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 jjanega08
3.01/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Blend 2, 2007

A= The pour is a deep deep brown color with a huge four finger off white head on it that holds some decent retention for how big the bubbles are on it. Good lacing on the side of the glass.

S= Sour and oaky. I got a good bit of vanilla and cinnamon sort of after the inhale. There is a sort of taste that I get after taking a deep wiff of this beer. Really interesting I've never had that happen before. There's a good bit of wood in the smell. Less spicey than I expected.

T= The taste is really different. The start is very very malty. Loads of toffee in it. Then a little bit of spice takes that over. Then where is a ton and I mean a ton of sour that briefly touches your tongue and sort of finishes a little bit.

M= Loads of carbonation and a super duper dry finish.

D= Decent brew but I'm happy I only got one. The carbonation on this one is a little much for me and the spice sour mix is odd... Not a bad brew but not for me.

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Photo of DaveJanssen
3.68/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Split a 750 mL four ways. Thanks Brian. Poured into small snifters. Reviewed 1/15/2010

Ar: tart, floral, acidic, horse/barn, raspberry, cherry, beautiful sour, roast, dark caramel, spice, lactic acid, anise/licorice, light molasses

Ap: light tan head, great retention, light lace, maroon/brown

t: sour, fruity, alcohol, berries, dark cherry, spice, complex sour funk, barn dark malt, very dark caramel, roast, lactic and acetic (mild) acids, spice and barn is an interesting combination, crisp toasty malt, red wine, less fruity and darker than consecration (the only other dark sour i've had that comes to mind), light raisin, dry dark malt, brett, rough bitterness (from spice?)

M: high carbonation, light alcohol warmth, clean light mouthfeel, ends with warming, rough bitterness

O: good tartness, don't like the spice as much, good, complex, more fruit and less roast and spice would be nice

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

A: The pour is a dark brown color with plenty of red notes to it and a very fluffy off-white/beige head.

S: There is the usual mild, Jolly Pumpkin tartness to this beer with some dark fruit notes (namely cherries and red grapes), lemon, and a bit of oak.

T: The flavor is quite enjoyable with a mild funkiness and lactic tartness. The fruit flavors come through nicely and help to give the sensation of more acidity. A mild maltiness underneath with a good tannin component.

M: The body is medium with a very heavy level of carbonation. In fact, the carbonation seems to be a bit overwhelming at times.

D: Jolly Pumpkin's beers rarely blow me away, but they're always enjoyable. This is another one to add to that list; I just wish it were more affordable.

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Photo of ViveLaChouffe
4.72/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured 12/2009

Popping the cork on this bottle reveals a foamer. Foam pours steadily out for many minutes in the sink. Pours a dark opaque brown with a enormous lacy froth on top. I have to wait a few minutes before I can even dip my nose in it. Yeasty and fruity in the nose, some vanilla and sweet spice...clove?

Ooof! In the mouth, it's an explosion of spice, yeast, ripe grapes, alcohol, baked apples, spiced pears and vanilla. Some wine-y flavors, sweet spice, maybe clove, some caramel and toffee flavors way back there too. There's a cidery character and easy to drink considering the complexity and ABV. As it warms, there a rum flavor...or maybe whiskey. No, it's a rummy flavor for sure. Like rum soaked raisins. Long fruity finish and aftertaste.

It's a Belgian-styled wonder of a Christmas ale. Exquisite and highly recommended.

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Photo of srandycarter
3.88/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Cola brown, gigantic, thick , small bubbled off white head that is very slow to leave. It doesn't leave.

S - Malt, Belgian yeast, tartness like a sour.

T - Very tart beer, but not a sour per se. Sharpness nice match with the malt and Belgian yeast notes.

M - Very carbonated, so for me, takes away some of the feel. Medium body, ok coating, ok balance.

D - Nice but would tire pretty quick.

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Photo of Yoonisaykul
3.77/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Last Jolly Pumpkin from the NewYork beer haul. Hope this one impresses more.

