Been meaning to put this review up for a couple of weeks, but haven't really had the chance to sit down and write it up. Had the notes all put together, but now here we go.
A couple of months back, my friend from Cleveland sent me a bottle of Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza. This was recently voted as the #1 Belgian Strong Blonde Ale on the NY Times tasting. Surprised me when I heard that but made me want to try it for sure. So anyway, Dave (my friend) sent me the bottle and it took me a while to sit around and really get the time to do a nice tasting with this beer. This is actually a Biere de Garde from what I can see. ABV is 8%. IBU's.... no clue. The bottle was a 750ml bottle, batch 467 on the bottle.
The beer poured a cloudy golden color into my Duvel tulip glass. You cannot see through it at all. Lots of fluffy white head that fades away in about five minutes or so. It leaves lots of spidery lacing on the glass when the head fades however.
First sniff is spicy and citrusy. Seems to have a lot of peppery smells coming off of the beer. First taste and my initial thought was bitterness with a LOT of green apple flavor. It took me a while to realize as I was drinking the beer that this was not in fact bitterness, but was instead the sour apple flavor which sort of hit me in a way that made me think bitter. Definitely not the case though. The sour apple flavor though is very pronounced. The carbonation is nice there like a good Belgian should have. The carbonation has a nice tingle on my lips. The body ends up being pretty decent too. The beer itself is rather light but the carbonation adds enough to make it a nice body.
The alcohol, even at 8%, is not super pronounced but it definitely there making this a little less drinkable (at least as far as that is concerned). There is a bit of hops bitterness that comes out more as it warms up as well. Also as it warms up there is a definite lemony flavor that comes out.
Overall, I would say that this beer is very good, but not as good as I would have expected. Being voted a #1 Belgian style beer makes me think it would be amazing. But, I don't think it quite hit that mark. The apple flavor in this beer just sort of overwhelmed anything else that was there. If you like apple, this is the beer for you. If not, you may want to steer clear. Jolly Pumpkin does make excellent beers and this is a good one. I would give this a three out of five stars on my tough grading system. I would definitely have it again, but I wouldn't have it too too often.