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Noel De Calabaza - Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

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Noel De CalabazaNoel De Calabaza

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933 Ratings
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Ratings: 933
Reviews: 408
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 11.66%
Wants: 65
Gots: 150 | 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."
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 933 | Reviews: 408
Photo of jedwards
4.12/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Marked "Batch 5, 2009", picked up several weeks ago.

I've a little gun-shy with JP beers, but this one opens with a slight hiss and doesn't overflow. Pour has a half-finger of dissipating light tan head, beer is a deep garnet. Nose is sour and slightly acetic with a touch of spice that differentiates it form the other JP beers I've had. Taste is vinous, some raisin and slight spice notes, lots of unripe fruit on the back end. Mouthfeel is light with creamy pinpoint carbonation -- really excellent. Up with the Oro de Calabaza in terms of drinkability.

Will definitely pick another bottle up if I spot one.

Photo of pmlondrigan
3.68/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle marked batch 5 2009 poured into a tulip glass. Brownish red, but leaning to the dark brown side of the spectrum, could be a little darker for the style. A generously heavy pour produces only a one finger tan color head which dissipates quickly leaving only a wisp of a head around the glass. Surprising given a lot of jolly pumpkin brews I have had are very effervescent.
Lighter aroma than expected but pleasant. Aromas of dried fruit, slight spice notes, and oak, a little bit of sourness can be detected but not much.
The flavor follows from the nose on this one. The first thing noticed is the nice balance of malt and dried fruit flavors, followed by a pleasant drying almost winey oak aged taste. I wish I could say there were more flavors going on here in terms of yeast or hops but I am honestly finding this beer to lack a little for what I expect from an oak aged Belgian strong.
I do always enjoy the mouth feel of jolly pumpkin ale, dry and a little prickly. For what its worth the first quarter of the bottle is disappearing quickly so I would say its pretty drinkable.
Overall a tasty brew but not my favorite from the brewery. Glad to try it, enjoyed it but still expected a tad bit more.

Photo of Aenema
3.3/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Gusher, I was eventually able to pour it, but it still resulted in a soapy, 5'' head. Deep brown with dark ruby highlights and splotchy lacing.
Smell - Tart lemon and cherry.
Taste - Tartness balanced by spice and slight malt notes.
Mouthfeel - Fast, fine carbonation with a light-moderate body and dry finish.
Drinkability - Fine.
Overall - Disappointingly, the flavors are not very strong nor do they come together in a very interesting way.

Photo of BeerMandS
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A) This beer has a very good looking red/brown color. Carbonation is pretty good with decent head. This beer looks very appealing.
S) The nose screams drink me. Sweet ripe dark cherries with holiday spices
T) It has very obvious sour notes on the palate. They are not overly aggressive and very appealing. I get flavors of compote cherries with raisin and the acidity of a granny smith apple if that makes any sense. It's like very young burgundy in a decent year
M) This has a very mild gueuze like mouth.
D) This was a very easy beer to consume and was so delicious I purchased a couple more.

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

Beer poured from a bottle into a becher glass. Beer is brown and clear with a hint of a haze to it. Carbonation is moderate to low and the head, white bubbles, falls away leaving a little bit of lacing on the glass. It looks fine.

The aroma is primarily sour, I wasn't expecting this beer to be a sour, but I guess it is.

Beer is sour but the overall flavor is a little watery and weak. I'm not impressed. There is a slight after taste. Drinkability is fine and mouthfeel is OK, overall the beer wasn't anything special, just OK.

Photo of PorterLambic
3.94/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big bottle pours an unbelievably huge head. A full pint glass of it with some oozing out of the bottle for a full 5 minutes. Not an auspicious start. Fluffy with great retention. When it finally settled, a rich dark brown throughout liquid presented.
Smell is rich malt and dark fruit, woody, slight hop tang in nose with a light alcohol note.
Taste is dark fruit with a solid malt backing, tangy wine-like flavor/presence. Good balance.
Warming, medium body though I expected more.

