Noel De Calabaza | Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

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Noel De CalabazaNoel De Calabaza

Brewed by:
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
Michigan, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
"Belgian Christmas Ale aged in oak barrels."

Added by BeerBeing on 10-21-2007

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Reviews: 425 | Ratings: 1,020
Photo of Angus703
5/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Batch 333/334 (I guess they mixed 'em) 16.9 oz Bottle

Poured into my new 16.5oz Cervoise from BeerAdvocate, thanks guys for the cheap set. More money for great beer.

Appearance: Dark sort of brown with a redish hint to it, beautiful lacing, not too much not too little perfection.

Smell: First thought is wine, second is malt, then some spices

Taste: winey fruity, sour aftertaste, but soft enough to be very drinkable

MouthFeel: surprisingly great, almost feel the lacing on your cheeks.

Drinkable: I agree with Sevenfiftymilly 10!

I had the privilege to visit this brewery but only one 16.9oz bottle of Noel left. I'm buying more next Christmas, if you get a chance buy it, and absolutely age one.

Special Ale indeed.

Not to mention great, great artwork, Mahalo to Laurie Jeffries who was so friendly when I came in to buy her families awesome beer. I love the Black Beard flag.

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Photo of pigpen892
4.98/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured a deep murky red with lots of foam to spare. Smelled like rotten apples, dates, figs, and sour grapes with an uncannily deep funk perfect for the cold weather. Tasted just as funky as it smelled with the Brettanomyces (I guess) and the oak barrel aging working its magic with the nutty malts to to create a magical flavor. Mouthfeel was just as strange and as wonderful as the beer's other characteristics -- heavy and boozy for a sour or wild ale, light and carbonated for a Belgian strong ale. Overall I love this beer with its perfect and wildly unexpected marriage of dark fruit and roasted malt with crazy yeasty funkiness.

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Photo of JustinMatthew
4.95/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

*Batch: 626, Bottled: 9-29-10 (Aged a little over a year)

Poured from a 750ml into a standard tulip glass. Extremely dark brown in color with a large fluffy off-white head that hangs around through out. Smells slightly of vinegar and fermented grapes, sweetness and malt. Taste is incredibly smooth.. vanilla, Light vinegar and fermented grapes coming through. A little oak, some cherries, pear, and sour apples. After taste is similar to La Roja with a slight oaky finish and that of vinegar and sweet malt. All well balanced through out, simply perfect. This beer just made my list of favorites overall.

*also I love the label artwork big time!

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.92/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer pours a mahogany color with a billowy egg shell white head that recedes slowly leaving sticky lacing. Like Pavlov's dog I salivate to the aroma of this beer...literally. It is of bretta, oak, plums, and a vague spice notes. The taste is sour and tart upfront with a hop kick that is stronger than I had expected. It finishes with with a firm sourness, oak, and some heat. The mouthfeel is full bodied with a high level of fine carbonation, and a velvety texture. Overall, this is a wonderful beer. I can see this beer pairing well with a wide variety of foods. I will certainly drink this again may times.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.89/5  rDev +21%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow! Where did I score this?!? Fantastiche! The nose was musty, brett-laden, and simply wild. There was a thin, light brown head, but it quickly reduced to wisps. The color was a deep brown with ruby highlights. Mouthfeel was thick and efferevscent with just a touch of the characteristic J. P. sourness. There was a bite on the tongue, but nowhere as overpowering as some of the Pumpkin's offerings. The finish lingered with a great bite, but again, not so intense as to put off the uninitiated. It may have been my aging (dated 2, 2007), but I would serve this to guests without hesitation.

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Photo of kjyost
4.84/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Batch 4. Overcarbonated (hello Brett!), but glorious for Christmas Eve! Brett beautifully blended with the dark ale flavours and oak. I could drink this forever!

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Photo of BobbyBeerman
4.82/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Blend 2, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of kohoutek
4.8/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Blend 1, 10/26/10

A beautiful garnet hued gem, pouring a rocky, thickly aerated head of the lightest tan.

Aromas and flavors of musty cellar, caramelized fig, brown sugar, oak, fresh leather, black cherry, plum, green olive, citrus blossom and a well-integrated herbal other worldliness.

Mouthfeel is a spritely, crisp, ever-present tickling of carbonation. Very nice acidic finish that is beautifully balanced by the brown sugar, oak and figgy notes.

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Photo of KYbrewgal
4.75/5  rDev +17.6%
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.

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Photo of dubinsky
4.75/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

750ml poured into a Bruges snifter.
Blend 1 Bottle 10/26/10.

A - Pours a nice deep brown, resembling Coke. Slightly more transparent when held to the light. Amazing, pillowy two finger bone white head that last a very long time. When it finally recedes, it leaves some wonderful lacing. This is what a beer should pour like!

S - Ooooh, i love me some brett funk. I smell over-ripened banana, cloves, sour grapes and lots of wild yeast. I was not expecting a sour beer from a Belgian strong dark ale, but i am so pleased.

