Jester King in Austin, Texas is quickly gaining ground as one of the premier brewers for farmhouse, wild ale and sour style beers. One of its latest releases, a gose style farmhouse ale called Snörkel, which uses its signature strand of yeast along with naturally occurring wild yeast and a souring bacteria for acidity. In order to get an ocean-like vibe Snörkel is brewed with sea salt, alderwood smoked sea salt and locally-grown oyster mushrooms.
The name Snörkel is a play on the ingredients used in the beer. It is apparent that’s the theme Jester King was going for on the label art, but it is solidified in the use of sea salt, smoked sea salt and the use of oyster mushrooms, all pointing to an under-the-sea type theme. Snörkel was originally released on Aug. 15th and had an initial run of 3,000 bottles and was only available at the brewery.1 Jester King said on its site that they would be doing a second run later this summer that could be going to distribution.
Gose is a German wheat beer that was traditionally brewed with coriander and salt with lactic acid added to the boil. Over the summer gose was one of the hottest styles of beer thanks mostly in part to Westbrook Brewing’s rendition of the beer.
When you pour Snörkel into a glass it doesn’t look much different from your every day American light beers, but once it settles you see a vast difference. After it settles I was left with a beautiful and hazy honey and gold color with quite a bit sediment floating around. There was very little snow white head that formed after this was poured and it quickly faded away after a few minutes or so.
Taking in the first deep breath of this beer was almost like I was on a beach somewhere smelling the ocean. The salt is very strong on the nose and while one of the salts was smoked you don’t really pick up that particular smell. It has a familiar funky nose to it, which follows suit with the majority of Jester King’s beers, since they use an in house yeast for their beers. You pick up a very slight earthiness, presumably from the oyster mushrooms, but the predominant scent is the salt and funk.
This beer was poured at fridge temperature and consumed shortly after the pour. Right off the bat, just as the aroma would suggest, is a heavy dose of salty and acidic taste. The funk isn’t as pronounced in the flavor profile as it is on the smell, but it is there in a really nice amount. Besides the obvious you can taste a bit of citrus in the form of lemon peel and the finish on the beer has a very interesting mineral water type taste.2
After five minutes or so of being in the glass the beer really hit its peak, all of the flavor were present and working together very well. Salt, citrus and a bit of acidic funkiness paired together to make a really refreshing beer. However, there didn’t appear to be too much that the oyster mushrooms added as far as taste goes until after the beer warmed up a bit, the most noticeable thing the mushrooms did were add a bit of a silky presence in the mouthfeel. The earthiness of the mushrooms shines through quite a bit more as it got warmer, unfortunately Snörkel starts tasting rather flat and almost stale in a way, like water that had been left out overnight right about that same time.