75 / 100
750ml JP-style bottle purchased from Slowbeer. Shared with Sam.
Pours a very slightly hazed, bright golden colour, with a lovely, rocky and firm head of pure white that leaves wonderfully intricate lace. Body is light and clean, with vibrant, fast-moving carbonation. It looks the business.
Nose is also excellent. It has a lovely yeasty brut character to it, with bright vinous characters to give it fruit and lift. There's a semi-savoury note as well, which gives characters of bone broth and stewed tomato. They're just the darker notes of the main though. Mostly, it's bright, dry, fragrant and effervescent.
Taste is very dry, and a little bit to its detriment, to be honest. It loses some of the fruit, and hence it doesn't have the body to support the complexity you want it to have. It starts out dry, earthy and a little bit bitter, and then dries up into a very desiccated mid-palate. Finish has bitter herbs, grapefruit peel and almost an anise tarragon bite.
Feel is dry and light. It has a very fine sparkle of carbonation, which is quite nice.
Overall, I like it. It has a fair bit of complexity to it, but I'd love to see it in a slightly bigger beer with a better base for expressing it. It ends up feeling a bit fatiguing on the palate, even though I want to keep sipping it.
750ml brown bottle purchased from The Willows Market in Menlo Park, CA. Shared with Sam back in Sydney.
Pours a slightly hazed rosé colour, with a flimsy loose ring of pinkish bubbles that dissolve fairly quickly. Carbonation is coarse and swift. Body is very light, and rather thin. All up, it's a nice colour, but otherwise a bit underwhelming.
Nose is rather pleasant. It has some classic wild fermentation characters, giving a bit of shoe leather and gin botanicals. But there's true acidity as well, this time perhaps guided towards lime from the lime addition. But to be honest, it maintains a kind of herbal quality throughout, and it's less like the blackcurrant and lime of the label, and more like bitters.
Taste is clean and crisp, but quite thin and all on the front-palate. I do get some juicy berry notes, with a kind of citrus crispness, but these are subservient to the quick turnover of the mid-palate acid. This washes away the complexity, leaving the back dry and fairly empty. Mouthfeel is coarse-bubbled, with a wash of foamy carbonation which pops out of existence around the centre of the mouth.
It's not bad all up, but I feel like it's a surprisingly weak entry from JP. It's crisp and drinkable though, and the low ABV would probably make this a pleasantly sessionable brew. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the form-factor or the price point to make that a realistic option.
82 / 100
Pours a vivid red colour, slight amber tinge. Head is thin and just a rim but a surprising amount of life in it; good lacing and a bit of a cascade when tilted. Looks good.
Smells fruity and acidic. Big cherry note and a slight vinous edge to it. Slight cheesy character to the funk but mostly that rich cherry fruit note and maybe a slight hint of wood to it. Some mild pepper on there as well. Some off-notes but well tempered, and really rather pleasant.
Taste is quite lovely. Has a really nice malty backbone to it that allows everything to live on top. Cherry note is still quite strong upfront and gets some more tart and acidic notes midway. Gets an earthy peppery note towards the back as well, mixing with a tobacco character and some off tarty and funky notes that bring out this vibrancy to a slight bitter character that runs through the finish. It's maybe a touch dry and has a slight metallic character late that sort of dries up that malt. The malt running right through to the back would make this immaculate but instead it's slightly off and wheezy. But still, lots to like.
Yeah a good body to it that gets squeezed quite dry by the back. Touch of acid.
Drinks well, with lots of complexity and a good balance to it as well. Some flaws but I overall enjoyed it immensely in spite of them.
88 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a very clear amber-red hue, with a gauzy head of pale beige that leaves looping streaks of lacing. Carbonation is very fine, but not vivacious, and only really makes its presence felt when the glass is agitated. Body looks like it has more heft than it does because of the languid carbonation. Looks good all up.
Nose is sharp with woody notes of pine and cedar—almost certainly a combination of the tart acid and the oak barrel. There's a touch of grassiness to it too, with some musk and kumquat. It definitely accentuates the tartness. But there's depth too, with notes of red grapeskin tannins and dry-roasted black pepper. Really very nice indeed.
Taste is also very good. It has a juiciness through the centre of the palate, with characters of tart cherries and overripe raspberries. But the acidity layers itself around this, giving more aromatic wood tones and balsamic bite. Very tannic on the back, with a biting cabernet to finish it up. It creates a very fine punctuation point to a complex beer.
Feel is lovely. It does have a bit of weight to it, but only enough to allow the complexities to shine. It's a very fine brew.
Yeah, what a cracking example of a blended beer. This has wonderful juicy complexities, and a surprising balance of fruit, wood and acid. Everything works out exactly in its place, despite the monumental amount of stuff that it has going on internally. Fabulous stuff.
71 / 100
Pours a pale orange colour, quite pale at the edges. Head is off-white, yellowish, nice foam that has retained quite well leaving some pretty thick, clumpy lace behind. Looks nice and impressive.
Smells pleasant. Floral and fruity. Dominant citrus note with some distinct melon character as well with cantaloupe and honeydew. Rich fruity character. Pleasant.
Taste is slightly tart. Nice rich melony note, quite fleshy with seedy notes, and a hint of lemon and guava on the late-mid. Not a lot of malt, just mostly tangy and tart and a little bit bitter, with that citric note giving just a hint of wildness with a mild barnyard earthiness as well. Tangy and fruity, good character. I like. Could use a bit more acidity towards the back just to freshen it up a bit more.
A bit fizzy, tingly. Probably a bit too much to it, could use more padding.
Tangy, fruity; quite pleasant. Maybe a touch too earthy and rich on the back, but nice flavours otherwise.
78 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a rather clear burnished golden colour, with a frothy, effervescent head of egg-shell white. Lots of tiger-striping, intricate lace as it goes down. Body is light and fluid, with lots of anarchic carbonation. Looks pretty good.
Nose is great. It's fragrant and ripe, but with lashings of organic saison notes—lots of pepper and lemon peel. Turned earth and crushed spices come through. It also has a slight twang of something metallic, which might usually be offputting—but here it's a coherent part of the whole. Love it.
