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 Sammy
4.3/5  rDev +6.4%
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.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.02/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Batch 890.

Bottled on 9/21/11.

Pours a murky dark brown with a 2 inch puffy khaki head that settles to a film on the top of the beer. Random splotches of lace stick to the sides of the glass on the drink down. Smell is pretty funky/sour with some dark fruit, unknown spices, and woody aromas. Taste is also funky/sour with dark fruits, sour berries, earthy wood, and very subtle spices. The aftertaste is funky and earthy and sits right on top of the tongue. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp but extremely dry mouthfeel. After each sip I feel like I need a sip of water. Overall, this is a good beer but it reminds me much more of a sour than a BSDA. The only real negative is the drying quality this beer has on my mouth.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.8/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

on tap at hops and pie, and absolutely world class establishment. a semi sour holiday brown here, not quite in the oud bruin tradition, but certainly on that block. hazy brick red to brown in color, lasting white head half in inch high. smells like lactic acid, lemon zest, chocolate malt, and something asian. its a very strange combination, but its cohesive and it works. there is a little more grounding in the taste, with the brown ale type malt bill and the souring fermentation goodies taking center stage, but it does have some dried cherry sweetness in the finish, as well as a subtle spice that may well be from the yeast or some rye malt. lots going on here, and it all fits together rather well. i like jolly pumpkins holiday or seasonal beers, they are all so well thought out and unique. there really isnt much like this on the market. tart and sour in the finish, but drinkable still at 9% abv. the feel is a little off for me though, it sort of curdles in the stomach, and as such is a slow sipper. maybe its the acid, maybe its the sugar, but its a little harsh once its down. medium body, maybe more, and excellent carbonation, it still feels slightly heavy. jolly pumpkin can do no wrong for me though, and this is even more far out than the bam stuff, its really different and well done.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.53/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This brew pours out as a deep color with a tan colored head that had a decent retention to it. The smell of the beer is a mix of sour ale and winter spices. The taste of the beer is t too bad, I expected this one to be really sour but it turned out to have a pretty good balance of spice in there to even things out. This beer isn't typically one I'd pick up around the holiday but it was worth trying.

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Photo of metter98
4.05/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is clear dark amber in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a half-finger high off white head and has excellent retention properties; a thin layer of bubbles consistently covered the surface.
S: There are light to moderate sour aromas in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and has notes of cherries with little if any tartness.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate with a light amount of carbonation. There is some dryness in the finish.
O: This is very easy to drink for a sour beer as it’s not neither too sour nor too tart.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.92/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Who says that all Christmas ales have to be rich, heavy, and overly spiced? Not the artisans of Jolly Pumpkin- their holiday ale is sour, spice, and everything nice.

Dark brown in color, the beer shares rusty orange and red hues. Hazy to the point of nearly opaqueness, the beer is adorned with a dainty skirt of foam that clings to the edges and laces lightly- a far cry from most Belgian influenced ales.

Funky fresh aromas rise from the glass with the scent of caramel, grape candy, and acute red wine. Early spices of pepper, peat, and light medicine balance the nose just as stronger cidery notes latch hold. Delicate cinnamon spice keeps the complexities revealing themselves with each return to the glass.

Tart berries, green apples, and sour grapes are the prominant features of the beer in taste. With just enough toasty malt sweetness to support the acidity, the beer balances out beautifully with simple musty wood notes and saddle leather wafting about. Peppercorn and cinnamon add a spicy complement to the beer in absence of any meaninful hop flavor. Finishing with a tinge of red wine vinegar, the beer has the tendency to make you pucker up.

At first the beer is sharp on the tongue, but then smooth and lightly creamy at middle palate. But a late dryness of alcohol, tannin, and acidity attacks the mouth once more to close the session. Its light carbonation gives a pang to the mouthfeel but keeps the beer dry and lightly creamy.

Where I often feel that Jolly Pumpkin ales are tilted too much toward the phenolic peppery and medicinal side, Noel De Calabaza balances out wonderfull and does so in the vein of stronger Belgian oude bruins.

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Photo of brentk56
4.47/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Blend 3, 2007

Appearance: Pours a murky russet color with a modest head that diasppears quickly but dots the chalice while it lasts

Smell: Funky sour aroma dominates, but underneath there are some fruit (grape and cranberry) and woody elements

Taste: Starts out pleasantly tart (green apple dominates), with the lactic sour flavors building to a crescendo by mid-palate; after the swallow, some sweet elements (grape and pecans) join to balance into the oaky finish

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and silky smooth; moderate carbonation

Drinkability: A really complex sour beer that encourages you to get to know it better

Update: Blend 3, 2012

Just as good as I remembered it but there is a very intriguing maple and mint flavor on the finish that I am really enjoying

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Photo of kojevergas
3.36/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

BOTTLE: Solid label art. Pry-off pressure cap. Brown glass. Bomber format.

