When the New York Times decided to “draw a stylistic standard for a planned tasting of Belgian golden ales,” they knew that they would find diversity, but didn’t realize some of the beers would be so good that they wouldn’t conform to their parameters.
We had beers that tasted of spices, like coriander and cloves, and those that tasted like fruit. Some were aged in oak barrels. One beer resembled the most exotic sort of lambic, a type of beer that is brewed using wild yeasts rather than those selected by brewers to produce predictable results. It had a sour funkiness that is a taste well worth acquiring. Another was so bitterly hoppy and dry that the beer seemed to have the texture of cotton, which was actually not unpleasant.
The lambic beer that they were referring to was Leelanau Brewing‘s Good Harbor Golden Ale, which they chose that the the # 4 beer of their top 10. Michigan’s Jolly Pumpkin took top honors for the Belgian beer contest. Behind the taste of both of these beers is Ron Jefferies, who is the founder of Jolly Pumpkin, and partners with Leelanau Brewing’s Charles Penska.
MyNorth.com caught up with Penska for a little scoop on his “funky” brew.
It is a beer that was designed to drink on the beach at sunset. Its distinction is its sour notes, which are all naturally occurring. We also age all of our beers in French Oak. The truth is, however, we’re just lucky to have Ron brewing our beer. His work literally changed my life, and I think he’ll go down in history as one of America’s greatest brew masters.