Taste is also good, but it's simpler, with a direct, thin acidity coming through the centre of the palate like watered down lemon juice. There are pepper earthy characters in the background, but they never make their full presence felt. There's a nice melon character though that takes on a little of the metallic note and pushes it into the mix.
Feel is frothy and light, but with a sharpness from the acid.
Overall, this is great—it's genuinely in the zone for Jolly Pumpkin. That's a good thing overall, and pushes it up in absolute terms. Is it the best of the Jolly Pumpkin beers I've had? Far from. But that just makes a case for how amazing the brewery is as a whole.
70 / 100
Bottle served blind by Jez.
Pours a very cloudy peach colour, kinda brown but also really very vibrant colour. Cloudy as hell. Head is whispy, but a good clingy lace to it. Just some bubbles left on top. Not bad but maybe a touch too cloudy.
Smells earthy. Somewhat funky and wild but a good dose of earthy, even gravelly spice. Touch of sweetness too, kind of honeyed in character, slight fruitiness to it too. Yeah not bad once you get involved. On the surface a little bland.
Taste is definitely funky, but plenty of fruit notes as peach and pineapple take hold, and last to late-mid. A funky phenolic character on the mid as well, with a light spice note and some lingering citric acidity on the back. Touch of bitterness on the back, that adds to the heavy dominance of the finish, which is otherwise quite nice and fruity but has a strong finish that could be toned down a bit.
Fluid, and nicely padded. Touch of acidity on the finish that cuts a bit too much but otherwise really, really nice.
Drinks well, and quite pleasantly. Bit of a bump here and there where its a bit too strong but otherwise plenty to like. Given it was later revealed as a collaboration between arguably my two favourite brewers (EDIT: Yes, they are actually my #1 and #2 ranked breweries in the world), this was a bit of a disappointment. Certainly, at least, less than the sum of its parts.
LATER EDIT: Jolly Pumpkin was on a knife-edge in my rankings ahead of Firestone Walker, this was a slight blow but enough to move FW up into second place behind Anchorage, and JP down to third.
750ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Sam back in Sydney.
Pours a very turbid peach colour, with hints of pink to it. Head is a slightly peach-coloured crest of frothy white, that leaves superb rings of lace. Body is quite light, but it holds pleasant fine carbonation. Looks good.
Nose is immediately bright with underripe raspberries, which become absolutely the dominant character. But it connects with a slightly tart character, and a hint of salt. There's also a suggestion of caramel underneath everything—with a pleasing savoury note.
Taste is pretty good. There's a pleasant raspberry note on the front, with earthy hints of pepper and cracked rye. But it's quite thin, and there's a mineral character on the back which develops into a kind of gritty bitterness—again, there's a suggestion of salt in the finish.
Feel is sharp and crisp, with a bit from the tartness on the back.
Overall, it's nice—but it's also a little bit fractured. It doesn't all necessarily work together to create something coherent, although in the anarchy there is a kind of complexity to it. It's fun as a one-off at least.
72 / 100
Bottle shared by Jez. I wondered where in my place he got the wooden backdrop for his photo, then I realised it's my chopping board.
Pours a pale golden colour, very cloudy, still with good head upfront that dissipates to a small, tightly packed film and nice trail of lace left behind. Looks pretty great but maybe body could look a bit less anaemic.
Smells sour, bretty, funky. Big vinegar note with some fresh cut grass, lemon and passionfruit. Yeah, big passionfruit to it and a hint of cakey malt too. Smells very delish.
Taste is quite sour and also quite bitter. Starts tart, vinegary that then gets quite acerbic and a bit astringent midway. Big phenolic bitter sour notes. Somewhat citric and a bit meek on the finish, but fairly nice. Gets a little strong midway so the finish being fairly mild is a good thing.
Body is decent, fairly smooth. Yeah alright, maybe a touch thin though.
Yeah, feels like it might be too much but drinks cleanly. Still could use perhaps a nicer flavour midway as there's plenty to like on the nose and it sets you up for a disappointment slightly.
750ml brown bottle purchased from Ales Unlimited in San Francisco. Shared with Sam in Sydney.
Pours a beautifully light yellow colour, with some minor hazing to capture the light. Head is a fine, frothy cap of white, that leaves excellent lacing. Body is slim. Looks refined and very pleasant.
Nose is decent enough, with a solid basis in that earthy Jolly Pumpkin yeast character. No so much acid, but there's a touch of breathy barnyard funk. A little fruit comes through—not the mango promised, but more like tangerine peel, and perhaps just a touch from the tamarind. Some grape must is also noticeable. The earthier side trends towards green peppercorns and river reeds. It's nice.
Taste is also decent, but a little thinner than is often the case with JP. Slight peppery bite, with more earthiness and little to elevate it. Bitterness is pronounced on the back, with tannins and bitter, leafy herbs. Some oak flavour, but little smoothness in the finish. Feel is quite thin and sharp.
Overall, this is a pretty decent beer, but I'm unconvinced that it's as good as most other Jolly Pumpkin offerings. There's still skill and craft to its constuction, however—it just lacks some of that wonderful complexity and balance that their best beers often showcase.
69 / 100
Pours a pale yellow, quite cloudy. Head is whispy, white with some trails of lacing left behind. Looks OK but could use more head.
Smells Bretty. Bitter funk, with nice tart notes of Chardonnayed oak, buttery with a mix of apple, vinegar and some clove notes. Very nice.
Taste is funky; leans on the vinegar side of the nose. Quite tart upfront, gets some oaky character and a dirty Bretty funk late. Some apple, but mostly just slightly off, maybe with some umami earthiness and fruit. Not bad.
Bit of pull, decent body. Holds up well.
Decent enough; has some nice funk notes there but doesn't quite burst with enough complexity, so it ends up tasting a little bit off.
79 / 100
750ml brown JP-style bottle, a collaboration with Upland. Purchased from Spec's Austin. Shared with Sam.