Served cold into a tulip and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Reviewed live as a saison per the label. Expectations are high given the brewery.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: ~1.5 inches wide. Foamy and frothy. Adequately creamy. Good consistency. Nice complexion. Leaves light lacing on the sides of the glass as it recedes. Retention is good - ~4-5 minutes.

BODY: Dark deep ruby of average vibrance. No yeast or hop sediment is visible.

Looks nice for the style. Not unique or special.

AROMA: Faint oak. Caramalt. Winter spice. Amber malts. Sweet and malty, but not too heavy on the candi sugar. Has a mulled character. Very wintery. Hints of dark fruit - plum & date. Maybe some light raisin.

Has no overt hop profile or off-character. Slightly boozy.

Aromatic intensity is average.

Suggests a heavy thick beer with a malty taste and an undisguised ABV.

I do wish the oak was more prominent.

TASTE & TEXTURE: Malty and spicy, with some mint family spicing. Deep amber malts and Belgian dark malts lend it a robust malty sweetness. Sugary, with some candied fruit notes; I'd guess plum and date, but they're so well integrated that they don't ring distinct.

On the sweeter side, sure, but that's to style. Slightly sticky. Definitely too thick and even a bit syrupy. Unrefreshing. Full-bodied.

Quite the malt-bomb, but complex enough. The dark fruit brings some subtlety, and overall this is a pleasing beer for the style, but its depth of flavour is merely average and it isn't quite gestalt. Well-put together for what it is, with a satisfactory build for a dark ale.

Above average flavour duration. Average flavour intensity.

Lacks a harmony of texture to taste, or a harmony of oak barrel to base. Somewhat dry, to its detriment - parching the palate a bit. Smooth, though.

OVERALL: She's kind of a sipper, and the ABV isn't well disguised. This isn't on par with the quality of Jolly Pumpkins saisons and sours, but it's a nice beer in its style - especially considering it's American-brewed. Worth trying and maybe even cellaring, but not a beer I'd buy again. I expected better given the brewery, but it's a nice beer for what it is - and is definitely well above average.


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Photo of emerge077
4.25/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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!

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Photo of largadeer
4.38/5  rDev +8.4%
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.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.38/5  rDev +8.4%
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.

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Photo of zeff80
4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Consumed on Christmas night 2011.

A - Poured out a dark brown color with a two-finger, khaki colored head of foam. It left sudsy sheets of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of dried dark fruits with some spicy/yeasty notes. Some biscuity malt aromas, too.

T - It tasted fruity with dried green apple, plum, currants and raisin. Bready malt with a nice spicy bite.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium to full bodied ale with a clean finish.

O - This is a really great ale. Jolly Pumpkin never disappoints.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.12/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Poured into a tulip glass. Color is dark brown with an off-white head. The nose is some cherries, dark fruits, oak, funk, and a bit of sourness. The taste brings the oak and cherry components through pretty well. Good feel with nice sour and oak character. Drinks quite well and is another solid beer from Jolly Pumpkin.

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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 superspak
4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 10/20/2011. Pours slightly hazy deep ruby red color with a 2 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with some light streaming carbonation. Aromas of strawberry, cherry, green apple, raisin, orange zest, caramel, toast, oak, clove, nutmeg, pepper, hay, grass, herbal, light funk, and yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of fruity/spicy yeast, oak, and spice notes; with good strength. Taste of strawberry, tart cherry, green apple, orange zest, raisin, caramel, toast, nutmeg, clove, oak, pepper, hay, grass, light funk, herbal, and yeast earthiness. Light fruity tartness/spiciness on the finish; with lingering notes of strawberry, cherry, green apple, orange zest, raisin, caramel, toast, nutmeg, clove, pepper, hay, grass, herbal, light funk, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance and complexity of fruity/spicy yeast, oak, and spice flavors; with a nice balance of fruit/spiciness and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a smooth, crisp, and lightly prickly mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with only a slight warming present after the finish. Overall this is a damn nice Belgian dark ale. All around nice balance and complexity of yeast, oak, and spice flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of nickfl
4.22/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Two fingers of light brown head on a reddish brown body with nice clarity. The head recedes quickly, but leaves nice lace.

S - Sweet and sour acidity reminiscent of a Flemmish brown. Toasted malt and mild caramel with notes of sour cherries and balsamic vinegar.

T - Fruity acidity, followed by brown malty flavors of toffee and caramel. Yeasty fruit in the middle, with notes of banana and guava. The spice begins to come out in the finish; nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice are complimented by a restrained woodiness.

M - Medium body, very high carbonation, and a somewhat sweet finish.

