Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales - 2017 Noel de Calabaza
Serving Temperature:45–52° F
Suggested Glassware:Tulip, Teku, Snifter, or Pinot Glass
Of all the various different Jolly Pumpkin one-off releases and special vintages we tasted through to put together this special offer, this was the one that was tasting at its absolute best. We’ve had this beer on more than a few lucky occasions, but this is just stellar right now. At a hefty 9% and a quite darker profile than the other three, this seems like the ideal nightcap of the group. There’s vibrant core Jolly Pumpkin character, beautifully integrated darker malts, and pinpoint texture that still keeps this in the same refreshing league as the others. Noel de Calabaza had been an annual seasonal for Jolly Pumpkin for years, but the increased collab schedule has made it tough to fit in consistently. Aside from a small 375mL bottling earlier this year, another full vintage of Noel de Calabaza isn’t slotted until 2019.
The 2017 Noel de Calabaza pours a dense, dark brown-sugar color, capped by a light-tan head. There’s familiar haze, and excellent lacing around the perimeter of the glass. A refreshing, vibrantly tart citrus, that core Jolly Pumpkin character, comes through with a potent jolt, supported by warming spice and dried dark fruits. This is quite smooth, with subtle notes of cocoa and non-bitter dark chocolate. It’s citrus first, highly expressive, and the dark malt presence provides undertones that make this a very distinct beer in the group.
This still disappears, even at 9%. It’s anchored by its bold tart citruses, paired with emergent dried dark fruits and subtle spice. The core focus is zesty grapefruit and lemon, coupled with that Jolly Pumpkin funk and salinity, but the dark-malt quality does great work here, offering up notes of brown sugar, dates, and sweet figs. This, of the four Jolly Pumpkin beer releases in this Rare Beer Club special offer, particularly rewards a bit of patience for letting it warm up. There’s rich cocoa present, subtle roast, and even a smooth oaky vanilla note from those six months of barrel time. It’s one of our favorites for sharing over the holidays.
We think this is drinking brilliantly right now, but a bit more cellar time shouldn’t hurt. For pairings, we’d work from that focus of citrus and roast. Braised ribs. Pepper-crusted steak.
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