T - This is really woody, oakey, and funky. Wild Brett is dominating the flavor profile followed by oak and sour cherries and some spice. Not very malty or hoppy.

M - Very crisp and light bodied. Champaign like carbonation with great sour tartness.

D - I'm approaching the end of the bottle which i have been drinking by myself and i can say that i didn't even know i was getting there. This is extremely drinkable and the 9% abv is so well hidden, you'd think you were drinking a ginger ale.

I think this beer is miss-categorized and should really be a wild ale rather than a BSDA. I will give it very high marks cause i love the beer, and think its been mis-categorized.

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Photo of kevosbob
4.74/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

There is something special about this sour ale by Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. Noel de Calabaza is a Belgian strong dark ale, dubbed as a “Special Ale” by Jolly Pumpkin. This rare seasonal beer has a 9% alcohol by volume, is oak aged and bottle conditioned. If you have never tasted a sour ale, this is a good introduction to the world of sour beers.

Poured from in 22 ounce bomber labeled batch #627/628, this holiday brew appears dark black with hints of red and brown. The thick head appears almost creamy and dissipates nicely within a short time. The smell of this beer will envelope your nose with the smells of a sour ale. Smells of Granny Smith apples, cherries, and a little bit of oak will invite you to take a drink on a cold winter’s night.

When tasting this beer the high amount of carbonation enhances all the flavors. With sweetness on the front of you tongue this sour ale is not overpowering and is actually quite enjoyable. The beer itself is very smooth with berry, spice, and oaken notes throughout the whole tasting experience. There is a slight alcohol/solvent quality but for being a 9% beer it’s hardly noticeable. When exhaling after drinking this beer one will get small notes of spices and oak that leaves this beer with a nice, not strong, lingering quality.

Noel de Calabaza is one of the more enjoyable beers I have had lately. It is a great beer to share and to introduce to fellow beer lovers. Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales did an wonderful job crafting this tasty seasonal beer. Spices, fruits, alcohol, oak, and bottle conditioning; this beer has it all and I’d truly recommended grabbing a bottle or two before they are all gone.

My Beer Rating: 4.5

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Photo of Rezzin
4.72/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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!

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Photo of ViveLaChouffe
4.72/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured 12/2009

Popping the cork on this bottle reveals a foamer. Foam pours steadily out for many minutes in the sink. Pours a dark opaque brown with a enormous lacy froth on top. I have to wait a few minutes before I can even dip my nose in it. Yeasty and fruity in the nose, some vanilla and sweet spice...clove?

Ooof! In the mouth, it's an explosion of spice, yeast, ripe grapes, alcohol, baked apples, spiced pears and vanilla. Some wine-y flavors, sweet spice, maybe clove, some caramel and toffee flavors way back there too. There's a cidery character and easy to drink considering the complexity and ABV. As it warms, there a rum flavor...or maybe whiskey. No, it's a rummy flavor for sure. Like rum soaked raisins. Long fruity finish and aftertaste.

It's a Belgian-styled wonder of a Christmas ale. Exquisite and highly recommended.

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Photo of MarioM
4.7/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

6 month old, 750 ml poured into RR steamed glass

A: Dark brown mahogany with a light tan creamy head made of medium bubbles at the base and small creamy bubbles on the top later. Good lacing left over after head dissipated.

S: Slight fruitiness mostly covered by a Brett like character created from the barrel aging. Very subtle dark fruits, brown sugar and spices.

T: Surprisingly smooth and balanced, wow. This is very characteristic of Jolly Pumpkin without the shocking off-flavors that add complexity to their brews but in a very very good way. The barrel aging shines through very well, obviously the base beer before aging was mild and not overpowering to begin with, lending itself to benefit greatly from the oak barrels. Just wow, wow. The flavors are perfectly balanced, mild yet making this beer extremely complex and drinkable. Slight spice notes and caramel maltiness from the candi sugar most likely added like most Belgian dark ales.

M: Light to medium carbonation. Very subtle roastyness and fruitiness lingers after sipping. A little dry, almost Brett like from the oak barrels. Slight fruity, dark sugar character lingers as well which is very enjoyable. No bitterness left over from the aging process but the slight sourness/tartness shines through and substitutes the bitterness extremely well.

O: I knew I wanted to try this wonderful brew since I first layed eyes upon this bottle at a specialty beer bar in SF. I took a mental picture of the bottle and remembered the name, "Noel de Calabaza". A Christmas specialty ale by Jolly Pumpkin, I could not pass this up when I saw it at my favorite bottle shop near work, Jane's Beer Store. It was kinda pricey so I held off until just one bottle remained, now I'm having it after three months after buying. I could not justify trying this jewel until a special occasion. Thankfully this week was good enough and god-damn am I glad I finally found the excuse to try this.... I've always been a fan of Jolly Pumpkin and had great expectations for this brew but never would I have imagined this being one of my favorite beers. Really, it is that good. I will never walk by this beer and not pick one up. All I have to say is I can;t believe I had this thing stored for so long, ignorance is a bliss until you realize what you've been missing. Damn, I'm enjoying this....

