Wednesday, April 28, 2010

DLD Aftermath: Jolly Pumpkin Maracaibo Especial Brown Ale

Hey, beer fans. Sorry it has taken me so long to post regarding Dark Lord Day and all the shenanigans before and after it.  I've been ill the last few days - I hope it's not beer-related.  Shaun has done a great job at hitting the highlights and calling attention to some of the masterful brews we drank last weekend.  As he pointed out, when he and I convene, great beers are going to be drunk, and nothing goes according to plan - usually, in a good way.  One such deviation from plan was the Jolly Pumpkin Brewery's Maracaibo Especial Brown Ale.

After Shaun and I got some pizza at Great Lake, we hit Lush Wine Store, recently voted by Time Out Chicago as Chicago's best wine merchant (congrats!).  We needed beers for the tents at Dark Lord Day.  Shaun picked up a venerable Brooklyn Local 2, and I bought a bold Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale.  I had contemplated bringing the Jolly Pumpkin because, at best, it would be in small supply at DLD, and most brewheads would know nothing of this tiny Michigan brewery.  Yet, as a sour, I was not excited about picking it up. I had sampled a few sours previously, but found them to be mere novelties, "try this" beers that a friend might offer you for jollies.  These were beers never to be embraced in my soon to be discredited opinion.

The Maracaibo won me over to sours.  It has a beautifully nectar like nose that erupts with fruit.  With each sip, a sharp, biting sour honeyed orange flavor is gradually overcome by a trailing spice flavor.  Shaun calls it coriander, but it could be sage.  The finish takes eons.  This is a brilliant effect and quite an achievement. The beer really clears out the paint for the greatly anticipated next sip. The mouthfeel is light and Italian soda-like, and you can really feel the effervescence.  Yet the carbonation is never overpowering or even distracting from the flavor.  It's a 7.5% baby in a bomber, no walk in the park, but it is a great beer overall, and drinking it makes you feel lively.

PROS:  A crisp, sharp, flavorful beer that demands your attention. 

CONS:  Will make you feel like a fool if you had ever trashed sours in the past.

VERDICT:  Somebody just made an impressive claim to the title of real champagne of beers.   

* * * * 1/2 stars.  Unique,  and lively.

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