Big Thanks To Insurance Companies

Nøgne Ø, Jolly Pumpkin & Stone Special Holiday Ale

January 6th, 2010 beckel

Here I hold one of the most intriguing and illusive collaboration ales of 2009 with a mere 20 cases making their way to my state of Minnesota. This bottle was brewed and bottled in Norway at the inventive brewery of Nøgne Ø with the help of the wild brewers of Jolly Pumpkin and always intense Stone Brewing Company. While I was unable to sample this ale last year when the first batch was brewed at Stone I am very pleased to have the opportunity to sample this the 2nd time around. Most of the unique ingredients used in this brew are local to the regions of the three breweries including Michigan chestnuts, white sage from Southern California, and Norwegian juniper berries. Both Stone and Jolly Pumpkin also brewed this ale on their setups this year but I do not believe either will make it into my local market unfortunately. However if you live near California or Michigan you might be lucky enough to find some. On to the good part. This ale pours a very opaque dark brown hue that appears black until you bring it to light. A relatively tight light brown 3 finger head is slowly created but quickly opens up and fades with in about 3 minutes leaving only a small ring of carbonation around the surface of the ale. Aroma is quite interesting with a herbal spirit like quality that i believe is coming from the juniper berries and somewhat reminds me of a gin but with different esters. A modest amount of alcohol is noticeable as well as gentle roasted notes. Flavor is very unique with strong herbal notes of sage, caraway and juniper easily showing their way through the solid malt profile of this ale. Finishing with a delicate nuttiness and a bit of alcohol. The combination of malted barley, rye and oats delivers a wonderfully clean and smooth mouthfeel but frankly I wish I could taste them a bit more over all of the herbal notes present in this ale. Clocking in at 8.5% ABV this is certainly a winter warmer and an easy one to drink at that with a relatively light body for the style. Over all this is a rather sweet herbal ale with very little bitterness present but enough roasted esters to give it a bit of contrasting flavor. An interesting and creative ale with a multitude of ingredients that certainly shows the skill and creativity of the brewers. If I manage to stumble upon a bottle brewed by Jolly Pumpkin I would be very curious to see what some aging in their lovely funky oak barrels might do to this recipe. While I am still in search of a Holiday Ale I particularly love I will give this ale plenty of credit for potential. If you are a fan of herbal holiday ales and dig juniper berries this might just be the ale for you, if you can find it. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Nøgne Ø, Jolly Pumpkin & Stone Special Holiday Ale

Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca

September 25th, 2008 beckel

Jolly Pumpkin’s beers have stared down at me from the shelves for some time tempting me to pick them up, it hasn’t helped that anyone I talk to about the company says that they make lovely brews. Brewed in Dexter, Michigan Jolly Pumpkin appears to put a great deal of care into their beer which we all can appreciate. Calabaza Blanca is a barrel aged, bottle conditioned Belgian inspired White Ale coming in at 4.7% ABV. This beer produces a couple inches of very white fluffy head that settles slowly, depending on how heavily handed you pour. Color is a wonderful light yellow with peach hints and very cloudy yet light and bright in color. Aroma is intense and complex, I detect an interesting orange scent as well as numerous spices and a sour alcohol smell. This is a sour beer. Not exactly what I was expecting, but interesting. After the initial shock of the sour flavors I notice some nice light malty flavors that one would expect in a White Belgian Ale and this surprisingly does a rather good job balancing out the flavors. As I continue to drink this beer I like it more and more. In addition to the malt, the tart flavor of this beer is complimented nicely by some light spices that help the finish of this beer stay smooth and almost crisp. The mouthfeel of this beer is rather light though the sweet and sour flavors make this beer a bit less drinkable. This beer would go wonderfully with a sweet desert or even a tart cherry pie. I doubt many will pick up this beer regularly but if you want to try a sour beer this is a tasty and not particularly intense example to start with this is a grand choice. Anyone who enjoys unique beers, particularly Belgians will likely appreciate this beer. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca