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La Roja - Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

Not Rated.
La RojaLa Roja

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

781 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 781
Hads: 1,926
Avg: 3.99
pDev: 19.55%
Wants: 174
Gots: 320 | FT: 24
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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-14-2004

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.
View: Beers (44) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 781 | Hads: 1,926
Photo of mchegash
4.24/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Review Date: 9/7/14
Other notes: Blend 19. Bottled 5/12/14.

Appearance - 3.75/5
Color is a muddy red-brown-orange. Minimal head. Pretty hazy, but not completely opaque. Can see a good amount of small carbonation bubbles rising to the top. Overall, the look is okay. I was expecting the beer to be a little bit more red, given the name.

Smell - 4/5
Classic JP tart smells of tart apples, lemon. I also smell berries/red wine. Overall a very nice bouquet.

Taste - 4.5/5
JP tartness (tart apples, lemon), followed by more of a deeper, red wine-esque taste. It tastes different from what I remember the first time I had it this summer (don't know why). I like the taste today better. The beer is quite sweet, or the border of perhaps being too sweet. The beer definitely tastes like a classic JP beer, but with a more "red" taste. Yes, I am describing the taste using a color, but I don't know exactly how to describe what I perceive. I think it's the red wine and subtle berry flavors which create the "red" taste sensation. The beer also seems 'deeper' in taste than other JP beers. Overall, a great, rich, sour, sweet taste.

Mouthfeel - 4/5
The beer has a medium body, but the depth of the flavors make it seem like the body is more full. The carbonation is very very light, but I think if the carbonation was any higher, it would distract from the beautiful flavors of this beer. The beer is quite smooth. Due to the sweetness of the beer, there is perhaps a sugary-syrupy residue left in the mouth after drinking.

Overall - 4.25/5
This beer is really a great beer. It's sweet, sour, has depth of flavor, and moves nicely though the mouth. The main changes I would like would be for the beer to be more red in color, to bring out the red-wine/berry flavors a bit more, and to make the beer a bit less sweet and hopefully avoid some of the syrupy residue left in the mouth. Not a beer I would have all the time (it's also a bit pricy - $14 a bottle), but I will definitely get this again at some point.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.77/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass.

Deep red, with a bit of burnt rust color to it, but fairly bright for it's dark appearance. Opaque, with very slow crawling fine bubbles rising. Minimal head creation with a faint tan color, leaving a thin collar on the glass.

Wonderful bouquet on this brew. A great mix of balanced sweet caramel and tangy sour red fruit. Senses like a bowl of sour cherries, and sweet malts. Definitely getting a Flanders like vibe from this for an American brewery for me is kind of rare and very impressive. Sweet taffy throws itself in the mix too. Real nice.

Palate comes off a little more than disappointing. Light malted body and slightly wet, with not a lot of hint of barrel aging character. Some good sweet mix of cherry/raspberry like tones in the mid palate, with a nice controlled finish. Aftertaste comes off more light and hinting towards a summer light brew, which is impressive since this rolls in at a much higher undetectable abv. Slightly flat carbonation, but not giving to the caramel sweetness on the palate. Some mild pepper finish seems to give a bit of menthol heat too.

Overall an ok wild, but feels more like a summer quencher quick thrower, than a malty classic oak wonder.

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Photo of Greasy
4.09/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Red. Brown. Orange. Throw them in a mixer and this beer is the result.

S: Not overbearing. Smells like a weaker oud bruin (a la monk's cafe)

T: Initially there is a tartness as the drink enters the mouth. The finish introduces the oak barrel flavors quite a bit. Quite tasty. Not super sour. I would consider this a good introduction to sours (if they have had oak aged beer before).

M: Medium body. Slightly dry finish. Nice.

O: I like it. The sourness is there, but not mouth puckering; it isn't like vinegar either. The oak flavor is apparent and adds a nice touch to this brew.

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Photo of BWED
4.49/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle poured into a tulip.

A- Chestnut in color, with a mild amber hue. Some visible yeast. Creamy, faintly off-white head. Hangs low, but strong. Great lacing.

S- Sour cherry, caramel. Slight funk, t and some oak.

