Jester King Craft Brewery

Gotlandsdricka Batch 2

19 minutes ago

This weekend, when our tasting room opens at 4pm, we’ll be releasing our second batch of Gotlandsdricka — our farmhouse ale brewed with birchwood smoked malt, juniper, and Myrica gale, inspired by the traditional farmhouse ale once brewed on the island of Gotland, off the coast of Sweden.

When we first released Gotlandsdricka back in 2012, we were careful not to claim it was an authentic recreation of the historic style. We did this because, most importantly, the Gotlandsdricka made centuries ago would have fermented spontaneously, using just the ambient microorganisms from the land and air. While we still make no claim of authenticity regarding Gotlandsdricka, it’s important to note that our second batch, unlike our first, was fermented with our unique mixed culture of brewer’s yeast, native yeast, and native bacteria. This type of fermentation brings the beer closer to its historical roots, and in our opinion, yields better complexity and more enjoyable flavors and aromas.

Another difference between our first and second batch is that the birchwood smoked malt used to brew the beer was sourced and smoked locally at Blacklands Malt. Gotlandsdricka batch 2 is 6.9% alcohol by volume, has a finishing gravity of 1.003, and is 18 IBU. It was bottled on December 8th, 2014, and is unfiltered, unpasteurized, and 100% bottle conditioned. Like batch 12 of Wytchmaker, packaged on July 28th, 2014, refermentation in the bottle has led to more tartness, with softer carbonation, and horsey, funky aromatics. Finally, we were unable to source any Old Tom gin barrels this year, so there won’t be any Viking Metal on the horizon for 2015.


Texas Keeper Cider Sampling at Jester King This Weekend!

7 days ago

This Saturday, January 24th at 1pm at our tasting room, we’re excited to be joined by Nick Doughty, Lindsey Peebles, and Brandon Wilde of Texas Keeper Cider! They will be sampling four of their excellent ciders (descriptions below) next to our bottles to go station. Two of the ciders — 2013 Golden Russet and Ciderweizen — are new releases.

We’ve had Texas Keeper Cider on our menu for several months now, and we’ve been most impressed by its complexity and elegance, as well as its makers’ commitment to subtlety and restraint. Please say hello to them if you’re headed our way Saturday, and enjoy tasting their cider!

The following four ciders from Texas Keeper Cider will be available to sample, purchase by the glass, and/or purchase to go by the bottle:

Texas Keeper No. 1
Texas Keeper No. 1 is a blend of five apples fermented individually and blended to craft a well-balanced, dry cider with notes of peach, pear, tropical fruit, light green apple, and a crisp lingering acidity. We fermented the apple varieties in small lots (~300 gallons) on heavy lees to increase fermentation nutrition and add complexity. We tried our hardest to keep the ferments cool during fermentation with temperatures peaking at 62ºF. This cool, long fermentation helped preserve delicate fruit esters. No oak was used in the 2013 No. 1. – we wanted to present the delicacy of the fruit. The ferments for No.1 were racked off heavy lees following fermentation and aged for four months on light lees with occasional batonnage. We allowed the lots to go through spontaneous malolactic fermentation, which helped soften and broaden the palate of the end blend. The cider is unfiltered in order to keep as much of the complexity intact. We felt a light carbonation best suited Texas Keeper No. 1. It is our example of what we feel great cider should taste like. Residual Sugar: 11.5 g/L

2013 Golden Russet
Golden Russets are one of the classic American cider apples, probably originating in New York before 1800. This single fermenter of Golden Russet was a rarity, in that it produced a perfectly balanced cider when finished completely dry. We used a specific white wine yeast to highlight the lush fruit notes of ripe Golden Russet. We aged the cider for 7 months in tank and another two months in bottle. The cider is unfiltered and finished with a slight effervescence. Our 2013 Golden Russet carries notes of honeysuckle, ripe pear, peach, tamarind, guava, and a hint of passionfruit. Residual Sugar: nil

