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 dahlen22
2.21/5  rDev -45.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Color-Dark red/brown with way too much carbonation.

Aroma-This beer has the smell of cherries and winter spices

Taste- A bit too sweet and tart for me. Cherries, plums, winter spices and a slight bit of bready hops.

Mouthful- Again, tart and sweet.

I was told to get this by a bartender at Eulogy in Philadelphia (who by the way thinks he knows more about beer than he actually does--typical want-a-be beer expert). That being said, I gave it a try despite this guy's so-called "knowledge" of beer. If you want to enjoy a true Belgian winter beer, forget Michigan and stick to Belgium...skip this one because it is certainly not worth the $12 per bottle.

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Photo of RandomExile
2.61/5  rDev -35.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.5

A: deep brown, just barely red; opaque; scant eggshell/brown ring; consistent arcs and jags of lacing
S: sour
T: sour, fibrous, bile
M: apple crisp
O: Really disappointing. There nothing discernibly Christmas or pumpkin about it. It's a just a poor sour beer.

12oz / Snifter / VGP Columbia, MD

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Photo of karengarys
2.73/5  rDev -32.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This pours dark dark mahogany leaving a very fluffy head. It is a bit overcarbonated, bumping down the appearance due to the frustration I had while cleaning the extra foam off the counter.

Smells good and bad at the same time - at least to me. Somewhat fruity.

Taste is not what I would expect from a strong dark. Way too fruity and sour. It is like it accidentally had a leinenkugel berry weiss mixed in. um... Fruit and sour. That is about all I can say for it.

Mouthfeel is somewhat flat or wet given the seemingly overcarbonated pour. Not rich like I would hope.

I really don't want to finish this, but at the price I will - it isn't so bad I have to pour it out, it just is not my cup of tea. or, stein of brew as it were.

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Photo of StaveHooks
2.8/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

750ml split with my wife Batch 1198 Bottled 09-18-2012
Served in a Tripel Karmeliet tulip

A - Pours very dark brown with a light tan head. Nice thin cap with specks of lacing left on the glass.

S - Smells like rotten milk right off the top. Spices mixes with a very odd funky aroma,(and lots of it) grapes, dirty yeast, spiced figs and berries, old tangy dark grains, mildewed wood, sour dairy(not in a good way)

T - Opens up tart with green apple skins, grapes, pears, muddled spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, lightly sweet dark caramel malts lye underneath the funk and spices. Brown sugar comes out more as it warms with a sour lactic taste. Finishes with a sweet and sourness, spicy and funky.

M - Medium to moderate creamy body, spicy and dry feel, medium weight in body.

Funky for sure. If I closed my eyes I'm not sure I would have guessed the color of this beer. I wanted to like it more but I couldn't get past that sour/curdled milk aroma. The funk was not the funk I want to be apart of. It didn't seem to have any direction and seemed to be a mess of sorts.
While I'm glad I tried it I would never seek this out and I wish I would have only bought one. My least favorite offering from the folks at JP.

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Photo of wangbruins
2.85/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of VelvetExtract
2.85/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

A-Pours a dark brown hue. Tan head is birthed from the pour. Dots and waves of lacing are left behind as the head fizzles away.

S-The aroma's got some funky yeast and dark maltiness. Dark, rotten fruits. Light oakiness and lots of Christmas spice.

T-The flavor does not jive for me. I get some odd, medicinal or band-aid flavors. The funk is alive and well but it doesn't mesh with the dark malt and spiciness. Each sip leads me to question what's really going on in my glass.

M-Hard to appreciate the feel when you don't like the flavor much. Rather light in body.

O/D-Didn't care for this one at all. Will not revisit.

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Photo of mithrascruor
2.9/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

750 mL bottle poured into a chalice.

Appearance: Pours a great dark brown color, nearly black when not in the light. Good off-white/tan head is creamy and has good retention.

Smell: Malty aroma with plenty of spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, clove), and sweet raisins. As it warms there's a bit more alcohol in the smell.

