As you might gather from above picture, this past Tuesday evening was a pleasant one. Anytime one can have great beers with great pizza in the presence of great company, you can't go wrong.
A pile of us went to the Jolly Pumpkin in Ann Arbor. While they have been in Dexter and Traverse City for a few years, the Ann Arbor location is new. Sure, good beer (more on that later) could be found, as you would expect, but there was more to it. Like the Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland, JP is really taking their sustainability operations seriously (totally Ann Arbor-ish. Nothing like a progressive liberal town!). Local connections with farmers for the freshest stuff (as opposed to "organic and fresh"............. from California). The bizarre pizza, with wacky mushrooms, crazy cheeses and arugula, was really something. Eating on the rooftop section was a nice change, too.
Keeping in mind the beer list corresponds to the beers from right to left, you can see just how beautiful a beer can be. The stout (on the right) looks pretty typical, but check out the Siren Amber and the Luciernaga ("firefly" in Spanish, I was told). Does that look inviting or what?
You can read some of the the restaurant's beer descriptions here. My opinion? They were all pretty damned good with crafty names (which you know I like). Admittedly, I did not totally review them all in detail, as I have found that is hard to do when you are trying to being social. In short....
Luciernaga(#763) - a pale ale/saison "hybrid", this thing was quite odd. At any given moment, characters of the two styles would be present. One minute, the hoppiness of the pale ale would be there (especially on the nose), only to give back to the fruitiness of the saison the following minute. Cool stuff. 3 out of 5. Cool name, too.
Bam Biere (#764) - very much like a wheat in appearance but certainly more "aley" on the tongue. 3 out of 5.
North Peak Siren Amber Ale (#765) - this beer re-enforced why Amber Ales just might be one of my favorite beer styles. Malty. Caramelly. Mmmmm... goody. The only thing that held this beer back from a "5" was the overall lightness of all. Many of the solid characters that make ambers so good were very subdued. If they could "up" it a bit but keep the balance, a "5" for sure.
Golden Manitee Belipago (#766) - This beer should get "5" just for the name! That said, I gave it a "4". No solid notes here (again, being social), but it was pretty damned good.
Tortuga Ale Company Chocolate Stout (#767) - hands down, the best beer of the night. 5's across the board. Balance. Flavor. Finish. Very, very well done.
Needless to say, this will not be my only trip to the Jolly Pumpkin. We had tried to get in months ago, but the line was hours long. No beer is worth that.
Well, okay, maybe a beer is worth that somewhere.....