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Noel De Calabaza - Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

Not Rated.
Noel De CalabazaNoel De Calabaza

Educational use only; do not reuse.

413 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 413
Hads: 956
Avg: 4.04
pDev: 17.57%
Wants: 75
Gots: 158 | FT: 12
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:
Beer added by: BeerBeing on 10-21-2007

"Belgian Christmas Ale aged in oak barrels."
View: Beers (44) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 413 | Hads: 956
Photo of bigfnjoe
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a Victory tulip

A- pours a dark, cherry brown with a one finger offwhite head. The head is very solid, no breaks at all in it...nice looking beer

S- nice barnyard funk, green apple, and the such

T- sour green apples, along with some minimal cinnamon and nutmeg. Not bad

M- medium bodied, but pretty thick for something this tart

O- pretty good beer, about par for the course for JP

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Photo of Hopswagger
3.01/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

P: Murky dark brown mahogany with yeast swirls. Started to gush once opened and delivers a massive blubbery looking khaki head that giggles like a bowl full of jelly. Great retention with micro bubble clingers.

S: Hickory smoke, nutmeg, toasted malts and chocolate almond bark. Sweet and spicy phenolic aroma.

T/M: Holiday spices, ginseng, waxy apple peels, bitter cranberries and booze. The signature Jolly Pumpkin base with a spiced one dimensional profile. Loads of spice flood the palate and drown out the other flavors. Carbonation is a tad too aggressive and the feel is full and chunky not smooth. Finish is dry with a slight dusting of cocoa powder over bitter fruit peel.

O: This has to be my least favorite of the Jolly Pumpkin line up. I was excited to see the holiday special brew but It was not the present i was expecting. Not a terrible creation but seems messy and unrefined. Must have been made by south pole elves...Can't expect everything to shine like the northern star. Cheers!

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Photo of Biffster
4.34/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

I will admit, I've had this bottle for a bit. A 750 with a cap. Ron, cork these!

The beer is a deep brown/mahogany with amber golden highlights. There is an almost unnoticeable tawny tan head. clinging to the side of the glass.

The tart sour notes are amply countered by the big caramel, toffee and graham cracker aroma. There is plenty of dark fruit - sour cherries and overripe strawberries - as well as some melon and pear. Lots of fruity estery banana and apple notes, along with just a touch of coffee bitterness, as it warms.

The toffee caramel notes at the sip are quickly countered by the bracing acidic sourness we know and love from Jolly Pumpkin. It is tart through the middle and there is plenty of tart acidity at the swallow, but the finish is fairly malty and sweet. It's not sweet overall, but this one balances well with the sourness.

The mouthfeel is light overall. The carbonation is moderate to light, but the body is very light. There is a little slickness on the tongue.

What a great, bready, fruity, yet sour and clean beer. This is one of Jolly Pumpkin's best efforts. The bitterness lingers but was never overwhelming. Well done.

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Photo of One2Remeber
4.36/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Chilled bottled poured into a snifter.

A: Off-white head, tinted brown like dirty snow (I do not miss Michigan right now:). Creamy and frothy as could be. Extreme bubbles rising to the top making for wonderful cloudy head retention. Body is murky brown color with a dark amber hue.

S: Powerful sour notes are inviting. Light cider aroma in the undertones. Reminds me of an English brown ale.

T: Nutty malt tastes at the backend. Sour up front. Extremely bitter from the carbonation. Cider stays on the palate after each sip.

M: Sits on the tongue like juice, drinkable like apple juice.

O: Fantastic. Could use a more sour burn, this is more mild, but thats just my preference. Reminds me of a sour version of Winterbraun from Lost Coast. This is a perfect for December.

A: Murky brown, dark body. Off white head, big bubbles fades quickly.

S: Metallic, tons of fruity citrus hops, some mild funk.

T/M: A lot more funk than remember... Make me happy. Drinkable sourness compared to a ultra tart flemish. Traditional brown ale notes hidden, chewy chocolate/figs.

O: Perfect Winter Ale.

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Photo of Mantooth
3.81/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a Samichlaus snifter.

This cola colored brew is a nice combination of green apple tart and fruit rind bitter. It pours with a small mocha head that dissipates as it rests; the luxurious lacing remains constant. The nose is a bit soapy with some vinegar and malt present. The mouthfeel is sticky and dry. Serve it cold and take your time in drinking, it slowly evolves into a very nicely crafted brew. I look forward to having it again.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.79/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 750mL bottle into a tulip. Bottled 9/26/2012.

