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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.

851 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 851
Reviews: 394
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 11.91%
Wants: 60
Gots: 139 | FT: 8
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: 851 | Reviews: 394 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of dgallina
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%

750ml capped dark green wine bottle tagged with "blend 1, 2007"

Pours cloudy dark red and brown with an insanely huge tan head. Like most of the Jolly Pumpkin beers, smells strongly of sour wood, yeast, perhaps a little dust. The christmas spicing comes through in the flavor. Tastes like a Flemish sour red ale with a dollop of orange peel, pepper, and anise layered on top. Alcohol not at all obvious apart from some spicy fruitiness. The body is airy and light, alive with a bit too much carbonation. A winner from Jolly Pumpkin. The bottle goes quickly due to the sour quenching character.

dgallina, Feb 22, 2008
Photo of DrJay
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%

Blend 5, 2007.
Dark tawny colour with a fluffy beige cap. Chunky, sticky lace and good head retention. A little hazy. Funky aroma - lemon zest, earthy and acidic with a light vinegar character. Great flavour. There's a tartness that formed a solid backbone, with a bit of brown sugar. Earthy and fruity, notes of sour cherry and plum, light woody oak, with a hint of leather and tobacco in the finish. Medium bodied with ample carbonation that didn't overwhelm. Nice texture with a bit of puckering tartness. Sugary, yet dried the palate in the finish. Light alcohol warmth. Great stuff from JP, just as I've come to expect. I hope they pull this one out again next year in time for Xmas.

DrJay, Feb 10, 2008
Photo of McGowan
4.15/5  rDev +3%

750ml bottle into a tulip

Aroma: musty, a bit citrusy, tobacco, the tiniest bit of seawater. A touch phenolic.

Appearance: Dark plum. Against light an effervescent crimson. Half-inch nearly white head receding to a persistent milky froth, with lingering lace.

Flavor: Complex. Cherries, sour apricots, subtle caramel, anise, dark chocolate, green apples, tart but not puckering. Oak all over the finish. Very little alcohol considering the strength. Roasted almonds long after it's gone.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Balanced carbonation. Silky on the tongue.

Overall: Smooth. Very pleasurable and balanced, yet memorable. Nothing overly aggressive. A winner.

McGowan, Feb 10, 2008
Photo of beerking1
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%

This beer is dark brown, and cloudy, pours with a small but dense and persistent head, which leaves lace all the way down the glass. Aroma is slight, but with wonderful sour notes, and a pretty good amount of brett funk on the nose. Perhaps some pediococcus and lactobacillus as well. The Belgian funk comes through in the flavor as well, with notes of dark cherries, more Brett funk, and tart apples, backed by a nice malt backbone, and the barest hints of oak and hop. Finishes dry and tart, but not overwhelming.

beerking1, Feb 09, 2008
Photo of Rezzin
4.75/5  rDev +17.9%

There is something to be said about sampling beer from red plastic cups (even clear ones for that matter).

I won't get into appearance other than it looked dark ruby red.

This is my first sampling from this brewery and WOW, what a nice start! The flavor of this beer is indescribable for the most part. Extremely complex with flavors ranging from dark cherries, tart green apples, some plum to a oh so subtle brett funk with nice oaky notes. There is wonderful acidic and slightly vinegary bite but it's well balanced by a nice malty sweetness. Effervescent and finishes dry. BeerAdvocate calls this a Strong Dark Ale but I would say it's more of a Flanders Red. Mmmmm! You would never guess this beer is 9% ABV.

I missed the $7 sale on this and wound up paying $20 for 2. I can't wait to try other beers from this brewery. Highly recommended. Go do yourself a favor and buy this. If you enjoy sour beers, you'll love this. Even if you don't, it's a great into into!

Rezzin, Feb 08, 2008
Photo of trevorwideman
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%

demcorhip brought me this bottle. Thanks so much. 750ml poured into a snifter. I'm pretty pumped about this one!

This pours like other JP beers I've had, with a massive head and nearly out-of-control carbonation. That yeast is certainly doing it's job here. The beer is nearly opaque, but with hints of ruby and orange when held to the light. Beautiful lacing. Aroma is outstanding as well. Big cheesy and metallic sour brett aroma backed up by cherries, raspberries, meaty herbs, grass, and a bit of dried-fruit sweetness in the background. Lovely!

