JOLLY PUMPKIN ARTISAN ALES
Jolly Pumpkin’s brewery is located in Dexter, Michigan. They use no additives or chemicals, everything is natural. They use open fermentation vessels, a very traditional type of vessel that allows for the fullest flavor development of ales. They age all their beer in oak barrels and then bottle condition before distributing. They produce seasonal as well as year-round ales. They recommend storing their ales in 50 degree cellars and using snifters or tulip glasses to drink out of instead of pint glasses.
- Bam Bière (95 Points)
- Bam Noire (90 Points)
- Calabaza Blanca (92 Points)
- Fuego del Otoño (97 Points)
- La Parcel #1 Pumpkin Ale (86 Points)
- La Roja (93 Points)
- Luciérnaga (98 Points)
- Madrugada Obscura (89 Points)
- Maracaibo Especial (95 Points)
- Noel de Calabaza (99 Points)
- Oro de Calabaza (87 Points)
- Weizen Bam (91 Points)
BAM BIÈRE: 95 Points
This Farmhouse Ale is available year-round in 750 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Golden, naturally cloudy, bottle conditioned and dry hopped for a perfectly refreshing balance of spicy malts, hops and yeast..”
My Description: This is one of the finest examples of a Saison; it is smooth, delicious, and traditional because these beers were designed to be lower in alcohol so that farm workers could guzzle these all day without getting drunk. It has a ridiculous head that is massive and off-white in color. The retention level is amazing, it never fades and it leaves behind lacing that glues on the glass. The aroma is pleasant and clean with notes of sour funk, lemon, grass, and what appears to be a hint of pears. It is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavors work harmoniously together. There is a strong lemon funk throughout that is accompanied by a mild and welcoming spice note. There are hints of wood and floral notes with a touch of malt that add to the enjoyment of this beer. The aftertaste is slightly bitter and helps bring balance. This very smooth farmhouse ale is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled salmon, shrimp stir-fry, or a fruit salad.
ABV: 4.5% Color: Hazy Gold Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10
BAM NOIRE: 90 Points
This Saison is available year-round in 750 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “One of Bam’s brown eyes is, in fact, black. When mischief reigns supreme, it positively glows. Dedicated to the dark side; smooth, dark, incredibly delicious as only a Jack Russell with bat wings can be.”
My Description: This delicious, funky, and easy drinking ale is worth seeking out if you enjoy the barnyard flavors. With such a low ABV, it is not a problem putting down a whole bottle, as long as you take your time and enjoy the ride. It begins with a very large, almost too large, light beige colored head that lasts for a long time and leaves behind an excellent amount of lacing. The aroma is complex and interesting with notes of yeast spice, barnyard funk, cherries, plums, and some bread notes. The beer is medium bodied with a high carbonation level and a dry finish. This ale has wine like characteristics and a complex flavor profile. There are notes of spice, bread, plums, some earthy notes, and some typical barnyard notes. It finishes smooth with hardly any bitterness. It is best enjoyed around 50°F and pairs nicely with smoked salmon, grilled chicken, or a caesar salad.
ABV: 4.3% Color: Deep Mahogany Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10
CALABAZA BLANCA: 92 Points
This Belgian Witbier is available year-round in 750 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “An artisan white ale brewed in the classic biere blanche tradition. Spiced with orange peel and coriander, you’ll find it refreshingly tart, with a wonderful dry finish.”
My Description: This is a great example of a true European farmhouse ale; the alcohol is low making this an easy choice for drinking all day, the flavors taste great and work cleanly together, and it is very refreshing. It begins with a good sized and fluffy, bright white colored head with a great retention level and it leaves behind a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is inviting with notes of wheat malt, coriander, citrus, and some grassiness. Blanca is light/medium bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is real nice, a lingering citrus note compliments the apple and pepper notes. Some mild tart notes and some earthiness give way to a minimally bitter aftertaste that is crisp. This ale is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with roasted asparagus, grilled white fish, or raw oysters.
