Jester King Craft Brewery

Jester King to Adopt Brewers Association Independent Craft Brewer Seal

3 days ago


After consideration amongst our leadership here at Jester King, we have decided to adopt the Brewers Association (BA) Independent Craft Brewer Seal. These are obviously turbulent times in the beer world. It seems like not a month goes by without an acquisition of a craft brewer by a multinational conglomerate. We believe that independence matters, perhaps now more than ever, and that beer drinkers should have as much information as possible when making buying decisions. We see the BA seal as one of several ways small brewers can fight back against big beer’s effort to obfuscate the beer market, and we’re glad to support the initiative.


We’re not going to use this post as an opportunity to say why independence matters in beer. Others have already done so much more eloquently than us. For instance, this piece by Jim Vorel of Paste Magazine does a pretty amazing job of explaining it. What we are going to do is use this post as a chance to explain, as openly and honestly as we can, what led to this decision.


In the weeks since its unveiling, we’ve seen plenty of debate on how effective or impactful the seal actually will be. Do people care? Will it make any difference at all? We honestly have no idea. But what fuels our decision to support the initiative is a desire to take some action — any action — against big beer’s effort to muddy the waters when it comes to consumer choice. When I walk into my local grocery store and stare at the shelves in the beer aisle, I’m met with a dazzling display of colors and what appears to be a nearly endless array of unique choices. But nowadays, if you really break down what’s staring back at you, it’s easy to see the ugliness of the illusion of choice. A startling number of the options send your dollars funneling back to the same three or four giant beer conglomerates.


If there’s one thing we try be at Jester King, it’s authentic. We’re not a perfect brewery and we don’t always make perfect beer, but at least we’re honest about what we do, how we do it, and why it matters to us. If there’s one thing we can’t stand, it’s inauthenticity. And sadly, that’s what big beer is doing by gobbling up small breweries at an alarming rate and displaying them side by side at bars and on retail shelves. It’s this inauthenticity and illusion of locality and independence that bothers us, and we’re onboard with a coordinated effort to push back against what we see as an unethical business practice.


With that said, we do have a few contrarian things to say. The people who know us well won’t be surprised. It’s kinda been our M.O. over the years. If we were setting the criteria to use the seal, we’d make 100% independence a requirement. As it stands, a brewery only needs to be over 75% independent to qualify. We personally find it odd that a brewery could be just under a quarter owned by a multi-national conglomerate and still be considered “independent”. We think the Texas Craft Brewers Guild gets it right by requiring a Texas brewery to be 100% independently owned in order to be a voting member in the guild.


Secondly, we’d count majority ownership by private equity firms as disqualifying. We have no insider knowledge, and are far from well-versed in the field of venture capital, but it’s our understanding that it’s only a matter of time until VC firms flip their brewery holdings for a profit. What bothers us is a VC firm using independent cred to build up value in a brewery before selling it to a multinational.


Thirdly, independence is great, but how helpful is it in states like Texas where independent breweries ally themselves with distributors who actively oppose their interests? This has been a recurring refrain from us throughout the years. Our greatest political opponent in Texas are the big distributors. There’s a reason why you can buy wine to go from a winery and spirits to go from a distillery in Texas, but not beer to go from a production brewery. It’s because the distributors say “no”. All the independence in the world isn’t going to change that, so long as the distributors hold all the cards, and we as craft brewers continue to give them our business without banding together to demand change.


Finally, to be perfectly transparent, we have some aesthetic concerns about using the seal. Our artist Joshua Cockrell is a hugely-valued, highly respected part of our brewery, and we take his opinions very seriously. We owe a great deal of our professional success to him. Joshua highly values both form and function, and his artwork is much more of a creative, passionate endeavor than a functional beer label. In deference to Joshua, his professional livelihood, and artistic creation, we won’t be incorporating the seal into our label art. Rather, we will apply it to our case cartons, bottle carriers, website, and tasting room decor.


We appreciate the BA taking initiative in these wild times to stand up for independence, and we’re glad to join the ranks of what is now thousands of brewers who have gotten onboard.


