Arcadia Ales | Jaw-Jacker
Photo courtesy of Arcadia Ales.
To quote a past professor: I reserve the right to be wrong.
In sixth grade I only once cleaned up after a friend’s Tamagotchi Giga Pet. I belonged to a school district around a farming community and found it was not uncommon for students to walk through cow or horse or pig manure in the morning before school. We knew what sticks were for and this egg-looking pixilated-dog toy had no use-stick button. I had cast aside my childhood then and welcomed cynicism. Since then, I have not succumbed to fads: my first cell phone was out of necessity at twenty, as apartment landlines became expensive and impracticable and employers immediately threw away applications without a phone number; I still have a flip phone, find the constant use of smart phones offensive; I avoided Twitter for eight years; I still don’t exactly understand Tinder or Reddit or what a millennial is or what their duties are or why one young man felt the need to tell me not to whistle while doing laundry because I was appropriating unpaid-labor culture; only now do I think a Tickle-me-Elmo would be fun (however, Gak was great, though I never owned any). And as of recently, I had no desire to fill the void in my life with anything pumpkin-spiced.
My hesitation, however, is my own fault since I had only assumed that with the inclusion of the word pumpkin that everything pumpkin-spiced had pumpkin in it. Call me stubborn and picky when it comes to food, but gourds aren’t my go-to fiber choice, especially pumpkin, my most hated of orange foods (just a step below Mary Janes).
Only until recently did I find out anything pumpkin-spiced has nothing to do with pumpkin but (and I only say this now to the people just as ignorant as I (and if you need more proof, not until a year ago, I though Long Island Iced Teas were made with iced tea)) the spices incorporated within pumpkin pie, such as (but not inconclusively limited to one or all) cinnamon, anise, nutmeg, ginger, clove, allspice, curry, cumin, turmeric, coriander, and grains of paradise. All great spices, admittedly, ones I frequent (except anise) outside of popular timeframes and flavors that are just, if not better, paired with apple. Not the point here. What’s happened is that a season has adopted a flavor and we are now impulsively in constant anticipation of the best part of one of the best temporal changes in the Midwest. There’s no denying that autumn is magical here, but normally only for the first month and a half. Usually, we’re lucky if we can keep that magic until Halloween, which procures its own sense of distraction from the upcoming and unavoidable winter (even if there already is snow on the ground—this year, we were spared).
I can understand the pumpkin as a Halloween object, with the Jack-o-Lantern, however I do not understand the flavor choice (especially when it makes its earliest appearance mid-August) since I see these spices more prominent during Thanksgiving—because of the pie, which is probably only popular on a culinary standpoint because I see Thanksgiving as a feast to purge the pantry before everything that cannot handle the winter spoils. Both holidays take place in autumn, but two different kinds of autumns, the latter, a more desolate time where we celebrate an homage of an homage and find ourselves lost in the routine of diversion. To expand, some of us find new hobbies. Some of us drink. Some of us think both are the same thing (last winter was dedicated to making vodka from potatoes and frequenting the poison control hotline—Hi, Janet!).
But, I’m all about personal growth these days, so I bit the proverbial bullet and bought the most pumpkin-y, Halloween-ish labeled beer I could find this post-side of the holiday and wound up with the spook-tacular Jaw-Jacker from Arcadia Ales from Kalamazoo, MI (home of many, many fine craft beers).
The name itself, derived from a winter tool used for ice fishing (a hands-free device that hooks the fish mechanically below the ice) is an interesting, and seasonally horrific choice one cannot overlook while one unhinges for their first taste. The aroma is shrill and prominent and can be seen as an expected preview of what is to be expected from the flavor, but somehow is not. The three pumpkin spices featured here is cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg, but the aroma hits at something a little sweeter, wheatier, however, the flavor is principally allspice, giving the overall orange complexion of the ale a sharp and bitter bite. Perfectly acceptable, given the tone of a lot of autumn flavors that go well with blander and earthy-flavored root vegetables. Orange in color, this ale has no pumpkin in it, however will pair well with any late-autumn harvest feast. I find it to be a nice transition from my usual lighter, citrus summer ales to my more tepid winter expectations, which is any beer with the same weight and flavor of bricks.