We’re pleased to introduce 2015 Vernal Dichotomous — a blend of mature barrel-aged beer brewed with rosemary, lavender, and spearmint with young farmhouse ale refermented with Texas kumquats. 2015 Vernal Dichotomous is our fifth seasonal saison, and our first inspired by the spring. The Dichotomous series is our effort to present sensory characteristics from the various seasons of the year through beer. The particular season (in this case, spring) is representative of the time of year from which the beer received its inspiration, rather than, like most seasonal beers, when it is released. This is because our Dichotomous series, like all our beer, isn’t fermented in mere days or weeks using pure culture brewers yeast. Instead, it slowly ferments and develops over the course of months in the presence of our mixed culture of brewers yeast and native yeast and bacteria harvested from the Texas Hill Country.
For 2015 Vernal Dichotomous, we once again returned to the practice of bière de coupage, which involves blending or “cutting” old beer with young. In fact, the old beer we blended had been aging in oak barrels at our brewery for over two years. It was originally brewed in November 2012 with rosemary, lavender, and spearmint, and comes from the same old barrel stock we used in the blend of 2014 Hibernal Dichotomous. The old barrel stock was blended with young farmhouse ale refermented with kumquats. Here is our Head Brewer Garrett Crowell, in his own words, on his inspiration for 2015 Vernal Dichotomous and his decision to use kumquats:
“Spring is always a ‘fresh’ season to me, with everything tender and green. I felt the kumquats and the floral barrel-aged blended beer would approximate the delicate air of blossoming trees and flowers. The kumquats are the most springlike ingredient in the beer, as they were picked only a few days before going into the beer. So there is this interaction between the sensory and agricultural aspects of spring, that oftentimes are tangents of one another. There is even a metaphorical evolution of this season when tasting and smelling the beer. First you smell the flowers, and then the kumquats, just as you’d smell the citrus blossoms on the citrus tree followed by the citrus itself.”
The blend for 2015 Vernal Dichotomous contains old beer brewed in November 2012 with Hill Country well water, barley, wheat, hops, rosemary, lavender, and spearmint, and young beer brewed in March 2015 with Hill Country well water, barley, spelt, and hops. Both the old and young beer was fermented with a mixed culture of microorganisms consisting of brewers yeast and native yeast and bacteria harvested from the air and wildflowers around our brewery. As mentioned, the young beer was refermented with kumquats. 2015 Vernal Dichotomous was blended shortly before packaging on April 20, 2015. It is 100% naturally conditioned in bottles, kegs, and casks. 2015 Vernal Dichotomous is unfiltered, unpasteurized, 5.4 percent alcohol by volume, 20 IBU, 3.95 pH at the time of packaging, and has a finishing gravity of 1.001 (0.3 degree Plato).
2015 Vernal Dichotomous will be released at Jester King when our tasting room opens early for the holiday weekend at 12pm on Friday, July 3rd. It will be available by the glass, as well as to go in 750ml bottles ($14/bottle, limit 3 per customer per day). Approximately 3,700 bottles are available, and at this point, we do not anticipate 2015 Vernal Dichotomous being available outside of our tasting room, aside from special events. The label art was created by our own Josh Cockrell.
This weekend we’re releasing Batch 2 of Provenance — Orange & Grapefruit, and Batch 2 of Provenance — Lemon & Lime. Our Provenance beers are highly attenuated farmhouse ales brewed and fermented with winter citrus. The ingredients include Hill Country well water, malted barley, malted wheat, hops, brewer’s yeast, and native yeast and bacteria harvested from the land and air around our brewery. Citrus zest was added late in the boil and citrus juice was added during fermentation. All of the citrus was grown locally at G&S Groves and sourced from Johnson’s Backyard Garden.
Provenance — Orange & Grapefruit is 5.5% abv, 4.1 pH at the time of bottling, and has a finishing gravity of 1.003. Provenance — Lemon & Lime is 5.7% abv, 4.2 pH at the time of bottling, and has a finishing gravity of 1.002. Approximately 6,500 bottles of both beers are available (750ml x $12). There is no bottle limit, and both are likely to see distribution outside of the Jester King tasting room.
In addition to the bottle release, we will have a special barrel-aged version of Batch 1 Provenance on draught in our tasting room this weekend. Barrel-aged Provenance is a very small blend of Batch 1 Lemon & Lime and Batch 1 Orange & Grapefruit aged for about a year in the Mezcal barrels previously containing Encendia in 2013. It will be available on draught only. No bottles were packaged.
Unfortunately, this year we were not able to source the fruit necessary to make Provenance — Tangerine & Clementine.
Finally, bottles of our most recent batch of Commercial Suicide will also be on sale this weekend.
