“Oh, I love pumpkin!”
“Yeah, babe, this will be awesome.”
Such was the interaction between an overly tanned, out-of-place 20-something fraternity/sorority couple standing in front of me as I inched my way through a line to the Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales table at World Beer Festival-Raleigh.
“No,” I replied with more indignation than should be included in a single word. “That’s just the name of the brewery.”
Disappointment abounded with Babe. Awesome Guy didn’t seem to much care. I feigned an apology.
Either way, I was excited for my first experience with Jolly Pumpkin then and I was equally excited for my second tasting with a bottle of their Weizen Bam Farmhouse Wheat, which I had all to myself. It’s got a 91 on Beer Advocate. Generally speaking, it earns that number, too.
What I think benefits Weizen Bam the most is the complexity of the aroma and flavor. Jolly Pumpkin ages all their beers in barrels with wild yeast (read: “bacteria”) which gives them a wonderful, light, sour character. With the Weizen Bam, it was only unfortunate that this doesn’t truly come through until you’ve let the beer warm quite a bit.
With a deep whiff, sour cherry is most definitely the most distinguishable smell, although it’s nothing off-putting. It’s the perfect amount, especially for someone who may not (yet) care for sour beers. That’s because it mixes well with notes of grass and tropical fruit – mostly banana. You may have to search for those because you recognize the cherry so easily, but they’re there.
It’s much of the same with the beer’s taste, which doesn’t really start rocking until its sat out at room temperature for about 30 minutes or so. A 25-ounce bottle actually works out well for one person because at 4.5 percent ABV, it’s not going to knock you off your feet and you benefit from letting the bottle sit as you sip your first serving from a glass. Win-win.
The beer has a good, balanced body. The mouthfeel is light, but filling. It’s got some weight to it. Taken cold, it’s more refreshing than anything. Taken warm, it’s got all the flavors of the smell, plus some spiciness to it. Jolly Pumpkin notes it as clove and nutmeg. Makes sense.
No, this isn’t a pumpkin beer – but they did, ironically, finally start making one last year. Will I spend another $12 on this one? Probably not. Will I spend $12 on a different brew? Probably. It’s well spent.
Hit the jump for some quick notes from my “Rate That Beer” sheet.