La Roja - Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

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La RojaLa Roja

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very good

777 Reviews
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Reviews: 777
Hads: 1,897
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 11.31%
Wants: 165
Gots: 317 | FT: 25
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.
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Reviews: 777 | Hads: 1,897
Photo of bamarado
3.18/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Ok, I'm not trying to say I'm an expert, but many of you need to reevaluate your scoring. All I read about this beer is that it's mediocre, underwhelming, so-so... But you all still manage to give it a 4. 3 is OKAY, so do the math... 4 means it's good. It is ok, not the best, but... Just judge accordingly. (307 characters)

Photo of joeseppy
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a rouge with off white head that quickly recedes to the edges and then like mist on an ocean-she gone.

Aromas of apple cider, stone fruit, green apples, mash cherries, Twizzlers and sour patch candy.

Initial taste is tame and subdued. Definitely needs to come up to temperature for the flavours to open up. Apple cider vinegar and sour cherry candy. Maybe a bit-o-kraut. In the back of the palate a taste of multi-vitamin coating-minerals and earth, but not enough to make it unappealable , jus saying.

Lighter body with a dry crisp finish. Would like to see the carbonation stick around to make this sparkle.

Very approachable and unassuming. Nice level of sour/tart for all levels. Very good! (705 characters)

Photo of schwemjw
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: dark amber, slight reddish copper. no head but when swirled a white fluffy head appears

S: very wine like with toast, caramel and funky citrus. smell comes off slightly tart. a little vinegar and sttong yeast.

T: not as tart as I expected. full caramelized toast. strong pead and oak qualities. a slight smoke quality and some acid. a bit of tart green apple and a little vineous.

m: pretty light. low to medium carbonation but it works. finish an
seems very fast.

o: overall I enjoyed this one. wish it was a little more tart but the amber base was great. /87 (567 characters)

Photo of LeeryLeprechaun
3.89/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Beer pours slightly cloudy and orange red in color. Poor head and no head retention.

Tropical spices in the nose. A little bit of funk.

A little funky and spices come through. Tart finish but an odd aftertaste from the spice and tartness.

Medium body.

A unique beer. I don't love the spices in the finish. I do like that it is so different. (345 characters)

Photo of jrenihan
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Blend 13, bottled May 24, 2013

Colour is a somewhat murky dark copper. Small beige head fades quickly.

Nose contains a balsamic vinegar tartness, cherry, caramel, oak and vinous fruit scents.

Taste has quite a bit of oak and balsamic vinegar. Quite acidic. Cherry and caramel. Some spices. The oak is a bit heavy, which detracts. Very dry.

Full bodied, moderate carbonation. Fairly astringent.

Overall, pretty good, but I find the flavours somewhat unbalanced. Perhaps it improves with a longer time in the bottle. (521 characters)

Photo of AgentMunky
3.5/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured from a 750mL bottle into a Koningshoeven chalice. Blend 20. Bottled 12-31-2012.

A: Little head. Heavy tracing. Murky red-amber.

S: Fruity and delicious. Lightly and pleasantly tart.

T: It's alright. It lacks a sour punch, and is also devoid of fruity sweetness. Sort of a muddled, meh-ish affair. Certainly not the Flemish one the label promised.

M: Moderately pleasant.

O: I was not crazy about it. Not recommended. (428 characters)

Photo of VelvetExtract
3.68/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours a turbid reddish brown. Head is hard to judge in my small, plastic sample cup.

S-Not exceptionally sour or funky here. Fruity and sweet, malty caramel. A bit of oak. Not too intense but pleasant.

T-Flavor is lightly tart and malty. Hints of oak. Cherries. Not going to wow you but its tasty nonetheless.

M-A bit thin. Soft carbonation.