10 minutes after pouring 2/3 of a pint glass there was still 3" of head in the bottle. So, becareful where and when you open this but once it settles down, a good beer.

Photo of peabody
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a dark coffee color with off white suds mabey two fingers worth.
Smell is oak sourness. Very strong. Some malt and sugar but mostly sour. No alcohol in the smell here.
A rich sourness with some caramel in the background. Very bubbly and crisp like a champagne. The sourness is a little onesided but this is a 'special ale'. No alcohol in the taste either.
Mouthfeel is very clean and clear. Very refreshing.
Drinkability is great here despite the high abv.
They hide the abv very well here. Great job.

Photo of wangbruins
2.85/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A- Deep mahogany color (like the label said) with a thick tan head that didn't break at all...very nice

S- Dark grapes, lots of cherries, and some spice. It's very wine like in its scent

T- Lots and lots of grapes. It almost tastes like wine but with not much bitter aftertaste

M- Smooth but bold at first with an easy finish, very thin though, almost like grape pop

D- It's gonna take some work getting the 1 pt 9 oz down as it tastes like wine and drinks like pop

Photo of nickd717
4.23/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle from K&L Redwood City, shared at a tasting. With this one, I finally get what people are talking about when they rave about Jolly Pumpkin. I guess I'll have to stop with the "take out the first p in 'pumpkin' and replace it with a bl" joke to mock people's excessive flattery of that brewery. This really is a great beer.

Pours cloudy reddish-brown with a large off-white head, leaving some foam as it settles and excellent lacing.

Aroma is very good, with sour cherry, barnyard funk, oak, and holiday spices.

Flavor is also great. Sour cherries and other dark fruits stand out, along with very nice barnyard funk, earth, spices, and oak.

Medium body with mild acidity. Tartness is restrained and does not overpower.

Drinkability is pretty good. Overall this is an excellent beer, one I would definitely have again, despite being the hardcore ticker that I am.

Photo of colefsuwr
3.52/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A very different beer from what I was used to. However a nice spice with some coriander (go to the kitchen and find your wife's spice rack) thrown in there. I wish they came in 12 oz bottles and not just 25's because it can be a lot of beer in one bottle.

Photo of jdklks
3.1/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Honestly, this beer doesn't look all that enticing with the pour. Light brown edges darken into an almost impenetrable mahogony with amber hues when backlit. it almost looks like muddy water. The head is okay: small, tan, frothy bubbles that hang around for awhile. The smell is strong of belgian bready yeast, spices and dark malts. still not all that enticing.

For a beer that boasts an array of spices and a style that is typically complex, this is rather bland. Not much to it, and the flavors that do come through dont really blend well together. It's a little sour, and has a nice dark fruit sweetness through the middle (which is the best part of the beer by far). some hop bitterness in the finish and aftertaste. The barrel aging is apparent only at the beginning and very end, but doesn't seem to add much to the overall enjoyment of the beer, leaving one to wonder what was the point? It almost tastes watered down at points. Drinkable, but far from impressive.

light, airy, and even (as previously mentioned) watery mouthfeel. Not as carbonated or sour as it could be. drinkability is fine because I will finish the bottle, but I wont be picking this one up again anytime soon.

Photo of Minotaur
4.37/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a goblet and a huge head quickly fills the glass up to the rim. These recede and leave a thick lacing and a head which tends to clump in thicker parts and then thins out like a cloud cover. The color is deep brown, almost opaque.

The aroma is a powerful blend of sour apple, pear, whiskey like alcohol, bready funk, some burnt caramel, and sharp spices. There is a definite wine-cider like quality.

