In the wake of the recent departure of Barrel Program Head Adrienne Ballou from Jester King, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve made some in-house promotions. However, before mentioning them, it’s important to note that Garrett Crowell continues to serve as our Head Brewer! Garrett has done wonderful things over the years at Jester King, including developing our mixed culture of native yeast and bacteria we use to ferment our beer. Garrett will continue to shape the creative vision for our beer, and preside over recipe formulation, ingredient selection, process, technique, fermentation, fruit refermentation, and our overall beer making philosophy.
We’re excited to announce that Averie Swanson has been promoted to Brewery Production Manager! In that role, she will orchestrate beer making at Jester King so as to make our creative vision a reality. Averie began volunteering at Jester King in February of 2013, and after a six-month apprenticeship, was hired as Brewer in April of 2014. Over the years, she has shown a great propensity for leadership, management, and organization, and she will contribute these traits to our beer making, as our new Brewery Production Manager. Averie is native of Houston, Texas.
Jester King Brewery Production Manager Averie Swanson
We’re excited to announce that Matt Piper has been promoted to Infrastructure & Operations Manager at Jester King! Matt in many ways is the glue that holds the brewery together. He keeps our brewing, engineering, and tasting room operations coordinated and helps the brewery function cohesively. In his new position, he will oversee our infrastructure, take on new construction and systems installation projects, and manage our inventory and logistics. Matt began working at Jester King nearly three years ago in April of 2013 and hails from Rosebud, Texas.
Jester King Infrastructure & Operations Manager Matt Piper
We have a bittersweet announcement to make. Our Barrel Program Head — Adrienne Ballou — has decided to leave Jester King to pursue a career in wine making. She’ll be spending the next several months in Australia for the southern hemisphere grape harvest. We refer to her departure as bittersweet because we’re excited for Adrienne, and commend her on having the courage to follow her passion. It’s not an easy thing for her to do having accomplished fantastic things in the beer world and developed quite a reputation for herself within the beer community.
Adrienne came to us three years ago in January of 2013 having completed a winemaking apprenticeship in France and graduated from the University of California at Davis with a degree in Viticulture and Enology. Given her background, we asked her to focus on fruit refermentation. If we may say so ourselves, given the quality of the fruit beer produced at Jester King during Adrienne’s tenure, we’d say she knocked it out of the park. On top of that, Adrienne was a wonderful person to be around day in and day out at the brewery, and acquitted herself with the utmost professionalism and grace.
Fortunately, after the harvest in Australia, Adrienne will be returning to central Texas to pursue wine making here at home. We hope that in the future she will help us grow grapes on the 58 acres we recently purchased. On Thursday, we’ll have some more public announcements to make regarding our staff. But for now, we wish to commend Adrienne on her fantastic work and wish her the very best as she pursues a new and exciting chapter of her career.
Today was a special day here at Jester King! We bottled our first 100% spontaneously fermented beer! Back in February of 2013, we began filling our coolship with wort and allowing it to chill overnight, exposed to the native microorganisms in the air. We then racked the wort into oak barrels and allowed it to ferment 100% spontaneously — meaning that we did not pitch yeast. Rather, fermentation was the by-product of native microorganisms that exist all around us at our ranch in the Texas Hill Country. Why are we doing this? We’re seeking to make a beer inextricably linked to a particular time and place, never to be precisely recreated again. Beer that has a sense of place and time is what intrigues us, and motivates us to be immensely patient with a project that is now three years old.
Yesterday, we blended our first 100% spontaneously fermented beer. We created a three-year vertical blend of coolship beer from the winter of 2013, winter of 2014, and winter of 2015. Today we’re packaging the blend in 750ml and 375ml bottles, as well as kegs. We opted for olive green bottles with a cork and cap finish. The blend will condition in bottles and kegs for quite some time. One often overlooked component of farmhouse ales and spontaneously fermented beers is the importance of the time the beer spends refermenting in the serving vessel. We anticipate our spontaneous beer will spend six to nine months slowly refermenting in the bottle prior to release. Why are we committing so much time to a beer that’s already partially three years old? “Magical” things happen in the bottle over time! As the yeast struggles to survive in a hostile environment that’s low in nutrients, higher in alcohol, lower in pH, and that has pressure building from the CO2, it tends to behave differently and produce some very interesting flavors and aromas. That’s why we view the refermentation phase that our spontaneous beer goes through, starting today, to be absolutely critical.
Ultimately, if all goes well, the beer will be ready for release in several months. We’re hopeful this will be sometime in 2016. Until then, we’re very excited to see this special project finally begin to materialize into something that can be shared with beer drinkers and that is an embodiment of a particular place and time.
At Jester King, all of our beers reflect the conditions of their production: where and when they were brewed and fermented. The ingredients we use for brewing—Hill Country well water, locally malted grains, and native yeast and bacteria for fermentation—all evoke a sense of place. However, we also like to think that our beers evoke a sense of time. Most seasonal beers on the market are brewed to be consumed in a particular season. Our mixed culture fermentations, however, work at their own pace, taking several months to attenuate and develop complex flavor profiles, and don’t lend themselves to precise release dates. Instead, we like to make beers that, when finished, remind us of the moment they’re brewed and the conditions of their fermentation.
Our 2015 Autumnal Dichotomous, the seventh in our Dichotomous series, reflects the flavors of autumn. Every beer in this series uses local seasonal ingredients to create a sensory portrait of the season in which it’s brewed. 2015 Autumnal Dichotomous is brewed with Texas Satsuma mandarins and cinnamon, using a simple malt bill to evoke the flavors and aromas of autumn baking.
Autumnal Dichotomous was brewed in September of 2015 with Hill Country well water, two-row malt, Munich malt, malted wheat, rolled oats, and hops. In late November, the beer was recirculated through cinnamon sticks and Satsuma zest and juice, and refermented for another two weeks. It was packaged on December 7th and 8th. Autumnal Dichotomous is unfiltered, unpasteurized, and 100% naturally conditioned. It is 6.8% alcohol by volume, 28 IBU, 4.22 pH at the time of packaging, and has a finishing gravity of 1.002.
2015 Autumnal Dichotomous will be released when our tasting room opens at 4pm on Friday, January 29. It will be available by the glass, as well as to go in 750ml bottles ($12/bottle, no limits). Approximately 8,000 bottles are available, and we anticipate the beer seeing limited distribution in Texas. The label art was created by our very own Josh Cockrell.