Noel De Calabaza | Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

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Noel De CalabazaNoel De Calabaza
1,030 Ratings
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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,030 |  Reviews: 430
Photo of dubinsky
4.75/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

750ml poured into a Bruges snifter.
Blend 1 Bottle 10/26/10.

A - Pours a nice deep brown, resembling Coke. Slightly more transparent when held to the light. Amazing, pillowy two finger bone white head that last a very long time. When it finally recedes, it leaves some wonderful lacing. This is what a beer should pour like!

S - Ooooh, i love me some brett funk. I smell over-ripened banana, cloves, sour grapes and lots of wild yeast. I was not expecting a sour beer from a Belgian strong dark ale, but i am so pleased.

T - This is really woody, oakey, and funky. Wild Brett is dominating the flavor profile followed by oak and sour cherries and some spice. Not very malty or hoppy.

M - Very crisp and light bodied. Champaign like carbonation with great sour tartness.

D - I'm approaching the end of the bottle which i have been drinking by myself and i can say that i didn't even know i was getting there. This is extremely drinkable and the 9% abv is so well hidden, you'd think you were drinking a ginger ale.

I think this beer is miss-categorized and should really be a wild ale rather than a BSDA. I will give it very high marks cause i love the beer, and think its been mis-categorized.

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Photo of zoso1967
4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thank you TCGoalie for getting me this bottle. I had been saving it for Christmas day.

Pours a very dark walnut brown that gives up some garnet hues when held up to a light. This bottle had some major carbonation and even a gentle pour yielded a towering medium tan head. The head sticks around forever and leaves very nice lace.

The aroma is tart and fruity with some definite mustiness and lactic character. It also has notes of sour apple and pear, and a bit of oaky spice. All of this lays on top of a brown sugar malt base.

The flavor is also quite sour with some cranberry like tartness mixed with earthy brown malts. The sour seems a bit more in control of the flavor than it was in the aroma. Other flavors include slightly tart apples, pear, under-ripe raspberries, spicy oak and a bit of an alcohol hit.

The mouthfeel is medium and quite nice with plenty of carbonation, yet a nice smoothness. The beer finishes very well and is quite dry without being too dry.

I thought this was a very drinkable and a nice sour ale. The wild yeast seemed less in control than in some of the other beers, a quality that I very much appreciated.

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Photo of FLBeerGuy
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep ruby with a thick 2 finger head that leaves good lacing.

Nose is dark fruits, soured grapes, some sweetness and some nice funk going on here.

Taste is figs, raisins, plums, some sweetness and a nice tart finish with a little bitterness. As is warms, some chocolate comes through.

Mouth feel is creamy with some medium carbonation.

A nice dark ale with some sour funk, though not overly sour. This observation from one who is not a big sour fan. Another great beer from Jolly Pumpkin.

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Photo of AJacob81
4.12/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Twas the night afore Chrimmas, and I treated the wife and myself to our first JP brew. A capped 750, marked as Batch 627, poured into New Belgium globelet.

A - Brown, ruby at the edges with a 1.5 finger meringue head that retains nicely. Spotty lacing.

S - Sour funk, rum-soaked dark chocolate raisins, figs, and molasses. Very aromatic.

T - Very similar to a Flanders sour brown ale, with tannins and phenols up front, complemented by brown sugar, raisin bread, and bitter cocoa nibs. As the beer warms, the cocoa becomes very strong, balancing nicely with the moderate sourness.

M and D - Thinner than I expected, but not all thin. Silky feel with little carbonation, and a dry finish. The sour makes this a sipper.

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Photo of Tilley4
4.12/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 626, bottled 9-29-2010...poured into a Chimay goblet..

Purplish ruby pour with a thick creamy 1 inch head atop that persists throughout... Lots of creamy lacing sheets the glass.. A real looker.

Lots of leathery funk in the nose and I mean tons... This smells like the dankest corner of a barnyard that's been wet and has soured except you'd thrown a bunch of ripe plums and grapes on top and poured melted dark chocolate over the whole lot... Awesome aromas, in other words... Tart vinegary aromas abound and blend nicely with the fruit and slight cocoa aromas... Old seasoned leather is present as well..

