Texas welcomes a new craft brewery to the neighborhood today with the opening party for Jester King Brewery. And a party it was. Traffic was backed-up more than 2.5 miles to get in. The 2,000 pint glasses ordered for the party ran out in the first hour and half. What do you expect? Texans love a party, and Texans love beer.
Have you ever dreamt of turning your hobby into your job? That’s just what Jeff Stuffings, owner of Jester King, did. He was gracious enough to spend a little time with me at the end of the opening bash to spin a yarn about the birth of his brewery. Jeff started home brewing back in aught three. He fell in love. He was obsessed. After a while, he couldn’t pay attention to his day job. His mistress soon became his wife.
Jeff found a 200 acre working ranch that needed a 6,500 square foot brewery to complete its own life goals, and soon Jester King had a home in the Texas hill country just outside of Austin. The brewery started operations with its first brew day on September 24, 2010 and began shipping kegs of beer to bars in Austin, Dallas and Houston in October.
In a typical brew day, Jeff and his brother Michael produce 930 gallons, or 30 barrels, or 60 kegs of glorious beer. From the fermenter, the beer is kegged, bottled, or barrel aged. Yeah, Jester King ages three of its five beers in oak barrels. They source barrels from George Dickel whiskey for Commercial Suicide and wine barrels for the farmhouse ales, Boxer’s Revenge and Das Wunderkind!.
The barrels are stored in a temperature controlled room to let the yeast do its best work. The same goes for the 750ml bottles of Black Metal Imperial Stout. This bad ass stout is bottle conditioned, with yeast and sugar added to the bottle for additional fermentation in the bottle. Size matters and these beers don’t come in a puny 12 oz bottle.
Speaking of bottles, the 130 cases of Black Metal is just the first round of bottles produced. It’s hand-bottled, which is pretty damned time consuming. It is available now in good beer stores around Texas. The next batch of beers in bottles will be in stores in late February.
Here’s what you can expect to taste when you get your hands on Jester King beers.
Wytchmaker Rye IPA
|Look||Tawny amber, hazy with a bone cream head.|
|Smell||Like a bag of sticky weed in a pine forest. Fresh hops and juniper berries burst in the nose.|
|Taste||The British army would order extra of this IPA. Grapefruit rind and pine sap mingle in smooth effervescence and linger for a long, bitter finish.|
Black Metal Imperial Stout
|Look||Black espresso with a rich brown crema head that subsides quickly. Black Metal is as opaque as its name.|
|Smell||A coffee shop a few hours after roasting. Warm coffee beans, chocolate and toasted malt.|
|Taste||Breakfast or desert? Lush, creamy dark chocolate with French roast coffee spiked with tingly bubbles, finishing in a long oak and coffee bean finish.|
Commercial Suicide Dark Mild
|Look||I was never good at telling the difference between burnt sienna or burnt umbra Crayolas, but this beer is one of those. Its dark brown veil is translucent enough to let light shine in through the edges.|
|Smell||A lazy afternoon rolling in dry leaves and straw in the hot sun, with sweet malt and fresh baked bread on the breeze.|
|Taste||Have you had a buddy’s home brew and you know it has potential, but it’s not completely balanced? That’s Commercial Suicide. The yeast is a bit too prominent and overcomes the mild citrus and toasted malt. It finishes quickly, making no excuses.|
If you think the darkest, richest beer made in Texas is Shiner Bock, you are in for a treat. Jester King brings rich, hearty brews to the Texas craft brew fraternity. Jeff, I’m glad you gave up your first one to marry your mistress.