Taste: Hits the palette really strong with a bunch of odd tartness and some cinnamon. There's something with the finish and aftertaste that I'd associate with tonic water, and it lingers. The taste is generally more like a gueuze - but with some spices added in. Not really any fruit in the flavor, though there is some malty sweetness in the background.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a fair amount of carbonation, but it is pretty mild.

Drinkability: Definitely tough with the flavor. I will say that there is not much in the way of alcohol in the flavor, however.

I don't know if this was a bad bottle, or if this is how it is supposed to taste. It smelled really good, but the taste is nothing like I'd expect for a Belgian Xmas ale. The taste, in fact, really starts to get on my nerves after a while with the whole "tonic water" flavor. This was pretty expensive, so I sure hope it doesn't become a drain pour!

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Photo of Craig_Martini
2.9/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

This beer is gorgeous when poured. Rich, dark, Amber with a hint of red and a medium thick head. Unfortunately the good stops there. Lighter than expected, too much carbonation, not very complex. Didn't get much fruit until it warmed a bit. Just not very interesting. Drinkable, but that's the most I can say for it.

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Photo of Hopswagger
3.01/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

P: Murky dark brown mahogany with yeast swirls. Started to gush once opened and delivers a massive blubbery looking khaki head that giggles like a bowl full of jelly. Great retention with micro bubble clingers.

S: Hickory smoke, nutmeg, toasted malts and chocolate almond bark. Sweet and spicy phenolic aroma.

T/M: Holiday spices, ginseng, waxy apple peels, bitter cranberries and booze. The signature Jolly Pumpkin base with a spiced one dimensional profile. Loads of spice flood the palate and drown out the other flavors. Carbonation is a tad too aggressive and the feel is full and chunky not smooth. Finish is dry with a slight dusting of cocoa powder over bitter fruit peel.

O: This has to be my least favorite of the Jolly Pumpkin line up. I was excited to see the holiday special brew but It was not the present i was expecting. Not a terrible creation but seems messy and unrefined. Must have been made by south pole elves...Can't expect everything to shine like the northern star. Cheers!

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Photo of wisrarebeer
3.01/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Batch 898. Bottled 9/28/2011.

A: deep copper color, clear, intense dense rocky off white head
S: full, deep roasted malt with yeast and hops, nice balance and traditional
T: noticeable tartness in finish which is not appealing for a Belgian style dark ale
M: hard to get good read on mouthfeel with tart finish, wished it had more malt and yeast domination
O: I was really looking forward to this beer but was ultimately disappointed due to the tart finish

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Photo of jjanega08
3.01/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Blend 2, 2007

A= The pour is a deep deep brown color with a huge four finger off white head on it that holds some decent retention for how big the bubbles are on it. Good lacing on the side of the glass.

S= Sour and oaky. I got a good bit of vanilla and cinnamon sort of after the inhale. There is a sort of taste that I get after taking a deep wiff of this beer. Really interesting I've never had that happen before. There's a good bit of wood in the smell. Less spicey than I expected.

T= The taste is really different. The start is very very malty. Loads of toffee in it. Then a little bit of spice takes that over. Then where is a ton and I mean a ton of sour that briefly touches your tongue and sort of finishes a little bit.

M= Loads of carbonation and a super duper dry finish.

D= Decent brew but I'm happy I only got one. The carbonation on this one is a little much for me and the spice sour mix is odd... Not a bad brew but not for me.

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Photo of Zorro
3.06/5  rDev -24.3%
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.

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Photo of NittanyBeerFan
3.1/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

On tap at TJs. Poured into a Belgian wine glass.

Not much head on this one, nor is there any foam that I can stir as I swirl. There is an oily film that gets left on the glass, though. The color is garnet with ruby hues as the television behind my beer illuminates the body.

The aroma is decidedly Belgian, but unlike many JP beers, the bugs play a supporting role here rather than a dominant one. The signature dry funk is harder to locate here, as the Belgian base comes through more. There are some notes of dates, cherries, and a touch of balsamic vinegar. The flavor is similar, but more flat, as this Christmas ale falls short of the quality of other Jolly Pumpkin offerings. Muddled fruits, a hint of phenolic pepper, and that balsamic vinegar just doesn't quite do it for me.