A- An opaque brown with very little beige head. Yeast that settled to the boom actually looks like dry yeast you buy from the homebrew store instead of the liquid paste you usually find at thebottom of botles.

S- Cinnamon sour dark fruit. Alcohol.

T- Dark fruit caramel malt all in a sour package. Alcohol taste isn't too strong. Some vanilla. Sour BSDA. A well appreciated sweetness on the tip of the tongue disappears right away when you start swallowing, completely hidden by the sourness.

M- Medium carbonation. Astringent. Nothing special but feels good.

D- Quite good. I'd have a big bottle by myself but it's enough.

Still not very impressed by Jolly Pumpkin. Just seems like the beers lack depth. It's just a good sour taste.

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Photo of prototypic
3.74/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Batch #331

Watch out with this one. The cap pops with some real force, and we do have a gusher. Lo and behold...I've never had a gusher of this magnitude. Wow! It pours a nice reddish copper color. It's a little hazy. Backlighting reveals brilliant scarlet highlights. The head is a very light tan color, and is nothing short of huge...and very annoying. I guess the lacing's nice, if that's a perk at this point.

The nose is good. It's sweet and full of caramel/toffee notes. Oak is very strong in the mix and adds character. It's easily the highlight. There's a host of fruity scents. Berries, apple, pear, and even a little cherry are all noted. There's a certain element of funk present due to Brett, but it's pretty well restrained and mild mannered. I like that. Belgian yeast is also noted. Alcohol...not so much. Overall, it smells good.

The flavor follows suit. It has a nice malty base. It features some light caramel notes, but tastes very Brown Ale-esque. There are some light spicy notes. I'm getting some pepper and perhaps light cinnamon. They're rather subtle. Raspberry, light apple, and pear are present and accounted for. There's a hint of tart cherry, but not much. There is a light musky, funky flavor, but it's very subtle. It actually works really well with the other flavors. Very approachable in terms of Brett. Oak is the highlight. It adds a really nice flavor and dimension to the mix. I'm not getting much alcohol at all. Finishes very dry.

Noel De Calabaza has a medium body. Carbonation is off the chain. It's not close too smooth. Far too buzzy. Drinkability is above average. The flavor is actually quite good, but the carbonation issue really hinders drinkabililty (and pourability). Fix that and it'd immediately improve here.

This release from Jolly Pumpkin is a bit weird for me. On one hand, I like the flavor and what it brings to the table. On the other hand, it's so overcarbonated that it's annoying and tough to even get into a glass. Carbonation is the one huge glaring problem that needs to be addressed. I believe its scores would improve all-around once that's corrected. There's definitely something here, it just needs a little bit of work.

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Photo of ne0m00re
4.1/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured the 2008, batch 331 750 mL bottle into an oversized red wine glass to capture the aroma.
A: Mahogany, it poured with a gigantic cream fluffy head that died slowly to a normal head.
S: Hefty cranberry, yeasty, rustic bread malts and spice, but the sour funk overcomes it.
T: Like with the smell, there is cranberry and cherry inthe forefront, with a well-balanced sour-tart flavor over coffee cake. It almost makes your tongue tingle and the fruits linger on your teeth.
M: Extremely frothy and carbonated, but thin and cleansing.
D: It is definitely drinkable, but so are most Belgian strong dark ales...

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Photo of TexIndy
3.46/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured from a 750ml capped bottle into a snifter. Opened with a loud hiss. Cool label as usual from JP. Blend 4, 2009 on sticker on back of bottle. Was a brownish red color with insane amount of carb streams. Even with a slow pour it quickly went to 2 fingers of head and then grew another 2 fingers over the rim after I finished pouring. Showed little signs of ebbing to where I could get to the beer so had to scoop out most of the foam. Can you say way over-carbonated! Good lacing with some sticking.

