1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Noel De Calabaza - Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

Not Rated.
Noel De CalabazaNoel De Calabaza

Educational use only; do not reuse.

921 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 921
Reviews: 404
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 11.66%
Wants: 64
Gots: 152 | FT: 10
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 (42) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 921 | Reviews: 404 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Zorro
3.06/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Clear beer, deeply reddish Brown in color with a tall tan colored head.

Immediately in the scent I detect light vinegar in this bug beer? Vanilla, oak, and grapes with a fainter lemon aroma.

The taste starts out sweet and sour with a definite vinegar twang. Stout hop bite with an alcohol burn in the throat. This is woody with a mushroom flavor and some vanilla.

Mouthfeel is OK.

Not real drinkable, the vinegar elements put me off.

Photo of paco1029384756
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark ruby brown color with three fingers of lasting, fluffy white head, heavily carbonated.

Scent of sour cherries, yeast, and oak. Not typical for a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, but very good

Taste of sour cherries, strong oak, yeast, and malts. Finishes with a dry lasting flavor of oak.

Mouthfeel is light bodied and smooth.

Photo of Itoclown
4.04/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Purchased at Siciliano's in Grand Rapids. Enjoyed on Christmas.
Batch: 333/334
Look: Very dark, can't see through... Looks like I'm pouring Coke. It foams quite high but disipates throughout drinking.
Smell: I could hardly smell this beer. I don't know if it was if the foam was masking the smell. But what I could smell was some dark malts, Belgium yeast and caramel. Some other things I couldn't put my fingers on.
Taste: This one was VERY tough for me to get into. It's very complex. Some spice and some alcohol. After you swallow it leaves the spiciness in the mouth... almost like nutmeg and caramel. It feels a little like highly carbonated barley wine.
Mouthfeel: Very bubbly on the tongue but not to the extent that it screws with the taste. Just right.
Overall: I was really excited for this beer but when I opened and poured my first glass I was a little turned off by lack of its scent. It also took a few sips to get into... The more I had the more I began noticing its complexity. It's not my favorite style but I can say that it's probably the best I've had of its kind. If I had more money I would probably buy a few more bottles. I'm definitely going to purchase more Jolly Pumpkin products. I recommend this beer.

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

The bottle indicates batch 333 of 334. It poured DEEP mhabogany amber, nearly cola colored, with tons of sticky tan head, settling after about five minutes. Sweet fruit aromas dominate before warming. Subtle chocolate and alcoholic notes soon appear. Fruityness dominates the taste, with a slightly syrupy palate, some caramel and chocolate do appear. Quid delicious! Cheers and Merry Christmas!

Photo of keepersj12
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Christmas, New years, Fourth of July, I don't care. This is one damn good beer. Aroma of sweet fruit, bourbon. Dark amber with a big foamy head. Flavor is very complex. Vanilla, fruit, wood, bourbon. Very dry finish. A bit sour. Very drinkable considering the alcohol content. Be careful.

Photo of jwc215
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle, poured into a tulip glass:

Pours dark brown with a large head that descends to a thin, lasting cover, leaving some lacing.

The smell is of sour fruits, some chocolate, earthy notes, and vanilla/oak.

The taste is of sour fruits/funky, with chocolate that becomes stronger as it progresses. A bit of bitterness is well-rounded. Vanilla notes emerge showing the oak nicely. Oaky/woody dryness in the finish.

It has a creamy, medium body. A bit of effervescence would liven things up a bit, but the creaminess, though not quite "Belgian-esque" is nice, and lends a smooth drinkability to it.

Very drinkable - sourish, but with a sweet and bitter balance. Alcohol is very well-hidden in taste. I could easily drink too much of this! I love it!

Photo of glid02
4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Split this one with the very generous daryk77.

Pours a slightly hazy dark brown color with a huge and rocky 2.5-finger head. The head slowly recedes into a thin pancake of bubbles on top of the beer with a thick ring aorund the glass. Lacing is decent.

