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!

La Roja - Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

Not Rated.
La RojaLa Roja

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,644 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,644
Reviews: 752
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 12.72%
Wants: 136
Gots: 267 | FT: 20
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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,644 | Reviews: 752 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of rwf08
2.85/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

750ml bottle poured into a Duvel glass

A: Hazy caramel amber color. Thin white head with many many tiny little bubbles. head doesn't stay around too long. No lacing.

S: Communion wine smell. Tart, earthy, musty, some funk on the end. Not much else going on.

T: Winey, some wood. Mild tartness but not near the mouth puckering I'd had hoped for. A bitter astringent finish.

M: Thin with lots of carbonation. What I would expect but this just seems very seltzer like. I assume from the lack of flavor not just the thinness and carb.

D: Well I could finish this one but I wouldn't buy another. In the words of Jim Carrey "eh...I've had better". I'll just stick with La Folie until I can find something better.

rwf08, Jun 04, 2010
Photo of Jmoore50
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Blend 13, 2008

The appearance was a dark amber, with a little half finger head. The lacing on the side of the glass was medium, the beer just gives off a wild look.

The smell is interesting, as most wilds are. Such an odd funk, bitter wine and vinegar. Sour apples and grapes. This is just like the taste. Sour apples is the most overwhelming taste. It has a dry mouthfeel, just like wine. Orange peel flavor also. Vinegar is not a overwhelming taste, but it lingers after the brew is swallowed. The oak is tasted with the sour apples, gives it a smoother earthy taste.

Good brew, low drinkability because it is so funk and sour that I could not gulp it. I would only want one also. I do no know, I thought it was worth a try and the alcoholic 7.2 is hidden well. Enjoyable.


Jmoore50, Jun 01, 2010
Photo of BeerImmediately
3.38/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

25.4 oz bottle into 25cl Leffe glass.

Pours with an effervescent but minimal beige head that hangs out for a while, and fades to permafilm. Body appears amber brown, but when held to the light, looks like a burning sunset. Plenty of floaties, too.

Aromas are nice - tart grape skins dominate, with some sweet spices and a light vinegar. Very welcoming.

Flavor is plenty earthy, with a lite caramel sweetness; Some oak/vanilla in the background, and an overall decent sour pucker. Unfortunately, there's not as much flavor as suggested in the aroma.

Relatively thin on the palate, with a high carbonation that leaves a crisp bite - but maybe too much so.

Fairly refreshing drinkability overall, and not over the top in any category of flavor.

BeerImmediately, May 30, 2010
Photo of kbutler1
3.3/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Have always seen this bottle on shelf but have never tried until last night.
I was excited to see an American Wild Ale from the midwest and was hoping to find a good and easy to find substitute for the Cali wilds. I was a little dissappointed.

Pours a mahogany red type color with a nice head. The aroma is a sublte sourness along with some fruity and boozy notes. The initial taste is something akin to a watered down Supplication. It is just not sour enough in my opinion. The mouthfeel was light/medium.

Maybe with time it would get a little more sour but in my book this beer is just ok. Not sure if I would pay the $10 again or nto for a bottle. Rather just trade for a Supplication.

kbutler1, May 21, 2010
Photo of Pahn
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle into Duvel tulip. No bottled on date that I could find.

Appearance: Careful pour out of the mildly gushing bottle yields a one inch, fluffy offwhite head that dissipates slowly, leaving streaks and spots of long-lasting lacing. Pours a semi-opaque somewhat dark amber. Leaves nice spots, islands, and streaks of lacing.

Smell: Rather tart with some vinegar. Not too sour, with notes of apple and some other fruits and spices. Good balance of smells.

Taste: Again, tart, with mostly sour apple and a mildly funky finish. There's a hint of caramel up front before everything goes sour. Very light oak influence. Some nice flavors develop in the aftertaste... mostly various fruits. Pleasant flavor, but not very well balanced. I would like everything to be a bit more pronounced. It reminds me of fresh Victory Old Horizontal, in that there's a lot going on, but one of those things (for Old Horizontal, alcohol bite, for La Roja, tartness) is way more dominant than the others. It's nice to get those hints of pear and oak and caramel and funk, but this is on the lighter side of the word 'hint'.

