AUSTIN (KXAN) — Nestled in Texas Hill Country, Fitzhugh Road, in particular, is noted as a haven for beer, wine and spirits enthusiasts.
Tucked away along that stretch is Jester King Brewery, a 165-acre ranch which has been a refuge for beer enthusiasts, tourists and local families since 2010.
Jeffrey Stuffings, co-founder of Jester King and self-proclaimed “beer geek,” said he wanted to incapsulate the vibrancy of Hill Country agriculture in the business’ farm-to-table-esque model.
“We try to incorporate what’s around us, whether it be the well water, grain that was grown in the Texas panhandle, yeast that we propagate straight from our land, and then local produce,” he said. “And we either grow or buy from farms within the Hill Country and the High Plains and just to try make something unique to our place.”
The business initially launched as a beer-centric brew hall before expanding out with the additions of wine and cider, along with food offerings like homemade bread, pizza and barbecue.
“We’re just really all trying to incorporate local agriculture and to make something that’s unique to this place and time, and the people here,” he added.
The area’s agricultural roots trace back to the 1800s, when Fitzhugh Road was a cattle drive trail winding from what’s now southwest Austin west of Dripping Springs. Beyond Jester King, Fitzhugh is home to a substantial number of breweries, wineries and distilleries, mapped below:
Originally, Stuffings said Jester King’s clientele were mainly beer enthusiasts traveling in from around the state, such as from Houston or Dallas. With Austin’s residential boom in recent years, he said more and more, Jester King serves locals seeking out a family-friendly environment.
With ample land to support its operations, Jester King has expanded from a brewery to a jack-of-all-trades business, with its on-site kitchen, inn, events venue space and farm-friendly activities like goat yoga. And the business’ large acreage has paid off in dividends in recent years amid the coronavirus pandemic, he said.
Once bars, breweries and restaurants were allowed to open in early summer 2020, the business pivoted to offer socially-distanced seating throughout the ranch.
“We saw a lot of new faces that we hadn’t seen before, and people kind of expressed that to us at the time that, you know, they felt comfortable coming out here just because we are open air and highly spread out,” he said. “There’s a lot of places around here to kind of get lost in this little slice of the Hill Country.”
As the Austin region has grown, Stuffings said he and staff members are working to grow with the area, Jester King has recently planted grapes, peach trees and fig trees, and hope to start producing dairy through their goats in the coming future.
They’ve implemented weekly trivia nights and Drag Bingo, and launched a cocktail program to cater to people who might not be as into beer or wine.
At the core of the business, though, is the same notion Jester King was founded on 12 years ago: community.
“The heart of beer and beer culture is its community, its people,” he said. “Being a pretty outdoor space where people can enjoy conversation with friends and family under live oak trees with food that has roots in Texas agriculture, and is locally produced and independent? I think it’s something that’s special.”
This story is part of a KXAN series highlighting Central Texas activities — you can see our full list on our “Central Texas Things to Do” page. Do you have an idea of something we should profile? Email us at email@example.com.