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Maracaibo Especial - Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

Not Rated.
Maracaibo EspecialMaracaibo Especial

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

671 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 671
Reviews: 307
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 11.87%
Wants: 49
Gots: 60 | FT: 4
Brewed by:
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Brown Ale |  7.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: marburg on 02-28-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 671 | Reviews: 307 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
3.7/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I was surprised on how sour this was. I know the brewery is fooling with wild yeast strains, but this was gushing white. Lambic aroma vinegar. The others who shared the bottle gave great reviews so I am pressing ahead with my impressions. Hypnotic effect for those used to sour beers in terms of drinkablility, it wasn't a cantillon but the sourness overpowered the spiciness.

Sammy, Dec 08, 2006
Photo of t0rin0
3.5/5  rDev -11.6%

t0rin0, Oct 17, 2012
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.78/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 11/25/13. Batch 206/208.

Pours a murky orange-brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Tiny chunks of sediment are seen floating around in the beer after the pour. Smell is sour with malt, cocoa, spice, cherry, funk, and acidic aromas. Taste is much the same with sour malt, cherry, vinegar, funk, and acidic flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of acidity on the palate with each sip. This beer has a high level of carbonation with a crisp and prickly mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with cocoa and spice qualities in the aroma, but the taste is mainly sour fruit and funk.

Serving type: bottle.

UCLABrewN84, Oct 02, 2014
Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev +1%

djrn2, Nov 20, 2011
Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev -5.3%

zestar, Jul 19, 2014
Photo of spycow
3.5/5  rDev -11.6%

spycow, Mar 09, 2013
Photo of Thorpe429
3.63/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle picked up at Connecticut Avenue in DC.

Blend 4; bottled November 19, 2010. Served in a Jolly Pumpkin tulip.

Pours a clear chestnut brown color with a single-finger off-white head and some good lacing on the way down. Thin cap throughout. The nose has a bit of cocoa as well as some mild earthiness. Just a touch of funk in the background.

The flavor has a bit of dark cocoa. There's a bit of light oak and earthiness toward the back. Not nearly as much going on as other Jolly Pumpkin beers; this is more "normal." It's a pretty good brew, but there's nothing there to take the complexity to the next level.

Thorpe429, Jan 30, 2012
Photo of acurtis
3.25/5  rDev -17.9%

acurtis, Aug 31, 2013
Photo of metter98
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is hazy amber in color and has a light amount of carbonation. It poured with a two finger high dense beige head that died down but consistently left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface along with lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: The nose has a slight amount of sourness, which also has aromas of orange peel and cinnamon.
T: Like the smell, the taste is a little sour and has orangey flavors along with some hints of cinnamon and oak.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is very easy to drink with all of the interesting flavors, but it's really easy to drink because any traces of alcohol are well hidden.

metter98, Mar 19, 2011
Photo of Texasfan549
4/5  rDev +1%

Texasfan549, Aug 15, 2012
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.53/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Rusted orange peel with bright Sunkist borders. The large crown is the color of ice cream to which orange juice and cinnamon have been added. Since sweet orange peel and cinnamon are used in this 'Special Brown Ale', that's only fitting. The cap is almost Belgian-like in character and deposits a respectable amount of sea foam lace.

I like the nose because I like Brettanomyces. I'm tempted to score it one notch lower, though, because the things that I believe make Maracaibo Especial distinctive (cacao, cinnamon and orange), (or at least have a chance to), don't have a prayer of being appreciated given all the funk. It better be a different story on the palate.

When I first learned of Maracaibo's Especial's ingredients, I was intrigued. I'm pretty sure I've never had a Belgian-inspired brown ale that uses this combination of fruit and spice. The sad thing is, it doesn't matter because the brewer is in love with light-bodied, sharply carbonated, sour, acidic, dry (in other words, highly attenuated beer)... and I'm not.

If I can get my taste buds to filter out the funk (a near impossible task) I can sorta see what this beer is trying to be. It's clearly brown malty, as opposed to pale or roasted, and has the suggestion of cocoa (make that 'cacao'). There's a warm spiciness that isn't identifiable as cinnamon and a puckery citric fruit zestiness that isn't identifiable as orange. In addition, the flavor profile contains as much wood as your average Upper Peninsula forest. Again, the Brett razes everything in its path, effectively eliminating any chance at depth or complexity.

