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La Roja - Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

Not Rated.
La RojaLa Roja

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

1,646 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,646
Reviews: 752
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 12.72%
Wants: 136
Gots: 267 | FT: 21
Brewed by:
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Wild Ale |  7.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
An artisan amber ale brewed in the Flanders tradition. Deep amber with earthy caramel, spice, and sour fruit notes developed through natural barrel aging. Unfiltered, unpasteurized and blended from barrels ranging in age from two to ten months.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-14-2004)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,646 | Reviews: 752 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Maxwell:
Photo of Maxwell
3.5/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

As I crack the cork, this beer is a gusher. Like a geyser, this liquid is out of the bottle, and I see some of my well bought booze ooze onto the table. The geyser was quickly stopped after the first pour, but I would like to warn others to its gushing potential. The beer pours a deep, caramelized, burgundy color with very light orange hints. It pours with a fair head of medium sized, lightly yellowing bubbles that fizzle down to about a quarter of a finger’s width. In the light the beer is like a ruby red grapefruit color, with a dark, opaque body that seems a bit murky, but does show some nice, lazy bubbles running to the head. The head leaves a light lacing of spatter marks on the sides of the glass. On the nose, the beer smells of a tart, earthy must. As the scent lingers in the nostrils I get more distinct notes of cherry and leather, much akin to a Flanders red, but subtler. A creamy, scentless sense seems to dominate the nose, which is a little bewildering to me. Even subtler than the funk is soft vanilla and oak. As the beer breathes, distinct lactic scents travel up from the glass to give the feel of a subtle Flanders red. This smells good but I want more of it! On the tongue, the beer tastes a bit like a muddled mess. Almost middling tart acidity moves bad funk notes with an odd, light bitterness that moves into smooth tannic bitterness, while a light, earthy salinity touches over the tongue. The sweet, caramelly malt in the background is nice but a bit watery, leaving the beer without the balance of the great Flanders reds. In flavor, the beer begins as tart, green apple with a bit of basement must. The must grows to an unpleasant funk with plastic and medicinal notes to it. Within the must there are intriguing hints of grass, hay, and loamy dirt, but these get caught up and jumbled into an odd sweetness, falling into a less desirable flavors. The finish is of a rotting forest floor with musty leaves intertwining with decay and soft caramel notes, and the aftertaste is nice tannic oak with vanilla and very faint, light roast coffee. This beer has a lot of potential, but just does not seem to pull its parts together. In the mouth the beer feels on the light side of medium in body with a thin, lightly-watery mouthfeel that doesn’t fit the style well. Carbonation is soft and smooth, and actually quite nice, though surprising given my bottles gushing opening. The mouth is left fairly clean accept for light acid-canceling saliva. Overall, this beer is a bit of a letdown. It has subtlety and grace in the nose, but it muddles everything in the taste and never quite weaves them together. I wonder if a bit more time in the bottle might have aided the beer along. The beer does get better as you drink it, and does have some interesting points for a seasoned sour/wild/etc… drinker, but is definitely not a beginner’s beer. The more I drink of it the more I note a definite oaky tannin to the taste, which I actually deeply appreciate but it doesn’t seem to work with the rest of the beer. I’m happy I tried it, and I hope it gets better in future batches, or perhaps with age, but for the time being I would say it is not good enough for its price point.

Maxwell, Sep 13, 2013
More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Damn how cool is it to see Jolly Pumpkin showing up here in the Buffalo area!This is one of the few offerings suprisingly that I havent tried from JH till today,this poured a light hazed amber/brown with a tight well formed light brown head in my oversized wine glass.The barrel aging shows with hints of vanilla and wood with some lactic sour notes.Very food friendly but flavorful starting out with notes of grape and brown sugar with quite a hefty sour acidic finish but not not to much,yeasty esters thruout.A very nice beer from the home state I like a good Biere de Garde if it can be found and this is quite nice,oh and did I say food friendly?

oberon, Dec 28, 2006
Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An affordable funk becoming ever more available at bars in Madison, La Roja, has taken a special place in my heart as the cheap, punchy, sour brew of choice for finishing off a long night off big beers. It's big enough to stand out but not so over the top as to offend beer drinkers that shy from acidic or sour beers.

