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Jamaica Red Ale | Mad River Brewing Company

very good
253 Reviews
For Trade:
Jamaica Red AleJamaica Red Ale

Brewed by:
Mad River Brewing Company
California, United States | website

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our legendary red ale. This mahogany hued ale brings an intense spectrum of spicy aromatic hop character balanced by a full-bodied caramel richness. 2011 Silver Medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival in the American Style Amber/Red Ale category.

IBU: 45.3
Malts: 2-Row Pale, Crystal 70/80, Wheat, Black Patent
Hops: Columbus, Chinook, Cascade, Willamette, Summit

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-23-2001

User Reviews
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Reviews: 253 | Ratings: 486
Photo of jkrich
3.74/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a non-dated bottle: more of a murky brown than amber, there is a very attractive foamy, beige head that slowly recedes.

This is possibly one the most aromatic amber ales I have encountered - almost vinous in character, sharp and tingling on the olfactory. Could this be a hop-accented ale?

No it is not. There is a very nice caramel, somewhat bittersweet palate. Overall, it is balanced with roasted malt and with just enough hop bitterness to keep it interesting. While it has been awhile since I tried it, I believe this ale is similar to North Coast brewing's Red Seal ale; very sharp and rustic flavors.

The body is medium with a somewhat thick and malty mouthfeel. While the caramel malt lingers on the palate, the zesty carbonation and hop bitters keep this one from cloying status.

I have been on the lookout for this ale for quite some time and finally grabbed a six pack here in Lakeland, FL. It has been enjoyable but not an amber I will seek out again anytime soon.

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Photo of The_Kings_Thirst
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

L: Deep brown red with a bit of orange.
S: Roasted caramel
T: Hoppier than expected based on smell. Piney finish. Flavor mellowed as beer warmed and roastiness came through
F: Smooth with medium body

Overall: Don't think this is one I'd purchase again, but not a bad beer and worth a try.

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Photo of Act25
4.19/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Because Red Tail was my first craft beer, I found this to be the best red ale ever - on tap at the Mad River.

A: Big creamy and thick tan head with lasting trail of lace. Deep brown- red california body.

S: Aroma of hops and caramel malt. balance of pungent hops and sweet caramel.

T: Follows smell but explodes with flavor. Huge arc of malt, caramel on top of chocolate and roasted fruit: pear, grapefruit and building hops then a jammy marmelade finish.

F: Just right body to carry the lovely flavor arc.

Must try!

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Photo of lazy8
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 Oz bottle poured into pint glass
A: light brown/auburn with 1/2 in. cream colored head. Minimal lacing.
S: mostly malt. Carmel and roasted malts
T: sweet, roasty malt flavor first. Gently bitterness in aftertaste
M: medium to full bodied. Moderately carbonated.
O: tasty red. More malt than hops. Overall a good beer.

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Photo of DavidBart
3.37/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

This is another one of those that was hard to finish. A little bit of red ale, a little bit of lager taste. Just all over the place, and very poorly balanced. I had better things in the fridge, so down the drain this went. I would steer clear of this.

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Photo of TheFrothDoctor
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%

I doff my hat to Mad River Brewing for creating this Jamaican red ale which received a silver medal not long ago at The Great American Beer festival.

It poured a deep mahogany hue with a small condensed chest nut head. The smell was subtle, sweet malted grains and brown sugar were present.

The low level of carbonation complemented this beer well, oak fudge and earthy spices were dominant yet perfectly balanced with hints of citrus pine. A great overall beer that was initially brewed for a reggae festival!

FOLLOW ME http://instagram.com/thefrothdoctor

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Photo of Gabriel_Vaughn
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Serving: Boot filled from a half keg tapped 18 hours ago

A: reddish, deep amber, thin ivory head

S: world class. floral.

T: slightly sweet, balanced hops

M: Very thick, creamy but not so intrusive on the palate- in a less than desirable way.

O: good beer man

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Photo of Furlinator
3.43/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy brown with red tint. The 1/2 inch white head fades to just a thin ring on top and leaves spots of lace. There is visible floating sediment.

The smell is of buttered biscuit, molasses, faint citrus with a floral finish.

The taste is of bread grains, sweet toffee, honey, orange and some hop bitterness on the back end.

The texture is light bodied with medium carbonation.

Less hop dominant than most red ales I've encountered. This is a decent effort overall.

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Photo of HamdenHector
3.27/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A: Deep amber; caramel head isn't long lasting; no lacing

S: Roastiness, alcohol, brown sugar; not getting any hops

T: roasted malts; almost no bitterness

M: Light carbonation; smooth

O: not really my style, but it goes down easily; nice beer if you want something malty;

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.73/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - Pours a semi-clear reddish copper with an off-white finger width head. Fair retention leads to a broken layer of suds across the surface. What little lacing there is, it's spotty with almost no stick.

Smell - Strong caramel aroma on this one. Hops play second fiddle, hitting on distant citrus notes.

