Friday, April 24, 2009

Five Jolly Pumpkins

Jolly Pumpkin is one of my favourite US brewers. They make nothing but sour ales, but are deft at showing the incredibly wide variety of styles that sour ales can produce. Almost everything Jolly Pumpkin does is both barrel aged and bottle conditioned, meaning most everything will improve with age. I collected these five brews over a few weeks and drank them over another few weeks. Here are the results of my tasting.

Jolly Pumpkin Bam Noire Dark Farmhouse Ale

Very Belgian yeasty on the nose with banana, malts and caramel, this is distinctly in a dark farmhouse style, almost like a Belgian brown ale. Very sour on the palate, this has moderate bitterness and a nice mouthfeel. The smoky finish is pleasant. Overall a solid beer.

Very Good to Very Good+
$12/22oz at The Jugshop

Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca

I think wheat ales and sour flavours go absolutely fantastic together, and this is no exception. Very wit-like on the nose with spice, pepper and yeast, this is light on the palate and extremely refreshing. Correander, orange and lemon give this a tart and yet alive feeling on the palate. Smooth and balanced, this is a superb sour wit.

$12/22oz at The Jugshop

Jolly Pumpkin Fuego del Otono

A fall/winter seasonal beer this is brewed with chestnuts and spices. The nose is very much like an amber ale and is quite subtle. I didn't get any spices until the palate, which was mostly fruity with some twigs and dried indian spices like mustard seed and correander. The beer was on the bitter side, but still quite drinkable. In the end, though, this just is not as good as most of Jolly P's offerings.

Very Good
$15/22oz at City Beer

Jolly Pumpkin La Roja

A perennial favourite of mine, La Roja is a flemish style red ale, but aged in oak. This is spicier and more hopppy than most Flemish ales, and distinctly on the woody over the fruity side of things. The nose is very rich, and the beer itself has great structure. As I mentioned, this is not at all sweet tasting and offers currants, lime and lemon zest with some secondary spice notes. This is a very tasty beer and pairs very well with chiles and Mexican food generally.

Very Good+ to Excellent
$10/22oz at City Beer

Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada Obscura Dark Dawn Stout

One does not usually see a sour stout, so I was pretty excited to try this extremely dense brew. The first sip of this is very exciting - incredibly robust, deep and flavourful and yet unique. The sourness adds a simply wonderful edge to the otherwise dark roasty flavours of chocolate and coffee. The sourness cuts the heavyness that can weigh down many stouts, and the much higher than average carbonation adds a great mouthfeel to this superbly crafted stout. A beer for the jaded palate.

$15 at The Jugshop

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