We’re excited to announce Fair Voyage — a farmhouse ale brewed with fireweed in collaboration with Fair Isle Brewing in Seattle, Washington!
Back in November, 2016, Andrew Pogue and Geoffrey Barker of Fair Isle came to brew with us at Jester King. They brought fireweed foraged from around their area in Seattle. Fireweed is native to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska and is known for its culinary and medicinal uses. Andrew and Geoffrey dried the fireweed, which we steeped in the wort at the end of the boil.
After steeping, we cooled the wort and inoculated it with a blend of our respective mixed cultures. We added our mixed culture of native yeast and bacteria from the Texas Hill Country, and Andrew & Geoff brought their mixed culture with them from Washington. We pitched the blended cultures into the wort and allowed it to ferment in stainless steel for about two months before bottling the beer in early January.
Fair Voyage was 100% naturally refermented in bottles and kegs, unfiltered, and unpasteurized. At the time of bottling, it was 4.9% alcohol by volume, 1.002 specific gravity, 28 IBU, and 3.8 pH.
Fair Voyage will debut the weekend of February, 24-26th in Seattle. It will be at an event at Slowboat Tavern the evening of Friday the 24th and at The Masonry’s Farmhouse Fest on Saturday the 25th. Andrew, Geoffrey, and I will all be at these two events. Fair Voyage will be released at Jester King sometime in March (details to follow). The artwork for Fair Voyage was created by Jester King’s Josh Cockrell.
Our collaboration with Fair Isle is a unique one in that there’s a deeper connection between our two breweries. Andrew is a longtime friend of Jester King, who used to live in Austin. In Jester King’s early days, he helped us with brewing, carpentry, filmmaking, and photography. When it came time to start working on opening Fair Isle, Andrew and his partner Geoffrey reached out to us for help. We accepted a small ownership stake in Fair Isle in exchange for our guidance and advice. My brother Michael and I agreed, and a partnership was born.
We are really happy to help a longtime friend and his partner execute a unique vision that very much falls in line with our philosophy, and share in a small piece of the rewards. Andrew and Geoffrey are entirely at the helm of this venture, and we’re excited to help them along their journey!
We look forward to the Washington and Texas releases of Fair Voyage, and hope you enjoy the beer!
Jester King Brewery
Jeffrey Stuffings, Andrew Pogue, Geoffrey Barker (l to r)
I made a mistake on the bottle count. I looked at the wrong fruit refermentation on our bottling chart and mistakenly wrote 3,000 bottles available. We have 1,050 bottles available. Because of this, we’re going to lower the limit to two bottles per customer. I very much regret this mistake and apologize. Sorry an advance for any inconvenience and disappointment this causes. As a consolation, we’re going to make sure we have Bière de Lenoir on draft at our tasting room all weekend.
We’re excited to introduce 2016 Jester King Bière de Lenoir — our barrel aged sour beer refermented with Texas-grown Lenoir grapes! This is the first time we’ve ever worked with Lenoir grapes.
Bière de Lenoir is a blend of barrel aged beer brewed with Hill Country well water, malted and raw grains from our friends at Blacklands Malt, fresh and aged hops, and fermented with our mixed culture of brewers yeast and native yeast and bacteria. It matured in oak barrels for eight to fourteen months before blending and refermention with Lenoir grapes (also known as Black Spanish) from Torre di Pietra Vineyards in Fredericksburg, Texas. It was packaged in bottles and kegs on October 24th, 2016 and is 100% naturally refermented, unfiltered, and unpasteurized. At the time of bottling, Bière de Lenoir was 6.9% alcohol by volume, 1.002 specific gravity (0.5 degrees Plato), 11 IBU, and 3.4 pH.
Bière de Lenoir will be released at our tasting room when it opens at 4pm on Friday, February 10th. It will be available by the glass and in bottles to go ($20/500ml). We have roughly 3,000 bottles available with a bottle limit of three per customer per day. Aside from special events, 2016 Jester King Bière de Lenoir will only be available at Jester King.
Special thanks to our friends Maya Shabi, Veronica Nikitenko, and Habeab Kurdi for helping us crush the grapes! Special thanks as well to Torre di Pietra Vineyards for growing them. The label art is by Josh Cockrell. Photos by Tyler Malone (the good ones anyway).
(l to r) Maya Shabi, Habeab Kurdi, Veronica Nikitenko
Yesterday we brewed our first 100% spontaneously fermented beer of 2017! We had the pleasure of being joined by Brandon Jones of Yazoo Brewing Co. / Embrace the Funk in Nashville, Tennessee. Brandon is a great brewer, even better person, and his work as a professional and amateur has inspired us over the years. Like us, Brandon has a passion for spontaneous fermentation. The randomness of the results based on the airborne microbes, and the connection of the beer to a time, place, and people, really appeals to both of us.
In advance of his trip, Brandon sent us Tennessee-grown oats, rose hips, and lemongrass. We combined the oats with Texas-grown Silver Star malted barley and raw Texas-grown wheat, both from Blacklands Malt in Leander, Texas. We did a turbid mash, long boil with aged hops, knocked out to our coolship, and let the wort chill overnight, become inoculated with airborne yeast and bacteria, and steep with the rose hips and lemongrass. This morning, we’re racking the wort to oak barrels for 100% spontaneous fermentation. How long the beer takes to be ready, if at all, is anyone’s guess. My guess would probably be 18 to 24 months.
Central Texas winter weather is highly variable. It could be an overnight low of 35F or 65F. Brandon happened to be visiting us during a warm stretch of weather, which came on the heels of some frigid weather (for us anyway). The overnight low temperature wasn’t sufficient to cool the wort, so we used our immersion chiller in the coolship. The immersion chiller runs cold water through copper pipes that come into contact with the wort. Despite overnight lows in the 60s, the wort this morning was nice and cool to the touch. How the microbial balance with warmer temperature effects the fermentation is something we’ll find out. We did a similar experiment with warmer overnight temperature and an immersion chiller last winter with Fonta Flora Brewery, and the results are tasting fantastic about a year later. So we have high hopes for this spontaneous fermentation despite less than ideal weather. We’ll see!
I did want to point out that while this beer will be 100% spontaneously fermented (no yeast or bacteria pitched), it does not follow the process of making SPON — Méthode Gueuze, which is closely linked to and inspired by authentic Belgian Gueuze. We made some key departures from Méthode Gueuze, including for instance our use of an immersion chiller, warmer than appropriate winter weather, and the addition of adjunct ingredients like rose hips and lemongrass. I’m actually glad we can put forth an example of a spontaneous fermentation that isn’t so closely tied to the Lambic/Gueuze tradition. I love the tradition immensely, and find it incredibly inspirational, but spontaneous fermentation is a broad category, and Méthode Gueuze is just a part of it. We enjoy the freedom to experiment with unique techniques, interesting ingredients, and great friends, all while still doing 100% spontaneous fermentation.
It was an honor having Brandon down here to Texas to brew with us! We’ll patiently wait and see how this 100% spontaneous fermentation turns out in the months and years ahead. Here are some pictures and a video from the last 24 hours brewing with Brandon!
This Friday, January 6th at 4pm, we’ll be releasing 2016 Jester King Bière de Blanc du Bois! Bière de Blanc du Bois is a blend of barrel aged sour beer fermented with our mixed culture of native yeast and bacteria, refermented with Texas-grown Blanc du Bois grapes.
It will be available by the glass and in bottles to go. We have about 1,800 bottles (500ml/$20), and the bottle limit is two per customer per day. Aside from special events, Bière de Blanc du Bois will only be available at our tasting room.