Appearance: deep, dark amber-brown hue with some ruby highlights when held up to the light. There is definitely a moderate haze to the body. Head is two fingers of creamy, pillowy tan foam with good retention. Nice.

Smell: lightly malty aroma with a bit of toast and a hint of chocolate. Some spicy, phenolic character adds a bit of complexity to this. Not too bad; definitely within style.

Taste: toasty malt followed by a light but surprising sourness. Subsequently, we get chocolate and more of that phenolic character and light spiciness. There is some bitterness at the end, but hop flavors are indiscernible to me. Good, but the phenolic character is just a little bit harsh for my taste.

Mouthfeel: medium body with a good level of carbonation and a decent creaminess. I like it.

Overall: this is a pretty good beer, but it's not among my favorite BSDAs. I think it's just a little harsh; perhaps some age would have improved it.

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Photo of chanokokoro
4.2/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales branded goblet/snifter

Pours a deep, dark cola brown with an off white one finger head that quickly dissipates and reduces to a thin ring of foam. Light oak, whiffs of red wine vinegar, light caramel and a touch molasses on the nose. Brown sugar, overripe dark berries, some spiciness including cinnamon and nutmeg. Some yeasty esters midpalate, tart granny smith apple and caramel malt join in; Finishes with pleasant oakiness, and just the right of vinegary tartness to lightly pucker the mouth. Heavy medium to light full smooth, silky body. Light, but fizzy carbonation. This is one complex brew that has a lot going on, yet all the parts collaborate and come together as a cohesive whole. Excellent twist on the traditional Belgian Strong Dark Ale hoilday brew.

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Photo of Boski
3.75/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Dark hazy brown color. Very nice head and head retention.

S: A little funky (in a good way). Not too much going on though compared to other sours I have tried.

T: Nice tangy notes up front with a little spice in the finish.

M: Tingles the cheeks. Lingers on for quite the while.

O: I really enjoyed this beer. I have come to expect big things from Jolly Pumpkin and was not let down on this one. A very nice dark sour for the winter months. This was a nice change of pace from typical American and Belgian X Mas spiced ales. Definitely a sipper.

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Photo of goblue3509
3.33/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a lighter cola color with light highlights visible around the edges. There is a thin white head which recedes to skim with some lacing present. The aroma is of dark fruits and sour up front with a slight hint of oak at the back. The taste starts with a sour lactic taste green apples red grapes and present. The middle has a dark fruit taste and then the back end has an oak slightly off putting taste. It was just there kinda unblended. The mouthfeel is moderatley carbonated. Overall it was an okay beer, i am usually a fan of jolly pumpkin but this one left me wanting more out of it.

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Photo of StaveHooks
2.8/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

750ml split with my wife Batch 1198 Bottled 09-18-2012
Served in a Tripel Karmeliet tulip

A - Pours very dark brown with a light tan head. Nice thin cap with specks of lacing left on the glass.

S - Smells like rotten milk right off the top. Spices mixes with a very odd funky aroma,(and lots of it) grapes, dirty yeast, spiced figs and berries, old tangy dark grains, mildewed wood, sour dairy(not in a good way)

T - Opens up tart with green apple skins, grapes, pears, muddled spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, lightly sweet dark caramel malts lye underneath the funk and spices. Brown sugar comes out more as it warms with a sour lactic taste. Finishes with a sweet and sourness, spicy and funky.

M - Medium to moderate creamy body, spicy and dry feel, medium weight in body.

Funky for sure. If I closed my eyes I'm not sure I would have guessed the color of this beer. I wanted to like it more but I couldn't get past that sour/curdled milk aroma. The funk was not the funk I want to be apart of. It didn't seem to have any direction and seemed to be a mess of sorts.
While I'm glad I tried it I would never seek this out and I wish I would have only bought one. My least favorite offering from the folks at JP.

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got this in a beer exchange. Thanks Chris!

750ml bottle served in a chalice.

L - deep brown color with a off-white head that thinned to a ring and an island.

S - Belgian spices, yeast and oak.

T - very nice Belgian spiced flavor blends well with the oak aging and a bit of sourness.

F - medium bodied with lively carbonation.

O - good example of the style.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.92/5  rDev -3%
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.

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Photo of CloudStrife
4.27/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

25.4oz bottle split and poured into snifters. Blend 16 11-19-2012

A: Very dark brown with hints of copper ruby around the edges. 1 finger slightly tanned head that dissipates quickly. Quite opaque. Spots of lacing on the glass.

S: An Oud Bruin sort of a malty sweet tartness. This is gonna be a sour brew. I get some spiciness too.

