On Saturday of last week, we got to experience a really special event. We brewed at one of our favorite breweries in the world — Live Oak Brewing Co. in Austin, Texas. Live Oak is the oldest brewery in Austin, and when a lot of us at Jester King were just getting into beer, we drank Live Oak. Years ago when we toured Live Oak for the first time, we never imagined that one day we would get to brew there. So this past Saturday had a lot of sentimental value for us, and we’re very grateful to Live Oak for the opportunity.
Here at Jester King, we’re particularly enamored with Live Oak Pilz. When we’re not drinking funky, tart wild ales, we’re usually drinking pale lager, and Pilz is a staple around our brewery. For our taste, the rich malt character in Live Oak Pilz is only rivaled by some of the unfiltered, cask-conditioned pale lagers from Franconia, which we’ve been lucky enough to drink over the years. Live Oak attributes the delicious malt character of their Pilz to a technique called a decoction mash, which involves removing a portion of the mash, heating it to boiling temperature, then returning it to the mash. To paraphrase Live Oak, they take some under-modified pilsner malt and work it pretty vigorously on brew day. They then take the delicious wort from the decoction mash and bitter it during the boil with some low alpha acid, herbal, spicy Czech hops. We think the finished wort is spectacular, and after fermentation and lagering, yields some of the best pale lager in the world.
Our goal in working with Live Oak is to take the outstanding quality of their wort and impart fermentation characteristics unique to our land in the Texas Hill Country. We transferred the Live Oak wort into tote tanks, loaded them onto a refrigerated truck (thanks Flood Distribution!), and drove it from east Austin to the outskirts of town where Jester King is located. We then racked the wort into a fermentation tank at Jester King and inoculated it with our mixed culture of brewers yeast, wild yeast harvested from our ranch in the Texas Hill Country, and native souring bacteria.
We’ll provide more details about our collaborative beer with Live Oak once the beer is closer to release. But for now, we wanted to share this special event for us and provide the inspiration behind it. Below are some photos from our brew day at Live Oak.
Jester King Head Brewer Garrett Crowell and Barrel Program Head Adrienne Ballou stirring the decoction
Boiling the decoction
Live Oak Head Brewer Dusan Kwiatkowski
Jester King Brewer Ismael Salas holding a Czech hop bag
Drew Durish of Live Oak guarding the Czech hops
Ron Extract of Jester King adding hops
Transporting wort from Live Oak to Jester King
Racking Live Oak wort into our fermentation tank
4 days ago
5 days ago
We are pleased to announce that we are now pouring selections from Lewis Wines near Johnson City, Texas in our tasting room! We greatly enjoy featuring fermented beverages in our tasting room that exhibit both quality and a sense of place. Lewis Wines are fermented with 100% Texas grapes with minimal intervention in the winemaking process, as well as sustainable farming techniques in the vineyards.
We are presently featuring two selections from Lewis Wines. Swim Spot is a refreshing Portuguese-style Vinho Verde that has a slight effervescence and bright acidity, and Viognier is a beautifully structured, full-bodied white with notes of tropical fruit and lychee. Both wines will be sold by the glass as well as at bottles to go.
11 days ago
We are very honored and excited to once again be selected to host Zwanze Day! Zwanze Day is when Brasserie Cantillon in Brussels, Belgium — one of the oldest and most authentic makers of Lambic and Gueuze in the world — releases a very rare and special beer simultaneously at fifty-two locations across the globe. Our keg of 2014 Zwanze will be tapped at 2pm (9pm Brussels time) at Jester King Brewery on Saturday, September 20th.
For 2014 Zwanze, Cantillon is releasing a new version of “Cuvée Florian” — Iris Grand Cru, an unblended, dry-hopped lambic, aged with cherries. This beer was first blended in honor of Florian Van Roy, son of Cantillon brewer and blender Jean Van Roy, on Florian’s eighteenth birthday. You can read a full description of the inspiration and process behind the beer here.
We’re also excited to announce that in addition to our keg of 2014 Zwanze, we’ll also be receiving kegs of Cantillon Gueuze, Rosé de Gambrinus, and Cuvée St. Gilloise! This will mean that more people than last year will be able to taste beer from Cantillon at our brewery and understand and appreciate one of our biggest inspirations. Instead of last year where we could only offer 150 free tickets for Zwanze Day, this year we’ll be offering 450 free tickets. Due to the Texas alcoholic beverage code, which places major impediments upon small, artisanal, out-of-state breweries seeking to sell their beer in Texas, tickets for Zwanze Day are 100% free.
We will be conducting a random lottery to select 450 names. The 450 names will be randomly assigned to one of three sessions (150 people per session):
2:00pm to 4:00pm
4:15pm to 6:15pm
6:30pm to 8:30pm
All four kegs of Cantillon will be tapped at the start of the 2:00pm session and will be available on a first come first serve basis with a limit of one 4 oz. pour per ticket holder for the Cantillon beer of your choosing. This means that ticket holders for the first session will be able to choose from any of the four Cantillon beers, but ticket holders for later sessions are likely to have their choice of Cantillon beer limited as the various kegs run out. However, please know that every ticket holder for 2014 Zwanze Day is guaranteed to receive a free 4 oz. pour of one of the four kegs of Cantillon, which we still think is pretty exciting.
