Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Black Star, Jester King up and running

Big news in the Austin beer scene:

One, Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery is open for business. It was a "soft opening," meaning they didn't make a big announcement, because they wanted to work out the new-business kinks with only members being served. So I've been holding off on announcing it. But now they've posted it to Twitter, so the cat's out of the bag. They open at 4pm-midnight each day.

I went in there last Friday to check it out. No, they are not brewing yet – some construction delays are holding that up, but they have more than 20 other beers on tap (see photo). I enjoyed a delicious Green Flash IPA and 512 Wit, and a friend had the Southern Star Smoked Porter, which was outstanding. Black Star's shrimp & grits appetizer was unusual but tasty, and I also had a nice pulled pork sandwich. I intend to work my way through the entire menu.

This is a great day for me. I now have two bars with great beer selections (the other being The Pour House) within stumbling – er, walking – distance of my home.

If you head in, be gentle with them. A business this new inevitably needs to do some troubleshooting early on. And expect long lines – a lot of people have been waiting a long time for this to happen, so enthusiasm is producing big crowds. If you're not a member of the co-op, join today – then you can have a direct voice in how the brewpub improves and grows.

Second, Austin's Jester King Brewery began producing beer last week. I'm also excited about this – they gave me a preview of their beers a few months back, and they are definitely ready for prime time. Jester King is the second new Austin brewery this year to begin rolling out commercial product, the first being their neighbors in the Oak Hill area, Thirsty Planet. I featured those two and other wannabe pro brewers earlier this year in this Austin Chronicle article.

Here's a press release from Jester King on what they're currently making:

Austin, Texas – Jester King Craft Brewery is now brewing! Located on 200 acres of farmland in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, Jester King is an authentic farmhouse brewery started by brothers Michael and Jeffrey Stuffings and their friend Ron Extract. On Thursday, September 23rd, five months after breaking ground at the site, the brewery began production of its first batch. Appropriate to the farmhouse setting, the inaugural brew is farmhouse ale called “Boxer’s Revenge”, in honor of the stalwart, hard-working farm horse in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Boxer’s Revenge is an oak barrel aged wild beer First Brew that is golden in color and brewed with Belgian pilsner malt, American hops and French Saison yeast. Following the initial fermentation, it will be dry-hopped with a blend of Cascade and Centennial hops and transferred to neutral, French Oak wine barrels for additional fermentation and aging with a blend of wild yeasts. The finished beer will be quite dry and effervescent, with an anticipated ABV of 7.5%.

Boxer’s Revenge is the strongest of three Franco-Belgian inspired farmhouse ales that will be part of Jester King’s year-round lineup. Along with Boxer’s Revenge will be Das Wunderkind! – a “session-strength”, unspiced, farmhouse saison at roughly 4% ABV and Cocksure – a slightly darker, stronger, heavily-hopped farmhouse pale ale brewed with all European noble hops. All three beers will be aged in French oak barrels with the addition of wild yeast. The starting lineup will also include two Anglo-American inspired beers brewed with English ale yeast – Commercial Suicide, a 3% ABV British-style dark mild, partially fermented in new, American oak barrels and Wytchmaker, a 7% ABV Rye India Pale Ale.

Along with our commitment to making artisan beer, Jester King uses sustainable brewing practices. The brewery is equipped with two large rain water collection barrels, which will soon be connected to gutters surrounding both the brewery and a nearby 8,000 square foot rustic beer hall. The collected water will then be passed through a reverse osmosis filtration system, which is already in use. We are also striving to make use of organic ingredients whenever possible and will be using organic two-row malt as the base for several of our beers.

Later this fall, Jester King will begin hosting festivals and special events at the brewery and beer hall with plenty of live music, good food and, of course, hand-crafted artisan beer.

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