2013 Gold Rush
Its lemon-lime zing popped when we were tasting the apples as they came through the press. Most of the time fruit character undergoes big transformations during fermentation, but this batch of GoldRush just mellowed into grapefruit and Myer lemon, with a hint of blue cheese. Lingering notes of watermelon and citrus on the finish. We aged the cider on light lees to enhance mouthfeel and add complexity and finished it unfiltered and effervescent. We kept the sugar slightly higher to balance out the GoldRush’s natural acidity. Residual Sugar: 16 g/L

Our goal with the Ciderweizen was to marry the underlying pear and green apple notes from the Crispin and lemon-grapefruit of the Goldrush apples to the floral and spicied notes of old world Wit Beers and German style Hefeweizens. We dry hopped and spiced the Ciderweizen with that plan in mind. Ciderweizen is unfiltered, finished with a lively effervescence, and naturally gluten free. Notes of lemon, pear, coriander, cloves, hallertau hops with lingering orange peel on the finish. Residual Sugar: 3.5 g/L.


Second Collaboration with Live Oak Brewing Co. Begins

8 days ago

This morning we began our second collaboration with the incomparable Live Oak Brewing Co. in Austin, Texas!

For our second collaboration, following Kollaborationsbier released in October of 2014, we’re brewing Hefeweizen wort at Live Oak and transporting it to Jester King for fermentation. We plan on transferring the wort into a foudre, inoculating it with Live Oak’s Hefeweizen culture, allowing primary fermentation to occur, then moving the beer to oak barrels, and inoculating it with our house culture of brewer’s yeast and locally harvested native yeast and bacteria. The beer will then continue to ferment in oak barrels for several months and hopefully develop some interesting and enjoyable flavors and aromas.

Thanks again to Live Oak for working with us! It’s truly an honor, as Live Oak was one of the small handful of breweries that inspired us to make beer in the first place.


Our Third Coolship Season Begins

17 days ago

Wort brewed on January 12, 2015 rests in our coolship as our third season begins

Yesterday we began our third season of making 100% spontaneously fermented beer. We first started this method of beer making in during the winter of 2013 and continued to do so during the winter of 2014. The winter of 2015 marks our third season to date.

Making 100% spontaneously fermented beer involves chilling unfermented beer or wort overnight in our coolship and allowing it to become inoculated with the wild yeast and bacteria that naturally exists in the night air. By doing this, the wort ferments “spontaneously” without us as brewers physically adding any yeast or other microorganisms to the wort.

The world around us is teeming with microorganisms capable of fermenting sugars into carbon dioxide and alcohol. Historically, all beer, as well as wine and other forms of alcoholic beverages, would have fermented spontaneously using just the yeast that’s in the air. As science and technology progressed over the centuries leading all the way up to present day, brewers were able to isolate pure cultures of yeast that were good at converting sugars into alcohol in a fast, efficient, consistent, and predictable manner. These pure cultures became known as “brewer’s yeast”, which is used to ferment the vast majority of beer made today. Most commercial brewers will purchase a single strain of yeast from a laboratory and conduct an isolated fermentation in a closed vessel where the brewer’s yeast dominates.

This makes a lot of sense from the perspective of running a brewery. You want to know how long it’s going to take to make the beer and exactly what it’s going to taste like when it’s finished, so you can move on to the next batch and keep your distributors and customers happy. But when fermentation is opened up to nature, as it is with our spontaneously fermented beer, the results become a lot less predictable. We don’t know which microorganisms will dominate and which will play a secondary role. We don’t know how long fermentation will take, nor how the finished beer is going to smell or taste. Often, various mircoorganisms in the fermentation do not start to really shine until much later on when most of the sugars in the wort have already been consumed. Therefore, out of necessity, we have to be patient and not give the beer any set amount of time to ferment. We allow the beer to sit in oak barrels for years to slowly ferment until we eventually decide if it’s any good. Inevitably, some of the beer will be bad and will go down the drain.