T: Very heavy on the sour. Heavy on the malts with dark fruits making up a lot of the tart. Sour even seems to hit the roof of your mouth. Alcohol is very well hidden.

M: Good carbonation, medium bodied. Has a very crisp finish with the sour. Very drinkable if you are into sours.

Overall much funkier than I anticipated. Would recommend this to anyone into Flanders or Wilds. Not for the faint of tart.

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Photo of nova009
4.32/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From Notes
Draft pour into a snifter

A- One finger off white head, nice and foamy with slow dissipation, dark mahogany

S- Tart and funky, dark malts, dark fruits like figs, plums, and raisins, slightly woody

T- Lip smacking tart, lots of funk, raisins and plums, slightly nutty and chewy, slight woodiness as well, dark malt, delicious

M- medium-heavy body, fairly high carbonation, the tartness really attacks the palate, tart dry finish

O- this is one of my favorite sour beers, especially nice around Christmas, I try to drink as much of this as possible when available, a must try if you're a fan of sours

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Photo of lovindahops
4.38/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Merry Christmas 2012!!

A- Noel pours a brown with cake like foam that layers itself all over the glass. Massive lacing all over the glass. Nice looking Belgian strong dark ale.

S- grapes, apple juice, tart theme is at the forefront. Very sweet and livly with some spices mingling in with the dominant vinous scent. An excellent sour undertone

T- very sour at tart at the same time with delicious flavor from the apple flavor. Sweet and dry almost simultaneously as the brew has dark flavor as well. Really clings to your mouth as the sweet tart flavor lingers on

M- sticky flavor that cling to your palate. Simply smooth and enjoyable

O- Noel is an amazing Christmas brew. I am really enjoying the tart flavors all over this brew. I think I am going to try and have one of these every single Christmas

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Photo of Jimmys
4.08/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750mL into long stemmed glass.
Batch 904
Bottled 10-04-2011

A: hazed brown. hard to keep the sediment out of the glass. head is tightly bubbled. good retention and lacing.

S: grapes. apple juice. dark fruit. figs and plums. oak.

T: tart and acidic. not overwhelming, not in the least. vinous finish. oaky and vanilla. slightly tanic.

M: fine bubbles on a full body. the carb is really working well for this brew.

D: very tasty stuff. just enough acidity to keep it highly drinkable. not sure how much the time helped the brew, but a good holiday sipper.

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Photo of AdamBear
4.34/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle Date: 10-5-2011

A-black with a nice frothy cream colored head

S-faint, slightly tart, dark belgian malts. really just super faint. tickles the nose a bit though!

T-comes in with a pretty sour flavor of dark roasted grains, mocha, and dark fruits. doesn't taste a lot like a dark belgian at all. has a decent bitterness to it. very strong after-taste of mocha that i enjoy.

M-high carbonation with a dry finish

O-what a great beer. tastes like a mesh of american wild ale and american stout. it's a unique and awesome beer. great for a nice christmas eve! goes down quite easily.

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Photo of williamjbauer
3.87/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled served in a shaker pint from 22 oz bomber bottled in 11-23-12

Dark cola with rapidly fading khaki head with poor retention expected with 9%abv. Minimal lacing? This bottle exploded when I opened it and sadly lost a few foamy oz on the floor. Nose full of orange rind, funky yeast and dark fruits.

Taste initally a bit fruit with like citrus tones and bready notes then tart dry biscuit funk takes the wheel with complex robust oak wood flavor. Medium body, high carbonation. Dry talc mouthfeel.

Overall really liked the oak ascent, thought it was nice for the style. I'm just not a huge fan of these dry spicy style belgians despite the nice sour tart highlights.

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Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.25/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is the first Jolly Pumpkin that I have consumed that has really knocked my socks off. Hence, I feel the need to tell the world about it. Though this is not a sour by category, it displays many of the best characteristics of a sour.

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass, the appearance was a reddish brown color. It exhibited a modest level of carbonation and a slight white head. A grape-like aroma was obvious, though it was the more tart elements of the grape as opposed to grape candy. In the initial taste, one gets a generous taste of sour grape, woodiness, and a mild hoppy bite. A modest level of carbonation exists, sweeping the taste toward the aftertaste. As drinkers progress toward the aftertaste, the alcohol is more noticeable, yet it lacks any significant burn. In the aftertaste, one gets the tart taste of grape skin with a little bit of spice. I am not certain what makes this a holiday beer, but I enjoyed it a great deal.

