Friday, January 6, 2012

BACK IN BED WITH JOLLY PUMPKIN

Right around the time I started my former beer blog, Hedonist Beer Jive, in 2006, I started to see raves for Michigan’s JOLLY PUMPKIN and bought a few bottles of their expensive quote-unquote artisanal ales. I was far less impressed than my peers were, and said so. Slowly but surely, I’ve tasted new beers of theirs, and I’d have to say after the latest two that I’m totally simpatico with them. I’m starting to understand what’s common to each of their beers – a dryness, an array of complex flavors, and a tendency to not rely on heavy alcohol to give the beers their flavor. And when I looked over my old reviews of their beers, I started to see that there were acutally some that I really loved – like LA ROJA, and BAM NOIRE, and my first encounter with the beer we’ll talk about next.
 
JOLLY PUMPKIN – “NOEL DE CALABAZA” – This is their seasonal, oak barrel-aged Christmas ale. I got Batch #890 from September 21st, 2011 – says so right on the bottle. It’s a dark fruit ale with light spicing and a thin body. Dry, as mentioned before, but with a nice head o’ foam. This is the beer that really confirmed for me that Jolly Pumpkin have an approach totally unlike that of other brewers. I may not be an expert in any way, shape or form, but I’ll bet I could name this beer as one of theirs based on blindfolded taste alone, which is a huge testament to these guys in an age where everyone's keying off of everyone else. It took a while to grab onto this one, but once I really “leaned in” I really enjoyed it. 7.5/10.

JOLLY PUMPKIN – “LUCIERNAGA” – Wow. This is yeasty, Belgian-inspired wheat ale. It pours a brownish-orange and tastes of rich malts and cloves. It’s even mildly funky. They call it a “pale ale brewed in the Grand Cru tradition”, so there you go. That sounds like some artisan talk to me. Best thing I’ve had from them yet. 8.5/10.

I just bought the “FUEGO DEL OTONO” autumn ale of theirs so I shall be returning to this space to discuss it with you in the very near future.

1 comment:

Damian said...

Great review Jay -- glad you came around! I'm partial as Jolly is from my home state - and I love their beers. The only issue I have is that the flavor profiles are very similar across their line -- the good news is that I love it. So, I regularly buy virtually all of Ron's beers. I will say, I think Fuego is a notch above the rest. Cheers.