Tart? Yes, but not overly so.. Instead, its a terrific blend of funky ass leather, over-ripe plums, dark cocoa nibs, malt vinegar and earthy hops... Lots of different things happening with this brew at this point and I can only imagine it getting funkier and funkier with time... As is, its a nice sour Christmas ale that I can't seem to stop sipping a bit too fast... Man, this is funky...

I thoroughly enjoyed this brew on a cold Christmas Eve night while finishing up wrapping gifts for the wife... Need to grab another bottle to age a bit.

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Photo of Lolli1315
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a very dark brown, not quite opaque but leaning that ways. Small tan splotchy head with a small ring of lacing around the glass. Not a bad looking beer.

S- The beginning of the beer brings forth immediately some of the patented funk that Jolly Pumpkin is known for. After that it moves into some dark fruits including figs. May detect small amounts of holiday spice, but most is drowned out by the funk.

T- A malty undertone with some dark fruits, most notably plums. The funk begins to pick up towards the middle of the beer with some yeasty characteristics. The sour and tart tastes start slowly but begin to rise hitting a peak towards the end of the beer with the funk in the background. Slight hop presence towards the end at well but it is lost as the beer fades into an aftertaste of funk and mouth puckering tart flavors.

M- medium to medium thin body, a little less than I was expecting. Not much carbonation in the mouth as it leaves it very dry.

D- This is a sour one, but delicious all the same. If you want mouth puckering, grab this beer.

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Photo of gordavidson
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- A deep, dark leathery brown with some ruby red highlights coming through when held to a light. The light brown head is creamy and has some decent retention.

S- Sweet malt, a bit of citrus, some light spices, and and loads of oak and funk.

T- Funky up front with some citrus and spices coming in. The finish is slightly sweet blending nicely with the tartness.

M- A nice bite from the carbonation. A clean, dry, and tart finish.

D- The alcohol is extraordinarily well hidden. Drinks very nicely on a cold winter night. I absolutely hate to say this, but it is becoming harder for me to distinguish some of the Jolly Pumpkin offerings from one another- not that this is a bad thing. In fact, I take this as meaning I am spoiled.

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Photo of chumba526
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears translucent dark brown with a small off white head.

It smells a bit fruity: I get a bit of a berry and grape smell. There is also an earthy woody smell present. There is also a subdued sour quality to the smell as well.

The taste begins with a nice but subdued tartness that quickly fade away and is replaced with a malty sweetness which has some honey like qualities to it. There is also a mild begin yeast flavor that adds bit of an earthy pepper flavor to the beer. The beer ends with nice barnyard oaky leather like flavor and a bit of an herbal hop flavor.

The mouth-feel is smooth and has moderate carbonation.

For the style the drinkability is pretty good this is because the sourness was quite mild and it was nicely balanced by a malty sweetness.

Overall this is a nice unique winter seasonal that is drinkable and does warms you up a little bit.

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

Notes from 12/16/2010:

#3 - 12 beers of Christmas. 750 mL bottle at 45* into a Stone IRS tulip. Blend 4:2009.

A: This pours what appears to be a pitch black color but shows red hues through light. The head billows up to three-fingers worth of a rocky, off-white head that settles at a quarter inch and remains throughout, leaving great lacing.

S: The nose shows aromas of wild berries, cherries, spicy earthiness, and some notes of pinot noir.

T: The taste is of sweet berries, spiciness, sour and bittering dark fruits, and a definitive influence of pinot noir.

M: This is wine-like in body but the high carbonation gives it a whole new, beautiful dimension.

D: This is fantastic all-around and incorporates wine in a delicious way.

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Photo of beagle75
3.68/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draft pour into a tulip glass at Beachwood BBQ.

A: Clear, very dark brown with a core of impenetrable black. Over one finger of off-white foam head leaves heavy lacing around the top of the glass, with a few delicate rings further down as well.

