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Noel De Calabaza - Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

Not Rated.
Noel De CalabazaNoel De Calabaza

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

843 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 843
Reviews: 394
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 11.91%
Wants: 56
Gots: 134 | FT: 9
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 843 | Reviews: 394 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of taez555


3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

Blend 5, 2009.

This beer pours a dark brown body with a small bright white head that disapears quickly.

Nose is at first a classic wild ale, with that funky blue cheese sort of wild yeast smell, but at the same time this beer has a mild anise and herbal smell to it. Gives it a very christmasy sort smell. It has some strong apple, or cider smells to it.

Taste is medium bodied and immediately funky and sour, very much a mix of wild ale, lambic and even cider. Strong funky cheese flavor, and again just like the nose, it has a some interesting earth, cider, anise and herb notes to it. The more I drink it you really get a lot of those horseblanket and funky cheese tones. This beer really has a strong strong strong cheese flavor to it(did I mention that?). There's a very acidic tooth rotting bitterness which is typical of a wild ale or lambic and it's hard to make out if it's just the wild ale or the any hops. Still.. it's there. Ends witha sour wild/lambic sort of funk.

Belgian dark ale is a horrible way to catagorize this beer. It's not even in the same ballpark as a a Chimay or Westy. What it is is a Wild ale and given that it's not to bad. I'm not a huge fan the style, but this beer is right in there and pretty damn good..

01-06-2010 23:57:20 | More by taez555
Photo of alleykatking


4.05/5  rDev +0.5%

Bottle split with friends for a tasting. Looking forward to try another Jolly Pumpkin beer.

A- Poured a cola brown color. A ton of mocha colored head (3 finger plus) which took forever to go down some. Big thick lacing left behind from the monster head. This bottle gushed like some peoples right off the bat as it was popped.

S- Muted sour notes along with the barnyard funk in the nose. This is not a bad thing and let's the darker fruit and yeast make a little more appearance on their own. Some light spices in the aroma as well that come and go.

T- The taste is a little more complex in the sour aspect than in the nose. Bigger upfront of dark fruits and spices with a light funk added. This in turn ends and a light sour note in the tail end of this comes into play and doesn't go overboard.

M- Medium mouthfeel. Carbonation is good for the stlye. Light sour notes and raisin taste is left on the palate and in the aftertaste. Light drying to the mouth with this.

D- This was a very surprising beer that turned out to be a tasty treat dispite the nose and the gushing forth from the bottle. I think Jolly Pumpkin does a good beer and this proves it once again.

01-06-2010 01:10:57 | More by alleykatking
Photo of Chiroo


4.47/5  rDev +10.9%

Just opened this bottle last night. Batch #4. Fantastic sour aroma. and an overall great beer. Taste changed from a thin sour feel to a rich texture by the time it lingered for a second or two.

Very glad the beer lady at Whole Foods pointed me in this direction. I am going to drop by and buy a couple more bottles tonight.

01-05-2010 19:17:08 | More by Chiroo
Photo of Mora2000


4.03/5  rDev 0%

Thanks to thirdeye11 for sharing this bottle.

Blend 2, 2009. Pours dark brown with a large beige head. There is some sourness in the aroma. Some tart citrus and some caramel malt. The flavor has some tartness and a little bit of funk. Medium body and very drinkable.

01-03-2010 22:26:32 | More by Mora2000
Photo of Jwale73

Rhode Island

3.85/5  rDev -4.5%

750ml bottle poured into a tasting snifter and shared amongst four. Batch 1, 2009. Poured the color of unpasteurized cider, with a murky clarity. Head was half of an inch and off-white and quickly dispersed into a swirl and a band. Nose was tart and slightly vinous. Flavors consisted of tart cherries, vinous dark fruit and a hint of wood, with a light, salty quality that lingers on the lips. Mouthfeel was light-medium and extremely gassy/effervescent and slightly prickly. An interesting sour belgian strong dark; but the carbonation is way too aggressive.

01-02-2010 22:10:14 | More by Jwale73
Photo of notlob


4.13/5  rDev +2.5%

Blend 4, 2009. Consumed 01/02/10.

Aroma: Cherries and Funk up front, deep mahogany, sweet alcohols and funk in the finish.