REGISTRATION FOR 2014 ZWANZE DAY HAS NOW CLOSED
• We will select 450 names at random. On Monday, September 15th, you will be notified via e-mail whether or not your name was drawn to receive a ticket, and if so, what session you will attend.
• You must be 21 or older to enter.
• You may only submit one entry. If you submit more than one, all of your entries will be deleted, and you will not be eligible to receive a free ticket.
• You must be present at the brewery on Saturday, September 20th to receive your free sample. You must present a valid photo ID, and your name and date of birth must match those on the entry form. We will begin checking in ticket holders on September 20th at Noon — no earlier.
• Tickets are non-transferrable. If your name is drawn and you cannot be present at the brewery for your selected session September 20th, 2014 to claim your free, 4 oz. pour, please let us know so that we can draw another name.
• Samples will only be given out to individuals whose names were selected in the drawing. No exceptions.
• Commemorative Zwanze 2014 glassware and t-shirts will be available for purchase. Your name does not need to have been selected in the drawing in order to purchase commemorative glassware and/or t-shirts.
Although you must have your name selected in the drawing to receive a free 4oz. pour of Cantillon, you do not need to have won the drawing to visit Jester King on September 20th. We’ll still be hosting our usual tasting room hours and tours on the 20th from Noon to 10pm, with a full range of Jester King beer, as well as guest beer, wine, cider and sake, available for purchase, and wood-fired pizza for sale next door at our neighbor Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza. If this sounds good to you, please come out and join us on the 20th for 2014 Zwanze Day!
26 days ago
We’re pleased to introduce Jester King 分桃 (pronounced Fēn táo) — a barrel-aged wild beer refermented with peaches from the Texas Hill Country. After slowly fermenting for months in oak barrels with naturally occurring wild yeast and native souring bacteria, 分 桃 was racked to one of our oak tanks or “foudres” filled with several hundred pounds of fresh peaches from Fredericksburg, Texas. We then allowed the beer to slowly referment the peaches to dryness, resulting in a unique beer that reflects our setting in the Texas Hill Country.
We actually hoped to make this beer last year. However, a late freeze decimated the peach crop in the Hill Country. We only use real fruit in our refermentations (never any extracts, concentrates or flavorings), so we waited patiently for this year’s peach harvest to come to fruition. Like all of our beers that incorporate fruit, we do not add the fruit as a flavoring to filtered and/or pasteurized beer. Rather, we allow wild yeast and bacteria to referment the fruit, much like grape juice is fermented to make wine. The purpose is to create new flavors and aromas through fermentation that are greater than the sum of their parts.
分 桃 was brewed with Hill Country well water, barley, wheat, and hops. It was fermented with our mixed culture of brewers yeast, naturally occurring wild yeast, and native souring bacteria. The peaches came from Vogel Orchard in Fredericksburg, Texas. It is 6.4% alcohol by volume, is fully attenuated with a finishing gravity of 1.000, and is 3.4 pH at the time of bottling. Our first batch was bottled in July of this year. While 分 桃 is a very old beer that spent around a year slowly fermenting, we recommend drinking it “young”, as we expect the peach aromas and flavors to slowly fade with time.
分 桃 will be released on Friday, September 12th at Jester King Brewery when our tasting room opens at 4pm. About 150 cases (500ml x 12) are available, which will be sold exclusively at Jester King Brewery (500ml / $16), with a limit of 1 bottle per person per day.
The label art for 分 桃 was created by our own Josh Cockrell. Here is Josh, in his own words, describing the inspiration for the label:
“The imagery is a reflection of the fruit, its origins, and the hard work and time that went into making the beer. However, its meaning runs deeper. The scientific name for peach, Prunus Persica, suggests Persian origins, but the cultivation of the peach tree actually hails from China. With this setting in mind, I began to explore the relevant Chinese symbology and folklore. I quickly discovered a tale about two lovers. Upon biting into a peach, one lover is surprised by its deliciousness and without hesitation offers the remainder to his same-sex lover, wanting him to share the experience of its beauty. Eventually the phrase 分桃, meaning “The Shared Peach,” became a Chinese byword for homosexuality, born out of a time, prior to Western influence, when homosexuality was accepted as a normal facet of life. Further research led me to another tale called “The Passion of the Cut Sleeve,” which also involves selfless love, this time between an emperor and his male lover asleep on his sleeve. Rather than risk disturbing his partner’s peaceful slumber, the Emperor cut off his own sleeve before getting up. Finally, a third story inspired me: a carp, after successfully swimming against a strong current to a magical gate, is rewarded by being transformed into a dragon.
The first two tales, initially written with little emphasis on the same-sex nature of the relationships, beautifully illustrate the selflessness of love in a universal nature. The third tale encapsulates recognition of hardship, encouragement, and reward. Together the three tales serve as inspiration for Jester King 分桃. In the artwork, the shared peach ascends as a moon-like beacon above a mountain. Cascading down the mountain slope is a stream in the shape of a cut sleeve. Carp fight against the current toward a magical gate. Collectively, the imagery serves to recognize the long struggle for equality and is an allied encouragement to keep progressing towards that ultimate goal.
I would like to thank members of the LGBTQ community who kindly offered up feedback and helped direct me toward depicting a thoughtful representation of my support.”
Jester King 分桃
Texas Hill Country peaches
Texas Hill Country peaches
Oak tank or foudre at Jester King Brewery
46 days ago
Funky Gold Mosaic
Wine Barrel Noir