T- A bit of a sour roast. Caramel, cherry.

M- Sour and tangy. Sweetness is not so much. Finish is just a little dry.

O- Yummy. This isn't overly sweet, like other sour reds. Still nice and tart. And the slight roasty, wood-aged character is really nice.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

375 ml bottle. Served in a Prairie Teku glass, the beer pours a dark amber color with about a half inch off-white head. The head didn't stay around for too long, but there's a good amount of lacing. I liked the aroma, the brew smells like tart cherries, caramel, green grapes, oak and vinegar. Taste is similar to the aroma, but there's also some berries, plum and vanilla that I notice. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit slick and has a good amount of carbonation. Surprisingly this is the first time I've tried this. I've seen it around for a long time, but for whatever reason I never picked up a bottle until recently. It's definitely worth trying, I thought it was good. $7.99 a bottle.

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Photo of Tsar_Riga
3.96/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Bronze color, clear, with a light head and great lacing.

S - Mild sour nose, acidic notes, hints of woodiness.

T - The nose, but turned up. Sourness is front, a slight apple sweetness, with a wood note coming forward in the middle. The close fades to mild acidity, but is pretty quiet, given the open.

M - Quite acidic, but not particularly taxing.

O - This is a well crafted beer. A wild, sour ride that does not go too funky, or blast out your palate. Everything is rock solid.

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Photo of Elicoleman
3.25/5  rDev -18.5%

A: Dark amber
S: Sour green apple, oaky, wonderful smell
T: Almost no real discerning flavor, washes with the slightest bit of sour. Definitely doesn't match the smell
M: Zero carbonation, watery, empty
O: I was incredibly excited to try this beer based on the rating and my love of Wild Ales but this was a let down, especially after the smell. This was easy to drink in the sense that it literally goes down like water but I wouldn't recommend anyone rush out to get this beer.

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Photo of jellikit
4.28/5  rDev +7.3%

A: auburn. Clear. No head.
S: acidic sourness. Maple.
T: slight to medium sourness. Wood from barrel.
M: medium high carbonation. Dry.
O: good sour beer. Not over the top. Oaky. Would buy again.

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Photo of tlery
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%

A - transparent red, amber, off white head with almost no retention
S - green apple, sour candy
T - caramelized apple in the front diminishing to a yeasty and slightly prolonged funky finish
M - light bodied with a tendency to remain on the back of the tongue
O - great autumn transitional Biere de Garde

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Photo of patre_tim
4/5  rDev +0.3%

A: Copper crystal ale with almost no carbonation, 2 fingers of light beige head which fade fast leaving snowflake like lacing.

S: Vinegar, fermented red fruits, red wine vinegar, wine, funk, woody oaken barrels.

T: Sour immediately followed by strong oaken woody depth. No sweetness, but its not harsh like some sours. There’s a strong dull bitter finish from the hops.

M: Medium light body, little carbonation, dry sour balanced finish.

O: Love it. Got it in Saginaw, MI, drank in New Hamburg, ON, Aug 21st, 2014. Really good sour. Its not overwhelming like Love Child No. 4, and I could keep coming back to it.

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Photo of thezach
4.24/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

375mL bottle, 2013 vintage. Deep amber color, good clarity. Astounding lack of head, literally none aside from the bubbles that you get from pouring any liquid into a glass from any distance. No complaints, just true. Nice gentle bubbles.

It has aromas of tart cranberries, cherry, red grape or vinous character, leather, vinegar, and tart funky earthy notes. Of course it is tart and sour, but the acidity's restrained enough that I can, and want to, drink more. There is some sweet oak and malt in there too. But honestly, picking out any one flavor is pretty difficult. It is seriously well-balanced, and one of the best sours I've had to date. Fully intend to buy this again, hopefully of the same bottling run.

This is seriously delish.