Appearance: Pours deep red-ish, mahogany brown. Quite turbid, with a beautiful 2 finger+ head that lingers quite a bit.

Flavor: Tons of sour funk and cherry tartness, and a little bit of vanilla-almond-oak flavors come in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Really thin. High carbonation. Tart and dry.

Overall Impression: Very nice. Quite possible too much of a sour bite. Very refreshing.

01-02-2010 19:35:49 | More by notlob
Photo of ThirstyBird


3.58/5  rDev -11.2%

Blend 1 2009
A - Deep dark brown with amber highlights. Loose light tan head. Some lacing.
S -Sort of sweet and sour. Sour apples and cherries, cranberries, dark fruit, yeasty and funky too.
T - Taste is similar - tart, sour cherries, some light malt backbone. Some spice, dark fruit and funk.
M/F - Effervescent carbonation - very active and prickly. It does mellow a bit as it warms. Medium body.
D - Not really what I was expecting and also didn't love it. The mouthfeel alone put me off a bit.

01-02-2010 16:00:47 | More by ThirstyBird
Photo of ThatWineGuy

Ontario (Canada)

4.08/5  rDev +1.2%

Two finger foamy, creamy head that doesn't quit, great retention and dense sheet lace. The beer presented as black in normal light but under a bright light was revealed as a very dark brown, not opaque as it seemed. Smell of decomposing fruit and yeast - lots of yeast.

Taste again features yeast, sour fruit, more bitter / sour fruit and a tart citrus rind, possibly lime. There is a substantial body here with nice density. The beer tastes quite good despite the tart, sour and almost decomposing fruit presence and it finishes very nicely with a lingering aftertaste that makes you want to take another sip.

This beer is difficult to evaluate overall and I found myself at half glass not quite knowing what else to say about it. Certainly unique, it's a pleasant and enticing brew, another Jolly Pumpkin Ale that in my mind defines the word "artisan" in terms of fine beer. Recommended of course!

12-30-2009 01:03:00 | More by ThatWineGuy
Photo of biegaman

Ontario (Canada)

4.03/5  rDev 0%

Noel de Calabaza is one of those beers that can't easily be described by colour. You might think it had no colour; its body is black and stygian... until you hold it up to the light and see that it does, in fact, brim with ravishing tones of scarlet. Its head, so thick it was nearly a nuisance to pour, looks spongy enough to protect fragile goods in shipping.

Every Jolly Pumpkin beer I've had to date smells roughly the same - they've all reeked of little critters and wild yeast. As a fan of these odors, I've never rated any JP aroma less than a 4 - I find only good in this distinct menage of musty oak and fruity, farmhouse funk - but can imagine those less fond of Brettanomyces finding the redundancy frustrating.

For those unfamiliar with the character of wild yeast, I usually describe it as being something lightly tart and often strikingly vinegary. It lends the beer a very dry, almost acidic and vaguely funky quality. As they do virtually all JP offerings, those descriptors certainly sum up this beer, which contains vivid examples of the aforementioned.

And if you think that aging a beer in a musty, used barrel crawling with microscopic critters and uninhibited bacterias can't possibly turn out more appealing than it already sounds, you might be pleasantly surprised. Of course, it helps a lot if the base beer is full of flavour, which, sadly, is not exactly true of this particular example.

I taste a touch of figs and assorted dark fruits as well as caramelly dark malts and an impressively nuanced yeast, but am finding it difficult to really grasp any flavour due to the wild yeast and the piercingly high carbonation, both which seem to scrub the tongue of all flavour almost immediately. On the plus side, there's not even a hint of alcohol.

I certainly didn't enjoy this batch (#333/334) as much as I remember loving a previous sample I had when the beer was first released (in 2007, Batch #4). My notes would indicate this bottle had much more carbonation and much less flavour. Still, I did rather enjoy both (albeit to different degrees) just like I've enjoyed every JP beer I've ever had.

12-29-2009 22:55:53 | More by biegaman
Photo of dbalsock


4.68/5  rDev +16.1%

Wow this was a great beer!

The pour was dark brown with maroon highlights and what I think was an off white head. I can only guess because there was almost no head to speak of. It created a ring around the glass, but not much else. It actually got me worried that there would be almost no carbonation in the mouthfeel.