The aroma was good with sour funk, oak, fruit and spice. Good balance of the brett with the other elements. The taste was good but the funk didn't seem to blend as well as the aroma. Funky bite which was good but clashed a bit with the fruit and spice. Not getting much of a BSDA taste in the base beer either. Mouthfeel was horribly over-carbonated. Fizzy carb assault on the tongue with each drink that really drowns out the flavor.

Overall, a good beer with some serious carb issues that ultimately detract from the beer and made finishing it a real chore. I liked the flavor enough to drink it all but the carb was painful - literally felt like a balloon filling up. Wish I could say this was isolated but have had several JP's with carb issues. Mild recommend. Rotation - not avail here in TX so ummagum shipped me one - many thanks! If here, I'd be good with just this one - maybe a 2nd try if I knew that batch wasn't over-carbonated. [SB]

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Photo of Ineedabeerhere
3.75/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From notes, 3.7.10. Batch 331.

Pours equal parts burgundy and burnt orange. A nice looking beer, lace coats the glass after a mediocre head fades to leave a ring.

Smells kind of like an oud bruin initially. Spice and yeasty esters create a more cherry-tart component in the nose than in the taste which is kind of interesting. The taste has a big maltiness with a very subtle (compared to the aroma) fruity tartness. Really interesting, but I can't say I'm digging it too much. Kind of spicy and tangy with some orange peel and merlot. Medium bodied and medium carbonation, very interesting to drink and challenging to describe. Went down easy for 9%, but I can't say I would want to drink a whole bottle of this.

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Photo of BierFan
3.86/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a capped 750ml bottle into a cervoise. Sticker on the back of the bottle says "Blend 2,2009".

Appearance: Huge tan head when first poured. Dark reddish brown body.

Smell: Funky brett sourness. Faint oak and spice.

Taste: Sweet dark fruits and sourness upfront. Finishes kinda dry but still has an acidic sweet tanginess in the aftertaste.

One of the best sour ales I've ever had. Really great stuff.

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Photo of BTPete
3.8/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured to tulip, shared x2.

A: Dark dark brown, almost not letting light through. Vigorous pour creates small head.

S: A little odd. Getting some dark fruit and a little funk. I got a little bit of an off smell though, sulfur or something. Not overpowering, not ruining, but there.

T: Taste brings me back. Nice sour funk, dark fruit, picking up possibly cherry and plum. I enjoy the funkiness as I'm accustomed to with JP beers.

M: Mine seems to be medium bodied and possibly a little low on carb compared to what I had read about the beer before I obtained it.

D: Really enjoyable despite possible discrepancies. Nice dark fruit and funk as usual and another good offering by JP. Although the $ is a little high to get these often, I'm rarely if ever let down.

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Photo of jedwards
4.12/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Marked "Batch 5, 2009", picked up several weeks ago.

I've a little gun-shy with JP beers, but this one opens with a slight hiss and doesn't overflow. Pour has a half-finger of dissipating light tan head, beer is a deep garnet. Nose is sour and slightly acetic with a touch of spice that differentiates it form the other JP beers I've had. Taste is vinous, some raisin and slight spice notes, lots of unripe fruit on the back end. Mouthfeel is light with creamy pinpoint carbonation -- really excellent. Up with the Oro de Calabaza in terms of drinkability.

Will definitely pick another bottle up if I spot one.

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Photo of pmlondrigan
3.68/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle marked batch 5 2009 poured into a tulip glass. Brownish red, but leaning to the dark brown side of the spectrum, could be a little darker for the style. A generously heavy pour produces only a one finger tan color head which dissipates quickly leaving only a wisp of a head around the glass. Surprising given a lot of jolly pumpkin brews I have had are very effervescent.
Lighter aroma than expected but pleasant. Aromas of dried fruit, slight spice notes, and oak, a little bit of sourness can be detected but not much.
The flavor follows from the nose on this one. The first thing noticed is the nice balance of malt and dried fruit flavors, followed by a pleasant drying almost winey oak aged taste. I wish I could say there were more flavors going on here in terms of yeast or hops but I am honestly finding this beer to lack a little for what I expect from an oak aged Belgian strong.
I do always enjoy the mouth feel of jolly pumpkin ale, dry and a little prickly. For what its worth the first quarter of the bottle is disappearing quickly so I would say its pretty drinkable.
Overall a tasty brew but not my favorite from the brewery. Glad to try it, enjoyed it but still expected a tad bit more.