O/D-I wasn't very enamored with this one. I would revisit it again though and maybe rejudge. (440 characters)

Photo of DonDirkA
4.67/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

The nose has a ton of sour cherries, oak, caramel, earthy notes, vanilla, bourbon, tart grapes and just a bit of spice (cinnamon?). The taste is really strong on the bourbon and oak flavors which are immediately followed by mildly sour cherries, some grape notes, some earthy notes, a bit of citrus and a nice, dry finish. It has a full body for the style (lended to it by the oak, I think) with a medium amount of carbonation and a clean, dry finish. Just the right balance of body and tartness. Pretty awesome. My favorite Jolly Pumpkin so far. (546 characters)

Photo of Maxwell
3.56/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

As I crack the cork, this beer is a gusher. Like a geyser, this liquid is out of the bottle, and I see some of my well bought booze ooze onto the table. The geyser was quickly stopped after the first pour, but I would like to warn others to its gushing potential. The beer pours a deep, caramelized, burgundy color with very light orange hints. It pours with a fair head of medium sized, lightly yellowing bubbles that fizzle down to about a quarter of a finger’s width. In the light the beer is like a ruby red grapefruit color, with a dark, opaque body that seems a bit murky, but does show some nice, lazy bubbles running to the head. The head leaves a light lacing of spatter marks on the sides of the glass. On the nose, the beer smells of a tart, earthy must. As the scent lingers in the nostrils I get more distinct notes of cherry and leather, much akin to a Flanders red, but subtler. A creamy, scentless sense seems to dominate the nose, which is a little bewildering to me. Even subtler than the funk is soft vanilla and oak. As the beer breathes, distinct lactic scents travel up from the glass to give the feel of a subtle Flanders red. This smells good but I want more of it! On the tongue, the beer tastes a bit like a muddled mess. Almost middling tart acidity moves bad funk notes with an odd, light bitterness that moves into smooth tannic bitterness, while a light, earthy salinity touches over the tongue. The sweet, caramelly malt in the background is nice but a bit watery, leaving the beer without the balance of the great Flanders reds. In flavor, the beer begins as tart, green apple with a bit of basement must. The must grows to an unpleasant funk with plastic and medicinal notes to it. Within the must there are intriguing hints of grass, hay, and loamy dirt, but these get caught up and jumbled into an odd sweetness, falling into a less desirable flavors. The finish is of a rotting forest floor with musty leaves intertwining with decay and soft caramel notes, and the aftertaste is nice tannic oak with vanilla and very faint, light roast coffee. This beer has a lot of potential, but just does not seem to pull its parts together. In the mouth the beer feels on the light side of medium in body with a thin, lightly-watery mouthfeel that doesn’t fit the style well. Carbonation is soft and smooth, and actually quite nice, though surprising given my bottles gushing opening. The mouth is left fairly clean accept for light acid-canceling saliva. Overall, this beer is a bit of a letdown. It has subtlety and grace in the nose, but it muddles everything in the taste and never quite weaves them together. I wonder if a bit more time in the bottle might have aided the beer along. The beer does get better as you drink it, and does have some interesting points for a seasoned sour/wild/etc… drinker, but is definitely not a beginner’s beer. The more I drink of it the more I note a definite oaky tannin to the taste, which I actually deeply appreciate but it doesn’t seem to work with the rest of the beer. I’m happy I tried it, and I hope it gets better in future batches, or perhaps with age, but for the time being I would say it is not good enough for its price point. (3,216 characters)

Photo of GonzoHomebrewer
3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

bottled 4-25-13

A- dark rustic amber body with a thin wispy

S- leather, tobacco, oak, acidic vinegar background

T- acidic vinegar bite dominates the notes found in the nose, finishes kind of oaky

M- thin, with prickly carbonation

O- not a bad beer when taken just as an american wild ale, but relative to true flemish reds, you're better off with a rodenbach/grandcru/vintage (381 characters)

Photo of Zach136
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750ml bottle, poured into a Duvel Tulip. Batch 6 bottled May 2011. Reviewed live.

A - Pours a nice copper, small white rad that dissipates quickly and leaves no lacing. Typical of sours.

S - This beer smells absolutely amazing. Tart lacto-base tingle comes through backed up with a deep sweet cherry. Slight hint of oak.

