A couple of weeks ago a press release popped into my inbox. Said press release was telling me that there was a new brewery opening in Texas. Naturally then I dashed off an email to the brewery to ask if they would like to take part in the Fuggled Brewer of the Week series as I like to give smaller and new breweries a little bit of attention. Thankfully the guys at Jester King said they would be happy to take part, and so without further ado....
Name: Jeffrey Stuffings
Brewery: Jester King
How did you get into brewing as a career?
I started out homebrewing and realized that it was all I wanted to do. I’d be at my old job writing recipes and reading brewing books and articles when I was supposed to be working. There really wasn’t much of a choice to make.
What is the most important characteristic of a brewer?
I’d say that it’s painstaking attention to detail. If you pay very close attention to your process and keep careful notes, it’s easier to identify one variable to experiment with while keeping all the other variables the constant. That way you can learn how tweaking different variables in the brewing process affects the finished beer.
Before being a professional brewer, did you homebrew? If so, how many of your homebrew recipes have you converted to full scale production?
I homebrewed quite a lot before becoming a professional brewer. I’d say I averaged about one brew a week. All of our recipes at Jester King so far (five of them) have been converted from homebrew to full scale production recipes.
If you did homebrew, do you still?
I still homebrew in five gallon carboys at the brewery in order to continue to experiment as grow as a brewer.
What is your favourite beer that you brew?
So far it’s been Commercial Suicide – our 3% ABV, English-style mild that we partially ferment in medium toast, Kentucky oak barrels. The smell of toasted oak in the brewery when we’re prepping the barrels for filling is fantastic.
If you have worked in other breweries, which other beer did you enjoy brewing, and why?
Although Jester King is the first brewery I’ve working professionally, I’ve been very impressed with the other craft breweries in Austin/Central Texas. Specifically, the level of attention to detail and craftsmanship we’ve witnessed at Real Ale in Blanco has been very impressive.
Of the beers you brew, which is your favourite to drink?
Right now I’m pretty excited about our lineup of farmhouse ales that we age in oak wine barrels with wild yeast. We ferment them very dry and develop a lot of complexity in the oak barrels.
How important is authenticity when making a new beer, in terms of flavour, ingredients and method?
I’d say it’s pretty important. I’ve never understood the point to trying to do exactly what someone else is already doing. We try to incorporate a lot of local ingredients and well as the natural flora and fauna into our beer making process to try to achieve something that is both original and remarkable. I think craft beer is largely about enjoying the local flavor, originality and creativity of your neighborhood brewers.
If you were to do a collaborative beer, which brewery would you most like to work with and why?
We’re pretty excited to work with Mikkeller and De Struise Brouwers and hope to do so soon.
Which beer, other than your own, do you wish you had invented?
Cantillon Gueuze is pretty amazing. I also love Schlenkerla Urbock.