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La Roja | Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

very good
784 Reviews
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La RojaLa Roja

Brewed by:
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
Michigan, United States | website

Style: American Wild Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.20%

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.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-14-2004

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Reviews: 784 | Ratings: 1,947
Photo of Goblinmunkey7
3.98/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: Slight haze on a dark copper/reddish-brown. Head is almost non-existent after a few seconds. An aggressive pour generates a small light khaki fizzy head. No lacing. Minimal carbonation on the pour.

Smell: Oak, lots of oak. A powdery yeast as well. Slightly caramelized malts. Some bready elements as well. Pushes a touch lactic and acetic. A balanced tart nose. Some musty basement and damp earth. Soft estery spice as well. Cherry skin and well worn leather. Green branches and more oak. A hint of butterscotch and some red apple. Mild breadiness as well. Soil...fresh turned earth.

Taste: Oak and leather abound. The oak runs the gamut from fresh and clean to damp and musty and well worn. Dry leather. Cherry skin and a touch of cherry flesh. Very mild acetic push on the initial sip. Grows a touch as it warms. Vague sort of lactic element as well. Some lemon juice. Malts add a balancing sweetness with some caramelized sugars and a very faint brown bread. Clean with some powdery yeast on the back. Warming pushes cherry up a bit more with some generic darker berry in the back.

Mouthfeel: Medium to light body. Light carbonation. A touch of astringency. Slightly slick mouthfeel on the initial sip.

Overall: Taylor Swift wrote about this beer.

Damp and oaky and delightful.

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Photo of guityler83
3.81/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Milky white head with large bubbles, didn’t persist. Deep crimson red with with a slight marmalade orange hue. Hazy look when held to a light (after leaving the dregs in the bottle).

S: Medium funky brett with barn yard and wet hay. Cherry pie filling mixed with soft oak and a sweet tart bite. Balanced and complex. Mild toasty, pie crust melenoidins support the backbone.

T: Medium-low cherry tartness that leads to a hefty oak burst - clean, lumber like with slight vanilla. Funky brett character supplies complexity to the middle with hay, straw and grassy character. Pie crust, burnt toast and caramel round out the finish. The balance is on the side of the brett and oak with an overall mild sweetness.

M: Very low carbonation - nearly still. Light tannic quality with the level of oak coming through. The sourness gives the tongue a nice refreshing bite as its sipped.

O: A funkier, oakier version of the Flanders Red style. I enjoyed the complexity the brett provided through it would have been interesting too cellar this for longer.

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Photo of Franck
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%

Smell: brett yeast, lemon, red cherry. Seems to be very funky.
Taste is so good. Not so sour compared to traditional flanders ales. Light tartness, aromas of cherry and rasberry. Hint of lemon, oak and alcohol. Medium carbonation.
Bitterness is mild-sour, slightly bitter and moderated.
Another great beer by JP

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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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La Roja from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
89 out of 100 based on 784 ratings.