Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Jolly Pumpkin - Bam Biere Review

Brewery: Jolly Pumpkin (MI)
Style: Saison / Sour
ABV: 4.5%
Grade: B+

I'm noticing a trend in the sour beers I review — a lot of American wild ales just aren't that sour, at least not until they've had a good bit of age put on them in the bottle. A lot of breweries probably bottle as soon as they can (for understandable reasons), and anyway, not every beer has to be full on, mouth-watering sour to be good. I've had Jolly Pumpkin on draft a few times recently, and each time was surprised at how clean the beer was — maybe just because I hadn't tried them in a while, since my initial, naive forays into sour beer.

Bam Biere, a saison given the sour treatment, is another "not too sour" sour beer, but it doesn't taste as neutral and clean as some others I've had — where the sour microbes seemed to have eradicated the taste of the primary yeast strain but hadn't gotten around to contributing their own unique flavors yet. Bam Biere provides a nice in-between: it's definitely still a saison, but with a lingering, refreshing funk that adds complexity instead of dominance.

This certainly isn't the most complex saison out there, but I'll gladly trade the sharp pepperiness of others for a bit of tart funk. The saison qualities are subdued, allowing a bit of a brighter, lighter, lemon character to come through; complimented by the tart sour notes. It seems contradictory, but the souring here creates a beer that's actually less intense than many "clean" saisons I've had — Bam Biere is easy-drinking and quite refreshing. The aftertaste does still strike me as too 'neutral,' lacking any hints of the beer that came before it, and a boost in sourness would help add some lingering memorability. While not the most exciting out there, this is a beer I wouldn't mind drinking on a regular basis.

Availability: Large 750 ml bottle; no other sizes. Fairly common in any good beer store. Produced year-round.

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