Pours a very pale lemon yellow colour with solid hazing. Head is a rather coarse affair, leaving a pocked ring of white bubbles around the edge and only a few shards of lace. Body is pretty light, but the carbonation is very fine, forming in thin streams. Looks pretty decent all things considered.
Nose is very pleasant JP acidity, with a touch of rubber and a tempered, almost sweet suggestion of fresh pepper. Some sweet-savoury characters come through as well—maybe a touch of tomatillo and ground coriander seeds. It's quite pleasant, even though it's rather subtle.
Taste is also good. There is more of that sweet, almost vegetative savoury character here, giving a touch of underripe tomato, along with a mild fruit note, probably from the persimmons. Proper acidity on the back that get leavened with the pleasant pepper note, leaving the back quite dry, but with a linger of fruit skin.
Feel is bright and light—very little that's unpleasant on the aftertaste.
Overall, it's a very tasty, and very drinkable brew. There's enough to set it apart from the other Jolly Pumpkin beers, and enough to tie it to the flock. The persimmon is a nice twist, and they've done a really good job of integrating it into the beer here. I enjoyed it a great deal.
76 / 100
Pale orangey-amber colour, fairly cloudy. Head is white, small bubbles. Generous and sinking nicely, although not perfectly. Lace left is nice. Looks pretty good.
Smells tart, vinegary. Funny kind of musty smell, but lots of grapefruit and vinous notes. Barnyard funk, wet lucerne. Quite acidic-smelling without a lot else on there.
Taste is nicely balanced, actually. Decent malt notes with a bit of honey upfront. Gets tart midway, some ascerbic vinegar character that mellows out with some nice barnyard characters and a touch of Chardonnay oak. Yeah, quite French-seeming. Reminiscent of the Russian River Temptation. Could maybe use a bit more tartness, but I'm willing to make that compliment. Tasty.
Full-bodied, doesn't have much texture. Again, could use more tartness. I expect it, but I don't hate that it isn't there.
Very tasty beer. Not over the top at all, and I'm grateful. Really well-handled.
(Note I didn't know this was the Jolly Pumpkin/Anchorage collaboration while reviewing. In hindsight I should have guessed)
82 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from Southwest Parkway Market in Austin TX. A collaboration between Jolly Pumpkin and Anchorage was way too good to pass up, even if where I bought it was far from the breweries' homes. Shared with Sam and Rich.
Pours a pleasant deep golden colour, suggesting orange when it's not in the dark, but otherwise more yellow. Head is a pleasant frothy crest—quite thick and full initially, settling out to a foamy mass that forms islands on the top of the glass. Body is very light, and there's almost no visible carbonation—mostly because it moves so quickly. Looks pretty good.
Nose has classic Jolly Pumpkin funk to it—certainly more the JP yeast character than the Anchorage version. It has a rubbery, almost gueuze-like quality to it that suggests a particular type of funk to come. It tends towards pepper as well, giving a light, green peppercorn note, smoothed by some oaky characters of vanilla or jasmine. It's very pleasant.
Taste is also very good, and is much more restrained than it might have been in the hands of two less-competent brewers. There's a mild peppery sharpness on the front, but this is smoothed away masterfully into a rather clean, oaky flavour. There's a slight kick of tartness on the back, but this is worked into the pepper note, and leavened with some fragrant coconut.
Feel is smooth but very light. It's a soft touch—almost evanescent, but providing enough hidden weight to support what they want to do.
This is very good—it's not the brash, bold complexity you get in some of these guys' beers, but it shows a deep understanding of the characters they're working with. This almost feels like the beer that these two breweries always wanted to brew to show their subtlety and sophistication, like they want everyone to love this beer as much as they do. And maybe I'm a suck-up for saying if this is the case, they've absolutely nailed it. I loved it.
76 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Brought back to Sydney and shared with Sam.
Pours a hazy golden colour, with a firm froth of white that stays persistently even as it gets pocked with larger and larger bubbles. Lace forms cottony patterns down the inside of the glass. Body is a bit light, but with this style of beer that's not necessarily all that unnatural. Looks pretty good.
Nose is quite funky right of the bat, almost heading towards funky, plasticky, crushed vegetation and lambic-style bite. There's some citric tones though as well, giving a slight zesty, peppery aroma to the mix. In the sinuses the funk almost turns to tomato-plant-crush in its sharpness. I like it a lot.
Taste is also good, but a lot thinner in the body than it could be, so the flavours don't express themselves with the complexity the might otherwise have done. Clean, sharp, slightly metallic bite on the front, with a lingering bitter character that runs through the centre. This gives it a rather vinous brut champagne note towards the back, especially with the carbonation. Light, metallic and somewhat medicinal in the finish. Feel is dry and sparkling, just like a very dry champagne.
Overall, it's an impressive beer, although exceedingly dry. As long as you're along for the ride and accept that the super-sec character is going to drive it, there's an awful lot to enjoy about it.
83 / 100
Bottle purchased from Belmont Station in Portland, OR. Shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe in Sydney, Australia.
Pours an immediately odd color: bright rose-like red, with a huge, frothing head of pink bubbles. Lacing forms in chunky patches down the glass. Body is very light, as you'd expect from a wild ale, or anything from Jolly Pumpkin's stable. Really good stuff.
Nose is intense: big, funky oak-barrel acidity with a touch of lactic to it. Everything is mellowed, however, by a bright and fragrant floral note from the rosehips and perhaps the hibiscus. The hibiscus, though, is more an afterthought: a clear, sweeter karkadeh note that sits around while the other character evanesce and dissipate. It's absolutely gorgeous.
Taste is lighter than I expected, and is a little disappointing for it (if you can ever call such a beer disappointing). There's a bright fragrance on the front: more rose and floral notes, but this doesn't translate into much in the flavour proper. Mid-way through we're left with a much lighter, slightly woody and carbonic emptiness, with just a sting of pepper in its tail. Don't get me wrong, this is still a very good brew, but I feel like it's "good" where it could have been "exceptional".
