BREWERY: Jester King Brewery
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
STYLE: Bière de Garde
ABV: 8.3 percent
RELEASE DATE: Feb. 27, 2015
AVAILABLE IN: 750ml bottles
BEERS POURED: One
There are not many breweries out there that I would blindly purchase anything they put out and be excited to try it. Jester King Brewery from Austin is on that short list. In five short years Jester King has gone from a small artisan brewery in the Texas Hill Country to the most sought after craft brewery in the region. Its unique approach to classic Belgian styles has garnished fans across the country. I have been lucky enough to try a dozen or so of their beers and have yet to have a bad one.
Jester King is a big advocate of bringing a sense of terroir 1 to its beers. This is quite evident in the biere de garde they release earlier this year, Reposé. The inspiration for the beer came from an old barn on their property they use to age hops in. They used local ingredients in an effort to replicate the tastes and smells of that barn. They used hops that were aged in burlap sacks in the barn, local well water, bushels of hay and a collection of yeast and bacteria harvested from the air on the farm. The beer was primarily fermented in stainless steel then spent several months in secondary fermentation in French brandy barrels. Only 4,500 bottles were produced and they were sold at the brewery in February of this year.
Luckily for me I was able to get my hands on one of those 4,500 bottles. I received this bottle several weeks ago and have been very anxious to open it up and rushed home from my day job today because I knew what was waiting in my fridge. I crack open the bottle and lean in for a quick whiff before pouring the beer.
Reposé smells tart but nothing overwhelming quite yet. I fill my glass and hold it to the light to reveal something that lands somewhere between red and brown with a thin off white head. The bouquet is not as pronounced as I expected and mainly consists of subtle notes of barnyard funkiness, malty sweetness, a touch of stone fruit and a sharp acidic character. The smell is pleasant but not nearly as prominent as expected.
After my first sip I realize that what this beer lacks in bouquet it makes up for it in flavor. The first thing that jumps out at me is the sharp acidic nature of the beer. It is not quite to the level of gueze or lambic but still incredibly tart for a biere de garde. The beer also reminds me a bit of a Flemish red with its level of sharp acidity along with a touch of acidic acid [taste similar to vinegar] and a malty sweetness. There is a nice element of barnyard funk that I would normally solely attribute to the presence of brettanomyces but I would have to imagine the hay plays a part in this as well. I also get notes of cherry, honey and a big brandy character. The finish on the beer is the most memorable part of the experience. A complex stream of flavors that include Apricot, cherry, brandy and oak that lingers for minutes after each sip leaving me wanting another sip.