Smell: So much going on with the nose. Tartness, like heavy red grapes jumped out at me first followed by brown sugar and caramelized figs and finishing with a hint of roasted goodness.

Taste: Much like the smell, with many dark fruits coming through, molasses, caramel and a near hidden roasted quality. There were so many different tastes that I found something new on every sip. So tasty.

Mouthfeel: There was a slight bitterness and adequate carbonation, despite my fears from the appearance. The tartness is not overpowering, but not subtle either. It's very well balanced with both the flavors and the other mouthfeel characteristics.

Drinkability: If I knew where to get more of this I'd consider grabbing a couple more. This might be my favorite beer of 2009... so so so good.

12-27-2009 19:53:04 | More by dbalsock
Photo of at1234


4.28/5  rDev +6.2%

Brettanomyces are a thing of beauty. Often frowned upon by the average beer drinker for its extreme sour characteristics, when understood and appreciated it really is a work of art. With that said obviously this ale will be very sour. But to those that read this who are writing it off immediately because of that don't worry, subtle notes of chocolate, dried dark fruit and cranberry come into play once the first sip goes down. This beer has a very generous head thanks to re-fermentation, that lingered around to the very last sip. Its overall flavor is reminiscent of sour apples soak in a Belgian strong dark ale, a truly joyous winter treat that I will highly recommend to others.

12-27-2009 03:06:27 | More by at1234
Photo of dpodratsky3

North Carolina

3.88/5  rDev -3.7%

750ml bottle poured into wine glass

A: Gusher, very cloudy/opaque root beer brown, thick creamy very light tan head that leaves lots of lace, coats the glass all over

S: Tartness is dominant, along with some musty/barnyard elements

S: Hits again with that very big tartness, but with many background players, I know it is more complex that it seems, for some reason it is difficult to pick out individual flavors, but I can taste them all combined, after a while a sweetness starts to show up

M: Stinging carbonation but fades to dry very fast, oak aging has something to do with it

D: Drinks like wine, so enjoy

Notes: This is my second Jolly Pumpkin beer. I like this one also, even though I would say La Roja was a little better. This one has all the right elements. I can even tell that they are there in the taste and smell, but for some reason it just doesn't pop. It's being held back from releasing all its complexities some how. However as the score shows, it was still delicous.

12-24-2009 06:01:39 | More by dpodratsky3
Photo of clayrock81


3.78/5  rDev -6.2%

Poured a darkish ruby brown with a big soapy head that took forever to dissipate on top of an toffee, bready malt aroma mixed with cherries/dark fruit, spicy yeast and a hint of clove. Smooth and spicy and definitely a beer to let warm as it perks up a little as you sip on it; the sweetness is like caramel and sweet fruit and is up front and then comes a sour, sharp burst for balance like citric (orange) and spice for a nice finish. A good winter warmer.

12-23-2009 23:40:29 | More by clayrock81
Photo of shadow1961


3.83/5  rDev -5%

Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza pours a couple of stiff fingers of foam over an opaque cola-colored brew. Carbonation on mine (an '07) is very spritzy- in fact it gushed a bit when I got the cap off. The nose is typical Jolly Pumpkin tart funk, but also dark sweet fruit. Flavor is fruity up front- apple cider and dark figs predominate- maybe a bit of clove and wood, with a little tartness off the back, and herbal hops. Mouthfeel is round, but lighter than one would think because of the carbonation, and finishes dry-ish- there's a little oak in the aftertaste too. This is a 9% ABV ale, though that only makes itself felt with some heat in the belly- ideally, you're drinking this one slowly with friends- and you should. Fragrant belches!

12-21-2009 08:21:02 | More by shadow1961
Photo of dahlen22

New Jersey

2.17/5  rDev -46.2%

Color-Dark red/brown with way too much carbonation.

Aroma-This beer has the smell of cherries and winter spices

Taste- A bit too sweet and tart for me. Cherries, plums, winter spices and a slight bit of bready hops.

Mouthful- Again, tart and sweet.