Feel is also light. Again, it's not unexpected, but I feel as though a bit more sharpness, even a slice of true acidity would have helped here.
I loved this beer. This is despite my feeling that I've said some less than complimentary things about it in this review. But like all really good things, I want it to be as good as it can be; and this beer is so close to perfection that I wanted it to get there for real.
74 / 100
750ml bottle purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA. Unfortunately, this looks as though it spent some proportion of its life on its side, as the cap and neck has a significant yeast sediment inside it.
However, with some careful wiping, this is removed, leaving the beer that pours a brilliantly clear light yellow colour, with a very frothy, aerated head of white. This collapses after a while, but it almost collapses sideways, sticking to the edges of the glass; it leaves such intense lacing. Great looking beer.
Nose is crisp and bright, with a clean, precise, almost clinical application of funk and oak. It has such a zesty, sparkling acidity, but it's broadened and brought back to earth so perfectly by an earthy oak character. It's not as complex and intense as some Jolly Pumpkin, but it sure shares its stablemates' class.
Taste is much lighter than the nose suggests, and much much lighter than the usual JP beer. There's a light apple-skin acidity on the front, that quickly dissipates, leaving a very empty, if smooth, mid and back palate. Boisterous carbonation makes it feel slightly bloating. Hint of pepper and a slight metallic twang on the finish, but it's not much. Overall, the palate feels a little weak, even though I appreciate the fact that the lighter style probably fits into their overall offering.
It's exceptionally drinkable. Yes, it is. It's a very, very good beer. Yes, it is. I just have such a high bar for Jolly Pumpkin that I want them to hit me out of the park with every brew they make. This is their standard beer.
75 / 100
Purchased grey-market from Platinum Liquor; but I suspect if there's any brewery that shouldn't worry too much about grey-market imports it's a Brettanomyces-heavy joint like Jolly Pumpkin. Age will not weary their beers.
Pours a pale straw colour with fluffy white head, sinks slowly without leaving a lot of lace. Decent cloud. Not bad.
Smells funky, quite saisony really. Mild sourness with a slight citric twang, but pretty organic and barnyardy really with Bretty acidity. Refreshing, though, and pleasant.
Taste is funky and sour from the get-go, with nice citric notes building with a touch of champagne, orange peel and some sultanas. Dries up a lot towards the back, with a mild puckering sensation. Crisp and refreshing, with not a huge amount of flavour but plenty of interest and a nice mix of acidity and bitterness. Generally and expectedly interesting take on the white beer style.
A bit puckering, but padded well enough, doesn't sharpen too much. Not bad, quite a presence.
Pleasant beer, interesting take on the style. Not too exciting but nice.
85 / 100
Pours an earthy red colour, almost umber, with lovely cream-coloured head of fairly dense foam and nice sticky lacing. Steady bead. Looks really nice.
Smells lovely. Nice and funky and tart with a good whiff of bacterial wild yeasts, bending slightly towards metallic. Nice hints of guava, berries and some citrus as well, with a very pleasant vanilla creaminess coming off the back. Fresh, sweet, very enjoyable indeed.
Taste is very tart, and possibly pushes the envelope a bit too far, getting mildly astringent with a lemon pith kind of flavour. Fruity, though, with tart cranberry and apple notes upfront, a touch of peach as well. The bitter note doesn't really come through until late, with the most part being really very smooth with no sharp edges. Hint of vanilla late-mid as it cascades down beyond its nadir. Maybe could use some more pop, but it's a big tasty monster nevertheless, handled with an artisan's care.
A bit of tart acidity, but very nicely smooth out; ends up a bit dry but nothing left at the end; almost seamless.
Lovely, crisp, tart refreshing wild ale with a real naturalistic bent, but all the weird funkiness has been tamed, and distilled into a finely balanced chrysalis of flavour.
74 / 100
Purchased from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco, brought back to Sydney Australia and shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a lovely bright, but cloudy honeyed amber colour, with a fine, but lively head of pocked off-white. Some patchy lacing as its tilted, but the body doesn't seem particularly heavy enough to sustain it for very long. Looks good overall.
Nose is bright and crisp, with subtle hints of funk and oak giving a really rustic tone to everything. Some slightly buttery tones, and a hint of mint and lemon giving a real freshness. Very pleasant indeed.
Taste is flatter than expected, and missing the bright acidity that would have helped it along. Faint, slightly empty characters of watered wine with a touch of herbal vegetation. There's a touch of metallic bitterness on the back, and a slight lilt of funk and mild tartness on the finish but overall it's quite flat. No faulting it for drinkability of course: the bright crispness and the undeniable flatness on the palate make it dangerously easy to swig.
Overall, another very solid beer from Jolly Pumpkin. Unfortunately, I feel as though I now have astronomical expectations for each new beer of theirs I try. This is still a very good beer, but I always expect a world class one.
71 / 100
Pours a hazy, but surprisingly clear pale yellow colour. Head is frothy, voluminous and perfectly white. Some sprightly carbonation through the body. No lace left behind on the glass. Light body. Looks like a decent craft pale lager, but not much like a witbier.
Nose is sprightly and vivaction. It's light and fresh with a touch of acidity. Some sharpness, and a bit of soft citrus. There are some spicy notes as well, which tends almost to a type of barnyard funk. As expected, it's a slightly funky witbier.
Taste is light and refreshing, but ultimately quite thin and flat. Some funk and a touch of acidity, like a single shot through the centre of the palate. Some metallic crispness on the back. Very light in flavour and body.
Overall, despite (and because of) its lightness, it's very refreshing and very sessionable. In fact, I'd be really happy drinking this as my regular go-to beer.
83 / 100
Pours a cloudy pale champagne colour with some yeast sediment at the bottom. Head is very generous and white, quite fluffy but decent retention. Clumps of lace left behind on the glass. Quite nice.
Smells tart and bretty. Plenty of orange peel on there that provides both tart and sweet notes, hint of pineapple and some funky barnyard character as well. Tart, fresh and lively. Very refreshing and hugely enticing.