Appearance: Pretty muddied red/orange with minimal lacing but aggressive and attractive carbonation.

Aroma: oaky lambic core covered in generic sour fruit with hints of cherry cough syrup and lemon zest.

Taste: Biscuity amber malt body, fruity yeast, oaky and earthy finish of sour fruits and vanilla. Slightly barn yardish.

Mouthfeel: Moderately funky and sour. Medium body with great carbonation.

Drinkability: Killer.

DaPeculierDane, Apr 04, 2008
Photo of DanGeo
4.25/5  rDev +6%

DanGeo, Jun 20, 2013
Photo of tectactoe
4.05/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

La Roja pours a light-ish ruby red color with some copper tints popping out here and there. Translucent with a slight clarity as light busts through without much of a problem. A slightly foamy, beige head bubbles up and perches at about a quarter-inch, but fades to nothing but a ring relatively quickly.

Tart cherries make up a large portion of the aroma here; sour, juicy, and very fruit forward. It's a nice, clean smell - freshly picked and overly juice cherries, rather than syrupy and medicinal. Pungent, lively, and in-your-face. There might also be a little bit of a grape aroma, borderline vinous, but I'm really getting mostly cherries from this. Very light oak in the background but no real discernable funk or barnyard - at least not right away.

As expected, the taste is lightly tart up front but not too heavy - not quite puckering or lip-smacking, just a few notches below that. Cherries are abundant, but the grapes come out much more on the palate, and La Roja actually does have a strong vinous character to it. Oaky and woody notes come out big-time, especially near the latter half of the sip. Light yeast and funk notes come out a bit, too, but not as heavy as many of Jolly Pumpkin's other offerings. Oak and sweet cherry aftertaste, dry and carbonated heavily.

A solid offering from Jolly Pumpkin and a relatively "easy going" sour/wild ale that would be nice to easy newbies into the style without scaring them away.

tectactoe, Mar 11, 2013
Photo of ricke
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Ruby colored with some orange hues. Slightly hazy. A big dense but still quite fluffy head with an off-white, almost yellowish, color stays around for quite a while. Good lacings.

S: A rather fine-tuned smell, with some faint champagne-like characteristics. Plenty of fruity aromas (mostly ripe apples). Some vinegar. Sweet chocolate. General pleasant tart notes. Plenty of funk going on as well - wet hay, dirt and horse blanket. Some phenols. An interesting smell to say the least.

T: Not as rich as the smell actually. Fruitiness (sweet cherries and currants, tart apples) and a semi-harsh funkiness (horse blanket, stable). Grass, chocolate, yeast, barrel notes, and dry earth. The finish is semi-dry with notes of green apples, grapes, some alcohol, faint medicinal phenols and a floral bitterness.

M: Medium body and the beer is quite dry from start to finish. The carbonation is rather prominent at fist but it calms down after a while. Actually, the beer undergoes a positive development throughout the journey, it opens up and gets a better overall expression.

D: This is a very good and interesting beer, but not exceptional. The smell outweighs the taste, which is kind of a shame. And as notes, it got better after a while in the glass. Would definitely have it again if it was offered.

ricke, May 08, 2009
Photo of MadScientist
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%

MadScientist, Sep 08, 2012
Photo of JudgeRoughneck
3.55/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

One finger of toasted merangue head sits ontop of this opaque, caramel-colored brew. Aroma is of cranberry, grape, spice, BOOZE, fruit cocktail...actually smells a bit like cranberry-infused vodka.

Taste is tart, yeasty, bittersweet, overly harsh herbal flavor, powerful floral flavors, big peach and plum flesh flavors, peppery spice comes out with warmth. This beer starts out quite funky but things start to come together as you quaff. Overall kinda like drinking potpouri. Interesting, but not quite my style and questionable for beer de guarde if for no other reason than things are a little dark and heavy for the style.

