08 November 2016
From Jester King:
Jester King Tasting Room Manager Eric Kula (second from the left) and Operations Manager Matt Piper (third from the right)
Here’s a blog post by Jester King Operations Manager Matt Piper on our recent collaboration with Cloudwater Brew Co. in Manchester, England:
Nearly a month ago, three lucky rascals (Eric Kukla, Margot Piper, and me) traveled from Texas to England in a valiant effort to proudly represent Jester King Brewery at the Independent Manchester Beer Convention. I’d like to share our adventure with you (or at least as much of it as I can recollect) and this is our story:
Although it was a long plane ride, the flight seemed to fly by (see what I did there) thanks to our child-like excitement to join the festivities in the UK. We landed in London a little worse for the wear, but once we found our way to the train station, it was smooth sailing as we sat back and enjoyed the countryside view on our journey to Manchester.
Now, knowing we didn’t want to show up to a beer festival as traveling zombies, we incorporated a few days in the city to get acclimated to the new time zone. Our goal was to live like the locals, and that included a pre-planned brew day with Cloudwater Brew Co. We all know Texans are known for their hospitality, but the folks at Cloudwater sure gave us a run for our money. Seriously, this brewery consists of some of the nicest people I have come across in the beer industry. The magnificent Cloudwater team, led by founders Paul Jones and James Campbell, welcomed us with open arms and full glasses of beer as we made our late arrival into Manchester.
Fully aware that we were going to rush right into production as soon as we arrived, one of our very own Jester King brewers, Sean Spiller, pre-packaged a fabulous bottle of yeast pulled from one of our healthy fermentations that had been churning away in Texas mere hours earlier. We happily delivered our flavorful bundle of joy to Cloudwater and were pleasantly surprised to find that they were going to allow us to inoculate one of their gorgeous NEW foudres with our Texas Hill Country mixed culture of wild yeast and bacteria. I warned them that it would inevitably become a “Jester King edition” foudre, to which they seemed exhilarated and happily welcomed our Texas bugs into their new Manchester home.
Allow me to take a step back and tell you a little more about Cloudwater’s approach and why we believe they’re making some truly enjoyable beer. To begin with, they’re making some excellent clean beer, while simultaneously brewing wild, mixed culture fermented beers. (Do you know how hard this is? It takes a LOT of effort to keep these systems separated!) I was highly impressed with their methods and was specifically inspired by how they are able to keep some traditional roots alive by sending portions of their beer to casks. However, with that said, they aren’t afraid to push local beer-drinking boundaries and maintain a seasonal trend that would provoke even your average beer drinker to take a walk on the wild side.
Talking to Paul, James, Marc, Al, Hannah, Lucy, and the rest of the crew at Cloudwater, it was obvious that we share a lot of the same goals. We both strive to make beer that reflects a time, place, and people, to make something that tastes delicious, and to make something that potentially encourages beer drinkers to open their minds a little wider with each sip.
For me, one of the coolest parts about working with Jeff Stuffings, Michael Steffing, Averie Swanson, Garrett Crowell, Sean, Ismael Salas, Eric Kukla and the rest of the Jester King crew is their open-minded approach towards beer. A lot of our beers integrate local ingredients and microflora from things that have been found growing around the brewery. It comes as no surprise that Cloudwater agrees with us 100%. During the later part of our brewing afternoon, Paul, Eric, Margot, and I found ourselves on a short walk around the Piccadilly Trading Estates to do some urban foraging. It was incredible to quickly discover handfuls of great ingredients thriving just a short walk from their warehouse, and we soon began harvesting wild apples, horse chestnuts (side note: Paul informed me these were instrumental to his youth in the form of a game called Conkers — look it up!), and some elderberries that had recently dried on the vine.
The beer we made with Cloudwater (name TBD) is very simple. It was brewed with pilsner malt and oats, initially fermented in stainless steel with pure culture yeast, then refermented in an oak foudre with Jester King’s mixed culture of native yeast and bacteria. Marc, one of Cloudwater’s brewers, pulled a bit of wort from the kettle at the end of our brew day to see if we could harness some of the microflora living on the skin of the fruit we found while foraging around their brewery. If all goes well, this will be propped up and pitched into the beer as it goes through extended aging in their beautiful foudre.
I believe as our collaboration beer ages and becomes more integrated, we’ll be able to view a true reflection of what this whole thing is all about — people learning from one another, becoming friends, and sharing ideas. Collaborating with the folks at Cloudwater will always live on in my memory, and in my opinion, that is the epitome of time and place. All in all, Cloudwater makes some damn good beers and are very well-rounded brewers. We were flattered to incorporate a little bit of Jester King into their process, and we cannot wait to share this beer with you in the future.
The rest of our journey revolved around the Independent Manchester Beer Convention, or IMBC for short. What a great festival! I heard many times throughout our trip that this is “THE festival” for those who truly appreciate beer in the UK. I think that statement was spot on. Johnny, James, Matt and the rest of the team at Port Street Beer House did an incredible job orchestrating a great event in one of the most unique venues that I have ever seen — The Victoria Baths. The reception for our beer was unbelievable, and honestly, very flattering considering our company at the festival!
Jester King Brewery