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 kohoutek
4.8/5  rDev +18.8%
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 -5.9%
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 -1.7%
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 -0.7%
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 +2.7%
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 -1%
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 -17.8%
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%
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 +6.9%
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 +1.5%
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 +3.5%
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 -5.2%
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 +4.5%
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%
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%
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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Photo of goatgoat
3.35/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Batch 631, Bottled on 10/6/10.

Poured into a Stone tulip. A clear mahogany. A somewhat fizzy off white head settles down into a thin cap with a respectable texture. No lace.
Aroma is mostly oak and that bright quality that hints at the tart and wild nature of this brew. There's some spiciness, raisins, and a floral alcohol presence. Taste is primarily alcohol in this young bottle. Though the finish presents oak and the classic JP tartness. The wood is no overwhelming.
The brew is pretty thin in the mouth, but a good carbonation helps it along a bit.

I think a little more time would do this brew some good.

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

Reviewed from notes.

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

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Photo of Wisconsinality
3.13/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

750mL poured into SA perfect pint.
2009 Vintage.

A- Pours a coca cola brown that is transparent when held up to the light. A big, pillowy, three finger head that sticks around forever and leaves some very nice lacing on the side of the glass.

S- At first sniff, I pick up a lot of wild yeast and some nice oak notes, maybe even a little champagne. A small hint of malt and some sour grapes. Not really what I think of when I think of a Belgian strong dark.

T- Again wild yeast dominates the taste followed by some oak and sour cherries. Not much of a malt presence to speak of. I pick up just the a faint bit of dark chocolate at the end. The alcohol is very well hidden.

M- Lighter bodied with a crisp carbonation. Some nice tartness. Lighter than normal for style. Just a small amount of warming from the alcohol.

D- Lighter bodied and nice crisp carbonation. This really doesn't fit the style, reminds me more of a wild ale. The scores would be better if it were that category. With that in mind this is a good beer. Don't let the style fool you, if you like wild ales. this is a good one.

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Photo of aggiearcher13
4.33/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Aged for two years in my cellar. Reddish brown but clear. A great billowy head that hangs around for a long time and leaves excellent lacing. It just smells tart, right up front you know what you're getting into. Minor funk in the nose, not as much complexity as I would like but it's still damn good. Bitter and tart, a very complex array of flavors. Apple cider, some oakiness, just a very well balanced and complex beer, nothing really sticks out. For a beer this big, the body is a little thin but considering how long I've held onto this one it's not all that surprising. Overall, just another great beer from Jolly Pumpkin that I'll visit again the next time I'm in the midwest.

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Photo of rtepiak
4.27/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

still with the coin jolly pumpkin mineral sour quality. this was strangely similar had after the fantome noel. the look was a bit lighter in color and murkier though. coffee press but on the side of a medium brown tone. a rather small head but a distinct tart in the nose that doesn't over power an proved to be delicious with thai food. palate of lemongrass, bitter orange peel, and some burnt clove. the mineral notes has a chalky quality but combined with malt nicely. giving it a pear, apple, the tart mild sweet of a fresh pineapple with the lingering of grass. there was some candy notes of fruit but they were secondary to the mineral tart quality. there was also a chocolate mild quality but as if a split between the sweet and the bitter sour astringent of bakers' cocoa. the thai food beer. and great with duck and more pungent spices.

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Photo of champ103
4.45/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a nearly opaque dark ruby/brown color. A massive, rocky, beige head rises to over two fingers with excellent retention. Rings of sticky lace are left behind. Just what a Belgian Strong Ale should look like.
S: A sour and acidic aroma up front and strong. Sour and tart cherries are great. Vanilla and lots of oak with some funky horse blanket as well. Reminds more of a dark Kriek than anything. Regardless of style, I love it.
T: Again, big sour cherries. Tart and acidic with some oak. Funky yeast and some spices. An ever so slight toasted malt, sweet toffee, and light chocolate rounds everything out. Lots of nuance and complexities. A light vanilla sweetness lingers. This is not traditional in the least. Do not expect to get a Chimay or the like, but I really enjoy it.
M/D: A medium to full body with just a bit to much carbonation. Though still a good crisp and dry feel. So easy to drink. Really well incorporated, which makes for a treat.

