Some friends and I got together recently and tried six different beers from Michigan’s Jolly Pumpkin, and while not all of them are considered “farmhouse” beers, even those that aren’t in one of the farmhouse styles share many characteristics.
- Calabaza Blanca
- Oro de Calabaza
- Bam Biere
- Bam Noire
- La Roja
- La Parcela
I had had most of these previously, although never together and never really comparing them with each other to see how the different styles at Jolly Pumpkin differ from each other while still have that Jolly Pumpkin aspect to them. It’s hard to describe what that characteristic taste is, maybe a ‘light funkiness’, not quite sour, due in part to their oak aging and open fermentation.
Calabaza Blanca, is a white ale brewed with orange peel and corriander, it’s both more tart and dry finishing than many Belgian-style Wit’s, but pretty similar. There was quite a bit of citrus and it was pretty refreshing, good for a hot summer’s day, but probably my least favorite.
Oro de Calabaza was the strongest beer of the bunch at 8% ABV and it was obvious upon smelling the beer, a distinct boozy aroma came off of it. This was by far the least funky and most hoppy beer of the six we tried. While I enjoyed it enough, I don’t think I would want a full glass of it, the five or so ounces I got of it was fine.
Bam Biere is an old favorite of mine, but I like it much more with a little bit of age on it, although I’m not sure how fresh this bottles was (they use batch numbers instead of dates on bottles of Bam Biere) it wasn’t as tart as I like it. But there’s plenty of green apple and pear flavors, it’s pretty sweet but finishes dry and is mighty refreshing.
Bam Noire is a bit decieving, it’s dark and looks heavy, but was actually the lowest ABV beer out of the six we tasted at 4.3%. It has a bit of caramel or toffee sweetness, smells a bit of coffee and some plum-like flavors. It’s a bit tart and funky but not too much, if I had to guess I’d wager this was also a fairly fresh bottle.
La Roja with a bit of age on it is probably my favorite of Jolly Pumpkin’s year round beers. This bottle was a year old and it was a bit sour, although it would probably get better with more time. Plenty of wood, some cherry like tart fruity sweetness and some cooking spices I couldn’t nail down.
La Parcella is Jolly Pumpkin’s pumpkin beer but as with most pumpkin beers if I hadn’t have known I would have had no clue there was actual pumpkin in it. It’s such a delicate flavor that really doesn’t stand out. Often pumpkin beers are more like ‘pumpkin pie’ beers. This one wasn’t sweet or overly spiced, it was actually pretty acidic for a pumpkin beer which threw my expectations off a bit. Not a bad beer, but hard to tell it’s a pumpkin beer.