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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Ratings: 1,020 |  Reviews: 425
Photo of AleWatcher
4.35/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

the blend 1, 2007 vintage. served Christmas eve 2010.

Trying to clean out the voice notes on my iphone...
Reviewed from those notes.

A muddy brownish rust color with a huge frothy creamy tan head that was initially gigantic and made me fear this beer was severely over-carbonated and possibly infected. The head settled into a frothy cap and left some nice thick lacing behind. Good retention. Looks nice.

The nose has a Saison Dupont note from the yeast, but this beer has a great interplay of sour tart cherries and a musty earthy quality that blends into the oakiness. Some definite malt sweetness. This is quite tasty.

Last year we opened up a fresh bottle of this-- and I can say for certain, I prefer it with age. The sour tart cherry comes forth more and more and any spice notes died out from the fresh one. This almost turns into an entirely different beer.

Upon initially pouring this, it felt a bit thin and a tad overcarbonated. As it warms up, it improves on both of those aspects.

I split this 750 ml with my brother-in-law, and we had no problems killing the bottle. It went quite quickly actually. We both felt I should have had two of them.

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Photo of Fulkrum78
4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an amber/brown out of the bottle. Big white head that sticks around. Lacing is nice. Lots of carb on the tongue. Fruit and esters on the tongue. Mouthfeel is definitely peppy with all the carbonation. Overall a nifty beer, though something I'll probably have one of and that's 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 micstache
3.57/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

First review on BA. Enjoyed on 9/1/11. 750ml poured into Sam Adams glass. Batch 1,2009 sticker on bottle. Large release of air upon opening. Thought to myself, gusher? Looked away for a second and came back to two inches of foam sticking out of the bottle.

A- Fairly gentle pour yields an almost immediate four finger ivory colored, meringue-like head that lingers for the better half of ten minutes. Vigorous carbonation. Bubbles steadily rising from the bottom of the glass. Dark amber/brown/red in the center and a beautiful golden orange around the edges.

S- Overwhelming brett in the nose, but the good kind of overwhelming. Horse blanket and balsamic vinegar with lighter hints of cherry, nutmeg, maybe corriander? Definitely some tart apple. Has an almost flowery/soapy essence to it. Slight alcohol in nose. Brown sugar shows itself with warming.

T-First sip is strong, dry, and bretty. Getting some banana in the far back end along with a very faint smokiness from the oak I'd imagine. The oak and spices are much more subdued than I would have hoped for. Also, not as much dark fruit presence as would be desirable but both of the previous two statements get better with warmth. Candied sugar becomes noticeable. Oak is ever present but hiding.

M- Stinging, airy carbonation. Very light in the mouth. Can't find alcohol content on bottle but am starting to feel it. Alcohol is definitely masked well after seeing it is 9%.

O- A must try if you enjoy sours or wilds. Definitely strong Flemish characteristics to it. I love the brett but as many have said in regards to JP, they could probably step it back just a botch to allow the beer itself to shine. It was hard to find any "holiday" nuances due to the brettiness and extreme carbonation. If the Batch 1, 2009 is in reference to month and year which is most likely, I may have to seek out a fresher bottle to see how it tastes. Flavors all much more pronounced once the beer reaches room temperature. Overall I certainly recommend this beer to the sour lover, but don't go buying any cases of it.

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

Tried this one today at Mile High in Lakewood, Colorado. Poured a nice burnished reddish-brown color with a big, creamy tan head. Tart on the nose, with aromas of wood, raisin, brett and berries. On the palate, this one was medium bodied and tart, with more brett and wood, along with flavors of raisins, brown sugar and caramel.

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Photo of diybrun
4.42/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle to glass with the finesse of Charlie Parker when he wasn't high, or was just high enough.

A - Dark brown, maybe coffee appearance, bordering upon the blackest of blacks. Big, big head that lingers well.

S - Tart cherries, funkiness best described as Jolly-Pumpkin-esque.