Taste - As in the nose, caramel dominates the flavor profile, leaving everything else to play complimentary roles. Hops hit on a light citrus twang before giving way to a distant orange pith bitterness. Hints of fruity esters. Finishes with more malt caramel, but the hops do well to keep it from becoming cloyingly sweet.

Mouthfeel - A heftier than normal medium body with fair carbonation. Very smooth from start to finish; almost silky. An easy drinker for sure.

Overall - A good, solid red from Mad River. Once one of the stand-out ambers in the American market, time has pushed this to near garden-variety status as both similar and more distinguishable reds have hit the scene over the years. This isn't a bad beer at all, in fact it's a damn good example of your classic American Amber, but I don't see myself buying it all that often. One of those "too many beers, too little time" things.

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Photo of Lemke10
3.73/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This pours a dark amber color with a slight beige head. The aroma is mild with hints of malts. The taste is decently malty with a slightly bitter after taste. The texture is decent but the taste is still lacking some deeper characteristics. Still ok for a red ale, but to the average consumer the Jamaican label on an American beer will throw people off.

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Photo of clayrock81
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Quick summation of my review: a good hoppy and slightly sweet red ale that is enjoyable down to the last gulp but nothing that will blow your mind. Reddish gold body, good head, decent lace, an aroma of mostly citric hops with some sweet malt (touch of bread). Beer is medium bodied, smooth, gives off a good chunk of citric hops and has a nice balance with mild sweet malts. Crisp, clean finish is enjoyable and can't say that this the hoppiest, sweetest, or best red ale I've had but it hits the spot.

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Photo of BB1313
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Pours a hazy dark auburn; khaki head that fades but leaves nice retention and lacing. The aromas are dominated by caramel malts. Tons of caramel, butterscotch, and cocoa. There are hints pine and citrus. The flavors are dominated by malts as well, but not in a bad way. There's definitely still a hop bite to this one and has a solid bitterness to it. More hints of pine needles. Mouthfeel is good; it's on the lighter side of medium-bodied and carbonation is moderate. Alcohol goes unnoticed and it's relatively easy to drink.

This is a solid red ale. Malt forward like alot of red ales, but it still has a hop bite. Not bad, it's enjoyable, but nothing earth shattering.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.19/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

orinally rated back in '13 -4.25, re-review from bottle enjoyed chilled in a goblet, purchased at Brass Rail shared with octopus89.

The color is like a bowl of punch -rosy red with thick haze and thin pale cream head with very fine bead and lots of lace stickage. The smell is very expressive- I get some citrus as I pour with fruity almost plum-like scent and vinous berry accent with nice sweet aroma and ester of yeast. The feel is very tangy and juicy almost with medium high carbonation and moderately sweet feel with semi--dry and light astrinent aspect with mild tannin in the residual feel.

The taste is very fruity with tangy flavor off hibiscus giving a juicy berry and tea-like taste with yeast backing up the tropical flavor with a almost fruit-punch-like tangy and semi-sweet flavor as it finishes. The taste is excellent -I really enjoyed this and recommend this especially if you like hibiscus with tangy tropical fruit quality which has a sweet subtle but very drinkable result

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Photo of Uncle_Jimmy
3.46/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- a ruddy brown not so much red a tan finger of foam on top doesn't linger or lace

Aroma- lavender florals some fruit

Taste- the very point of the spear has a Sweet Tart taste (no joke) that gives way to a dry roasted wheat bread (think ezekiel) and a piney earthy finish. Not bad a well rounded red.

Mouthfeel- medium light body a little hi in the fizz, but there doesnt seem to be a bad after taste or much lingering at all. Alcohol is well concealed

Over all not the best red I have had , but its tasty and i think knowing about the region this beer comes from makes you appreciate it that much more. I think that it is a very well rounded red in that the hops and booze aren't over powering for some reason i equate high hop character with a slight metallic flavor. This beer doesn't have that.

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Photo of micromaniac129
3.8/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a reddish amber with sediment. A beige head sits on top but isn't long lasting. Some lacing on the glass. Looks inviting to drink.
In the aroma the first thing I noticed was a sour smell then sticking my nose deep into the glass and drawing in deeply I smelled a sutle roastiness.
Taste was good, tart and tight with the roasted malts I smell in the nose becoming more apparent in the taste. At the end low levels of diaceyl.
I like this beer, it's easy drinking pretty smooth has fairly decent flavor. A good all purpose brew.

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Photo of ElSid
3.83/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The Beers of California


Freshness Date: None

A: Off white head with a copper body. Classic red ale appearance with appropriate lace cling as the beer settles down after an aggressive pour into a pint glass.

S: Brown sugar, strawberry syrup and bread highlighted with citrus and grass.

T: Starts off with a caramel, bready, and even berry sweetness which fades to an herbal, grassy bitterness with notes of citrus and peppery spice.

M: Smooth and somewhat syrupy, medium bodied and with moderate carbonation.