Simply put, I don't care for the way JP beer feels in the mouth. I respect it, I just don't like it. See several paragraphs above for the specifics. If others love it, more power to 'em.

Maracaibo Especial (and the rest of the Jolly Pumpkin lineup) strikes me as 'no compromises' kind of beer. It seems as though the brewer has a particular vision that he doesn't care to deviate from. Hey Ron, would it kill you to ease off the funk and to allow some of the malt sugars to make it to the end product?

BuckeyeNation, Jul 20, 2007
Photo of BEERchitect
4.43/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Typical of Jolly Pumpkin in that they take a terrific style of beer and improve it. What would be a solid Belgian-style Brown Ale, became a balances sweet/tart, malty/vineous, woodsy/clean Sour Brown. Spicy and sweet from the right from the start, but quickly evolves into an under-rippened berry tartness, shrarply acidit and with dusty must with Flander's Red-like acetic sourness, toasty malt, and peppercorn bite. Lightly hopped for added bitterness and earthy grass notes. Amazingly holds onto a light toast (almost cocoa) flavor and firm creaminess despite the alcohol and modest astringency. Another true challenge for the tastebuds. An amazingly well crafted Sour Brown ale that draws inspiration from Belgium but made in America.

BEERchitect, Mar 16, 2006
Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev +1%

kjkinsey, Dec 02, 2011
Photo of Phyl21ca
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Kryptic: Poured a hazy brown color ale with a bug light brown color head with great retention and great lacing. Aroma of funky yeast with some brett-like aroma with some sour and tart notes. Taste is also dominated by sour notes with loads of oak and barnyard-like notes. Minimum filtration with great carbonation and no apparent alcohol. I really enjoyed again the wild taste of the JP beers but cannot say that I detected much cinnamon or cacao.

Phyl21ca, May 15, 2008
Photo of GRG1313
3/5  rDev -24.2%

GRG1313, Jul 23, 2014
Photo of jaydoc
3.5/5  rDev -11.6%

jaydoc, Aug 31, 2013
Photo of womencantsail
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: The pour is an interesting mix of orange and brown with a fluffy off-white head.

S: A surprising amount of oak, apples, a bit of chocolate, cherry, and only a mild tartness.

T: The cherries are probably the most prominent fruit to go along with the mild tart flavor and a moderate level of funk. There's quite a bit of oak in the flavor too and lends a very dry feeling to the beer.

M: As noted before, the high presence of oak makes the beer fairly tannic and dry. I enjoyed this, my girlfriend did not.

D: Another interesting offering from Jolly Pumpkin. Certainly not my favorite, but I'd definitely give it another try and I'd like to see how it might develop with some age.

womencantsail, Jan 05, 2010
Photo of kylehay2004
4.28/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Single finger head with excellent lacing on a murky copper body. Aroma of tart dark fruit, caramel and toasted malts, breads and candied citrus. Flavor follows very well with caramel, candied fruits, brown sugar and bready malts. Light to medium body, oily and light to medium carbonation. Almost has the sense of a brown blended with a sour beer. By the time I finished this one I loved it and wanted another. A very nice and complex brew. It's just a little too thin for me.

kylehay2004, Dec 25, 2012
Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle - $13.99 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Blend 1 - Bottled 11-9-10.

Appearance: Dispenses a clouded, medium-brown body with a tall, gushing, slowly receding, off-white head.

Smell: Presents a slow shambling toasted, molded bread maltiness and toasted, earth-strewn nuts with a quick snap of phenols bringing one to attention, then, the cacao and cinnamon slips past followed by ripe fruits, a even little berry.

Taste: Toasted maltiness, slight caramel sweetness, and with more chocolate flavor than I'd ever have expected. Pinch of cinnamon, but also a clovesque, peppery note alongside acedic berries soothed with umeshu. Becomes predominately earthy and acidic as it progresses. Finishes with a flourish of engaging, burp-inducing carbonation.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body. High carbonation.

Overall: As always, it’s another weird, wild ride from Jolly Pumpkin.

ChainGangGuy, Oct 31, 2012
Photo of JAHMUR
4/5  rDev +1%

JAHMUR, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of largadeer
4.38/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Murky turbid brown with a massive 3 finger head that lasts and lasts.