To put it another way, the tartness and sourness are not very in your face. It's just that all the other things are so faint. All the flavors are good, and they work well together, but they are just too out of proportion. The taste is kind of bland, but it's above 3.0 because the little things that are happening are quite good.

Mouthfeel: Really nice; creamy, soft carbonation, on the fuller side of medium-bodied.

Drinkability: This beer is certainly easy to drink, and I'd be happy to try different batches (I'd expect this beer is different, for better or worse, with a few years on it as well). Would I buy the beer I'm tasting right now with any regularity? Probably not.

This beer is difficult to review. It smells great, and the mouthfeel is fantastic. The flavor doesn't contain a single note that turns me off, and some sips even have bursts of really good things. Yet, in the end I find the flavor to be a little lacking. It's a quality beer, but I can't really see what recommends it over other readily available wilds. It does pique my interest in other Jolly Pumpkin offerings though.

Pahn, May 13, 2010
Photo of WeedKing4
4.33/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle pours a dark ruby with a decent amount of foam using the Chimay glass. Had little floaties in the first pour, and don't see any in the second. Smell is of sour fruits, and the taste follows suit with a spicy caramal kind of finish. Goes down quite smooth and is very easy to drink. No hint of the abv% in this one. I was expecting this to be over the top sour, but I was pleasently suprised. Glad I finally tried Jolly Pumpkin.

Had this about two years after the first review. I'm in love with sours now and was very glad to pick this up again. tastes slightly sour with some good tart in the finish. Good mouthfeel and dark fruits coming through as well. Really loved this beer the second time around. Fantastic.

WeedKing4, May 09, 2010
Photo of tmgiddings
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from Crown Liquors #6 - This beer pours dark amber with minimal white head. Aroma is green apple and vinegar with roasted malt undertones. Taste is salty and sour with white grapes, green apples, and some bready malt. Mouthfeel is light and carbonated.

tmgiddings, May 04, 2010
Photo of phishisphunk
4.05/5  rDev +1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Blend 4, 2009. Poured into an oversize wine glass.

A: Certainly very amber in appearance. Reminded me of Bigfoot, but not quite as thick in appearance. Has some beautiful ruby red hues when held up to light. But generally light brown/copperish. Mild, 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: Some hay, straw. Lots of sour and tartness barreling through. Nice dry, lingering finish. Pretty reminiscent of Jolly Pumpkin's beers. The barrel aging and brett seem to create a similar profile with their beers.

M: Amazing. A very effervescent mouthfeel, similar to champagne. Tickles your lips and tongue.

D: The ABV is almost absent in this beer. No heat what so ever. Very easy drinking for fans of sours. I easily polished off the bottle.

Overall, a very focused beer. Not a lot of complexity going on. Very precise. Another great selection from JP, and one I hope to pick up again soon.

phishisphunk, May 01, 2010
Photo of ne0m00re
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a 750 mL bottle (Blend 13, 2009) into an oversized red wine glass to capture the aroma.
A: Reddish brown amber with pinkish hues, it poured with a big creamy head that died to a nice lace with a collar.
S: Earthy cranberry with walnut malts and funky apple raspberry. The roasted malts (chocolate and caramel) are very mild, but present. It smells like roses with red wine alcohol.
T: Caramel bread with some chocolate malts, sour cranberry, rose, and red wine. Earthy bitter green hops linger with the fruit.
M: Slightly syrupy, creamy and frothy with a crisp twang.
D: Awesome.

ne0m00re, Apr 29, 2010
Photo of tigg924
4.47/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: cloudy, minimal head, reddish brown in color, high carbonation

Smell: vinegar and cherries

Taste: sweet and tart cherries with vinegar

Mouthfeel: slightly sweet but very tart, light bodied, high carbonation, dry

Drinkability: I really like this beer and could have several glasses. Just amazing. This is nice and tart. The cherries and the sour really mesh well. Cannot wait to try another Jolly Pumpkin beer.

tigg924, Apr 27, 2010
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.78/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Blend 5, 2009

A - Pours a cloudy chocolate covered cherry red/brown color with a 1 inch head that fades to a 1/2 inch cap. The lacing is somewhat little on this beer.

