From the outside, looking in, this beer review might appear to be two weeks late. The reality is that this review is much, much later than that. That’s because it’s a review of a beer from Jester King Brewery, a farmhouse brewing outfit located in the countryside southwest of Austin, and the absolute best brewery in the entire state of Texas.
Now, Jester King is never going to be everyone’s favorite brewery. Its beers are mostly experimental and challenging. They’re almost all “sours” as that term is broadly defined, and Jester King uses every inch of that definition’s breadth, turning out farmhouse ales as imaginative as a “coffee stout” with blueberries but no coffee, or a savory gose-inspired beer flavored with oyster mushrooms. Jester King is inspired by the Belgian farmhouse brewing tradition not so much concerned with making its beers “authentic” representations of particular preexisting styles as it is with making its beers authentically local, with giving them a sense of place by employing local ingredients and fermenting them with local microorganisms. In its recent batch of Kvass, that meant local well water, Texas malt, local yeast and bacteria, and 140 pounds of locally baked bread.
Jester King Kvass is a golden-yellow beer, ranging from clear to cloudy depending on how far down in the bottle you get, with some orange highlights. The head recedes quickly to a thin but very sticky layer. The nose is reminiscent of sourdough bread with a little touch of lemon; it’s a simple but appetizing bouquet. This is the first kvass I’ve ever had, and I really have no way of knowing how representative it is—and maybe there’s not even such a thing as “representative” for kvass given that it’s brewed and drunk from Poland to China and at pretty much all points in between. I can tell you it’s a surprisingly full-bodied (at a mere 3.4% ABV), mildly tart beer with some nice spiciness from the rye malt included in the mash, and that if Jester King could possibly produce it in six-packs of cans it’d be a staple in my fridge. But mass production isn’t their style, so I’ll just have to settle for the occasional bottle.
lady snow says: It has that umami taste to it.
make it snow says: Like, savory?
lady snow says: Yeah. And there’s a bitterness that really lingers in the aftertaste. It’s the sort of thing I kind of associate with hops, even though this doesn’t taste like a hoppy beer to me.
make it snow says: It’s not bandaid-like or anything?
lady snow says: No, more just herbal. Like you’d get from an herbal tea. It really sticks with me on the finish.
make it snow says: Let me try again. Maybe a bit of orange peel?
lady snow says: Maybe. Like the white part of the orange peel? I take a sip, and swallow, and the bitterness just blooms on my tongue.
make it snow says: I think I’m getting it, but I also think I feel it more than I taste it. I can’t tell you what it is though. We may just have to chalk this one up as an Unsolved Beer Mystery.
lady snow says: Other than that, it tastes like I’d expect a beer made from bread to taste. Really brings to mind the expression “liquid bread” for beer. Very literal in this case.
tl;dr: Drink your bread, kids.
make it snow is an alot of beer and card-carrying socialist. He hasn’t posted one of these in a bit because Mass Effect: Andromeda and wedding planning have been occupying most of his weekends. Send him a beer; the carrier pigeons will know when you’re ready.