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Wednesday, June 28, 2006 

Jolly Pumpkin Ales

I've been reading some reviews of the Jolly Pumpkin Ales of Michigan for years now. I appreciate their old world Belgium brewing methods: open fermenting, oak aging and bottle conditioning. Sadly, I've been unable to try these beers - no distribution in California, that is - until recently.

The missus asked me to pick up a bottle of wine to accompany her fine duck confit. After a more local shop was closed, I headed to RedCarpet Wines in Glendale. The staff are very friendly and knowledgeable; pointing me in the right direction for a quality California pinot noir. The beer section is great, too - there's a place I know my way around. It's the only thing I'm good at, you may say.

Calabaza Blanca White Ale

88 / 100

Many American brewers fall so very short when it comes to the subtle simplicity of a Belgian white ale. So I was ready to be underwhelmed. WRONG!!!

This had a lovely golden straw color with a slight head. Carbonation bubbles erupted within. The aroma was subtle but inviting: lemon, orange zest, coriander and a nice tart, sour aroma. The flavor was much the same. I was pleasantly surprised by the tart kick. It was light and refreshing with the sour afterbite. The low 4.8% ABV makes this easy to sip on all summer long. Wish I had more.

This is easily the finest American white I've come upon.

Bam Bière Farmhouse Ale

79 / 100

Another phenomenal Belgian beer, so often mistreated by Americans is the saison. After finding such deliciousness in the Calabaza, I was sure this would be a treat too.

The beer pours a cloudy orange with a minimal head, lots of bubbles dancing around in the glass. It has an interesting aroma of apple, citrus and a good heaping of yeast. The taste was nice: lemon and apple, a nice floral touch with the open-fermentation tartness and overall very refreshing for a warm summer day.

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