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Photo of JLeege
4.68/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Blend 1, 2009 ~ poured into an oversized snifter

Appearance- Pours a deep deep amber color, with a big rocky off white head. Great retention and lacing left down the glass.

Smell- Dark fruits dominate the aroma. Cherry, plum, grape. A little oak and spice.

Taste- Fruit again is all over the palate. Plum and cherry. Tart throughout, slightly sour. A little barnyardy funk too. The oak presence is noticed towards the end of the drink. A little earthy, woody, a whisp of vanilla even. A nice brett-y dryness on the finish. It is hard to put this down, I could sip on this forever.

Mouthfeel- Prickley carbonation. Medium body. A tad tart on the tounge. ABVs are hid quite nicely.

Overall- I have not had this fresh, but this beer has obviously held up excellently. Must find more! Highly recomended.

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Photo of aforbes10
4.68/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bathc 333/334. Bottle from kkulacki, and probably my last JP for a long while. Thanks, konrad! Pours a very dark ruby/crimson color. Super pillowy absorba-foam type head. Flavor has a nice muted sourness throughout on a creamy chocolate malt backbone. Fruity, but also dry, with roasted malt and grassy hops. Sourness grows and expands. nice lactic note on the finish as well as a warm alcohol sensation. I also get a hint of allspice and clove. Creamy mouthfeel...medium to full bodied for the style, i'd say. Drinks fantastically, especially on a sort-of-cold california night. another winner from Jolly Pumpkin.

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Photo of rallison
4.67/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of macher0
4.67/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A. Deep dark mahogany color. Thick fine bubble head that slowly retreats to a frothy fine bubble film. Super lacing.

S. Traditional jp yeast with some spices and a hint of hops. Moderate fragrance. A slight note of neutral oak.

T. Moderately tart with a slight bitter finish. Bretts, spices, hops, and grains. A little malty.

M. Full bodied. Moderately smooth. High carbonation.

O. This sour screams Christmas. Slightly hoppy and peppery but certainly sour. The appearance is excellent. One of my favorite jp ales.

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Photo of goochpunch
4.66/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

2013 bottling.

Leather brown body with a creamy, off-white head. Tons of bubbles racing up the sides of the glass.

Smells reminiscent of an oude bruin with dried fruit, brown sugar, balsamic, toasted malts.

Big time oude bruin flavors. Soft sweetness up front with caramel.toasted malts and tartness coming up at the midpoint. Finishes dry and acidic. I get some spicy Belgian yeast and a bit of wood/vanilla.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly light - the body foams up in my mouth and pricks the tongue.

This is an awesome beer for the holidays, or anytime, really.

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Photo of gregc
4.64/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft at spuyten duyvil in brooklyn.

Poured brownish / orange with a thick foamy head

Smelled of yeast, sour fruits and a musty funk.

Flavor was malty and tart with some flavor of fruit, i loved the sour funkiness of this beer.

Enjoyed it very much.

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Photo of schusterbauer
4.63/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of dbalsock
4.63/5  rDev +14.6%
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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Photo of cjgator3
4.62/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle
Batch #342

A- Pours a dark brown color with a light tan head that possesses excellent lacing and retention.

S- The aroma is very fruity and sour with some funk, spices, yeast and oak. I love the aroma, there is a lot of stuff going on that keeps you wanting to sniff over and over.

T- The taste starts off sour with some oak flavors and other spices quickly coming in. There is also some fruits in the flavor as well. The most amazing thing about the taste is that the 9% ABV is very well hidden, it's almost hard to pick up on it.

M- The mouthfeel is on the lighter side with a good amount of carbonation.

D- Noel De Calabaza is dangerously drinkable considering the high ABV. The alcohol is very well hidden.

Overall, Noel De Calabaza is one of my favorite beers from Jolly Pumpkin. Highly Recommended!

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Photo of bjohn84
4.6/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Batch 910, bottled 10-5-11, drinking with a juicy steak at the cabin after 10 months in the cellar

A - great clarity with a small bit of head that laces nicely on the glass, brown with a slight red hue

S - nothing overpowering, but get great sour cherries, some oak comes through on back end

T- sour cherries, subtle oak, some slight sweet fruitiness

M - enough body to keep it a sipper, but surprisingly very drinkable, light sharp bubbles dance on the tongue

O - awesome balance on this one. Sour is definitely present all the way through, but balance is so that oakey fruit comes throughout as well. Definitely would get this one again!

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Photo of rye726
4.6/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a blackish mahogany with a silky tan head. The nose has sweet malts, oak, spices, chocolate, dark fruits and a bit of barnyard funk. The taste is equally complex with rich bready malts, candy, cocao, figs, cherries, christmas spices and a subtle yet very well balanced oaky manure presence. Creamy body is well carbonated. A unique Belgian style strong ale from JP. One of their better ales in my book.

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Noel De Calabaza from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
4.04 out of 5 based on 1,020 ratings.
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