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Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales - Oro de Calabaza

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales - Oro de Calabaza

Beer Club featured in Rare Beer Club


Chardonnay Barrel-Aged Bière de Garde


United States

Alcohol by Volume:


Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales - Oro de Calabaza

  • ABV:

  • Serving Temperature:

    45-50° F
  • Suggested Glassware:

Oro De Calabaza means ‘Pumpkin Gold,’ and true to its name, it is golden orange in color, with a lusciously large foamy, sticky head. On the nose, look for notes of lemon zest, raw, tart and sour grapefruit juice notes, woodsy fallen leaves, oranges, perfumy alcohol, faint notes of leather, phenols and spice (think ginger). What jumps out most prominently is the slightly funky “tartness” from the wild yeasts—giving the traditional barnyard or horse blanket character that should be present in a beer brewed in the Franco-Belgian tradition of farmhouse-style ales. Here’s what you need to do: for your first sip, let the beer sit in the mouth for a moment, then swallow, and wait… and wait… and wait… notice something? The flavors are still going… This is one complex beer! Notice how the beer tickles the throat as it goes down, both from the high carbonation, and the prickly levels of spice and hop character. Expect sharply tart flavors upfront, fading to an orange-peel-like bitterness, with pithy lemon and orange notes, distinct notes of lemon juice, and heaps of white pepper. Look for notes of champagne and leather (sounds like our last trip to Vegas!), pineapple, coriander, with a bitterness that grips at the back of the tongue and throat. There’s a remarkable interplay between sour and bitter—often, that’s a combination that fails miserably, but it’s amazingly palatable here and the mix of the two is one of the hallmark features of the Jolly Pumpkin beers. At full warmth, champagne-like dryness blossoms more fully, with notes of grape skins, fennel spice, and mandarin oranges. The champagne impression comes from the combination of carbonation and the flavors imparted by this beer’s aging in used chardonnay casks. This beer is so robust and flavorful, it’s hard to imagine a meal that would enhance it, but lobster claw with lemon juice and drawn butter provides a rather nice accompaniment.
Approaching the nondescript structure that houses the Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales brewery, you might think the place looks more like a defunct paper products warehouse than a world class brewery. But step inside and not only will you find shiny brewing equipment, you’ll encounter row upon row of wooden barrels in which beer of various ages, blends and funk-levels is maturing. The brewery performs barrel aging on ALL of its beers. The time, labor and expense required to age every ounce of beer they make in traditional wooden barrels, is, some would say, madness. But it’s what breeds their awesome array of truly distinctive beers. Well, that and open fermentation, meaning the yeast are left to work their magic in a container that’s left wide open—instead of being inside a closed stainless steel tank. This means that any wild yeast floating about in the air can get into the beer and apply a bit of their own “natural funk” to the flavor of the beer. Talk about personalization—the combination of open fermentation and barrel aging is not only artisanal brewing, it’s an additional element of the art of brewing that has largely disappeared from the craft. Sure, barrel aging has become increasingly popular among craft brewers and beer geeks, but as a proportion of the overall amount of beer produced in the US, few people are doing it, and fewer do it as well as Jolly Pumpkin. JP takes it a step further by even fermenting its beers in wood before aging them in cask. A risky process when it comes to consistency and quality control, but founder and brewer Ron Jeffries somehow manages to pull it off. Ron runs Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales along with wife, Laurie, and son Daemon. They’ve been a family brewery since 2004, and an international sensation since shortly thereafter. Check out www.jollypumpkin.com for more information about this impressive little brewery from Michigan, including what’s behind their unusual name.
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