Jester King Brewery’s work with spontaneously fermented beers is getting national recognition.
The New York Times recently published a feature about the rise of lambic-style beers in the U.S. — funky, fragrant and unpredictable ales that impart a sense of place because of how they’re made.
They aren’t produced like other beers. In a loft above the main floor at Jester King’s Texas Hill Country brewery, a long, low copper tub known as a coolship is filled with the beginnings of a beer and left alone on cold winter nights so that the microbes in the air can work their fermenting magic. Eventually, the result is a lambic-like beer.
Lambics have been a hallmark of Belgium’s brewing culture for centuries but have only recently caught on in the U.S. Jester King has been one of the top producers giving the style some American flavor.
But don’t call these American-born brews ‘lambics.’
U.S. brewers like Jester King’s Jeffrey Stuffings recognize and respect Belgium’s ownership of the historical beer, and he has instead created a new certification mark — Méthode Traditionnelle — that he and other American brewers can use to signify the beer is in the lambic style, following Belgian tradition, but made here.
When Jester King’s first set of spontaneously fermented brews debuted in late 2016, I devoted considerable column space to introduce to readers what he then called Méthode Gueuze. It’s the same kind of beer but under a different name. He changed the certification mark because ‘gueuze,’ like ‘lambic,’ is a distinctly Belgian concept, he said in the New York Times article.
What he’s doing isn’t anything new, but as the story notes, that’s not the point — he’s honoring one of the most storied traditions in brewing history.
Jester King generally has at least one spontaneously fermented beer, part of the brewery’s SPON series, on tap or in bottles in the tasting room. You can check the weekend’s menu at jesterkingbrewery.com.