As I was preparing for my trip to Austin, I put out a request on social media: What breweries should I visit? I received several recommendations, and there was resounding agreement: Jester King Brewery was a must.
When the people speak, I listen (as long as they’re intelligent, beer-loving folk). I had seen Jester King frequently listed in round-up articles about the best breweries to visit in the U.S., so it was my first brewery stop when I arrived in the Lone Star State.
Set in the Texas Hill Country–about a half-hour drive from Austin–Jester King is an authentic farmhouse brewery famous for its wild and sour ales. Its brewers use spontaneous fermentation, a technique developed in Brussels that begins with brewing all the normal ingredients (grain, hot water, hops) except the active one: yeast. The mixture is left exposed overnight, which allows it to be fermented by natural bacteria and yeast in the air. Those natural bacteria continue to live in the beer as it ages in Jester King’s barrels.
On my visit, it was an unusually cold day so we quickly ducked into the tasting room to order several tasters. Jester King’s list is extensive, and because the beers are unique, it’s hard to know exactly what to order! We went with five different options for the reasonable price of $12.
Jester King also has guest beer, cider, and wine by the glass.
I’m really appreciative of the generous taster size!
I tried: Das Wunderkind!, Le Petit Prince table beer (one of their flagships), Mad Meg, Vulgar Affectation, and Kollaborationsbier. The latter actually had about two dozen more letters in the name, but I’m lazy. My favorite was Das Wunderkind! which is a blended saison described a “freshly hopped young beer blended with sour barrel-aged beer.” Perhaps more reflective of Jester King’s options, though, is this description of Vulgar Affectation: “Farmhouse ale brewed with dried horehound and freshly picked lemon beebalm from our fields.” Pretty sure I hadn’t had horehound in my beer up until this point.
There is so much variety and so many tastes that are incomparable to traditional styles like IPAs, pale ales, browns, etc. My advice is to be adventurous!
Also: Come hungry. Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza is an independent pizzeria right next door to Jester King, and they have wonderful wood-fired pizzas.
We stayed until dusk when it just got too chilly! I can’t wait to return on a warm Texas day sometime soon.
Have you been to Jester King or any other Texas Hill Country breweries? I’d love to hear about your experience!