JudgeRoughneck, Apr 13, 2007
Photo of Schlais
3.75/5  rDev -6.5%

Schlais, Apr 26, 2012
Photo of Tiernan
4.25/5  rDev +6%

Tiernan, Jul 15, 2014
Photo of wesbrownyeah
4.43/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

La Roja by Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. 7.2% alcohol content. 2nd American Wild Ale I've had and very excited. Old school cat design on the bottle red scheme. Blend 3,2009

A- Pours a dark glowing orange fluid with small off white head that falls to a frothy top and light strings of lacing grasping the glass.

S- Smells similer to red wine with floral rose scents and a yeasty tartness. Light hints of oak in the nose as well.

T-M- Excellent, pure excellence. First up is a dash of earthy malts with quick but sharp tart and bitterness funk. Second is a spicy alcohol bite and bourbon heat following. By god I love this beer... It offers up beautiful complexities. I note fresh tart fruits (apples, plums, and citrus). Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with woody bourbon feel lasting on the tongue.

D- Drinkablity is steller and i will be buying out the rest at my local store to celler and enjoy for the next couple of years...Or weeks Cheers!!!

wesbrownyeah, Feb 21, 2010
Photo of orbitalr0x
3.43/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

La Roja pours from the bottle a deep dark cloudy brown with a bubbly khaki head on top. Hints of red peek out when held up to the light. Aromas of caramelly, brown sugar maltiness accentuated by a mellow spiciness, apples and dark fruits. Wet wood with a touch of cinammon. Fairly mellow.

First sip brings a caramelly, burnt brown sugar maltiness upfront with a heavy helping of dry woody tannins. Apple cider with mellow spices, cinammon, cherry and various dark fruit notes. Finishes fairly dry with a lingering musty cellar aspect. A bit muddled overall...just fails to grab me.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a rush of carbonation that attacks the palate with each sip. Pretty easy to drink overall..however the flavors seem to be fighting against each other. Not one I'd seek out again and honestly my least favorite in the JP line so far.

orbitalr0x, Nov 05, 2005
Photo of blitz134
3.68/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this one in the cellar for a while. As the cellar dwindles down I finally pull out beers that don't fall into my normal drinking line up.

Slightly hazy, caramel body. Superb light tan head, 3 fingers tall to start and I slowly topped off the glass to be left with a solid inch of lump foam on top. Very nice, little lacing though.

Sour apple and cherry tart dominates the aroma. A bit of overripe white grapes too. Some lightly toasted malts and a bit of light oakiness. Smells pretty good, but mainly just lots of sourness.

White bread malting underneath. Not puckering sour like I was expecting, although there is still a bit of sour fruits but its toned down a lot by some musty notes. Overall, comes across with a nice earthiness. A touch of astringent wood in the finish. Alcohol isn't noticable. This is okay to me. Unique.

Mediumish mouthfeel. A good bit of carbonation makes this pretty crisp. Fairly easy to drink given its sour nature.

Overall a very interesting beer, not one you'd be likely to have from any other brewer. Flavor, like I said, is just okay to me. Worth a try at the least.

blitz134, Jun 30, 2007
Photo of sabitu
4.25/5  rDev +6%

sabitu, Sep 29, 2012
Photo of Aaron420
4.08/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Blend 12 Bottled 10-27-10

A: Poured a deep amber almost a mahogany with a small creamy tan head.

S: Soured cherries with a hint of a citrus smell.

T: A strong sour taste through the beginning that is followed with a small taste of oak. With more of the sour cherry to finish up.

M: A good bit of carbonation for a pretty medium bodied brew.

D: A pretty drinkable beer, wasn't sure if I would enjoy this being it was my first taste in the world of sours, but I enjoyed and cant wait until I can venture farther into the world of sour.

Aaron420, Feb 13, 2011
Photo of danthehopslamman
4.25/5  rDev +6%

danthehopslamman, Aug 15, 2012
Photo of lordofthewiens
3.98/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A 750ml bottle, capped, not corked. Poured into a tulip glass, this is a very pretty beer. Dark amber in color with a thick, persistant white head. Some lacing. Nicely carbonated. The aroma was a little difficult to get a handle on. Fruity, but also an outdoorsy, musty aroma. Fairly sour fruit taste, a little caramel in there too. I thought the beer was a trifle thin. All in all, however, a wonderful beer. Definitely will buy this again.

lordofthewiens, Mar 25, 2007
Photo of DaftPatrick
4.25/5  rDev +6%

DaftPatrick, Mar 21, 2014
Photo of heddar33
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%

heddar33, Sep 09, 2012
Photo of warnerry
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Blend 2, 3/18/10; notes from 3/14/11

A - A bit of a gusher, but not too bad. Pours translucent reddish brown with a few yeast chunks. Two fingers of head that dissipated pretty quickly.

