Friday, March 27, 2015
As you know, I am part of the "bizarro world where people give a shit about good beer and ask all kinds of questions about [label] art." That's a quote from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales label artist Adam Forman in a recent magazine Q&A (pages 18-21) describing his recent stardom for his label work. After checking with Jolly Pumpkin, I asked Adam if he'd sign some labels for me for a contest and giveaway. Both graciously accepted!
After putting things in motion, it occurred to me that I had several Twitter exchanges over the years with Iron Chef Michael Symon about Jolly Pumpkin beers. I confirmed his favorite was La Roja and asked even another favor of Adam--to personalize one of the La Roja labels for Michael. Seems Adam is a huge Michael Symon fan and his dedication is great in that it includes his "giving a shit" mantra! Chef Symon loved it too!
Adam has done all the labels for Jolly Pumpkin, since its 2004 inception. Adam had been tattooing Jolly Pumpkin Founder Ron Jeffries for a while. When Ron opened Jolly Pumpkin, he asked Adam to do some labels, and the rest is history. I highly suggest you read the magazine article above as well as the interview he did with BeerLabelsArt.com for other interesting information.
As you know, Google knows everything, so here are tons of images of Adam's Jolly Pumpkin label art. Adam's blog is also great as it offers insight into his entire body of work, not just his label art. Follow him on Twitter. Looks like his Facebook is mostly dead--my kind of guy--but you can see a great photo from last year of Adam and Ron Jeffries there.
So the contest... Adam signed 8 different labels for me which you can see below. I plan on giving away several sets of all of them. We'll see how many entries there are and go from there, but please do enter! Answer 3 of the 5 questions below before midnight next Friday, April 3, 2015. Enter by leaving a comment or if you must, email me and I'll publish them for you. Don't copy answers--it'll be easy to notice--and these questions are completely opinion anyway. Be creative and be sure to leave me some way to contact you should you be the winner.
1. What is your favorite Jolly Pumpkin label and why? It doesn't necessarily need to be one of the eight above. Any Jolly Pumpkin label.
2. Name at least one Jolly Pumpkin beer that has a few different label versions (hint: two are part of this contest). Which version do you like better and why?
3. Which Jolly Pumpkin beer do you like the best (forget the art for this one). Why? If you haven't tasted any, which would be the first you'd like to try and why?
4. If you were asked to create the next Jolly Pumpkin beer, what would be the name, beer style, etc.?
5. I asked this question before, but what other brewery/artist pairs are doing the best label work? Why? (P.S. Don't say Flying Dog and Ralph Steadman--I already know! LOL)
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Today I'm checking out Wild Huckleberry Wheat Lager brewed by Great Northern Brewing Company in Whitefish, Montana. This is one of their year-round flagship beers, and the label shows two bears foraging for berries in the Montana wilderness. 4.6% alcohol. 11 IBU.
Tart berry aroma over wheat, very pleasant. Flavors are very berry forward yet are not over the top. The flavors are very natural, excellently presented. Not sweet at all, rather lightly tart. There is some bread dough flavor in the background but that's about it. Simple, nice mouth feel, refreshing, flavorful! Check it out!
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Great Northern Brewing Company recently asked if I'd like to check out their four Flagship beers. Of course I said sure. I tried their Black Star Golden Lager several years ago but was informed that beer is no longer brewed. One of the beers they sent was Wheatfish Wheat Lager, named after the town of Whitefish, Montana where the brewery operates. The brewery is depicted on the label with a backdrop of huge mountains. 4.7% alcohol. 13 IBU. 2013 GABF Silver Medal, American Style Wheat Beer.
Sweet grain, a touch of fruit and yeasty aroma. Nice wheat flavors dominate the start with a taste bud awakening zing. Light fruity apple sweetness is balanced by some grassy hoppy flavors. Nice carbonation and texture. Clean, crisp, refreshing with very pleasant flavors lingering on the palate. An enjoyable winner.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Back in October, 2014, I had a chance to check out Batch No. 02 in Victory Brewing's Moving Parts series. (I missed Batch No. 01). Today, I'm checking out the next version in this IPA series where Bill and Ron "celebrate by tweaking an ingredient or two". Moving Parts: The Ever-Evolving IPA Batch No. 03 (MP03) is a Belgian-style IPA, so it's the yeast in this bomber that is switching things up! Enjoy By 19 JUN 2015. 6.6% alcohol.
Decent citrus aroma though not very strong. Fruity flavors at the start remain dominant throughout. Citrus orange and lemon meet some sweeter passionfruit flavors. The Belgian yeast was fairly subtle, providing a tangy and spicy flavor profile in the background.
Grassy, a little sharpness and bite at the palate, and the beer definitely leans bitter. However, there is some sweet balance, maybe a little sugar and honey. Definitely a combination Belgian and American IPA, the styles converging, not really "all out" one or the other. Finish is dry. Pretty good. Enjoyable!
This will be on the shelves until the end of April at which time MP04 will start rolling out. Can't wait to see what tweaks Victory does for that one!
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Magic Hat Brewing recently sent me a few new beers. Big Hundo IPA, though not new to the State of Vermont, is now being bottled in bombers and distributed across the country. Ed Roberts told me today that each local (South Florida) Total Wine store each got one case, and it's available now. So if you're interested, today is the day!
Big 22 is decorated around the full bottle with a hop bine with a big hop cone front and center. Apparently there is an "I" in BIG and this one is made with a castle of some kind. Not sure what that represents. 100 IBU. 9.0% alcohol.
Hoppy, fruity orange citrus aroma, plus a bouquet of flowers. Beautiful orange and lemon citrus flavors star and are accompanied by some more tropical flavors and a little sweetness. The bitterness in this "hophead's dream" is well disguised--at least initially. A little spicy too.
Pine flavors start to show up mid sip after drinking half a glass. There is a little caramel malty sweetness, a little herbal flavor, some balance for the overall bitterness. But that 100 IBU bitterness definitely shows itself by the end--make no mistake.
Very enjoyable beer. A little onion flavor does start to creep in after a while, but overall, this was great! Some alcohol is apparent at the finish, accentuating the pine and spice. Grab one if you can!
Friday, March 20, 2015
Sierra Nevada created a new IPA in the past few months. I know, you can probably say that pretty frequently about this particular brewery. However, Hop Hunter seems to be a little different. This IPA is the first to feature hop oil that is steam distilled directly in the fields to create a beer with "unmatched hop aromatics." PKGD 02/17/15. 60 IBU. 6.2% alcohol.
Very nice aroma: citrus, dank, fresh, floral with a hint of sweetness. Lemony citrus hit first and is noticeable throughout. However, it's the fresh, hoppy, VERY floral flavors that stand out the most. You may as well be chewing on the hop cones directly.
Hop Hunter isn't really very bitter at all, rather coming through in a much more tangy way. Slick, oily mouthfeel. And the aftertaste lingers for a long time and is very pleasant. The finish is actually the only time I taste any hint of pine, a nice nuance. Great beer. I already drank more than a six pack (not today, yet).