Taste is just full of amazing brett flavour. Sourness is offset by just a touch of rich vanilla and a hint of chocolate, especially in the aftertaste. Big Biscuity malt in the background, but it's nearly obscured by everything else going on. Plums and raisins are here as well, and some herbs. This beer just keeps developing as you keep drinking it, it's pretty amazing, tons of dimension and flavour. Carbonation isn't too obnoxious in the mouth. Dries the palate out almost completely with sourness, just makes you want to keep drinking. This is a really impressive beer, so drinkable, but at 9% I'm afraid 750ml all to myself is both a blessing and a curse though!

trevorwideman, Feb 06, 2008
Photo of errantnight
3.98/5  rDev -1.2%

Mmmm. Brett.

A beautiful brown, with hints of ruby... but no head. Carbonation is there, though. This isn't terribly shocking, as the fun lil sour bugs tend to inhibit this kinda thing.

The smell is a nose-full of brett, which when you sift through, gives way to some spice, and vanilla, vague hints of rich malt, and then back to more delicious barnyard funk.

Tastes like a flemish brown, and then WHAM! Whiskey. Gone just as swiftly, swallowed up by some rich, complex malty sweetness. Good lord, how much is going on in here? Tough to pick out, vanilla is there, ripe fruit, dark dried fruits, a bit of roast. And then, funky funky brett. I really feel that the whiskey is out of place here, although as we go along it seems to lose its potency. I like what's going on here... but it doesn't fill the mouth as much as I would like. As I've found with most Jolly Pumpkin brews, it's on the thin side. While I appreciate that's partially a side effect of the brett... and that thinness works sometimes (their saison--Bam Biere, for example)... but here, it could use just a bump.

Insanely drinkable, particularly for this alcohol percentage. Really really REALLY need to drink this close to room temperature (where I had it), as there's a ton of very, very subtle complexity here you could lose. I'd say set it down for a few months to a year to see if the bourbon blends in more smoothly. But fine to drink right now.

errantnight, Jan 27, 2008
Photo of malcontent
4.03/5  rDev 0%

Deep auburn tint with a massive head that comes down to an evenly distributed layer. Gobs of sticky lacing are left behind.

Big brett right up front with layers of nuttiness and dried fruit and just a hint of cocoa nibs.

Behind the thin wall of sour brett lies a fairly roasty, rather fruity (apples) beer which creates the effect of Calvados and cigars.

Full but never thick with a nice, tingling carbonation and a dry finish. It's complex to be sure and is certainly a sipper. Still, it never encroaches upon palate-busting territory and is quite a treat.

malcontent, Jan 27, 2008
Photo of mikesgroove
3.98/5  rDev -1.2%

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.

mikesgroove, Jan 26, 2008
Photo of GbVDave
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a Chimay chalice.

Blend 1, 2007

A: Hazy brown with glowing ruby-colored highlights. 1 finger head that's very creamy and light tan in color. The head quickly transforms into a splotchy skim with a lace-leaving ring.

S: Excellent mixture of aromas. Tart cherry, roasted malt, spice, oak, and brett. Smells tart, sweet, and spicy in the same whiff.

T: Toasty malt, immediately, that's followed closely by tart/sour cherry, brett, oak, spice, hops, hints of dark fruit, and a touch of dark candi sugar.

M: Sour/tart/bitter notes in the beginning that becomes dry and roasty during the middle and finish. Nice spicy and roasted malt finish. A little thin for a BSDA, but everything else going on here more than makes up for it.

D: Excellent drinkability. The alcohol seems pretty transparent in the nose and taste but I started to feel it by the end of the bottle.

GbVDave, Jan 19, 2008
Photo of scruffwhor
3.73/5  rDev -7.4%

A hazey and ruddy medium borwn ad garnet hue with dark orange highlights when held to the light. You can see some bubbles through this dark haze. The head is less than par. The aroma is a tart fruits. Very tannic smelling, cherries and figs. The taste i a mild, to light bodied fruity alt. Very light vvingar mixed with cherries, light colored crranst, tart prunes, and dates. Very tart for a dark Belgian ale. The body is light to mild with a sharp tart finish. That thankfully doesn't linger very long.

scruffwhor, Jan 16, 2008
Photo of BlindPig
4.53/5  rDev +12.4%

Blend 4, 2007

A- 1 1/2" tan head on a pretty cloudy dark brown/amber/orange body.
S-Bretta funk, dark fruits, grapes, hint of raisins, citrus, toffee, grass hops, cherries, spice, and some earthy notes.
T- Follows the aroma. The citrus notes come out nicely blended with the funk and light sour notes, toffee malt body, spices, cloves, lemon tang, bretta, nice light oak flavor, some light sour cherries, and other dark fruits. All flavors blend really well together.
M- Medium body with medium/low carbonation.
D- Very nice beer and wish I was able to get more of this. Would highly recommend to others.