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Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 4/8/2013. Pours slightly hazy/cloudy deep reddish copper color with a 1-2 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of tart cherry, cranberry, lemon zest, green apple, plum, raisin, red grape, caramel, leather, vinegar, hay, straw, grass, oak, clove, musty funk, and yeast earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of fruity/funky yeast, oak, and moderate malt sweetness; with great strength. Taste of big tart cherry, cranberry, green apple, lemon zest, plum, raisin, red grape, caramel, leather, vinegar, hay, straw, grass, oak, clove, musty funk, and yeast/oak earthiness. Good amount of fruity/earthy tartness on the finish; with lingering notes of tart cherry, cranberry, green apple, lemon zest, plum, raisin, red grape, caramel, leather, vinegar, hay, straw, grass, oak, clove, musty funk, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a while. Fantastic complexity and balance of tart/fruity/funky yeast, oak, and dark malt flavors; with a great sweetness/tartness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth and moderately slick/acidic mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is well hidden with only a slight warming present after the finish. Overall this is an awesome sour red ale. All around great complexity and balance of tart/fruity/funky yeast, oak, and dark malt flavors; and very smooth and crisp to sip on with the balanced acidity. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of WildSoul8
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Soft subtle sourness with an obvious wild funk added in. Soft viscous feel, never too syrupy and almost finishes dry. Aftertaste leaves something to be desired....

Soft subtle sourness with an obvious wild funk added in. Soft viscous feel, never too syrupy and almost finishes dry. Aftertaste leaves something to be desired....

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Photo of MDDMD
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-burgundy to slight amber color with a nice light tan head and some lacing

S-tart cherries, earthy oak, funk, light caramel and vinegar

T-tart cherries, vinous, oak, caramel, earthy, yeast funk, light malt, little vanilla

F-medium body with moderate carbonation, crisp and slightly dry

O-enjoyable, but more reminiscent of a Flanders Red, nice overall balance

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Photo of macher0
4.68/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This is one my favorite beers, especially flanders red. This review has been sitting around for a while, I'm just getting around to entering my review.

Blend 20, bottled 12-31-12.

A. Poured a dark amber-red color with a frothy, 2-finger, fine bubble head. Translucent. The head retreats to a fine bubble rim. As the beer sits, the head/rim is very minimal, but the ale stills has appreciable carbonation.

S. It starts off with a big whiff of JP yeast. Moderate tartness in the nose. Additional notes of fruits such as figs, plums, tart cherries, and cranberries. Moderate fragrance. Earthy. Neutral oak.

T. The taste comes across very similar to the nose. Their is a moderate tartness, but the hops bring a slight bitterness. The taste also has noticeable fruits, mainly dried-tart fruit. The taste has 2 main profiles: fruity tartness that gives way to a hoppy/fruit bitterness with an even neutral oak undertone.

M. Big-time smooth. Medium body, moderate to high carbonation.

O. An outstanding example of a Flanders, or sour ales in general. Belgium needs to take note. this is my favorite Jolly Pumpkin, mostly because it is widely available, very consistent, and solidly delicious. This is defiantly a session able ale. I highly recommend this beer and this is where I point someone who is new to sours.

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Photo of crankdatank
3.66/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Hazy amber color. Thin white head which disappears very quickly. Smells of oak spice and sour fruit. Taste is nicely sour, oak, slight spice. Almost watered down which was dissapointing. Nice effervescence, Bright mouthfeel. Overall not my favorite jolly pumpkin offering, not bad but pretty one dimensional for me.

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Photo of pjbfromkc
4.66/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Pours a nice reddish amber. Nice aromas of tart sour cherries. Not overly sour taste of cherries, lambic and red wine. Mouthfeel tart but a bit watery. I do wish it the beer was slightly more bold, but thats a minor complaint. Overall a very good flanders. There are better out there but this one did not disappoint.

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Photo of JulioH
2.59/5  rDev -35.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25


I was disappointed with this beer, even though it was on tap. It was very watery, it almost tasted like a watered down red flanders ale. No good.

Pour a red beer. Some sour, lambic smell, a little bit of brett. Taste is not there. It is dry, and very watered down. It gives you a sense of the red flander beer, but not the right type. It is just to watered down. If you use your imagination, you can taste the lambic, but it is simply not worth it.

Maybe next year's batch will be better. Maybe JP need a better quality control.

