Jester King Craft Brewery

Our New/Old Batch of Noble King

Our beer goes through a lot of changes — some good, some bad. It’s a living thing, teeming with a host of microscopic life that’s outside our immediate control. As you probably know if you follow our brewery, we ferment our beer with a mixed culture of brewers yeast and native microbes (yeast and bacteria) harvested from the land and air around our brewery. Fermenting with a mixed culture presents a lot of challenges. There is a reason most breweries don’t do it. When you work with a mixed culture, the results become a lot less predictable. We don’t know for certain if a new fermentation will last weeks, months, or years. We wait, observe, smell, taste, and eventually, the beer will tell us when it’s ready.

When fermenting with a pure culture, by contrast, it’s possible to know almost exactly how long it will take to make a beer and what it will taste like when it’s finished. Consistency and predictability are paramount in most breweries, and pure culture fermentation allows this to happen. This makes sense in the context of growing a brewery and selling a large volume of beer. Predictable fermentation times and results help brewers to know when to schedule the next batch, distributors to know when to pickup the beer, and customers to know when the beer will be available for sale, and more or less, exactly what it will taste like. Repeat this process over and over, and a brewery can grow by leaps and bounds, enter new markets, and attain regional or national status. In other words, pure culture fermentation has given rise to the international proliferation of beer as we know it today, and that isn’t a bad thing. We’re just of the opinion that somewhere along the way, a piece of the uniqueness and individuality that differentiated one brewery from the next was lost along the way. Idiosyncrasies, surprises, and peculiarities in beer are what motivate us, and ultimately, we’re looking to make something that’s a unique reflection of the land, time of year, and people at our brewery. Mixed culture fermentation, with all its pleasant and unpleasant surprises, is at the heart of this goal.

So what does this philosophy mean in terms of our latest batch of Noble King? Well, the beer initially surprised us — not in a good way. After being brewed in early March of 2015 and packaged by April 1st (somewhat appropriately), the beer had some off-aromas that we used words and phrases like “chlorine” and “shrimp shell” to describe. It was palatable beer, but not something we’d tie our reputation to and release. Rather than dumping it down the drain, we knew the beer would change with time because it’s alive and teeming with microbes that would take the beer down different paths over the long run. Now, after eight months since packaging, the beer has indeed changed to the point where we’re excited to release it! Among other attributes, the nose has become quite funky, and a nice, quenching acidity has developed.

This batch of Noble King won’t present like previous versions did at the time of release. The herbal hop aroma and relatively clean fermentation profile associated with younger Noble King is long gone. Funk and sourness are more prominent as mentioned. This batch is testament to one of the mantras we have around the brewery, which is “give it more time”. The mixed culture of microbes, not always, but often have a way of resolving a beer in the long run. This aspect of our beer making has resulted in our “new” batch of Noble King being released over nine months after it was brewed.

Noble King (batch 17) will be released this Friday, December 18th when our tasting room opens at 4pm. A portion of the batch will see distribution in Texas, and some of it was packaged in green bottles.