BlindPig, Jan 10, 2008
Photo of beaglemac
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%

Blend 1 2007

Brown with hints of amber throughout this brew. Small head that dies a bit. With a smell of Brett, Cherries and plum. A sour taste upfront, but really nothing too overpowering. As for a strong ale, this tastes nothing like any I have tried. The oak is present in this brew, and I enjoy how it isn't overpowering. This beer is REALLY easy drinker. The alcohol is nowhere to be found on this one. At 9% I would be affraid of what this beer would do to me as I could drink many of these. Another solid brew by the Dexter people in Jolly Pumpkin.

beaglemac, Jan 08, 2008
Photo of alexgash
4.63/5  rDev +14.9%

750 ml bottle, blend 4, 2007.

Dark cinnamon body is mostly clear with dark golden edges. Finger of lacy, creamy, dense, light khaki head. Nose of rummy, toffee-laden fruits, with hints of vanilla and lightly roasted mocha coffee. Signature JP wild funk of sourish tart cherry and acidic citrus aromas hover above.

Charred toffee and sweetish fruit malt flavors up front. Tart cherry and citrus twang are also there early on, solidly on the edges of the palate. Sour, funky acidity crescendos and fades as rummy fruit sweetness, toffee, vanilla, and oak take over. Slightly warming finish with both the complex, sweetish, oaky malts and the acidic citrus funk lasting a good long while. Medium-full body with rollicking, bottle-conditioned carbonation. Almost syrupy in the finish. A wonderful new beer from Ron at JP! Glad to see the batch number label too. Awesome.

alexgash, Jan 04, 2008
Photo of orbitalr0x
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%

750ml bottle. Blend 3 - 2007. Pours a dark cola brown with red hints as well and a small white cap on top. The head stays around awhile. Aromas of brown sugar, orange peel, fruit and an array of spices. Yeast tones and a mild oaky aroma as well with just a touch of a sour undercurrent. Nice.

First sip brings a light caramelly / brown sugar maltiness. Big fruity tones move in with orange peel, citrus, cherry and toffee. Spicy flavors move in with a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg. Sour / funky flavors on the way down with a mellow oaky undertone that's classic J.P.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with good steady carbonation. Another Jolly Pumpkin brew that I can hog a 750ml of to myself without a problem. Seek this one out and you will enjoy. I look forward to try my other bottle of Blend 1 soon.

orbitalr0x, Jan 02, 2008
Photo of ybnorml
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

A slightly hazy dark chestnut brown beer with ruby highlights. Has a small off white head. The aroma has a strong sour character with hints of apples and cinnamon. The sour character on the aroma starts out the taste but quickly changes to a very dry note with the hint of cinnamon hanging around in the back. As it warms some soft malt and malt vinegar note emerge.

ybnorml, Jan 01, 2008
Photo of RblWthACoz
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%

Blend 4, 2007. Pours a fully clouded and very dark orange brown with a minimal dark crème head. Nose is beautiful! Bringing the funk. It’s like having a Flanders or a lambic even. Just wild yeast. I love it. On top of that there are noticeable sugars, minor wood tones., and just a nice, gentle perfume tone. Flavor is great. Nice use of spices that bring just the right level of character, but don’t overpower things at all. Minor wood tones. Seems like there is a bit of a noticed alcohol tone. Just enough to notice it. Still all good though. Feel has a nice level of carbonation to it and a good liquid feel as well. Overall the contents are a bit thick and it becomes a sipper fairly soon into the game. But it is definitely well made and a nice one to drink. Something about this reminds me of that 1995 Marriage Parfait I had at Spuyten Duyvil.

RblWthACoz, Jan 01, 2008
Photo of rhoadsrage
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%

(Served in tulip glass)
Blend 1, 2007
A- This beer has a dense brown body with an amber glow from the base of the glass. There is a thick spongy light beige head that last and last. There are strands of microbubbles that glide up the sides of the glass.

S- During the pour there are notes of soft cherry vinegar with a nice tartness. On further sniffing there are notes of triple cream brie with a fresh rain and cola notes increasing as this beer warms.

T- The acidy tartness is smooth but also bright and leads to a soft sweetness with caramel notes and dark malt hints. The note of old wet wood lingers after the finish.

M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with a creamy texture as long as the head lasts. There is a bright tartness at the finish but there is no alcohol heat at all.

