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La Roja - Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

Not Rated.
La RojaLa Roja

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,633 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,633
Reviews: 750
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 12.72%
Wants: 135
Gots: 268 | 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: 1,633 | Reviews: 750 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of eclaycamp
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%

Tonight I need something to kind of wake me up, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a bottle of La Roja hiding out in my fridge. What’s more it’s the inaugural vintage from 3 years ago, as the label simply states “Blend 1, 2008.” Guess it’s been there for awhile. Pours a murky blood orange red with no head. Aroma is of oaked funk. Bring on the sour! I’m guessing this is a take on a Flanders Red, given the aroma and appearance. First taste is sour, but not overpowering. Tart cherry hits the sides of the tongue before being washed away by earthy funk in the finish. The taste is wild, but at the same time it’s very restrained. The oak helps keep things in line, and the lengthy aging process has added a nice sherry complexity to things. Mouthfeel is light to medium, with a nice level of carbonation that helps to brighten things up and scrub the palate as you continue to drink it. I’ve had a number of sour beers and this one is among the most well rounded. By that I mean it’s not unnervingly sour – it’s an evenly crafted beer from start to finish. Speaking of the finish, it’s dry, perhaps as to be expected, which means that you keep going back to it. Overall this beer is a refreshing diversion and a must try if you’re a fan of sour or wild ales. If you happen to run across it I’d recommend cellaring it for a couple of years and busting it out. You won’t regret it.

eclaycamp, May 22, 2011
Photo of GoldenChild
4/5  rDev -0.2%

out of a bottle into a chalice Blend 2 bottled 2-11-11

A: Certainly very amber in appearance. tan head retention that leaves a soapy lacing on the glass.

S: Sweet and sour. Some candied fruit, maybe sour cherries. Vinegar, funk, earthiness. Mild ammonia.

T: Lots of sherry, alcohol, sour fruits and oak.

M: A very effervescent mouthfeel, similar to champagne.

O: Very easy drinking and smooth. Make sure to open this one over the sink its a gusher. Another great selection from JP, and i would love to try the Grande reserve!

GoldenChild, May 22, 2011
Photo of sisuspeed
3.93/5  rDev -2%

Thanks for sharing Dave!

Pours an almost clear, burnt-red, with a thin white head. Leaves some light lacing behind.

Light vinegar with a hint of nail polish in the aroma. Red grapes and sweet malts. Touch of vanilla and caramel. Light oak. Nice. More sour acidity than I was expecting from JP.

Flanders sour acidity on the tongue with oak barrel, red grapes and apple. Hint of vanilla and a touch of caramel. Light, grassy hops.

Light to medium acidity in the mouthfeel. Good oak barrel presence. On the drier side. Seems a bit thin.

Overall, this is a solid Flanders style beer. Nice barrel aging with a decent level of sour acidity and fruitiness. I wouldn't go out of my way to get this beer, but if you're a fan of the style and see it, then it's worth checking out.

sisuspeed, May 17, 2011
Photo of OddNotion
3.93/5  rDev -2%

Poured into my Russian River Belgian glass.
Bottled 4/5/2011. Blend 4.

Appearance: Pours a mix of brown and amber. No head to speak of.

Smell: Funky, tart, slight sourness. Dark fruit, cherries, oak.

Taste: Decent sourness. Very smooth, some cherry flavors, almost a bittering quality in the cherry flavor, not a whole ton of depth in comparison to others, but certainly not bad by any means.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, light on the carbonation. Would prefer some more bubbles.

Overall: Solid beer. I like it and for the $10 pricetag possibly my favorite in terms of value. Not comparible to the best I have had but certainly worthwhile!

OddNotion, May 15, 2011
Photo of aficionado
3.48/5  rDev -13.2%

*ALERT* YOUNG BEER REVIEW - Bottle dated 4/5/11

Too young, so the yeast didn't settle. Murky, cider colored body with no head or lacing to speak of. Instead of clear with a boisterous 4 finger head like some of the other reviews.

Aromas of cherry fruit, apples, and funky hay, oak and forest floor.

Tastes crisp and acidic with sour cherry juice, fermented Granny Smith apples, new oak, and musty yeast.

I managed to receive a beer with little to no carbonation. No head and the fine bubbles are only visual and dissipate in seconds after pouring. The carbonation doesn't translate to the palate. Feels like juice.

