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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.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

850 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 850
Reviews: 394
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 11.91%
Wants: 60
Gots: 139 | 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: 850 | Reviews: 394 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Gueuzedude
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%

Blend 2; Sampled February 2008
4.5/4.5/4.5/4/4
A very careful pour produces a three finger thick, light tan colored head that grows to five fingers in height that even crests the top of my glass. The beer is a dark , burnt chocolate brown color, but shows a lightly hazy, ruby color with multitudinous bubbles steaming up through it when held up to the light. As the head slowly recedes it creates a mushroom topped, structural, mesa as well as a varied rocky structures. Interesting fruity notes mixed with light funk greet my nose as I am visually inspecting this brew. Upon closer inspection sour notes of apples, lactic acid and tart plums are found up front. The fruitiness is substantial and also takes on aroma reminiscent of bright berries and fresh picked red grapes. Underneath this is a hint of dark grain character, lightly toasty bread, funky notes of musty cellars, spicy oak (becomes much more noticeable as my nose gets used to things), well-fermented fruity cheese, musty cotton balls, sharp Brettanomyces derived funk, and butyric acid aromatics. A fantastic and appetizing smelling aroma, I can't get enough.

Lightly sweet, which along with the appetizing tartness, accents substantial fruity flavors. The flavor is reminiscent of a mix of red grapes, tart-yet-ripe plums, aromatic apple varietals, blackberries and touches of grapefruit. Ample lactic notes provide the sourness here, yet does not overwhelm this beer at all. Very light feeling, in both texture and on the palate; this is helped along by the substantial carbonation that creates a light and airy quality to this beer. A spicy finish mixes peppery carbonation with lemon pepper, woody ginger, and noticeable spicy oak character. Speaking of oak, the influence of the barrels is definitely here, but it is quite well integrated, I actually had to remember that these were barrel aged before I noticed the characteristic flavors, but once I did, well, they are definitely a contributing factor here; soft notes of butterscotch, perhaps a hint of vanillin and lots of spicy, tannic, woody notes are found here, especially towards the finish. The dark malt flavors seem to kick in towards the finish; at first well browned, toasted grain notes are noticed and then also some light burnt grain notes, both of which linger on in the finish. The finish can actually be a bit astringent at times with its mix of dark grain flavors, spicy oak and alcohol.

I really like how light feeling this brew is, it has substantial flavor though. Quite a tasty brew, this is so much better than the blend 5 I had previously. Much more integrated flavors, characterful, yet easy drinking and not nearly as harsh as the blend 5.

Blend 5, Sampled December 2007
3/3.5/4/4/4
Pours with a frothy, only one-finger thick (despite moderately aggressive pour), dirty tan colored head. The beer is a murky, brownish tinged, concentrated amber color, but does show a hazy cranberry color when held up to the light. Obviously a bit sour as I notice a nice, light tartness to this beer as I am inspecting its color. Upon closer inspection the nose yields notes of granny smith apples, tart plums, and some dusty malt. The tartness is possibly the most noticed aromatic note and leans towards a mix of heavier lactic, but some definite acetic notes as well. Once you start digging around in the aroma, you get a note of substantial funkified Brett in the finish (musty earth, moldy cotton, dank cobwebs and a definite goatiness). With the lightish sourness, the aroma is most notably quite fruity in character. After a bit of time some spice notes kick in (notes of black pepper, Mexican oregano and epazote) as does some light biscuit malt notes and some spicy oak, which is more than a hint, but is so well integrated that it can be hard to pick out at times.

Lightly tart tasting up front, but it picks up a bit more tartness as it moves across the tongue. The beer is quite dry, devoid of sweetness and is quite light and refreshing on the palate. Fairly light bodied, in fact down right amazingly so when you take into account the 9% alcohol. The light carbonation could be a bit higher, but the acidity helps to offset this lack. Fruity esters add a sort of phantom sweetness and bring out notes of Fuji apples, ripe plums, star fruit and even something like papaya. The finish has a phenolic sharpness to it, that is approaching a sort of plastic like note, though it also takes on a sharp clove like turpene note towards the very end. Brett derived butyric acid notes lend a soft influence of barnyard funk and moldy, musty cellar notes.

This could definitely be quite a bit more carbonated, in fact I think the overall experience would be improved for me if it was at least 3 volumes of CO2, though I do like how light and easy drinking this beer is. This does lack a bit of sophistication and integrated character that I would like to see.