Taste is tart and fresh as well. Quite a sharp acidity on the front that's almost overwhelming with its bretty and slightly citric flavour, yet so beautifully mellowed out by the end with sweeter citric notes - orange peel and a touch of cake batter coming to meet it. It's possibly a bit on the sharp, sizzly side still, but the finish is clean, with a pleasant refreshing acidity and just a touch of spice - cumin and fenugreek mostly. Fragrant and musty to balance out that lovely tartness being the dominant character. Just fresh, crisp, complex and delightful.
A bit of a pull from the acidity, really. There is body there, but not quite enough and it comes across as quite sharp as a result.
Notwithstanding, that's a refreshing and delightfully complex beer, full of personality and charisma with intriguing flaws in just the right places. Just a great beer.
80 / 100
Pours a metallic red colour, thinning at the edge. Head is massively fluffy, off-white, over-generous but sinks down nicely leaving uneven specks of lace. Looks a bit weird, but weird enough that it just seems naturally flawed, and natural flaws are inherently beautiful.
Smells lovely. Bretty goodness with massive funk, sourness and crisp tart notes. Cranberry, apple with a jellied apple kind of appeal. Touch of blackcurrant, fig, there's a real sweet fruitiness underlying; so much berry, but the tartness just kicks it up to the party hard level with an emphasis on getting busy with it! I could smell this forever. Yum!
Taste is similarly funky, not quite in the same league though. Lots of spice to it, with cinnamon, cumin and coriander, touch of star anise as well. Gets a faint echo of the barnyard funk late, with bretty goodness giving some cranberry, wet lucerne and green peppercorn. Touch of leather on the back and slight boozey notes back there as well. Bit heavy on the front and the funk doesn't quite speak for itself on the back, so it's not all that refreshing. But good, and mostly clean.
Not very dry, which is a good thing. Good, full body with a bit of pull, but manages to defend against over-dryness as well, which is positive.
I think there's masterpiece potential to this, but it falls clearly short. Just a couple of heavy-footed emphases where there don't need to be.
88 / 100
Pours a burnished amber colour with over-generous but otherwise ideal head - off-white, fluffy, pillowy and sunk in uneven place, leaving a trail of thick lace behind. Slightly cloudy. Yeah, spanking great look.
Smells lovely, and infected in all the right ways. Sour, fruited vinegar aroma with big guava hit, touch of fig and orange peel and some raspberry as well. Slight washed rind cheese funk as well for good measure, and a nice dry spice note on the back. It's an aroma blend they knew I'd like. Yeah, I refuse to give them the satisfaction of rhapsodising about it.
Taste starts out oddly creamy with a vanilla note. That vanilla, creamy sweetness retains throughout the palate, and gets even sweeter on the back with a touch of menthol, maybe. Sweet mint. But following the initial sweetness it's all lovely infected sour notes, complex barnyard flavours with guava-infused vinegar and dried orange peel. Touch of chardonnay and some caramel malt just underlying it all. Really lovely, complex beer that so deftly avoids the trap of being overly puckering, with just the right amount of sweet malt added to balance, making this drinkable as all hell. This is a bloody cracker.
A little bit sizzly and puckering from the wild yeast late-mid, but recovers itself, patches the gaps by the end to remain smooth. Got to forgive that slight puckering note when it's this good.
I'd be proud to serve this beer to people, and proud to wear a badge that proclaims I drink it. It's a beer that, if it came across as polarising, I would defend to the hilt. In short, I feel patriotic - jingoistic, even - about this wonderfully complex, refreshing drop.
75 / 100
Christmas Ale from Jolly Pumpkin? Sign me up! Drunk on Christmas drinks with my bro, @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a lovely deep brown colour, with an enormously frothy head of slightly orange-tinged white. Lacing is frothy and sticky, but persisting only in shallow bands. Body is pleasantly light, with the categorical brightness of a wild fermented yeast.
Nose is pleasant and bright with sharp oak characters and a pleasant slightly sweet funk. Slight crispness or green herbal character to it, which gives it a spicy lightness. Indeed, lightness seems to be the watchword of this 9% ABV winter beer, which is an unusual thing, if not an unpleasant thing.
Taste is also light and bright, with the funk and acidity coming through rather sharply towards the back. Spiciness on the back comes through rather strongly, leaving some slight clove and aniseed characters. Almost a absinthe-like wormwood bite at the back of the palate. The spice is an interesting take, but it clashes slightly more with the clean Jolly Pumpkin classicness.
Overall? It's good, but missing the mark a little more than I expect from the great Jolly Pumpkin. But to be fair, that's a high bar to meet.
72 / 100
Bottle purchased in CA, brought back to Sydney and shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a lovely, bright yellow colour, hazy with protein, and riddled with tiny clumps of disturbed sediment. Head is big. Big, frothy and bright white, looking jolly and exciting. Lacing is solid, but frothy and slightly insubstantial, like the head itself. Looks exciting.
Nose is funky and bright, with citric overtones to smoother vanilla and banana weizen yeast characters. Slight sharpness of vegetation or something to give it yet another lilt of oddness. To be honest, the two characters are slightly at oddsâand seem to clash a little bit more violently than the wild characters in other Jolly Pumpkin beers. But it's still quite interesting.
Taste is lighter, but smoother and more integrated. Here the funk gives it a slight earthiness, while the acidity really thins the palate. Very little on the back, although this gives it a bright refreshing character. Unfortunately, it also leaves it feeling a little empty.
Not bad, but one of the lesser experiments from the Jolly Pumpkin stable. A bit thin, a little weak, but still with enough interest and oddities to make me smile.
86 / 100
Every Jolly Pumpkin beer is a treasure to me, and every time I bring one back to Australia, I enjoy sharing it with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe. Let's see how this one fares.
From the pour, it's gorgeous, a lovely bronzed orange colour, like the shade of a colouring autumn leaf. Head is fine and full, leaving a good couple of centimetres in the glass to the bottom. Some patchy, hazed lacing, in true wild ale style. Body is light, but firm, and the carbonation is nascent, but big enough to form that magnificent head. Great looking beer.