Despite the carbonation flaw, this is a very food-friendly beer. It's not vinegary, but it's a nice amount of fruity sour.

aficionado, May 12, 2011
Photo of Phoptos
4.43/5  rDev +10.5%

Won in a "beer bracket" contest for March Madness. Poured into a Pretty Things goblet. Blend #9, 2009.

A: Smooth pour with a nice brownish crimson color. Sticky head lingers for a bit giving way to a healthy lace.

S: A little funk, a little fruit with some candy caramel in there for good measure.

T: Some nice sour cherries and apples quickly give way to more complex fruit mixed with roasted caramel tones. The funkiness blends with woody fruits smoothing out at the end with a nice sour punctuation.

M: Nice, dry and tart. The pucker at the end mixed with the smooth but lively carbonation is fantastic.

O: Really solid American Wild. I enjoy that every flavor has it's place and in the end, it's very smooth. The dry pucker at the end is very nice and the sourness never overtakes the subtle fruit flavors. Would drink again, no doubt.

Phoptos, May 12, 2011
Photo of Kinsman
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%

Pretty looking beer here with a nice ruby red body with some lighter amber hues when held to the light. Creamy light shade of tan and about 2 fingers of semi-sticky viscosity make for a nice looking head.

Sourness on the aroma was a bit more than expected, very reminiscent of a Flanders Red with a nice cherry note. Malts provide a bit of a caramel/toffee sweetness but not quite enough to balance out the Wild aspect.

First taste and the sour and tartness that was expected given the aroma were surprisingly tame. Not that this is a bad thing at all; in fact I'm quite enjoying the malt flavors providing some fruity, caramel and biscuity flavors upfront before the sourness kicks in. Tart cherry and sour apple flavors show of the wild yeast and only become stronger and more puckering when you let it linger.

Mouthfeel is crisp and bubbly with a medium body feel. Finishes with a slight astringency. Overall, a very enjoyable Wild ale. Not quite as sour as a true Belgian Flanders, Gueuze, or Lambic but still pleasant nonetheless.

Kinsman, May 08, 2011
Photo of GrandCruDrew
3.93/5  rDev -2%

750mL Bottle Blend #7, 2007. Poured in my Jolly Pumpkin Snifter.

A- Amber in color, has clarity, poured an inch head, little retention and lacing.

S- caramel, toffee, smells of Belgium. It smells of age. I actually believe this bottle had some temp issues or something. Sourness comes through!

T- Pretty subtle for a LaRoja. I taste the caramel, tea, some sourness, some oak.

M- Good, I can feel the age.

Overall- I have had this beer so many times. One of my favs. But, I'm glad I didnt wait any longer on this bottle.

GrandCruDrew, May 08, 2011
Photo of msubulldog25
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%

Opened 4/23/2011
750 ml brown bottle with a red cap and a small sticker affixed to the back 'Blend 5, 2008' and poured to a large 'burgundy' wine glass. This has been cellared for going on two years and was a nice extra sent by BA trep.

"...an artisan amber ale brewed in the Flanders tradition."

A: Good hiss and all seemed well as I set the bottle on the counter and walked away for a minute. Upon return, an expanding pool had soaked the nearby newspaper and a foamy snake slithered down the bottle - a sneaky gusher - do not leave unattended! Pour is 'chestnut shell' orange-brown, a murky haze cut by ringing rivulets of dinky carbonation. Healthy head, a half-finger of light tan foam, thinner and finer except for a pile of off-centered suds. Excellent sheeting lace in wavy rings.

S: Spiced nose of sour-sweet berries, a fleeting lemon-lime and fragrant, but mildly soapy, flowers/herbs. A whiff here and there produced something more 'raw' and alcoholic, which would then seem to disappear on follow-up. Wild. Decent strength at cellar temperature, deepened with warming.

T: Tart apple and sour/tannic unripened grapes form the base of this bridled 'wild'. It's certainly not out-of-control on the enamel-stripping acidity; rather, it's a careful collision of fermenting fruits, subtle spices and drying dirtiness. A tangy woodsiness in the finish asserts the 'oak barrel' aging. Not the most complex I've ever had of the style (although plenty interesting), but definitely among the best balanced.

M: Smooth and creamy mellowness - with 3 years of age this has matured beautifully. The thinnest veil of coating grit sticks to teeth and tongue. Still enough carbonation to add some sparkle and a finishing tartness that brings on some tongue curl, salivation and drying refreshment. Mmmmm.

