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 buschbeer
4.39/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

1 pt. 9.4 fl. oz. bottle
Served in a tulip glass
Bottled 11-14-2012
Blend 13

A - This beer is dark brown with some dark amber and ruby highlights. It is capped with an inch or two of tan head.

S - I get a sour/tart aroma with some mold/mildew. It get a little green apple and funk.

T - It has a tart apple taste. The dank basement is there, too. I get a sour cider taste. I like it.

M - Medium and sticky.

O - I love this beer. I have been a fan since I first tried it a couple/few years ago. It is probably my favorite Jolly Pumpkin beer, and I like pretty much all of their stuff (besides the price).

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Photo of larryi86
4.16/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle, Blend 2 Bottled11-2-10, poured into a tulip

A- A deep burgundy color with a three finger off-white head.

S- Sour, dark fruits, oak, some funk, some earthy spices.

T- Sour, dark fruits, funk, oak, earthy spices, finish is kind of like black licorice.

M- Medium body, lot of carbonation.

O- It is getting better as it warms up. Finish is slightly weird.

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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 SerialTicker
3.91/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had a sample of this at Three Blind Mice in Mt. Clemens, Michigan for a surprising $3.50.

Appearance: A brown sort of color with a nice finger of off-white head. Sip-for-sip lacing. Really nice.

Smell: I’ll admit that I haven’t been particularly blown away by any sour that I’ve smelled (that I remember). This really kind of smells like a dirty trunk to me between the souring yeast and the barrel. It’s not a bad smell, but it’s not exactly a thing I imagine people whiffing and thinking, "DAAAMN that’s good!"

Taste: A bit like the smell. Not as sour as I was expecting. Doesn’t taste Christmasy to me at all? Just tastes... sour. A bit of fig in there as well. I don’t get any sort of cinnamon or nutmeg or anything that would suggest Christmas to me at all. Reading these reviews, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m garbage at describing sours... but sour with a slight woody flavor does it. Dark fruits. Almost an orange note. That about does it.

Feel: There’s a medium body with a surprising amount of carbonation that I feel adds to the sourness.

Very good beer. Maybe I’m just not quite in love with sours as others are. Enjoyable, but it’s pricey as hell, and not something I could drink a lot of.

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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 spense727
3.91/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance - Dark, cloudy. Very little lacing and murky. Great bottle.
Smell - Like a sour. Can't get anything additional. Intoxicating.
Taste - Quite sour but refreshing. Slight maltyness, very similar to a sweettart.
Mouthfeel - Highly carbonated. Slightly light on the mouthfeel.
Overall - Solid strong dark ale, wonderfully sour.

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Photo of Shroud0fdoom
3.96/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

*25.4 oz. Bottle* This beer is a surprise for me. I popped the cap and poured it in my glass. The brew did leave a nice half finger off white soapy head, that crowned a nice dark iced tea brown body. Ok let's get a whiff of this nice looking beer. First hit is spices. Cherries in there with a touch of raisins. A hint of dry oak, almost like a fine wine. Notes of toasted grains with maybe some sugar. Exposed pears in the background, almost like it doesn't want to get noticed. Now it's time to savor! First wave is of sourness. Cherries and grapes make first part of the aftertaste. Mild wood turns to toasted malt sweetness. Spicy yeast notes follow through like a good BSDA. Alcohol isn't on the palate at all. I like that. There is a hint of metallic in the aftertaste, but not offensive. Citric bitterness closes this brew out, leaving dry. The body is medium-light with par carbonation.

Overall: This was a surprise! I was expecting a spicy, sweet BSDA. The aroma gives a hint of sourness just not enough to tell you this is a sour beer. This beer finishes sweet, almost like drinking Sweet-Tart candy. This brew is good and interesting. I will not buy again, but I do enjoy this brew. If you like Sours, this beer is recommended. If you don't like Sours, this one is still worthy!

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Photo of TwelveOunces
4.06/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750Ml poured into a snifter
Bottle 11-12 (10 months old)

A- pours surprisingly black. Not much of a tan head.