D- This beer has some good flavors that are very well blended. The tartness combined with wood and malt flavors makes this an excellent sipper especially in the cold winter months.

rhoadsrage, Dec 30, 2007
Photo of lordofthewiens
3.25/5  rDev -19.4%

750ml bottle, Blend 3, 2007. This was a chestnut color with red highlights, and a fairly small head. Pretty nice nose, mostly fruit with a little spice. Similar taste, but something in there gave it an almost medicinal taste, which was not at all enjoyable. This was an OK beer, but probably not one I'd try again.

lordofthewiens, Dec 30, 2007
Photo of jdhilt
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%

Pours barely a one finger cream head that fades quickly to a ring leaving no lace. Cloudy amber color. Light carbonation and light-medium bodied. Slight fruity nose. Flavor fruity, tart with hints of sweetness, clean, drying finish. High ABV is hidden. $11.50 for a 750ml bottle from Liquid Solutions Oregon City, Or.

jdhilt, Dec 29, 2007
Photo of weeare138
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%

Blend 3, 2007...
Appears a dark mahogany with a small beige head that slowly fades out and leaves streaky lacing around the glass.
Smell is of brett, tart citrus, cherries, vanilla, plums, lemony zest, earthy notes, and brown sugar.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with some standout earthy mushroom, plum, and caramel flavors coming through on top of the brown sugar base.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, tart/sugary, well balanced.

weeare138, Dec 28, 2007
Photo of xgrigorix
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%

Green 75 cl bottle, blend 4,2007.

Mahogany hue, topped by a thin off white head.

Nose is acidic, funky, woody, with a distinct note of leather.

Notes of fig & plum blend nicely with the things hinted at it the nose. Notes of brown sugar creep in as it warms. Subtle oak flavour comes through as well. Finishes dry. Easy drinking, digestible, light bodied without being thin. Lively carbonation. A well executed holiday libation.

xgrigorix, Dec 28, 2007
Photo of joe1510
4.08/5  rDev +1.2%

Binny's Plainfield

Blend #1 2007

Jolly Pumpkin's newest release is Noel de Calabaza, their Christmas release. It pours a murky rusty copper with a moderate haze as it rises up the glass. The head grew to a creamy three fingers as I poured then settled down to a thick one finger beige crown. Each sip leaves very respectable drink lines.

The smell of Noel de Calabaza is as refreshing as a winter styled brew could be. The nose is so robust it's hard to put your finger on exactly what's there. Some dark fruits are present along the lines of prunes, figs, and although not a fruit, plum pudding. There's that fresh, juicy, fruity aroma found in so many of JP's beers from the fermentation. It makes your mouth water.

Flavor is very similar to the aroma just not quite as robust. The juicy dark fruits are there and create a great complexity. I'm even picking up some candi sugar, whether it's there or not, it sure tastes like it. There's a bit of sourness on the finish but only enough to make you pucker before the tartness leaves you wanting another drink immediately. As the mouthful disappears a touch of tobacco leaf comes into play.

The mouthfeel is the only thing lacking on this beer. The bacteria ate up a little too much of the sugar leaving the body a little on the light side. The lively carbonation and light body usually work great on these sour ales but this one could use a touch more body to go with the darker fruits present.

Although the mouthfeel is a little thinner than I would have liked it actually boosts the drinkability. The slightly dry finish and tartness on the swallow leave you wanting another drink right away.

Noel de Calabaza is yet another good beer from Jolly Pumpkin. It's refreshing to find all these great barrel aged sours so easily and affordable. Jolly Pumpkin does the beer drinking public a great service by offering these normally expensive hard to find styles in many locations and at an affordable price for such great beers. That's one of many reasons you will always find at least a couple Jolly Pumpkin offerings in my fridge at a time.

joe1510, Dec 25, 2007
Photo of joepais
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%

Its Christmas Eve so I figured I crack this one open tonight. The bottle poured a dark ruby red with next to no head a thin lace would also be an understatement .Oak, earthy funk and sour cherries are the aromas that I get from this one
I do have to agree that this thing is silky smooth very drinkable ale and it tastes great. The thing that confuses me about this ale is that it tastes more like a lambic than a Belgian strong dark. I’ll leave that for others with more reviews under there belt to debate. I taste the sour cherries and lots of fruit, the malt is lightly present as well as some spice. I do agree that you should let the bottle warm to really appreciate it.
I will be looking for more of these and looking forward to try more from this brewer

joepais, Dec 25, 2007
Photo of brentk56
4.48/5  rDev +11.2%

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

brentk56, Dec 23, 2007
Noel De Calabaza from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
90 out of 100 based on 851 ratings.