Smells of dark fruits - more cherries than figs - with some light tartness and yeast funk.

Tastes great. Slightly tart cherries up front followed shortly by sweet Belgian candy sugar. As the sip ends a light funk joins the tartness and lingers for a while.

Mouthfeel is good. The carbonation is active, but not as much as it has been in other JP offerings I've had. For this kind of beer I think it's welcome. The thickness makes it go down smoothly.

Drinkability is good. The light tartness makes this one tasty, and the flavors meld together well.

Overall I at first thought this was a tart dubbel, but after I tasted it a bit more it has a lot of Oud Bruin characteristics. Very solid to say the least and definitely worth a shot.

Photo of gearbike
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big fluffy off white head just kept growing after pouring from a big bottle. The fruity sweet aroma fills the room while waiting for the head to dissipate a bit. Another different but delicious brew from Jolly Pumpkin. A funky off kilter taste of dark dried fruit. The body is medium with a bit of carbonation. The Oak barrel flavor seems to turn up as a bit of sourness rather than the typical bourbon alcohol flavor. In fact it is hard to detect any alcohol at all. But at the same rate it is a great winter beer.

Photo of Jettanbass9
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I am not a huge brett fan but all i can say about this beer is, Wow...

A - Dark mohagany brown with laces of cherry red and finely beaded head. Crystal clear with a quarter inch head.

S - Medicinal funk, slight citric acidity, slight hint of oak and dark fruit that lingers.

T - Layers upon layers of flavors. Citric acidity and cherry tartness followed by very controlled barnyard funkiness, dark fruit lingers in the background and HOPS! yes hops in a brett beer... herbal, earthy hops, nothing extremely present but very perceivable.

M - boarderline low to medium mouthfeel. At 9%, its almost amazing there is still something that lingers even after the swallow.

D - Did i mention i nearly finished half the bottle as i wrote this review? Wow... extremely drinkable. Flavors are very controlled in this brew, very, very well balanced even for such unique flavors. For such a great beer, its easy to savor and even easier to put back. Glad i splurged on this Holiday beer buy!

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

This one pours with a nice, sandy/tan colored head that rises to about a two-finger height. Deep dark brown coloration gives it an ominous appearance at first, but holding it up to the light reveals gorgeous tinges of burgundy and ruby. Scent is highly appealing; offers generous hints of sourness, spices and festive fruitiness. Tasting reveals sourness reminiscent of tart cherries, as well as a very satisfying malty sweetness. The label professes the presence of "layered hops" but I am struggling to detect their influence on this brew. Upon close scrutiny, there is a slight hop flavor, but this is certainly dominated by the fruity sourness and spices mentioned earlier. This one has a nice mouthfeel that's not too rich, yet not too thin. It hits the mark very well. Not a beer that I could see myself drinking tons of in one sitting, but definitely one that I will come back to (given the chance).

Photo of Yetiman420
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into two Unibroue pear shaped glasses and had problems with foam once it hit the straight portion.

Reserved the yeast for the end and the beer poured with an appetizing brown color and white foamy head.

Pre-yeast taste had the trademark JP sour/funk and this one tasted along the lines of a brown ale. I didn't notice much of the oak barrel advertised on the label (maybe the oak came out as it warmed up a bit).

The yeast added a richness to mouthfeel which I felt detracted from the sourness. Lacing on both glasses was nice.

Photo of Billolick
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I'm always somewhat cautious about putting down the cash for JP beers, cuz they tend to be gushers for me...this time I made sure to leave the bottle in the fridge for several days before opening, and the result was a fizzy/active pour, but not an over the top all out gusher. Medium tan head, leaves interesting splotches of lace and islands of foam on the surface. Grape juice, lemon and vinegar in the nose. Notes of citrus, smoke, sour cherries, berries of all sorts, and some woody notes. Complex, intriguing and thoroughly enjoyable creation.