S- Sweet dark fruit. Figs plums and raisins.. A touch of lemon zest and tangy wheat.

T- A very sour beer. A huge tartness at first and a drying mouth feel. A dark fruit but not as heavy as it is on the nose. A bit pf a pomegranate taste and a cherry pit. There is some oak taste but it mostly adds to the drying feel. A sour beer, a lot of hay and some barnyard characteristics.

M- Sour and very tart. Takes your breath away at first. Leaves our mouth dry and sticky.

O- A solid sour, may not buy again because the price but not bad otherwise.

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Photo of Axnjxn
4.08/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into a teku glass. Batch 8 bottled in october 2012

pours a light brown with a small head. smell is big on cherries , like a flanders red. taste isn't quite as sour as a regular flanders red, but the flavor is there. good cherry kick, oak flavor is apparent too. real nice . smell is a tad better than the taste, but its still solid. medium bodied, mild carbonation.

overall like this one a lot. recommended.

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Photo of dbossman
4.08/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Mahogany hue with a steady, thin cream-colored head; decent lacing

S: Dark fruits and spices with lingering oak notes; lots of musty, woody dark fruits: cherries and raisins but also bananas and apples

T: Slightly tart, especially on the finish; roasty bready malts; this is extremely balanced and so delicious especially as it warms because the fruits and spices--cherries and apples, especially--become more pronounced

F: Creamy, medium body--a touch thin on the finish

A: A really pleasant oaky, fruity, spicy, slightly tart beer--nice

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Photo of bmwats
4.14/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into s snifter.

A: Medium dark brown. Pours a 2 finger, foamy, brown-white head. Disintegrates slowly, but far from completely. A giant foam blanket remains for the duration. Thick blanket lacing.

S: Pungent malt, orange zest, a little nutmeg, and coriander.

T: Syrupy malt, with some fermented raspberry, and a little orange citrus.

M: Thick and syrupy. Slightly sweet and a little bitter in the front, pungent and dry in the finish.

D: Sip and enjoy.

Atmosphere is really good here. Great head, and some great lacing. Nose is malty, fruity, and spicy. Very complex and well-balanced. Syrupy malt, with some fermented fruit, and some triple sec. Overall, this is a great quaff.

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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 mxchap
4.56/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a 15cL sample glass)

Appearance: Dark copper, with some red hues shining through.
Aroma: Figs and cranberries as well as the usual gambit for a sour.
Taste: sour and tart. Oak and apples as well. Very complex and ponderous.
Mouthfeel: Just the right carbonation and feel. Nicely balanced.
Overall: A great holiday offering! Sour Christmas ales are uncommon and this one is certainly worth a try.

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Photo of bigfnjoe
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a Victory tulip

A- pours a dark, cherry brown with a one finger offwhite head. The head is very solid, no breaks at all in it...nice looking beer

S- nice barnyard funk, green apple, and the such

T- sour green apples, along with some minimal cinnamon and nutmeg. Not bad

M- medium bodied, but pretty thick for something this tart

O- pretty good beer, about par for the course for JP

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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 Biffster
4.34/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

I will admit, I've had this bottle for a bit. A 750 with a cap. Ron, cork these!

The beer is a deep brown/mahogany with amber golden highlights. There is an almost unnoticeable tawny tan head. clinging to the side of the glass.

The tart sour notes are amply countered by the big caramel, toffee and graham cracker aroma. There is plenty of dark fruit - sour cherries and overripe strawberries - as well as some melon and pear. Lots of fruity estery banana and apple notes, along with just a touch of coffee bitterness, as it warms.

The toffee caramel notes at the sip are quickly countered by the bracing acidic sourness we know and love from Jolly Pumpkin. It is tart through the middle and there is plenty of tart acidity at the swallow, but the finish is fairly malty and sweet. It's not sweet overall, but this one balances well with the sourness.

The mouthfeel is light overall. The carbonation is moderate to light, but the body is very light. There is a little slickness on the tongue.

What a great, bready, fruity, yet sour and clean beer. This is one of Jolly Pumpkin's best efforts. The bitterness lingers but was never overwhelming. Well done.