T - What a treat. Very sweet, tart, and acidic cherry flavor - reminiscent of something like Duchesse De Burgogne, although not as strong. And by cherry, I don't mean maraschino sugary cherry. I mean dark cherries, more than a little sour but still ripe, if that makes any sense. Raisiny plummy goodness is very subtle, but becomes more apparent as the beer warms. There is a wonderfully complex bouquet/cacophony of things going on here, and nothing sticks out like a sore thumb. The aftertaste is dry, very dry.

M - Medium to slightly-more-than-medium carbonation, light on the booziness, not necessarily an overtaxing slow sipper but not one you'd get a whole lot of out of pounding down while drinking with your bro's on Karaoke Night. I'm not hating! This is a good beer, maybe even a great beer, and one of my new favorites from Jolly Pumpkin.

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Photo of DCon
4.45/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on-tap @ Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach, CA for $8.50. Tapped into a 8.5oz Tulip Glass and has JOLLY PUMPKIN Noel De Calabaza written in yellow/white on the chalkboard of Guest Taps.

Aroma- Very sour cherry smell from the beginning and too complexed to know everything but here it goes... Very sweet, malty, and rich with nice cherry and other sour fruits involved. The malts are noticeable and also has a spiciness.

Appearance- Received with a 2 finger, creamy, off0white head that stays around for a while. The body is a dark brown and semi-hazy color and leaves good amount of lace behind.

Flavor- Has nice sweet cherry taste and then again a hint of a sour smell. I'm not sure if this should be present but I'm loving it! Tons of malt are here again, well balanced with a sweet ending.

Mouthfeel- Light-Medium Bodied, High Carbonation, and leaves fruit/spice behind on the palate.

Overall Impression- Very complexed and does a good job of supporting this style! I would definitely want to have another glass of this but want to have new beers from California that aren't available to me back home. The drinkability on this one was one of the easiest I've ever had, almost Lamic like.

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

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

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

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

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

My Beer Rating: 4.5

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

Batch 5, 2009 bottle. Poured into an allagash chalice.

A- Pours a light transparent brown hue from bottle, sits a dark kinda murky brown in glass. Little head of some bubbles forms and quickly fades, leaving only a faint ring of foam.

S- The musk is immediately present and some light acidic and vinegar notes can be detected. The body is of crab apples, grapes and prunes. Really nice sharp and light musky aroma.

T- Taste is of sharp and dirty unripe fruit upfront before the musky and funk notes set in. Like unripe prune juice that has gone bad, in a good way. Dusty old hay and decently tart. The dark fruits are also meet with some mild spice. Good blend.

M- Light-med body, especially for 9%. Lots of red wine/ vinous feel on palate. Dries nicely, which helps bring out the more tart and sharp feel. Lingers well and the dusty musk stays on palate for a bit.

O- A really solid offering from JP. Was glad to find this on sale for ~$11. I will be looking forward to opening the bottle I have cellaring in a year or so to compare. I recommend getting this is you want a darker flavored tart & musky beer.

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

750mL poured into snifter - thanks to Wiid

Pours a darkened brown color with some underlying reddish hues, thinner beige head fades out leaving some wispy lacing with little retention.

A cornucopia of dark fruits with dates, raisin, and figs, some hints of cranberry and cherry as well in the nose. Slight oaky earth tones with some tart brett inklings as well.

Decent splash of fruited sweetness up front with some candied sweetness. Burnt brown sugar followed by date, fig, and raisin. Some sweeter cherry tones before the malted base kicks in with earthy oak. Solid body, with some familiar brett tones which scream "Jolly Pumpkin" (but in a good way). Finishes a bit tart with lingering candied fruit sweetness.

Fuller medium body, a bit higher carbonation, sticky, dry, and lingering on the tongue. Pretty flavorful and interesting, as most of JP's beers are - the alcohol is also masked well and this didn't go overboard with the tartness to where it became offensively sour for the style.