T - Huge letdown compared to the amazing nose. Barely tart. Unfortunately it's a touch oxidized, oak is also present, some date and hint of cherry still shine through... Wish I had tried this one fresher.

M - Very typical. Nice and dry.

O - Hard to really judge this brew as my only take is 2 years old and IMO slightly past it's prime. Then again I was lead to believe this was "cellared" at a distributors and/or importer's warehouse -- probably not under ideal conditions. Not a bad beer by Ny means but I won't be going back to the shop for seconds. (879 characters)

Photo of MCain04
4.07/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

FInally getting around to trying this one, 750ml bottle for $15, batch 7, 04/09/13. Poured into Hill Farmstead stemware.

Pours a murky orange-brown with minimal tan head, average retention.

Smells like a green-apple pie. Sour green apple, sweet red apple, vanilla, cinnamon, chardonnay grapes.

Tart green apple taste, not too funky, crisp and dry at first, some lactic acid, sort of a mellow body, cinnamon and spices linger with an oaky aftertaste coming in on the back end. Very good, but it seems like a significant portion of the middle of the taste is watery and without definition, and not a lot of barrel character.

Feels crisp and dry, smooth, refreshing, perfectly med-high carbonated.

Overall, great flavors make this a really enjoyable experience. Not the most sour of sours, and a bit of a let down on the barrel character, but over still a very nice beer that I'd be happy to enjoy again. (906 characters)

Photo of MighHighBrewer
3.29/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Batch 8 poured into tulip and tasted on 6/27/13.

A: La Roja pours a dark ruby red - almost purple - color that is inviting to sour fans. No head is apparent upon pour, but the beer demonstrates good to excellent lacing. The beer is not transparent as I expected - I'm unsure if it's due to the color or tiny particles of sediment present in the beer. Overall, an impressive looking brew.

S: Oak barrel, green apple, and sour cherry smells dominate the nose. Some barnyard funkiness present, but not overwhelmingly so. This is a very fruit-forward nose compared to other Flanders Reds I've tried, which tend to be funkier than this brew.

T &M: Green apple, grapefruit and red vinegar notes are prominent. I get some of the oak barrel that's apparent in the nose, but not much (and not enough IMHO). The taste is much too balsamic vinegar for my taste. It is much too tart without being truly sour. IMHO, it just doesn't come together like a great wild ale should.

O: I was disappointed in this beer. Compared to the wild ales produced by Crooked Stave, RR, Cascade, etc this one falls short. It's much too tart fruit forward without any real oak or lacto to balance it out. I've heard from my friends that previous batches of this beer were outstanding, but Batch 8 just reminds me of a tart, balsamic vinegar bomb. A decent wild ale - wish it were cheaper. (1,360 characters)

Photo of yamar68
4.13/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Another tasty treat from alelover - 2013 vintage:

Honey amber body with a creamy half finger of pale khaki.

Bright sour fruits countered with nutty spice and dry hops.

Tobacco earthiness, mildly sour, some papery malt flavors, a touch of spice. Really nice. I'm not always crazy about Flanders style beers, but this is tasting great.

Thanks Joel! (351 characters)

Photo of alaimoa
3.78/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

La Roja bottled in February 2013.
Appearance: deep amber/reddish brown with limited bubbles that don't linger too long.
Smells of champagne sourness with spiced apple
Tastes sour apple, grape, earthy notes. Fairly deep with complexity and lots of carbonated bubbles
Overall this beer has many layers of flavor and a Good/Great wild that I would buy again (354 characters)

Photo of hopsputin
4.37/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

bottled 12/26/12 drank 5/31/13

a: dark amber, mahogany, orange, burnt camamel. 2 finger off white head that fades relatively quickly

s: apple cider vinegar, tart cherries, oak, plums, sweet malt, some vanilla. a nice earthy aroma

t: not too tart at all - this is really smooth. caramel malt, real nice oak flavors. there is a nice cherry flavor here with only minimal tartness. the oak gives a nice smooth vanilla. on the back end there is something like grape juice.

m: lighter side of medium

o: i'm a fan. there is some tartness here, but nothing off the charts. there is a really nice harmonization of tart and malt sweetness. real nice cherry and oaky vanilla tastes here. its not incredibly complex, but the flavors that are there work real well. (756 characters)

Photo of hagbergl
3.99/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bought a 750 mL bottle of Jolly Pumpkin's La Roja at Downtown Wine & Spirits in Somerville, MA. Poured into my Dogfish Head snifter.

