Jolly Pumpkin

Jolly Pumpkin-The Awesome Mitten
Photo courtesy of Meg Corts

Perhaps it is the attention to details that allows us to feel personal attachment to specific places. Everyone has their niche ideas of what is cool, what is hip, what is trendy, and what is quality. Some places just feel like home; they have that ineffable aura that makes us feel as if we belong there. After all, loyalty lies in the constant desire for continued patronage. For me this always falls on the minute differences, those infinitesimal alterations that provide a fresh experience. In the case of Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery, it’s that my sandwich and fries come with a pickled zucchini spear and organically certified ketchup, it’s that the menus have a very distinct, signature font, and that pictures of their brew master and his staff dominate the walls. Maybe it’s their apparent passion for pirates and Halloween. Mashed in amongst the sea of restaurants dominating Ann Arbor’s Main Street, Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery, one of their three Michigan locations (They only have Michigan locations, sucks for you Ohio) is deftly digging their niche into the Great Lakes micro-brewing community.

On the second floor of their Ann Arbor locale, one can find a cozy roof patio, a kind of crow’s nest tucked away from the obstreperous traffic and clamorous bustle of Main Street. Candle lit couches and lounge chairs provide a relaxing atmosphere for one to knock back one of their drafts. On warm summer nights, it’s the perfect hideaway, a lost boy’s tree house in the middle of urban uproar.

Jolly Pumpkin-The Awesome Mitten
Photo courtesy of Meg Corts

Jolly Pumpkin serves an eclectic collection of their own beers brewed in house as well as a variety of North Peak’s brews, and for those fans of IPA’s and wheats, there’s enough of a range on tap to satisfy any hop-head. Their De Viento is a profound demonstration of their dedication to community. Recently, a truculent tornado hit Dexter, Michigan, causing a significant amount of damage, and all of their profits from this particular beer go to the Dexter Relief Fund. Their Sobrehumano Palena ‘Ole is a collaboration with Maui Brewing Company, reminding even our distant island neighbors that Michigan is a prolific brewing behemoth.

Jolly Pumpkin-The Awesome Mitten
Photo courtesy of Meg Corts

Their food menu includes a wide variety of pizzas and sandwiches, creative appetizers, and platters of meats, cheeses, and olives to compliment their beers. There is a noticeable commitment to their support of local farmers and quality ingredients, a predominant focus on organic specialties and Michigan products.

Jolly Pumpkin-The Awesome Mitten
Photo courtesy of Meg Corts

Jolly Pumpkin also has a Traverse City restaurant and brewery, as well as a facility for creating their renowned artisan ales in Dexter, MI, and while the name seems to cause some confusion, it’s hard to imagine Jolly Pumpkin as anything other than a giant jack-o-lantern; a glowing, grinning beacon in the night, the internal candle burning, a harbinger to honest food and a refreshing pint, forever illuminating a cheeky smile, glimmering jovially in the starlit darkness.

Check out their website.

-Aram Mrjoian, Feature Writer