Really more of a Kriek with dark cherries, but very much a Belgian Strong Ale. Again, don't thing of this as something like Chimay or Maudite, but more of an excellent example of what Jolly Pumpkin does best. They funkify some really strange styles, and sometimes they don't work. Though this is one that I think works like a charm. Well done, and highly recommended.

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

A: poured dark brown with reddish brown highlights that had a thin white head and left a little bubbly lacing sticking to the glass.

S: the nose reminds me more of a flanders red more than a belgian strong dark because cherries slight vinegar jump at me first with slight oakiness and vanilla notes. I did get some citrus and brett notes as well.

T: the taste even scream flanders which consisted of sour cherries upfront with slight vinegar, oaky barrel funk, and brett notes. It also had a little vanilla and citrus accents.

M: the brew was medium body with almost too much carbonation to enjoy the flavor but had a sweet, sour, bubbly, and slight dry finish.

D: it actually drank pretty good but IMO it had way too much carbonation to fully enjoy this beer. I've had this brew a couple times before and this is the first time it was over carbonated.

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

2007 bottle, blend 5. Pours dark brown with fiery orange edges. Aroma bursts forth, first a dry oaky sourness, then a montage of tropical fruits, especially coconut, sour apples. Flavor has an initial burst of tartness, pretty much typical JP oak and dryness, then of course nice layers of fruit underneath. Coconut and almond shine through very pleasantly. A slight vinegar-infused apple is present. There's more tropical fruits I can't quite put down. Kind of spicy in the finish. This has some wonderful elements, especially the almonds and coconut juice. Some of the tartness at the finish is not as refined as I would like. Overall, pretty awesome.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.89/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-pours an extremely hazy dirty brown color with a light brown bubbly head.

S-the nose has a funky yeast up front, moderate acidity, touch of vinegar, good tart cherry, moderate amount of sweetness.

T-soft tastes, hints of brett and some earthy funk, dry wood, sawdust, peaches and tart cherries towards the back, candied fruits, enough acidity but more would have balanced nicely.

M-thin feel to it, slightly grainy on the palate with strong carbonation, crisp bite at the finish.

D-tasty and balanced, nice moderate acidity with sweet ripe fruits and a nice earthy funk .

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Photo of Ek0nomik
4.39/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured In: Snifter
Batch 2, 2009

Appearance: The pour is a bistre and dark bulgarian rose color with three fingers of foamy head resting on top. After a few minutes the head starts to lay low and I'm left with just a thin layer of small, foamy bubbles sitting on top. After sipping on this beer for about an hour, I looked back to the bottle. It looks just like a root beer float in there.

Smell: The first thing I notice is the slight acidic tartness in the nose. The tartness is lending itself towards green apples, but there's more in here. I don't see any mention of brettanomyces on the bottle, but it does seem like there's some in here. It isn't very strong, it's just sitting in the background adding a little bit of more character to it. Some plums, raisins, figs and some blackberries are in here too. Quite the delight.

Taste: The first sip starts off with some tart green apples. The acidity in this isn't too high, it has a very nice, soft tartness to it that I think would make it a nice introductory beer to someone getting into sour oriented beer. The palate doesn't have the plums like I saw in the nose, but more raisin and fig, and actually a little bit of grapefruit comes through. I assume this is from the hops while the darker fruit is coming from the malt and yeast/bacteria.

Mouthfeel: Let this sit. Right off the bat the carbonation was a tad aggressive to really let the flavors come out, and for ~$14 a bottle, you don't want it to go to waste. This is a medium bodied beer, probably on the full side of some of the acidity wasn't cutting through it. Again, I wish the carbonation had been cut back. With each sip I feel like I have to cut the beer in half; the foam that's created once the beer crashes on my tongue needs to get out of the way. I have to swallow the foam first so I can really appreciate the flavors of the calm beer afterward.

Drinkability: This is a wonderful beer, great nose and palate. I'll be picking this up again come next Winter.

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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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