Farmhouse ale is brewed according to ancient European traditions that embrace subtlety, nuance, and patience to produce some of the most unique, natural beers in the world. The technique requires both a preternatural knowledge of beer and attunement to nature. Maybe that’s why Jeffrey Stuffings, Jester King Co-Founder, settled on an old farmhouse in the middle of the Texas Hill Country, as the location for his world-class authentic farmhouse brewery. Before revolutionizing the Texas beer scene, Stuffings worked at Austin Homebrew Supply testing out his recipes and scrawling out a business plan. Eventually, Stuffing convinced his brother, Co-Founder, Michael Stuffing to help him launch the brewery, and the two bought an old machine shop, broke it down, drove it to Austin, and rigged it to brew their first few batches of beer. Ten years later, their brewery, farm, and kitchen 30 minutes south of Austin are world-famous for their funky, refreshing, and sustainable beer.
Jester King Brewery believes in letting nature participate in the fermentation process, that’s why they brew beer with spontaneous fermentation or mixed yeast fermentation, meaning they use airborne yeast and wild yeast living on the farm in the fermentation process. The beer matures slowly in barrels or kegs, sometimes taking up to three years. Over time the beers develop rich, rare flavors that keep people coming to their farmhouse every year. Since they brew in partnership with nature, the team at Jester King works tirelessly to treat the land with the respect that it deserves. In an interview with the Austin Chronicle, the team said, “We want our beer to be as close to the earth as possible.” That’s part of the reason they became Texas’ first USDA certified organic brewery, and the reason they source malt and barley from right in the Heart of Texas. They’ve been known to walk the razor’s edge between beer and wine, so other ingredients in their beer are either produced on their farm or sourced as locally as possible.
Since Jester King Brewery isn’t on the Austin water line, they use well water from their onsite well which provides the beer with unique mineral content, and, since beer is mostly water, it tastes just like Texas. To further reduce their carbon footprint, the team installed one of the largest solar arrays in Central Texas. According to Good Beer Hunting, the panels lining the roof of their rustic farmhouse brewery put excess energy back into the power grid, and they can power the whole Jester King operation on a sunny day, which in Texas isn’t a rare occurrence. The folks at Jester King aren’t slowing down their sustainability initiatives and they have plans to capture more rainwater, treat their wastewater, and ultimately reduce their carbon footprint to almost nothing.
Jester King is expanding the farm on its 165 acres to include more biodiversity while staying true to its mission of sustainability, conservation, and good stewardship. Tended to by Farmer “Peppy,” they grow everything from grapes to hops to pawpaws. Spent grain from the brewing process feeds Peppey’s burgeoning family of goats, and his hairy little friends give back manure to help plant even more crops. In an interview with CraftBeer, Peppy philosophized, “Working for Jester King is a true honor because most companies in this world only care what they can pull from the soil rather than what [they] can put back in. But here we work the land together — human, animal, and microbe — for a better tomorrow, because then there will be flowers and beer.” The poetic farmer is helping make Jester King Brewery a sustainable safe haven, and they have plans to make the restaurant a closed loop that grows all the food they serve in their restaurant. To serve people during the pandemic, Jester King is building the area around their Brewery into a park, where people can make reservations to enjoy the beautiful wilds, pet goats, or walk the trails with one of their famous farmhouse ales.