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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: 423 | Ratings: 1,007
Photo of ARoman
4.56/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

On tap, poured into a tulip. The aroma is reminiscent of a dutch, sour apple pie with secondary wood notes, and some late fig and bread crust emerging as it warms. It's a brilliant, clear, deep caramel orange hue with a light, dense, white head that has a low amount of retention and a low amount of lace. A really nice, medium bitter,sweet, and sour balance. The texture is a bit on the thick side of oil with a light, zippy carbonation and a medium full body that's tart with notes of caramel apple pie, sour cherries, and a strong spice as well as secondary notes of slight citrus zest, oak, and a touch of coffee as it warms. The finish starts with a very brief, syrupy and burnt caramel but turns to a zesty spice and oak with a brief character of fig. It's dry and astringent with an aftertaste of bread crust, apple pie, fresh fig, citrus, and a late hint of chocolate. Quite clean for such a big beer.

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours brilliant dark brown under a 1” off-white foam cap that clings tto the side of the glass.
S: Wine and fruit aromas with a suggestion of port and a little wet horse blanket.
T: Dark dried fruit, rich malt, fruit, tangy tartness, citrus with a moderate hop finish.
F: Above average carbonation, medium body, tart yet soft in the mouth.
O: This is a smooth, malty Belgian Strong Dark ale with a nice balance between wild yeast tartness, Belgian yeast fruitiness and alcohol.

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Photo of silvershark
4.12/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

11-19-2012 Bottle opened on 5-11-2015

Head: Virtually nonexistent - slight foam.

Body: Dark, not quite opaque, but more opaque than translucent. Almost like a heavy pinot noir but more brown than red.

Aroma: A bit vinegary, clear sour notes. Also caramel and toffee. Slight dark fruit, but more as an aspect of the sourness than an aroma on its own.

Taste: Quite a nice sour note, but not overpowering tartness. More balanced than you might guess given the aroma. A little bitter kick at the end, but nicely blended. Malty flavor really opens up nicely as it warms. Definitely not something to drink directly from a fridge - would much rather have it at about 55F or so otherwise most of the flavors will be masked by the sourness.

Texture: A little thinner than you might expect given the body color. Feels more akin to a brown ale. Would actually be quite nice to drink even on a summer evening given the nice tart quality to it and lack of heaviness.

Overall: Definitely something to store for a few years. I had one back when it first came out and it's an entirely different beer now - much more oaky and bretty than when it first debuted, which served to really mellow out the alcohol forwardness and flatten it out a bit. If you can let it sit for a while, you'll have a really nice winter sour to sip on. As a note, though. It's definitely more of a sour brown type beer, so if you're not into sours, you'll probably not enjoy it as much.

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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 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 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 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 WorldWideStout
4.24/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Batch 892 - Bottled 09-23-2011.

A: The bottle says it's a deep mahogany color, and I reckon that fits the bill. Billowy, taupe head pours out to at least two fingers, and lacing is ample.

S: Brettanomyces and oak. Mostly brett. I guess almost 3.5 years of aging will do that.

T: Starts out with some fairly ripe plum, but by mid-sip the brett has the spotlight. The plum, which is not particularly ripe, nor too tart, hangs around though, and I get it on the end in most sips. I get a bit of spicy oak every so often, but it's not a strong contributor. Not much of an aftertaste to speak of.

M: Purdy carbonated. Maybe just a smidge too much, but it keeps the beer going down easy, which I like for a wild ale, which is really what I consider this to be, especially after aging.

O: Tasty indeed. After trying many of the Jolly Pumpkin beers several years ago, I decided this was the only one I particularly enjoyed, at least for the price. I wouldn't say this is better than younger versions, just different.

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Photo of Pete_IV
3.99/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Blend 16 Bottled 11-19-2012
Poured into a tulip

Looks like a brown ale, dark ruby with small tannish head. I get green apples when smelling this beer. After thinking about green apples Im now tasting them? Definitely starts sour that leads to the oaky flavor and stays dry on the tongue.

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Photo of draheim
4.05/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750mL into a tulip. Pours a deep mahogany brown w/ a soft 1-finger head.

Aroma is gently tart, oaky, bready. Similar to a Flanders oud bruin.

