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Beer Information
Average Review High Score Low Score Reviews Tried Consumed
85 88 80 6 22 22
Noel de Calabaza by Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
Belgian Strong Dark Ale
9.00 % ABV

Review by tavernjef on 12/08/11  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
88 3 9 18 5 9 2010
Blend 3 - Gorgeous dark mahogany browned murk, nearly black in darker light when sitting in the glass. A tall and creamy crown of light ecru foam sits forever and a day like a slowlt spewing volcano it finally gives way to the air. Leaving a lavishly thick coating of lace across the goblet.

Aroma is all about the sour brett tones with brittle lemon peel and lime zest popping about a slight barnyard musky earthy spice of fresh flowers and a smallish malt base of fresh breads.

Taste is much more complex then the nose as its layers across the palate has much more depth then what the nose displays. Perhaps something JP were after when deciding the oak barrel aging of the brew? Here, I find the barrel aging worked wonders to pull some things together into a smoother balance and not something overly souring and cheek puckering. Which is what I prefer out of any beer with the use of the Brett. Sour, sure, but very well handled and under control as lemon zest and other citrus giants zing about a calming undertone of ripe red apple sweetness and a bit of plummyness. Floral esters squeeze in, definate earthy spice, and some vinegar sweet sided tartness cross paths as well. As it warms it becomes more evident with some warmer bread maltyness and the sourness fades. Nice.

Body is fullish and tartly bright in carbonation and spicy citric zest. Which carries much of its body through to where the malt base and barrel aging smooth it all out just in time to let the sour attributes settle and find the corners of the taste buds.

Damn fine stuff! Really like the balance of sour and tart with the warmer breadyness underneath and its slight pull into other darker fruits.
I'm now wishing I grabbed another bomber...*sadface*

Price: $10.99 Served In: Goblet

Review by joe1510 on 11/27/09  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
82 3 10 17 3 8 2007
Binny's Plainfield

Blend #1 2007

Jolly Pumpkin's newest release is Noel de Calabaza, their Christmas release. It pours a murky rusty copper with a moderate haze as it rises up the glass. The head grew to a creamy three fingers as I poured then settled down to a thick one finger beige crown. Each sip leaves very respectable drink lines.

The smell of Noel de Calabaza is as refreshing as a winter styled brew could be. The nose is so robust it's hard to put your finger on exactly what's there. Some dark fruits are present along the lines of prunes, figs, and although not a fruit, plum pudding. There's that fresh, juicy, fruity aroma found in so many of JP's beers from the fermentation. It makes your mouth water.

Flavor is very similar to the aroma just not quite as robust. The juicy dark fruits are there and create a great complexity. I'm even picking up some candi sugar, whether it's there or not, it sure tastes like it. There's a bit of sourness on the finish but only enough to make you pucker before the tartness leaves you wanting another drink immediately. As the mouthful disappears a touch of tobacco leaf comes into play.

The mouthfeel is the only thing lacking on this beer. The bacteria ate up a little too much of the sugar leaving the body a little on the light side. The lively carbonation and light body usually work great on these sour ales but this one could use a touch more body to go with the darker fruits present.

Although the mouthfeel is a little thinner than I would have liked it actually boosts the drinkability. The slightly dry finish and tartness on the swallow leave you wanting another drink right away.

Noel de Calabaza is yet another good beer from Jolly Pumpkin. It's refreshing to find all these great barrel aged sours so easily and affordable. Jolly Pumpkin does the beer drinking public a great service by offering these normally expensive hard to find styles in many locations and at an affordable price for such great beers. That's one of many reasons you will always find at least a couple Jolly Pumpkin offerings in my fridge at a time.

Reviewed: 12/25/07

Price: $10.99 Served In: Tulip

Review by SAP on 09/04/08  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
88 3 10 18 4 9 2007
2007 Blend 3; Sampled August 2008
Pours into my large Tripel Karmeliet tulip with a frothy, initially two finger thick, light tan colored head. The beer is a dark amber, chocolate toned color that shows a lightly hazed, amber tinged, pale brown color when held up to the light. The aroma is a nice mix of tart fruit and light funk. The fruit aromatics lean towards tart plums, a touch of sour fig, a touch of apple and some ripe Anjou Pear. The aroma has a light mustiness to it, hints of woody mushroom as well as an upfront, barnyard, dried-sweaty-leather thing that only lightly intrudes / combines upon the fruitiness that is the most expressive part of the aroma. A touch of roasted character and some higher alcohols are also noticeable in the finish.