Arguably, this doesn’t make a lot of sense. The time and space at our brewery used to make 100% spontaneously fermented beer could be devoted to making some really tasty beer in just a few weeks time using brewer’s yeast. But the downside of this, in our opinion, is that this beer will taste very similar to a lot of other beer that’s out there, could be replicated in most places on earth, and is unlikely to contribute in a meaningful way to the world of beer. Our guiding principle here at Jester King is to encapsulate the land around us through beer making, so that our beer takes on a sense of place unique to the Texas Hill Country. We want to make something that’s unique to our small corner of the earth and can be shared as a representation of our locale. Making 100% spontaneously fermented beer is the best avenue we know of to achieve this goal.

Along those lines, our 100% spontaneously fermented beer is made with raw, unfiltered, untreated well water from the Trinity Acquifer, which is the water source for much of the Texas Hill Country. Our well is about 750 feet deep and draws water from mineral rich limestone. We use grains, including Texas-grown wheat, that we get from our local maltster, Blacklands Malt, in Leander. We use hops that have spent over two years aging in burlap bags in the attic of a horse barn near Jester King, and finally, we use native microorganisms captured from the night air at the brewery to ferment the wort. To us, this is the ultimate way of making beer with a sense of place, and we continue to be willing to go through the time, expense, and setbacks involved in seeing it to fruition.

As far as our progress to date, we do not anticipate blending and packaging our 100% spontaneously fermented beer until this season’s beer has had about a year to ferment. At that point, depending on how things progress, we may have a nice diversity of stock spanning all of 2013 to 2015 from which to blend. Unless we don’t! In that case, we’ll remain patient and continue to allow the beer to slowly ferment in oak barrels until it’s ready.

One thing that’s new for the 2015 season is that we plan to begin experimenting with spontaneously fermented beer that’s less traditional. We’re in the process of working on new recipes that depart from the traditional wort made from a turbid mash of 60% malted barley and 40% raw wheat, with aged hops added to an extended boil. We’ll continue to make spontaneously fermented beer every year using a traditional approach, but we’ll use this season as our first opportunity to inject some new creativity into our program.

Finally, we haven’t decided what we’ll eventually call our 100% spontaneously fermented beer. We’ll likely somehow incorporate “Texas Hill Country” into the name, as it identifies the origin of our place-based beer. We do know what we will not call it, however. We will not call it “Lambic”, “Gueuze”, “American Lambic,” “Lambic-style,” or any other play on the word “Lambic.” Authentic Lambic and Gueuze come from Brussels and the Pajottenland and are 100% spontaneously fermented using the micro-flora in that region. Our 100% spontaneously fermented beer is brewed with Trinity Aquifer well water, Texas grown wheat, and fermented with microorganisms from the Hill Country. By definition, we will produce a beer that is not Lambic or Gueuze, and we will respect the appellation of the authentic Lambic breweries in Belgium.

Wort filling the coolship

Chilled wort resting in the coolship the morning of January 13, 2015 after overnight cooling and inoculation by airborne microorganisms

Oak puncheons to be filled with 100% spontaneously fermented beer


New Braunfels Brewing Company at Jester King This Weekend

21 days ago

We’re excited to announce that when Jester King Brewery opens at 4pm on Friday, January 9, we’ll have beer from New Braunfels Brewing Company, based in New Braunfels, Texas, for sale. New Braunfels opened in 2010 and specializes in German-style beers. We’ll be pouring several of their sour wheat beers on draught: Black Fury, a sour dunkelweizen; Cosmic Dancer, a sour weizenbock; and ThunderKiss, a dunkelweizen aged in Garrison Brothers whiskey barrels. All three will also be available to purchase at our bottles to go tent, along with Les Fleurs du Mal, a sour hefeweizen aged on local lemongrass with a hint of sea salt, and bottle-conditioned with Texas wildflower honey; and Sangre de Shiva, a mixed-fermentation weizenbock aged in red wine barrels from William Chris vineyards.

Owner and head brewer Kelly Meyer will be at the tasting room all weekend to talk beer and answer your questions. We hope you’ll join us!


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