Jester King Craft Brewery

Introducing Jester King Figlet — Our Collaboration With Franklin Barbecue

9 days ago

We’re very excited to introduce Jester King Figlet, brewed in collaboration with the world famous Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas! We love working with local artisans doing exceptional and creative things in the food and beverage world, and Franklin Barbecue is of course no exception.

The original impetus for this collaboration came from the filming of an upcoming episode of BBQ With Franklin, which will air on KLRU-TV, Austin PBS. Aaron Franklin set out to explore the use of smoke in beer making for the episode. We wanted to branch out beyond the traditional use of smoked malt and opted to take a local ingredient that was in season — Texas figs — and use it as a medium to impart characteristics from Franklin’s barbecue pits into the beer. Local figs were caramelized with heat and cold smoked at Franklin Barbecue. Aaron charred a portion of the figs, which imparted a subtle burnt, almost leathery, character to the beer. The base beer was designed to integrate the flavors and aromas of the smoked figs with our house fermentation characteristics, which stem from mixed culture fermentation with a blend of brewer’s yeast, wild yeast from the Texas Hill Country, and native souring bacteria. While we typically brew beer with a sizable majority of pilsner malt in the grist, in this case our Head Brewer Garrett Crowell opted for a base of Dark Munich malt, which he felt complemented the smoky and lightly caramelized character of the figs.

Figlet was brewed in early July of 2014 with Hill Country well water, barley, oats, and hops. It then underwent a long-term fermentation over the course of four months, first in stainless steel and then in bottles, kegs, and casks. As is the case with all our beer, the aromas and flavors are largely created by giving a diverse array of microorganisms, many of which are native to our land in the Texas Hill Country, the ample time they need to work with each other (or against each other!) to create unique characteristics inexorably tied to our land. During the last few weeks of the stainless steel portion of the fermentation, the smoked figs were added to the beer and allowed to referment. During this process, the sugars in the figs were broken down by yeast and bacteria. Through refermentation, the aromas and flavors of the smoked figs were transformed, integrated, and elevated in a way that we believe is greater than the sum of their parts. Figlet is 6.2% alcohol by volume, 1.006 specific gravity, and had a pH of 3.7 at the time of bottling in early September.

Figlet will be released at Jester King Brewery when our tasting room opens at 4pm on Friday, November 21st. It will be available by the glass, as well as to go in 750ml bottles ($12, limit 2 per customer per day). Approximately 3,500 bottles are available, and at this point, we do not anticipate Figlet being available outside of Jester King, apart from a few special events. The label art for Figlet was done in house by our own Josh Cockrell.

We’d like to offer a very special thank you to Aaron Franklin for working with us to create our collaboration beer, as well to KLRU-TV, Austin PBS for documenting the process!

Jester King Figlet

(left to right) Banjo, Garrett Crowell, Jeffrey Stuffings, Aaron Franklin, Ron Extract, Adrienne Ballou

Jester King Head Brewer Garrett Crowell with Aaron Franklin during filming for KLRU-TV BBQ With Franklin


Introducing Jester King Estival Dichotomous

13 days ago

We are excited to introduce Jester King Estival Dichotomous — our summer saison brewed with chamomile and spelt and refermented with strawberries. Estival Dichotomous is our second seasonal saison following Hibernal Dichotomous, which we released in April of 2014. As we mentioned at the time of the Hibernal Dichotomous release, our brewing is largely driven by the seasons. We make farmhouse ales when the weather is hot and temperatures are conducive to fermentation in stainless steel, and we make spontaneously fermented beers and barrel fermented beers when temperatures are cold and conducive to overnight inoculation of wort and slow maturation in oak. We also use the ingredients that are available to us at various times during the year. For instance, in the winter we make beer with citrus fruit, in the spring we use peaches, in the summer we use apricots, blueberries and figs, and in the fall we use grapes, horehound, lemon bee balm, and squash. Estival Dichotomous is an analog for the summer season. It’s a beer that’s evocative of the summer weather and its bounty, particularly the smells of hay resting in the fields late in the season.

Estival Dichotomous was brewed in early July of 2014 with Hill Country well water, barley, spelt, hops, and chamomile. It was fermented with our unique mixed culture of microorganisms consisting of brewers yeast and native yeast and bacteria harvested from our land in the Texas Hill Country, and then refermented with strawberries. Finally, it underwent a long term refermentation and maturation in bottles, kegs, and casks over the course of three months. Mixed culture fermentation is a very slow and patient process, so while Estival Dichotomous is evocative of the summer, its release is not tied to the season from which it originated. In terms of the chamomile addition, we stayed true to the words and wisdom of our friend Yvan De Baets of Brasserie De La Senne in Brussels, Belgium. Yvan writes in Phil Markowski’s Farmhouse Ales, “If spices are used, it must be with the utmost moderation. A saison is not by any means a spice soup.” Estival Dichotomous is 6.0% alcohol by volume, has a finishing gravity of 1.000 (0 degrees Plato), and was 4.1 pH at the time of bottling. Given the tartness that has developed in the flavor profile, we suspect the pH has slowly dropped over the last three months while in the bottles, kegs, and casks.

