Noel De Calabaza - Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

Not Rated.
Noel De CalabazaNoel De Calabaza

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BA SCORE
90
outstanding

903 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 903
Reviews: 401
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 11.66%
Wants: 66
Gots: 153 | FT: 11
Brewed by:
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
"Belgian Christmas Ale aged in oak barrels."

(Beer added by: BeerBeing on 10-21-2007)
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Ratings: 903 | Reviews: 401 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Wonderful version of oaking, aged an extra year in my cellar. Reddish colour, Belgian Flemish sour aroma. Medium plus mouthfeel. Delicious,cherry-ish, good integration of oak in flavour. Very drinkable, smooth and satisfying.Carbonation appropriate, brings out the bold flavour.

Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Batch 890.

Bottled on 9/21/11.

Pours a murky dark brown with a 2 inch puffy khaki head that settles to a film on the top of the beer. Random splotches of lace stick to the sides of the glass on the drink down. Smell is pretty funky/sour with some dark fruit, unknown spices, and woody aromas. Taste is also funky/sour with dark fruits, sour berries, earthy wood, and very subtle spices. The aftertaste is funky and earthy and sits right on top of the tongue. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp but extremely dry mouthfeel. After each sip I feel like I need a sip of water. Overall, this is a good beer but it reminds me much more of a sour than a BSDA. The only real negative is the drying quality this beer has on my mouth.

Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%

Photo of acurtis
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

Photo of Thorpe429
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Poured into a tulip glass. Color is dark brown with an off-white head. The nose is some cherries, dark fruits, oak, funk, and a bit of sourness. The taste brings the oak and cherry components through pretty well. Good feel with nice sour and oak character. Drinks quite well and is another solid beer from Jolly Pumpkin.

Photo of nmann08
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%

Photo of Texasfan549
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of GRG1313
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

Photo of metter98
4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is clear dark amber in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a half-finger high off white head and has excellent retention properties; a thin layer of bubbles consistently covered the surface.
S: There are light to moderate sour aromas in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and has notes of cherries with little if any tartness.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate with a light amount of carbonation. There is some dryness in the finish.
O: This is very easy to drink for a sour beer as it’s not neither too sour nor too tart.

Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of brentk56
4.48/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Blend 3, 2007

Appearance: Pours a murky russet color with a modest head that diasppears quickly but dots the chalice while it lasts

Smell: Funky sour aroma dominates, but underneath there are some fruit (grape and cranberry) and woody elements

Taste: Starts out pleasantly tart (green apple dominates), with the lactic sour flavors building to a crescendo by mid-palate; after the swallow, some sweet elements (grape and pecans) join to balance into the oaky finish

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and silky smooth; moderate carbonation

Drinkability: A really complex sour beer that encourages you to get to know it better

Update: Blend 3, 2012

Just as good as I remembered it but there is a very intriguing maple and mint flavor on the finish that I am really enjoying

Photo of BEERchitect
3.93/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Who says that all Christmas ales have to be rich, heavy, and overly spiced? Not the artisans of Jolly Pumpkin- their holiday ale is sour, spice, and everything nice.

Dark brown in color, the beer shares rusty orange and red hues. Hazy to the point of nearly opaqueness, the beer is adorned with a dainty skirt of foam that clings to the edges and laces lightly- a far cry from most Belgian influenced ales.

Funky fresh aromas rise from the glass with the scent of caramel, grape candy, and acute red wine. Early spices of pepper, peat, and light medicine balance the nose just as stronger cidery notes latch hold. Delicate cinnamon spice keeps the complexities revealing themselves with each return to the glass.

Tart berries, green apples, and sour grapes are the prominant features of the beer in taste. With just enough toasty malt sweetness to support the acidity, the beer balances out beautifully with simple musty wood notes and saddle leather wafting about. Peppercorn and cinnamon add a spicy complement to the beer in absence of any meaninful hop flavor. Finishing with a tinge of red wine vinegar, the beer has the tendency to make you pucker up.

At first the beer is sharp on the tongue, but then smooth and lightly creamy at middle palate. But a late dryness of alcohol, tannin, and acidity attacks the mouth once more to close the session. Its light carbonation gives a pang to the mouthfeel but keeps the beer dry and lightly creamy.

Where I often feel that Jolly Pumpkin ales are tilted too much toward the phenolic peppery and medicinal side, Noel De Calabaza balances out wonderfull and does so in the vein of stronger Belgian oude bruins.

Photo of Phyl21ca
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep reddish/brown color ale with a large foamy head with great retention and great lacing. Aroma of oak with some tart notes and maybe light cherry notes as well though that may originate from the oak. Taste is very complex and is dominated by some oak notes with some tart and sour notes also easily detectable. Full body with great carbonation and no trace of alcohol could be detected. This beer was very well done by one of the best US brewer of sour beers.

Photo of kylehay2004
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.63/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Blend 2, 2007. Abundantly bubbled raspberry iced tea beneath a massive crown of sand colored foam. Crazily carbonated beer rarely produces a great looking lid, but this one ain't too shabby. As it settles, it looks like wind-sculpted rock. It also has enough stickiness to adorn the glass with tattered sheets and small chunks of lace.

Like Jolly Pumpkin's best ales, Noel de Calabaza smells authentically Belgian. In the nose at least, it comes across as a Belgian-style dark ale that uses wild yeast. Since Mr. Ron Jeffries uses Brettanomyces like it's going out of style, that's no great feat of sensory detection. It smells good because the yeasty funk is complementary rather than dominant.

