Jester King Craft Brewery

2017 Viking Metal

23 August 2017


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We’re very excited to release 2017 Viking Metal this Friday! Viking Metal is Jester King Gotlandsdricka aged in Old Tom gin barrels! It was our first ever bottle release at Jester King in 2013 after Texas law changed to allow to go sales at our brewery. This is the first time we’ve released it since 2013.


Jester King Gotlandsdricka is our Scandinavian-inspired farmhouse ale brewed with smoked malt, juniper, and myrica gale. We originally discovered the style in Randy Mosher’s Radical Brewing and were inspired to brew it. We were later inspired to age the beer in Old Tom gin barrels from our friends at Ransom Wines & Spirits in Oregon. The barrels for this year’s batch also came from Ransom Spirits.


2017 Viking Metal is 8.3% alcohol by volume, 21 IBU, 3.5 pH, and has a finishing gravity of 0.999 (-0.3 degrees Plato). It was packaged on June 20, 2017 in kegs and 750ml bottles. Viking Metal will be released at our tasting room when it opens at 4pm on Friday, August 25th. It will be available by the glass and at bottles to go. We have about 1,900 bottles available for sale ($22/bottle) with a bottle limit of two per customer per day. Aside from special events, Viking Metal will not be available for purchase outside our tasting room.


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Old Tom gin barrel from Ransom Wines & Spirits

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First Harvest at Jester King

22 August 2017


Last month, we had our first ever harvest at Jester King! We harvested thirteen watermelon varieties, six muskmelon varieties, and a little squash and sorghum that we planted back in March.


This year’s harvest was largely experimental. We planted many different varieties to see what would grow well here and what would not. We’re trying to grow ingredients and make beer that’s tied to a place and time. That means we’re content to take what nature gives us and what thrives here, rather than trying to force nature to our will. Next year, we’ll take the seeds from the varieties that did well, plant them, and if all goes well, make beer with the fruit. We’ll pursue future experiments with grapes, hops, pumpkins, squash, pomegranates, jujubees, persimmons, goji berries, blueberries, elderberries, peaches, and plums.


Here’s an account of this year’s planting and harvest, as told by Jester King co-founder Michael Steffing:

Initial tilling was in early March.


Rocky soil was encountered — an expectation for a farm located on the eastern margin of the limestone-rich Edwards Plateau.


Our growing region is dominated by an arid, drought-like climate interrupted by brief periods of flooding. Rows (berms) and ditches (swales) were built to retain as much rainwater as possible.


To boost plant productivity and improve crop yield, we conditioned the soil with several truckloads of cotton burr compost. Cotton is grown and ginned in the Lubbock area, and waste cotton burr material is composted as an excellent soil amendment.


By late June, the field is overrun with the green of melon leaves, under which melons are growing.


Each crop row has a perforated tube running its length; water is efficiently dripped directly into the root zone. When the plants require nutrients beyond what our well water provides (mostly nitrogen but sometimes phosphorus or potassium), we run the fertigator. The fertigator is a water-driven pump, which injects small doses of nutrient-rich liquid into the drip lines. Here we’re dosing a fertilizer of fish emulsion, molasses, seaweed, and humic acid. What would happen if we used Jester King beer cultures as fertilizer?


To improve the pollination (and thereby improve yield) we established two bee colonies adjacent to the melon field. These small nucleus colonies each hold around 10,000 bees.


One of the colony queens with daub of yellow paint (a harmless way beekeepers identify this important colony member).


Results of field examination at day 59.


After about two months we had a picture of what thrived:




PlantVarietyDay 59 Germination Rate
MuskmelonHale’s Best 4560%
CantaloupeCharentais100%
CantaloupeAthena80%
CantaloupeTasty Bites70%
CantaloupeHalona60%
MuskmelonDelicious100%
HoneydewPapayadew100%
MuskmelonEmerald Gem100%
MuskmelonTiger80%
MuskmelonHa’ Ogen100%
WatermelonSugar Baby100%
WatermelonNavajo Red80%
WatermelonAli Baba100%
WatermelonChris Chross80%
WatermelonOrangeglo100%
WatermelonDesert King80%
WatermelonSweet Dakota Rose50%
WatermelonSangria90%
WatermelonMoon and Stars60%
WatermelonSugar Baby30%
WatermelonBlacktail Mountain30%
WatermelonOrange Crisp20%


Special thanks to Kate Grimes, Will Grimes, Sean Peppy Meyer, and Stayten Willows for their help with the project.


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Sean Peppy Meyer

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Kate Grimes

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Michael Steffing

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Jester King to Adopt Brewers Association Independent Craft Brewer Seal

17 August 2017


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

9 August 2017


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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

27 July 2017


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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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