Jester King announced the following regarding this year’s release of Black Metal, which as they explain below was done a little different this time around.
“This Friday, November 6th, when our tasting room opens at 4pm, we’ll be releasing our latest batch of Black Metal.
Part of the excitement for us in making beer is embracing natural inconsistencies. We ferment with a host of microorganisms — a mix of brewers yeast and native yeast and bacteria — outside of our immediate control. When we relinquish total control or mastery over the fermentation, the results become a lot less predictable. Again, this is part of the fun and excitement for us! Rather than seeking to achieve the same standard over and over, we like to create an environment for our beer where natural variation can occur, and then observe the beer as it changes over time. This is what we mean when we say that our beer is a “partnership with nature”. We exert stimuli on the fermentation, and nature responds in its own way.
One of the ways in which nature responds is through natural variations in temperature. Because we’re brewing inside of an old machine shop made of red iron and corrugated metal, the temperature inside our brewery is quite dependent on the time of year. In the winter time, fermentation temperatures drop quite low (50s and 60s Fahrenheit), and in the summer, they rise quite high (80s and 90s). Through experience, we’ve learned that during the colder months of the year, the lactic acid producing bacteria in our mixed culture tend to be more dominant. This is somewhat counterintuitive, because the common wisdom is that bacteria thrive at higher temperatures. While this is objectively true, we’ve found our yeast to be slow and stagnant when the weather is cold, thus allowing the bacteria to out-compete it, producing a substantial amount of acidity or sourness.
This was the case with our prior batch of Black Metal fermented last winter. The beer became progressively more sour as it slowly fermented in stainless steel from October of 2014 to March of 2015, while the temperatures were cool and cold. Our latest batch, released tomorrow, is at the opposite end of the spectrum. It was fermented from June to September of 2015, when the temperatures were quite hot. The yeast was more active, and the bacteria seem to have had less impact on the flavor profile. As a result, the latest batch is much less tart than the previous one. The latest batch also attenuated faster and farther than the one prior.
All of this goes to point out that our beer is unique, not just to a particular place, but also to a particular time. Every beer we make will be the sole product of its time and location, never to be precisely reproduced again. As we said, we approach brewing as a partnership with nature. We exert influences on nature, without rigidly mastering or controlling it, and nature responds in its own way with variable results. Again, we find these natural variations quite fun and exciting, and they motivate us to brew! We hope you find them interesting (and enjoyable) as well.”
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