Introducing Stillwater Artisanal / Jester King Audio Palette
We’re excited to announce the release of Audio Palette — our spelty farmhouse ale with American hops, brewed in collaboration with Stillwater Artisanal! The motivation behind Audio Palette stems from our mutual love of music. Stillwater Artisanal Founder/Owner Brian Strumke and Jester King Head Brewer Garrett Crowell are both musicians, and Garrett named the beer in reference to Brian’s musical background. Garrett for years has been highly influenced by the work of composer and musical theorist John Cage. Cage embraced “natural variance” and unpredictability in his compositions, which Garrett sees as paralleling mixed culture fermentation.
Coincidentally, we were contacted several months ago by a scholar of John Cage named Justin Scheibel. Comparisons with Cage came to mind for Justin after visiting Jester King and learning about our process and philosophy. Justin wrote to us:
“My reasoning is that the kind of natural variance that is a consequence of mixing yeast strains, altering environmental conditions and using chance operations with regard to fermentation additions, use of barrel aging, etc. was exactly what John Cage was going for in his desire to be surprised by unanticipated difference as opposed to intentional representation (i.e. this is a Stout or a Weißbeir specifically defined by certain symbolic cues in its composition and social context…that it should taste the same way each time rather than be a unique autographic work with greater variability).
Even in composing his erasures, Cage would not simply randomize and accept the results but rather selected only those products that were interesting and complex in a way he could not generate intentionally, and then adjusted his ear to appreciate the result. In his aesthetic philosophy, there are disparate centers of value that are irreconcilable with each other, but each intrinsically valuable. I identified this idea in the general palate of sourness created by the mode of production which is particular to Jester King’s farmhouse style and diverges from “laboratory” beers brewed in highly controlled environments. Within the domain of that sourness there is an entirely different relation between constituent flavors such that it is not a defining feature, but rather a contrapuntal difference from other brewers. In a sense, it is a different vocabulary of taste that is self-contained, just like Cage’s ‘disparate centers’.
Lastly, both Cage and Jester King engage in what I feel is the true spirit of experimental art and not avant-gardism. The divergence from convention is the natural consequence of being intrigued by unpredictable possibilities and discovering new relations rather than the desire to intentionally deviate. It is a positive valance in celebration of alterity and different preference rather than the negative oppositionary attitude of the avant-garde.
In ‘‘45’ for a Speaker’, Cage writes, ‘Not wondering am I right or doing something wrong. The preparation changes that occur during a performance are a) a simple change of position b) total or partial addition of objects c) total or partial subtraction.’
The idea being that one is fully immersed in the aesthetic process of generation and experimentation such that the question of its social function never enters the picture…merely the possible variables one can alter to instigate novel results.”
We were flattered and intrigued by Justin’s analysis and the comparisons between Jester King and Cage. Jester King artist Josh Cockrell used Cage as an inspiration for creating the label art, and speaks below on how he believes the beer is true to the spirit of his work:
“Following music as a general theme for creative direction, I compared the aesthetic similarities of our mixed culture fermentation to the stochastic compositions of John Cage. Both challenge the expectations of an audience within their fields and include unpredictability as in important part of their compositions.
However, the concept of the beer itself struck me as a bit ironic when held next to aforementioned aesthetic practices. Encapsulated within the general idea of the beer are some very popular beer trends as of late. It is essentially an American dry hopped session pale. Furthermore, it is yet another example of the growing trend of collaborative efforts between two breweries that are popular within the beer world. I liked this as a starting point for the art, because it is only at first glance that it holds to being a product of popular beer culture. The stochastic nature of its fermentation takes what might otherwise be a pop beer and transcends it into something much more layered and complex.
I chose a visual aesthetic that could reflect this irony, and that just so happened to be emerging at the same time as Cages first aleatoric compositions: Pop Art and more specifically the early layered combines of Robert Rauschenberg. The movement seemed to fit perfectly. It is a taking of the commonplace, removing it from its original context, to create something much greater than the sum of its parts. This is paralleled not only in the circumstances of the beer being pulled into a new context by mixed culture fermentation, but also in the harnessing of the mundane unrecognized micro-flora around us to make our creations.
Rather than use some pre-existing elements as Rauschenberg might have, I used all original artwork for the “collaged” composition in an effort to create a contrast of process and organic influence. What you see is the ear of John Cage, surrounded by a palette like graphic score that has been plotted around blind pen drops. An atypical musical staff enters the ear like sound and divides the more organic illustrated portions of the composition from the more processed elements. The eye that is layered into the background of the combine was created specifically for use in the label by the artist of Stillwater, Leeroy Mendoza!
The text in the left panel was constructed with a similar process in mind. It is a rearrangement of blindly selected words from randomly chosen philosophy books.”
Audio Palette was brewed on October 28th, 2015 with raw Hill Country well water, malted barley, malted spelt, and hops, and was fermented in stainless steel with our mixed culture of brewers yeast, and native yeast and bacteria harvested from the land and air around our brewery. It is 100% naturally conditioned through refermentation in bottles, kegs, and casks. Audio Palette is 4.3% alcohol by volume, 51 IBU, and has a finishing gravity of 1.001 (0.25 degrees Plato). It was packaged on November 30th, 2015.
Audio Palette will be released at Jester King when our tasting opens at 4pm on Friday, March 4th. It will be available by the glass, as well as in bottles to go (750ml/$12/no bottle limit). About 3,600 bottles are available. We do not foresee Audio Palette being available outside of our tasting room, aside from a few special events.
Company: Jester King Brewery
Contact: Jeffrey Stuffings