4/25/2020: Tales from the Cellar #7--Jester King Brewery's Bière de Miel (2018)

12:51 PM

It's a warm, windy, overcast day here in podunk east-of-Cincinnati, Ohio. I've got Brian Fallon's new effort, Local Honey, pumping through my speakers. It's a honey-slow kind of day. As such, today's pull from my cellar wasn't random like the rest of this series' posts have been. No, it was definitely intentional.

Guest appearance by Lottie
Last February, when I was visiting friends in Austin, Texas, I got the chance to go to Jester King's farm. It was great and I got some bottles to bring home (you couldn't get JK in Ohio then). One of those bottles housed today's beer: Bière de Miel, a farmhouse ale brewed with honey. Let's see how it's drinking.

Jester King is an ATX-based brewery that officially opened in 2010. The idea for the place started in 2008, when co-founder Jeffrey Stuffings dreamed it up while working at a homebrew supply shop. He soon asked his brother, Michael Steffing, to move to Austin to help his ambition become a reality. As of 2017, the brewery operates a farm and makes authentic, spontaneously fermented farmhouse ales. They had gained quite a following in my neck of the woods before you could even officially purchase their product in-state. Their "About Jester King" page has the full details on their history for those who want it.

Bière de Miel no longer has a presence of JK's website so, as always, we'll turn to Untappd for our information. According to the site, today's ale had three honey infusions: one during brewday with the addition of honey to the brew kettle, one a few weeks into fermentation, and the last during refermentation. The 5.8% ABV farmhouse ale was also brewed with water, hops, and malted barley and wheat. The description on my bottle adds that it features a mixed culture of native yeast/bacteria and brewers yeast.

The nose has that usual saison spiciness (coriander and nutmeg, namely) but there are also definite honey and lemon notes. If I'm really digging deeply here I find toffee and caramel, too, along with a wet straw-like quality. Overall, this is a pretty damn complex bouquet and, while it's one that I enjoy, it doesn't seem to suit Purrl--she gave my open bottle three whiffs.

What is that face??
That sweetness on the nose--because, let's face it, there was heavy sweetness on the nose--isn't lost in the flavor profile; it's just not super prominent. Let me get into it. My first swig greets me with hearty farmhouse funk: standard saison flavors, especially if it was wild-fermented (lemon, coriander, hay). The honey, the backbone of this Bière's sweetness, returns in the long finish, warm and dry, a perfect fit for the rest of the ale's flavors.

The ale has a bright mouthfeel. My bottle was a bit of a gusher, but the beer inside isn't anything near champagne bubbly. It's light and effervescent, with mild, intricately woven bubbles that really bolster what the beer's about.

I enjoy rainy summer days. I know the mugginess that plagues them in Ohio isn't something a lot of people can get behind, but I find them relaxing. The green of the grass and trees contrasted against the dark, sometimes thunderously so, grey skies is a vibrant coloring.

On days like that, I open the windows just a crack--not enough to let rain inside the room--letting some of that outside air in, set a box fan on low to aid in air circulation, and sit back with a good book and relish the sound of the rain falling against the pavement walkway outside of my house. If I have a good beer with me, the better of the scenario is. Bière de Miel would be a great addition on just such a day.

Jester King has a reputation around these parts for making incredible beer. Bière de Miel fits perfectly within that reputation. Its subtle honey sweetness compliments the farmhouse style exceptionally well. While I can't quite speak to how the ale is fresh, nearly two years after bottling (my bottle has a date of June 2018 [the month Michelle and I got married!] on it) it's a refreshing beer for a warm, overcast day. I give it an easy 9.0/10.

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