Taste is likewise dry, dart, woody, semi-acidic.

Mouthfeel is balanced and satisfying, semi-dry finish.

Overall a nice sour dark saison/quad. Not sure exactly what this is.

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Photo of Taybeh
4.49/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Pazzo's in the Loop, into a goblet.

A: deep dark amber with reddish tint at the edges, thin crown of foam that sticks around
S: Happy thoughts because this is great: tart cherries, barnyard funkiness, some deeper dark fruitiness, brown sugar and oak.
T: waves and waves of flavors that follow the nose.
M: a lot of puckering and tart snappiness, and a nice level of chewiness.
Overall: Great beer.

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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 joeyfeets
3.83/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

You can taste the barrel immediately as well as a dry, tart flavor. Finishes with a sweet, malty note of figs & currants. My bottle had a fair amount of carbonation too.

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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 cbutova
4.04/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Jolly Pumpkin Noel De Calabaza

11-16-2012, Blend 15. Thanks to Chico1985 for sharing this.

A- Actually much darker than I imagined, deep brown to almost black in spots even when held up to light. A cream colored head rises up to a finger with a thick foamy consistency. Mostly spotty lace with some webs.

S- Dark fruits and lactic are the overall theme to the aroma for me. Flemish feel throughout with slight acetic hints and a somewhat Oud Bruin characters. Cranberry tartness, cherry, lemon juice, wet oak and toasted nuts.

T- Tartness builds up to being relatively sour over time here, both lactic and acetic. Cranberry is one of the strongest flavors for me with spicy raisin, fig, wet oak and red wine grapes, lemon sours and a slight nuttiness. Complexities are a bit tough to pick up because the sours and red fruit and wine notes really start to dominate.

MF- Lighter end body with a bit of a slickness I often find in beers that have acetic character to them. Carbonation is at a medium-low level and it ends quite sour.

Red wine grapes and cranberries and a general dark tart fruitiness opens up sip by sip. The sourness gains even more strength than those. It isn't harshly sour but it seems to block flavors that might exist otherwise. Winey and Flanders Oud Bruin feel.

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Photo of Chico1985
4.04/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

750ml bottle labeled Blend 15 / 11-16-2012 that I've been cellaring since last year. Shared with Cammy Boy while watching The Departed.

A - Slow gusher as always with JP. Pour into 2 tulips is dark brownish red, only very slight translucence. A creamy-looking beige head retains at a solid half-finger or so for most of the duration.

S - Balsamic vinegar, tart darkish fruits, oaky vanilla, sour cherry, some caramelly brown sugar.

T - Mostly a nice sour vinegar kick and red fruits (cherry, cranberry, grape), definitely reminiscent of a Flanders ale to me. Some light spice gives this somewhat of a red wine feel.

M - Good creamy feel, nice medium carbonation, nothing really noticeable for alcohol. Good sour kick, a little flemmy in the finish.

O - The listing of this as a BSDA is a little misleading, though assuming that is what the style of the base beer is, I wish there was more going on with it. Definitely a good sour that is quite drinkable for 9% but it would be nice to see some more complexities.

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Photo of barczar
4.06/5  rDev +0.5%

Aroma is floral and reminiscent of tart cherry candy, with a bit of a medicinal tone. Flavor is tart and sour, mostly citric acid, with a touch of acetic and lactic. Medicinal cherry weaves throughout, but that tart and sour cherry character redeems.

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Photo of mchegash
3.87/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Review date: 11/21/2014
Bottled date: 10/2013

Appearance - 4/5
Carbonation explosion upon opening. After letting settle for a few minutes, pours a very dark red-brown. Fairly hazy. Good head retention.

Smell - 3.75/5
Classic JP sour aroma--tart apples, cherries. Cannot smell much else.

Taste - 4/5
JP sour taste of tart apples and tart cherries. There is a distinct oak flavor in this beer, with perhaps a bourbon flair. Essentially this is the standard JP taste, but with a more oakey flavor than their other beers.

Mouthfeel - 3.75/5
Medium bodied, crisp, with medium-high level of carbonation.

