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Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales’ Calabaza Blanca

October 12, 2012

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales is a brewery out of the fine state of Michigan, a state that is really putting out some fine product these days to say the least. Their brewmaster has been brewing since the mid-90s but only in 2004 did Jolly Pumpkin come to be. I’ve had beers from them before but always sort of ignored the name, assuming that it came from a famous pumpkin ale or the like. Instead, as I was looking over their website I was pleased to discover they actually had an interesting story behind it. Long-winded stories are my kind of thing, especially if it involves naming businesses.

The other interesting note before I actually talk about this recent beer of theirs I drank, is their two restaurants. Now, I see a lot of brew-pub menus out there but there haven’t been a lot that made me go, “Wow, this is clearly a kitchen that prides themselves on their culinary skill and tradition.” I think most breweries with restaurants are a good cut above most average restaurants simply because brewers aren’t the type of guys who will cut corners with lots of frozen food or cheap ingredients. Yet, beer is still beer and it attracts people who would rather have an interesting sandwich than something clearly out of the French Nouvelle school. Then there’s Jolly Pumpkin’s restaurants, which seem to have that sort of force behind them. In other words, next time I’m in Michigan I’ll be scoping this place out.

Now, on to what really matters, the Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca, a witbier.

The beer came out of the tap a shockingly bright hazy yellow color with a fluffy white head that somehow manages to shock your eyes just a little bit more. It’s the color of witbiers that seriously makes me wonder if they could replace candles in a darkened room. I was struck with the strong scent of orange and lemon, with a slight hint of other more sour fruits along with the barest touch of sickly-sweet Belgian yeast.

This was definitely a very light and smooth brew, the kind of beer where you don’t even realize how much is sliding down your mouth sometimes. However, it does pack a wallop of a sour punch at the top. This sourness is alongside strong citrus tastes, mostly lemon though a notable hint of orange. I could taste clear attempts to balance the beer with bitter orange peels, coriander, and black pepper. The tastes were present but alarmingly overpowered by the citrus flavor.

The beer was flavorful, I enjoyed it after several dark beers, but I definitely found the balance to be wanting. If you’re looking for something that’s sweet and sour, go for it. Otherwise, you might want to try something else they’ve done.

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