Jester King Brewery - El Cedro
- ABV: 7%
- Bottle Size: 750-ml
- Serving Temperature: 43–50° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip, Small Nonic, or Chardonnay Glass
- Hops: Amarillo, Centennial, Simcoe
Jester King’s El Cedro is brewed with Hill Country well water, malted barley and wheat, and fermented with a mixed culture of brewer’s yeast along with native yeast and bacteria. This complex beer gets hopped with an assortment of piney, tropical hops (including Amarillo, Centennial, and Simcoe) and gets aged on spirals of Spanish cedar. El Cedro is unfiltered, unpasteurized, and 100% naturally conditioned in the bottle. We think our Rare Beer Club members are going to love this limited release from Jester King. It’s the first batch brewed since 2019, and besides light availability in TX and just 70 cases that have gone out to CA, NC, and WI, the rest of this new batch has been available just through Jester King’s tasting room.
This pour a deep, orange-golden color in one’s glass, nicely hazed overall, and capped with a generous, off-white foam. Lots of effervescent carbonation present here, and the head stays well retained and leaves significant lacing around the edges of the glass. Foam’s continuously replenished by bubbles from below. The lead aromatics are piney, fruity, and tropically tart from the get-go, combining appealing, zesty aspects from those hop additions alongside the more lemony, bready impacts from this beer’s mixed fermentation. The fermentation notes are very nicely integrated, with engaging notes of sourdough, fresh-squeezed lemon, crackery breadiness, and lime. Mouthwatering acidity and hop presence from the very initial impact.
There’s vibrant carbonation here, as the initial pour suggests, providing some pillowy texture for the different components of this beer to play out. Expressive hop character, focusing on herbaceous, earthy, pithy-citrus qualities that sit seamlessly beside the complex, modestly tart acidities from the fermentation. This one’s lightly funky, with a lean, mineral, lemony-citrus yeastiness that definitely reminds of us of some of our favorite Jester King releases over the years. The impact from the cedar provides an oak-like, tannic quality that helps with overall structure, and also brings some welcome almond and herbal woodiness into the mix.
Make no mistake: there’s a ton going on in this beer, but that combination of assertive hop qualities, complex yeast and bacteria contributions from the mixed ferment, and the notes from the Spanish cedar come together exceptionally well in El Cedro. Welcome bitterness throughout, a lean mineral edge, and just lots of vibrant tropical character—lemons, limes, passionfruit, mango…—have us returning to our glasses of this again and again. Great beer to spend some time exploring. Super expressive release from Jester King, with exceptional details and a finish that brings bitter pine, lime, and touches of grapefruit pith and cedar.
The hop expression of this will be most pronounced early on, but its bottle conditioning and expressive yeast and bacteria character will keep this developing in the bottle with additional cellar time. The complexity of piney, earthy hoppiness and citrusy acidities, plus that impact of Spanish cedar, have us looking to focused, hearty counterpoints: vegetarian pizza with red sauce and creamy Mozzarella, or some pork loin or lamb to go with those herbal qualities.
Michael Jackson once remarked on Austin, Texas’ counterintuitively rich beer scene. In the heart of a land not necessarily renowned for good beer, the Austin environs had numerous brewpubs and breweries, and offered a welcome breeding ground for better beer culture. Even the legendary Pierre Celis, famous resurrectionist of Belgian Witbier, settled there in the 1990s to open his U.S. brewery. Austin helped foster strong bits of creativity and growth for brewers in the microbrewery boom of the 1990s. But it didn’t last... Various downtown brewpubs were almost all shuttered, Celis’ own brewery was dismantled, and a few breweries evaporated in the brutal heat of Texas’ overall feelings about beer. That was back then.
For much of its more recent history, Texas’ craft brewers have had to be rather careful not to stray too far off the map, sticking to more traditional beer styles heading their lineups. It was an approach that seems to have lasted a bit longer than in other states. But the craft beer movement has helped pierce that balloon, and the result’s been increasingly better and often more adventurous beer. The newest influx of Texas breweries hit the scene at a rapid pace.
One of them is the Jester King Brewery, located on a ranch in the Texas Hill Country on the outskirts of Austin. The folks behind the brewery have opted out of the “safe and careful approach,” deciding instead to brew anything from authentic, oak-aged farmhouse ales made with wild Texas yeast harvested atop the brewery’s rooftop, to a European-inspired, porter-colored mild ale, to a monstrous double stout. Not the standard opening lineup of an amber, a blonde and a pale ale, they instead debuted with an oaked rye IPA called Wytchmaker, and Commercial Suicide, their English dark mild ale—a 3% ABV session brew that drinks like a beer twice its strength. They have a passion for marrying the extreme with poise—which means some of their beers are made using techniques such as open fermentation, whisky barrel aging, and bottle-conditioning with wine yeast. Or, you know, brewed to 10%+ ABV, while staying refined and balanced overall.
The Jester King brand continues to evolve while maintaining its artisan vibe. Local artist Josh Cockrell, who was at the brewery during our three initial visits giving tours, sterilizing things, filling kegs, rolling barrels—whatever was needed at the time—designed their label artwork, brewery logos, and tap handles. We found a couple of his tap handles while in Austin checking out the local better beer scene, and these handles are truly works of art. We’ve long been fans of Jester King’s attention to detail, the passionate commitment to unleashing unconventional beers on the marketplace, the artisanship, the risk-taking, the do-it-yourselfism, the brewing prowess shown by these homebrewers turned pro, the will to experiment, and the drive to source and use local, organic ingredients and harvested rainwater. We think you’ll dig what Jester King’s up to. For more info, check out their website over at jesterkingbrewery.com.
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