Purchased: Plaza Liquors, Tucson AZ

Gueuzedude, Dec 22, 2007
Photo of emerge077
4.28/5  rDev +6.2%

Shared with others, maybe a 6-8 oz. sample. Allowed the bottle to warm up out of the fridge for 20 min. or so. Edit: 2nd time around, having a bottle to myself...

Deep mahogany brown with reddish highlights, generous dollop of creamy tan foam. Tiny streams are visible through the slight murk. Spindly, irregular webs of lace.

Aromas of wood, tart dried cherry/cranberry, and a spicy undercurrent. Slightly mysterious.

Tart fruit and a blend of earthy & woody, but mild spice. Brown sugar and rum, but not too boozy. Well carbonated but not to a distracting level. Elements of Maracaibo and Oud Bruin, certainly. Tobacco, with a rich earthy aftertaste.

I'll be seeking more of this, too bad it was such a limited release, After sampling from the barrel of this at FOBAB in Chicago, I was a little apprehensive...that one was very farmy and unpleasant. No complaints with the bottle version!

emerge077, Dec 17, 2007
Photo of ccrida
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%

Blend # 4 poured into my Karmeliet goblet, Noel De Calabaza is a dark amber with a thin khaki head that leaves light lace.

Smell is mainly funk and sour fruit, sharp and boozy.

Taste is very nice, complex and strong, mainly sour grapes and dates, nutty, with an enjoyable acidic tang and some fusels on the finish.

Mouthfeel is oily and thinner, but with just enough carbonation.

Drinkablity is very high for me, I love this beer, it reminds me of grape fanta soda, but mixed with an oud bruin! My favorite Jolly Pumpkin of the 5 or so I've had, very nice.
Served at cellar temp.

ccrida, Dec 16, 2007
Photo of lackenhauser
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%

Deep dark color with a huge tan/cocoa head that goes on forever. Peppery, spicy aroma. Heavy, sugary smell to it. Black pepper really dominates. Crisp and spicy flavor. Odd sort of woody funk. Sharp, black peppery taste. Great metallic bitterness. A ton of flavors meld into one. Nice, thin and lighter mouthfeel. Dry. Very drinkable and enjoyable. I love the peppery flavor and aroma. A lot going on here but it works very, very well.

lackenhauser, Dec 15, 2007
Photo of DaggerEyes
4.05/5  rDev +0.5%

Blend #4, 2007

poured into an oversized wine glass a deep brown with no head at all, just some suds on the surface. I was totally shocked that there was no head what so ever, I gave a pretty vigorous pour on the first glass, and an even more vigorous pour on the 2nd glass and still nothing!

a nice nose, sour, funky, scents of brown sugar, cherries and perhaps a little plum, a little rubbery or like a new band aid

sour, very phenolic. I like tartness but this is almost a bit too tart. As it warms some more dark fruit and spice flavors come out...You really need to let this warm, spend some time with it, in my experience it didn't drink very well out of the fridge, it took about 15-20 minutes for the flavors to really blossom

Active mouthfeel. Fine bubbled tight carbonation, a bit prickly on the tongue and stays all the way through the dry finish. Thinish body

DaggerEyes, Dec 14, 2007
Photo of genog
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%

Pours a rich dark brown borderline black color with a creamy light brown head. A good amount of lacing sticks around. Smell is of toasted malt with some sweetness and yeasty belgian aroma. Taste is sweet with dried fruit and a full mouthfeeling that lingers with the lively carbonation.

genog, Dec 13, 2007
Photo of Stoneman78
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%

Poured into a Duvel tulip glass
A- Clear, dark orange amber hue, head is off-white thin bubbles, moderate lacing
S- Nose is sour and tangy dark fruits, Brett, apples, winter spices, cider, oak, vanilla
T- Initial taste is sour cider followed by holiday spices (vanilla/allspice/coriander), some underlying sweet bread malts, finishes with a touch of hop dryness
M- Medium-bodied, watery texture, moderate carbonation
D- Very unique beer, I would peg this is a sour fruity lambic and not a Belgian strong dark ale, there is a lot of wine character here and only fans of sours will come back for this one, this is the only JP beer I have had and I am looking forward to see how it compares to others from this brewery

Stoneman78, Dec 12, 2007
Photo of theopholis
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%

Appearance- Pours a dark brown/mahogany, reasonably clear body. Head is a full cream, tan affair with good lacing. Very inviting.