S - Smells of sour fruits (cherry), vinegar (balsalmic maybe), and funky yeast/bacteria.

T - Tastes like it smells. Tart sour cherries, balsalmic vinegar, and funk all blend together. Very tasty.

M - Beer has good carbonation, so it is pretty smooth. It leaves a coating of funk taste in the mouth (not a bad thing).

D - Very, very good. I am very glad I picked this one up. However, at $11.99 a bottle I will save this one for a once in a while drink.

UCLABrewN84, Apr 25, 2010
Photo of rpstevens
3.73/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a White Birch glass. The beer pours a murky copper/amber color with a muddy brown center. There is a thick frothy white head that fades slowly and leaves a sticky white lacing on the sides of the glass.

The smell is tart fruit, cherries, green apples and some pears up front. The fruit is followed by a quick hint of caramel that leads to hay, bleu cheese, oak and some fresh cut grass hop characters.

The taste mirrors the smell, but is kind of underwhelming. The tart cherries are present, but not very tart, and the pears and green apples are mild but present. The caramel sweetness overwhelms the tart fruit for a second before ushering in the hay, oak and tart cherries on the finish. Throughout the taste, there is an artificial lemon flavor that is a bit unpleasant. It is not a tart, fresh lemon quality, but a concentrated cheap lemon.

The beer is very well carbonated for the style, and it is nice and light bodied. The flavors are mild, but well balanced. There is a nice dry finish and the alcohol is never present. Overall an average wild ale, but nice for something so accessible.

rpstevens, Apr 22, 2010
Photo of Jayli
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Consumed 4/17
Blend 7, 2008

A: This beer pours a murky, ruddy deep reddish brown with a ridiculous 3 inch of foamy head. This one gushed after the first pour. Head recedes slowly leaving thick coating of lacing.

S: Nose is of tart caramel and tart fruit - apple, pear and cherries, a hint of oak, and a bit of funk.

T: Taste starts with a tart, puckering sour cherry flavoring, but lends to a bit of oaked cherry flavoring. Tartness eases up with a bit of apple and pear, caramel malts. Finish has a bit of funk to it.

M: Lighter side of medium body, moderate carbonation, a touch prickly on the tongue, with dry finish

D: Decently blended beer, goes down relatively well, as I am just getting in to the sours and wilds, this is an interesting beer, but I've had a few others that I may opt for first before this.

Jayli, Apr 19, 2010
Photo of alcstradamus
3.35/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a deep copper/brown with a monster head that sticks around forever. Pour very slowly.

The aroma is tart and herbal/grassy, with some citrus notes reminiscent of apples and pears.

The flavor is quite musty, with a bit of an odd chapstick quality on the front palate. The finish is light pears, cobwebs, and some clove. Kind of boring, and it feels like it is missing a layer of sourness to bring balance to the funk.

The body is medium and carbonation is high but soft. Drinkability is average...this goes down easy but doesn't really interest me at all. Decent, but not worth the price tag.

alcstradamus, Apr 19, 2010
Photo of crossovert
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle, 2010 blend 2.

Pours a brownish/amber/red with a slightly pinkish white head that is large and foamy. The head leaves some lacing.

This one is really fragrant. It has an overlaying oak/funk. It is quite funky smelling, and i have recently had Cantillon. It has a bit of vinegar sourness and some fruit.

It has a nice tartness that lingers on the tongue, with cherries and oak being the main flavors. The yeast twang, citrus, vinegar, and sourness also are in the taste. It isn't overly sour.

It is an okay beer but it perhaps lacks cohesiveness.

Blend 17. 9-16-2011.

This one is a lot better than the first. Nice tart cherriness like before but this time the oak is really up front with some nice vanilla.

crossovert, Apr 17, 2010
Photo of muttyd
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Copper/amber body. No head, just a thin ring.

S - Oak, caramel, sour fruits, and a slight yeasty/bacteria funk aroma.

T - Sweet caramel malts dominate the palate up front, followed by a moderate sourness as it moves across the tongue. Oak/vanilla flavors come through more as the beer warms up and in the finish. Not as strong as a sour/astringent finish as I was expecting, but still a pleasant sour finish.

