Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales are notorious for its spontaneously fermented ales. Founded in 2004 by Ron Jeffries in Dexter, Mich., it has now grown to include two brewpubs – one in Ann Arbor and one in Traverse City. They pride themselves on only brewing beers using ingredients grown from the earth, they will not use any preservatives or chemicals. Every one of their beers are oak-aged and bottle conditioned and many are brewed with open air fermentation or spontaneous fermentation.
Persimmon Ship is an American wild ale brewed in collaboration between Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales and Upland Brewing Company of Bloomington, Ind. Many people are familiar with Upland due to its very tart sour beers, which are released in various lotteries throughout the year. Persimmon Ship, which was Jolly Pumpkin’s first 2014 collaboration, was released in October 2014 and was brewed with Indiana Persimmons and dragon fruit hailing from Thailand. Just like the rest of Jolly Pumpkin’s beers Persimmon Ship was oak-aged and bottle conditioned.
I poured this beer into a Teku and was blown away by the beautiful golden, thick appearance of this beer. It looked like pouring your first glass of Sunny Delight when you were a kid. It had a small amount of bright white head, but the color of the beer was the star of the show.
The smell on Persimmon Ship was really nice, there wasn’t anything that dominated, but there were traces of a lot going on. Up front I got the sweetness from the Persimmon’s and or the Dragon Fruit and that faded into some yeast and tartness. There were notes of tropical smelling fruit as well that reminded me of pineapple. I also picked up on fresh floral notes, and some citrus that mostly came through in the form of fresh orange zest.
Unfortunately for me, the flavor did not live up to the multi-dimensional smells coming from my glass. The beer just really fell flat in the taste department with the initial taste being very dry and bitter. It took me awhile to hammer down exactly what type of bitter I was tasting, originally it sort of tasted like biting into a lemon peel, where it wasn’t necessarily tart, but a harsh bitterness, but after some more drinking and digging into its flavor profile, the bitterness in this beer tastes exactly like when you accidentally bite into an orange seed. You can taste the fruit, but there is a really earthy bitterness that overpowers. As it warms up, you do pick up on a little bit of the oak and it tastes more like bitter hops at the very end.