Aroma- Lots of malt sweetness in the nose. Hints of lots of dark fruits: raisins, plums, dates....just a hint of spiciness, but not over-powering like so many Belgian strongs.

Taste- Fairly malty up front with a nice, complex blend of malt sweetness, dark fruits. Very subtle play between bittering and flavoring hops with an oaky, barely perceptible cirtusy finish. Very nicely done.

Mouthful- Nice, full bodied with an aggressive, but tight carbonation thats works well with the flavors. It's almost over-carbonated.

Drinkability- Wonderful stuff. I'll be getting this stuff again. Great for a cold evening where you want to watch the rain or the fire place.

theopholis, Dec 12, 2007
Photo of putnam
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%

Lemon, lemongrass and damp concrete aromas, along with wild sour honey and sour red cherries, peel away gradually to reveal slight chocolate and mulling spices. Warm sensations of dried cranberries and currants mingle with burnt sugar flavors. Tangy, bronzed whole wheat sugars and starches lead to boozy, demerara rum flavored sweet tannins. The finish is dry and punctuated with mild bitterness.

putnam, Dec 11, 2007
Photo of rallison
4.7/5  rDev +16.6%

Blend 3, 2007.

Man, this is a good beer! Pours a dark, dark brown with a 1/2 finger head that mostly subsides. Smells of tartness, funkiness and Belgian dark fruitiness.

Taste is delicious. Amazing balance between all the flavors. Up front, you have a delicious sour tartness. This is mellowed by a great Belgian Strong Dark malt backbone with notes of dark fruits and spices. Some citrus qualities in the tartness. Woodiness. Extremely well balanced and perfectly crafted.

Mouthfeel is excellent. Both rich and light at the same time, partially owing to the slight dryness. Nice!

Drinkability is exceptional.

Highly recommended. One very good sour Christmas beer. And my favorite one yet from Jolly Pumpkin. Definitely a must try!

Edit 7/7/08: Popped open another bottle of Blend 3. Still holding up quite nicely. Appearance is much better than last time with a beautiful, creamy head that leaves a ton of lacing on the Koningshoeven glass. Rating now I'd probably give it a 5/4.5/4.5/4.5/4.5.

rallison, Dec 10, 2007
Photo of Beaver13
3.48/5  rDev -13.6%

750ml bottle, labeled Blend 1, 2007. Pours a dark tea color with a thin off white head that quickly diminishes to a thin film that leaves a little lacing.

The aroma is yeasty bread, acidic pears and wood.

The flavor is very dry woodiness with yeast and some sugary fruits that are very acidic and slightly tart/sour. The mouthfeel is medium with some sharp carbonation but a watery texture that washes out some of the flavor.

Overall, it has a definite Jolly Pumpkin character. I didn't like it as much as others. It would be better with more sourness and less dryness.

Beaver13, Dec 08, 2007
Photo of MiScusi
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%

A- poured into a chalice. Murky maroon and brown with a very thin sudsy looking head that’s gone before it forms. The liquid is actually a clear dark reddish-brown.

S- heavy on the Belgian earthy character. Seems to be a lot of fruit, like cherry maybe in there, given off as pretty tart. Very interesting smell because it’s not just tart and fruity, there’s some other stuff going on other than the funk that I can’t really figure out.

T- I get a lot of alcohol and slightly sour fruit, but there is also right up front a pretty funky taste. The whole taste rushes to the back of the throat really fast, and then just lingers, going from tart to a dry bitterness.

M- pretty thin. Not so terrible for a sour beer in my opinion... I like them on the lighter side.

D- This beer really grew on me. I wasn’t too sure about it at first. I could tell it was ok, but as I got through it really made a great impression on me.

MiScusi, Dec 08, 2007
Photo of k3n
4.28/5  rDev +6.2%

750ml bottle.

A: Poured into a wine goblet. 1/2" of lively bubbles that quickly fades to a spotty ring, leaving moderate lace. Nutty, rich brown color, murkily dark, shot with red highlights on the edges.

S: Ah, there's the Brett. Apples...hm. Hard to pick out much else beyond the Brett.

T: A nice, easy hit of the Brett sourness, immediately balanced by underlying malty sweetness. Tremendous fruit flavors, mostly sour (cherries, strawberries)...really reminds me of a young Pinot Noir. I'm having difficulty picking out some of the other flavors, but I know I like it.

M: Light, crisp, with just enough creamyness in the middle to give the body some good 'heft'. Finishes mostly clean, with some lingering sourness, not enough to pucker, just to hint at what you had.

