Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza
- ABV: 9.0%
- Serving Temperature: 45-50° F
- Suggested Glassware: Sniffer
It’s not a secret that we’re smitten with the beers of Jolly Pumpkin. We’ve offered their Oro de Calabaza, Biere de Goord, and Lupulo de Hielo to our members in recent years—to very much acclaim. The latter two were in partnership with Pints for Prostates, and keep in mind that we’ve got another, Los Vivos y Los Muertos, coming up soon. A small part of us thinks that maybe life would be a bit calmer if we just kicked back, renamed ourselves Club de Jolly Pumpkin, devoted ourselves exclusively to sour beers from Michigan, and called it a day.
Only a very small part, of course.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and we’re far too omnivorous (omnibibous?) to settle down. Noel de Calabaza makes us wonder, though. Since the current batch is still aging in its oak barrels, we’re actually sampling a batch of this from last year for these tasting notes. Our members will be the first to sample this year’s batch fresh. Early on, Noel de Calabaza shows bright cinnamon, red fruits, and the tart effects of Brettanomyces plus age: each playing out at comparable volumes. There’s a warming spice and clove, cherries and strawberries, and a nice dry finish even when it first arrives. A year later, you’ll see the further effects of time.
Our year-old bottle poured the color of a murky Oloroso sherry, though golden at the edges. Deeply rooted notes of pear-like tartness, lemon rind, and rich red fruits commingle near the core, and that earlier spice-forward essence has been pushed to the periphery. A brilliant and light funky, layered sourness is present throughout, showing pith and pulp, and just plenty of depth here from its time in the barrel. The net effect, intertwining those red fruits and acidity and spice and oaky complications, if one takes a step back and removes that tart overlay, has a whole lot in common with a peppery, old-world wine. At 9% alcohol, this also has a similar viscosity and smoothness, along with so much else going on. Whether you drink the majority of bottles now or later, we’d encourage you to try and save at least one until it’s this fine age.
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