Jester King Craft Brewery

Introducing Local Option / Jester King Feral Dampf

We’re very excited to introduce Feral Dampf — our collaboration with Local Option in Chicago, Illinois! Feral Dampf is a play on a beer made by Local Option called Dampf Loc, which is inspired by the centuries-old, Bavarian tradition of Dampfbier. Literally meaning “steam beer”, Dampfbier was known for producing lots of foam or krausen during fermentation, which made it appear as though the beer were boiling or steaming.

For Feral Dampf, we sought to explore the period of brewing history when Dampfbier most certainly must have been a “wild ale”. Centuries ago, there was no pure culture fermentation. All beer was a product of mixed culture fermentation with different kinds of yeast and bacteria. In order to inoculate Feral Dampf with a host of native microorganisms from around our brewery, we allowed the wort to cool overnight exposed to the night air in our coolship. We also inoculated the wort with our mixed culture the next morning once the wort had cooled.

Feral Dampf also pivots upon a set of axes that we’re very familiar with and fond of here at Jester King. Early on in our history, we latched on to what Yvan de Baets of Brasserie de la Senne wrote about saison in Phil Markowski’s Farmhouse Ales. Yvan wrote about saison either being “sour or very bitter”. Based on Yvan’s writings, we constantly strive to balance the acidity or sourness in our beer through time, temperature, and hops. Beers we brew with copious amounts of hops and ferment for mere months tend to present “cleaner” and more bitter, whereas beer we brew with less hops and ferment for extended periods of time tend to become more sour. For Feral Dampf, we inoculated the wort with airborne yeast and bacteria in our coolship, but gave the beer a fairly large dose of hops and fermented it for a relatively short period of time in a stainless steel tank. As a result, the beer presents more toward the bitter side of the pendulum described by Yvan.

Feral Dampf was brewed on January 26th, 2016 with well water, malted barley, oats, and hops, and fermented with native microorganisms from the air around our brewery, as well as our mixed culture of brewers yeast and native yeast and bacteria. It was packaged on March 16th, 2016, and was naturally refermented in bottles, kegs, and casks. At the time of packaging, it had a gravity of 1.003 (0.75 degrees Plato), and was 5.7% alcohol by volume, 42 IBU, and had a pH of 4.5.

We’re excited to announce that Feral Dampf will be released on Zwanze Day, which is April 14th of this month! We’re pleased to be joined for the release by Tony Russomanno and Alexi Front of Local Option, who are traveling from Chicago to be here! It will be available by the glass, as well as to go in 750ml bottles ($12). About 2,400 bottles are available. We’re also excited to have Feral Dampf t-shirts, glassware, prints, and stickers!

On a personal note, it was a real joy to work with Tony and Alexi on this beer. They are two of the nicest, most down to earth, humble brewers we’ve encountered, and they share our philosophy when it comes to simplicity, subtlety, and restraint. They’re a lot of fun too! Good times were had during the making of Feral Dampf shooting guns and listening to doom metal!

Tony and Alexi

Hot wort resting in the coolship

Coolship loft at knockout

Brewing at Jester King

Texas fun