Thrash Metal -Jester King Brewery


This week’s selection of fine fermented fun comes from Austin, Texas; specifically, it comes from a quirky beer-mill called Jester King Craft Brewery.  Thrash Metal is farmhouse ‘strong’ ale (state and local laws forbid ABV bragging in names), hop forward, and quite the subject of interesting hub-bub.  Now those of you familiar with this one I’m sure can attest to their fine line of year-round brews, but this one is a limited time offer that was brewed earlier this year.  Look hard and you may find a bottle, but if not there is always the sibling beer, Black Metal, to quench your guitar-shredding sensibilities.

The Jester King website’s post on this particular beer says this one is made with lightly kilned pilsner, wheat, and caramunich malts.  It’s hopped with american varieties, brewed with Jester King’s own yeast blend, bottle conditioned, and finally weighed in at 9%ABV.  Not all that strong, especially considering that odd “can’t say strong” law.  Doubly so when you realize that the people enforcing this law about not advertising the strength of your beer is the same that enforces putting the ABV on every label.  Lawmakers, everybody.
Despite the vitriol and archaic laws, I do love farmhouse ales/saison.  Because of the season, I’ve been on a real kick for them.  Exited to try my first Texas saison, I poured this sucker into my brand-spankin new engraved goblet.  I was able to order an engraved one for free, so naturally my three lines went, “I Am Awesome, You Suck, Deal with it”.  It tells the whole world exactly what they need to know, and that’s that.  It poured a clear copper color from the top, but subsequent pours were a tad bit cloudy.  The head was a fairly dense and retaining tan that eventually turned into just a slight ring.  Quite lovely, picturesque even.
The first whiff I got was a noticeable, refreshing bit of funk.  A really fresh grassy kind, not the barnyard wet hay we’re so accustomed to.  There was also a bit of the resinous hops and just a touch of that toasted light malt.  The first taste is, surprisingly, all citrus.  Not just orange, but a very fresh lemon oil kind of citrus too.  Subsequent tastes give more away from the scent, peeling back layers of piney hops, yeasty esters and spice, and finally some of that smooth malt background.  As far as the yeast flavors go, I was getting a kind of starchy apple flavor, and a bit of white pepper.  A surprising combination, but it works out great.  It’s got a steady carbonation to it that tends to elevate some of the dryer, astringent flavors, but eases up towards the end of the glass or bottle.  Then it’s all yeast and malt, letting the hoppy notes take a back seat.
I tasked myself with coming up with a good food pairing for this, which proved not the easy task.  It was high ABV, but didn’t seem like it from the taste.  It was nice and hop forward, but not the whole way through.  I think I came on a good happy medium for a beer that seems to be made up of happy mediums: a Russian apple biscuit cake.  I baked up thinly sliced and peeled granny smith apple layered with thin ‘peel apart’ biscuit dough and a blend of pulverized walnuts and honey, topped with nutmeg whipped cream.  It didn’t overpower the beer, the spice blended well with each other, and the ABV actually did a very good job at cutting through the cream.  Most importantly, the dessert did a great job at it’s main task, showcasing this interesting and well-rounded beer.  I’m a big fan of this beer, and I’ll be looking at more summery beers from Jester King.  I suggest you stay peeled as well.