D - For a wood aged, sour beer this is pretty drinkable. The flavors do not overwhelm and the sourness is restrained and this, combined with a just slightly sweet finish makes for surprisingly good drinkability. The aroma is among the best I have had in a JP beer, but I was a bit disappointed in the flavor at first. Towards the end of the glass, more of the barrel character began to come out and the beer displayed an overall complexity that is more than the sum of its parts. A very nice beer, overall and one I would buy again, though I doubt I'll have the chance.

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Photo of oberon
3.68/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled on 10/20/2011.I know it's a little late for a CHRISTmas season beer but I gotta good deal today on this home state beer.Poured into an Ommegang chalice a true to label deep mahogany with a thinner slight off white head atop.Oaked sherry vinegar aromas along with some sour/lactic notes,a bit of dried cherry as well.Spiced phenols and that sherry vinegar on the palate,a sharp sour bite hits in the finish.For those who like the sour biting somewhat heavy handed phenolic Belgian darks this is for you,(and there are many)but for me I respect it but don't go outta my way for it.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.35/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Looks a little like cola as it pours: clear mahogany brown stream of liquid, followed by a quickly rising head of frothy tan that almost rises out of the glass. Once settled and topped-off, it displays a thick thumb width of pillowy foam atop a surprisingly clear deep-chestnut and ruby body (subsequent pours disturb the sedimented yeast and add some haze). The head dwindles slowly but steadily to a wide collar that leaves about half of the surface still covered; and one very thick ring of sticky lace around the glass. Unfortunately, beyond that very little lacing is left except for some minor spots and smears here and there.

The aroma, like the appearance, is also a hint cola-like with a sweetish, dark caramel-like maltiness, some mild spice, and a hint of grassy hops - as well as a hint of earthiness and some tartness...

That tartness becomes much more apparent in the flavor, although it's not really that sharp. It lends balance to the sweet, darkly-caramelish malt. And again, it actually is cola-like with a note of cardamom. Lots of fruit comes through, but it's mainly apple. I think of the Stayman/Winesap, Fuji, and Jonahlicious varieties. It never gets as tart as a Granny Smith, but almost - and there are plenty of red berry flavors there as well. It starts with a sweet cola-like maltiness that's then immediately cut-through with juicy tartness, and then followed by a wide swatch of spiciness (cinnamon, anise, nutmeg) across the middle and into the finish. The apple-like fruitiness rises, along with some herbal and earthy/leathery/funky notes, in the finish as the spices fade. Only some residual dry tartness, a dull bitterness, some mineral/leather, and some spent-spice are left behind.

A really interesting, and fairly complex ale. Superb!!! Absolutely worth seeking out!!!

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Photo of chinchill
3.94/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

750ml bottle. Batch 626. Bottled 9-29-2010. Served in a Unibroue snifter. A strong pssst upon opening, and some beer may have been loss in foamy overflow had I not had my glass ready at hand.

Pours a very dark brown with reddish highlights. A large, foamy/creamy beige head starts a bit pillowy, and gradually settles to a full covering, leaving gobs of sticky lacing on the glass.

Aroma: The rich and complex aroma is woodsy, spicy, fruity and boozy; sweet but with a hint of tart too. Seems every bit of 9% ABV if not higher, but pleasant and inviting nonetheless.

T: Mildly tart and bitter from start to finish, but has some sweet fruit too. A bit spicy, including white pepper, nutmeg, salt and allspice with some oak.

M: medium-full bodied; near creamy smooth; rather high carbonation that works very well. Some warming from the alcohol both in the mouth and on the way further down.

O: A delicious Christmas beer that remains quite enjoyable on this early summer night. True to style; in this case meaning this could pass for a fine Belgian brew but has its own distinct sensory profile.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.22/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle - $13.49 at Beverage SuperStore in Suwanee, Georgia. Batch #331.

Appearance: Cloudy, mahogany-hued body with a truly gigantic, foamy, khaki-colored head. Even after a hearty pour, there's a foam snake creeping out of the bottle. It's no drain pour, but it has been placed in the sink to prevent any unsightly messes.

Smell: Sharply aromatic nose that's all at once sweet, tart, and spicy with notes of mixed fruits, fine oak wood, sugary gingerbread cake crumbs, pungent funk, conspicuous spices, and a wholesome whiff of nose-tingling menthol.

Taste: Sweet syrup-coated cake with a mix of fruit flavors: golden raisins, sweet cherries, green apples. Also, a little splash of tart Merlot. Oh, and some menthol and spearmint, though this is eventually superseded by a strong licorice flavor. Undertone of funkiness throughout. Teeny dash of cocoa powder and mulling spices and crushed walnuts. Zip of oak wood with some additional vanilla tastes. Touch of alcohol on the latter half. Raspberries arrive late. Fruity, tart, spicy finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Highly carbonated, obnoxiously so even.