O: I've tried this beer on a couple previous occasions and found a solid, if not overly remarkable, sour amber ('Oud Bruin'?). This time it's pretty close to 'wow' inducing... great depth of flavor and gorgeous mouthfeel. I'll have to pick up more (as La Roja is available currently in Oregon) and remember to sock it away a couple years minimum. Well done, Jolly Pumpkin.

msubulldog25, Apr 29, 2011
Photo of mudbug
4.35/5  rDev +8.5%

From the bottle dated Blend 14, 11-12-10.
A heavy pour into a wine chalice results in a slightly cloudy dark amber body capped with a off-white bubbly head that soon recedes into a cap of foam.
Aroma is subtle, with a very clean sour apple and crushed sour grass earthiness.
Taste is where this one shines, slightly astringent sourness, apple rind on top of an almost ripe mango, woody earth and a very slight wet hay, almost champaign like in the feel, but with a slight creaminess, a very complex and refreshing take on a "style" that knows wide variation, Bravo!

mudbug, Apr 23, 2011
Photo of Blanco
4.35/5  rDev +8.5%

pours a nice burgandy color with white head. smells of fruit and brett, very pleasant and inviting. nice fruit flavor, not sure which berry, but slightly tart and refreshing, slight hint of sourness and funk. mouthfeel is nicely carbonated and light bodied, very champagne-like. This is a very good brew. It's simple and subtle, which is usually not common for the style, but is a nice change for when you want something that is just slightly wild and has a nice fruit backbone.

Blanco, Apr 19, 2011
Photo of vfgccp
3.83/5  rDev -4.5%

A – Pours a beautiful, deep ruby amber. Nice white head that settles fairly quickly but leaves a nice lace.

S – Soft sour apple and tart unripe papaya.

T – Tart and sour cranberry / unripe apple. Hay. Touch of golden raisin. The entire profile is fairly soft on your palate and not overwhelming tart.

M – Medium body. Dry, clean finish with a light residual tartness.

O – A nice sipping beer with a refreshing tartness. Plays nice with a huge swath of food pairings, from red curry, to caprese salad, to earth cheeses.

vfgccp, Apr 13, 2011
Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%

Poured into a Chimay goblet.
Pours a very deep ruby with a decent head and mediocre lacing.
The smell is sour grapefruit, grapes (white), peach and some grass.
Taste is about the same. A lot like a rose wine. There is a cherry taste shows up. Smooth in the mouth, just a little boring. It might just need a bit of age. As it warms there is a slight vinegar aftertaste.
I liked it but have certainly had better Wild Ales.

OBeerMeGreatOne, Apr 13, 2011
Photo of FanofHefe
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%

Label says Blend 9, 2009, so a little age on this one. Pours a deep amber color with a hint of red hue. Big creamy off-white head with tons of retention and lacing along the glass.

The aroma seems distinctly Belgian with some funky "brett-type" aromas accompanied by tart fruity notes. The dark fruity notes lean toward cherry and are more sour than sweet.

Tart flavors dominate and are slightly acidic in nature and encompass sour fruit flavors from cherry, lemon, and possibly peach. Complex flavor - which is good.

Tasty offering great for lovers of anything sour.

FanofHefe, Apr 12, 2011
Photo of TheWhiskerReview
3.83/5  rDev -4.5%

Pours a cloudy orange-tinted brown with a nice 2 fingers of eggshell white head and moderate retention.

Nose starts with a fruit punch-like blast of sour fruit- notes of sour cherry, banana, pink grapefruit and green apple- joined by the oaky caramel and vanilla tones.

The palate tastes like you made a grapefruit-ade, added a bright carbonation, a bit of funk and dropped in some sour raspberries for good measure. Light-bodied, incredibly sour and loads of unripe pear on the finish.

Overall a nice effort. This being my first flanders-style ale, I wasn't sure what to expect. Personally I think it could benefit from a bit more body, but I'm not sure if that would be out of character for a flanders. I do know that it tasted great with my turkey meatloaf.