Estival Dichotomous will be released at Jester King Brewery on Friday, November 14th when our tasting room opens at 4pm. It will be available by the glass, as well as to go in 750ml bottles ($12, limit 3 per customer per day). Approximately 3,000 bottles are available, and at this point, we do not anticipate Estival Dichotomous being available beyond Jester King, aside from a few special events.


Wytchmaker Mixed Culture Fermentation

22 days ago

The most recent batch of Wytchmaker Farmhouse Rye IPA really exemplifies the ebb and flow of mixed culture fermentation with dozens of different types of microorganisms, many of which are native to our land in the Texas Hill Country. As is the case with wine, each fermentation of our beer can be treated as a “vintage”, with its own unique flavor and character. Sometimes significant variations occur from one batch to the next. In wine, these deviations result from variation in climate and the impact it has both on both the grapes and the microflora responsible for fermentation. With beer, there are even more variables that influence the procession of microbial dominance. Ingredient variations, tank geometry, temperature stratification within fermentation vessels, mash temperature, hopping rates, fermentation head space, and bottle-conditioning temperature all play a significant part in fermentation character. As such, brewers have the unique opportunity to experience “vintage” in a much shorter timeframe, and more often, than winemakers. In some instances, even two different bottlings of what started out as the same beer will develop very differently throughout the course of the bottle-conditioning process.

This was the case with batch #12 of Wytchmaker, packaged on July 28 and 29, 2014. The beer that was packaged on July 28 is noticeably more tart, with intense tropical, mango, and guava aromatics, soft carbonation, and horsey, almost gueuze-like notes, as well as ripe apricots on the palate. In contrast, the beer packaged on July 29 is less tart, more hop-forward and dank, and more aggressively carbonated, with subtle tropical undertones. We are very pleased with this batch of Wytchmaker, and consider it our favorite to date. Within this batch, each variation offers its own unique character and charm, and, overall, it’s difficult to say which we prefer.

This is what makes mixed culture fermentation exciting to us! When we cede rigid control over the fermentation and allow for the possibility that different yeasts and bacteria will dominate, the results are unpredictable and curious. When we start a new fermentation, we don’t know how long it will take or exactly what the finished beer will taste like. Pure culture fermentation with brewer’s yeast has done much for modern beer making. Beer can be made quickly, cleanly, and consistently, which of course makes sense in terms of running a business and meeting consumer expectations. But we believe that the rise of pure culture fermentation has led to some of the character, charm, excitement, and interest being lost along the way. This quote from 20th Century Belgian brewing scientist Marc H. Van Laer is one we’ve latched onto over the years:

“It is certain that the introduction of pure yeasts into industrial fermentation does not constitute the crowning achievement of a system that is henceforth immutable. It seems, for example, that if the application of the pure cultures method has improved the average quality of the beer, if it has decreased the chances of infection, it has given us beer with less character than before.”

We’re content to explore the idiosyncrasies and curiosities of mixed culture fermentation at Jester King. It’s our passion, and it motivates our everyday work. It allows us to create beer that’s truly original and tied to our little piece of the world in the Texas Hill Country. We could make a lot more beer a lot more quickly using pure culture fermentation, but like we said, we’re excited to sit back and enjoy the show as multitudes of living, microscopic creatures work together (or against one another!) to create interesting beer with unique characteristics from batch to batch.


Introducing Jester King Colour Five

30 days ago

We’re very excited to introduce Jester King Colour Five — a blend of barrel-aged, sour beer refermented with Texas blueberries!

When we referment our sour, barrel-aged beer with fruit, our goal is to create something that’s greater than the sum of its parts. We allow the fruit to become fundamentally transformed by native yeast and bacteria in our beer, resulting in new and interesting flavors. We’re particularly pleased with the way we have been able to achieve this with Colour Five, and we’re excited to release this beer, which has taken a very long time to create.

A previous attempt at refermenting sour, barrel-aged beer with blueberries was far less successful. Back in 2013, we added blueberries from east Texas to oak barrels containing sour red ale, and allowed the sugar in the fruit to referment. Unfortunately, the results did not meet our standards, and the beer was sent down the drain. The batch had become acetic or vinegary, a characteristic that we detest in sour beers, but unfortunately encounter far too frequently throughout the beer world.

On the whole, we’re quite willing to sit back and allow fermentation with native yeasts and bacteria to take our beer in all sorts of interesting directions. But one part of our process that we do control very carefully is temperature. We keep our barrel room right around sixty degrees Fahrenheit year-round in order to keep acetobacter (the bacteria that produces acetic acid) at bay. At extremely low levels, acetobacter can add some pleasant complexity and depth of flavor, but if allowed to grow, it can easily take over. Unfortunately, our first attempt at blueberry refermentation became overly acetic and was dumped. Jester King is a very experimental brewery, and part of what this means is that some of our experiments fail. Never dumping any of our beer would mean that we were selling you our failed experiments. This is not something we will do.

