Bittersweet Brew News
Top Austin brewery announces bittersweet departure and new beginnings
In other brew news this week, Jester King’s Adrienne Ballou is leaving the brewery to pursue a career in winemaking. As barrel program head, Ballou played a central role in implementing fruit refermentation to create the unique brews that cemented Jester King as a cult phenomenon.
As Ballou heads to harvest grapes in Australia, Jester King refers to the departure as “bittersweet,” noting that while the brewery is sad to see her go, it commends her for following her passion.
After completing a winemaking apprenticeship in France, Ballou began working at Jester King in 2013, pioneering fruit fermentation at the brewery and beginning to integrate winemaking and beer-making practices for a hybrid concoction. This innovation allowed Ballou to create a name for herself within the beer world.
"Adrienne, coming from the wine world, was able to integrate both beer and wine together," says Jeffrey Stuffings, founder of Jester King. "She established a lot of great relationships with farmers in our area." These relationships directly influenced the quality of the local fruit coming into the brewery.
What does this exit mean for the future of Jester King? With the recent purchase of 58 acres that surround Jester King and plans to expand its offerings, Stuffings and Ballou have discussed the possibility of her return. “It’s our intent for her to be a consultant on our grape growing here at Jester King,” says Stuffings.
Other changes at Jester King include a couple of in-house promotions. While Garrett Crowell will continue to serve as head brewer, Averie Swanson was named brewery production manager Thursday morning. Matt Piper will also begin to serve as Jester King’s new infrastructure and operations manager.
As Stuffings talked with CultureMap about the promoted staff, he raved about their skills and the value they add to the company. He touts Crowell for his “high degree of thoughtfulness,” Swanson’s attention to detail, and Piper’s organization, saying that they all exhibit great leadership and management.
“Naturally when we have someone important to us leave, the question is how will that impact us going forward?” says Stuffings. He says Ballou has left the team in good hands to continue the production of delicious fruit beers. As for the next chapter for the brewery? Stuffings assures Jester King beer lovers everywhere: “The proof will be in the pudding.”