A Conversation with Ron Jeffries of Jolly Pumpkin

Here a conversation, courtesy of Shelton Brothers, with Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales founder and brewmaster Ron Jeffries, who spoke at a recent beer festival in Worcester, MA. Jolly Pumpkin is from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan AlesDexter, Michigan, just outside of Ann Arbor. Their signature unpasteurized and unfiltered wild barrel-fermented beers are world renowned. Jeffries vision for beermaking was to elevate the craft he had learned. “I wanted to take that craft I had learned” he says, “and turn it into an art form.”

These 100% oak-aged beers feature Brettanomyces wild yeast, or as Jeffries refers to them, “the bain of winemakers”,  an essential flavor component of Jolly Pumpkin, along with other ambient bacteria found in their casks.”I knew to create those complexities, those flavors we had talked about, I needed this naturally occurring wild yeast” says Jeffries. “I had done wild and sour style ales at some other breweries by buying wild yeast, by buying Lactobacillus culture, and had never created the complexity that I was looking for, and in tasting other breweries from Europe that were doing these natural cultures , I knew that is what we had to get. We were fortunate enough that the wild yeast in Dexter tends to make pretty good beer apparently, so that’s where the souring happens.” Check out the interview about for some very interesting insights to one of America’s finest breweries.