6.5% ABV, Bottle
Appearance: Cloudy caramel color with a high head.
Aroma: Sour with some fruit.
Taste: Semi-dry, with lots of sourness. The fruit isn’t quite as present as it is in the aroma.
Mouthfeel: Light bodied.
A hint of lemon and orange bring life to Jolly Pumpkin’s Luciérnaga — or The Firefly as it’s commonly referred as. This somewhat dry sour ale is light on the tongue and crisp, and very easy to drink, especially for the style.
4.8% ABV, Bottle
Appearance: Pale, cloudy yellow with a high head that lingers.
Aroma: Sour citrus and some wheat.
Taste: Slight tartness with dry, citrus flavors.
Mouthfeel: Light to medium bodied; very smooth for a sour.
Imagine taking a farmhand ale and mixing it with some sour goodness. That’s exactly what you get with Jolly Pumpkin’s Calabaza Blanca, an easy-drinking sour witbier. This would go well with a variety of dishes, and is a perfect start to the spring season.
7.5% ABV, Draft
Appearance: Dark brown with a minimal head.
Aroma: Smells a bit fruity with some sourness.
Taste: Not an overwhelming flavor, but some dark fruit and molasses.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied.
HopCat’s latest sour brew — Axis: Sour as Love — comes through with a subtle, yet mix of sweet and sour flavor. Dark fruit, specifically raisin, shine through this beer, making for a pretty drinkable sour.
9% ABV, Draft
Appearance: Dark brown with amber-ruby highlights and a full, tan head that lingers.
Aroma: A complex bouquet of dark fruit with oak and sweetbread notes.
Taste: Flavors of raisin, plum, tart cherry, figs and dates meld with oak, spice, toasty malt and sour yeast funk.
Mouthfeel: Medium-heavy bodied, highly carbonated, smooth but with a bit of warming alcohol in the finish.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, because Jolly Pumpkin’s holiday seasonal, Noel de Calabaza Special Ale, is on tap (if you’re fortunate) and available in bottles at your favorite reputable beer store. Whether you’re enjoying with family and friends around the holiday table or fireplace or putting a bottle or two in your cellar to age for later consumption, it’s among the most interesting holiday beers you’ll come across and, for my money, one of the best. Just don’t leave it where Santa can get at it.
6.1% ABV, Bottle
Appearance: Cloudy caramel with a medium white head.
Aroma: Fruity; sour citrus.
Taste: Caramel, spice, lots of citrus — specifically lemon. Some minor chestnut as well.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with decent carbonation.
Jolly Pumpkin’s Fuego Del Otono, or Autumn Fire, is one of my favorite sours to date. While the brew initially screams sour on the nose, the taste is not as overwhelming, featuring sour citrus (specifically lemon), caramel, spice and a hint of chestnut. Despite the other flavors present, this isn’t the most drinkable sour I’ve had, but it should be at the top of any sour lover’s list. While it’s not currently in season, there are still a few bottles on the shelf — if you see some, definitely grab it!
YPSILANTI – Every June the Corner Brewery celebrates its anniversary with a special release party for Velvet Hammer, a sour ale that begins life as Arbor Brewing’s Phat Abbot Dubbel but emerges from its year-long barrel aged cocoon as a different creature altogether.
Appearance: Slightly cloudy and orange-amber in color; well carbonated with a foamy white head that lingers.
Aroma: Vinous, slightly oaky and fruity, with the typical Jolly Pumpkin sour funk smell.
Taste: Sharply sour and tart to start, oaky and dry to finish.
Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied, dry with a pleasant fizz.
Brewed to commemorate local grocer Plum Market’s fifth year in business, Cinco Años Anniversary Ale is rumored to be based off of Jolly Pumpkin’s Bam Noire Saison. A side-by-side comparison, however, yields a beer lighter in both body and color as well as distinctly less roasty and malty in flavor than the Noire. A funky sour-forward taste quickly melds into delicately tart, fruity notes (presumably from the Royal Diamond plums the beer was aged with) before being overwhelmed by a dry, woody finish with only the slightest hint of plum. A solid and worthwhile beer, but not quite as impressive as other Jolly Pumpkin offerings.