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Photo of One2Remeber
4.36/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Chilled bottled poured into a snifter.

A: Off-white head, tinted brown like dirty snow (I do not miss Michigan right now:). Creamy and frothy as could be. Extreme bubbles rising to the top making for wonderful cloudy head retention. Body is murky brown color with a dark amber hue.

S: Powerful sour notes are inviting. Light cider aroma in the undertones. Reminds me of an English brown ale.

T: Nutty malt tastes at the backend. Sour up front. Extremely bitter from the carbonation. Cider stays on the palate after each sip.

M: Sits on the tongue like juice, drinkable like apple juice.

O: Fantastic. Could use a more sour burn, this is more mild, but thats just my preference. Reminds me of a sour version of Winterbraun from Lost Coast. This is a perfect for December.

A: Murky brown, dark body. Off white head, big bubbles fades quickly.

S: Metallic, tons of fruity citrus hops, some mild funk.

T/M: A lot more funk than remember... Make me happy. Drinkable sourness compared to a ultra tart flemish. Traditional brown ale notes hidden, chewy chocolate/figs.

O: Perfect Winter Ale.

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Photo of Mantooth
3.81/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a Samichlaus snifter.

This cola colored brew is a nice combination of green apple tart and fruit rind bitter. It pours with a small mocha head that dissipates as it rests; the luxurious lacing remains constant. The nose is a bit soapy with some vinegar and malt present. The mouthfeel is sticky and dry. Serve it cold and take your time in drinking, it slowly evolves into a very nicely crafted brew. I look forward to having it again.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.79/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 750mL bottle into a tulip. Bottled 9/26/2012.

Appearance: deep, dark amber-brown hue with some ruby highlights when held up to the light. There is definitely a moderate haze to the body. Head is two fingers of creamy, pillowy tan foam with good retention. Nice.

Smell: lightly malty aroma with a bit of toast and a hint of chocolate. Some spicy, phenolic character adds a bit of complexity to this. Not too bad; definitely within style.

Taste: toasty malt followed by a light but surprising sourness. Subsequently, we get chocolate and more of that phenolic character and light spiciness. There is some bitterness at the end, but hop flavors are indiscernible to me. Good, but the phenolic character is just a little bit harsh for my taste.

Mouthfeel: medium body with a good level of carbonation and a decent creaminess. I like it.

Overall: this is a pretty good beer, but it's not among my favorite BSDAs. I think it's just a little harsh; perhaps some age would have improved it.

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Photo of chanokokoro
4.2/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales branded goblet/snifter

Pours a deep, dark cola brown with an off white one finger head that quickly dissipates and reduces to a thin ring of foam. Light oak, whiffs of red wine vinegar, light caramel and a touch molasses on the nose. Brown sugar, overripe dark berries, some spiciness including cinnamon and nutmeg. Some yeasty esters midpalate, tart granny smith apple and caramel malt join in; Finishes with pleasant oakiness, and just the right of vinegary tartness to lightly pucker the mouth. Heavy medium to light full smooth, silky body. Light, but fizzy carbonation. This is one complex brew that has a lot going on, yet all the parts collaborate and come together as a cohesive whole. Excellent twist on the traditional Belgian Strong Dark Ale hoilday brew.

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Photo of Boski
3.75/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Dark hazy brown color. Very nice head and head retention.

S: A little funky (in a good way). Not too much going on though compared to other sours I have tried.

T: Nice tangy notes up front with a little spice in the finish.

M: Tingles the cheeks. Lingers on for quite the while.

O: I really enjoyed this beer. I have come to expect big things from Jolly Pumpkin and was not let down on this one. A very nice dark sour for the winter months. This was a nice change of pace from typical American and Belgian X Mas spiced ales. Definitely a sipper.

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

I got this in a beer exchange. Thanks Chris!

750ml bottle served in a chalice.

L - deep brown color with a off-white head that thinned to a ring and an island.

S - Belgian spices, yeast and oak.

T - very nice Belgian spiced flavor blends well with the oak aging and a bit of sourness.

F - medium bodied with lively carbonation.

O - good example of the style.

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