D: It's like lemonade on a hot day. It's that good. It's full of flavor, yet light and refreshing. Outstanding.

k3n, Dec 08, 2007
Photo of bluejacket74
4.47/5  rDev +10.9%

25.4 ounce bottle, Blend 2, 2007. Served in a chalice, the beer pours dark brown with about an inch tan head. Head retention and lacing are both OK. It smells like Belgian funk, dark fruit (cherries, plums), tart fruit and some spice. Taste is similar to the aroma, however I can taste some oak in there too. It's more tart/sour than it is sweet, but it's a very nice taste overall. The spice and sweetness kicks in a little more as the beer warms. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it has a lot of carbonation but not too much. Drinkability is good, the beer is smooth and very easy to drink. The alcohol isn't very noticable at all. Overall I think this is a pretty good beer, I'll have to try and pick up another bottle of this soon.

bluejacket74, Dec 08, 2007
Photo of brewcrew76
4.43/5  rDev +9.9%

Blend 1 - 2007

A - Pours a brown tea like with a thin tan head.

S - Funky wild yeast with a building anise seed aroma, a bit of spice, figs, raisins and plums.

T - Malty, sweet and sour at the same time with a bit of funk. It has a real big sweet tart candy flavor up front. Some dark fruits are also in the background. Complex and hard to narrow all the flavors down.

M - On the thin side of medium with light carbonation and a bit of biting tartness.

D - Jolly pumpkin nailed this one. Very good.

brewcrew76, Dec 07, 2007
Photo of ArrogantB
3.95/5  rDev -2%

Dark brown with a super foamy head. The first sniff of the bottle is tart funk and some spice. Smelling the glass brings heavy funk with possibly chocolate hiding behind and cherries and a few fumes. The flavor is strong sour, some flavors like grapes, no noticeable alcohol, body is not thick and the finish isn't dry like the fuego I had the other day. This is a good beer, especially if you like sours, but didn't do the trick for me as other Jolly Pumpkin beers have.

ArrogantB, Dec 04, 2007
Photo of Halcyondays
3.63/5  rDev -9.9%

25.4 oz. green wine-type bottle,

A: Pours a dark brown, with a very small head into a Chimay chalice, though the head it does have leaves nice lacing.

S: Lots of bacterial funk, acid, and dark fruit, very fragrant and pungent.

T: Taste is quite interesting. The bacterial funk and acidity come in a little too heavy when the beer is colder, but when it warms up a little bit, that cools off and the other flavours can shine. Nice dark fruit, a hint of cinnamon, and evident oak.

M: Acidic, tart, though a little too thin, lacking in carbonation to carry the flavour through.

D: Probably the only JP beer I've been somewhat dissapointed in after all of the hype, good, but not great.

Halcyondays, Dec 04, 2007
Photo of yinzer
4.55/5  rDev +12.9%

appearance: pours with clear dark tea, small head that won’t go away. Some legs.

smell: wow, besides some of the Russian River offering I’ve never had such a clean oak w/some funk smell. Almost like a true Lambic held far away. Very inviting. Sweet Kriek then .. well just add in your favorite Ester. I’m giving this an unusual 5.0 (for me). I just don’t see to many domestics that have harnesses this stlye.

taste: the taste doesn’t disappoint but it seems to deviate. Some sourness as you would expect, but I’m getting chocolate notes. Almost like a bait and switch. Spicy, nutty.

mouthfeel: I find this the biggest let down. No big punch inspiring me to take another sip, the Brett has gone away and nothing seems to take over.

drinkability: I know where I bought this and I’m going back for more.

yinzer, Dec 02, 2007
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%

it's 11 degrees out with a fierce windchill....i just got home from biking back from work...need something dark, warm, deep, rich and mystical...maybe this will do...only one way to know...

noel de calabaza, off goes your cap, and into my Big Ass tripel karmeliet glass you go...

dark brown color, mahogany mixed with prunes, or plums...somewhere around there, with a full creamy tan head...gorgeous!

bewitching aroma! dark fruits find the funk! raisins, plums, dates, as well, meet grapes, and berries, and port wine...a wicked mix! with fragrances of myriad spices, as well, an ethereal delight!