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Photo of samie85
4.15/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes; originally 4/11/11. Blend 1, 2009.

A-Pours a port wine color with three and a half finger of tight, glistening, light brown head that leaves behind gorgeous lacing.

S-Smells of a bit of brown sugar with some acetic and vinegary notes with a bit of oak.

T-Very tart and acidic upfront with some malt and spiced notes on the finish.

M-Pretty well carbonated with a medium body and a prickly feel.

D-The first beer I've had from Jolly Pumpkin, and it sure won't be the last. I'm very found of the level of sourness of this one.

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Photo of silentjay
4.23/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I love when stores put beers that will age well on clearance after 6 months. got this for half price. Will probably go back and pick up another to age even more. this was bottled 10-19-10, consumed 5-25-11, so 7 months on this one.

pours a deep brown with a huge, dense, cloud-like eggshell colored head that raises up over the rim of the glass, sticks around forever and laces beautifully.

knowing what to expect from Jolly Pumpkin, i am expecting some spice along with a good amount of acidity and tartness, and thats exactly what I smell. nutmeg is the dominant spice, and bettanomyces tartness follows. kind of an odd pairing, but it works well. not getting much fruit, however.

tartness hits first and fills the mouth and makes it tingle. dark fruits (over ripe black cherries) make an appearance that was missing in the aroma, as well as a bit of red wine vinegar. spices (nutmeg, maybe some cayenne, ginger?) and malt sweetness follow up when the tongue gets acclimated to the acidity.

fluffy medium body with a tongue-coating tartness and a lingering tingle and some spice and sweetness that keeps the finish from being completely dry. masterful.

I love Jolly Pumpkin, and though I cannot afford to purchase their products as often as I would like, if stores offer them at a discount, you'd better believe I'm going to buy my share! I'm stopping back there tomorrow to buy the rest of these.

Though its a "winter seasonal" this beer is not one that necessarily calls for cold weather.

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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 thepeter
4.3/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours dark with an off white head and very nice lacing
smells of sour funk, aromatic spice, gingerbread, and then some more sour but not so much as to over power, just enough to let you know it's a sour. And that is the way it tastes as well. Very nicely balanced between sweet, sour, spicy and not too much of anything in particular. I thought it was a fantastic beer and would get it again, Just what I am looking for these days.

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Photo of kwjd
4.1/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy brown colour with some hints of orange around the edges. Incredibly huge white head, bottle was slightly gushing upon opening. Some lacing around the glass. Smells of tart cherry, brown sugar and oak with the Belgian yeast. This isn't incredibly sour, but it is on the verge of being a full on sour ale. Nice sweetness as well. Fairly big carbonation level. Another great beer from Jolly Pumpkin.

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Photo of impending
3.84/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml into a tulip. Pours a deep garnet chestnut, towering dense head recedes slowly leaving clumpy froth hanging.

Tremendously complex aroma. Wine begun to turn reaches me from the bottle. In the glass the scent opens up to spicy dark fruit belgian goodness, a fair amount of wildness.

The lactic sourness is mild, sweet and tart all rolled together. Happy black cherries and a tart cooking apple. Light bodied prickly mouthfeel which the tart seems to amplify. Long lasting pleasant aftertaste.

I don't particularly like sour, this brew laps at the edge of my limit. The complexity saves it appreciatively. Not nearly spicy enough to be a Noël.

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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 flannelman808
4.33/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: pours a semi clear red orange-Amber color and is topped with a rocky muted peach/light tan colored head. Large bubbles in the foam stick around a while making for some nice head retention ... lacing is pretty good.

S: Fairly lactic smelling on the nose, this beer has a number of flavors hidden in the bouquet. Sour cherry and cooked fennel seem to stand out to me as well as that trademark jolly pumpkin oak.

