There’s a ton to do in and around Austin but one of our favorite places is a cool little beer farm – part hippie, part hipster – called Jester King. It’s about a twenty-five minute drive from downtown Austin, into a more rural, scrubby sort of terrain. The brewery is just off a two lane road, down an unassuming caliche driveway, but you will know you’re in the right place immediately by the rows and rows of other cars already parked. Even if you get there right at noon when they open – a bunch of other people got there 5 minutes before you.
This is a farm for sure so wear your best Austin casual. That means shorts, hats, sandals or tennies. You may see a few women in heels or wedges, but it’s just because they didn’t get the memo.
Here, they brew beer using whatever’s local and in the air for fermentation, including wildflowers that grow on the property. Sometimes they throw in grapes that are harvested nearby.
Currently they’re trying to grow their own hops. I know nothing about growing things but am pretty sure it’s a long shot in this climate. Mostly because I read the sign:
You can take a tour of the brewery and the farm and they’ll tell you a lot about their unique brewing process.
One of the ways they ferment is by pouring the hot pre-beer (can’t remember what it’s called) into a shallow pan and letting the steam pull down yeast and other bacteria from the wooden ceiling and walls. It’s like fermenting in a barrel except the barrel is giant and there are all kinds of other particles and bacteria in the air for the beer to pull into itself.
Each barrel has tasting notes attached to it. Since the beer is fermented with natural, local ingredients, no two batches are ever the same. Occasionally there are bad mixtures and the batch has to be tossed.
I can’t tell you much about the farm tour because it was a hot, airless day and the second our guide indicated we were leaving the shady path for an area where dry grass and wispy plants would scrape my legs, I bailed. Also, fire ants are real.
They have goats (duh). And pizza.
Their beers are pretty unique in taste but there is a lot of variety so it’s easy to find something to please your palate (assuming you drink alcohol). I hardly ever drink beer but I make an exception when I come here. Because while they’ll pour it for you with a smile, it just doesn’t feel right to order a glass of wine.
To add to the special-factor: these beers aren’t distributed. You pretty much have to get them here or nowhere. They will sell you a case – but you have to come get it!
Oh, and like all farms, this one is dog friendly. Each outing to Jester King is basically Barkley’s best day ever.
It’s also super kid friendly. Leave them to the loosely interpreted “sand box” while you down a few Spons. Never had a Spon before? Better get to Jester King!