TheWhiskerReview, Apr 08, 2011
Photo of schmoopsbeer
4.28/5  rDev +6.7%

One of the most under rated sours on the market. La Roja posses an excellent mouth feel and drinkability. The sour/tartness is well balanced with the woody flavors. Hints of raspberries and mellow cherry. Excellent brewing on this one. I bet with some age this beer will drink a lot better. La Roja is a beer I will always have in my cellar and fridge.

schmoopsbeer, Apr 04, 2011
Photo of baconsausage
3.55/5  rDev -11.5%

Poured from 750 to a stemless wine class. Pours a hzy copper red, with a thin white head with great lacing. Sour cherry nose, slightly bready. Flavor is a blast of slighty watered down frut punch, some funk, and not much else. A little tart, a little residual bitterness, (a little), and not too complex. As it warms it gain some compexity in the flavor, but really just stronger flavors that are more of the same above. Overall very drinkable, but a little boring for a wild ale.

baconsausage, Apr 03, 2011
Photo of holden303
3.68/5  rDev -8.2%

Blend 2, Bottled 3-18-10

A: Poured into a snifter La Roja pours a burgundy brown with less than a finger of head that dissipates immediately. When holding this beer up to the lamp to get a better look of the beer I of course spill it onto the keyboard of my laptop, although luckily everything works and I didn't lose too much beer.

S: Lots of cherry on the nose, hint of raspberries, bit like cough syrup.

T: Tastes like it smells, definitely a flanders, has some acid but it's not overwhelming.

M: Pretty dry although does have that little sparkle to it.

O: Overall this is a good beer and am glad I was able to find it, however, and it could just be due to my recent sour phase, but this could be a little more sour for my liking. As most people have said it would be a great intro beer into the style. Would I drink it again? Definitely. Would I buy it again? Eh, probably go with a sure fire RR like consecration.

holden303, Apr 01, 2011
Photo of CharlieMurphy
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%

Blend 7, 2008

A: Bottle nearly exploded taking the top off! 1st pour yielded half a pint of foam, understandably. Subsequent pours yielded 1" yellow tinted white head. Leaves thick, intact, sparkling lacing virtually all the way down. Appearance score takes a hit for dowsing me.

S: Smell of spicy, sour brett yeasted fruits - apricot, some cherries and mango perhaps. Wine and oak smells evident in the nose too.

T: The natural carbonation carries a lot of the flavors adrift for while in that it kind of masks some or delays the flavors which were more prominent in the nose until the end. Less wine flavor and virtually no oak in the taste. The oaking comes out more in the end of the taste profile as it warms. The fruit flavors are very subdued and overpowered by the souring, which is also considerably masked by the oak and caronation, but still very prominent.

M: Mouthfeel is great for a sour, little drying, not too tart at all, but I wouldn't say it's in anyway sweet.

O: This is a pretty complex brew. There is impressive balance considering everything going on here. Definitely enjoy this bold beer a lot. Would be a good intro sour that still packs a lot of shock-factor.

CharlieMurphy, Apr 01, 2011
Photo of gatornation
3.83/5  rDev -4.5%

from bottle blend 14 bottled 111210

A-hazy amber color with a smallish head but a fresh collar and ring

S- is tart and sour with oak and a vinegar sour funk smell .some citrus and caramel

T- starts out sour with vanilla and and oak that is mixed with cherry notes and a touch of vinegar

M- is tart and acidic ,a little dry with a medium carbonation.a little thin and watery

D- a nice wild ale that is easily drinkable a great one to start with or to come back to

gatornation, Mar 22, 2011
Photo of ShanePB
4.05/5  rDev +1%

Transcribing my notes from my review on my website to here, after this beer coming up in a discussion this weekend. From a 750 ml bottle:

A - Cloudy, rustic burgundy body with a creamy & bubbly tan head.

S - Sour fruity notes: Granny Smith apple and sweet caramel malt. Spiced clove and crushed garlic, also.

T - Sweet and sour cherry, gooseberry, woody oak notes in the linger. Finishes dry and tart.

M - Perfect amount of carbonation (on the lower end) giving this a medium body, great for a Wild Ale.

As one of my first "sour" beers, this is a great place to start. It's not nearly as acidic or lactic as other sours on the market, it's tame but approachable - justifiable so a wonderful introduction to the style.

ShanePB, Mar 21, 2011
Photo of rudzud
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%

Picked up a bottle of this a few weeks ago at KJ Baarons. Bottle date is 3/18/10. Yep, one year old. Been wanting to try this one for a while now and was very glad to see this at the store.

A - Pours a nice rich red amber, though with a hard pour I still couldnt get a great head on this. Never more than one finger and it faded very quickly leaving no lacing and just a thin off white halo.