S - Some slight funk and crisp sour apple. Having a hard time picking out specific aromas. A bit of caramel and oak.

T - Nice initial burst of tartness gives way to some earthiness. Oak becomes more apparent on the finish. Nice mix of sour, fruity and earthy.

M - Light/medium mouthfeel with good carbonation. A bit of lingering bitter earthiness on the tongue.

O - While this isn't one of the more complex wild ales out there, I really enjoyed it and it is one of my favorites from Jolly Pumpkin.

warnerry, Dec 26, 2011
Photo of sponberg
3.63/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750 with a pirate cat on the front. Poured into a Duvel glass - big, effervescent head over a clear red-amber liquid. Aroma is simultaneously tart, sour/lactic/lambic-y, toasty, bready... a LOT of stuff going on in this brew.

Three sips and I'm tasting three separate things. Let me let this breathe and warm up a bit. OK - starts with a spicy maltiness, not atypical of a good American amber. Then a sour funky note kicks in, almost like a Flanders red, along with a hop bitterness that just doesn't ever seem to join with the sourness - like two separate construction crews working on the same project that don't speak to each other. Wait, near the end they found the walkie-talkies - the flavors blend, alongside an oakiness and a toasted grainy malt that all wander down the road happily, if not quite singing the same song. Very spritzy mouthfeel.

I could set the drinkability anywhere between 2.5 and 4.5 - if I was in the mood for something "different," higher; however, I could alternately tire of its peculiarities rather quickly.

Strange brew - and one worth exploring further.

sponberg, Sep 13, 2006
Photo of Beaver13
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle. Pours a hazy amber brown with a huge creamy off white head that diminishes slowly and leaves some lacing.

The aroma is sour tart cherries and sweet-tarts with a little fragrant woodiness and musty yeast.

The flavor is some tart and sour fruits that is more reserved than what I was expecting from the aroma. It has a good caramel malt backbone to it with some woody notes and some nice earthy yeast. It has a surprisingly dry finish that is lightly hopped and musty. The alcohol is very well hidden - this tastes like a nice session beer. The mouthfeel is medium with sharp bubbly champagne-like carbonation.

Overall, a very nice, easy-drinking, semi-sour ale. It's more reserved in the sourness with some nice complex mixes of Belgian yeast, light hops and sweet and sour notes. The more I drank of this, the more I appreciated it.

Beaver13, May 11, 2007
Photo of shark262
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle marked 12/2008 Blend.

A: Hazy med-brown to copper. Small, off-white head. Moderate carbonation.

S: Cherry sweetness, green apple, earthiness and funk, slight oak, little to no hop aroma, no diacetyl.

T: Hits the palate with a well-attenuated tartness. Oak is more noticeable in taste than in the aroma. Alcohol warmth. Some dark fruit flavors and smoke seem present. Slight horse blanket taste.

M: Med carbonation. Highly attenuated and therefore not viscous or thick. Crisp and slightly mouth-puckering, but overall refreshing.

D: Refreshing with fruity flavors working nicely on the palate. Wild ale characteristics are present but not overpowering.

Overall a very tasty beer. The beer's appearance is not too inviting, but I soon move past that once smelling and tasting. Likely had a complex grain bill, but the hard-working yeast(s) have made this brew highly-attenuated and crisp with not much residual sweetness. I could see myself drinking La Roja in the winter or summer months.

shark262, Jun 12, 2010
Photo of Doomcifer
3.9/5  rDev -2.7%

Doomcifer, Sep 12, 2014
Photo of JakerLou
4.25/5  rDev +6%

JakerLou, Apr 19, 2014
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La Roja from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
90 out of 100 based on 1,646 ratings.