M - Creamy, silky smooth on the tongue. Little to no carbonation.

D - Very solid brew, wish it had more carbonation to really bring out those aromas, but enjoyable none-the-less.

muttyd, Apr 17, 2010
Photo of bonsreeb85
4.55/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

I love the artwork on Jolly Pumpkin brews!

The beer comes out a deep and dark yet still see through amber(so shit right?)perhaps burgundy color sporting little to no head despite a relatively aggressive pour.

THe nose is huge! Lots of oak, something in the way of dark rum or bourbon??Vanilla and caramel candy, and a tartness is also present in the way of cherries and vinegar.

The flavor is a masterful mix of the above mentioned players. Sweet makes it's way to tart. Cherry flavor is very pronounced. Oak is also a very big factor. Caramel and 'nilla play good supporting roles. Tannins also give this beer a wine like characteristic.

Lightly carbonated light body.

I have just recently developed a taste for sour beers, and I must say that this beer has definately helped my new found affection for this style grow exponentialy. Drinkability you ask?? Off the charts, I loved every sip!

bonsreeb85, Apr 15, 2010
Photo of Halcyondays
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 mL bottle, Blend 11 - 2009,

A: Pours burgundy with a light white head, great colour.

S: Caramel, lemons, and horse blanket/Brett.

T: Light malt flavour, but the taste is dominated by the acidity. Lots of acetic/Flemish Red type flavours, lemon, orange peel and copper as well.

M: Moderately acidic, light carbonation, soft to palate compared with most sour beers.

D: Good flavours and not overly super expensive in this style, what's not to like.

Halcyondays, Apr 12, 2010
Photo of Stigs
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle picked up at Vintage Estate a few months ago, served in a Duvel tulip. sticker on the back "Blend 3, 2009"

A - poured about 12oz worth...left with a finger or so of slightly frothy off-white foam with a pinkish tint. the beer is a cloudy, reddish mahogany color. leaves behind minor spotty lacing.

S - very sweet and tart right from the get go. green apple, green grapes, lemon zest, vinegar, cherries. warming up opens a peculiar yeasty funk that wasnt there at first.

T - starts off with just a little sour zing before mellowing out rather quickly...a fair amount of yeast with some kisses of funk in the middle, fruits come alive in the end, mostly cherries and (not-sour) apple. its good, just wish it could make up its mind between being sour, funky, or fruity...as more of either of them would propel this up another notch.

M - medium bodied for the style, carbonation is almost spot on. leaves the mouth feeling a bit dry, with just a slight tartness in the back sides of the tongue, and no noticeable alcohol.

D - a fair Wild Ale...just missing something in the transition from nose to mouth. still quite refreshing (due to lack of sourness and good mouthfeel).

Stigs, Apr 12, 2010
Photo of AleWatcher
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep reddish color with a creamy beige head. Leaves great lacing on my duvel tulip.

Smells of biiiig sour fruit. Really sour green apple-- think of the sour apple jolly ranchers!! Also some dark fruits and sour cherries. There is also an asrtingent odor of strong alcohol. I actually don't mind it in this brew, because it somehow fits. I imagine aging this will mellow that down a bit.

Taste is sour. On the first sip I thought this was one of the
more intensely sour beers I'd ever had, but as I go, I find this very enjoyable and flavorful. Certainly get the sour fruit
and dark fruit tastes... But also a touch of the funk and a nice sweetness.

Very nice carbonation leve. Makes this easy to sip on. Not syrupy at all. Pretty light bodied like a Flanders red, and it works with this beer.

I could certainly finish this bomber by myself. Very enjoyable little brew here- I found two more bottles of this on a day trip to Michigan today, so I can't wait to let them get some age on em!! If you like sours, give this one a shot!

AleWatcher, Apr 11, 2010
Photo of phantomwyse
3.73/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours out a dark red-amber with a very dense two-finger cream colored head. Semi-turgid. Sheet lacing

S: Dark cherry, caramel, there's a distinct earthiness to it, like wet wood. Slight alcoholic whiff.

