This brewery in Texas is used to doing things their own way.
Founded in 2010, Jester King Brewery in Austin, Texas has always made the beers they wanted to drink – whether that meant they had an audience for them or not.
Initially, they sought to brew barrel-aged wild ales and low alcohol, Anglo-American inspired styles.
Jester King’s first release, an English-style mild, was inspired by “the English tradition of drinkable, pub ales that could be consumed for hours over good conversation with friends”, according to founder Jeffrey Stuffings.
Too low in alcohol for beer geeks and too dark for light lager drinkers, they assumed this beer would have no audience and called it Commercial Suicide.
One of my favorite ways Jester King characterizes themselves is with this mission statement of sorts: “We brew what we like, drink what we want, and offer the rest to those who share our tastes.”
While every brewery needs to have customers to make money, not every brewery needs to brew an IPA or pale ale to have customers.
It’s always tough to know if you’re expecting too much from your consumers when asking them to adjust to your tastes; with any new product or new business, you’re told there has to be a demand.
But with a unique, quality product, you can create your own demand by doing what you believe is most true to you.
Over time, Jester King’s vision evolved beyond the styles mentioned above.
Wanting their beers to be defined by a sense of place and tied to the land their brewery is located on in the Texas Hill Country, Jester King developed a mixed culture of brewer’s yeast combined with the naturally occurring yeast and bacteria from their land (yeast and bacteria are everywhere, by the way!).
They now use this mixed culture for all of their beers, giving them character and flavor that could not be reproduced without the influence of their property.
Even Commercial Suicide is now brewed with this mixed culture – evolving from an English-style mild to an oaked farmhouse mild. Jeffrey Stuffings describes it as a “dry, tart beer that retains some of its English inspiration through the use of a relatively high percentage of English specialty malts.”
An oaked farmhouse mild may still sound like commercial suicide to some, but Jester King’s growth would show otherwise.
Just last week, founder Jeffrey Stuffings announced the brewery’s expansion, through the purchase of 58 acres of Hill Country land that the brewery sits upon that will eventually be turned into a working farm – making Jester King a literal farmhouse brewery.
They may have felt that they did not have an audience at first, but Jester King built a brewery committed to the beers they loved… and drinkers came to them.
Quote source: E-mail interview with Jeffrey Stuffings (December 26, 2015)