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La Roja - Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

Not Rated.
La RojaLa Roja

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,634 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,634
Reviews: 750
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 12.72%
Wants: 135
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
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Ratings: 1,634 | Reviews: 750 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ccrida
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%

Poured in my St. Feuillien goblet, the La Roja is a hazy chestnut with a huge, very light tan head that is as dense and rocky as I've ever seen. Lots of foamy lace. The wild yeasts in the bottle ensure lots of active carbonation and make you really take your time on the pour. Wow, gorgeous!

My first whiff, in fact from the bottle right after popping the crown, immediately reminds me of Rodenbach Gran Cru, one of my all time favorites. I have pretty high expectations, but now the bar's really been raised! Letting it air out in the goblet, it's sweeter then the Rodenbach, a very sweet fruit, maybe guava or some other tropical type? There's also caramel, vanilla, and cinnamon. It's a bit vinous, and sharp acidity comes off a bit metallic.

The taste is not as sour as I as expecting from the nose, although theres definately lots of sour cherry early on, with an acidic bite in the middle, it finishes remarkably clean. And while it's on the dryer side, not as much as many other wild beers I've had - I suppose there's enough malt to keep this in biere de garde territory after all, although it's unlike any I've ever had. It does however remind me a lot of liefmans goudenband, although, sadly, I haven't had the pleasure of that in a couple years... however, it's another beer I really love, so points to JP for reminding me.

La Roja is medium to light bodied, with very fine bubbles.

This is a very drinkable sour, although the acidity might be to sharp for some, I think the clean finish tempers that nicely. Very refreshing and enjoyable.

ccrida, Jun 11, 2007
Photo of ArrogantB
3.63/5  rDev -9.5%

This one was my fourth Jolly Pumpkin beer and I was looking forward to it. The beer was a dark red-amber in color with a small white head. The smell was a little funky. The taste was very sour and tart. This one seemed almost the same as the Biere De Mars but without the nice fruity flavors. The mouthfeel was nice on this beer just like all the JP beers I've had. They definitely have the carbonation down. If I make a repeat purchase of a JP it is going to be the Oro or the Biere De Mars. This one fell a little short.

ArrogantB, Jun 07, 2007
Photo of rowew
3.4/5  rDev -15.2%

Presentation: 750 ml, capped. Label is newer than the one pictured here, but features the same swashbuckling cat. "Artisan Amber Ale - Ale Aged in Oak Barrels."

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy reddish amber color, medium sized tan colored head fades to a bit of lacing.

Smell: Aroma is sour, a bit of some spice I can't identify. Fruity.

Taste: Hmm .. the sourness comes through here, but there is also some metallic flavor. Unfortunately it seems to dominate.

Overall impression: Close to being very good - but whatever this metallic flavor is takes quite a bit away from this beer.

rowew, May 30, 2007
Photo of Flyer
3.83/5  rDev -4.5%

The color is a beautiful cloudy burgundy-caramel. The head is almost sculptable. At first the flavor almost seemed like a cross between a Belgian golden ale and a Flemish sour ale, but after the first few sips the sour was really coming through, in a very satisfying way. The spiciness, with subtle oak notes, almost dances on the tongue. Nicely tart, clean aftertaste. Distinctive and recommended.

Flyer, May 26, 2007
Photo of nickfl
3.7/5  rDev -7.7%

A - There was some minor gushing when I opened the cap, but I didn't lose any beer and it is forgiveable in a barrel aged beer. This one has a comically large and tenacious head. Fairly dark orange brown color, somewhat hazy.

S - Spicy, acidic aroma. Earthy and somewhat fruity.

T - Tart, citrusy acidity. Earthy, dirty flavor with fruity notes; lemony and grapefruit like. Finishes with strong bitterness on the back of the tongue.

M - Heavy carbonation, but with a fairly thin body. Maby some tannins.

D - Has a good bit of flavor while remaining light, but the acidity is a little too acrid for my taste and I think a little more residual sweetness would balance it out better.

nickfl, May 22, 2007
Photo of Beaver13
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%

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 xav33
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Jolly Pumpkin La Roja
750 ml bottle
Moderate pour in a goblet
Recent brewing, carved into 05/07

Poured a clear amber with a large mostly lasting off-white head with good lacing and some brown fun yeasty gunk at the botttom.

Smelt of strong sour brett, like dry cider or dry white grape juice, with light roasted malt.

Flavor was upfront strong sour apple or white grape, moderate dark bread and light bitter grassy hops followed by moderate sourness and moderate oak dry bitterness on a fair length finish.