T: I don't even really know where to start, there are so many different characteristics meshing together. There is a lot of malt - caramel, coffee cake, warm sugar. There is a slight hop presence, but nothing of real note. Then there is the funk. And there is lots of funk. Sour raspberries and cherries. Dry, somewhat cloying sweetness. Just a touch boozy.

M: Smooth, just a tad creamy.

D: Bizarre. This is certainly a unique beer. It's sort of like a complex knot. I enjoyed trying to untie it and figure out where each flavor was going and connected to. However, it never really forms a cohesive brew. It's a fun beer, for sure, but just needs something to tie it all together. A beer I thoroughly enjoyed, but will not go back to in particular in the future -- but, I will be exploring Jolly Pumpkin's arsenal.

phantomwyse, Apr 10, 2010
Photo of alpinebryant
3.38/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Blend 7, 2008

Pours a nutty red haze with a massive white head. I poured one small wine glass, and then noticed foam was popping out of the top and had to pour a second glass to settle and stop the bottle from overflowing. (note: the next morning, there was still foam clinging to the inside of the bottle)

Smell of a tart oaked amber ale. Light roasted malts, caramel aromas, tartness and sourness clearly evident in the nose.

Taste of oak off the bat, with sourness and slightly puckering tannic flavors. Caramel, and mild roasted malts prevail throughout, but I just could not get over the oak. I presume this was a relatively new barrel and had lots of oak flavor to spread love during the aging process, slightly more than I desired. Not bad, but slightly overwhelming. There was a tiny bit of horse at the end, but very little to be made out as the other flavors really took charge.

Mouthfeel was highly carbonated and medium bodied. One of the thicker mouthfeel sours that I have had. Probably with more age this one would have calmed down some of its oak flavors. I would recommend anyone with this batch to hang onto it for a little longer to get some more mellowing.

alpinebryant, Apr 04, 2010
Photo of Casey10
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Not sure if this the regular la Roja or the reserva as the picture for the reserva shows the bottle I have but the bottle I have does not indicate that it is the reserva. Well with that disclaimer I have this review.

A really nice sour that does not dissapoint it reminds me in a lot of ways of a concecration in fact a lot of ways. I would love to do a side to side comparision. Lots of red wine taste to this, some carbination, well done and recommended a must try.

Casey10, Mar 28, 2010
Photo of connecticutpoet
3.48/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I was looking forward to trying this beer, as I like the style and have only had a few from Russian River. So when I had the money, and was getting 15% off, I figured why not.

My bottle was labeled "Blend 6, 2008".

Appearance was surprising. On the pour, I got a four finger head atop a medium red, clear body. But the head continued to grow in the bottle, and it slowly oozed out. So I had to drink it a bit faster than I had anticipated. Whee!!

Aroma was sour, slightly funky, with hints of sweet apples and a touch of vinegar. Nice, and expected.

Taste was tart, and a bit funky, with hints of vinegar and some tannins present. I didn't get the fruitiness that many people did. It was a bit vinous, and very dry on the finish.

Mouthfeel was well carbonated, but thinner in body than I would have thought from the description on the bottle.

Drinkability... overall, this was a disappointment. Granted, the other beers of the style I had were Supplication and Sanctification... and that's a hard act to follow. But I thought that there were layers of complexity that just weren't there.

connecticutpoet, Mar 24, 2010
Photo of Flashsp2
4.25/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Jolly Pumpkin La Roja

Poured from 750ml into Duvel. Generated a giant tan head with good retention and nice stick. Simmers down to a moderate layer that hangs in the whole time. Has a nice deep amber/rose color with brown highlights.

Aroma is funky and sour, with some horse blanket with some dry oak and faint sour cherry.

Taste is a big funky-horse hit, some sour/tartness, and tangy some cherry and oak as well. Lots of sour, the wild bugs are showing through quite nicely.

Mouthfeel has good carbonation, even though the finish is a little thin for the ABV, it has a nice roundness to it overall.

This is a good beer. This makes a nice replacement Flemish Sour since Rodenbach Grand Cru changed from being an all older ale beer (which really made it lose a lot of the raw character it originally had)

Flashsp2, Mar 15, 2010
La Roja from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
90 out of 100 based on 1,644 ratings.