1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Jamaica Red Ale - Mad River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Jamaica Red AleJamaica Red Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

405 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 405
Reviews: 247
rAvg: 3.85
pDev: 12.73%
Wants: 18
Gots: 3 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Mad River Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Amber / Red Ale |  6.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

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

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-23-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Jamaica Red Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 405 | Reviews: 247 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of DogFood11


4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It took me a while to get to this beer even though I see it at most local beer stores. Damn glad I finally picked some up as this was a nice treat. Poured into a pounder glass it forms a milky, dense, tan head that maintains itself and leaves spidered lacing.

Malts stuck their head out first, they are rich and centered around darker candy, caramel, cake, and toss in some toasted character and I have a complex and well put together malt bill. Hops are also fairly aggresive, citrus variety with plenty of bitterness on the tail end. I liked that both sides of the house could lay claim to being the star throughout the beer, taking turns.

Notes: This is an outstanding brew. I really should pay more attention to Mad River Brewing as I think I remember the extra stout being a damn nice offering as well. Keep it up, I'll be back.

Serving type: bottle

07-28-2006 23:39:20 | More by DogFood11
Photo of RBorsato


4.05/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tasted on-tap at Henry's 12th Street Tavern in Portland, OR on 06/15/06.

Murky deep Mahogany/Amber in color with a nice beige head. Strong aroma of spicy hops and malt. Very strong flavor profile with the spicy hops standing out bigtime over a strong malt base. Definitely fell on the bitter side of balanced and had some alcohol noticeable. Medium-full bodied and strong with a warm finish.

A robust American Amber to be sure. Used to be able to get this in VA but haven't seen it in a while ... shame.

Per MR website:
Starting Gravity 1.065
Finish Gravity 1.014
ABV: 6.7%
IBU: 42

Serving type: on-tap

07-24-2006 18:27:28 | More by RBorsato
Photo of Enola

North Carolina

4.25/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer suprised me. I was not expecting much but wow!! The color is like a glass of tea. There was a small head. The smell is hoppy and also cinnamon and spice. The taste is hoppy but not too bitter. Nothing over the top. The mouthfeel is very smooth. No harshness at all. I could certainly drink this beer again. A sessionable beer. This beer is like a blend of a red beer and an IPA. Reminds me of Hopback Amber.

Serving type: bottle

06-12-2006 02:57:37 | More by Enola
Photo of GCBrewingCo

North Carolina

3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured into the glass lightly hazy pale golden with a light amber hue. The head was white and lasted but an instant but tried to lace the glass.

The aroma was fruity with a citrusy orange character. Coupled with that was muted caramel aromatics.

The flavor was malty with a strong fruity and citrusy flavor. The hop bittering was at the lower end of the scale and the flavor seemed a bit muted with the hops. The hop character was decidedly citrusy, but still muted.

The finish was dry with a lasting citrusy hop flavor long into the aftertaste with hints of muted caramel. The body was medium with a fairly low carbonation level. Pretty good drinkability.

12 ounce bottle.

Serving type: bottle

05-23-2006 22:20:14 | More by GCBrewingCo
Photo of goschool


4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Library Alehouse in Santa Monica.

The pour is an orange that's so dark it's practically brown with a small fading white head. The nose has citrus and earthy hops and caramel malts. The taste starts off with grapefruity and resinous "C" hops, followed by toasted caramel malts. It's a nice, refreshing West Coast red ale, mon.

Serving type: on-tap

05-22-2006 07:12:49 | More by goschool
Photo of bigdeuce


3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was pleasantly suprised at the quality of this brew. Found it in a macro shop with very little micros, so I figured it would be better than the macros but not much. Well, I was wrong. Nice hoppy finish, smooth fruity malts on the front. Some spicy caramel, maybe? Nice session beer that is well balanced.