A tickle as it trickles into the mouth, and spills all over the palate. Malty, sour, slick, supple, slightly sweet, and terribly complex...a lot of stuff happening here. Dark fruits at play, a rich blend of grain and fruit, velvety smooth, with a sleek, sensual mouthfeel. full bodied, long finish, dark and delicious...this is one, despite being, as we say in minnesota, "spendy", that I may have to return to again and again...best jp beer i've yet had...damned good!

the 9% abv seems to stick to my ribs a bit, but doesn't ring in the brain, yet...oh, wait...there it goes!
i didn't notice the oak-aged effect, but now that i re-read the label, hey, yeah, there it is!

great stuff!

feloniousmonk, Nov 29, 2007
Photo of mcallister
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%

Dark brownish bugrundy colored with a large carbonated tan head that fades quickly and leaves a trickling of lace behind. Thin and filmy.

Enormously complex nose. Black cherry, sour berries, oak, vanilla, red currant, caramel, spicey leadings, yeast, other odd fruits characters and a good helping of Brett. Great smelling beer.

The best JP beer I have tried. Very palate friendly and complex with a big alcohol burn on the finish in the throat and chest. Slightly sweet, sour brett hints full of spicey, earthy fruit estered character. Oak really does its part with this one and balances things nicely, keeps the brett at bay and leaves a vanilla, toffee flavor on the finish. Sour cherries, berries, slight nuttiness, with other fruits and yeast. Just a great warming beer.

mcallister, Nov 28, 2007
Photo of IntriqKen
4.58/5  rDev +13.6%

Pours similar to two day old strong iced tea. Dark amber brown that is transparent only through the top 1/2 inch or so.
Very little head on this one so not much chance for lacing.

Aromas immediately remind you of Jolly Pumpkin's other Oro,...funky, sour fruit with lots of cherry and plum overtones. Just a bit of spice in it to remind you this is supposed to be a Christmas beer.

Flavor isn't as harsh or in your face as Oro...this one is a little sweeter and a little more malty. Lots of fresh sour fruits....still some sour cherries and maybe a bit of lemon with just a dusting of spices. Definite woodiness mellows it all out. *Hour later update: as the palette gets used to the 'sour' the wood from the barrel aging comes out more and more. Something I really enjoy.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly smooth for such a sour beer.

I love this one...totally unique holiday beer.
*I also love a beer that I can enjoy over the course of one or two hours. This fills that bill.

IntriqKen, Nov 28, 2007
Photo of OWSLEY069
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%

Pours a cloudy deep amber, almost purple-ish in color with a white head. In the aroma just a sour, musty smell, with a nice yeasty malt. In the taste, small tartness and a roasty malt, with hints of a white grape fruitiness. A small sour, yet smooth mouthfeel and a dry sour and small fruity aftertaste. Not so much a winter, but very nice.

OWSLEY069, Nov 24, 2007
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.03/5  rDev 0%

Pours a slightly cloudy dark chestnut with a head that settles to a thin cap. Smell is sour and slightly spicy Smells a bit like spiced sour plums. Taste is sour and somewhat rich with more spice and a tannic finish. Very nice, but not quite as impressive as some of their other offerings.There is a softness and slight wateriness that I wish wasn't there. Mouthfeel is somewhat light and crisp with a sour tang. Very drinkable with no alcohol present in the taste.The usual from Jolly Pumpkin.

Georgiabeer, Nov 18, 2007
Photo of ypsifly
4.55/5  rDev +12.9%

Poured into a tulip. Deep dark brown with a light brown to tan head that has great staying power and leaves nice layers of thin foam.

Has that nice JP aroma of wood and funk with a little spice around the edges.

The taste is very simillar to the regular Oro, but a bit more malt and wood comes through and again, the spices. Medium to full in the mouth with a nice funk/wood aftertaste. I will buy this again and enjoy it over the holidays.

ypsifly, Nov 14, 2007
Photo of schusterbauer
4.68/5  rDev +16.1%

I really like the bottle art on this one. Makes me think of the Nightmare Before Christmas.

Nice appearance -- a cloudy, dirty swirl of black, purple, brown, and gray. Typical JP funky smell to it, but it was pointed out to me, and I agree, that there is an odor of litter box about it. It does blow off after a few minutes, but it gives pause.
Taste is amazing. It's like a big fat peanut butter and jelly sandwich made with fermenting grape preserves, on huge, thick, bakery fresh wheat bread. Faint hints of holiday spicing at the end.

Fantastic contemplative beer.

schusterbauer, Nov 08, 2007
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Noel De Calabaza from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
90 out of 100 based on 850 ratings.