Drinkability: A true multitude of complexities within this one, and, as always, it's another weird, wild ride from Jolly Pumpkin.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.65/5  rDev -9.7%
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.

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Photo of billab914
4.15/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 627 bottled 10/5/10. Poured from a 750ml bottle into my Bruery tulip. It poured a very dark and deep ruby color with a frothy off-white colored head covering the to of the beer. Loved the color.

The aroma has a very nice tart, sour cherry flavor to it. I get some funky, very slightly musty notes to it as well. Just a hint of spice is there. Very nice aroma to it, I really liked the sour cherry flavors that came out in it.

The taste shows a little more of the malty, dark fruit characteristics coming through the tart, sourness. I do get some more of the tart, sour cherry flavor to it though, especially in the finish. The finish also shows a little more of a spice to it as well.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied overall with carbonation being above average. Overall it was a very nice beer. I really liked the sour cherry component to it, but it also didn't overwhelm you with the sourness. Really nice mix of flavors overall with some good depth and complexity.

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Photo of russpowell
3.64/5  rDev -9.9%
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

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.97/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Blend 3

750ml bottle served at about 55 degrees and poured into a New Belgium Snifter

A – Poured a nice medium brown color with no real head to speak of which was a bit disappointing, though on a later pour I was able to elicit a smallish tan head about a half inch high by using a very vigorous pour. As you could imagine the lace itself was also practically non existent, and there was a noted lack of carbonation in the appearance. The ale was not nearly opaque as you could definitely make out hints of light on the sides and bottom of the glass giving it a somewhat lighter appearance around the edges and showing off some of the sediment that was settling down toward the bottom.

S – The aroma was full of spice and a touch of sour fruit as well. I was honestly shocked that this was barrel aged ale from the aroma as I really could detect none of that from the smell. The alcohol as well was not present here. There were definitely some hints of yeast present here as well giving it a bit more of a lighter note then I would have expected. Based on the aroma it is really hard to nail down a style on this one. It seems very complex and seems to cross over between several styles, but a blended ale will tend to do that, not too mention one that has been barrel aged as well.

T – The flavor was a little difficult to describe to be honest as it seemed to transform over the course of the night. First off I have to mention that this was not harsh or over the top in anyway, which again surprised me. Usually when you get these type of barrel aged blended ales there is something about them that dominates everything else, but not the case here at all. The first thing I noticed was the spiciness that was coming through from the very first taste. A big healthy dose of cinnamon, nutmeg, and earthy malts right on the front end, enough of it to really give your tongue a bit of a work out. Once you got past that first layer, up next came something of a shock to me, why it was the flavor of a sour ale! Very cool, the yeast here was very big with lots of bitter and sour notes, hints of apples and raisins and plums rippling through all at once, while at the same time really puckering the lips. As if that was not enough, on top of the oak flavors started to percolate through and really start to show them off. Really getting complex not with hints of vanilla and even caramel as it warmed starting to mingle, but the finish went right back to that deep sour note. Very nice indeed.

M – Here is the only part of this one that I was not impressed with. To be honest it was flat, almost entirely flat. There was no carbonation to speak of, and this hurt it as it made it feel lighter then I knew it was and gave off almost a slick feel to it when there should not have been one there. Not sure what happened here, a I was not even able to stir it up, though there was lots of yeast still present on the bottom, I could just not get it back to life, it was a shame as this was really the only detrimental part of the whole experience.

D – This was an outstandingly drinkable beer. Dare I say even sessionable? I still do not know what the ABV is on this one as I haven’t even looked it up yet, which is something I never tend to do before reviewing a beer. The flavors were very well defined, but nothing was over the top. There was no hint of alcohol what so ever in here and you could easily throw down the bottle without it hurting too badly.

Overall this was an interesting, if not intriguing selection. The style was nearly impossible to nail down so I just left that as it was. The flavor was very nicely balanced and quite different which is always a plus, I just really wish it had a little more carbonation. That really would have turned this from a good beer to an excellent one. Maybe it was a bad bottle, I have another to compare so we shall see. Still would have to say that this was a good call and worthy of a try.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.15/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The pour is a dark brown color with plenty of red notes to it and a very fluffy off-white/beige head.

S: There is the usual mild, Jolly Pumpkin tartness to this beer with some dark fruit notes (namely cherries and red grapes), lemon, and a bit of oak.

T: The flavor is quite enjoyable with a mild funkiness and lactic tartness. The fruit flavors come through nicely and help to give the sensation of more acidity. A mild maltiness underneath with a good tannin component.

M: The body is medium with a very heavy level of carbonation. In fact, the carbonation seems to be a bit overwhelming at times.

D: Jolly Pumpkin's beers rarely blow me away, but they're always enjoyable. This is another one to add to that list; I just wish it were more affordable.

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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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