I apologize that this one is a little behind schedule (it was supposed to be Friday’s post). Last September Brittney and I were getting married. This one, we’re moving. When will we get our priorities straight about drinking beer?

Alas, though the house is packed up in boxes and becoming ever emptier, we still had a jolly good time taking down a draught of the old squash rot. Here’s how it turned out:

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Name:  La Parcela No.1 Pumpkin Ale.

Place of Origin / Brewer: Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales LLC / Michigan, USA

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Sour Ale / 5.9%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  The joke is Jolly Pumpkin doesn’t brew a pumpkin beer, but the jokes on you, as now they totally do. La Parcela is a sour ale brewed and flavored with pumpkin, Cacao, and spices, then aged in Oak. The result is definitely individualistic. We ripped into Batch 865/866 which was bottled 8/17/2011, giving it a nice year of age.

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Packaging:

Everyone familiar with this brand knows their labels are works of art, but this is almost the perfect pumpkin beer label. Deep blue hues of fire lit twilight and jack o lanterns grinning in the darkness.  It captures all of the joy of trick or treating as a kid, without trying overly hard to be creepy or cartoonish, and it works so well. – Mike

Glowing jack-o-lanterns set against a setting skyline of hazy blues and greens, silhouettes of gnarled trees and scarecrows framing a perfect pumpkin patch on All Hallows Eve.  Jolly Pumpkin just flat-out wins as the best bottle illustration I’ve seen.  I want to frame it, buy a case of it to decorate my house, and walk inside of it and live there forever.  – Tim

The coloring on this label is awesome, the scene of the pumpkins, scarecrow and trees are creepy, haunting and beautiful. I also always enjoy a little quip from the brewers or brewery so the remarks concerning Jolly Pumpkins first and only pumpkin ale were enjoyable. – Brittney

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Color:  8

This brew has a very cool appearance. It’s dense and opaque with a slight ethereal glow to it. The coloration is a burnt umber yielding a yellow hue where the light hits it, with soft caramel notes in the center. Great head with big airy bubbles and decent lacing. Particulate is found effervescing after the pour  quickly settles to the bottom – it’s kind of fun to watch. – Rick

Golden-orange in color, this reminds me of a freshly juiced glass of apple cider. A solid ivory-tan head with a good amount of sediment throughout and the tiniest bubbles of carbonation you have ever seen. – Brittney

I think this is what Pumpkin juice must look like.  Hazy, yellow/orange with tons of sediment.  Like a spooky version of apple cider with a thick and velvety cream head that displays massive retention qualities and leaves the most amazing–and seriously longest-lacing trail I think we’ve yet encountered on a non-porter product. – Tim

M- 7 / T- 9 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

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Aroma: 6

Sour and vegetal notes are in great prevalence, with the slightest note of bitter dark chocolate. There’s a play of spice, but it’s extremely difficult to narrow against the sour ale. Perhaps mace and clove? – Mike

Musky and earthy, not overwhelming with pumpkin or spice, and just a hint of limey citrus. – Brittney

In case anyone missed the note (like I did) this is a sour ale.  I love a sour ale, when I’m in the mood, and frankly, this smells just like what you’d expect (had I been expecting it).  After being a bit jarred, the usual, tangy scents of sour and spice finally started to break apart with just a hint of apple and cinnamon desperately clawing to overcome the tartness that assaults my senses. But where is the pumpkin?  – Tim

M- 6 / T- 5 / B- 8 / R- 4.5

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Mouth feel:  6

Very airy and frothy with a good bit of a tingle on the tongue. It’s quite crisp and clean on the palette despite the full bodied appearance. It does have a bit of tartness though, which could be a little overwhelming to any novice of sour ales. – Rick

Given the boggy density of yeast and sediment, it’s actually a good bit on the light end of medium bodied, with a fizzy zip that really punctuates the tartness. – Mike

