Ask a Brewer: Jester King’s Garrett Crowell

I first heard about Jester King on The Brewing Network Sunday Sessions podcast, and I’ve continued to hear buzz about this unique brewery in Austin, Texas since.

From Jester King’s website:

Jester King is an authentic farmhouse brewery committed to making wild ales and spontaneously fermented beers that reflect the unique character of our location in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. Like the small farmhouse breweries that inspired us, we pursue beer making that involves time, patience, unique fermentation, full attenuation, and refermentation in the serving vessel. We use water from our well, locally grown and malted grains, and native wild yeast to make beer with a sense of place unique to our brewery.

As a homebrewer I can’t imagine how “spontaneously fermented beers” using “native wild yeast” makes anything drinkable, but I’ve only heard good things about their beers, and they rate well, so they’re clearly much smarter than I am. Jester King’s brewer Garrett Crowell was kind enough to answer my questions.

What’s special about your brewery?

Three things are very special about our brewery: Our indigenous microflora which plays a significant part in the fermentation of all of our beer. Our calcium rich well water which goes into all of our beer without alteration or adjustment. Our outstanding team of brewers/employees who take part in making the beer.

jesterking-1What’s your least favorite part of the brew day?

Cleaning out the mash tun when it’s 105F outside.

What is your favorite part of the brew day?

Pitching yeast into a sugar filled buffet of wort.

What was the biggest mess you’ve made making a beer?

Scooping 1400 lbs of spent blueberries out of a tank with a bucket because a valve was clogged.

What’s the largest batch of beer you’ve poured down the drain?

30 bbls, or ~930 gallons.

What’s your favorite beer festival?

The Shelton Brother’s “The Festival”. It’s like a family reunion where we get to see old friends from all over the world.

Have you shared, or are you willing to share, a homebrew clone recipe for any of your beers?

Absolutely, we’ll share any recipe with anyone who requests it. You can find some of them here:

What’s the strangest ingredient you’ve added to a beer?

Oyster Mushrooms.

jesterking-2What was your happiest moment as a brewer?

I have so many it’s difficult to choose a single happiest moment! A few that stick out above the rest are brewing at Brasserie Fantôme in Belgium, and most recently spending a day with the natural winemaker Laurent Saillard in the Loire Valley of France. We drank some excellent natural wines in the vicinity of his vineyards and exchanged inspiration and insight over a great meal.

What dumb joke are people always making about your job?

I suppose people joke that we just drink beer all day…but we make Le Petit Prince, a table beer of 2.9% ABV. It’s a beer made for drinking all day!

What beer should be served at your funeral?

My two favorites beers! Live Oak Pilsner, and Brasserie Au Baron Cuvee des Jonquilles.

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