Well carbonated, the beer definitely froths up as it rolls across the tongue (though not excessively). Fruit flavors abound, accentuated by a solid, lactic sourness; flavors of tart / rip plum, fermented raisin and a definite zinfandel red wine sort of thing that are expressive enough that they add the perception of sweetness to this otherwise dry beer. Barrel notes (that accentuate that Zinfandel note) of spicy oak (this one the most dominant of the barrel notes), perhaps a hint of vanillin and a light tannic character that just coats the palate. Quite light for a winter seasonal, but still has some heft (more contributed by the oak than anything), this is incredibly easy drinking a perfect beer to quaff.

Probably the most refined of the three blends that I have tasted so far, though it seems close to batch 2. It doesn't have any sharp, aggressive funkiness to it, such the experience of this beer is a much more integrated, balanced experience. This really does have a sort of refinement to it, that when coupled with the light tartness and the fruitiness, reminds me a lot of wine; it has the richness, oak and fruitiness of a red, but still has the bright flavors and acidity of a nice white.

Served In: Tulip

Review by beagle on 01/07/08  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
80 2 10 16 4 8 0
Blend 1 2007

Brown with hints of amber throughout this brew. Small head that dies a bit. With a smell of Brett, Cherries and plum. A sour taste upfront, but really nothing too overpowering. As for a strong ale, this tastes nothing like any I have tried. The oak is present in this brew, and I enjoy how it isn't overpowering. This beer is REALLY easy drinker. The alcohol is nowhere to be found on this one. At 9% I would be affraid of what this beer would do to me as I could drink many of these. Another solid brew by the Dexter people in Jolly Pumpkin.

Price: $9.50 Served In: Snifter

Review by Westside Threat on 01/02/08  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
84 2 11 17 3 9 0
A: Pours a fizzy muddy garnett color with a small ruby tinted head. Really interesting color.

S: This beer is really pungent smelling. I could smell the vinegar when I took the cap off. Oak, peach yogurt, milk chocolate colored cherries, redwood, anise, allspice, black pepper and dusty ginger. Stunning.

T: Crazy beer. Starts off oakey with a malt twist sort of like chocolate covered waffle cone. Profoundly complex fruit comes next which reminds me a lot of cranberries, raspberries with Sangria mixed with iced coffee. After the swallow, peach yogurt and more oakiness become apparent with bright watermelon highlights. As the flavors sit on the palate, the real maltiness comes into its own. Sort of a subdued toffee and a wisp of dulce de leche transit the flavors before a dank and dusty persona takes over. Not sure if this is brought on by hops or what. Finishes with a few trace spices across the front of the tongue.

M: Medium body, somewhat thin but smooth.

D: Always interesting, never boring. Jolly Pumpkins beers are one of a kind.

Served In: Wine Glass

Review by Tip Top on 12/19/07  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
86 3 10 17 5 8 0
Blend 2.

A - Pours a light burnt brown sugar colored body with a bit of chill haze to it. The head that sits atop is a thing of beauty, made up of tight bubbles that are so small, it almost looks like one clump. Dark tan in color, this one inch head is going absolutely nowhere.

S - As is everything Jolly Pumpkin, this is not done to a "style". Listing is Belgian Strong Dark Ale and it is, but with the free spirit of an American Wild Ale. Some of the staples of a belgian are here with some nice spiciness and brown sugar from a sweet malt backbone, but then there is the wild in here. Slightly tart to the nose, with tons of fruity flavors going on. I think I may be going for quite a ride here.

T - What a ride it is. Starts out with your traditional Belgian Dark flavors. Brown sugar, even a bit of candi sugar, belgian spices and fruity sweetness of pears and strawberries. Then the wild side takes over and brings in yogurty fruit flavors of peach and lime. Pleasantly tart, through to the finish. Everything he is very soft and in balance. Very little aftertaste, with only a slight lingering tart sensation.

M - Medium bodied, but sits a little heavier than that. Carbonation is soft and smooth, almost creamy.

Overall - As usual, Jolly Pumpkin impresses. A traditional style with a JP twist. I love the soft, pleasant flavors and feel of this beer.

Served In: Pint Glass

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