Palate was light to medium bodied, softly carbonated, slightly oily on a dry finish and moderately puckering.

Overall, this is a great American sour ale. I love the clean crisp oak taste at the end.

xav33, May 05, 2007
Photo of goochpunch
4.6/5  rDev +14.7%

Pours a hazed, rusted amber with a tanned head that maintains a strong presence and leaves strings of lace. Toasted sweetish malts only last so long in the nose before the brett hits. Highly acidic aromas of cranberry, cherry, and bitter oranges. Flavor reminds me of a mix of biere de garde and a flemish red, to dumb it down. Nice caramel and toffee from the malts, but the yeast has it all on lock-down. Peaches, raspberries, cherries, bananas, oranges, cranberries, and pineapple all working together with an incredibly refreshing acidity. Lots of brett funk. Mouthfeel is a little on the syrupy side, but I really wouldn't go so far as to say that. Excellent carbonation that is active, but not piercing. I could drink this all night.

goochpunch, May 01, 2007
Photo of Sycodrummer
4.6/5  rDev +14.7%

Poured from the 750ml bottle into an oversized wine glass the beer was a dark orange/amber color with a healthy slightly off-white head that was fluffy and retained well. Lots of carbonation fed the head and some nice chucky lacing throughout the sample.

The nose was sour upfront. Very nice! Exactly what I expected from others comments on the beer. A yeasty and funky nose typical of Belgian and Belgian styled sour beers.

The taste reveals its tartness first as a quick sourness then takes over the palate. Not overpowering but rather well balanced and delicate. This does not overwhelm the palate with sourness or tartness but rather a delicate mix of both. The taste finished with a little yeasty and phenolic end with ample carbonation. Some traces of alcohol make an appearance but well balanced with a malty undertone perfectly interjected with a sour finish. Some cherries show up and also lend to balance and tartness.

Medium body, firm and malty base offset slightly with ample carbonation and a nice puckering sour cherry finish.

It's very nice to see some great sour beers. The are satisfying and quenching and deliver eveything I look for especially in the summer. This one is a solidly balanced example. It does not over power in any one aspect and its finish balances its body perfectly. Very well done with La Roja.

Sycodrummer, Apr 22, 2007
Photo of crookedhalo
4.05/5  rDev +1%

Pours a hazy copper/amber color with a fizzy light tan colored head. Head holds for a while in the tulip at its narrowist point leaving some nice lacing. Aromas of rotting crabapple, hints of vanilla and oak, malt and a healthy brett character. First thing noticable upon first sip is that it is pretty mellow. Some tartness, some caramel and crystal malt sweetness but neither overpowering each other, some champagne-like flavors near the finish. I was expecting some more sourness, but I'm not disappointed. Healthy carbonation, prickly on the tongue with the medium-to-lighter body; attenutaion seems almost complete. Dry finish with some seltzer water aftertastes. A very nice beer that I'd order again.

crookedhalo, Apr 22, 2007
Photo of kajerm
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%

750mL bottle with a crown seal. Pours amber into a champagne flute, with a massive head that comes over the top of the glass without spilling over. Columns of fine carbonation rush up from the bottom of the glass.

The aroma is acid, apple cider, and brettanomyces, with some light malts-- surprisingly subdued.

Tastes like it smells, but with a stronger malt backbone and a little more sweetness and fruit flavors (the bottle says pears, but I taste apples.) Acetic acid tanginess and carbonation show up on the finish. Everything is very muted; I like that this beer doesn't beat you over the head with Brett.

The mouthfeel is a mixture of sourness and lively carbonation. It's refreshing as hell, and exactly what I expected. I was floored when I read this was 7.2%ABV, I would've guess it was six or less. This is a super-drinkable infected beer, and I'll definitely be trying more Jolly Pumpkin brews.

kajerm, Apr 15, 2007
Photo of JudgeRoughneck
3.55/5  rDev -11.5%

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 WesWes
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%

The beer pours a cloudy amber color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great! It smells of pale and crystal malts along with lambic bacteria. It's sour with a slight oak barrel aroma; very nice. The taste is great as well. It has a smooth bisquity amber flavor that goes down easy and finishes sour and earthy with some oakey notes. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium/full bodied beer with adequate/good carbonation. This is a good drinking beer; probably the best that I've had from these guys. I have to say that this is a Flanders red ale (says so on the bottle). I don't know who declared the style for this one.

