IPA is having its moment.
Seems like every craft beer bar has several on tap. And especially to craft newcomers, IPA seems to symbolize the bold difference between craft and corporate. But this obsession with IPAs feels almost corporate to me. Frankly, brewers feel compelled to make them because that's what the mass craft market demands (yes, craft's come that far - it has its own mass market). And I like the occasional IPA. I'm not a hophead but I finally tried a Dogfish Head 120 the other day and loved it. So I'm not a hater. But my tastes in beer run more in other directions. I love Belgian trippels. And sours. And Czech pilsners. And Stouts. And a lot more, but you get the point. Which is why I had such a great time shooting the new Beer Geeks episode that premieres tomorrow (Thursday, Nov.5).
We visited Jester King Brewing. They're located in the middle of Texas - the hill country about half an hour from downtown Austin. And in a state with a long tradition of lagers (a lot of German and Eastern European immigrants way back when), and especially Texas classics like Lone Star and Shiner, these guys are making farmhouse ales and barrel aged sours. Why? Because that's the kind of beer they like. And isn't that what craft brewing is all about? The freedom to do what you want, the way you want, focused only on making the best beer of its kind that you can produce. (Yes, they've made IPA - but their way, with farmhouse funk).
And what makes what they're doing all that much cooler is, they haven't abandoned Texas in their recipes. In fact, Jester King puts a massive effort into using what's local. That means water from their own well, Texas grown grains, and especially yeast and bacteria cultured from their land (and the roof of their building). That said, their techniques are to a great extent traditionally Europe, especially Belgian.
And the good news is that their fan base is growing. We attended a sours festival they held, and folks drove from all over the state to stand in line for an hour or more just to get in. If I lived anywhere in Texas (which is a very big state) I'd do the same thing. If you ever get a chance to visit, do it! In the meantime, watch Michael Ferguson's visit to Jester King. It premieres tomorrow (Thursday, Nov. 5).
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