S - Not getting much in the way of hops, some sweet malts and very light barrel aromas. Nice typical wild ale funk here with some nice cherry aromas as well.

T - Very similar to the nose, everything is quite subtle. Flavors are all really good, some nice additional maybe vanilla qualities towards the end thanks to the barrel aging.

M - It does feel a bit thin/watery, but then again, I havent tasted a wild ale that didnt have this quality at some point. The vinish is nice and dry and crisp with a good tartness.

O - What a fun new category. Overall this is a good beer. I'd like to rank it higher, and would if this bottle resulted in some head/lacing. Others do, just unfortunately mine did not.

rudzud, Mar 19, 2011
Photo of ToasterChef
3.6/5  rDev -10.2%

A 60°ish bottle was poured into a tulip glass. The bottle is labeled Blend 1, bottled 1-13-2011.

This looks to be a well-carbonated beer. It wasn't a gusher, but there is a large head made up of small bubbles and foam and enough carbonation clinging to the sides of the glass to make it hard to see into the beer. There is plenty of film left behind when I swirl the glass, but little lacing. The liquid is translucent and a deep amber color. The walls of the glass eventually cleared and the head settled to a fine layer of foam. Swirling the beer builds the head back up.

The beer has a crisp sour aroma. There is a little candi sugar and some green apple notes. There is some oak to the aroma as well.

The flavor is slightly sweet and a touch funky. The sourness is mild initially, but builds up to a good sour apple flavor as I swallow. A musty, yeasty sourness lingers.

Full-bodied with above average carbonation levels. A good coat clings to my mouth. It has a musty flavor and isn't sticky.

This glass drinks well enough, and I'll be able to finish the entire 750ml bottle, but I don't think I'll buy this beer again. It's a little too strong to drink a lot of, and not quite as sour as I'd like it to be. There are better American wild ales out there, but this one shouldn't be passed up, especially by someone new to the style.

ToasterChef, Mar 13, 2011
Photo of SMortiL987
3.53/5  rDev -12%

A - Lacey, thin head with very fine carbonation bubbles. Bubbles clung to the curvature of the glass as it was tipped to be sipped. Color was a hazy reddish brown.

S - Reminiscent of three steps below a Duchesse de Bourgogne. A sour funk with a slight balsamic aroma.

T - Sour, acidic up front , with a pleasant red fruit and peppery finish. A slight taste of violet at the end as well. General maltiness that is a bit overpowered by being on the dry side as the oak comes through.

M - A tad bit disappointing. A little thin in my opinion for the perception of the strength of the aroma.

D - My first Jolly Pumpkin brew and def a repeat drink. Overall very decent for not being a "traditional" Flanders red or sour. Very good intro to sours. The St Arnolds Lawnmower of sours in my opinion. Worth trying.

SMortiL987, Mar 12, 2011
Photo of ms11781
3.93/5  rDev -2%

Thanks to NittanyBeerFan. Blend 14, 2009. 750ml bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Pours a murky brown color. Rust colored when held up to light. The head is about a quarter finger and off white with surprisingly good retention.

Immediately the nose brings a sharp tart and sour aroma. Tart cherries along with some vinegar and other dark fruit. In addition to the dark fruit there is also a lemon-like character, citrusy and assertive. There are also earthy and funky aromas as well. After a bit the funk actually takes over and because one of the more dominant aromas. Perhaps the serving temperature start a bit cool.

The taste is very tart up front. Somewhat sour but to me there is a difference between the two and tart is a better description. It almost instantly dries the tongue out. The fruit in taste seems much lighter than expected for a darker sour. Green apples and apricots are present. Perhaps some sour cherry put not as much as the nose would indicate. The lemony citrus is here as well. There is a sort of spice-like bite that hits about 3/4 of the way through but I can't quite put my finger on what it is. After a full 750ml I still can't figure it out. Either way it's a welcome addition to sort of break up the tart and sour flavors.

Medium body with very lively carbonation that feels prickly on the tongue and can even be a bit numbing if left in the mouth and allowed to roam the palette. There is a tartness and slight sourness that dries out the tongue but nothing puckering or anything like that.

This seems like it would be a nice opening beer for someone looking to get into sours. Very restrained yet still has a bit of a bite that might ease someone into the sour/wild world. Definitely a beer that is best enjoyed with multiple glasses over a longer period of time to get the full feel for it.

ms11781, Mar 11, 2011
La Roja from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
90 out of 100 based on 1,633 ratings.