I was told to get this by a bartender at Eulogy in Philadelphia (who by the way thinks he knows more about beer than he actually does--typical want-a-be beer expert). That being said, I gave it a try despite this guy's so-called "knowledge" of beer. If you want to enjoy a true Belgian winter beer, forget Michigan and stick to Belgium...skip this one because it is certainly not worth the $12 per bottle.

12-20-2009 20:07:25 | More by dahlen22
Photo of MbpBugeye


3.2/5  rDev -20.6%

2009 blend 1. Poured into a chalice

A- Huge Huge Huge frothy merangue like, sand colored head rises way above the rim of the glass. It has incredible stay with incredible lacing. The head lasts the entire glass. The beer is a murky and clouded dark brown/umber.

S- The nose is not very strong. Its tart and sour. Hints of lactic sourness and acidity. Some slight funk as well.

T- The taste is weak as well. Some tartness and sourness.

M- Thin body, high carbonation. Dry finish.

D- Goes down pretty easily but I don't think I will be able to drink the whole bottle.

12-20-2009 05:44:46 | More by MbpBugeye
Photo of jgasparine


4.05/5  rDev +0.5%

A- Poured from the bottle with a 3/4" thick creamy tan head, which slowly dissipated to reveal some great lacing. The body was a well-carbonated cola brown color.

S- Smells slightly sour and barnyardy (as expected), metallic, and of dark fruit and spices. I was disappointed to find the metallic aromas dominating the fruit and spice...

T- Despite the let-down with the nose, this beer is extremely complex on the palate! Tastes of sour fruit covered with a horseblanket, along with significant earthy notes and a slight astringency. Finish is slightly medicinal (pleasant), and then becomes very dry... A true rollercoaster in the mouth, and just wonderful!

M- BIG mouthfeel... the lack of texture leads me to believe that it is well-attenuated, but at the same time, the body is filled-out with ample amounts of this non-bloating velvet carbonation. Quite interesting, and it does a good job.

D- While the alcohol is well hidden, and while this beer tastes so wonderfully complex, I can see my palate getting quickly fatigued with multiple glasses of this beer... hence a half-mark above average in the 'drinkability' department.

12-16-2009 14:46:15 | More by jgasparine
Photo of Jmoore50


4.22/5  rDev +4.7%

Blend 3 2009

I love good head on a beer, and this one gives some of the best heads around. There is so much head on this that the beer still inside the bottle is leaving lace around the bottle. A gentle pour produces a two finger sticky foamy tan head. The color of the brew itself is a beautiful dark purple cherry. Imagine a beautiful dark cherry stained wood liquified into your glass. What a great looking beer. Cannot stop looking at it.

The smell is of Brett, Belgian yeast, and herbs and spices. Nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, just a faint hint of all.

The taste is good. I am not sure if Brett is intended to be in all of JP's offerings or if their barrel room is incredibly infested with bugs. Either way it makes for a very tasty brew most of the time. This has Juniper, dark berry of some kind, clove, Belgian bread-y yeasts and a Brett flavor. There is some Juniper berries in this as well. What I love about the taste is that the Brett yeast paired with the Belgian yeast produces a perfect combination of bread-y and tart flavors. This brew focuses more on the tastes and ingredients, rather than yeasts and mouth feel. Hard to explain really, must try for yourself.

The mouthfeel is great with these two yeasts. At first, when pulled straight out of the fridge, it was over carbonated. Once it came to room temperature it started to perfect itself. Blended perfectly.

What a great brew, especially for the holiday season. I have to say it though, this is what Jubelale would be like if Brett and Belgian yeasts were used. Great brew from what's turning out for me, to be a great brewery.


12-15-2009 05:58:35 | More by Jmoore50
Photo of ShadesOfGray


4.3/5  rDev +6.7%

Pours from a 750ml bottle into my Val Dieu challice. Pours a dark brown like thick apple cider with a carbonated bubbley white head that rises quick and dissapates slowely to a ring. Slight lacing.
Aroma is a bit tart, fruity, white vinegar.
Flavor consists of citrus, Brett, sour cherries, similar to a Belgian Strong Pale Ale(by taste). Very good...and a great winter warmer.