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Photo of Aenema
3.3/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Gusher, I was eventually able to pour it, but it still resulted in a soapy, 5'' head. Deep brown with dark ruby highlights and splotchy lacing.
Smell - Tart lemon and cherry.
Taste - Tartness balanced by spice and slight malt notes.
Mouthfeel - Fast, fine carbonation with a light-moderate body and dry finish.
Drinkability - Fine.
Overall - Disappointingly, the flavors are not very strong nor do they come together in a very interesting way.

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

A) This beer has a very good looking red/brown color. Carbonation is pretty good with decent head. This beer looks very appealing.
S) The nose screams drink me. Sweet ripe dark cherries with holiday spices
T) It has very obvious sour notes on the palate. They are not overly aggressive and very appealing. I get flavors of compote cherries with raisin and the acidity of a granny smith apple if that makes any sense. It's like very young burgundy in a decent year
M) This has a very mild gueuze like mouth.
D) This was a very easy beer to consume and was so delicious I purchased a couple more.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.53/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Beer poured from a bottle into a becher glass. Beer is brown and clear with a hint of a haze to it. Carbonation is moderate to low and the head, white bubbles, falls away leaving a little bit of lacing on the glass. It looks fine.

The aroma is primarily sour, I wasn't expecting this beer to be a sour, but I guess it is.

Beer is sour but the overall flavor is a little watery and weak. I'm not impressed. There is a slight after taste. Drinkability is fine and mouthfeel is OK, overall the beer wasn't anything special, just OK.

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Photo of PorterLambic
3.94/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big bottle pours an unbelievably huge head. A full pint glass of it with some oozing out of the bottle for a full 5 minutes. Not an auspicious start. Fluffy with great retention. When it finally settled, a rich dark brown throughout liquid presented.
Smell is rich malt and dark fruit, woody, slight hop tang in nose with a light alcohol note.
Taste is dark fruit with a solid malt backing, tangy wine-like flavor/presence. Good balance.
Warming, medium body though I expected more.

10 minutes after pouring 2/3 of a pint glass there was still 3" of head in the bottle. So, becareful where and when you open this but once it settles down, a good beer.

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

Pours out a dark coffee color with off white suds mabey two fingers worth.
Smell is oak sourness. Very strong. Some malt and sugar but mostly sour. No alcohol in the smell here.
A rich sourness with some caramel in the background. Very bubbly and crisp like a champagne. The sourness is a little onesided but this is a 'special ale'. No alcohol in the taste either.
Mouthfeel is very clean and clear. Very refreshing.
Drinkability is great here despite the high abv.
They hide the abv very well here. Great job.

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Photo of wangbruins
2.85/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A- Deep mahogany color (like the label said) with a thick tan head that didn't break at all...very nice

S- Dark grapes, lots of cherries, and some spice. It's very wine like in its scent

T- Lots and lots of grapes. It almost tastes like wine but with not much bitter aftertaste

M- Smooth but bold at first with an easy finish, very thin though, almost like grape pop

D- It's gonna take some work getting the 1 pt 9 oz down as it tastes like wine and drinks like pop

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Photo of nickd717
4.23/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle from K&L Redwood City, shared at a tasting. With this one, I finally get what people are talking about when they rave about Jolly Pumpkin. I guess I'll have to stop with the "take out the first p in 'pumpkin' and replace it with a bl" joke to mock people's excessive flattery of that brewery. This really is a great beer.

Pours cloudy reddish-brown with a large off-white head, leaving some foam as it settles and excellent lacing.

Aroma is very good, with sour cherry, barnyard funk, oak, and holiday spices.

