I didn’t even know about Jolly Pumpkin brewery before I saw this utter gem of a bottle gleaming on the shelf at Total Wine (“Totes” as the kids call it).
According to the little description tag on the shelf, the JOLLY PUMPKIN brewery hadn’t ever brewed a pumpkin beer until this one here. Honestly, people, how do these things get by you? Anyway, it’s another “fancy” pumpkin beer in a big 750ml bottle. I’ve come to be wary of these types, because often the brewer loses sight of the pumpkin flavor in the quest for a balanced, complex and flavorful beer. That’s perfectly understandable, but I want my pumpkin ales to taste like PUMPKINS, damnit!
Unfortunately, this one succumbs to the same fate. The pumpkin flavor is quite subtle, as expected, but the flavors you normally find in a good craft beer are at the forefront. It’s actually got a bit of sourness to it. At times I was reminded of the Lips of Faith “Kick” pumpkin/cranberry sour ale, minus the cranberry.
One thing this beer doesn’t have that most of the fancy pumpkin ales do is a higher alcohol content. This is only 5.9%. Nothing to sneeze at, sure, and I don’t tend to seek out high-alcohol beers anyway. But that leaves them with one less excuse for the small pumpkin flavor. Shipyard’s Smashed Pumpkin and the Sam Adams Fat Jack both taste less like pumpkin than their little brothers (Pumpkinhead and Harvest Pumpkin respectively), but you can attribute that to the higher alcohol content muddling the flavor.
This one bottle also cost 15 bucks. So you got that.
I know this review has sounded pretty negative, but this is actually a very fine beer. The flavor IS complex, and interesting, and if they sold this in six packs I’d be a lot more forgiving. But for such an ostentatious bottle and grandiose price tag, I’d expect more. A middling 3-Jack.