Bambic was procured in a 330ml bottle, purchased at the Winking Lizard (of course) at a $10 price tag. The label reads “We here at Jolly Pumpkin created this special blend of our Bam and Lambicus for our friends at Winking Lizard’s in celebration of their special anniversary” and features Bam, the Jolly Pumpkin mascot dog, a black cat and a lizard playing cards. I’ve been waiting for this since I heard of the release in late November when the ‘Beermeister’ of the Winking Lizard told me about this special project. Was the wait worth it? Is it a bet worth taking? Only a taste test could tell if I should ‘hold it’ or fold.
I was dealt in to the game as I carefully poured Bambic into an open-mouthed goblet. Please take care when pouring this beer, as the bottom ounce of the bottle was yeasty as can be and would have seriously cramped my drinking experience if it made its way into my glass. There’s also a chance this beer can “gush” or erupt upon opening. I had a slow snake of foam rising from my bottle, so be prepared to pour it quickly but carefully. What I permitted to pour in my drinking chalice of choice is a fantastic looking beer. The body is a solid orange color with hints of gold and honey in the mix. A fluffy white head sits atop the actively bubbling body and stays put. The beer is cloudy but not muddy, and some outstanding lace is left behind. Bambic certainly shows its cards off the bat; the tell is in the smell. And that smell is so expressive it jumps out of the glass! I could catch whiffs of it as I paused and prepared to take a few pictures; how I suffer for my art sometimes! My mouth started watering as the hints of lemon, tart cherry and barnyard Brettanomyces funk wafted towards me. While I’m admittedly not a huge fan of the Jolly Pumpkin house Brett strain when used in farmhouse ales without any Lactobacillus (sour yeast), the blended-in Lambicus rounds out the rough edges and has some wonderful sour and tart characteristics in the nose. A bit of musty blanket or basement notes round out a full and excellent sensory sensation.
While Bam is distributed nationwide, I’m one of the lucky ones who got to try the sour component of this beer, Lambicus Dexterius when it was released a year ago at Jolly Pumpkin’s cafe in Ann Arbor. Truth be told, that beer will rip the enamel off your teeth with its sourness. It’s seriously one of the sourest beers I’ve ever had and borders on astringent, but, shared with friends, it can be enjoyable in small doses despite the harsh lemony acid and apple cider vinegar notes. Bambic, on the other hand, is like a royal flush – it brings forward the best parts of Lambicus (lemon rind, oak, lactic sourness and just a touch of that acetic, vinegar quality) and interjects the best of Bam (funk, pepper, mineral, earth, ginger, coriander, unripe pear and peach stone). The Bam malt creeps back in mid-palate, anchoring the beer with a solid pale malt base. The finish is a touch dry but does not contain as much acid as other sour beer in this category. The mouthfeel is the part of this beer I was a bit worried about. Could this be a bust or the ace up Bambic’s sleeve? Lambicus was flat as a pancake – intentionally so, but it made the beer slightly syrupy and sometimes difficult to put away. Meanwhile, Bam has lively carbonation that allows the beer to really express a plethora of flavors. Luckily, the cards and this blend fell in Bam’s direction and has perfect carbonization. A medium body feels lighter than it actually is because of the crisp flurry of bubbles, and the aftertaste has some lingering sour and horse blanket funk but no palate devastation. Because of this pleasant finish to a wonderful tasting experience, the beer is drinkable and enjoyable. Clearly a winner, this house of cards reaches to the sky, never threatening to topple.
As we wrap up another crazy game of poker, I’m glad to raise my glass of Bambic in a salute to all the Winking Lizard employees who work so hard to make their tavern the best beer bar in the state of Ohio. Cheers to all of you for 25 great years and here’s to 25 more! And, for anyone wanting to try this great beer, run, don’t walk, to your nearest Winking Lizard. With only 150 cases in existence, this won’t last long. Fortunately, if you miss blend #1, there should be another blend arriving in April or May.
Does Bobby Like Jolly Pumpkin ‘Bambic’?
If You Enjoyed this Post, Let Me Suggest:
- Tröegs Splinters the Lakewood Winking Lizard The Lakewood Winking Lizard was scheduled to be the only place in the entire world where one could order a Tröegs Splinter beer by the glass instead of traveling to Harrison, PA and waiting in line for hours. With owner Chris Trogner scheduled to be on hand again to explain the evolution of the critically acclaimed series, I knew some surprises were in store. Tröegs delivered, with cases of bottles of Splinter Blue, Black and a special surprise – the most rare beer in the bunch, Splinter Gold....
- Samuel Smith Beer and Food Pairing at the Winking Lizard How does four plus five plus seven equal win? When it's a *four* course authentic English meal with *five* beers enjoyed with the *seventh* generation Samuel Smith himself! The Winking Lizard was packed for this once-in-a-lifetime tasting of world-class beers from a brewer with a 200 year tradition....