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.

Oarsman Ale

Maker: Bell’s, Comstock, Michigan, USA

Style: Sour mash wheat ale.

ABV: 4%

Appearance: Gold, slightly hazy.

Nose: Sour, Meyer lemon, yeast.

On the palate: Light bodied. Sour, more Meyer lemon, grains of paradise, coriander seed, lemongrass.

Finish: Quick with a little sweet and sour hit at the beginning.

Parting words: The level of sourness in this beer was a bit of a shocker at first, but by the time I got to the end of the six-pack, I enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s more complex than it seems at first sip, but isn’t so cerebral it doesn’t work alongside a sandwich. Oarsman ale is recommended.