T: Far more depth of flavor on the tongue than in the aroma. A dominating crabapple like tartness meets suggestions of fennel and a cacao nib bitterness. All of these flavors harmonize quite nicely for a really unique brew. This is a triumphant brew and one to look for time and again!

M: resinous

O: To the dome ...

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

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

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Photo of sholland119
4.42/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Station Taproom, 3/5/11.

A-Pours copper amber, slightly hazy with a frothy off white head and good sticky lacing.

S-Cidery and lactic with the distinctive "eau de Jolly Pumpkin" aroma, from the yeast and barrels.

T-Sweet apple, apple cider, slightly sour with a touch of vinegar. Finishes nicely sweet and sour.

M-Medium bodied, crisp and very dry.

D-Deliciously balanced and tasty. Very nice.


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Photo of uno99
3.97/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Blend 2 Bottled 11-2-10

Served at 50 Degrees into a Lucifer goblet

A: Super dark cola brown - Kinda like swamp water, and by swamp water I mean the kind of thing retarded kids at 7-11 make in front of the Slurpee machine. That's right - One of everything mixed together. Opaque of course. One finger head dies quickly down to leave little lacing.

S: The oak and brett very much carry the scent profile here. If you dig a little deeper - let that nose get wet a bit - You do get a dark fruit malt presence and other Christmas beer characteristics.

T: Spices are much more apparent here than in the nose. They are holding your taste-buds hostage from beginning to end. Finish is a fairly even battle between the spicy and sweetness of the base beer and the brett yeast.

M: hugely carbonated - if the beer were clear I'm sure there would be bubbles streaming up the glass. Also hugely astringent. Very parching on every part of the palate you allow travel to.

D: I just realized now writing this sentence that Noel De Calabaza is 9%. I assumed it was around 6% like the other JP offerings. Very well hidden alcohol plus lots of tart brett and dryness means this is a sipper, but one I could sip all the live long day.

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Photo of kbutler1
3.36/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle. 2007 vintage. Poured into a DFH tulip glass a dark reddish brown color with a massive 3 finger head. Notes of spice, cinnamon, and slight funkiness. Medium mouthfeel with lots of carbonation. Sweet upfront with notes of caramel, spice, brown sugar, and some florals. Overall, nothing too great, for an 07, I would have liked to see have more flavors than what it has.

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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 fastpass17
4.04/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

25.4oz Bomber, Blend 3, 2009

A: Cloudy with suspended particle's, gushes slightly while pouring; thick coating carbonation that lasts the drink, rich mahogany in color.

S: Spice, then complex fruitiness, a touch of oak, with a nice sour background.

T: Starts with a sour cherries, charred wood peaks in slightly, a nice Flanders like sourness in the finish.

M,D: This stings the palate slightly in start then it opens nicely. This does not drink like a nine percent beer normally does. I enjoyed this it aged nicely.

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Photo of ianjsullivan
4.32/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

ST: 750 ml poured into a Duvel chalice.

A: Dark almost black brown with a thick off-white slightly brown head. It leaves beautiful lacing.

S: This beer has a delicious aroma: fig, plum, sugar, rum, and citru. It has a slightly sour smell, like Saison Dupont or a Flemish ale.

T: Hops and malty sweetness mingle upfront before plum, fig and truffles take over in the middle. The finish has notes of rum, roast, raisins, and citrus from the hops returning. It has a slight sour note on the end, but the roast and hops linger in the throat. The finish is not heavy though.

M: Surprisingly medium-bodied.

D: Though it has high ABV, one would never know. The beer is balanced very well.

Overall: My god, is this is a complex and delicious beer. It brings more to the table than one would expect from a noel. It is not as heavy as other noels; it is very balanced. While there is fruit, a generous amount of layered hops keep it from being sweet. Flavors weave in and out of the beer effortlessly while building on each other. I have now had three of Jolly Pumpkin's beers, and I have been impressed every time. They are producing beer on a high level, and making beer as complex as wine.

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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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