Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Nøgne Ø/Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales/Stone Brewing Company - Special Holiday Ale

Two years ago, a collaboration between Stone (located nearby in Escondido), Jolly Pumpkin (located in Dexter, Michigan) and Nøgne Ø (located in Grimstad, Norway) was released. Unfortunately, I was not aware of anything going on in the beer world at that time and missed out. This year, the beer was re-released by Nøgne Ø (the first batch was brewed by Stone). Theoretically, this beer should taste identical to the Stone release because all of the base ingredients were the same. As part of the collaborative process, all of the breweries submitted local ingredients to be used as part of the beer. So this beer includes chestnuts from Michigan, juniper berries from Norway and white sage from San Diego. Pretty good lineup, no?

The beer pours a dark brown color with a slight tan head that holds up well enough. The smells coming off of this one after I poured it were pretty wild. It seemed like the nose changed every ten seconds. What I could pick out was a lot of spiciness, some juniper and sage, and a lot of sweetness that reminded me of marzipan and milk chocolate. What a mix!

The taste wasn't nearly as interesting as the smells, but it was still pretty tasty. I was a little surprised to find that this beer tasted more like a Belgian beer than anything else. The strongest flavor was a spicy and sweet Belgian yeast that reminded me a little of Chimay. There's a nuttiness behind the yeast that I can only assume is brought on by the Michigan chestnuts and it added a nice complexity. The finish brings some herbal bitterness that I found to be a little out of place after so much sweetness. Still, I liked this beer a lot.

Rumor has it that Jolly Pumpkin is about to release their version of this beer in the next few weeks. It has the same ingredients, but with a twist. The beer is aged in oak barrels and soured. Yes, please!

Final Grade: B+

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