Cheers,


Jeffrey Stuffings
Founder, Jester King

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2017 Synthesis Analogous

10 days ago


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This Friday at 4pm is our second-ever release of Synthesis Analogous — our blend of La Vie en Rose and Grim Harvest aged in Oloroso sherry barrels!


As many of you know by now, we’re fond of aging our beer on “spent” fruit. This is the leftover fruit from one of our barrel-aged fruit refermentations like Colour Five or Nocturn Chrysalis. Long ago, we felt this spent fruit still had plenty of character, so we aged a second beer on it. We were happy with the results, which led to the creation of beers like La Vie en Rose (raspberries), Detritivore (cherries), Grim Harvest (blackberries), and Demi-Tone (blueberries). Our Head Brewer Averie Swanson had the idea of taking La Vie en Rose, blending it with what we now call Grim Harvest, and aging the blend in an Oloroso sherry barrel. The result was Synthesis Analogous, which we’ve only released once before.


This year’s release of Synthesis Analogous is a blend of 2016 La Vie en Rose and 2016 Grim Harvest aged in Oloroso sherry barrels for about a year! It was blended and bottled in June of 2017. At the time of bottling, it was 6.7% alcohol by volume, 11 IBU, 3.4 pH, and had a finishing gravity of 0.999 (-0.3 degrees Plato). It will be released on Friday, August 11th at 4pm at Jester King. 2017 Synthesis Analogous will be available by the glass and at bottles to go. We only have about 700 bottles available (750ml x $24) with a bottle limit of one per customer per day. Outside of special events, Synthesis Analogous will only be available at Jester King.


We’re excited to have Synthesis Analogous back after a few year hiatus! We hope you enjoy it!


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A Final Note on Last Weekend's Atrial Rubicite Magnum Release

23 days ago


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We appreciate everyone who reached out to us to share their experiences with last weekend’s release of Atrial Rubicite in magnum bottles. We appreciate the feedback, and it was uplifting to read so many nice things written about our beer, brewery, and staff.


We know in hindsight we setup a system destined to fail, where people who followed our requests ultimately got punished for it. First come, first serve was no way to handle such a limited release. We’re sorry for the resulting drama that ensued, and we feel bad it cast a negative shadow on some of our customers’ experiences at Jester King last weekend.


We had a chance this week to sit down as a staff and discuss how to go about similar releases in the future. Going forward, we’ll be moving to a lottery system for similar releases, and lottery winners will have multiple weekends to show up and purchase their beer. Also, people we see re-selling our beer online won’t be eligible for future lotteries.


Before next time, we’ll post details on how the lottery will work, etc. But until then, please know that we don’t want our customers to have to go to crazy lengths to get our beer, and we especially don’t want them to have to deal with drama and ugliness. Lines from time to time (especially ones under an hour) are something we’re willing to tolerate, and we appreciate our customers dealing with them. But having to resort to anything more than that is not something we want our customers to have to experience.


We believe Jester King is a special place, and we’re very protective about having our customers feel like they had a really wonderful, unique experience visiting us. While things undoubtedly won’t be perfect moving forward, we will treat this as a learning experience and make sure things go much more smoothly next time around.


Thanks and we appreciate all the kind words and support!


Cheers,


Jeff

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Atrial Rubicite Magnums

27 days ago


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Phew! That was quite an experience.


This weekend was the first release of one of our barrel-aged, fruit refermented sour beers (Atrial Rubicite) in a large format bottles (1.5L magnums). As a collection of homebrewers turned pro, we’re very, very grateful for the interest, enthusiasm, and enjoyment of our beer. It really means a lot. Jester King was opened in 2010 with a fundamental sense of insecurity that practically no one would enjoy, or frankly purchase, our beer. The fact that the desire for our beer has translated into a viable business is something that’s far from lost on us. To that end, we really appreciate everyone who waited for long hours this weekend for Atrial Rubicite magnums. We understand the situation wasn’t perfect — far from it. We take full responsibility for that, and pledge a better, drama free setup going forward.