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2006 00:24:16 | More by bigdeuce
Photo of rastaman

United Kingdom (England)

1.78/5  rDev -53.8%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Bottle. Sweet cola flavours, with some nutty caramel. Pretty sweet and thin. Even not knowing anything about the beer of the brewery, i still didn’t expect much, don’t know why that is. Again, shame the beer was so bad, because the campsite we had it at was beautiful!

Serving type: bottle

03-29-2006 18:11:26 | More by rastaman
Photo of Crosling


3.63/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours deep ruby in color with a head that is colossal in size and tumoric (Yes, I made up that word) in its falling. Well balanced aroma that shows a bit of malt (caramel, biscuit and fruit) and hops, which are most likely Centennial or Chinook, or a combination of both, which brings a touch of spicy characteristics and citrus to the aroma. Flavor is uniquely enjoyable with malt flavors of caramel and biscuit and a lovely hop flavor and bitterness. This Mad River beer, like the Scotch Porter, is suprisingly good.

Serving type: bottle

03-25-2006 03:05:12 | More by Crosling
Photo of AlexJ

North Carolina

3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Draft pour into a standard pint glass unveils a murky crimson brown ale with a solid 1 inch head the color of wheat. A thick veil will remain and lacing is ample and thick.

Aroma is roasty amber malts, hints of fruit, with a big fruity, pine touched hop presence.

Flavor is a well balanced mix of nutty, roasty malts with a hint of sweetness, ripe fruit, and notes of pine, citrus, and sweet floral hops. Much nicer than the bottled version.

Body is medium with a creamy mouthfeel and very sparse carbonation lending to a somewhat flat feel. Easy to drink though, definately a good session brew.

Serving type: on-tap

12-18-2005 16:54:37 | More by AlexJ
Photo of pjwilson


3.4/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

wow, i've drank alot of different beers this year. This is about one of the last beers i've tried from my local corner store.

appearance: deep ruby red, with a nice head.

smell: sweet caramal malts, this is gonna be too sweet i know it.

taste: this is a really strange taste; to me it's like the bitterness and the sweetness aren't really working together. I guess this is personal bias; but i just don't like so much sweet malts in my beer. Then the bitterness washes over the palate and it's just sort of confusing. On the other hand this stuff is easy enough to drink. the afterness is too sweet. It's lacking a smoothness that I feel an amber should have. It's like if a cheif threw too much crazy shit in a dish and it just comes out with too many wild flavors all over the place.

mouthfeel: i find the sweetness cloying...the mouthfeel is just too sweet.

drinkability: well this will work well in a session, it's easy to drink. I think I should come to a realizaton that i don't like my beer with so much damned sweet malt.

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2005 05:49:27 | More by pjwilson
Photo of russpowell


4.2/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured with an extemely thin head and almost no lacing was left. On the positive side the deep rich (hazy) color was accented by a small steady stream of bubbles rising throughout.

Smell Thick fruity/maltiness and earthy/piney hops colide. A slight alcohol wiff is also there, slightly dry.

Good balance and slight under carbonation make for good mouthfeel

Drinkable effort, no classic to be sure

Serving type: bottle

12-07-2005 04:02:55 | More by russpowell
Photo of germaniac


3.78/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer started out as the unofficial beverage of Reggae On The River, an annual concert held on the banks of the Mad river in Humboldt county. For me, it's just an easy to drink amber/red/bitter that I come back to again and again.

Chestnut red in color, and hoppy enough to lively up the old tastebuds. But it's malty sweetness smoothes out the flavor, enchancing the enjoyment.

Serving type: bottle

08-29-2005 23:14:20 | More by germaniac
Photo of palliko


4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance is hazy burgundy, with beige foam and nicely retentive lace. Aroma is full of herbs and spices offset by grapefruit hops and crackers. Initial taste fulfills the promise of the bouquet, blossoming into a richly complex thick compilation of caramel, fruit, oak, malt and yeast. Hops chime in to balance all, and it finishes with an ethanol fume and leaves the taste of cedar on the tongue. Beautifully crafted! Delicious.