Flavor is also great. Sour cherries and other dark fruits stand out, along with very nice barnyard funk, earth, spices, and oak.

Medium body with mild acidity. Tartness is restrained and does not overpower.

Drinkability is pretty good. Overall this is an excellent beer, one I would definitely have again, despite being the hardcore ticker that I am.

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Photo of colefsuwr
3.52/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A very different beer from what I was used to. However a nice spice with some coriander (go to the kitchen and find your wife's spice rack) thrown in there. I wish they came in 12 oz bottles and not just 25's because it can be a lot of beer in one bottle.

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Photo of jdklks
3.1/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Honestly, this beer doesn't look all that enticing with the pour. Light brown edges darken into an almost impenetrable mahogony with amber hues when backlit. it almost looks like muddy water. The head is okay: small, tan, frothy bubbles that hang around for awhile. The smell is strong of belgian bready yeast, spices and dark malts. still not all that enticing.

For a beer that boasts an array of spices and a style that is typically complex, this is rather bland. Not much to it, and the flavors that do come through dont really blend well together. It's a little sour, and has a nice dark fruit sweetness through the middle (which is the best part of the beer by far). some hop bitterness in the finish and aftertaste. The barrel aging is apparent only at the beginning and very end, but doesn't seem to add much to the overall enjoyment of the beer, leaving one to wonder what was the point? It almost tastes watered down at points. Drinkable, but far from impressive.

light, airy, and even (as previously mentioned) watery mouthfeel. Not as carbonated or sour as it could be. drinkability is fine because I will finish the bottle, but I wont be picking this one up again anytime soon.

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Photo of Minotaur
4.37/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a goblet and a huge head quickly fills the glass up to the rim. These recede and leave a thick lacing and a head which tends to clump in thicker parts and then thins out like a cloud cover. The color is deep brown, almost opaque.

The aroma is a powerful blend of sour apple, pear, whiskey like alcohol, bready funk, some burnt caramel, and sharp spices. There is a definite wine-cider like quality.

The flavor is a veritable kaleidoscope of tastes. It is predominantly sweet-sour in the same way that a dry wine is; there is a definite element of fruits: again apples and perhaps some plumb or raisin creeping in. There is also a hint of smokiness and deep spices: clove and cinnamon. It is truly unique on the tongue and is amazingly balanced with the sour, tangy, funky sharpness that is uncharacteristically smooth. There is a strong wild yeast presence and only the slightest amount of hop bitterness on the sides of the tongue. The alcohol is warming and enhancing. Not overbearing.

This beer maintains an effervescence that tingles the tongue and continues to enhance the sour and cider-wine like quality of the beer. The mouthfeel is exceedingly full and pleasant. all of this leads to a very drinkable beer for this particular style.

A truly unique ale that brings not only characteristics typical of the sour and farmhouse ale - but that also blends these characteristics with the darker Belgian ale to its compliment.

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Photo of ritzkiss
3.92/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle, 2007 bottling, brought by Derek - thanks a ton!

Cap is popped and bubbles slowly rise over the mouth of the bottle. A quick pour slams bubbles through 2/3 of the glass but they quickly recede to leave a rocky head and dark brown cola like brew with glints of cherrywood. Sticky lacing down the glass, looks good.

The nose on this beer is phenomenal. Loads of barnyard and wild funk, just a touch of vinegar and a nice woodiness. I could seriously smell this beer all day without taking a sip.

Unfortunately, the nose is where I would prefer to stay if I could as the taste doesn't match the funk promised in the nose. Much more balanced, cola with hints of dark fruits, a nice woodiness, a light tartness reminiscent of apples and lemons, a dash of vinegar - Flanders Bruin? Just a light funk, light sourness and the base body doesn't really cut it for me. Edgy carbonation further detracts and pulls away the chance for flavor to savor.

The nose and the taste just don't match up for me, left me a little unsatisfied. No doubt still a tasty brew by any standards but not in the highest tier for me. Thanks for bringing this Derek!

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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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