Jolly Pumpkin Brewing Company
311 S Main St
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Visited on June 20, 2010
Last and the opposite of least on the list of Ann Arbor brewpubs is good old Jolly Pumpkin Brewing Company. This is definitely the nicest establishment of the four brewpubs in town – it’s fancy and charming at the same time without going overboard or trying too hard. It’s also got the best food by far. The apricot chicken sandwich is to die for, the pizzas are outstanding, and the truffle fries are an excellent touch. The first time I came here, my appreciation for sour beers was, to say the least, nearly nonexistent. But thanks to some quality time spent drinking goblets of half-price beers in East Lansing’s Crunchy’s, I managed to develop my taste for them. So now I think the beer here is just as awesome as the food and location.
The Jolly Pumpkin was the last of the three brewpubs in downtown Ann Arbor that I got around to trying. Note that I did them all within a month, though, and I live an hour away. The interior is nice because it has two floors; one more of a dining atmosphere and the other more of a bar atmosphere. It wasn’t crowded when I came in, so I sat downstairs at the bar. It seems like it wants to be a little classier than Arbor Brewing or Grizzly Peak. Just by the way they’ve decorated, it seems that way at least. But they didn’t seem arrogant or pompous or anything like that. Just nice.
The food was by far the best of the three. I had an amazing sandwich – maybe the best of my life – featuring grilled chicken breast on light, fluffy ciabatta bread adorned with ooey, gooey brie and dried apricots. It may have been $10, but it was completely and totally worth it. You get more food and better quality for your money here than the other two.
The beer is a bit questionable only because I’m not a big fan of the Belgian sour style, which nearly all of their beers are. So while the quality is high and they are very true to the style, I just don’t care for it that much. They do have a few more traditional brews, though, including an IPA and a stout that were both very good, though not exceptional.
The service was fine. It wasn’t exceptional, but it was definitely not bad at all.