There's a lot going on at Jester King Brewery these days. The craft brewery just added 58 acres of Texas Hill Country with plans to turn it into a working farm, vineyard, and orchard, plus an education center, event space, and world-class restaurant (or two).
Jester King co-founders Jeffrey Stockings and Michael Steffing bought the land in order to keep it from being developed into a residential subdivision. In a post on the brewery's website, they talked about how they wanted to maintain their authentic farmhouse brewery.
"Our plan is to conserve the natural beauty of the land, so as to prevent it from ever becoming yet another residential subdivision, while at the same time working with our new natural surroundings to make Jester King one of the world's leading destinations for artisan foods, beverages, goods, and all things fermentation."
The ambitious plans include growing or producing the ingredients used in the brewery and future restaurant. They plan to grow grain and fruit, as well as harvest honey from their own apiary.
"In other words, we seek to create a location where virtually everything we make comes from the land around us. If it can be grown, crafted or fermented using what's available to us, we seek to do it."
The brewery is known for their year-round and limited edition craft beers like the Noble King, a farmhouse ale, and Black Metal, a farmhouse imperial stout.
Part of those plans include a farm to table restaurant, and that restaurant now has a chef. Jacob Hilbert, chef at the just-closed The Hollow, is collaborating with Stockings and Steffing on a new casual family-friendly restaurant that will open later this year. In the future, they plan to open a smaller restaurant that is more focused on the new farm.
In a letter sent to Austin 360, Hilbert explained the move.
"This year the farmhouse will open, a more casual accessible restaurant built on the cuisine of nomads and ancient peoples, there will be fire and spit roasting and vegetables cooked in mud. We will muddle sauces in ancient ways and walk the land looking for tomorrow, we will bake bread and we will preserve things.
The goal is to have the restaurant completely self-sustained, growing all of the produce, milking the cows and goats, making the cheese, hanging the charcuterie. Over the next two to three years we will be building accum. The restaurant that will change everything about the cooks working there, about the service and will make every effort to be great, even if it fails."
The farm just began offering free and kid-friendly tours to the public every Saturday at 2 p.m. Guests can see the new vineyeard, learn about the farm, and pet the farm goats. Guests can also participate in brewery tours on Friday at 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sundays at 1 p.m., 3 p.m., and 5 p.m. The brewery's tasting room is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
The land purchase did not include Stanley's Farmhouse Pizza, which will remain as a separate business. The brewery is located at 13005 Fitzhugh Rd., approximately 18 miles southwest of downtown Austin.