WesWes, Apr 10, 2007
Photo of lordofthewiens
3.98/5  rDev -0.7%

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 GClarkage
4.45/5  rDev +11%

01/21/07- Purchased at Ledgers Liquors in Berkeley, CA.

Presentation- 750ml bottle. Capped, but not corked. Wonderful artwork as usual on the label from JP. No freshness info found. Poured into my Duchesse goblet.

Apperance- Burnt orange or rust colored pour. 1/2 inch fairly creamy looking head. Half of which remains for the intirety. Nice streaks and patches of lace.

Smell- That lovely flanders scent. Pungent and sour cherry-raspberry nose with oaky aspects. A nice whiff of barnyard as well.

Taste- Perfect sourness backed by a significant level of malt. Lovely fresh fermented fruit taste. Heavy berry flavors (cherry, raspberry, loganberry).

Mouthfeel- Oaky and sour aftertaste with a nice carbonation level.

Drinkabiltiy- Combo of a Goudenband and Duchesse. More malty than either though. Best american flanders I have had to date. Worth the $11.50 I dropped on it.

GClarkage, Mar 10, 2007
Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.83/5  rDev -4.5%

Served in my Duvel tulip.
Pours a ruby colored brown. The bottle started to foam out the top just upon taking the cap off. Had to quickly get it into my glass. Poured a 4 inch beige colored marshmallow head.
Smell is fruity spices and some belgian brewers yeast.
Taste is spiced cherries with plenty of belgian yeast. Their is some definite sourness coming through. Kind of tart, but wonderful. I think that is the best thing about this beer. Mouthfeel is full and creamy with plenty of carbonation.

FtownThrowDown, Mar 10, 2007
Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.43/5  rDev -14.5%

I picked this one up at Knightly Spirits in Orlando. This little bitty liquor store is about half beer and is easy to miss...but it is definitely worth searching out.

Appearance: Good off-gas when the cap was removed and the beer itself is a cloudy dark burnt orange color with a half inch of persistent small off white bubbles. Even after a minute, the head was every bit of half its original size.

Aroma: There are definitely some woody notes to the aroma along with some dry caramel sweetness and some fruit like cherries in particular. Other than this, the aroma is pretty clean. As the beer warms up some, there is a more "funky" note coming out in this beer.

Taste: The flavor is really dry and much more attenuated than I thought that it would be from the aroma. It is light and somewhat fizzy on the palate with lots of carbonation. There is a bit of an earthy flavor here that almost seems like it is an out of place addition of roasted malts because there is little there to support it. I get some caramel in the flavor also, and it is about the only part of the flavor that gives the flavor and mouthfeel any substance. I don't really get any hops in this beer, but there may be some that is obscured by the dryness of the beer. The dry sourness is pretty much in charge, and there is some support from the malt, but the finish is a bit astringent from the attenuation and light body.

Opinion: Well, I had high hopes for this beer, and was somewhat disappointed. I am really glad to see American craft brewers making such a difficult style, but this one seriously falls short in the mouthfeel. There is very little there to back up the dry sourness and this beer could definitely use some more support in that area. Otherwise, it is a pretty decent beer and I wouldn't mind trying it on occasion if it were available in Texas. Oh well, c'est la vie.

SkeeterHawk, Mar 09, 2007
Photo of wavz
3.83/5  rDev -4.5%

S- 750ml bottle

A- Great reddish worn copper penny color. A very light head that gave a small amount of lacing, but doesnt stick around for long.

S- Figs, berries, a little balsamic, sour cheeries.

T- First thing that hits you is the sour cherry, then you get some green apple (But not the bad kind), bitter orange, and a bit of fig balsamic. a unique tart beer.

M- a medium viscosity, nice light carbonation (fits the style well), and a dry finish with little to no heat.

D- I am becoming a new Jolly Pumpkin fan just after trying 2 of their wonderful beers and this is no exception. Just try it, you will like it!


wavz, Mar 09, 2007
Photo of grub
4.18/5  rDev +4.2%

750ml bottle purchased on a recent trip to merchants fine wine in dearborn, mi. i also had a small sample provided by Derek at a recent group tasting, but waited to review it.

pours a hazy reddish brown with a thin fine white head that drops almost instantly to a thin ring around the glass. no lace.

aroma is nice. malt vinegar. bit of lemon sourness. bit of funk. touch of alcohol.

taste is good. bready malt. lemony sourness. bit of malt vinegar. alcohol. black pepper. low bitterness. very earthy, with a little barnyard funk. as it warms, a light caramel sweetness comes out. the carbonation fades a little too, which i think i enjoy more. my second glass of this on sat on the table for a good long time, and i really found that as it got to room temp and some of the carbonation faded it started to show more of a red wine type character. a little more oak and vanilla, some of the sourness fading. it showed different facets at each temperature and i liked each of them.

mouthfeel is good. above average carbonation. fairly light bodied with a dry finish. slight carbonation sting.

drinkability is good. smooth and drinkable, and a little warm on the way down.

grub, Mar 04, 2007
Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%

ah, my second brew from Jolly Pumpkin. A very pleasant experience indeed.

