Jester King – Das Wunderkind
Medal winning beers from events like the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup are exceptional no doubt, but when beers are confined to style guidelines in exchange for accolades, some creativity can be forfeited. Per style guidelines, Jester King’s Das Wunderkind is a little outside the box, but the beer is amazingly balanced and the flavor profile is absolutely thirst quenching. Saison style guidelines allow for extremely dry and almost astringent beers and suggest traditional brewing ingredients including pilsner and munich or vienna malts as well as wheat. Where Das Wunderkind breaks the mold is with the use of caramunich malt. Cara – indicating a caramel or crystal malt and Munich- indicating the base malt from which Caramunich is derived is a German produced crystal malt. Crystal malts are generally used in brewing for their addition of malty sweetness, beer body and head retention – none of which make up the Saison style guidelines. As an example, crystal malts are often found in American amber or red ales to provide the malty sweetness required to subdue the hops. However, the use in this beer is in balance and the beer is amazing because of it.
With my beer geek mind set aside, I poured the beer into my favorite tulip glass. Like most Saisons, the beer pours a light cloudy golden color with a dense foamy head that quickly subsides to a small ring of foam that follows the liquid level of the beer down as I drink it. Aromas of over-ripe mangos, nectarines and pineapples erupt from the glass and while I think the tart and sour aroma is tingling my nose, it’s actually because of the fact that I have beer in my nose… I got so excited by the aromas present in my glass that I submerged my nose in it… Belgian Dip style. SILENCE! I can hear the bubbles popping as they surface in my beer! On my second, less submarine sniff, the beer definitely has a tart aroma that plays nicely with the juiciness of the fruit. I can’t say that I have experienced juiciness in a beer this enticing since the last time I opened a fresh can of Heady Topper. If Jester King got into the aroma candle business I would buy all of their candles – and I hate aroma candles. So about drinking the beer – its damn good. A nice cracker-y pilsner character leads way to a tart but smooth finish. The maltiness as I presume from the use of the caramunich malt prevents the sour character and the very low finishing gravity from being too dry. Don’t get me wrong, its still dry, but I don’t feel like I just had my mouth swabbed with cotton at the doctor’s office. It’s thirst quenching and the complexity of subtle flavors and overall sensory experience is absolutely mind-blowing. I’m so lost in my sensory overload that I have to suggest you just find a bottle and experience Das Wunderkind for yourself – I’m without words. For those of you that know me, and those of you that don’t, I drink a lot of beer and this beer is an absolute homerun – err, grand slam. To the tune of this grand slam. Next time I drink this beer I will pour half out for my homies. And by homies I mean my marinating pork shoulder.
Aside from the flavor, aroma, complexity and overall balance of this beer, the best part has to be that its 4.5% ABV. Why? Because I’m driving to my bottle shop right now to get another!