ABV: 4.7% Color: Straw Gold Sweetness: 1.5/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10
FUEGO DEL OTOÑO: 97 Points
This Beire de Garde is released seasonally in October in 750 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “To catch a bit of soft radiance in each bottle, we wait for fall colors to begin their bright and fleeting glow before brewing this wonderful ale under their autumn fire. Gentle amber malt blend smooth caramel notes, gently lapping against a shore of distant forgotten spice. A beer to sip, contemplate and enjoy.”
My Description: This is a great seasonal beer that feels just right for Autumn. It begins with a large and fluffy, white colored head with an amazing retention level that holds the whole way leaving behind an excellent amount of lacing. The aroma smells great with notes of caramel malt, apple vinegar, lemon, and Jolly Pumpkin yeast notes like barnyard hay. Fuego is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is slightly complex with every note working in harmony together to create a well balanced beer that tastes great without being over the top, especially the Brett-like flavors of barnyard notes and tart which play only a background note. Subtle chestnut notes and apple peels can be detected on top of the overall earthy presence. Unidentifiable spice undertones add depth and character with hints of oak and caramel malt that bring it all together. A lingering nutty finish is the cherry on top as it leaves you satisfied and wanting more. This beauty is best served around 50°F an pairs nicely with Brie cheese, jambalaya, or almond desserts.
ABV: 6.1% Color: Murky Orange/Brown Sweetness: 1.5/10 Bitterness: 2/10
LA PARCELA #1 PUMPKIN ALE: 86 Points
This is their seasonal Pumpkin ale that they release in September. They are only sold in 750 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Packed with real pumpkins, hints of spice and a gentle kiss of cacao to lighten the soul. An everyday easy way to fill your squashy quotient. Only available for a few short months. Not to be missed.”
My Description: Did not have a Tulip glass handy so I drank it out of my stein at around 40-45°F. Really nice and big foamy head that definitely lingers and is off-white in color with very nice lacing. It has a pleasant and mild aroma with notes of roasted malts, sourness, and spices. The taste has a strong sour note in a good way; it makes you want to keep drinking because it is not common to find this taste in beer but welcoming at the same time. The sour taste seems to mellow down after the beer has had time to sit in your drinking glass. However, the spices come through the whole way from the initial contact with your tongue and well into the aftertaste which lingers. The spices include notes of nutmeg, clove, and other fall spices that you might find in a pumpkin pie. You can definitely pick up on some bitterness from the hops in the aftertaste as well which helps to produce a more complex and enjoyable taste. However, there are minimal pumpkin and cacao notes which is kind of disappointing because it is a pumpkin ale. It seems as if they toned down the pumpkin flavor and focused on bringing out the spices. This beer should be drank as the brewer intended by allowing the beer to sit for a while and let the flavors develop. It is very smooth and refreshing. I found this beer to be priced between $12-$14 in Michigan.
ABV: 5.9% Color: Orange/Copper Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 5.5/10
LA ROJA: 93 Points
This American Wild Ale is available year-round in 750 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “La Roja, an artisan amber ale brewed in the Flanders tradition. Deep amber with earthy caramel, spice and sour fruit notes developed through natural barrel aging. Unfiltered, unpasteurized and blended from barrels ranging in age between two and ten months. Truly an ale of distinction.”
My Description: With a beautifully hidden alcohol content and a smooth texture, La Roja delivers in both flavor and refreshment. It begins with a decent, off-white colored head that fades rather quickly and leaves behind some lacing. The aroma is a mixture of sweet and tart with notes of berries, oak, and a touch of barnyard funk. The aroma is pleasant and welcoming. La Roja is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The taste notes mimic the aroma nicely. There is that sweet and tart mix along with an earthy presence that intrigues and satisfies. Upfront, there are flavor notes of cherries and some oak along with a vague spice note that is hard to identify. The aftertaste is clean with very little, if any, bitterness. Easy drinking and highly acidic, this beer is a great choice for any occasion. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with potent cheeses, cedar plank salmon, or grilled game meat.