O: A staple for attendees of the Reggae on the River music festival. Balanced, smooth, and even: this well crafted ale is reggae music in a bottle. Best enjoyed with a spliff and Marley in the headphones.

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Photo of Murrhey
3.52/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured on-tap at part of a flight at Haven Gastropub in Orange, Calif. Reviewed from notes.

A- Finger off-white head with a long retention. Red-brown color.

S- Nutty and mid-roasted barley smell.

T- Malty and tasty.

M- Smooth and pretty wet.

O- Easy drinking beer. Not blowing me away.

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Photo of metter98
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is very hazy amber-yellow in color and has a light to moderate amount of visible carbonation along with lots of particles floating in suspension. It poured with a thin beige colored head that died down and left a large patch of bubbles on the surface, a collar around the edge of the glass and some lacing down the sides.
S: Aromas of sweet caramel malts are present in the nose along with some hints of spicy hops.
T: Like the smell, the taste is very malty and has lots of caramel flavors along with some hints of spicy hops towards the finish. A very light amount of bitterness is present.
M: It feels medium-bodied and a little thick (but not sticky) on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This is a nice beer if you like something that is rather malty, but I couldn't see myself having more than one of these in one sitting.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.46/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap for the 4th Annual LA Beer Week Beer Festival at Union Station in Los Angeles, CA.

Pours a slightly murky reddish-brown with a foamy orange head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Thin rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, citrus zest, and herbal hop aromas. Taste is much the same with a mild herbal hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but the smell is quite mild.

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Photo of dmatsui
2.63/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a tulip. 2-finger off-white head with good, sticky retention. Looks more like a brown ale.

roasty sweetness in the nose but a distinct hint of tropical fruit, although it's very subtle.

Clean, full-bodied maltiness with a good hop profile. not particularly astonishing, drinks more like a brown ale.

It's good, but it doesn't stand out. I feel like I've had this beer a million times.

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Photo of 360logic
4.14/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Rich red with a small white head that fizzles out after about a minute. Not very impressive looking.

S: Malts, Pine trees, citrus, hops and a hint of corn

T: Very well balanced. Bigger malt character than other reds with medium hops.

M: Retains a surprising amount of carbonation. Manages to be fizzy with a medium body, balances a satisfying medium.

O: Very drinkable, one of the better red ales I've yet had.

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Photo of Brenden
4.27/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is clouded, something atypical to an amber. Unfiltered? Nothing wrong with that. Some bubbling sticks to the sides of the glass while the tan head grows to about a finger in height. Retention is okay, but the head drops off somewhat quickly. A bit of spotty lacing is left behind.
Bread and caramel come out of the nose with a hops presence showing good balance. Some interesting sweetness is just hinted at underneath. A little bit of toast and citrus mingle in a way that doesn't seem like it would be great but works in this beer.
The balance is further laid out in the flavor. This is a malty beer, with a strong foundation, resulting in toast, caramel, a bit of toffee, some crust, and a bit of fruit, but the hops don't back down. At first I'm actually afraid the raw piney hops are going to overtake the malts, but a minute or two of warming shows these elements to be very well managed, and they all come together to make for a tasty, balanced and flavorful brew. Citrus and earthy notes also pull through. Very few ambers have this kind of flavor.
Crsipness is up front lightly, and there's a fair bit of smoothness as well. The body is medium. It's mostly semi-dry, but goes drier in the finish without quite going fully dry.

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Photo of flagmantho
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: good amber hue with a light haze and a very good effervescence. Head is a thick finger of frothy ivory foam.

Smell: a bit of sweet caramel malt with a good contribution of citrusy and earthy hops. Well-done.

Taste: nice flavor with just the right amount of caramel malt, so it is not too sweet but has a definite red ale character. Hops are pretty forward with an earthy/citrus character and a relatively strong bitterness. I like it quite a lot.

Mouthfeel: medium body with a big carbonation. Not precisely creamy, but tingly and very refreshing.

Overall: a very good and drinkable red ale. This is not usually my favorite style, but Mad River have done a great job here.

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Photo of tony223366
3.71/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Huge frothy head after a vigorous pour. Head is a tan color with both small and large bubbles. Color is a darker amber, almost mahogany. In other words a brown bear brown with ruby red highlights. Nice lacing on the glass as well. I do notice a little fogginess in the glass though.

S: Mostly citrus up front from the hops. There's some light fruitiness as well from the malts. They mostly come off as a rich caramel but finish on the bready end. Not too big of a nose, but not bad either.

T: Very drinkable! This is why I love reds. The hops are definitely the front runner on the palate, coming off in a big citrus way. But then you get a lot of malt depth with some rich caramels and even some fruitiness. The finish is lightly bitter, but there's some definite sweetness in this beer too.

M: Medium to heavy carbonation with a nice medium body. Slick from hops.

O: Very tasty red that's worth the acclaim it receives. This is one of my favorite styles and this is a good showing. It actually has a fairly clean finish too.

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Jamaica Red Ale from Mad River Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 253 ratings.