That crazy pumpkin head stops me in my tracks every time! It's as though that dark night creature is some kind of sorcerer. The big carved head seduces me to swallow his golden-amber potion. (!) And I am transformed. This beer, this brew is sour and delicious, bitter and hoppy, new and unusual and transports me back to the cobblestone streets of Europe, when rowdy bloats scrambled arm in arm in the wee hours, struggling to remain upright on the slow and painfree journey home after a night of frenzied beer drinking.
Ron Jeffries, the brewmeister at Jolly Pumpkin is a bonafide artisan brewmaster. His specially wild yeast fermented beers are gaining rapid national recognition. The beers are aged in wine barrels which contain naturally occurring microbiological cultures that produce complex flavors. As of now, he is the ONLY brewmaster in the United States that is willing to …"take the time (and risk) to let natural bacteria take its course…" reported the LA Times in July 2009. Some people describe these complex flavors as though they are speaking about a fine wine…"The nose is gorgeous: notes of citrus rind, dried stone fruit (think apricot and mango), coriander and a prominent aroma of stable."- noted the Wine Enthusiast. Other less genteel beer drinkers characterize the flavors as "leathery, earthy,musky, funky and even sweaty horse hair character". I love that the common theme derives from a "stable-like" experience. That to me means barns, red barns, like the ones that dot the mission peninsula filled with happy, full bellied farm creatures. Special and unique to our locale. This is how beer used to taste and look, before the advent of pasteurization and industrialization.
I would be leaving something out if I didn't also comment on the restaurant and bar that the Jolly Pumpkin Tavern is… it is quintessential. It is a blend of northern Michigan with a roaring good fire in the wood burning fireplace and Old Europe with the rough-hewn beams that grace the ceiling. The food is wonderful too. The Rocket Arugala salad with fried parsnips (whoever heard of that?) is a perfect blend of delicate flavors and I can never get enough of it. The wood fired pizzas are unusual and perfectly prepared. I am transported. I am in a genuinely great pub. Goodbye Bud - Light. Hello Bam Biere.
Check out their website and menu at http://www.jollypumpkin.com