Nose is round and mildly acidic, but more beaten with oak fragrance than anything else. Sure, the classic JP funk is there, but here it's very smooth and mellow, and rather lightâI don't expect big acidity on the palate. Hint of nuts and vanilla come through atop this, lending more of that smooth, mellow and restrained character. Lovely.
Taste is very light, giving a mild acidity and a touch of tea leaf, with a mellow but subdued oakiness and some lifting green apple fragrance. Finish has touches of rose and pepper. Never does the acidity grow to particularly noticeable levels, but it underpins most of the other complexities. And this is indeed a complex beer.
This is an exceptionally interesting beer, with plenty of extremely subtle complexities on the palate. Better, though, is the fact that although these complexities exist, they don't overwhelm the palate. For all intents and purposes, this is a light, refreshing and very easy to drink beer, but below the surface, there is a lively and multi-leveled story for the telling.
And that's Jolly Pumpkin all over.
85 / 100
Pours a rich red colour, Hellish but strangely alluring, with massively generous beige head that sinks steadily, retaining just enough fluffy crown to get me excited. Lace is just heavenly, sticky trails all the way down the glass. Just wonderful.
Smells very tart and funky. Lots of vinegar with nice cranberry, raspberry and lime characters. Lots of toffee malt underlying and some lovely nutmeg, crème anglaise and even coffee behind the tart exterior. Wonderful, complex, damned enticing nose.
Taste is odd. Just not tart. Rich, brooding and dark with touches of flavoured balsamic throughout, almost as if filtered through a coffee spelt. Quite sour, but a lot of cinnamon and rich, round nuts - pecans, almonds and a good belt of burnt sugar. Tartness comes through late, with a cidery type of sour that cleans up the darker, chocolatey palate nicely without quite delivering that final punch of sour the nose had made me anticipate. This is an odd beer; far more enjoyable than it should be for its oddness, and not quite coherent enough in one 'theme' to really wow me.
Full-bodied with a bit of pull from the tartness but not very puckering. Quite lovely, really.
Odd, but I love its unexpected twists and turns. It's unique, but more than that it's really lovely and drinkable as well. Superb.
78 / 100
A new Jolly Pumpkin beer is a joy. I hope this one is no exception to the rule. Purchased in California and brought back to Sydney to share with @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a ruddy brownish colour, like well-polished mahogany. Head is huge and frothy, even from the initial pour, leaving webby lacing and solid Jolly Pumpkin effervescent ebullience. Looks great.
Nose is... well, it's one of those brilliant experiences you always get with Jolly Pumpkin. It's never quite what you expect, but it's always unique, odd and exciting. Here, we have a savoury grainy character mingled with some classic Biere de Garde like funk that gives a mingled peppery sweetness that smells like BBQ flavoured chips. It's that odd mixture of sweet, savoury and spice, along with a little refreshing acidity. It's unique, but gorgeous.
Taste is missing some of the expected funk and acidity, but the savoury character comes through a lot more here, leaving a meaty, almost salty character with a surprisingly crisp body. Light and drinkable, with almost no sweetness and a carbonation level that suggests seltzer water. You know what, it's impressively light and drinkable, but it misses a lot of the complexity I expected from the nose.
But, as I said, every new Jolly Pumpkin is a joy, and I genuinely love the subtleties and intricacies of their different funky brews. This one ends up cleaner and way lighter than I expected on the palate, but still has the classic, exciting funk that makes every Jolly Pumpkin beer unique. There's a reason they're one of my very favourite breweries.
83 / 100
Pours a dark brown colour; dark indeed with a glimmer of brown noticeable at the edge. Head is ochre - a bit too generous maybe, but sinks to leave a nice marshmallow puff and trails of pleasant lace behind. Beautiful density to it as well.
Smells...tart...? Okay, wasn't expecting that. Very funky with a big cheese mould aroma, lots of balsamic vinegar, some lemon and raspberry as well. Yes it's very fresh, nothing rough about it at all. I'm intrigued more than anything, but it's also very pleasant.
Taste is insanely tart for how dark it is. Bit of a cocoa character on the front that immediately takes on big funk, with Belgian barnyard notes, citrus and vinegar all vying for supremacy. Lots of underripe cherry as well and a really well-aged port character overriding it all. The sweetness of that kind of lingers and leaves everything in its wake. For all this beer's impudence, at the heart of it is a very mature, very refined palate.
A bit harsh on the front, with the acidity being really quite noticeable. Mellows out nicely towards the back though but could use some more body on the front to quell the puckering.
What a fascinating and unique beer. Such incredible tartness at times managing to stab with violent enthusiasm through the dark maltiness. It's wonderful though; dark, tart and distinctive. A beer to stand proudly on its own, iconoclastically defying the conventions of any style characteristics.
80 / 100
Purchased from Monument Wines & Spirits in Concord, CA, and brought back to Australia to share with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe. We put it straight up after Port Brewing's Older Viscosity, and this is an extremely different style of American Impy Stout.
Pours a deep brown-black, with an incredibly frothy head of ochre brown. Lacing is thick, full and heady, and the body looks appropriately thick, with a leavened, lightened quality. Looks good.
Nose is confusingly wild, giving that classic funky Jolly Pumpkin barnyard/biÃ¨re de garde sour character, with plenty of clipped hay and resin. Indeed, there's very little darkness to it on the nose, despite the appearance and the expectations. It's one confusing and upsettingly exciting beer.
Taste is similar. Certainly, it has a big acidic spike, and a huge organic funkiness, but this is (remember) based on a very dark and slightly astringent body. Certainly, there's some dark roasted characters coming through on the back, that mesh and clash with the acidic vinous characters which make it excitingly odd.
What a weird beer. In fact, I expected this to be Jolly Pumpkin taking a more mainstream route to establish a genuine American Imperial Stout on their roster, but what we've got is their cheery and subversive take on the style. Without a doubt, it's American: the weirdness clearly demarcates it this way. But it's also classic Jolly Pumpkin: uncompromising, fresh and iconic.
