This is the second samping of sour beers for the month of sours. This time we stay a bit closer to home. Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales is based in Dexter Michigan. The beer I am sampling tonight is their Bam Biere which they are calling a farmhouse ale. As we have found earlier this month, farmhouse style beers are part of the French and Belgian brewing tradition. But these beers as a style do not have an actual category on the BJCP style lists. The closest styles you might find are Saison or Biere De Garde.
Founded in 2004, Jolly Pumpkin has two brew pubs (one in Traverse City and one in Ann Arbor) as well as their production facility in Dexter. Bam Bier won a bronze at the Great American Beer Fest in 2009. They have also taken a bronze with Oro de Calabaza. But these awards pale in comparison to their victory in 2010.
In a blind taste test against 19 other beers, with Belgian beers in the mix, Jolly pumpkin came out on top. This is a victory similar to the Judgement of Paris in 1976. In that contest, US vintners in California competed against French vintners in blind taste tests and came out on top. These were both moments of the students surpassing the masters.
At Jolly Pumpkin all of their production beers are barrel aged. This allows the beers to gain the benefit of the microflora present in the different barrels, creating a unique drinking experience. To find that the bottle is marked for the specific batch it came from with a bottling date, gives a sense of how limited the release might be.
My impressions of the beer:
The beer pours a pale orange/gold. It is cloudy as you would expect for a barrel aged beer as well as from the souring bacteria.
The nose comes across with a candied orange peel. It has a dank earthiness as well.
With the first sip, the brett says hello. It isn’t so strong that it smacks you in the taste buds. It is more polite. It shakes your hand and asks if you would like a cup of tea. It has a refined quality to it. Underneath the brett there is a strong hint of citrus/ orange peel that complements the earthiness of the brett well. As it warms you find a light touch of lemon. There is a hint of spice but not enough that you can make out exactly what it is.
This beer is a bit richer than the gueuze (cuvee rene) that I sampled yesterday. Where the gueuze was a beer you would drink for its refreshing quality on a hot summer day, this is a beer you would drink sitting on your back porch with the grill going. I can see drinking it with some pulled pork with cole slaw.
Overall, a very good beer, it is something that is well worth exploring.
Time for a pint…