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Posted on Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 9:18 a.m.

Drinking local with Jolly Pumpkin Luciernaga

By Nate Parsons

Michigan is to be reckoned with when it comes to great beer. The state currently houses more than 100 breweries from Detroit to Houghton offering a full breadth of quality ales and lagers.


Tasting Notes

Beer: Luciernaga
Brewery: Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
Origin: Dexter, Mich.
Style: Belgian IPA
ABV: 6.5 percent
Glassware: Snifter, tulip, or oversized wine Glass
    Description: An eruption upon opening sends bubbly froth streaming down the bottle. The pour is aggressive, leaving an abundant dense head resting atop a plane of dusty copper ale. A nose of apple and white pepper are found wrapped in a faint silhouette of sour funk common to Jolly Pumpkin. The effervescent taste is clean, with hints of citrus and coriander and a subtle depth delivered from the oak barrel aging process. The dry finish laced with yeasty sour notes is easy on the palate, which promotes consumption when the days start to get shorter.
      Conclusion: Luciernaga makes you feel the way you ought to feel without beer.
      Where to Purchase
        Whole Foods: 3135 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor - 750ml / $12.99
          The Wine Seller: 721 Plymouth Road, Ann Arbor - 750ml / $12.99
            Plum Market: 375 N. Maple, Ann Arbor - 750ml / $12.99

            Industry expansion continues as craft beer values strategically align with national trends of buying “local”. Don’t be lured into thinking the farther a pint travels to our table the better the experience — this could not be further from the truth when it comes to Michigan beer.

            Artisan, by definition, is a skilled worker who practices a trade or craft. This was a concept heavily relied upon prior to the industrial revolution. The word itself conjures images of gnomes working diligently by candle light to master a craft only perfected by endless tinkering.

            Jolly Pumpkin Brewery has embraced the artisan aura with its reserve of craft beers. Founded in 2004 and located just down the road in Dexter, Jolly Pumpkin is an authority in artisan ales. The brewery touts an award-winning roster of year-round, seasonal and specialty beers that have gained notoriety as one of the top craft beer producers in the world.

            As we move toward fall, a Belgian IPA is good crossover style to cooler weather. "Luciernaga," which loosely translates to firefly, is a good place to start. The hypnotic label will temp the most hardened beer advocate but the oak aged elixir that lies within is where the experience really begins. Cheers.

            Nate Parsons can be reached at


            Billy Bob Schwartz

            Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.

            "Drinking local...."?


            Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 5:21 p.m.

            I think I might know what Billy is talking about... I generally like the beer selection at JP, but a few months back, I ordered a calabaza, and it just wasn't as sour and intense as the first few times I had it. It tasted...weak. I asked the bartender what he thought, and he suggested that the beer was still "young" and hadn't had enough time to develop the characteristic sourness. It seems weird to me that a place like JP would tap a beer that wasn't ready, or that a beer would require additional maturation while on tap, so I have my doubts about that explanation. Never tried the bottled versions, but I'll be sure to put that on my grocery list for next time. With that said, I love that there are sometimes subtle changes in batches of beer brewed from the same recipe.


            Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 5:36 p.m.

            Yeah I got the SAME line from them....about the beer being "young." Thing is...does that mean ALL their beer was "young?" I tried a sampler and ALL of the beers were "hollow" tasting. I'm not trying to bad mouth them....this is honestly how their tap beer tasted to me. I've tried just about every variety of theirs in the bottle and I like them ALL. I would highly recommend trying a bottle if all you ever had was their tap. All this talk of jolly pumpkin I think I'm going to swing by the store and pick up a bottle for tonight.


            Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 4:43 p.m.

            The current lineup at JP is certainly underwhelming. I feel like they have a core group of intensely awesome recipes, and then a whole pile of "filler" beers, many of which are the ones made up north. JP's best beers: Luciernaga, Fuego, bam noire, roja, madrugada, calabaza.


            Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

            So yeah......totally mixed feelings about Jolly Pumpkin. I've been to their taproom on main st. twice.....tried several house beers each time. Don't think I have ever had such terribly bland beer in my life.....except maybe the first year of leopold bros...they had worse...but who went to leopold bros for beer... Now with that said....what you get of theirs in the bottle off the store some of THE best beer I've ever had. ESPECIALLY this Firefly you're talking about. Out of the bottle it is amazing. I can't remember if it's one of the ones I tried on tap...but it doesn't matter....ALL the tap beers I had from them tasted HEAVILY watered down. I was expecting a lot more having already tasted the brews off the shelf.