As a lot of our supporters will recall, we went through a learning curve on how to effectively manage the release of our 500ml barrel-aged, fruited sour beers. Who can forget the “Funk n’ Line Fest” of 2014? In our opinion, we’d say the release of these beers is now handled pretty well. We like mangum bottles, and we plan to continue to release them. However, managing the release is something we’ll improve upon.


We feel as though this release was a learning experience for us. In hindsight, we should have expected that only fifty bottles per day would create chaos and make emotions run high. Partially in our defense, we were lulled into a false sense of security by the (in our opinion) smoothness of the last several fruited sour releases. For those who feel they got a raw deal, please e-mail me directly (jstuffings@jesterkingbrewery.com), and we’ll try to make it right. We put out a request for people to please not show up before dawn, but we knew we had no way of actually enforcing that policy. So our apologies for the drama, confusion, and frustration/anger that ensued.


We’ll do better going forward. We’ll continue to be a drama free environment going forward (something we pride ourselves on). And we’ll continue to be eternally grateful for the interest in and support of our beer.


Cheers,


Jeff

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2017 Atrial Rubicite Release

33 days ago


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This Friday, July 21st at 4pm, we’ll be releasing 2017 Atrial Rubicite — our barrel aged sour beer refermented with raspberries! Atrial Rubicite originally debuted four years ago, and is the first fruit refermented beer we ever made. This year’s release is our seventh-ever blend.


When it comes to making our fruit refermentations, there are a few limiting factors when it comes to batch size. One factor is the amount of space for barrel-aged beer we have in our barrel room. Another factor is the availability of the fruit. For Atrial Rubicite, getting all the raspberries we want has never been an issue up to this point. It’s one of the beers we make where the fruit comes from abroad (Washington), and the quality and quantity of the fruit has always been very high. Rather, the limitation for Atrial Rubicite in the past has been barrel room space. There’s only so much room for oak in our barrel room, and we have a desire to make lots of different barrel aged beers. Past years have seen very small releases of Atrial Rubicite due to competing projects/beers, as well as bumper crops of other varieties of fruit (peaches for instance). For example, a few summers back, we only had about 1,500 bottles available.


This year, we decided to devote more of our barrel stock to Atrial Rubicite. Like we said, it’s our first fruit beer, one we love very much and are very proud of, and one that our customers love as well! To this end, we blended and refermented enough barrel aged beer to package about 8,800 bottles of Atrial Rubicite! We also packaged 150 magnums (1.5L). We racked 29 oak barrels containing 1,450 gallons of beer onto 7,500 pounds of raspberries, for a fruit to beer ratio of 5.2 pounds per gallon! We also racked about 264 gallons into sherry barrels for a future blend of Sherry Barrel Atrial Rubicite.


2017 Atrial Rubicite was packaged on June 12th and 13th, 2017. At the time of packaging, it was 5.2% alcohol by volume, 8 IBU, 3.1 pH, and had a gravity of 1.005 (1.25 degrees Plato). It’s unfiltered, unpasteurized, and 100% naturally conditioned.


2017 Atrial Rubicite will be released at 4pm on Friday, July 21st at our tasting room. It will be available by the glass and in bottles to go (500ml/$20). The bottle limit is three per customer per day (8,800 bottles available). As for the 150 magnums (1.5L/$65), we’ll be releasing 50 on Friday (7/21), 50 on Saturday (7/22), and 50 on Sunday (7/23). The magnums are first come, first served. Purchasing a magnum does not sacrifice or limit your ability to still buy three bottles of Atrial Rubicite per day. In order to keep the line moving as quickly as possible this weekend, we will have a cash line for Atrial Rubicite. We encourage everyone to use cash if they can. Please note, there is not an ATM at Jester King. Aside from special events, Atrial Rubicite will not be available beyond our tasting room.


We hope you enjoy this year’s blend. We think it’s drinking really great, and we’re excited for you to try it!


Cheers,


Jeff

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