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Before last year’s Indy Man Beer Con I’d only tried a handful of ‘sour beers’ and besides a couple of Buxton Brewery’s wasn’t a massive fan of them.
Indy Man totally changed my opinion on the whole style though and since then I’ve gone out of my way to try them whenever possible.
A recent tasting session at the best bottle shop in Manchester city centre, Beermoth, was a perfect opportunity to sample some sour beers from one of the most renowned breweries in America, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales.
The event – held downstairs in Beermoth’s tasting rooms – was hosted by their very own Jeremy, an avid fan of sours himself.
He started with a brief background of Jolly Pumpkin; they were founded in 2004 in Dexter, Michigan, not far from Detroit. They specialise in unfiltered and unpasteurised “rustic” beers and were the first U.S brewery to produce American lambics.
The first few beers were part of a series named after the brewers dog. Bam is a Jack Russell who was hit by a car but survived and now spends his days roaming the brewery.
We got off to a great start with ‘Bam Biere’. The entry level farmhouse ale was fantastic, exactly as you’d expect a sour saison to taste. But it was the thick, rich, mouthfeel I loved most.
Next up, ‘Weizen Bam’, a more challenging drink but better all round for me.
A bizarre hybrid between a traditional German style hefeweizen and a classic lambic, made with 50% barley and 50% wheat. Think banana and clove with added funky wild and sour flavours.
The third beer, ‘Bam Noire’ was even more complex. A dark sour with a touch of coffee, chocolate and vanilla but still with the now familiar funky sour yeast flavours running through it. An unusual but highly enjoyable experience.
My favourite beer of the night was ‘Oro de Calabaza’, a brilliant sour take on a Belgian Tripel.
All of the distinctive spicy and fruity flavours of a Tripel were there but while it was sweeter than the other beers it was balanced beautifully by the sourness.
One of the most interesting beers I’ve had for a long time.
Less enjoyable was ‘Maracaibo Especial’, easily my least favourite and a beer I’d happily never drink again.
A very dry, brown/amber sour ale with a huge amount of cacao and spices including cinnamon and nutmeg. I’m not adverse to spiced beers but found the spices very overwhelming here.
I wasn’t overly keen on the next either. ‘Luciernaga’, means firefly in Spanish and was another sour saison, but this time aged in oak barrels. It was certainly interesting but I can’t say I particularly enjoyed it.
There was ginger and coriander in there but the overall taste was quite medicinal and just a bit odd.
The last beer wasn’t from Jolly Pumpkin but rather Leelanau Brewing Company, a tiny micro brewery who share barrels and equipment with Jolly Pumpkin.
I’ve no idea how you pronounce ‘Michilimackinac’ but I loved drinking it. A rich, 8% sour imperial stout with bags of flavour; roasted malt, sour cherry, red wine and Bourbon.
I didn’t love all of the beers but they were all genuinely interesting and obviously high quality. I was glad to have the opportunity to try them. There were a few real standouts too such as the exceptional ‘Oro de Calabaza’.
Overall it was a great event in a nice informal and relaxing atmosphere. Jeremy seemed a little shy but also hugely passionate about the beers which really rubbed off on everybody else.
I’ll definitely be drinking more Jolly Pumpkin beers and hopefully attending future tastings at Beermoth too.
Date of event: 26.02.2015Follow @BeerGeekBlog Follow @FoodGeekUK