3 days ago
When our tasting room opens at 4pm on Friday, August 26th, we’ll be releasing 2016 Jester King 分 桃 (Fēn Táo). 分 桃 is our barrel aged sour beer fermented with our mixed culture of brewers yeast, native yeast, and native bacteria, then refermented with fresh, Texas Hill Country peaches.
Our 2016 blend, like all our previous vintages, was refermented with peaches from Fredericksburg, Texas, located about 60 miles to the west of Jester King. It was brewed with raw, unfiltered well water, malted barley, wheat, oats, and hops, and then slowly matured in neutral oak barrels for about a year. After refermentation with fresh, Texas peaches, it was 100% naturally conditioned in bottles and kegs. At the time of packaging, 2016 分 桃 was 5.95% alcohol by volume, 14 IBU, 3.3 pH, and had a specific gravity of 1.002 (0.5 degrees Plato).
2016 分 桃 will be available at our tasting room by the glass and in bottles to go. We have about 1,600 bottles available (500ml/$20). The bottle limit is two (2) per customer per day. Aside from special events, 分 桃 will only be available at our tasting room.
8 days ago
Yesterday, we spotted an error on the label of our 2016 Detritivore, which we’re releasing this Friday. On the back of the label in the notes section it states, “Detritivore is dry unspiced farmhouse ale refermented with raspberries already once used in the fermentation of Jester King Montmorency vs. Balaton.” It should state that Detritivore is refermented with the cherries from Montmorency vs. Balaton, not raspberries. The label correctly states that the beer is refermented with cherries on the front and in the ingredients section.
We’re sorry for this mistake, and please know that 2016 Detritivore was indeed refermented with the cherries from Montmorency vs. Balaton.
Jester King Brewery
14 days ago
We’re pleased to introduce a very special, one-off beer from our barrel cellar called CRU 55. Back when we started our program of spontaneous fermentation in February of 2013, we had an extra 130 gallon puncheon barrel (#487 to be precise), which we filled with our RU55 Barrel Aged Sour Red Ale. After aging in our barrel room for three years, we decided to bottle and release it as the “Grand Cru” version of RU55.
CRU 55 was packaged on May 9th, 2016 after a little over three years in the barrel. It will go on sale today (Friday, August 12th, 2016) when our tasting room opens at 4pm. The bottle limit is one per customer per day (375ml, $14). We have approximately 900 bottles available.
16 days ago
This week, I had the privilege of traveling to Russia with my brother/co-founder Michael Steffing and our production manager Averie Swanson to brew with Victory Art Brew in the town of Ivanteyevka outside of Moscow. We set out to make a beer inspired by the farmhouse ales of Chuvashia, located 400 miles to the east.
Exploring old farmhouse brewing traditions from around the world is something we find very interesting. It’s fascinating to learn about how people throughout the centuries have harnessed their surroundings to make beer that’s tied to a place and time. It’s something we try to do with our own beer, which creates a natural curiosity about how others have done it before us. I’ve heard others say that “beer is people”, and I fully believe that. It’s a window into their lives, surroundings, and time period, and it brings them together. For our beer with Victory Art Brew, we tried to capture part of Chuvashian farmhouse brewing tradition and incorporate it with our own place and time.
Chuvashian farmhouse ale is part of homebrewing history and culture. We’re not talking about widely available commercial beer. Rather, we’re talking about people using what was available in their surroundings to make beer in their kitchens. Chuvashian beer was prepared by taking a large earthenware pot called a “korchaga” with a hole on the side near the bottom. The korchaga was lined with rye straw, and the hole was plugged with dough. Cold water and malt were added to the korchaga, and the top was sealed with more dough. It was placed in a stove overnight for 16-18 hours. The next day, the korchaga was removed from the stove, and the hole near the bottom was unsealed to collect the wort (unfermented beer). Additional hot water was used to rinse the remaining sugars from the grains. The wort was then placed in a wooden container for fermentation without being boiled.
Hops were not added directly to the wort. Rather, they were boiled in a separate vessel with water, then strained to create a hop tea. This hop tea was then added to the wooden vessel containing the wort. A yeast starter called the “kulaga” was then added to the wooden container. A ceremony was performed at the time of the yeast addition to “raise the specters”.
After the primary fermentation, the beer was either consumed or combined with other ingredients like honey, herbs, or berries. The beer then underwent additional fermentation in the wooden vessel for anywhere from one week to one year. Finally, the beer was served in wooden buckets accompanied by prayer.
In our case, we lined the bottom of the mash tun with wheat straw and mashed with Russian pale ale malt and rye and wheat flakes.
We then rinsed the mash and moved the wort to the kettle, but did not boil. Rather, we boiled 1kg of Chuvashian hops in a separate pot for one hour.
