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La Roja | Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

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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 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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Photo of babaracas
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a hazy copper with amber edges, one finger thick cream colored head; rings of lace down the glass. Smell: tart stone fruit, raspberry, lots of oak character, big caramel hit buried beneath. Taste: tart stone fruit, tart berry, caramel apple, baking spices, oaky. Perfect blend of sugars, creamy carb, acid, barrel heavy finish. Impressive! 9/13 bottling.

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Photo of draheim
3.7/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

750mL into a tulip. Cap comes off with a limp, disappointing pfft. Pours a rich amber w/ a minimal off-white head.

Aroma is a little tart, kind of sweet, lots of oak. Smells like a Flanders red to me.

Taste is a blend of sweet amber malt, tons of dry barrel oak, some vague spices and a mild, tangy acidity.

Mouthfeel is a little thin, watery, almost flat. Carbonation is there, but it's not helping much. Finishes semi-dry.

Overall an OK beer but nothing extraordinary. TIhis is classified as an American wild but I'm pretty sure they were going for a Flanders red here. Falls well short of the classics in the style.

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Photo of bmwats
3.91/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a teku.

A: Brown with a ruby tint. Pours a 1 finger, bubbly brownish head. Dissipates pretty quickly, but a bubbly blanket of carbonation persists on the surface. Thick, persistent, spider web lacing.

S: Woody grain, raspberry is prominent, with hints of banana. Floral.

T: Fermented raspberry. Bitter, earthy, yeasty grain notes. A little fresh flora.

M: Sour and bitter with no sweet balance to speak of. A little biting.

D: Sip and enjoy.

Atmosphere is really great. Brown ruby hue, slight head, remaining carbonation, and persistent distinct lacing. Nose is woody and floral with fruit notes, most notably raspberry. Bitter fruit, yeasty, and earthy. Sour with little sweet balance and a biting finish. Overall, this is a good quaff.

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Photo of inlimbo77
3.77/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750ml, No date
Hill Farmstead

A: Pours fairly clear almost vibrant glowing red. Color of off white bubbles. Almost still.

S: Tart cherry. Oak. Tannic. Dry. Funk. Vanilla. Wood.

T: Not a abruptly sour as I was expecting. You get a little hit of tart cherry character up front. Not like other American Flanders Red ales. Pulling more amber flavors: a little caramel and vanilla. Definitely some earthly tones too. Finish is dry. Not as dry as others (recurrent theme).

M: Lighter side of medium. More carb would help.

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Photo of bamarado
3.18/5  rDev -20.3%
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.

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Photo of joeseppy
4/5  rDev +0.3%
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!

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Photo of schwemjw
4/5  rDev +0.3%
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

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Photo of LeeryLeprechaun
3.89/5  rDev -2.5%
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.

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Photo of jrenihan
3.92/5  rDev -1.8%
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.

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%
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.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
3.68/5  rDev -7.8%
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.

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Photo of DonDirkA
4.67/5  rDev +17%
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.

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Photo of Maxwell
3.56/5  rDev -10.8%
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.

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Photo of GonzoHomebrewer
3.93/5  rDev -1.5%
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

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Photo of Zach136
3.91/5  rDev -2%
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.

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Photo of MCain04
4.07/5  rDev +2%
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.

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Photo of MighHighBrewer
3.29/5  rDev -17.5%
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.

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Photo of yamar68
4.13/5  rDev +3.5%
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!

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Photo of alaimoa
3.78/5  rDev -5.3%
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

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Photo of hopsputin
4.37/5  rDev +9.5%
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.

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Photo of hagbergl
3.99/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of SHODriver
4.16/5  rDev +4.3%
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.

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