"Blend 4, 2007"

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

A: Pours a murky brown with ruby highlights. Small head that subsides to a light frothy layer. Light lacing.

S: A bit of musty Flemish funk with light aromas of cherry and oak.

T: Mint, vanilla, currants, a blend of spices, and a mild earthiness make up a multi-faceted blend of flavors, each distinct yet harmoniously balanced in the overall taste. A touch of alcohol. Big and complex.

M: Full-bodied and a bit fizzy. Slightly dry.

D: Quite nice, and nicer with age I'd bet. This one is an easy sipper and definitely one that I'd have again.

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

Enjoyed a bottle of this at City Beer Store with abraser. Dark brown/reddish in color with pretty good carbonation. Smell is tart, dark fruit, and spicy. Taste is more of the same - not crazy sour, very well balanced with tart apples, muted cider vinager, sweet, spices. Mouthfeel is medium with pretty significant carbonation. Highly drinkable Christmas ale.

Photo of abfraser
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark brown tinged with gray, but looks pitch black in a full glass. Beautiful, huge head that sticks like glue to the glass. Cool looking beer, almost looks thick like a stout

S: Tart, earthy and musky. Like a nice aged lambic. But then there's a big holiday spice aroma--nutmeg, cinnamon, etc... Quite a unique smell.

T/M: Yum. A sour Xmas beer. First, it's a little hit of sour then the dark malt and holiday spice takes over for the rest. Great crisp finish, making it oddly palate cleansing--don't normally think of holiday beers that way. This is excellent

D: You don't notice the 9% here at all. This is a very well-balanced brew

The best JP I've had. Excellent and unique. Would glad drink this consistently if I could.

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Batch 2, 2007

A. Split a 22 oz. bomber into goblets. Huge effervescent head on a mahogony body. A bit of sediment finds its way in. Clingy lace sticks to the sides of the glass.

S. Cidery. Alcohal esters certainly present. Clean fruity flavors, namely apple and berries of unknown origin/s.

T. Smooth hard cider and malty tones, though the fruit flavor has taken over this beer and I like it. Earthy hop bitters are still present but subdued. Finishes on the sweet side.

M. Perfectly crisp and delicious. Finishes semi-dry. Champagne yeast?

D. Oh heavens yes. Flavorful and delicate. Sip or Drink Heartily. A good vintage and glad I held out this long..

Photo of rhinos00
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a beautifully decorated bomber into an oversized wine glass. Batch 331.

A- Hazy, light brown. Hefty inch and a half of off white head.

S- Combination of sour fruit along with spices and slight hint of hops.

T- Very pleasant taste. The sour fruit taste was very nicely balanced with the oak after taste.

M- Medium viscosity with a very smooth texture.

D- Considering the sour notes in this beer, it was pretty drinkable. I had no problem consuming this bomber.

Overall a pretty solid beer. Nothing outstanding, but nothing to complain about.

Photo of Sammy
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

Photo of russpowell
3.64/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Been stashing this bottle for at least 6 months, Bottled 1 2007; so here goes

Pours a very effervescent copper/orange with 3+ fingers of fluffy peach colored head. Fantastic head retention & very good lacing

S: Raspberry vinegar & oakyness

T: Green apples by the bushel, a touch of raspberry vinegar & puckery tartness up front. Oaky dryness & tons of cherry tartness & a touch of leafy & peppery hops as this warms. Finishes tart, with green apple peel & some white pepper. Fairly complex, just not exciting me

MF: Super gassy & extremely dry, a bit of stickyness. Weird that as tart/sour as this is, I can feel the enamel on my teeth breaking down!