Serving type: bottle

07-17-2005 14:26:52 | More by palliko
Photo of silver0rlead

North Carolina

3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark red/crimson hue with a nice tan head that retains well and leaves nice lacing. Aroma is citrus and floral hops and a caramel malt background, pretty simple and unimpressive. Taste is a light citrusy hops profile with an equally light malt profile that is slightly sweet and tastes of caramel and bread. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. Drinkability is good, but this is not an impressive brew, personally i like the rogue american amber ALOT better.

Serving type: bottle

07-09-2005 01:52:05 | More by silver0rlead
Photo of BuckeyeNation


4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Murky to start, opaque to finish; dark tawny with bright orange trim. This is one red ale that looks like it means business. The color alone says "look out Jack, you're in for something a little out of the ordinary". The cap is orangish beige and is airy, but stiff. Wispy streamers of lace arch across the glass, just above the nonic bulge.

Jamaica Red smells like an IPA. Granted, a more malty than most IPA, but an IPA nevertheless. The label calls it a 'red ale', but along the side, in smaller lettering, it says that it's a 'red bitter'. Yet another clue that hops have been emphasized. It smells like a boatload of Chinook has been used. It's spicy and earthy, yet still grapefruity hoppy; which is how I think of that particular hop.

As suspected, this isn't your standard red ale. For one thing, Mad River hasn't scrimped on ingredients. The mega malty backbone of heavily toasted malt brings to mind an Oktoberfest of all things (Munich malt must make up at least a portion of the malt bill). The hop load is more than up to the challenge however. This is a well-balanced beer in a 'weighted down scales' kind of way.

I'm still thinking Chinook as at least one member of the hop bill. The above description still applies: spicy, earthy and citrusy. The bitterness is perfectly countered by a sweetness that results in an additive effect (and an addictive one) rather than a cancelling out. The long, lingering finish is reminiscent of toasted whole-grain bread slathered with grapefruit marmalade and a fine dusting of cinnamon.

Jamaica Red, according the website, was originally brewed for a local reggae festival. The bright yellow, red and lime green label is a testament to those origins. This is an aggressive, hoppy red that seeks and achieves 'otherness'... a more than valid goal if good beer is the result. There aren't too many reds that are memorable, but Jamaica Red makes a lasting impression.

Serving type: bottle

04-22-2005 14:41:19 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of RoBotGod


3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not the taste I was expecting from a red ale. I had a hop kick to it but also a heavy fruit flavor. Going with the jamaican style I thought was original and a good idea. The pour was a dark red with a small tan head with out a lot of lace. The mixed fruit taste it leaves in your mouth is almost like some sort of punch bowl at a highschool dance. Good beer, try it if you like ales.

Serving type: bottle

03-25-2005 16:46:58 | More by RoBotGod
Photo of BeerManDan


1.68/5  rDev -56.4%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

The high light of this red ale was the color when poured, then it was rock bottom from there on. Red was the color and the taste was sooo sour that I poured it down the drain. That is what was left of the six pack went down the drain. It was so sour, that I can't even tell you what the taste was. Blah!

Serving type: bottle

01-18-2005 06:13:32 | More by BeerManDan
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a reddish brown body with a medium head but little lacing

Smell: Nice floral hoppy elements on the nose

Taste: Sweet and sassy! Caramel and grapefruit combined. Very nice and full-flavored.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a bit of carbonation

Drinkability: This is a nice full-flavored red ale that is very drinkable.

Serving type: on-tap

01-12-2005 18:19:43 | More by brentk56
Photo of feloniousmonk


4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled at the Library Alehouse, Santa Monica, 12-02-04.
Dark amber color, full, creamy head.
Arom is large, warm, herbal, malty...
Taste: lush mouthfeel, full on the palate, and very pleasing, earthy, meaty, plump...this is an exemplary amber ale, one that never lacks in flavor or in body, and after this one draft pint, i must say surely ranks among the best available in the U.S.
As I was in the company of others, my notes were brief and succint, so no over-effusive typical monkish rambling this time, but it was thoroughly enjoyed and will be long-remembered!

