Bière de Coupage
There are many types of beer drinker. Definitely too many to name in such limited space. We have ascribed ourselves names like “trader” or “hophead” or “geek” or “snob,” but those are mere headers to much more complicated and convoluted series of subsets. There are those of us who will drink whatever is cold; There are others who wouldn’t be caught dead with a macro lager, even if that means abstaining at a concert or game.
Somewhere within the stretch-marked stomach of the craft beer world are the craft beer folks who’ll go to every extreme to procure what’s become colloquially known as “whales.” It’s a nod to Moby Dick, of course, wherein the seeker is looking for his or her white whale in order to fulfill some sort of manifest destiny.
It could be a particular beer. For instance, I’ve been dying to try Deschutes Abyss, which is a beer I finally got to have earlier this year. It could also be a particular brewery (Hill Farmstead or Russian River, for instance).
Craft beer folks’ll take road trips and center vacations around these beers and breweries; They’ll scour message boards and Instagram posts offering their best #FT: #ISO (for trade / in search of). There’s nothing wrong with this practice. If you’re reading a review of a beer online, it’s likely you’ve done this. But while there was beer that I’ve wanted to try, like the aforementioned Abyss, I never really got big into trading so most of the beers I really wanted to try became a matter of circumstance. More serendipity and chance than intent.
With access to say many good local beers, plus with a family more interested in visiting Disney than DeGarde, more Haunted Mansion than Hoppy IPA, there’s a bucket list of beers and breweries that might remain that way. With this, I’ve come to peace.
It’s certainly a nuanced beer with layers of farmyard funk and acidity.”
That said, Austin, Texas’s Jester King stands out to me as a brewery making beers about which I’m currently excited. Their e-mails hit my inbox with a frequency that has me salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs whenever that “ping” happens. I was fortunate to get a chance to taste one of their more recent releases, Biere de Coupage.
“Coupage” with regard to beer, means “to cut” or blend. This beer is a blend of Jester King’s SPON project (itself a blend of beer from 2013, 2014, 2015) and a young farmhouse ale. It’s a 6.3% alcohol by volume labor of patience, the end product of years of admiration for the ancient producers of the style.
It pours a golden yellow with bright effervescence in the nose. You feel like you’re going to get a beer that’s light and tart. In the body, though, there’s a strong dissonance to that. Instead of a light tartness, there’s a dark, full-bodied funk while maintaining a healthy bit of carbonation. The finish is incredibly bright and dry. It’s certainly a nuanced beer with layers of farmyard funk and acidity.
Farmhouse ales are really grabbing my attention right now, and Jester King is doing the style as well as anyone else in the country at the moment, especially when it comes to tart versions.
That said, we rely on our expectations to do most of the work when it comes to reality. Is this beer great because I expected it to be great? Is it great because I made drinking this beer a special occasion? Perhaps.
And that’s okay with me. I’m just glad I don’t have to travel or search to hard for another bottle; There’s one in my basement.
Call me Ishmael, indeed.