Overall - 3.75/5
Overall a fairly typical brew from JP. I love JP beers, but I still feel like most of their brews are the same with slight variations. The variation here is the oakey flavor. So a good beer, but not terribly different from any of their other beers.

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Photo of Karibourgeois
4.5/5  rDev +11.4%

Dark brown pour with a two-finger beige head. Aroma is strong with notes of oak and tart dark fruit. Taste is wonderfully sour and tart with dark fruit (raisins, fig, blackberry) upfront backed by a bit of clove and cinnamon. Medium bodied. Tartness and booziness increase as the beer warms. Finishes with a mild tartness. Really well done. Delicious.

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Photo of BMMillsy
3.98/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Green capped 750 ml bottle from Gator Beverage, Batch 165, 167, 172, 174, dated 10/23/13 poured into Unibroue tulip on 5/12/14. Pours opaque brown that turns a bright ruby color when held up in the light. Big fluffy off white head that lingers for a good while. Aroma is sour cherries, some dark fruit, light spice, oak. I was expecting something different but this smells excellent. The flavor is chocolate covered cherries, light spices, a hint of balsamic vinegar, dry oaky finish. Sweet around the edges of the tongue. Medium bodied with effervescent carbonation. Goes down pretty easy. I really didn’t know what to expect from this brew, but it is really nice and seems pretty unique. I would have this again.

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Photo of reebtaerG
3.96/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on draft at Lures on 5/7/14

A-Dark reddish brown with a small tan head. Spotty lacing

S-Aromas of red wine, wood, light tannins, black cherries/berries, and leather.

T-Taste in the front has tart cherries with a hint of oak. Sweet, in an acidic kind of way. Finish with notes of cherries, green apple, and orange zest.

M-Medium/full body, oily texture, medium carbonation, medium sweet and light/medium sour.

O-Overall it was surprising to taste sour had to get use to it. I wouldn't have for a holiday ale.

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Photo of StoutHunter
4.24/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I picked up a bottle of Jolly Pumpkin's Noel De Calabaza a few months ago for $13.99 at The Lager Mill. I had this beer awhile ago and I don't remember much about and I thought I should revisit it and it give it a proper review, so lets see how it goes. Bottled on 10/12/13. Poured from a brown 750ml bottle into a Jolly Pumpkin Snifter.

A- The label looks nice, it's got a nice seasonal look to it and I think it's fairly eye catching. It poured a murky dark brown color that had a red tint to it and it took on more of a dark red color when held to the light with two and half fingers worth of creamy off white head that died down down to a thin ring that stayed till the end and it left some spotty and patchy lacing behind. This was a pretty good looking beer, I have no complaints.

S- The aroma starts off with a higher amount of medium sweetness followed by a nice fruity aroma being the first to show up, there's some berry and other fruity aromas showing up but it seems like it's the tart cherry that show up the most. Up next comes the signature Jolly Pumpkin yeast that add just enough funky and light barnyard like aromas to this beer and it mixes with a nice noticeable oak and woody aromas with a light amount of spices showing up towards the end. This beer had a very nice aroma, I really liked how well the fruity aromas worked with the funky yeast and barrel aspects.

T- The taste seems to be fairly similar to the aroma and it starts off with a higher amount of medium sweetness followed by that same fruity aspect that I got in the aroma with the berry and tart cherry like aromas sticking out the most followed by a higher amount of medium tartness. Up next comes that funky Jolly Pumpkin yeast which shows up just enough and it's followed by the right amount of noticeable oak and woody barrel flavors. Towards the end I get a nice malt flavor with some toasted malts coming through along with a slight spicy flavor and there was some slightly lingering tartness, funky yeast and fruity flavors in the aftertaste. This was a very nice tasting beer, I thought the balance was really nice, no single aspect was too overpowering.

M- Smooth, not too acidic, a little refreshing, crisp, a little prickly, medium bodied with a higher amount of medium carbonation bordering one being highly carbonated. This bee had a very nice mouthfeel, I have no complaints at all.