We strained the hops from the pot and added the hop tea to the wort.
We then chilled the wort to fermentation temperature using a heat exchanger. The wort was then racked into oak barrels that formerly contained Crimean wine and was pitched with our mixed culture of brewers yeast, native yeast, and native bacteria from Jester King.
After the wort ferments in barrels for quite some time, it will be refermented with Russian honey.
Brewing with Victory Art Brew was truly a wonderful experience. It was honestly a little intimidating for us to travel thousands of miles from Texas to a land none of us had ever visited before. We could not have been made to feel more welcome. The people of Victory Art Brew, especially the proprietors Eugene Tolstov, Doug Zent, and Denis Kovalev, were incredibly kind and made us feel right at home. It was an absolute pleasure to brew with them, and we look forward to having them to Jester King sometime in the future to brew a version of Chuvashian-inspired beer in Texas!
Jester King Brewery
23 days ago
We’re very excited to introduce Space Waves — our collaboration with Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales in Dexter, Michigan! Space Waves is a blend of farmhouse ale brewed with lime salt, and barrel-aged sour beer refermented with Michigan cherries.
It’s no exaggeration to say that brewing with Jolly Pumpkin and Ron Jeffries was a dream come true and a significant milestone for Jester King. Even appearing in the same sentence as Jolly Pumpkin, let alone collaborating with them, is a surreal experience for which we are extremely grateful. I’m not shy at all to say that Jolly Pumpkin is Jester King’s greatest influence.
About ten years ago, I had my first beer from Jolly Pumpkin, and my life was changed from that point on. I had no idea what beer could be prior to experiencing it. It was like I tried something from a different planet. Not long afterward, I began experimenting with mixed culture fermentation as a homebrewer, trying to make something at least 1/100th as good as Jolly Pumpkin. I listened to Ron Jeffries’ interviews on The Brewing Network over and over again trying to decipher the imaginative nature of his philosophy and approach. Bam Bière and Calabaza Blanca became pinnacles for me. The ethereal nature of the beer, coupled with its reversion from modern, industrial brewing process, elevated it to magical status in my mind. As I sat in an office cube years ago, I’d occupy my time staring at the whimsical label art and allowing my mind to be transported to far away places inhabited by swashbuckling cats and treasure chests filled with golden elixir. As I hope you can tell, Jolly Pumpkin is really personal and important to me, and has occupied a significant portion of my life.
As time progressed, every opportunity to be in anyway connected to Jolly Pumpkin has been a milestone for Jester King. For instance, getting advice from Ron Jeffries about barrel selection, pouring Luciérnaga and Oro de Calabaza at our first ever Funk n’ Sour Fest, having Jolly Pumpkin come to Texas, and most recently collaborating with Jolly Pumpkin are all major events for us. People have asked me before why Jester King has never made a beer with Jolly Pumpkin, and the honest answer is that I was too afraid to ask. Well, it ended up working out, and now we have. I couldn’t be happier about it.
Space Waves is an ode to the pioneering nature of Jolly Pumpkin, its ethereal approach to brewing, and its founder Ron Jeffries. I think the label art for the beer by Josh Cockrell captures this sentiment. Our own “Captain Spooky” — Garrett Crowell — helped create the recipe. We took some of Ron Jeffries’ favorite flavors – bitter and salty — and combined them with the character we get from refermented Michigan cherries in our Montmorency vs. Balaton.
Space Waves was brewed at Jester King on April 14th, 2016 with well water, locally malted barley from Blacklands Malt, raw Texas wheat, hops, and lime salt. We fermented it in stainless steel with our mixed culture of brewers yeast, native yeast, and native bacteria. A relatively large dose of hops in the boil was intended to keep the bacteria in our mixed culture at bay, at least for a little while! We then blended it with Montmorency vs. Balaton, our barrel aged sour beer refermented with cherries at a ratio of about twelve to one (farmhouse ale to MvB). We packaged it on May 31st, 2016, then let the blend naturally referment in bottles, kegs and casks for another two months prior to release.
At the time of packaging, Space Waves was 5.6 percent alcohol by volume, 42 IBU, 4.3 pH, and had a specific gravity of 1.002 (0.5 degrees Plato). It will be released at our tasting room at 4pm on Friday, August 5th, 2016. It will be available by the glass, as well as at bottles to go (750ml/$14) with a limit of four per customer per day. About 3,000 bottles are available. Aside from special events and the portion of the batch we send to Jolly Pumpkin, we don’t anticipate Space Waves seeing distribution.
We really hope you enjoy this beer, which was very special for us to make, and I believe represents a major milestone for our brewery.
Jester King Brewery