Undercarbonated, slick, and medium-to-full bodied, this doesn't really hit the mark for a BSDA. Short on the complexity, short on the texture, and short on carbonation, it's no wonder this one falls short.

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Photo of jdklks
3.1/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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

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

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

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Photo of Wisconsinality
3.13/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

750mL poured into SA perfect pint.
2009 Vintage.

A- Pours a coca cola brown that is transparent when held up to the light. A big, pillowy, three finger head that sticks around forever and leaves some very nice lacing on the side of the glass.

S- At first sniff, I pick up a lot of wild yeast and some nice oak notes, maybe even a little champagne. A small hint of malt and some sour grapes. Not really what I think of when I think of a Belgian strong dark.

T- Again wild yeast dominates the taste followed by some oak and sour cherries. Not much of a malt presence to speak of. I pick up just the a faint bit of dark chocolate at the end. The alcohol is very well hidden.

M- Lighter bodied with a crisp carbonation. Some nice tartness. Lighter than normal for style. Just a small amount of warming from the alcohol.

D- Lighter bodied and nice crisp carbonation. This really doesn't fit the style, reminds me more of a wild ale. The scores would be better if it were that category. With that in mind this is a good beer. Don't let the style fool you, if you like wild ales. this is a good one.

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Photo of mothman
3.18/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Batch 2, 2007

Poured into chalice. Pours a decent amount of head. Over 1 finger. Beige khaki in color. Good retention. Decent lace. Color is a caramel brown amber.

Aroma: Sourness and spice. Holiday spice flavors. Cherry notes. Oak. Vanilla, cherries, and orange peel. Has a light chocolate flavor and roast.

Taste: Kind of bland. It definitely has a sourness to it. Pretty malty and pretty spiced. Cherries, vanilla, raisins, dry spice. Oak and funk. Bretty.

Mouthfeel: A bit tart, fizzy, and funky. Medium bodied with a higher amount of carbonation. Ends medicinal and dry.

Overall, this was an interesting take on the style from JP. It was kind of old so it showed a lot of funk. Not really my thing.

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Photo of SierraFlight
3.2/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Jolly Pumpkin Ann Arbor poured into tulip. Dark brown appearance with a finger of off white head that leaves spots inside the glass. Aroma is funky, sour, cherries, and wood. Taste is similar with almost no sweetness. Medium bodied, active carbonation, drying and crisp.

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Photo of akorsak
3.23/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A 750 mL capped bottle, 2007 Batch 2 picked up at Anderson's in Maumee.

A: The ale is active, slowly creeping up the neck of the bottle upon opening. When poured into a glass, the off-white head is thick and dense, covering a ruby red ale that shows off darker mahogany shades.

S: The signature Jolly Pumpkin tartness grabs you immediately, acidic with the acetic twang. Underneath the tartness lies cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

T: The ale is not as tart on the palate as the nose would suggest. In fact, the tartness is almost a nonfactor in the taste. The body of the ale is relatively light, a dark ale that is loaded up with spices. Sour cherry, cinnamon, apples and nutmeg appear throughout the sip. I preferred the ale cold, that brought out more of the sour side.

M: The ale starts off promising before devolving into a run-of-the-mill spiced ale. I'd've liked to see more sourness last throughout the ale.

D: The ale is decent, but the flavors never really came together for me. I'd rather have one of JP's plain old wild ales.

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Photo of MbpBugeye
3.24/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2009 blend 1. Poured into a chalice

A- Huge Huge Huge frothy merangue like, sand colored head rises way above the rim of the glass. It has incredible stay with incredible lacing. The head lasts the entire glass. The beer is a murky and clouded dark brown/umber.

S- The nose is not very strong. Its tart and sour. Hints of lactic sourness and acidity. Some slight funk as well.

T- The taste is weak as well. Some tartness and sourness.

M- Thin body, high carbonation. Dry finish.

