bacteria to gather. Some colleagues will use a seam ring as initial jewelry with a small sterilized O-ring over the seam. This seems like an elegant solution to the problem,

although an O-ring seems as visible as a captive or fixed bead (if not more obvious).

Nostril nails: After healing, the nostril nail is an excellent option for clients who like to change jewelry regularly. It can also be modified without the use of tools to be slightly snugger than a traditional ring.

When we elect to use a hoop initially we need to acknowledge that the piercing will be more prone to irritation if the angle is not perpendicular to the tissue. That doesn’t mean we need to completely avoid it. If the client is informed and agreeable, and will wear appropriate jewelry throughout healing, then piercing with a ring can be safe and successful.

April 2020