S: Faint lactic tartness is restrained in the smell, combining nicely with bright strawberry and peach fruit. A phantom whiff of wooden barrel fades in and out. There is no alcohol detectable in the smell.

T: Begins off-dry, with restrained lactic acid up front that tastes most strongly of cherries and vinous oak. Sweetness begins to fade in the middle as peppery Belgian yeast brings with it just the barest hint of bready malt. The finish is dry and earthy, with leather and herbaceous hop flavors that show little to no bitterness. Oak, kalamata olives, and green plant stems linger on the palate. No alcohol is detectable in the finish.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, with a palatable smoothness to the acidity that is present, and moderate carbonation.

D: One of not too many strong dark barrel-aged sour ales that are produced domestically, this holiday seasonal from Jolly Pumpkin is surprisingly drinkable for the style. It comes across as fairly standard fare for this brewery--the sourness is mild but easy detected, perhaps slightly less intense than La Roja. There seems to be a slight disconnect between the smell and the appearance--they just don't match. Still, the overall restraint demonstrated makes this an appealing alternative to a similar but more intensely-flavored sour such as Russian River Consecration.

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Photo of kohoutek
4.8/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Blend 1, 10/26/10

A beautiful garnet hued gem, pouring a rocky, thickly aerated head of the lightest tan.

Aromas and flavors of musty cellar, caramelized fig, brown sugar, oak, fresh leather, black cherry, plum, green olive, citrus blossom and a well-integrated herbal other worldliness.

Mouthfeel is a spritely, crisp, ever-present tickling of carbonation. Very nice acidic finish that is beautifully balanced by the brown sugar, oak and figgy notes.

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Photo of philbe311
3.8/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Blend 3, 2009...

A - A finger and a half worth slopped airy slightly rocky head that is khaki / light brown in color... Minimal retention gives way to a full slightly fizzy lacing... Murky... Darkish cola like brown with a slight reddish hue... Fairly still though some very small bubbles can be seen at the top rim of the glass when agitated... Loads of lacing cling to the glass with each sip... Audibly fizzy...

S - Holy funk Batman! Musky... Yeasty... Some subtle vinegar notes... Once you become accustomed to the sour funkiness, some additional subtle nuances present themselves... Dark fruit... Coke syrup... Mild spices... Delectable all the way around...

T - Tart plum skins... Some red wine like tannins... Some saltiness... Subtle brown sugar... Tobacco notes... While there are many unique flavors going on, overall there is not as much depth or complexity that I would have hoped for...

M - Sharp carbonation on the tongue to start... Medium bodied and quite rigid... Lots of fizzy about... The finish is a bit on the dry side...

D - A very unique seasonal offering... Many of the characteristics expected with a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, especially of the holiday variety, are missing... They are replaced with nuanced sophistication... Excellent appearance and scent, but the

This is my first Jolly Pumpkin offering that wasn't a gusher...

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Photo of dirtylou
3.97/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on-tap, Brasserie V. Friday beer lunch.

appearance: served in a unibroue tulip, as murky and muddy as a beer can be, dirty brown color - light beige froth

smell: sweet and tart, plums, oak, brown sugar

taste: Noel starts tart, has a sweet core and a spiced finish. Tart cherry, plum, brown sugar, gingerbread, cocoa, dark fruits, moderate booze levels. Oak, holiday spices, and yeast make this is a unique seasonal.

mouthfeel: tart, light-medium

drinkability: good

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Photo of stakem
4.01/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes taken 12/1/10. On tap at Al's of Hampden.

Served in a snifter, appears a dark brown color with ruby clarity when held to the light. A thick froth of creamy light tan head sits atop the brew with awesome retension. A webbing of lace appears all around the glass.

The aroma includes a sour twinge of lactic character, somewhat yeasty, grassy, leafy and green. Enjoyable and familiar coming from JP but surprising for someone unsuspecting looking for a "Noel" beer.