Drinks alright, a bit too tart & dry for my tastes, sour beer freaks will probably disagree. Alright for what it is, not one I'll be seeking out

Photo of jjayjaye
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy berry caramel colored amber with a huge stiff foamy light tan head that decomposes slowly leaving sheets of lacing behind. The aroma has an aggressive earthy fruity strawberry and cherry sourness. Visibly effervescent, the mouth feel is light and tingly. The flavor is mild and tart. There is a nice cherry presence over a vinegar character; not sure if that is the oak barrel treatment or not. Tangy yet finishes clean and dry. A lot to consider...I'm down to the last few ounces ...not the easiest drinker (unless you're big into these tart beverages), but worthy of your consideration. Appreciate this one from autumnaldave.

Photo of Patrick999
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Blend 4, 2007. I have a day off today, so I thought I'd crack open something off-the-wall (which qualifies anything from Jolly Pumpkin).

A - Poured into a goblet. One of the better-looking Jolly Pumpkin beers I've seen, a soapy head with large bubbles, and a deep mahogany brown body. Excellent head retention.

S - Aroma is that typical sour apple and wood, this time with a substantial fresh leather, and a little plastic. There's that same perfume aroma I noted with La Roja, too.

T - Pucker up. It's sour. Tastes of a very strong hard cider that conditioned itself in a leather boot. I notice a little of an underlying rice-like sake taste. Very dry, and the alcohol is somewhat noticeable, more than in any other sour I've tried. Some spice is evident, though I'm hard-pressed to tell you what I think it is. Probably nutmeg, allspice, clove. Odd mix, with the sour. Nip of light woodsy hop in the finish. Some whiskey notes. Very complex, and adventurous, but I don't know that it *really* works together so well. I think the Brett needs to be scaled back, so that this becomes a Belgian Strong Dark with a hint of wild yeast character. But, this is Jolly Pumpkin. Adventurous, complicated, baffling beer. This is what they do. FYI, I'm on the second glass...and in what has become a recurring theme with me and JP beers, I am enjoying this second glass much more than the first. The elements that seemed disparate at first now seem much more cohesive. This is yet another beer that you just can't give up on after a few sips, or even one glass.

F - This is another big beer that manages to feel like a sparkling wine. I like that, but your mileage may vary.

D - It's always a challenge, and a pleasure, to review a Jolly Pumpkin beer. While drinking the first glass, I thought this was going to be a slog, as the sour and spices weren't quite doing it for me. Yet, sip by sip, this one wins your admiration. I think Jolly Pumpkin is the Radiohead of beer - seems complicated and obtuse at first, but as you give it a chance, it locks in.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.65/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of brewandbbq
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Blend #2, 2007.

Pours clear, dark amber with a one inch head of dense beige foam. Torn ropes of lacework remain throughout the glass as well as a solid skim coat on the surface.

Aromatics lead off with oak-laden ripe fruit, earthy must, and rotting cedar.
Cherry pits, moss covered spruce, and peach pulp on pineapple skin follow through.

Medium bodied and creamy, but with a sharpish mouthfeel.

Sour fruit and clove-studded cedar start the pallet. A drying tartness, firm bitterness, and warming alcohol follow through along with cherries and grapefruit pith.

Finishes with lingering sourness, an almost numbing lemon bite, and alcohol-laden malt.

A great sour on steroids. I just prefer a bit more acid and less sourness.

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

Appearance: Ruddy and chestnut-colored with a moderate haze. A billowing off-white head forms from a gentle pour and lasts until my glass is emptied.

Smell: Bretty barnyard funk, wet earth, spice, autumn leaves - signature Jolly Pumpkin.

Taste & mouthfeel: A perfect marriage of dry woody tannins, funk and sourness. Green apples, red wine and funky barrel make up the bulk of the flavor, though there's an undercurrent of spice, subtle enough that I couldn't say which spices were used. Carbonation is high, crisp, almost champagne-like. Despite its 9% ABV, the body is light and drinkability is high. Dryness is neverending; there's not even the slightest hint of sweetness here, and the finish is long and tannic.

Notes: Received from wolfsblood - thanks! Awesome stuff.

Noel De Calabaza from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
90 out of 100 based on 921 ratings.