Jester King Craft Brewery

Cask Tapping of Wine Barrel Aged Commercial Suicide Saturday

This Saturday, August 13th at 1:15 p.m., we’ll be tapping a special cask of wine barrel aged Commercial Suicide Dark Mild in our tasting room. The Commercial Suicide was aged for several months in a French oak wine barrel with wild yeast and bacteria. The flavors imparted by the barrel aging are pretty funky and sour in our opinion. We considered blending in some fresh Commercial Suicide to lessen the funk/sour, but decided to cask condition the unblended beer as what we think will be a fun, interesting one off. The wine barrel aged Commercial Suicide may not be as sessionable as regular Commercial Suicide (we’ll have to see), but we think sour/funky beer fans will be happy.

The wine barrel aged Commercial Suicide provides good insight into part of the process we’re using to make our Farmhouse ales. In the next one or two months, we’ll begin setting aside old barrels of Farmhouse ale that have been aging for seven or eight months and have developed flavors that are funky, sour and/or tart. But instead of bottle, cask or keg conditioning the old farmhouse ale unblended, like we did with the wine barrel aged Commercial Suicide, we’ll blend in some younger farmhouse ale that’s less funky/sour and more spicy, floral and estery. As much as we like dominant flavors of funk and sour, our farmhouse ales are designed so that the complex flavors imparted by the French Saison yeast we use for primary fermentation are the foundation of the beer. We will then blend in the older barrels of farmhouse ale to complement the French Saison yeast flavors of the younger beer.

We feel our farmhouse ales are best enjoyed fairly soon after we release them in order to capture more of the flavor from the French Saison yeast, as well as the fresh hop flavors. However, we expect the character of the beer to evolve slowly over time as the live, wild yeast and bacteria work on the small amount of residual sugar remaining in the beer. After several months of cellaring, we expect the funky and sour flavors to become more dominant. We see this as one of the exciting benefits of embracing nature rather than making a highly processed, filtered, pasteurized, force-carbonated, industrial beer, which, like a loaf of Wonder Bread is dead as a doornail and will remain essentially the same regardless of how long it sits on the shelf. By contrast, our farmhouse ales will be alive and change over time as part of their own interesting life cycles.