Appearance (4.25/5): La Roja is unusual for a Flanders-style sour red ale because of its white head (I'm used to off-white or khaki colored head on beers of this style). It has a reddish-brown color with red highlights. Very cloudy, as you'd expect from a Belgian-inspired, bottle-conditioned, yeasty beer like this one.

Smell (4/5): Smell is fairly typical of Flanders Reds, perhaps a little less acidic/vinegary than others. Some tart cherries, lightly apple-like, winey/vinous and some oak barrel aromas are worked in, too. I would say the aroma on La Roja is muted relative to standouts of the style (like Rodenbach Grand Cru), and in this way it reminds me of Monk's Café. Solid aroma, nothing offensive here, but also nothing that really "wows" me.

Taste (4/5): Tart and acidic in the foretaste but doesn't linger too long. Mellows and left with some barrel woody and leathery qualities. Wine like and cranberry and red apple flavors. This one is a tad muted, and thus not the most impressive example of the style. Beautiful woody aftertaste. Gets more tart and full flavored with warmth.

Mouthfeel (3.75/5): Smooth mouthfeel. Light puckering. The beer could have had a little more "bite" and carbonation to it. This may seem like a minor quibble, but it's not; a tart beer like this needs a good level of carbonation to make the mouthfeel and flavors really "pop."

Overall (4/5): Jolly Pumpkin's La Roja certainly is a good beer, but it's a tad expensive for what you're getting. A Belgian import like Rodenbach Grand Cru is a better value. If you prefer your Flanders Red Ales very sour like I do, La Roja isn't exactly the ticket for a sourness-fix. It has complexity for sure, but if you expected a puckering palate walloping, this is not the beer that'll do it for you. La Roja is an easy-going Flanders Red. (1,963 characters)

Photo of SHODriver
4.16/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: poured into a duvel tulip to a reddish brown with a small white head that fades quickly
S: smells of sour cherry and lactic sourness with a hint of sweetness
T: tartness, band aids and funk up front with some sour fruitiness, a hint of oak and a slight barnyardy quality. swallow is more tartness, some bretty chalky flavor and a lingering lactic acid finish
M: lighter side of medium with soft carbonation from bottle conditioning. sour finish but surprisingly not drying
O: a finely crafted beer with loads of flavor without being overly sour. (548 characters)

Photo of garuda
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - Cloudy amber, thin head has no retention and no lace.

S/T - Sour cherry, oak barrel, vanilla, rich caramel sweetness.

M - A little heavy, low carbonation. Finishes crisp and clean, but no lasting flavors in the aftertaste.

O - Pretty good for a readily available, barrel aged year round wild ale. Sits a little heavy on the palate and lacks depth of flavor in the aftertaste, which other beers in the style seem to have. (427 characters)

Photo of facundoCNB
4.19/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

a murky amber pour with a thin ring of white foam.. not the best looking beer i've poured. smells of funky brett, grapes, cherries, oak, vanilla, caramel... smells are all over the place but honestly seems to work out. oh that's nice and sour :) like green apples .. lots of cherry sourness up front, a little bit of wine flavor, definitely getting barrel flavors in the finish with a lingering tartness from the fruit. a nice caramel backbone to back it all up as well.

nice and tart, medium body, mild carbonation. this is an awesome example of an american sour ale. wasn't sure if i'd be a fan of all the barrel aged flavors in this but they worked out perfectly. looking forward to throwing the yeast dregs into my homebrew and seeing what happens. (753 characters)

Photo of tectactoe
4.06/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

La Roja pours a light-ish ruby red color with some copper tints popping out here and there. Translucent with a slight clarity as light busts through without much of a problem. A slightly foamy, beige head bubbles up and perches at about a quarter-inch, but fades to nothing but a ring relatively quickly.