M- 6.5 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 5

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Tasting notes:  5.5

If this wasn’t brewed in Michigan, I’d swear it must be the eastern European approach to pumpkin ale. Sour like a lemon with the intensive bitterness of raw cocoa nibs it’s massive and complex, but almost to a confusing point. It reminds me a lot of the head expanding beers made by Brasserie BFM, but it’s going to be a total mindf@%* for the uninitiated. If the joke was that Jolly Pumpkin didn’t make a pumpkin beer, then the joke is on us, because though caustic and interesting, this is not going to be identifiable as a pumpkin ale to the average soul. That said, I do really enjoy it, particularly as it warms, even if I do have to pretend it’s Halloween in Switzerland. – Mike

I will preface this bit by admitting, I’m not a huge fan of the sour style so my palette may not be accustomed to it’s intricacies. With that said, this brew is way sour making it hard to discern any pumpkin flavor. The spicing may be subtle, but it’s hard to notice over the heavy citrus influence that accentuates it’s tartness. – Rick

So, it is a seriously sour – sour. (It is Jolly Pumpkin after all)  I get a lot of pumpkin, some spice, a touch of chocolate smoothness and a lot of sour granny smith apple. – Brittney

Astringent notes of citric acid, sour cherries, apricots and apples, dried fruit and just about everything else–even hints of metallic rust–but nary a pumpkin (vegetal or roasted) to be found. Cinnamon and nutmeg are the most prevalent spices but I’m sadly disappointed in the overall flavor strictly as a pumpkin sour.  As a sour it’s perfectly fine, but if it weren’t for the incredible artwork on the bottle and maybe a touch of that spice, I wouldn’t pick this for a fall brew if it were standing in a line-up wearing a suit of maple leaves, holding a turkey in one hand and a pumpkin pie in the other.  – Tim

M- 7.5 / T- 5 / B- 6 / R- 3

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Finish:  6

A wash of foam, and there it is. The huge bread yeast notes, the lingering dryness of wine — it makes me crave cheese.  The cacao notes also show here with the spice, leaving a creamy hazelnut in the back of my throat with a slight astringency that I would never notice in the powerful mix while it was still in my mouth. – Mike

After the initial pucker, this beer finishes clean, if not a bit bitter,with an apple cider vinegar snap. – Brittney

M- 8 / T- 4.5 / B- 7 / R- 4.5

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Flavor balance:  4.5

-         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 4

It’s a sour with some pie spice notes, together those two things work in pretty pointed unity, but it’s missing the key element of the equation–the pumpkin.  I’m sure it’s in there (for truth in advertising purposes) but it might as well not be for taste purposes. – Tim

It’s almost impossible to classify this one, as it defies the categorization. The spice in here is categorically buried in the multitude of directions this brew is going, and likewise, the sour nature of the ale has transformed the pumpkin into an entirely different, though intriguing, beast. – Mike

I’ve given low marks here because I’m not too sure that there is any spice in this ale. If so, it’s tough to pick out since the sour is so dominant. – Rick

M- 5 / T- 3 / B- 6 / R- 1

-         Sweet / Dry balance: 5

DRY. DRY, DRY, DRY, DRY, DRY. – Mike

I don’t expect, nor do I want sweetness–at least not pronounced sweetness–with a sour ale.  That said, I ‘d like a touch less bone-dryness at the close on this one to push my score a bit higher on the (broad) curve I’m grading this ale on. – Tim

M- 4.5 / T- 4.5 / B- 6 / R- 4

-         Multiple Drinkability?  5

Not being a huge fan of sours to begin with, it’s hard to see myself drink more of these. I’m not thinking pumpkin beer when drinking this, and that is the biggest turn off for me. – Rick

This beer was fun to taste and a glass would be enjoyable but that would probably be enough sour for me. – Brittney

I don’t really session sours, and this is no exception.  And, as sours go, I’d drink it again, but this is The Great Pumpkin Beer Review and if I want to be honest – as things go -about its appeal as a pumpkin beer, I think Jolly Pumpkin should retire this one back to patch and stick to making the staple sour ales that have long proved their prowess. – Tim

I love the sour explosion that keeps driving me back sip after sip. It’s parching and wet all at once, and I do love a good sour. So if my pocket permits, I’ll be back. – Mike

M- 8 / T- 3.5 / B- 5.5 / R- 3

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Overall:  6.00

M- 6.83 / T- 5.50 / B- 6.75 / R- 4.75

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