So after I spilled a beer on my old MacBook Pro (while typing a Beer Chatter I’ll have you know – hard drive can be seen in the above picture at the bottom right) I’m back in the game and I’m here to do a 7 part series on one of my favorite breweries, Jolly Pumpkin out of Dexter, Michigan. Honestly, I found this brewing co. by accident after I bought what I thought was a pumpkin ale last fall. I mean, this wasn’t just any Pumpkin Ale… this was a Jolly Pumpkin Ale! Well, come to find out Jolly Pumpkin is the brewery, and a farmhouse ale named Bam Bière was what I got. [Pause for reader to remissness the days of Sublime.] I was more disappointed than a Jets fan in December. Needless to say, all I wanted to do was stash this away and immediately head out to grab some Punkin.
However, once the warmer months started to come around again, it crept back into my mind. When one of my buddies decided to have a beer tasting at his house, I figured this would be the perfect beer to bring… mainly because I didn’t really want it (how generous I am, I know). I had very low expectations of the brew thinking this was just just going to taste like yet another underwhelming yeasty white ale with artificial citrus. In the words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend!” In our taste test, I actually had this beer finishing in first place, ranking it ahead of both Pliny the Elder and Breakfast Stout. Time to run them numbers!
Appearance: Beautiful golden color with a crisp white head. Slightly cloudy and a head retention that maintained itself for quite some time. Not expecting that with a farmhouse – off to a good start.
Smell: Barnyard funk, grapefruit, bitter orange, and one of my favorite little bacterias, brettanomyces. (Since we are on such good terms, I’ll be referring to this miracle as Brett.) Overall this brew smelled funky-funky-funky, so much so that White Cherry could have easily come out with a sequel dedicated to Bam Bière.
Taste: The lightest detection of brett to begin, then immediately balances out to citrus – oranges, grapefruit, and lemon – which all make an appearance. This dog is definitely funky, but not overly done. I would say this is more complex Allagash’s Confluence or Evil Twin’s Ron and the Beast Ryan. Those aforementioned beers were a one trick pony – all brett and nothing else; they tasted like drinking an orange peel. Bam Bière is what a true “farmhouse ale” should be. It has the barnyard brett, but transitions nicely into citrus then back to a tart (but not sour) finish. As far as the hops in the brew, I really didn’t detect much of a direct presence, but honestly I’m happy about that as a farmhouse should highlight other flavors than hop bitterness.
All things considered, I was impressed by Jolly Pumpkin’s farmhouse. I’ve had other ‘farmhouse ales’ that tasted just like a typical saison (Le Merele should not call itself a farmhouse) and often they were tremendously disappointing for they style in which I’d thought they’d be. This brew definitely differentiates itself from the rest of the market – and in my opinion, great brews are memorable brews. This is a memorable brew and I will continue to seek this Jack Russel out.
When to drink it? Well, this beer would be perfect for a spring or summer day, or perhaps for a gathering that you might need to drive home from. At only 4.5% ABV, this is the definition of a session beer. I really can’t knock this beer too much for anything. It is wonderfully inviting and incredibly refreshing. If you live in Connecticut, you won’t find this in the state, but keep your eyes peeled for it in neighboring New York or Massachusetts. The one problem might be its price for some – it’ll run you about 12 dollars per 750mL, however this truly is an artisan ale and actually is priced competitively for bottle conditioned brews with brett (say those last five words seven times fast…)
Overall: This beer gets an A+. Number one, it tastes awesome – number two, how can you not love a beer named after a dog that survives getting run over by a car? That is one tough dog, and one beer that deserves its namesake. Only Michael Vick would be disappointed with this one.