ABV: 7.2% Color: Garnet Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10
LUCIÉRNAGA: 98 points
This Belgian Golden Ale is released seasonally in the month of June in 750 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “The Firefly, an artisan pale ale brewed in the Grand Cru tradition. Enjoy its golden effervescence and gentle hop aroma. Coriander and Grains of Paradise round out the spicy palate, melting o so softly into a silken finish of hoppiness and bliss! Make any season a celebration.”
My Description: This beer is delicious! The flavors work harmoniously together to produce a refreshing and truly enjoyable beer. It has a decent, off-white colored head that fades quick to a film but holds and produces a small amount of lacing. The aroma is amazing. There are notes of sour lemon, fresh citrus, hints of spice and hops, and a pleasant oak addition. It is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is slightly complex with notes of apples, malt, sour/tart, hops and some earthiness. These flavors work brilliantly together and transition nicely into an aftertaste that is slightly bitter with an oak flavor addition. The alcohol is beautifully hidden and the texture is very smooth. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled shrimp, caprese salads, or grilled white fish.
ABV: 6.5% Color: Hazy Orange/Bronze Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 3/10
MADRUGADA OBSCURA: 89 Points
This Belgian Stout is released seasonally in January in 750 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “A Belgian inspired stout that is as dark as a moonless midnight, brimming of roasted malts and bitter hops. It will keep you good company in all places, be thay light or dark.”
My Description: Extremely smooth and very interesting, this stout by Jolly Pumpkin grows on you. At first it takes a few minutes to adjust to sour notes mixing with roasted malts and chocolate but afterwards this beer becomes a pleasure to drink. It begins with a good sized, dark beige colored head with a great retention level and it leaves behind an abundant amount of lacing. The aroma immediately brings on the sour notes along with a deep chocolate presence and subtle notes of funk and oak, it is really nice. Madrugada is medium/full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. Roasted malt flavor notes blend cleanly with sour notes to make the base for this beer. Other more subtle flavors include dark cherries and chocolate. The aftertaste is slightly bitter and the alcohol is nicely hidden. I would like to try this again. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with chocolate desserts, duck with raspberry sauce, or grilled steak.
ABV: 8.1% Color: Black Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10
MARACAIBO ESPECIAL: 95 Points
This Belgian Strong is released randomly in 750 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “A rich brown ale inspired by the enigmatic monastic brews of Belgium, and the mysterious mist shrouded jungles of the tropics. Brewed with real cacao, and spiced with cinnamon and sweet orange peel for a sensual delight. A brew to be sipped, savored, and enjoyed!“
My Description: This beer is surprisingly smooth and easy drinking with a flavor profile that immediately becomes addicting. It begins with a very large and dense, tan colored head that holds for some time leaving behind a nice amount of lacing. The aroma has that similar Belgian house yeast note that most Jolly Pumpkin beers have; it’s kind of barnyard funky. There are also citrus notes, cinnamon, a sweet hint, and a some mild cocoa notes in the aroma. Maracaibo Especial is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level, and a dry finish. The flavor profile showcases some tasty notes but they are subtle and need to be searched for. An underlying hint of tart floats throughout holding up notes of orange peel, green apples, and some funk. The aftertaste is refreshing with lingering hints of cinnamon. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t pick up the cocoa notes that I smelled. Either way, the alcohol is nicely hidden and overall this is a great Belgian Strong. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled asparagus, fruit tarts, or a grilled whitefish.
ABV: 7.5% Color: Murky Brown/Amber Sweetness: 1.5/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10
NOEL DE CALABAZA: 99 Points
This Belgian Strong Ale is released seasonally in November for the holiday season in 750 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Deep Mahogany and malty, layered hops, figs, raisins, sugar plums, cashews betwixt rum laden truffles.”
