Thursday, June 21, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Drink'in the Sunbelt (2011) Wheat Ale | Jester King / Mikkeler | Austin, TX / Copenhagen, DK

I will apologize in advance for the blatant themery that will be going on in [AA] this week, and this is because this is the seven-day advent that not only commemorates my wedding anniversary, but also contains the calendar week in which I met this love assassin, as well as the week that I asked her to spend a lifetime of rabble-rousing in breweries and scummy concert venues with me -- all in successive years, of course -- this isn't the 1950s, where all of that was done between coffee break and lunch.

In honor of our alliance as master collaborators in life and love, I present to you [An Avenue]'s Collaboration Week.

Part I.   Part II.

Part III of IV.

In the year of its infancy, Jester King opened their farmhouse gates to Danish gypsy brewer Mikkeler to make beer and make merry.  Since Mikkeler is in the business of providing sketch-ups to masterpieces for many, many artisinal brewers around the US and around the world, I thought -- at the time when I procured this bottle -- that it was quite the score for the cache of Jester King, and honestly, for people like myself who are positively crazy about this kind of shit.

Famously, amongst my beer friends (which is only a collection of like two or three people -- the rest just look at me like I'm syndromatic), I claimed Jester King as a brewery way above their heads as a start-up, and I really couldn't see eye-to-eye with any of their lineup for a long time.

But, when they started bottling their beers, I felt that they had turned a very sharp corner by bottle conditioning their goodies the way St. Augustine intended them to be.  I switched my opinion about Jester King, and started stalking shelves for everything I could find with this Mephistolic logoswag and syncopathic verbiage.  I was hooked.

When I first sampled Drinkin' in the Sunbelt last year at the spectacular Black Star Co-Op -- which was debuting the first pressing of this beer -- I was woefully disgusted to the point that I would have storm-drain poured the rest of the pint had I wanted to contaminate Austin's drinking supply.  Instead, I suffered through an infected, cardboard-flavored boner-killer.  It was fucking terrible.

But, as mentioned above, the plot twist in the second act was that I ended up hunting for the vessel'ed version because Jester King and Mikkeler put some gnarly-assed artwork on it.  That was pretty hard to resist.  So, I bought two bottles in hopes that bottling had done some hocus-pocus to an otherwise horrible beer the same way it did Wytchmaker and Black Metal.

It was no better than Okay.

Grassy and thin, citrus-like yeast, and some muddled hops (which is entirely my fault, which I will later discuss).  The body was saison-esque, which I really liked, but the punch of collaborative excitement just never really emerged.  It was locally good, not internationally great.  But, had this beer gone to market even as recently as three years ago, it would have been the best thing brewed in Austin -- but currently, as a beer culture, we have already bypassed the threshold for this beer.

Jester King wears the family crest of farmhouse ales, which is a wonderful niche in a budding market, but their beer also has the tendency to all taste very similar to each other -- too similar, I think, when recalling your gustatory memory.  Jester King, in this regard, is in danger of becoming a cliche.

I'm not gonna have a tantrum about it -- but this beer was pretty disappointing considering the arrangement of architects behind its construction.  I will admit that, 1) this beer could have stayed cellared for too long, which killed its hop profile (as I mentioned earlier, my fault), 2) there was an astronomical improvement from that pint at Black Star to this one in my backyard a year later, and 3) at the time of production, Jester King were just working a lot of newbie things out, and with that consideration, it was a pretty decent, drinkable beer -- despite being a girlie 4% ABV.

Getting anywhere in the business of brewing is hard work, so I'm in no way disparaging what Jester King is doing.  We should preserve the craft of farmhouse beer made famous in the Walloon Region and Northern France.  Just not the shitty ones.

ABV: 4.2%
Acquired: Spec's 

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