A - Pours a hazy reddish-amber, even with a soft pour I wound up with sediment chunks in the glass. Head was a billowy huge light tan. Took a while for the head to fade.
S - A muted aroma of sour cherries, and a sweet cider
T - I served it around cellar temp (50-55%) and let it warm up to room temp. Definitely a better taste once it hits room temp. Sour cherries and citrus, cider and oak notes. The brett does shine in this beer, mild to medium influence - sour, funk swirl wonderfuly around the other tastes previously noted.
M - medium bodied, fairly well carbonated.
D - Decievingly complex beer! One that definitely needs the right room temp to shine. Thusly served, it is a tasty treat.

As an aside - being a blended beer from multiple barrels I would imagine that this beer would have quite a range of tastes. Consider yourself lucky if you are in their market!

barleywinebrewer, Mar 01, 2007
Photo of Cyberkedi
3.9/5  rDev -2.7%

I didn't like this beer at first, but after a little bit I started enjoying it. (Be careful when you open the bottle - it is fizzy as all-get-out!) The odor is rather unbeery but pleasant, reminding me of a nice brandy. Taste is also brandy-ish, unlike any other ale I have ever sampled. This brewski is smooth and imparts a nice tingly sensation, with a strong but not disagreeable bitter aftertaste.

You have to love the pirate kitty on the label! I admit I bought this beer because of that, but I am glad I did because the contents were a pleasant surprise.

Cyberkedi, Mar 01, 2007
Photo of crwills
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%

Part of a tasting with northyorksammy, biegaman, grub, and derek. Thanks guys!

Attractive caramel colour with no head. Mildly sour orange or tangerine aroma. Flavour is wild yeast, brett, and mild apple/pear flavours. Fairly restrained compared to other Jolly Pumpkin beers I've tried. Good mouthfeel, rather dry. Spicy aftertaste, although I can't identify the specific flavour. Good stuff!

crwills, Feb 27, 2007
Photo of biegaman
4.05/5  rDev +1%

12oz bottle sample thanks to Derek!
Label describes this as a beer of "grace and distinction"...
Pours a cherry-red in colour but dark with brownish hues. Some thin sheets of head that stay mostly to the outskirts. A great aroma with notes of many exotic fruits and wild yeast. The barrel aspect isn't too obvious from the smell, the oak not all that pronouced, hardly present. Flavour upfront with a very cherry tartness. Not much lingering. I'm beginning to find the wild yeast is starting to overpower the flavours in the newer Jolly Pumpkin batches. This was still plenty interesting, plenty tasty, and plenty enjoyable like all the Jolly Pumpkins I've tried.

biegaman, Feb 26, 2007
Photo of Derek
3.9/5  rDev -2.7%

A: Amber-brown, light tan head, a little retention & lace.

S: Tart/sour. Pleasant, but not much depth.

T: Assertive tartness, spicy, apple, light caramel & hints of leather.

M: Light to moderate body is acidic; carbonation is moderate.

D: Good for the style.

Thanks for the trade Frozensoul327!

Derek, Feb 24, 2007
Photo of schusterbauer
4.85/5  rDev +20.9%

a dizzying experience, all around.

murky red/brown beer fills the glass and the smell of jack daniel's whiskey fills the air (quite specifically jack daniel's). underneath the bourbon aroma is a host of musty, fruity and spicy notes -- library books, rotting lemon peels, wet gravel, burnt pizza crust.
the first flavor that jumps out to me is wood -- rain-soaked wood chips. then come unexpected spice flavors, pizza spices, like oregano, rosemary. maybe some mint. citrus and honey manifest in the back of the mouth.
and this is just some of it. there are so many flavors blending and competing here that it would be damned near impossible to identify them individually. but i think that's the point.
despite all of the rugged flavor interactions, the beer feels pristinely clean in the mouth. texture is smooth, even though the flavors might contort your face a bit when swallowed.

this is adventurous, challenging, rewarding, superbly-crafted beer.

schusterbauer, Feb 22, 2007
La Roja from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
90 out of 100 based on 1,634 ratings.