My Description: This is a delicious Christmas treat and a great Belgian Strong in which the flavors work beautifully together without one flavor taking over another. I love this beer. It pours a large, light beige colored head with an amazing retention level and it leaves behind a nice amount of lacing. The aroma is warming and faint with light sour notes along with hints of cherries and spices. Noel is medium bodied with a higher carbonation level and a very dry finish. The texture is crisp and smooth. The flavor profile is delicious and complex. There is a clean malt backbone with a noticeable yet subtle sour note that delights. Fruit notes like apples and plums appear as the beer warms. Delicate spice notes linger throughout and the alcohol is nicely hidden. The aftertaste is minimally bitter with pleasant hop notes. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled sausage, fried apples, or grilled whitefish.
ABV: 9% Color: Mahogany Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 2/10
ORO DE CALABAZA: 87 Points
This is a year-round production that is sold in 750 ml. bottles. The brewer recommends serving in a tulip glass or snifter.
Brewer Description: “Brewed in the Franco-Belgian tradition of strong golden ales. Spicy and peppery with a gentle hop bouquet and the beguiling influence of wild yeast.”
My Description: First of all you have to understand that Jolly Pumpkin produces sour beers. So, if you don’t have a trained palate or appreciate sour beers you probably won’t appreciate this beer. But, if you have never tried a sour beer this is a good one to sample because it is an excellent example of a quality sour beer. The head is thin with minimal retention qualities but the lacing seems to linger for a few minutes before disappearing. You will find some sediment sitting at the bottom of your glass but don’t get nervous, this is perfectly normal and safe for unfiltered ales. There is a delightful floral aroma with notes of oak and spice that makes the beer smell fresh and crisp. At the very tip of your tongue you will pick up on the sour taste that is notorious with Jolly Pumpkin. However, as the beer moves through your mouth you will taste some oak and spice mixed in with some lemon notes. The aftertaste will have minor bitterness notes but the sour taste is what you will remember. It is a medium bodied beer that is best drank around 45°F.
ABV: 8% Color: Hazy Light Gold/Lemon Sweetness: 4/10 Bitterness: 2/10
WEIZEN BAM: 91 Points
This Farmhouse Style Ale is released seasonally in the Summer months in 750 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “The fourth in our Bam Farmhouse series, and perhaps our most adventurous; a traditional farmhouse style hefeweizen. Weizen Bam seamlessly blends traditional German style hefeweizen yeast with our own local wild and sour cultures, for a melange of the most flavorful sort. Ruddy golden, with yeast driven esters of banana, spicy clove, and nutmeg all wrapped up with a generous dose of good-natured rapscallion delight.”
My Description: It excited me to learn that this beer uses German Hefeweizen yeast along with the wild yeast that Jolly Pumpkin normally uses. However, it feels like the wild yeast dominates the Hefe yeast so much so that the German notes are hard to detect. None-the-less, this is a great beer for the Summer and very refreshing. It pours a large and fluffy, bright white colored head with an awesome retention level and it leaves behind a nice amount of lacing. The aroma delivers plenty of Farmhouse notes such as hay, some barnyard funk, light citrus notes, cloves, and a hint of bubblegum. Overall, the aroma is pleasant and inviting. Weizen Bam is light/medium bodied with a higher carbonation level and a dry finish. A complex and wild yeast flavor profile dominate with apparent notes of sourness, lemon, green apples, grass, and some funk. Wheat malt is also detected as are faint spice notes like cloves, unfortunately the spice notes are too faint and hard to detect unless searching for them. The aftertaste is smooth and clean with little to no bitterness. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with sauteed shrimp, grilled asparagus, or baked Sea Bass.
ABV: 4.5% Color: Hazy Gold Sweetness: 1.5/10 Bitterness: 2/10