Tart cherries make up a large portion of the aroma here; sour, juicy, and very fruit forward. It's a nice, clean smell - freshly picked and overly juice cherries, rather than syrupy and medicinal. Pungent, lively, and in-your-face. There might also be a little bit of a grape aroma, borderline vinous, but I'm really getting mostly cherries from this. Very light oak in the background but no real discernable funk or barnyard - at least not right away.

As expected, the taste is lightly tart up front but not too heavy - not quite puckering or lip-smacking, just a few notches below that. Cherries are abundant, but the grapes come out much more on the palate, and La Roja actually does have a strong vinous character to it. Oaky and woody notes come out big-time, especially near the latter half of the sip. Light yeast and funk notes come out a bit, too, but not as heavy as many of Jolly Pumpkin's other offerings. Oak and sweet cherry aftertaste, dry and carbonated heavily.

A solid offering from Jolly Pumpkin and a relatively "easy going" sour/wild ale that would be nice to easy newbies into the style without scaring them away. (1,443 characters)

Photo of Wolfpack2005
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Blend 16. Bottled 8-30-2011

A-Poured a nice dark hazy amber with minimal head that doesn't hang around

S-Tart lemons, cherries, malt vinegar and a little barnyard funk.

T- A sweet and sour vinegar flavor upfront that is on the lighter side. Hints of lemons and cherries just like the nose. An oaky funk from the oak barrels maintains a presence throughout.

M-Light-medium body with a slight sharpness and moderate levels of carbonation.

O-Nice beer, sort of a Flanders Red light, not over powering and very drinkable. (525 characters)

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.65/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Found this review on a sticky note behind my phone case! I need a better system...
750 mL bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled 7/11/11.

Appearance - Pours a clean amber. Small off-white head with decent retention.

Smell - Acetic acidity with a malty presence. Reminds me of a light Flanders Red.

Taste - Bright lemon acidity. Very brief. Turns a touch vinegary as the maltiness comes through. Finishes with all sorts of muddy sour flavors.

Mouthfeel - Very light. I expected and maybe wanted a heavier malt presence.

Overall - Much better than other JP beers. I was beginning to lose faith as all of them started tasting the same to me. This one has a variety of sour flavors, even if it seems muddled and unclean. (720 characters)

Photo of UnderPressure
4.04/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

La roja

Hazy dark copper with a decwnt size lingering head.

Sharp, pungent sour aroma. Dark fruit, raisins. Some vinegar like aroma.

The flavor is malty and sweet along with the sour. The sourness doesn't linger like I wish it would.

A surprisingly clean finish. (266 characters)

Photo of davey101
3.61/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage unknown, but seeing as this is the older style bottle and CT hasn't seen JP in about two years this has to be a few years old. 750 ml crowned bottle into a tulip glass. In typical JP fashion, this was a huge gush over.

A - Pours a murky red/brown body. Tons of frothy off white foam just clings to the side, pretty ridiculous level of retention. The foam almost has a cherry pink hue to it while swirling.

S - Cherries, lactic vinegar, oak, and vanilla. A touch of alcohol burn on the finish. A bit more pronounced oak than a standard Flemish bruin/red. Has a distinct sour twang on the end. Quite nice.

T - Surprisingly muted and thin. Cherries and oak followed by an off putting taste that isn't quite vinegar....rubber perhaps? Finish is clean with no lasting aftertaste or mouth puckering'ness. In fact this isn't even that sour at all. Boring and lacking.

M - Thin to medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

O - Age has not done the wonders to this beer that I was hoping for. I'm going to have to revisit this with a fresh example. This vintage whatever it may just average. (1,103 characters)

La Roja from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
89 out of 100 based on 777 ratings.