Noel de Calabaza

Noel de CalabazaMaker: Jolly Pumpkin, Dexter/Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Style: Oak-aged, spiced sour ale

Notes: Blend 16, bottled November 19, 2012

Vintage: 2012

ABV: 9% or so.

Purchased for $11/750 ml

Appearance: Coffee brown with a robust foamy head on first pour.

Nose: Malt, balsamic vinegar, clove.

On the palate: Medium bodied and effervescent with underripe plum, hops, clove, aged balsamic vinegar

Finish: Fairly clean and short but with old, ashy oak that lingers for a long time.

Parting words: Noel de Calabaza is another holiday beer that defies expectations. It’s sour but in a more subtle way than many from Jolly Pumpkin. The oak rounds the whole thing out nicely. As you can tell from my notes above, it reminded me a lot of balsamic vinegar, the good aged kind. It doesn’t strike me as a particularly festive beer, but it’s really good. The price is acceptable. Noel de Calabaza is reccomended.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale

Maker: Great Lakes, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Style: Spiced ale

ABV: 7.5%

Thanks to Brian & Jessica for this birthday beer!

Appearance: Coppery auburn with a nice foamy head.

Nose: Malt, baking fruitcake.

On the palate: Effervescent and spicy. More fruitcake, then malt, toffee and a hit of hops.

Finish: Surprisingly dry. Spicy, malty and lasts for a good while.

Parting words: Great Lakes Christmas Ale is much more typical of holiday brews than Bell’s. It’s sweet with some Christmas spice and a tiny bit of hoppy bitterness. It’s not complex but it is comfortable like a fuzzy Christmas sweater. It goes just as well with a hearty Christmas feast as with conspiring by the fire. Great Lakes Christmas Ale is recommended. GL Xmas