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Photo of tut2528
3.92/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Blend 8, Bottled 10-31-2012

A: poured into a GI snifter, it pours a dark cola/root beer color with minimal head formation that had a mild tan tint. Giving the brew a couple of swirls in the glass recreates some soft tan colored head formation that once again dissipates quickly..

S: I love JP funky aromas. I pick up on a big sourness, with tart cherries, blackberries, figs, subtle spices, and oak barrels.

T: various peppery spices really come out here along with the typical JP funkiness and oak. The fruits are secondary, but are still noticeable. Alcohol makes its presence

M: thought this brew was going to have a little more to it. it falls on the lighter side of medium bodied... it leaves an oak and slight tartness on the palate with just a subtle hint to alcohol and spice.

O: a different twist on this style and its quite enjoyable. I was expecting a bit more malt sweetness, instead it was more funkiness, slight tartness. its a nice blend, just wish the fruits were a little more prominent.

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Photo of bump8628
3.93/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep brown with a dense and lasting head of khaki foam. Subtle but excellent malt complexity - treacle, caramel, shortbread. Hops are mild with just a hint of spicy earthiness. Rose water, clove, and cinnamon follow the holiday theme. A light lactic twang and earthy leather note let us know this is from Jolly Pumpkin. Really well done.

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Photo of spdyfire83
3.71/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

285th Review
75cl bottle poured into an unlabeled tulip glass
Didn’t catch the vintage on this

From notes. Enjoyed a couple summers back at a backyard BBQ with the usual suspects in the Mile High Knight's tasting crew. If memory serves correct, I can thank Knownfactor for this one. If memory fails, then it was Bardwashrind. Either way...cheers!

A: Deep brown. 1.5 (frothy white) fingernail head on gentle pour. Again, the art work on the label is awesome!

S: Hints of funk from the start with notes of dark fruit, candied apples, and brown sugar. Hint of spice too. Okay, but nothing over-the-top here.

T: Loads of fig, raisin, oak, spice, and Belgian yeast here. Not too much more than that, but a nice balance of funk as well. Good, but not great. A very holiday-esque brew for sure!

M: Medium bodied with appropriate carbonation. Though, it drinks a bit lighter than it looks.

O: An okay beer here - Belgian Dark are not necessarily my thing, but such goes life. Fun to try and decently executed.

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Photo of mlazzaro
4.13/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 10-5-11 batch 910
Dark looking, dark smelling.

Tan colored head. Composed of tiny bubbles. Brown body w/ mild carbonation level.

Fruity smelling. Raspberry- cherry aromas from microbes. Nice wood as well. Smell fades quickly but was briefly great.

Dark malts were used, but have for the most part fermented out. Very dry to the tongue. Dark malts left a residual roasted flavor. Tartness is mild but unmistakable. Makes you pucker. I expected more oak - wood character is very mild. Definitely more in the smell than the taste.

I like it! Interesting, simple and balanced. Extra "overall points" for going sour.

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Photo of MadScientist
4.47/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 10-5-2011
Batch 910
A: A medium amber with good clarity and a light redish hue. The head is thin but long lasting, composed of fine bubbles

S: The moderately-strong sour aroma has my mouth watering in anticipation, this is going to be tart. Some barnyard aromas come along with that sour. There is a moderately-light aroma of figs and a light nuttiness. Some Belgian yeast character is evident with scents of pepper an a faint fruity aroma. No hops.

T: This isn't as tart as the nose suggests but very tasty with that sweet-tart balance going on between the fruit tartness and a light bit of sweetness from caramel malt or dark candied sugar. There is a light hops bitterness and no flavor. There are light fruit esters is again fig but the tartness brings this citrusy lime-peel like flavor. The balance is moderately to the tart. The finish is dry the aftertaste is sweet-tart and fruity.

M: Medium bodied with high carbonation.

O: If only more Belgian Dark strongs were soured.

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Photo of ehammond1
4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle (2011)

Churchill's Pub & Grille
San Marcos, CA

Thanks for sharing this one, Gborobeer!

(Aged for 1 year)

Dark brown with ruby edges and a small light brown head. This leaves dotted and spotted stick down the glass.

Yeast-forward aroma, as most Jolly Pumpkins are, with mild dark fruits (cherries and raisins), and simple fruit bread/cake aromas as well.

The flavor has a very mild yeast funk, lots of earth, dark bread, and mild cherry and raisin character. Well balanced and very drinkable.

Medium, creamy body with moderate carbonation.

Very enjoyable funky winter ale.

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Noel De Calabaza from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
90 out of 100 based on 413 ratings.