There were several things we decided to do differently this time, as compared with our failed blueberry refermentation in 2013. First, we used a different base beer. The blueberries were refermented with a blend of 89% Das Überkind — our “old” saison aged for months in oak barrels with native yeasts and bacteria, and 11% RU55, our barrel-aged sour red ale. The base for the 2013 batch was 100% RU55. Second, the base beer and the blueberries were blended and allowed to referment in a stainless steel tank, which allowed us to keep a constant blanket of carbon dioxide over the beer, in order to stave off oxygen, which can lead to the growth of acetobacter. Finally, we froze the blueberries for this batch prior to refermentation, in order to decrease the population of acetobacter on the skins of the fruit. There were also some elements that we did not change, including the sourcing of blueberries from east Texas, and the use of carbonic maceration to burst open the skins of the berries, rather than crushing them.

Colour Five was brewed with Hill Country well water, barley, wheat, and hops. It was fermented with our unique mixed culture of microorganisms, which includes farmhouse yeasts, naturally occurring wild yeasts harvested from our land in the Texas Hill Country, and native souring bacteria. After extended fermentation and maturation in oak barrels, Colour Five was refermented with Texas blueberries over the course of several weeks. The final refermentation of the beer occurred in bottles, kegs, and casks. Colour Five is 7.1% alcohol by volume, 3.2 pH, and has a finishing gravity of 1.000 (0 degrees Plato). It is unfiltered, unpasteurized, and 100% naturally conditioned.

The label art for Colour Five was created by our in-house artist Josh Cockrell. Josh’s inspiration for the label came from the realm of sacred geometry.

Colour Five will be available when our tasting room opens at 4pm on Friday, October 31st. It will be for sale by the glass, as well as in bottles to go (500ml x $16). Approximately 2,000 bottles are available with a limit of one bottle per customer per day. Aside from a few special events, Colour Five will be available exclusively at Jester King.

Jester King Colour Five

Texas blueberries in a stainless steel tank prior to refermentation

“Spent” blueberries after refermentation


Jester King 2014 Austin Beer Week Events!

36 days ago

2014 Austin Beer Week is nearly here, and we’ll be participating in a number of events throughout the week! The events officially begin on Friday, October 24th, but we have a few events leading up as well. Have a fun and safe week!

Tuesday, October 21st

6:00pm to 8:00pm at The Chive (98 San Jacinto Blvd., Austin, TX 78701) Brew Talks hosted by Brewbound, a free, in-depth panel discussion regarding legislative issues facing brewers with Jester King Co-Owner and Managing Partner Ron Extract, Independence Brewing’s Amy Cartwright, and executive director of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, Charles Vallhonrat.

Thursday, October 23rd

6:00pm to 8:00pm at WhichCraft Beer Store — Meet and Greet with Jester King Founder Jeffrey Stuffings. Jeff will be opening some barrel-aged, fruited sours from the Jester King cellar, and bottles of Das Wunderkind, Noble King, Le Petit Prince, El Cedro, Wytchmaker, and Provenance Orange & Grapefruit will be for sale.

Friday, October 24th

5:30pm at Billy’s On Burnet — Cask tapping of Wytchmaker Farmhouse Rye India Pale Ale with Jester King Artist Josh Cockrell.

Sunday, October 26th

12:00pm at Whole Foods Arbor Trails — Cask tapping of Wytchmaker Farmhouse Rye India Pale Ale

7:00pm at Drink Well — Jester King beer dinner. Co-Owner and Managing Partner Ron Extract will guide guests through the pairings, which include rare and not-yet-released Jester King beers. Tickets are $65 per person and available for purchase HERE.

Monday, October 27th

7:00pm at Hopfields — Beer dinner featuring the portfolio of Flood Independent Distribution. Tickets are $75 per person and available for purchase HERE.

Tuesday, October 28th

9:00pm at Flying Saucer — Art of the Sour Panel Discussion featuring Jester King Head Brewer Garrett Crowell and Jeff Young of Blue Owl Brewing. Garrett will sample Das Uberkind and Aurelian Lure while discussing Jester King’s sour beer making philosophy and techniques.

Wednesday, October 29th

2:00pm at The ABGB — State of the Craft Beer Industry Panel Discussion featuring Jester King Founder Jeffrey Stuffings, Executive Director of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, Charles Vallhonrat, Jim Dow of The Cross Oak Group, Real Ale owner Brad Farbstein, and Ronnie Crocker of The Houston Chronicle.

5:30pm at The Draught House — Jester King / East Side King pairing: El Cedro paired with crispy pig face, chicharrón, bone marrow aioli & Snörkel paired with Matsutake mushroom, Maitake mushroom, rye.

Thursday, October 30th

6:00pm to 10:00pm at Jester King Brewery Jester King Funk n’ Sour Fest. SOLD OUT


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