Friday, May 11, 2007

Sweet spot chronicles: Another tip of the cap to Jolly Pumpkin.

There can’t be many people drinking Jolly Pumpkin ales while watching the NBA playoffs. For those who are joining me in doing so, I salute our shared good taste.

My only regrets so far? I picked the Dallas Mavericks to win the Western Conference, and it hasn’t yet proven feasible to match these wonderful beers with appropriate food.

But on the other hand, I actually like peanuts.

For the uninitiated, Jolly Pumpkin is a Michigan microbrewery dedicated to an eclectic, Franco-Belgian range of open-fermented, bottle-conditioned and oak-aged ales. Never mind that the attitude and the imagery are Hawaiian. The joy is in the funkiness derived from rich malty backdrops and pleasingly sour palate tickles.

First up a few nights back was a bottle of Biere de Mars, a March release in the brewery’s seasonal repertoire. I had a far better experience with it than the Chicago Bulls did in Game 2 of the team’s series with the Detroit Pistons.

The precise parameters of bottle conditioning may be scientific, but the end result is art, and when you have a brownish-amber ale like this one perfectly carbonated, with lace down the glass throughout and a crowning collar like a dollop of shaving cream, it makes the drinker reverential. Fortunately, there’s more to this Biere de Mars than mere appearance. The nose is all malt and oak, yielding to a superbly balanced, medium-bodied flavor that has some nuttiness and a balanced sourness.

It was excellent with a hastily assembled platter of spicy hummus, raw veggies and a peppercini, but I craved the vegetarian enchiladas as La Rosita’s, a nearby Mexican standby.

My choice for tonight’s Game 3 of the Golden State Warriors-Utah Jazz series – a convincing win for the underdog Warriors – was Perseguidor, which the brewery describes as a “sour blend” of various batches, aged for a longer period in oak. Tart, oak-tinged and medium-bodied, Perseguidor was as subtly rewarding as the Oakland crowd was exuberantly boisterous. A hint of peppery spice was vaguely reminiscent of Belgian-style Saison, which had me scraping the bottom of the mixed nut can in search of barbecued ribs and corn on the cob.

Here’s the good news: By the middle of May, I should have five bottled Jolly Pumpkin ales in stock at the Public House: Oro de Calabaza and La Roja (these have been on the list for a while), as well as Biere de Mars, Magrugada Obscura, and Maracaibo Especiale. Read about them at the brewery’s web site … and look for another surprise that I’ll be springing on you in a couple of weeks.

(Thanks again Rick)

1 comment:

antzman said...

I guess my question is why waste such good beer on the NBA? I believe you get a more realistic and less tampered with product by watching the WWE than what they are passing off as the NBA now.

Also, I hope they did not mess up my order of the Biere de Garde from JP this time!