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Photo of brianmandell
3.9/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle dated 9/10/13

Hazy brownish amber color with fine lacing. A good take on a Flanders red that is well executed but not quite as good as a Rodenbach Grand Cru. Aromas and flavors include apple cider, lemon rind, oak and vinegar. I like how it's fairly sour but not too vinegary. It's also fairly sweet. Slightly oxidized. The fine prickly carb maintains a crisp mouthfeel despite the slightly oily texture. Straightforward and enjoyable.

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Photo of tbeckett
3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

On tap at ChurchKey in DC. From notes.

A - Poured a sort of amber colour with lot's of haze. OK carbonation with one finger of off white head. Spotty lace and a half finger of retention.

S - Grapes, vanilla, oak, not too tart but it was there.

T - Tart grapes, cherry, wood, a bit subtle. Acidic, vinegar.

M - Good carbonation, light to medium body, dry and slightly tart finish. Body was a bit light for my liking.

O/D - This was good. A nice Flanders Red with good flavours and some complexity. Not boozy and fairly tasty. They flavour was subdued compared to other examples of the style, but for the most part this was enjoyable.

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Photo of Chico1985
3.91/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750ml split 3 ways, no bottled on date here but I believe this is pretty fresh.

Appearance - Pours a translucent amber color with an off-white head of about 2 fingers to start. Ring, partial cap and bits of lace left.

Smell - Reminiscent of a tame Flanders red, easy-going but some sourness/funk. Brett, apple, cherry, earthy, farm, wine, some caramel/brown malt type tones.

Taste - Taste is more on the tart side, nice kind of combo of flanders red+funky saison flavors. White and red wine, some spice, bretty fruits (apple and grape), cherries, some funky and bready yeasts, light caramel, oak barrel, some earthy tones.

Mouthfeel - A bit on the thin side, medium-high carbonation, some booze showing through. Average drinkability.

Overall - Like many Jolly Pumpkin beers I've had - solid flavors while being somewhat lowkey, but kinda safe/unremarkable in the category of funky saisons/wild ales. That being said, it's still quite enjoyable, I especially liked the Flanders-esque elements in this one.

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Photo of flayedandskinned
4.14/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottled on 12/0/13
Poured into a standard tulip glass

Appearance: (4)
Pours a murky reddish brown with a tightly bubbled, 2 fingers tall, light tan head that quickly fizzles down to a mere puck on tap the of the beer. The head leaves light, sporadic blotches of lacing as it recedes.

Aroma: (4.25)
Tart notes of cherry juice leap out of the glass immediately. Accompanying these notes of cherries is a slightly sharp, vinous acidity. Just before the acidity starts to get a tad acetic in the nose, a soothing layer of matured Brettanomyces comes into play; big notes of dried apricot, musty earth and damp high. The nose is a rounded out by a pleasant, gentle caramel malt backbone. As the beer warms, some woodsy vanilla undertones surface.

Taste: (4.25)
As soon as the beer lands on your palate, you're rushed by a blast of clean, lactic acidity with a strong cherry presence. Providing some welcome contrast to the tartness is some of the Brettanomyces character that was found in the nose; tones of apricot, sun worn leather and barnyard funk. The light stone fruit character takes hold of your palate though out the smooth, caramel driven malt backbone and tart, off dry finish. Long, lingering notes of cherries, lemon juice, dried apricot, sweet breads and a slight woodsy vanilla presence.

Mouthfeel: (3.75)
Nice full body for a sour, with moderate to high carbonation. Does have a slightly watery finish.

Overall: (4)
One of the few sour red ales that don't get overly acetic; I am particularly a fan of the apricot heavy brett character this beer showcases. Jolly Pumpkin does a fabulous job of balancing the sourness with a smooth malt backbone, as a sour red should. Want a fantastic, year round sour red ale? Look no further.

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Photo of StoutHunter
4.08/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I picked up a bottle of Jolly Pumpkin's La Roja last month for $10.99 at The Lager Mill. I've had had this beer more than a few times and the first couple times I tried it I didn't care for it, but as of the last couple years I've been becoming more of a fan of Jolly Pumpkin and I thought it was due time I give this one a review, so lets see how it goes. Bottled on 6/26/13. So it's almost 9 months old. Poured from a brown 750ml bottle into a Jolly Pumpkin snifter.