In the end, Noel doesn't measure up. As in the nose, it's a positive that Brettanomyces aren't rompin' and stompin' around like they own the joint. Finally, a JP beer with a deft touch rather than a heavy hand with the bugs. Having said that, the base beer really isn't a great example of a BSDA.

Bitter barely supercedes tart, and sweet isn't even in the game. Specific flavors include brown malt, unsweet dates, mushy apples, plenty of oak and a drop or two of balsamic vinegar. This brew is as much Flanders oud bruin as BSDA. If there's any characteristic that Jolly P beer is known for, it's an intense dryness. This one isn't as dessicating as some, but it still qualifies as borderline arid.

The mouthfeel settles down enough by the middle portion of the bottle to (barely) earn an above average score. A little creaminess or chewiness isn't too much to ask in a beer this big, is it? Perhaps other batches fared better than this one in terms of proper bottle conditioning.

These guys have some of the coolest looking labels in the business. The one for Noel de Calabaza (Christmas Pumpkin) is no exception. Too bad the contents of the bottle aren't as spectacular. All things considered, I might be willing to give this one another try.

Photo of jaydoc
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

Photo of mikesgroove
3.98/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Blend 3

750ml bottle served at about 55 degrees and poured into a New Belgium Snifter

A – Poured a nice medium brown color with no real head to speak of which was a bit disappointing, though on a later pour I was able to elicit a smallish tan head about a half inch high by using a very vigorous pour. As you could imagine the lace itself was also practically non existent, and there was a noted lack of carbonation in the appearance. The ale was not nearly opaque as you could definitely make out hints of light on the sides and bottom of the glass giving it a somewhat lighter appearance around the edges and showing off some of the sediment that was settling down toward the bottom.

S – The aroma was full of spice and a touch of sour fruit as well. I was honestly shocked that this was barrel aged ale from the aroma as I really could detect none of that from the smell. The alcohol as well was not present here. There were definitely some hints of yeast present here as well giving it a bit more of a lighter note then I would have expected. Based on the aroma it is really hard to nail down a style on this one. It seems very complex and seems to cross over between several styles, but a blended ale will tend to do that, not too mention one that has been barrel aged as well.

T – The flavor was a little difficult to describe to be honest as it seemed to transform over the course of the night. First off I have to mention that this was not harsh or over the top in anyway, which again surprised me. Usually when you get these type of barrel aged blended ales there is something about them that dominates everything else, but not the case here at all. The first thing I noticed was the spiciness that was coming through from the very first taste. A big healthy dose of cinnamon, nutmeg, and earthy malts right on the front end, enough of it to really give your tongue a bit of a work out. Once you got past that first layer, up next came something of a shock to me, why it was the flavor of a sour ale! Very cool, the yeast here was very big with lots of bitter and sour notes, hints of apples and raisins and plums rippling through all at once, while at the same time really puckering the lips. As if that was not enough, on top of the oak flavors started to percolate through and really start to show them off. Really getting complex not with hints of vanilla and even caramel as it warmed starting to mingle, but the finish went right back to that deep sour note. Very nice indeed.

M – Here is the only part of this one that I was not impressed with. To be honest it was flat, almost entirely flat. There was no carbonation to speak of, and this hurt it as it made it feel lighter then I knew it was and gave off almost a slick feel to it when there should not have been one there. Not sure what happened here, a I was not even able to stir it up, though there was lots of yeast still present on the bottom, I could just not get it back to life, it was a shame as this was really the only detrimental part of the whole experience.

D – This was an outstandingly drinkable beer. Dare I say even sessionable? I still do not know what the ABV is on this one as I haven’t even looked it up yet, which is something I never tend to do before reviewing a beer. The flavors were very well defined, but nothing was over the top. There was no hint of alcohol what so ever in here and you could easily throw down the bottle without it hurting too badly.

Overall this was an interesting, if not intriguing selection. The style was nearly impossible to nail down so I just left that as it was. The flavor was very nicely balanced and quite different which is always a plus, I just really wish it had a little more carbonation. That really would have turned this from a good beer to an excellent one. Maybe it was a bad bottle, I have another to compare so we shall see. Still would have to say that this was a good call and worthy of a try.

Photo of womencantsail
4.18/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The pour is a dark brown color with plenty of red notes to it and a very fluffy off-white/beige head.

S: There is the usual mild, Jolly Pumpkin tartness to this beer with some dark fruit notes (namely cherries and red grapes), lemon, and a bit of oak.

T: The flavor is quite enjoyable with a mild funkiness and lactic tartness. The fruit flavors come through nicely and help to give the sensation of more acidity. A mild maltiness underneath with a good tannin component.

M: The body is medium with a very heavy level of carbonation. In fact, the carbonation seems to be a bit overwhelming at times.

D: Jolly Pumpkin's beers rarely blow me away, but they're always enjoyable. This is another one to add to that list; I just wish it were more affordable.

Photo of Knapp85
3.53/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This brew pours out as a deep color with a tan colored head that had a decent retention to it. The smell of the beer is a mix of sour ale and winter spices. The taste of the beer is t too bad, I expected this one to be really sour but it turned out to have a pretty good balance of spice in there to even things out. This beer isn't typically one I'd pick up around the holiday but it was worth trying.

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%

Photo of SocalKicks
4/5  rDev -0.7%

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Noel De Calabaza from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
90 out of 100 based on 903 ratings.