Overall I thought this was a very nice beer and I thought it was a pretty good example of a sour, BA has it listed as a Belgian Dark Strong Ale, but other then the light toasted malt aspect I don't find this beer to match up with the style, but I think it fits pretty well as a Sour or American Wild Ale. This beer had good drinkability, it was smooth, pretty crisp, a little prickly, a little refreshing, not too acidic, not too filing and the taste did a nice job at holding my attention, Drinking a whole bottle might be a little too much for me, but I think splitting it with someone is perfect. The flavor doesn't really come off as too winter seasonal like and I think this beer would be nice to have in the summer. What I like the most about this beer was the balance, nothing was too overpowering and the flavors seemed to work pretty well together. There wasn't anything that I disliked about this beer, I thought it was great just the way it is and I can't think of anything to improve it. I would buy this beer again and I wouldn't mind keeping a couple bottles around in the cellar. I would recommend this to anybody who like sours or American Wild Ales. All in all I was a little impressed with this beer and I'm glad I decided to revisit it, I don't know why I don't remember much about it from the first time I had it, I find it to be a pretty memorable beer now. This isn't my favorite Jolly Pumpkin beer, but it's up there as one of the better ones I've had from them and i would say it's above average as far as Wild Ales go. Great job guys, this was a really nice beer, keep up the great work.

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Photo of magictacosinus
4.15/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This was one of the many beers poured at the December Albany Taproom bottle share. Not sure who brought this, but thanks! Poured out of a 22oz bottle into a tulip glass. My first Jolly Pumpkin beer ever, too!

I believe we had the Alpha Klaus a little bit before this one, and as far as I'm concerned, both of them were nearly exactly the same in appearance. The only difference, of course, is the viscosity and yeasty appearance of this beer. Otherwise, it's equally opaque, with dark amber tones, as well as an off-white creamy head that temporarily coats the top of the glass before dissipating into a modest ring. Leaves behind no lacing, sadly, but still looks pretty appetizing.

Smells a lot like your typical spiced quad, but there's the commonplace (allegedly, anyways) funk that this brewery is known for right away, as well as some tart elements. Dark fruit are at the front, but of the under-ripe, tart variety: green plums, currants, raisins, figs, and at the finish sweet molasses. Afterwards, there's a leathery, barnyard aroma that appears in an unexpected manner, melding with notes of black pepper, ginger peel, nutmeg, and allspice. Roasted nuts are at the front as well, although it does seem that the highlight of this beer lies in the sour fruit notes overall, as well as in the spice profile used. Pretty unique stuff - definitely quite restrained for what it aims to be.

The flavor is a little bit more varied, however - often to its benefit, but sometimes to its detriment, especially when it gets progressively funkier and leathery. At first, there's notes of dark cherries, sour plums, blackcurrant, and figs. Roasted chestnuts are at the front, with some light pine, molasses, and tobacco. Leather, especially of the slightly charred kind, starts to come in over time, as does these unexpected lactic funky notes that make the beer taste creamier and sweeter, yet at the same time a little funky and bizarre. The finish is filled with more of the spices, mainly of cinnamon and nutmeg, with some light chocolate notes. This is pretty yeasty, but it's surprisingly crisp and filling, with a sweet flavor from the malts that melds well with the spices and funky fruity flavors. Carbonation could be a bit better, but it definitely lives out to be the decadent, albeit, strange beer it's supposed to be.

This was definitely one of the better ones of the night, and a lot of it owes to the tremendous balance given between the malts and spices as they fight over the rapidly shifting funky yeasty notes. This is definitely what the old school Xmas beers must have tasted like in the era of farmhouse ales. The results are very intriguing, and done quite well. I'm looking forward to trying more from Jolly Pumpkin.

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Photo of mwilbur
3.73/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 750 mL bottle into snifter.
A: Pours a very dark cola brown with 3 inch light tan head. Excellent retention and lacing.
S: Dark dried fruit (raisin, fig), sweet caramel malt, mild chocolate, warm spice (cinnamon) and clove.
T: Berries (esp. strawberry), cinnamon, tart Brett, clove, soft caramel malt, and dark dried fruit (raisin). Interesting amalgam, but a bit jumbled.
M: Medium body. Sweet with a dry finish. Moderately tart throughout.
D: A decent brew with some interesting components. Not top notch for style however.

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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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Noel De Calabaza from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
4.04 out of 5 based on 1,007 ratings.
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