Monday, April 16, 2012

Bam Biere and Embracing the Funk!

There are a few breweries that just get me. Like really, they know exactly what I want and they just make it for me. One of these breweries is Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, out of Michigan. Before you ask the obvious, reasonable question, no, they don't make (most of) their beers with pumpkin. They are not pumpkin beers. I can't tell you the number of times that I have been asked if they are pumpkin beers. One is, but that isn't the point.

Actually, they found their name the way most companies do: They sat around (drinking beer, of course) coming up with names and decided on one that they particularly liked. When you find a fit, you find a fit and they decided to stick with it. 
(I guess I added in the potatoes to make it feel more like a farm?)

What makes me love Jolly Pumpkin ( I have yet to find a beer of theirs that I wouldn't want to drink from now to eternity) is that they make unique versions of each style they brew. And they are delicious. First of all, every Jolly Pumpkin undergoes a secondary fermentation in an oak barrel with wild yeast. If you know anything about wild yeast, you know that it gives a sourness to the beer. Some people don't like it, but I generally find that if you like sour beer, you REALLY like sour beer. This funk adds a refreshing complexity that is rarely found in beer. Usually, more complex beers are a little heavier, either as a result of yeast esters or darker, richer malts. Not necessarily so with Jolly Pumpkin (though they do have a delicious dark ale, Bam Noire.

Today's post is on their Bam Biere, named after their their Jack Russel terrier that was hit by a car. It is a 4.5% ABV saision, which would really let you drink them one after another. I would gladly do this, especially considering that it is extremely reasonable (cost wise) for how good of a beer it is. It is light in body, but not in flavor. Good and funky, but with a crisp bitterness that might be expected of a good pilsner. The hops, as is generally the case in a saison, play a background role, only occasionally springing up their grassy notes. The funk, the grassy hop aroma, and the refreshing nature of the beer can really make you feel like you are drinking on a farm. 

To me, this is a year round beer, but especially delicious in the spring and summer. If you like some sour in your beer, I can guarantee that you will like Jolly Pumpkin. If you don't, I respect that decision, but I do think you are wrong. If you know a beer is going to be sour, you can expect it and appreciate it more. I believe that there are two types of people who don't like the funk: 1) People who actually dislike the sour, 2) People who weren't expecting the sour. Don't be in the latter group. Give funk another chance. It will open up your beer drinking world. If it helps, don't think of sours as "beer" because you will probably be expecting something different. Take it slow and drink the whole glass. The beer will grow on you. 

Bravo, Jolly Pumpkin, you are doing an unbelievable job. Proof of this is that my girlfriend, Lindsey, now thinks of you as her favorite American brewery. Since she has the most discerning beer palate that I know, this is a huge compliment. Keep up the good work! 

Glassware: Saision glass, Tulip, Goblet

Synonym Beer: Fantome Saison (but with a touch more funk)

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at You can send me cool photos too, if you like and I will make a post up for you. 

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