For fans of sours, farmhouse ales and other funky styles, Jester King is a name that probably comes up often. The Austin, Texas-based outfit is known for its spontaneously fermented beers, earning a GABF bronze for its Atrial Rubicite raspberry sour in 2013. That beer was Jester King’s first barrel-aged sour to include fruit, following tasty non-fruited sours like Funk Metal, RU-55 and Boxer’s Revenge. Since its first experiment with raspberries, the brewery went on to make beers with cherries, blackberries, grapes and more. Jester King’s Aurelian Lure follows suit, only this barrel-aged sour was refermented with apricots.
Atrial Rubicite was the first fruited sour I tasted from Jester King not long after the beer made its debut. I’ve had it once more since then, and I fondly recall the punch of raspberry flavor in a beer that was plenty sour and dry, yet very pleasant to drink. Sometimes sour beers are a bit one dimensional in their sourness. Even some that include fruit lack flavor and complexity due to being overly tart and acidic. That wasn’t the case with Atrial Rubicite, and I didn’t expect things to change with Aurelian Lure.
Aurelian Lure pours a golden orange with a snow white head that retreats quickly to just around the rim of the glass. It’s exactly what you would expect a beer refermented with apricots to look like, with a hue that mimics the fruit itself. Based on the pour, I can tell the carbonation is on point as well. The nose is almost entirely a glass full of ripe apricots. I get some subtle funk, but for the most part, getting my nose close to this is like putting my face in a bowl of fresh-cut fruit.
The first sip is a near-perfect blend of fruit flavor and tartness, with the two balancing each other nicely before fading to a dry finish. This beer is plenty sour, but not unpleasantly so, which makes it a really drinkable brew. I’ve had sours before that are so intense that you immediately feel it in your jaw, making it a chore to get through a full glass. Aurelian Lure is every bit a sour beer, but its fruitiness offers a sweet complement that makes drinking it a joy. As it warms, I get a little more acidity in the nose as I can start to smell more of the sourness and funk that gives this beer its backbone. I also get slightly less fruit drinking it at a warmer temperature. It’s still there, but the scale tips more to the tart side of things than it did with my initial sips.
If fruited sours are your thing, Aurelian Lure is worth seeking out. Unless you can make it to Austin for a release, you might have to enlist some help. However, it’s definitely worth the trouble. This beer has made a few appearances, though, as the bottle I’m drinking is from August’s Batch 3 release. For me, the thing that makes Aurelian Lure a great beer is its balance. It’s a stellar mix of fruit, sour and funk. Jester King says its goal for refermenting with fruit is to transform the ingredients into something new rather than simply flavoring a mature beer. To me, that process melds the two together almost seamlessly, creating a flavor profile some fruited sours fail to achieve.
Brewery: Jester King Brewery
City: Austin, Texas
Style: American Wild Ale
Availability: Limited, Brewery-only release
Billy is the host of The Brewcast, a beer podcast that never records on a regular schedule. You can follow his drinking habit @beardbrews on Twitter.