Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. The spooky suspension of conventional reality for a night, the change in the air, haunted houses – I’ve always loved all of it. As a kid, candy was the obvious vice of choice for this day. Candy is fun and all, but so is booze! The strange and creepy vibes of tonight call for a couple of equally strange and tasty beers. And what do you know? Both of these beers come from topical breweries. I’m of course referring to Jolly Pumpkin and Fantôme.
Jolly Pumpkin | La Parcela | Sour Pumpkin Ale | 5.9% ABV
(Glassware sold separately, $3.99 each)
“Ok, so the joke was that Jolly Pumpkin doesn’t brew a pumpkin beer. Well, now we do. Packed with real pumpkins, hints of spice, and a gentle kiss of cocoa to liven the soul. An everyday easy way to fill your squashy quotient. Guess now folks will have to find something else to joke about…” (Commercial Description)
I have to make the admission that I’m not the biggest fan of pumpkin beers. I don’t think they are bad or anything, but with a choice – I’ll pick something else. However, when I see that Michigan’s Jolly Pumpkin Artisanal Ales is taking a stab, I have to see if it’s a trick… or treat!
Turns out it’s a treat. This sour farmhouse ale is brewed with pumpkins, spice and cocoa. The beer pours a murky orange/amber hue. A fluffy white head forms but quickly recedes with medium lacing. The “pumpkin spice” is much more apparent in the aroma than the taste. It meets undercurrents of typical farmhouse funk, wet wood and lemony tartness. The taste begins with crisp acidity, medium sourness and sharp but delicate carbonation. Fruity sour farmhouse flavors of citrus, overripe stone fruit and fruit rind are all present. The pumpkin is more pronounced in the middle, adding a nice creamy undertone to the mouthfeel. The spices and cocoa kick up in the end, with a light hop bitterness and an overall dry finish.
This is a well balanced sour ale, and a vastly different take on the pumpkin ale style. We’ve had it on sale during October, so tonight is your last chance to get a bottle for $10.99 (Usually $13.99) While it is Jolly Pumpkin’s only beer made with pumpkin, they have a couple of other pumpkin-themed beers as well. Cucurbitophobia is their collaboration sour with Monkish Brewing. The name is the term for “Fear of Pumpkins.” Yeah, I didn’t know that fear was a thing either. Whether you’re afraid of pumpkins or not, this sour with blood oranges and spices is one of my favorite of Jolly Pumpkin’s offerings. Apocolocynposis is also a collab with Monkish and its name means “Fear Of Turning Into A Pumpkin.” People are afraid of some weird stuff! Don’t be afraid of this bottle if you like sours though. This sour ale is brewed with blackberries and lime, and at 4.3% ABV it is easy to kill this entire bottle. But you’ll want to – it’s really good.
Suggested musical pairing: album: “The Night Machines” by The Casket Girls
Fantôme | Dark Forest Ghost | Saison/Farmhouse Ale | 6% ABV
(This glass not sold at Mike’s… booo. They still pop up online though)
Want to get weird for Halloween? Just call on the Fantôme. Nestled in the Belgian countryside, Fantôme creates wild and strange rustic saisons and farmhouse ales. Substantial information on the brewery or their beers is but a ghost of an idea. Brewer Dany Prignon is notoriously mysterious about what flavorings these beers entail. Being very different from the average saison or farmhouse ale, the mystery of their flavors always keeps me coming back.
Dark Forest Ghost is perhaps the strangest Fantôme offering i’ve tried yet. “Strange” isn’t bad though, and this beer just goes to show that you never know what you’re going to get from the ghost. This saison/farmhouse ale rings in at 6% abv, and pours a mildly hazy dark copper color with a light beige/off white head that is quite voluminous and which never quite dissipates. The nose is dark fruit, funk, wet wood/hay, hints of grape and green apple, and a slight toffee sweetness. The beer has a much darker and roastier flavor than typical Fantômes. The beer begins with dark fruit, light acidity and sourness meets wet wood and grass. The “Fantôme funk” is the most pronounced in the beginning. Roastiness and hop bitterness quickly take over. The beer finishes with a smoky and roasty dry effervescence. The bolder body of this beer makes it a great segway into the colder weather, and a perfect pairing for your Halloween evening. On sale through tonight for $13.99/750ml (usually $17.99.)
“Don’t ask what makes it so tasty…
the Fantôme never gives up all of his secrets…”
Suggested Musical Pairings: album: “Eating Us” by Black Moth Super Rainbow,
or anything by The Marshmallow Ghosts.
Jeremy Morton, Beer Manager