Serving type: on-tap

12-13-2004 08:07:02 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of Troyone


4.13/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Purchased in a twelve oz. bottle, was turned off some by the twist off cap, poured a rich copper red color with an off - white two inch head that dissipated with no sign of haze.
Has the aroma that compromises the following; similar to molasses, roasty malt, resin hops, and a red wine.
The taste is similar to a roasty red licorice bitter that lingers the same aftertaste.
The mouthfeel is similar but not too much of a light syrupy texture with soft to medium carbonation throughout.
The drinkability is good not a session beer unless one likes the slightly syrupy taste of a roasted red licorice bitter.

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2004 11:30:48 | More by Troyone
Photo of yankeeheel


3.88/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is an interesting little brew. Has a very turbid, ruddy brown appearance. Smallish creme colored head settles out to a ring of lace. Smells hoppy with a little spice. Taste is nicely complex with a slight caramel wave of malt, followed by some biting grassy taste. Finishes with a sweet, almost cinamon flavor. Mouthfeel and body are almost cider like. Nicely drinkable.

Tahnks to JahNoth for the sample.

Serving type: bottle

10-02-2004 23:17:33 | More by yankeeheel
Photo of HappyHourHero


3.13/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Fine bubbled, light cocoa colored head. Brown colored beer with a cola glow. Smells like pineapple juice. Solid malt base with a tropical hop flavor and a mildly bitter finish. A hoppy red ale that just didn't taste right, not sure if it was off or just not my thing.

Serving type: bottle

09-20-2004 01:58:56 | More by HappyHourHero
Photo of merlin48


4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed this, on tap, at Barley's Taproom in Asheville, NC, before the "Pop The Cap" event on 8/14/04. This Red arrived in an unchilled glass, with a 3 cm, beige head perched above a clear, copper body. Rings and sheets of attractive lace were left down the sides of the glass.

Aroma was pleasantly balanced. Malty fruit(apple) and caramel/toffee aromas were nicely complimented by pine cone hops.

Mouthfeel was medium bodied, with a solid, bitter hops bite on the tongue.

Taste has an outstanding, toffee/caramel malt backbone that is balanced well by pine hoppiness. As this warms, some citrus flavors emerge, and grapefruit and orangepeel take the flavor profile to another level. Finish is dry, with a citrus hop aftertaste.

Loved this one, and look forward to having it again. It really is excellent with Jamaican style, jerked chicken. Try it and see!

Serving type: on-tap

08-24-2004 11:53:20 | More by merlin48
Photo of PopeJonPaul


4.55/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I once had a friend say "this beer looks like dirt!" so ever since I've referred to it as my 'dirt beer.' Amber, dark, cloudy, with a tan head, yeah I guess it kind of looks like dirt - looks more like homebrew. The smell is awesome - pear juice, caramel and the evergreen forests of the Northern California coast (i.e., the hops.) Very tasty, with a generous amount of hoppiness. Carbonation is just right and you get a good savory tingling mouthfeel from the hoppy finish. This is one of my favorite beers.

Sadly, I am drinking the last bottle I smuggled back in my luggage as I write this. Needless to say, at the inevitable (I hope) Mad River premiere at Blind Tiger someday, I hope to welcome these guys to NYC in style. And take the next day off work.

Serving type: bottle

08-01-2004 02:04:45 | More by PopeJonPaul
Photo of Gasp100


4.22/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this one up one a tip from a fellow BA. This poured a deep red syrupy color with a frothy head and terrific lacing down the glass. Citrus, floral hops. crisp bitterness, sweet malts, a little of everything. This brew is great and really nice as a session brew --- I went through a case a little too quickly. This is a really interesting take on the Amber/Red Ale style -- I loved it!

Serving type: bottle

07-25-2004 20:59:55 | More by Gasp100
Jamaica Red Ale from Mad River Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 405 ratings.