Friday, February 17, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Thrash Metal Farmhouse Strong Ale | Jester King Brewery | Austin, TX

Only a few Sleestaks were harmed when making this beer
Beers like Thrash Metal are exactly what this weblog is about.  Well, sure, its also a little bit about conceit and braggadocio grandstanding, but mainly its about beers like Thrash Metal, and exceptionally staggering surprise from local brewgicians Jester King.

But first, a brief bit of history between the King and I.  When Jester King was announced as a budding farmhouse brewery in the periphery of Austin, I was positively ecstatic because my favorite brewery to visit in the US (so far, natch) is a farmhouse brewery in the northern reaches of Michigan's Mission Peninsula called Jolly Pumpkin.  When pictures and teaser comments first started to surface on their Facebook page from some of the proprietors of Jester King, it seemed as though they were taking a large component of inspiration from those folks up north.  Heck, even the names and logo were somewhat similar.

I was pumped -- a farmhouse brewery right on my front lawn.

But where things turned sour was at Whip In one night, very shortly after their February 2011 release of Black Metal Imperial Stout.  I could barely finish the pint, it was so bad.  A short time later, Melissa had a tasters sample of Commerical Suicide at Draught House's Anniversary Party.  "Dirty dishwater", she remarked.  And then again at Black Star Co-Op with my first taste of Wytchmaker RyePA.  Terrible.  Fucking terrible.  Finally, only a few weeks later, I did a horizontal tasting that included their collaboration with Mikkeler called Drink'n the Sunbelt.  Surely, nobody could fuck up a Mikkeler collab, right? -- and furthermore, Mikkeler wouldn't even be coproducing with an inferior brewer, right?  Right?  Cardboard. Stale hops. Undrinkable and squalid.

Well, shit, I thought.  This is a bummer.   But I give up. 

But then something wonderful happens.  Jester King starts bottling -- in 750mL bottles, no less.  Because I am aware of the sudden seductive trade-bait that their awesome packaging and labeling has suddenly created, I snatched up quite a few Black Metals and Wytchmakers.  I shelve them for some other time, for some other punter who wants to trade me abominable beer for some Pliny or Consecration, or like, whatevs.

Something wonderful part 2:  I'm a lazy trader.  So much so, I never got around to trading those gnarly bottles for any Russian River goodness.  So, what happens with a beer surplus but to get busy drinking?  I popped a Black Metal with my brother Chris.  I'm telling him not to expect anything great.  I'm reading the labeling, "Bottle Conditioned", it says. Interesting. 

Tasting, tasting ...

Holy shit.  This is an outstanding beer.  Bottles saved Jester King.  Or maybe they just brewed better.  Reading their labels, its pretty damn obvious they knew what they were doing -- but with several batches under their belt, and the benefit of conditioning their beers made a UNIVERSE of difference.

Since that first bottle of Black Metal, I couldn't get enough of Jester King.  Anything they release, I've tried to collect, age, drink, share, trade, et al.  Melissa and I have visited their brewery on several occasions.  In other words, the sun shines out of their behinds.  They are just great -- Jolly Pumpkin-esque, after all.

So, relating this long-winded anecdote back to Thrash Metal: This is one of their very limited, special releases.  Remember I was discussing their Mikkeler collab, Drink'n the Sunbelt earlier?  That was their first one, and Thrash Metal is their second.  Its not a seasonal, its just an occasional.  There will be no anticipatory event that will help us predict when this will be released -- if ever -- again.

Thrash Metal is what big-beer drinkers bone for.  And by "big-beer", I mean those brews that have certain shitloads of alcohol in them.  Thrash Metal is one of those.  Labeled as a Strong Ale, Thrash Metal weighs in at a very hefty 9 percent.  Now, going back to an important part of Jester Kings philiosophy is that they are a "farmhouse" brewery.  When you combine those two elements of big-beers and farmhouse ales, well, they kind of contradict each other. As I alluded to in a prior post, farmhouse ales are typically very low in alcohol, so as to keep farm workers who were drinking this stuff throughout the work day from lopping their arms off Machete-style.  But Jester King is all, "fuck that", we're going Thrash Metal on this brew -- and thus, the big -- HUGE -- alcohol notes in their farmhouse ale.

Thrash Metal is nothing short of legendary.  This particular bottle above was shared at The Salt Lick with Rick and Eli, and they had the same opinions about it.  Its a very fucking friendly beer in that way, in that nobody tends find it at all disagreeable.  Huge, HUGE, esters and a great barnyard funk.  Syrupy -- but strangely crisp in flavor.  Malty but not burnt.  Rich without tasting sweet.  The whole idea of Thrash Metal is a awesome test in paradoxical thinking, like Dave Mustaine riding a giant field mouse like a horse.

ABV: 9.3%
Acquired: An Austin bottle shop

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