The taste is lightly acidic with lactic yeast notes. Some dark grain indication with increasing alcohol warmth. Light woodsy flavor and a bitter earthy finish combined with some fusel alcohol taste. Almost a bit of brown sugary quality is evident suggesting light smoke before a bit of leafy character.

Medium bodied brew with modest carbonation. Very drinkable for 9% even though the alcohol is not hidden. It displays a dry oaky finish which is somewhat tart.

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Photo of Daniellobo
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice Christmas offering, with an assertive sour side and a distinct Jolly Pumpkin/Belgium edge.

Presentation: 750 ml brow cap bottle. Label shows an illustration of a carved pumpkin with a Christmas hat on under the snow, in cold colors with small red lettering. Notes style and oak aging, with a short side narrative going over the main characteristics of the brew and best wishes for the holidays. Displays batch number (blend 2 11-2-10f). Served in a tulip glass.

A - Dark amber brown pour, towering frothy head, good retention, nice surface memory, good lacing.

S - Hmmm, nice yeasty nose, good Jolly Pumpkin sense, a bit tart, and spicy, very fresh.

T - Nose does not prepare one for the flavor that follows, but it is not necessarily a bad thing. Assertive tartness predominates, quite funky, the oak side provides a woody touch with the funk, and not unlike some Flanders Reds. Touches of spice and fruit, apple, prunes...

M - Medium body with high carbonation, and a good smooth rhythm to accompany the sourness.

D - The long tart and sour profile may hinder somewhat the bottle, a second or third serving I mean. But on its own and sharing, knowing what one gets into, this flows rather well.

Notes: Strange, but stimulating and well worth the try. Glad to see that a few bottles of Jolly Pumpkin made it this time to the area.

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Photo of Brent
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The distictive Jolly Pumpkin house funk is evident, but the brett is well-moderated. Sour cherry and and raw cranberry notes are evident with a slightly lactic bite. Finish is an interesting sweet/dry combination. I can see this going well with poultry.

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Photo of wschmit
3.32/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.16/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

One of the cashiers at Healthy Spirits in San Francisco recommended I try this one. Excellent recommendation sir! Bottle dated April 2009. Shared with my roommate, JustinA1.

Poured into a 12oz. snifter.

Appearance: Had to pour very gently to avoid spills - carbonation is very aggressive! Once settled, a foamy, cream-colored head crackles atop a deep brown body. When held to light, the body flashes bright red. "Deep mahogany" is an excellent descriptor. Head retains beautifully throughout the session and drags patchy blankets of lace.

Smell: Red currants, brettanomyces, lemon-lime, and spices came through early on. With time, oak emerged, followed by hay, wheat, more lemon, alcohol, and a touch more brett. The components never seemed to coalesce; instead they butted up against one another, periodically cropping up and receding in an individual manner. I liked the general theme of the aroma, but it could certainly be more harmonious.

Taste: Hay, tannins, earth, brett, and roasted malt. This beer has all of the components I anticipated, but the superb balance elevates it beyond expectations. The brett is unabashedly bold, yet not disruptive. I can't believe how well the other flavors shine through! Funky, spicy, roasty, and sour - it's all there! Very, very interesting.

Mouthfeel: Highly carbonated, prickly, dry, and medium-bodied. Very earthy and spicy, even in the aftertaste. Coarse, but not necessarily difficult. I think the feel actually suits the beer pretty well.

Drinkability: Fantastically unique. A "thinking beer" for sure!

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Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.32/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass from a 750ml bottle. Batch 626 bottled 9-29-10

A - Pours a nice rich mahogany color with a gorgeous off white ecru head that is nice and tight and has awesome retention. There are some light brown hues on the edges when held up to the light.

S - Aroma is near perfection. There is definitely some underlying JP funk in the beer with slight tart notes. Then a bounty of sweet notes come through with some slight caramel as well as some clove and spice notes. The Belgian aspect to this beer is awesome in the nose. Hints of banana bread some cinnamon rolls and gingerbread. Awesome nose.

