Jester King Gotlandsdricka: Beer of the Vikings
All photos by Kevin Gibson.
Moving is a loathsome, exhausting process. But there is at least one bright spot, and that’s housewarming gifts – especially if they come in liquid form.
My friend Nathan knows this well, and brightened my recent move by presenting me as a gift a bomber of Jester King Gotlandsdricka. Talk about making a house feel like a home, that did it – even more so than the humidifier my girlfriend got me.
I’d never had this beer, as it isn’t always easy to get Jester King products in Kentucky, and it became one of those beers that stared at me from my kitchen counter each time I walked by it as I was moving in and getting situated. When I finally sat down to drink it a couple of weeks later, I enjoyed it even more than I had anticipated.
Gotlandsdricka, which according to the Jester King website translates to “Land of the Goths,” is a farmhouse ale like pretty much everything the Austin, Texas-based brewery does, but it’s more. Much more.
The cloudy yellow beer with the thin white head doesn’t look the part, but the aroma on it is something to behold, with plenty of fruit, smoke, and a hint of herbal earthiness. Take a sip, and the crisp beer offers an unexpected buttery feel on the palate, dissipating to a bright but astringent finish.
The flavor of the beer is beautifully nuanced, with just enough smokiness to provide the desired depth, yet leaving a crisp, tart beer that ultimately leaves a pucker in the throat. I hate to gush, but this stuff was nearly perfect, at least for my palate – and I’m not even a huge fan of farmhouse ales or wild-fermented beers.
As I sat quietly sipping it, it dawned on me that the beer had the sophistication of a dry, oaked chardonnay. It was delicately created to present a unique flavor and body, and it showed. It also made me wish I could drink it every day.
Brewed using Birchwood smoked malt, juniper, sweet gale and rye, it is naturally carbonated. The beer’s description notes that Gotlandsdricka is believed to have been the beer of the Vikings. I can’t help but wonder why, if the Vikings were drinking this, they weren’t in a better mood. Collectively speaking, obviously.
And at 6.6 percent alcohol by volume, the one pint, 9.4-ounce bomber wasn’t too much for me to handle on my own in a sitting – which is wonderful, since I really didn’t want to share it anyway. (I guess I should have offered Nathan a sample, eh?)
A true farmhouse style brewery, Jester King focuses on wild-fermented beers that, per the company’s website, “reflect the unique character of our location in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.” All the beer is made with local water and locally sourced grains, and the yeast grows with abandon. Highly recommended.