A- The label looks pretty nice, it's got a nice design to it and I think it's pretty eye catching. It poured a red amber color that took on more of ruby and crimson hue when held to the light with two fingers worth of light tan head that died down to a thin ring that stayed till the end and it left some spotty lacing behind. This is pretty good looking beer, I thought the color was pretty nice.

S- The aroma starts off with a higher amount of medium sweetness followed by some nice tart aromas being the first to show up and they blend with a nice fruit aroma that has a berry and cherry like aspect with just the right amount of sweetness to go with tartness. Up next comes the yeast which impart some nice funky aromas that remind me of brett with some barnyard like aromas coming through along with some earthy and wet hay like aromas. Towards the end comes the barrel which is pretty noticeable and it imparts a nice woody oak aroma. This beer had a pretty good aroma, the tart berry aspect was pretty nice.

T- The taste seems to be pretty similar to the aroma and it starts off with a higher amount of medium sweetness followed by some malts with some sweet malt flavors in the background. Up next comes a nice amount of medium tartness with a nice berry flavor with some nice cherry like aromas also coming through and it's followed by the yeast that impart all the aspects that it did in the aroma. On the finish comes the barrel which imparts a nice woody oak flavor that shows up just enough with a little bit of tartness with a funky berry aftertaste. This was a pretty good tasting beer, all the aspects were balanced well, neither one was too overpowering.

M- Smooth, crisp, a little dry on the finish, a little refreshing, hardly acidic, medium bodied with a higher amount of medium carbonation. This beer had a very nice mouthfeel that is just what I look for in these kind of beers.

Overall I thought this was a pretty good beer and a solid example of a American Wild Ale, it had just enough tartness to that is a little sour and it wasn't as acidic as some Wild Ales can beer so I thought the balance was pretty nice. This beer beer had very nice drinkability, it was smooth, crisp, not too acidic, a little refreshing, not too filling and the taste did a good job at holding my attention, this is a nice beer to split, but I would have no problem drinking a whole bottle to myself and I think it would make for a good beer to enjoy when it's warmer outside. What I liked the most about this beer was the mouthfeel, the balance, and the drinkability, those three things are what made this beer as good as it. What I liked the least about this beer was nothing, there isn't anything that I could think that could improve this beer, but I wouldn't mind if it was a couple dollars cheaper. I would for sure buy this beer again and I would like to get a bottle to put in the cellar so I can see how it changes over time and I would recommend this to anyone who likes American Wild Ales and beers that are on the funky and tart side, it might even make for a good beer to introduce someone to the style. All in all I enjoyed this beer, that wasn't always the case, but now that I've got a taste for these types of beers I am really starting to appreciate how good and unique Jolly Pumpkin is. It's not my favorite Jolly Pumpkin beer or American Wild Ale, but it's far away from being my least favorite. Good job guys, keep doing your thing Jolly Pumpkin.

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Photo of Axnjxn
4.16/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11-29-11 bottling date into a tulip.

dark murky brown color, slight head. smell is slightly sour...its reminiscent of other jolly pumpkin beers and has that distinguished scent. taste starts out slightly tart and has a good amount of oak characteristics to it. funkiness has really mellowed out. mild body with mild carbonation.

another great sour from jolly pumpkin!

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Photo of Copernicandream
3.19/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

750 mL bottle, poured into tulip.

A: Rich red amber color, minimal to absent head. Relatively transparent for an unfiltered beer.

S: Sour, oak, earth tones (which to me is wet leaves)

T: Underwhelming. I get little more than a dry tart on the front end with a mellow souring in the rear. Hoping for a little more fruit and some more funk. Oak, tannins, mild unidentifiable (cherry/plum?) sour fruit.

M: Light and crisp, mild carbonation.

O: Underwhelmed, neither fruity nor complex sour. The more I drink the more tannin I taste, as I finished the bottle I was left with the sense of a over-oaked flanders. It's not bad by any means, but I would recommend others in the same genre far earlier.

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La Roja from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
89 out of 100 based on 781 ratings.