12-14-2009 03:31:36 | More by ShadesOfGray
Photo of Brez07


4.3/5  rDev +6.7%

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a wine glass. Bottle sticker says "Blend 4, 2007"

A: Pours a dark reddish brown with a 1 finger sandy head. When I first popped the bottle, the beer started rising and almost fizzed over. Not much lacing.

S: Lots of spices, with nutmeg and ginger the most potent. There's also some granny smith apple and sour cherry

T: Sweet but tart. Taste follows the smell nicely. The fruit stands out the most.

M: Light bodied with a dry finish. Lots of carbonation

D: Great. I was surprised to see this wasn't a sour or wild ale though. This is tart, but not overwhelming. 9%? I hardly noticed.

12-13-2009 00:55:04 | More by Brez07
Photo of Maction


4.38/5  rDev +8.7%

This review is for Blend 1 2007, consumed in December of 2009.

A: Murky brown on a deep garnet background.  Huge fluffy lacey parchment colored head.

S: Sour cherries, wine vinegar, horse blanket funk.

T: Dark sour cherries, semisweet chocolate, pumpkin pie spices, lemon drops.

M: Satiny mouthfeel with a nice medium-dry finish.  Alcohol is well-hidden throughout.

D:  Yes!  Hook it to my veins!  Maybe my favorite American tart/sour beer.

12-09-2009 03:11:39 | More by Maction
Photo of jampics2


4.08/5  rDev +1.2%

Perhaps one of the seasonal beers I most look forward to, this sensational sour is one of the best beers that Jolly Pumpkin offer in regular release channels. Blend 1, 2009 poured into a Cantillon snifter.

Pours a dark plum color, small head that outlines the sour funk.

Nose is great just not too intense - sour funk, leather, apples, cherry, and lemon stand out.

Tatse is where it's at! An awesome, super defined sweet/sour combo that has that trademark Jolly Pumpkin taste. Lemon sour dominates, but a bit of hints of other citrus backed with a dark cherries and tobacco create a smoothness that follows the sharp sour hit.

Mouth is good, super carbed, but that's to be expected with this style.

Drinkability is good. A great beer, one I look forward to every year and one that always delivers!

12-08-2009 14:05:40 | More by jampics2
Photo of Katahdin


4.2/5  rDev +4.2%

A really nice interpretation of what I would call an American Winter Ale, bit could also pass easily a s Belgian Quad. Kind of on the darkish red side as it pours but a nice rich head. A bit tart initially on the mouth but finishes very smooth with subtle hints of cocoa, dried cherries and other fruits, and a oaked maltiness in the aftertaste. Very easy to drink, goes down rather smoothly without much fighting needed. Much better than the typical Belgian Quad. Has a lingering taste of woodiness combined with the dried fruits which perfectly balances out the flavor. Would be anxious to try this on tap.

12-07-2009 20:29:29 | More by Katahdin
Photo of froghop


3.78/5  rDev -6.2%

pours a semi-clear very dark brown with a red tint, a large bubbly tan head, and some lacing.

smell is of dark fruit, caramel, spice, a touch of cocoa, and a little malt in back.

taste is tart, sour malt, some caramel, spice, and some cocoa, ends somewhat dry and tart.

12-06-2009 23:13:23 | More by froghop
Photo of BobbyBeerman


4.83/5  rDev +19.9%

Blend 2, 2009

This is one hell of a beer!! I'd almost swear I was drinking my favorite Belgian quadruple. Hell, this might replace my favorite during the season.

A: Pours a nice brown with red hues coming through. This one has some major angry carbonation. I tried my normal vigorous pouring method and I ended up with a fist plus of head. It finally settled down to a persistent half-finger layer that produced some insane lacing.

S: Malty sweet. A little hops in the background. But the thing that caught my nose was the fruit. Cherries - sour/tart cherries. A hint of the oak comes through.

T: All of the nose comes through with the addition of a hint of apple. The spice blend really adds something to the flavor.

M: Dry yet creamy as it goes down. Effervescent. It hides the 9% well.

D: You have to find this and try it. Share it with friends - appropriate for this time of year. I'm going to get bottles for my better beer drinking friends and more than a few more for me!

12-05-2009 04:46:28 | More by BobbyBeerman
Noel De Calabaza from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
90 out of 100 based on 843 ratings.