80 / 100
Pours a pale marigold colour, lotza translucent haze in the body. Head is modest, but retaining a thin crown. Lace is really, very beautiful. A thick, silky sight to behold. This is a joy to look upon, really.
Smell is funky with a lot of wet blanket smell but complemented by that tart bacteria-acidic smell. The two smells just go together so well. Tart franny smith apples with strawberries, currants, apricot and peach providing sweetness. Some hints of cinnamon and paprika underlying. Wonderful, refreshing, complex smell. This is a joy to smell, as well.
Taste is overall very sour but never really has a peak of acidity. In fact, there's a bitter edge that nods more toward overripe fruit than underripe. There's an aged peach quality very distinct on the mid, but anyway, first up some citric notes with lemon zest. A touch of cinnamon on there, then the overripe peach character takes over, acidic but with an odd, earthy alkaline edge. Quite metallic and more funk on the back with barnyard and some vinous notes.
Champagney dryness on the back with lots of texture and character, though can't say I love it.
I can't detect much pumpkin in it. Of course I wouldn't question anything my main peeps from Jolly Pumpkin do because whatever else this is, it's a refreshing and unique take on the style and what's more, it's a damn fine drinking beer.
76 / 100
Purchased at Healthy Spirits in San Francisco over Halloween, and brought back to Australia to crack open with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a very slightly haze burnished gold colour - not quite deep enough to be called pumpkin coloured, but with a fine bubbled if small head of white suds. Has a sheen to it which is pleasant, and the head leaves some excellent and intricate lacing. Love the look of it.
Nose is redolent with oak and funk, and certainly veer more into the regular Jolly Pumpkin Biere de Garde territory than it does into mainstream pumpkin beers. The acidity seems to keep it honest, although there's a sweetness to it which may only be explained by the addition of the pumpkin. It's a nice nose all up, although it may lack a little of the complexity of the regular range of JP beers.
Taste is very interesting indeed. Throughout the straight Jolly Pumpkin funk is the lingering hint of sweet pumpkin, which comes out in fore on the back after the acidity has died away. It leaves a roasted sweetness, an oddly salty twang and a slight character of apple. What's more, it then accentuates the odd characters on the nose, making them perhaps more noticeable as pumpkin. Feel is very light and thin indeed, but I've come to expect that from the brewery, who really do have a stamp of style here.
It's a good beer from a great brewery, who have certainly carved (hoho) an interesting niche for themselves. A very unique take on the pumpkin ale style, and one that really shows what you can do with it. Lovely.
75 / 100
Pours a nice red-tinged amber colour, quite hazy through the body. Head is quite wonderfully dense on top, leaves some really nice trails of lace around. Head retains a good amount. Yeah, nice head, very nice lace, haze is good too, all pretty damn nice.
Okay, nose is certainly a tart one. Lots of underripe fruit notes, cranberry with other berries - raspberry, blackberry. Lots of funk as well with that slight washed-rind-cheese note. But yeah, pleasant, refreshing. Goodly amount of sourness.
Taste is very rich and strong. Quite tart for the most part with lots of cranberry and funky cheese notes, some blackberry as well and hints of pear and apple. Lots of tasty tart fruit, sour even, but all very fresh and lively. Slight buttery flavour underlies it all, but doesn't really come to the fore. Overall it's a bit simple, just strikes me as all the bits of an American Wild Ale with nothing extra special here.
What is special though is the mouthfeel. Awesome texture, just a very slight tingle from carbonation, great body, great feel. If all beer felt like this I'd be a very happy man.
Yeah, a tasty, refreshing beer. If it had more character this would be sensational, but it's very drinkable.
71 / 100
Purchased at Healthy Spirits in San Fran, and lovingly carted back to Sydney Australia to crack open with @LaitueGonflable.
Slightly hazy reddish amber colour, with a good and vivid head of creamy white foam like full-cream milk. Lacing is absolutely superb, giving such intricate patterns down the side of the glass. Carbonation is surprisingly absent for a wild.
Big sour characters on the nose, with robust oak notes and big vinous, almost vinegar notes. Very classic American wild notes, but with a surprising carbonic acidity to it - surprising mainly because it's not very exceptionally carbonated.
Taste is very astringent, the acidity really comes through a lot. Lots of oak, with a strong bitterness coming through the back, but it's a weird almost spiritous bitterness - nothing like hops or roasted grain. Mouthfeel is spritzy and light, which very much suits the style.
It's a nice enough beer, but it's a little bit too acidic and intense, without the complexity to make it really exceptional. I've had better Wilds, and better beers from Jolly Pumpkin. Still, it's hard not to respect it.
Pours very dark amber, brown-yellow up to the light, with huge, voluminous head, dense and marshmallowy on top, sinking slowly with an interesting foam formation left in the middle. Looks like a cappuccino with a marshmallow melting into it. Leaves amusing puddles of lace behind and seems murky and cloudy. Exquisite - a marvel to behold.
Smell is funkadelia, with lots of olfactory-cleaving pungent tartness. Huge acidity on there with underripe berry notes, some currant notes. Yeah has the classic Jolly Pumpkin, not a lot of darkness except for maybe a richer maltiness underlying. Love the smell, though it doesn't scream uniqueness at me. Reminds me quite a lot of the Bière de Mars.
Taste is...well, interesting. Definitely lacks the acidity and piquancy I had expected. Front is malty with a nutty kind of character, slightly nut-brown, then becomes mildly brown ale-esque with a slight English character and a slight roastiness. Slight sourness on the back but not tart at all, gives it a kind of capsicaian character with mild peppery spice and yeah, a bit of funk but not much at all. Bit of a letdown, really. It tastes kind of like a mild brown ale, could use more funk to spice things up. Not bad but pedestrian, and a bit disappointing from the pumpkins.
Quite nicely textured though, smooth enough. If anything it's a bit thin, but it's quite slick and smooth. Quite drinkable.