The flavor is a veritable kaleidoscope of tastes. It is predominantly sweet-sour in the same way that a dry wine is; there is a definite element of fruits: again apples and perhaps some plumb or raisin creeping in. There is also a hint of smokiness and deep spices: clove and cinnamon. It is truly unique on the tongue and is amazingly balanced with the sour, tangy, funky sharpness that is uncharacteristically smooth. There is a strong wild yeast presence and only the slightest amount of hop bitterness on the sides of the tongue. The alcohol is warming and enhancing. Not overbearing.

This beer maintains an effervescence that tingles the tongue and continues to enhance the sour and cider-wine like quality of the beer. The mouthfeel is exceedingly full and pleasant. all of this leads to a very drinkable beer for this particular style.

A truly unique ale that brings not only characteristics typical of the sour and farmhouse ale - but that also blends these characteristics with the darker Belgian ale to its compliment.

Photo of ritzkiss
3.92/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle, 2007 bottling, brought by Derek - thanks a ton!

Cap is popped and bubbles slowly rise over the mouth of the bottle. A quick pour slams bubbles through 2/3 of the glass but they quickly recede to leave a rocky head and dark brown cola like brew with glints of cherrywood. Sticky lacing down the glass, looks good.

The nose on this beer is phenomenal. Loads of barnyard and wild funk, just a touch of vinegar and a nice woodiness. I could seriously smell this beer all day without taking a sip.

Unfortunately, the nose is where I would prefer to stay if I could as the taste doesn't match the funk promised in the nose. Much more balanced, cola with hints of dark fruits, a nice woodiness, a light tartness reminiscent of apples and lemons, a dash of vinegar - Flanders Bruin? Just a light funk, light sourness and the base body doesn't really cut it for me. Edgy carbonation further detracts and pulls away the chance for flavor to savor.

The nose and the taste just don't match up for me, left me a little unsatisfied. No doubt still a tasty brew by any standards but not in the highest tier for me. Thanks for bringing this Derek!

Photo of KYbrewgal
4.75/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle: Blend 1, 2009. Full fluffy white head, very effervescent. Aromas of caramel, toast, brett sourness. Deep amber color with a lingering rocky white head that laces on the glass as you drink it. Dark sour fruit layered with spices and a bit of oak. Long finish. An excellent holiday sipper.

Photo of bamadog
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Still slowly working may way into the world of sours and beers brewed with brett, and this was clearly a great choice and I will likely be picking up even more Jolly Pumpkin offerings very soon and can now hardly wait for my road trip to Michigan to visit the brewery. Pour is from the bottle to a tulip.

Appearance: Pour is a dark, murky brown with some plum highlights; huge 3 finger head with insane retention that is fluffy and and very light tan; a dry, foamy lacing holds firm to the sides of the glass and it's quite full.

Smell: Tart fruits that are darker, like figs or raisins, but there is also an acidic quality like overripe green apples as well; slightly musty; faint whiff of alcohol; slight brett funkiness sneaks in as it starts to warm.

Taste: Very tart and very sour, mouth-puckeringly so; dark fruits that are mildly sweet like the figs or raisings mentioned in the scent, but there is also a slightly acidic sour green apple taste as well; mild brett funkiness and alcohol really creeps into the background as it warms.

Mouthfeel: The sour and tartness is intense and really puckers the mouth; mouth is tingly from a very prickly sort of carbonation; finsih is rather ddry and the sour notes tend to linger and I still want to pucker from the sour; belly is left quite warm.

Drinkability: Couldn't handle a steady diet of it, but I really love the tart flavors and the great puckering mouthfeel; ABV would be a bit high for too much as well, but to work through 22 oz. on occasion wouldn't pose too much of a problem.

Photo of taez555
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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..

Photo of alleykatking
3.99/5  rDev -1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of Chiroo
4.47/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of Mora2000
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of Jwale73
3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of notlob
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of ThirstyBird
3.6/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of ThatWineGuy
4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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!

Photo of biegaman
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of dbalsock
4.63/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Noel De Calabaza from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
90 out of 100 based on 933 ratings.