Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
Available: MI, FL, IL
Jolly Pumpkin’s “country brewery” uses open fermentation, oak aging and bottle conditioning in creating their beers. La Roja is in the biére de garde style, aged two to three months in bourbon barrels.
Alcohol (wt.): n/a
Alcohol (vol.): 7.2
Original Gravity: 1064
Final gravity: 1007
Malts used: Pilsner, pale ale, wheat, munich, dark crystal, and black
Hops used: Tettnang and Strisselspalt
Aloha from… Michigan? So states the back label on this ale, and that’s not the only offbeat thing about it. It’s also oak-aged for two to three months and, unlike most modern French bières de garde, the style of which La Roja claims as its own, it’s bottle-conditioned. What it offers behind a deep brown hue is a sweet, spiced toffee aroma accented by notes of vanilla, and a deeply warming body carrying plentiful spicy fruit, including mulled cherries, vanilla-soaked dates and hints of orange on raw cocoa. A forcefully complex nightcap.
Full bodied heavy pour. Chill haze of an all malt artisanal ale creates anticipation. Rich woody, malty aroma brings back childhood memories. Why I don’t know, perhaps it evokes comfort. Oak aging sings in flavor harmony. Slight and thoroughly pleasant tartness refreshes and balanced full body. Interesting, memorable, well cared for, warming, well balanced and all things artisanally wonderful. In a word “delicious.” I love the label.
The bottle is handsome and very dark, protecting a hazy dark copper-colored beer. The aroma is fascinating – vanilla-like oak, malt, spices and dried fruits. Sweetness strikes the palate up front, balanced by light hopping. Fruit and spice spread across the tongue, followed by quenching acidity. It’s semi-sweet into the finish and oak haunts the aftertaste. Despite the label, not very bière de garde-like, but no matter. It’s very tasty, and excellent with duck or carbonnade flamande.