77 / 100
Pours an absolutely gorgeous deep chestnut brown colour, with a huge and frothy head of pale creamy white foam. Lacing is spectacular, and with the luscious, vibrant and beautiful colour of the body, it's hard not to perceive this as a nigh-perfect looking beer. Of course, it's an unusual look for a Saison, but this is what they're going for.
Big vinous oaky characters on the nose. Lovely deep grainy characters as well, but the funk and the oak are the biggest winners. Just enough to suggest darkness, but primarily the wild and unrestrained notes are dominant.
Taste again is balanced oddly between dark grain notes and a little funk, although here the grain characters and the roasted flavours are more prominent. The funk adds a lilting freshness over the top, skewing the palate to something slightly unusual. Very interesting, although it's a little thin.
An interesting brew. Saison? I'm not sure it has the freshness to fit the canonical style, even with its interestingly warped skew towards the dark end of the spectrum to give it some leeway. It feels a little flat on the palate, but it's an adventurous and unusual beer, and I respect that.
84 / 100
Gushes forth in a great explosion of foam when opened. Finally, the prophecy of the exploding Jolly Pumpkin beer is fulfilled. When it pours, and settles, it's a wonderfully cloudy bright golden yellow colour, with absolutely monstrous, sticky, hearty and full head of white foam. Lacing is just worthy of every superlative you can throw at it. Looks very, very tasty indeed.
Big woody oak and vinous acidity on the nose - huge notes of crushed vegetation, eucalyptus, pine shavings, sawdust - wood, so much wood. Even a lilting sweetness like lemon sherbet floating along underneath it. It's so uplifting and refreshing. Just wonderful.
Taste is sharp and rather phenolic. Minimal acidity, which is something of a surprise after the big resinous and wine-like vinegar notes on the nose. Instead, there's a lifted booze note and some slight acetone harshness mid palate, which give way to a rather arid oak character on the back. To be honest, this is similar to other BDGs I've had, but they also haven't had the pronounced sour notes on the nose. It's nice, and stylistically rather good, but I'm not swooning over the flavour the way I was over the appearance and nose. Mouthfeel is crisp and leavened, feeling quite aerated on the finish.
A very nice beer, and another subtly crafted brew from the good people at Jolly Pumpkin. It grew on me a lot the more I drank, which speaks to its drinkability. While it didn't bowl me over with raw robust character, it impressed me with its subtlety and finesse. Quite excellent.
84 / 100
Pours a very nice hazy colour, pale yellow with very generous cream-coloured head that sinks unevenly like finely whipped egg whites, lacing has a stalactite effect, very thick and foamy around. Pretty much perfect, very pleasant.
Nose is a funkatarium by Jump. Very sour notes with a good kind of grapefruit tartness and some fresh berries on there as well. Touch of straw, hint of leather, but overall a very fresh, green tartness. Citric and quit eacidic, but smells pleasant and thirst-quenching.
Taste is...well, interesting. Distinct notes throughout of that funky wild yeast character, lots of sourness, leather, cheese rind, particularly on the very front, then quite a sweet mid-palate with marshmallow notes, some cream I guess, but complemented and tempered with the funk which is mostly sour, without being puckering. Finish is quite bitter with some nice earthy notes, parsnip or other root vegetable in there and even some coffee grinds. It's a very well-handled brew, excellent control of the spontaneous fermentation, using it to add complexity but not ripping it to the extreme. A very tasty brew.
Very swishy and chewy mouthfeel, a bit too dry on the finish, but lots of texture overall. Lots of 'bits' to it. Nice.
A very enjoyable beer with good flavour, well handled and well constructed.
88 / 100
Pours a rich umber colour with a very translucent body, lots of cloud there. Head is nice and retains all right but certainly not huge in my glass. Lacing is pleasantly thick and sticky. This isn't the best glass for head though so I won't hold that against it - looks great.
Nose is very unique - sour and fruity and spicy, with hints of currants, capsicum, pepper, balsamic vinegar, peach - I could go on. Superbly complex, fresh, floral, fruity, simply wonderful. Oh, I forgot spicy that time. Oh yeah, complex, fascinating, just fucking fantastic.
Taste is very intensely sour and very bitter, almost ashy in its deep, rich acridness. A lot of sour characters, unripe fruit and a slight lactic character as well. Hints of redcurrants, cranberries and grapefruit, with a very potent espresso bitterness that comes through on the mid, then a finish that is zesty and sprightly; puckering like lemon and with a slight vinous edge, maybe a bit of oxidised funk.
It's a wonderfully complex drop and in spite of the tartness is incredible easy to get down. Mouthfeel is zingy and sizzling with a lot of puckernig, acidic character, hugely effective and rather pleasant.
I'm enjoying this beer to bits, really complex and impressive in flavour, yet very pleasant and drinkable, with a great palate profile.
85 / 100
Pours a very lovely dark red mahogany colour, with a thick, creamy and sticky head of pale brown foam. Lacing is excellent, leaving cascading curtains of foam down the edge of the glass. Some cloudiness in the body. Looks very, very good.
Tart funk on the nose, huge notes of oak barrels, some brett and crisp eucalyptus. Smells extremely fresh, organic and rank, but so clean, sharp and clear - like the sharp toll of a tiny bell. The wildness is the most noticeable characteristic, but there are light tannic notes as well, a hint of leather and tea leaves. Very nice overall.
Clean and crisp on the palate, without the clenching vinegar sourness I was expecting. Instead we have a crisp and lightly acidic entry, which is oddly finessed with a dark grain and oak character, which provides an unusual but strikingly pleasant juxtaposition. Back has quite a bitter overtone, with resin and grit dominant. So much odd complexity here, once again, the new world striking out with wonderfully original beers. Woohoo!
Mouthfeel is quite thin - like a brett-infused wild ale, but the depth of this beer demands something heavier.
A refreshing and complex beer - very pleasant indeed with plenty to keep me interested. Supremely drinkable for its complexity - it's like the layers are there to discover if you so desire, otherwise it can be enjoyed as a refreshing rustic brew. Very jolly indeed.