Earlier this year, we began experimenting with packaging some of our beer in green bottles. We started by taking a portion of our February batch of Le Petit Prince Farmhouse Table Beer, and naturally conditioning it in bottles like the one seen in the photo above. After three months of conditioning, we’re quite pleased with the results! We started selling “green bottle Le Petit Prince” in our tasting room this past weekend, and we plan on packaging some of our upcoming batches of Noble King and Mad Meg in green bottles. We’re excited to see where this experimentation takes us! For now, Le Petit Prince in green bottles is only available at our tasting room, and we still have Le Petit Prince available in brown bottles like before.
“My pursuit of the use of green bottles stems mostly from the character of all of my favorite beers. Cuvee de Jonquilles, Blaugies, Thiriez, Fantôme, Cantillon, Dupont, all use green bottles. I’ve had brown bottle versions of some of these beers, and have had them on draft as well and there is an element missing from those versions that the green bottles have. While green bottles permit the risk of light struck/skunky character, I feel they add character, even beyond skunkiness. So many breweries have attempted to mimic the classic Saison Dupont yeast profile, and I feel what is most often missing is the light struck character that is integral to the profile of that beer.
Beer is as delicate as wine. Pasteurized, shelf stable beer has dumbed down beer consumers into believing that something will still taste fresh after leaving it in the trunk of their car, or in the sun, etc. Hopefully, green bottles will emphasize that our beer is a living thing, and that the way it’s treated will significantly alter the experience one can have with it.
I feel that beer is losing individuality through structure, and the expectation to fulfill guidelines. I absolutely like skunky beer, oxidized beer, or “flawed” beer. We allow our beer to pick up “peripheral” character that deviates from guidelines, whether it’s a bit of oak, Brettanomyces, or lactic acidity. Horse barn, goat sweat, and brett character are embraced, yet skunkiness is considered a flaw. If the way I create, and eventually package a beer renders it unfit for BJCP guidelines, then I consider that a success and furtherance of creativity. I feel as though the status quo of brewing is to find a set of guidelines, create a product that fits within them, enter a competition, and receive an award. It reminds me of standardized testing from grade school. Students spend half the year learning how to take a test, and creativity is suppressed for the sake of passing test scores.
I understand that green bottles and light struck character are going to be a challenge for most beer enthusiasts. I think we’re in a unique and important position to break down some of the indoctrination that is present and document something truly beautiful and unique.”
We’re pleased to announce that our newest batch of Commercial Suicide Farmhouse Mild will be available on draught when our tasting room opens at 4pm on Friday, June 12th. Commercial Suicide, our take on a traditional English Mild Ale, is malty and dark in color, but retains the sessionability of its English counterpart. It was the first Jester King beer released to the public, way back in October 2010, and it has undergone many recipe and fermentation transformations over the past five years, as we moved from using English yeast, to farmhouse yeast, to our own unique mixed culture of native yeast and bacteria. This is our third mixed-culture batch of Commercial Suicide we’ve released, and the second batch fermented entirely in one of our French oak foudres.
Commercial Suicide is 2.9% abv, with a finishing gravity of 1.002, and was 3.37 pH at the time of bottling. Approximately 3,600 bottles were produced, and bottles will go on sale with no limit at our tasting room on Thursday, June 18th during the Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow at Jester King.
Last week we traveled to the Phoenix area to brew the second part of our collaboration with Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.! We brewed the same wort for our “Pecan Bière de Garde” as we did at Jester King back in January of 2015, which featured Johnathan Buford of Arizona Wilderness serenading our coolship as it filled.
For the wort, we brought Texas grown pecans and raw wheat to go with local wheat and pecans from Arizona.
For fermentation, we drove out a pitch of our mixed culture of native yeast and bacteria, which Arizona Wilderness propped-up and added to the wort. Fermentation will slowly occur over the next several months in oak puncheons in the barrel room at Arizona Wilderness.
One of the most inspirational parts of our trip to Arizona Wildnerness was seeing the relationships they’ve developed with local farmers. They have a close partnership with Agritopia in Gilbert, Arizona, where they source produce and grow hops for their beer. They also make use of Sonoran white wheat, a heritage grain from Arizona. During the trip they introduced us to the film maker of The Grain Divide, which explores concerns about modern growing practices for wheat and grains. We were able to learn a lot about making responsible and sustainable use of the land here at Jester King in the future. They also put on an outstanding beer dinner right in the meadow at Agritopia while we were in town!
Part 1 of the collaboration is maturing nicely at Jester King after being inoculated with native yeast and bacteria during overnight cooling in our coolship. If all continues to go well, we may begin blending and packaging late this year. We have high hopes as well for the beer we just brewed with Arizona Wilderness as it slowly matures over time in their barrel room.
Finally, as we’ve come to know well, Arizona Wilderness is composed of some of the nicest, most genuine people you’ll find, and it was wonderful to work with them. We look forward to seeing them again as we blend, package, and eventually release the beers we’ve brewed together!