Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza

Today’s Christmas beer is from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales of Dexter, Michigan. There’s no pumpkin in it, that’s just the name of the brewery. Noel de Calabaza Special Ale is their Belgian Strong Ale. I’m tasting a two-year aged bottle marked “Blend 3, Bottled 10-25-2012”.

Noel de Calabaza pours dark mahogany. It’s cloudy and translucent, perhaps due to Jolly Pumpkin’s open fermentation process, lack of filtering and bottle conditioning. I pick up sour yeast on the nose along with candied figs and raisins. It tastes complex with subtle funky sour notes from the wild yeast, a touch of oak, plums, dark fruit, sweet malts, with a cherry finish. The 9% ABV is completely hidden. The oak barrel aging is subtle. It all blends together nicely for a beer that would go very well with any number of rich winter meals.

I’m loving this beer! The funky sour notes are great. It’s not overly sweet like so many Christmas beers. And there’s a complexity that keeps going in a long finish. This is certainly a Christmas beer you will want to try.

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    While it’s difficult to picture Santa as a young man, he was once. He met the future Mrs. Claus one snowy night when she offered him a winter ale that she brewed herself. It was love at first sight – for both the Mrs. and her winter ales. With Santa’s growing fame, his favorite brews became named after his favorite day – Christmas. Santa now travels the world each year to spread the joy that began in a stable in Bethlehem two millennia ago.

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