T & M - Wow. If there is such a thing as a balance between tart funk and sweet notes this beer strikes that balance. The beer has an interesting combination of the slight tart notes with the traditional funk found in other JP ales. This beer though also has some nice cinnamon and slight vanilla hints as well as some nice yeast phenols. There are some dark fruit hints and even some burnt sugar/caramel notes. These seem to be in a constant struggle for supremacy on the palette. There is some boozy sweetness and some heat as well. the mouthfeel to this beer is near perfect, smooth and silky with some nice carbonation.

D - Very good beer. The ABV is higher but it is a winner.

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Photo of VaTechHopHead
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Carbonation explosion when opening. Don't know if it was shaken prior or if this one is always like that. Caramel brown in color with a huge off-white head and slightly unfiltered.

S - Lots of yeast funk, citrus (grapefruit mainly), lemon zest, and light spices.

T - Lots of sour yeast phenols, sour oranges, holiday spices, and a very faint woody/barrel flavor in the background.

M/D - Dry finish with a medium body on this one. Lots of carbonation leads to a big mouthfeel. Light, fruty, sour flavor profile makes it very easy to drink and no trace of alcohol.

2nd beer I've had from Jolly Pumpkin and they continue to impress.

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Photo of andrewinski1
4.18/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip. Nice dark amber color with a nice almost tan head. The head pours very large and settles about about half an inch.

Smells like lemon, cherry (lots of fruit aroma actually) and a very subtle hint of burnt sugar.

The taste wonderfully balances the yeast and malt flavors. Starting with a mild touch of tartness, the taste quickly turns to a bit of malt sweetness consisting of caramel and plums. This is really a remarkable balance.

The mouthfeel is very light for a "Belgian Strong Dark Ale" but I think we know this doesn't fit into any one style very neatly. This is dangerously drinkable.

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Photo of rodenbach99
3.83/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Blend 4 2009. 750ml brown bottle shared with Slovak Sniper

Appearance as mentioned on the label; mahogany, high carbonation beer with a beige thick head. We had to wait a while for the beer to settle. The first nose was full of spices, but these aromas faded away before the first sip to let place for some funk, raisins and sour cherry. This beer is very long in the mouth, the flavours are persistent,and it has vinous taste and some tartness, A little touch of oak complement this wonderful brew.

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Photo of DovaliHops
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 10-6-2010. Pours a reddish brown with small white head. Scent is kinda fruity with a slight sourness to it...which I wasn't expecting. A few funky notes as well with very light chocolate. This beer is like no other beer I've ever tasted's like a sour Belgian Strong Dark Ale. I was expecting something that tasted like heavy malt, dark fruits, chocolate, and spices. I get some of those flavors...I get light malt, immediately followed by delicious tart cherry flavors with oak. Then I get some spiciness and cocoa flavors. Ends with a nice cherry flavor with lingering roastiness and tartness. Delicious and interesting beer. Mouthfeel is lighter than expected, with a nice crisp and light puckering finish. Drinkability is high, as the alcohol is hidden fairly well.

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

Pours a cloudy dark brown and red color with a faint creamy beige head that had average retention and lacing.

Smell is pretty much like every othe JP beer: yeasty, fruity and spicy!

Taste stars with malts but the yeast soon overpowers your mouth with lots of fruity (cherries, white grapes) and funky notes.

Body is medium to light with that bitter bretty and spicy finish.

I always say that the Jolly Pumpkin beers are very similar to each other. However they are all amazing.

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Photo of sitarist
4.12/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 627 10-5-10

Pours a deep ruby color with yellow highlights. Small, loose tan head falls fast, and leaves one or two spots of lacing.

It smells like sour fruit, cherry, and oak. Its hard to pick any one aroma out, but the overall scent is very pleasant. It tickles my nose.

It is vinous, just like the nose its hard to discern any one thing. It lacks complexion, but is still a nice treat.

Lighter body with just enough carbonation to keep it lively. It slides across my tongue. It makes my glass sticky.

I hope I have the willpower to cellar at least one of these till next year.

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Noel De Calabaza from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
Beer rating: 4.03 out of 5 with 1,030 ratings