D- Goes down pretty easily but I don't think I will be able to drink the whole bottle.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
3.3/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

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Photo of Aenema
3.3/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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

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Photo of wschmit
3.32/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Batch 657, bottled 10-5-10. Should be enough time to let the bottle-conditioning show. Anyways...

A: Hazy, dark brown, like cloudy Coke. I had to try hard to get the meager half-inch of white head there is. What there is has a fine, creamy, bone-white appearance. The body is rife with fine strands of bubbles.

S: At first a bit of raisins and caramel, with a noticeable amount of sour, the tang comes to dominate the nose. Not terribly funky--mostly sour.

T: Upfront, the sourness dominates. The oak tastes used and woody, and leaves an ashy, dusty aftertaste--certainly not the best of brett characteristics. There's just a bit of rounded malt taste in the middle...

M: A bit thin, given the ABV and the appearance. This fits a sour beer, but not very Christmas-y, frankly. The alcohol is pretty well hidden, however.

D: Pretty meh. I'm not digging this too much. It's very middle of the road. I expect more roast, toast, or sweetness from a Belgian as dark as this, but it's just not there. The booze is not in the least bit overwhelming, however. At any rate, for the price, you're better off seeking out other Jolly Pumpkin beers.

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Photo of goblue3509
3.33/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a lighter cola color with light highlights visible around the edges. There is a thin white head which recedes to skim with some lacing present. The aroma is of dark fruits and sour up front with a slight hint of oak at the back. The taste starts with a sour lactic taste green apples red grapes and present. The middle has a dark fruit taste and then the back end has an oak slightly off putting taste. It was just there kinda unblended. The mouthfeel is moderatley carbonated. Overall it was an okay beer, i am usually a fan of jolly pumpkin but this one left me wanting more out of it.

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Photo of TheWhiskerReview
3.33/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Batch 626. Bottled 09-29-10. Tasted 09-11.

Pours a murky brown-tinted black with a huge, rocky and frothy 5-finger tan head. Retains a solid ring for most of the brew, lace still sticking near the top from the first pour.

With the bigger malt profile, I expected this to be mild on the sourness, and it is. The nose is actually somewhat breakfasty smelling. I get wheat pancakes with maple syrup and a bit of orange marmalade, especially the bitter zesty parts. Joining all of this are aromas of fig, woody vanilla, spice, plum, cherry and a sizable boozy pepper note. Not getting as much funk as I'd expect from a JP, but again, deeper and darker malt profile could be getting in the way.

The palate does a bit of a flip from the nose. Where the nose had a good deal of fruitiness, the palate is a bit drier and more austere- full-bodied with a chewy bran-like malt, a mild tartness and a nice oaky creaminess which mildly helps to offset the sizable bitterness, coming both from the leathery-leafy hops and the big booze character that takes over the latter half of the presentation, forcing the finish to be much too bitter and peppery.

Overall, I wasn't terribly impressed with this JP, and I can't quite tell if it's because the beer itself is mediocre (which I'm less inclined to believe because I trust the other BA reviews here) or if it could be attributed to poor storage. I know a beer like this should be able to last a year. I also know this beer came into town the same time as the other 6 JPs I've previously reviewed whose freshness and storage weren't an issue.

But it seems like this oddball Noel went to none of the major beer sellers in town. I've only found it in boutique wine shops who have beer selections but don't focus on beer. What to make of this distribution decision, I'm not sure. Still love JP though.

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Photo of goatgoat
3.35/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Batch 631, Bottled on 10/6/10.

Poured into a Stone tulip. A clear mahogany. A somewhat fizzy off white head settles down into a thin cap with a respectable texture. No lace.
Aroma is mostly oak and that bright quality that hints at the tart and wild nature of this brew. There's some spiciness, raisins, and a floral alcohol presence. Taste is primarily alcohol in this young bottle. Though the finish presents oak and the classic JP tartness. The wood is no overwhelming.
The brew is pretty thin in the mouth, but a good carbonation helps it along a bit.

I think a little more time would do this brew some good.

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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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