Smell: Bretty funk with undertones of cinnamon and cacao. The spices come out more as the beer warms, but never to the point of overpowering the funk.

Taste & mouthfeel: Cacao and cinnamon are the first flavors tasted before the funk and tartness consume the palate. The mouthfeel is dry and highly carbonated, a common characteristic with Jolly Pumpkin beers. Cinnamon and cacao appear again in the finish, lingering for a moment along side the drying tartness.

Notes: Excellent stuff, one of the better JP offerings I've tried.

largadeer, Apr 02, 2008
Photo of emerge077
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Anticipating foam, I opened the bottle and poured quickly. Only a plume of gunsmoke escaped from under the cap. It poured a deep chestnut color, with reddish highlights. Not opaque, but very effervescent. Sandy foam and lacing stuck around for the duration of the bottle.

Notes of oak, spice, fig, and apple in the nose. Very pleasant aroma.

Taste is moderately complex, a blend of tart to sour apple from wild yeast, figs, raisin, mystery spice, and dry caçao nibs. Slightly roasty malt in the middle. The finish is dry, but it seems more attributed to the yeast or chocolate aspects than to oak barrel aging. One bottle goes down easily, and it becomes slightly more mild as it warms up to room temp. The carbonation isn't too overdone, but gives a lighter balance to the richer flavors.

Strangely enough, once the bottle is empty, it's still halfway full of foam...

A winner from JP...

emerge077, Nov 08, 2006
Photo of biboergosum
3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

750ml bottle, part of a gaggle of new offerings from this brewery now available in Alberta, after their introductory onslaught a couple of years ago.

This beer pours a hazy, verging on dark bronzed amber colour, with four fingers of puffy, loosely foamy, and frothy beige head, which leaves a bit of sudsy rock outreach lace around the glass as it evenly bleeds away.

It smells of sour, fairly yeasty pale grain, bittersweet cocoa powder, a touch of gingerbread - one heavy on the cinnamon, natch - and somewhat stale blood orange and random grocery aisle melon fruitiness. The taste is rather tart toasted grainy malt, further sour bacterial/yeast notes, wheat crackers, dry chocolate wafers, wet tobacco, bar-top nuts, muddled orange, cherry and lemon acidity, damp, almost dank wood, and musty floral, earthy, and weedy hops.

The bubbles are a bit tight in their manifestation as a not-quite fully dull sword, the body a sturdy medium weight, and not un-smooth, sort of just barren, in a good way, if that makes any sense. It finishes off-dry, the yeastiness driving the show, with some vinous fruitiness (not necessarily grapes, just wine-like overall), toasted caramel malt, and floral, perfumed hops putting a dot on it.

Not yer standard American Brown Ale (it does say 'special', right on the label), that much is certain right off the bat - the yeast and guest spices taking that bow of mea culpa - but it all seems to slowly work towards a common goal of good taste and whatnot, as the cocoa and spices, even, blend into the base brown ale more or less behind the scenes, and the funk slowly, but surely trails off by the end. As usual, this brewery's beers are pretty hard to categorize or pigeonhole, and, well, all the power to them.

biboergosum, May 29, 2014
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 349 Maricaibo Especial pours a very dark chestnut-colored body that hints at notes of crimson and orange, but never quite makes it there. The full glass sitting on the bar, however, displays a reddish dark-mahogany. The head is initially frothy but settles quickly to become a creamy yellowed-white pillow. As might be expected, the head retention is quite good and the lacing is fantastic.

In the nose, cloves appear right up-front, almost bubblegum-like, and then quickly dissipate. They're followed by tart notes, and then further tones of wet leather, minerals and oil, and thin shears of metal. Subtle spices arise, mixed with fruit, but they never become quite clear.

In the mouth it's medium-bodied, and gently-zesty-then-creamy as it warms across the palate.

The flavor is a broad spectrum of changing flavors as it warms and your taste buds become accustomed to certain notes. The phenols and Brettanomyces appear first, followed by spice/cocoa/fruit, and then leafy and grassy hop flavors. There's a bit of citrus as well, but who knows where that's coming from. I find sweet red apples, green apples, rotting apples, orange, papaya, mango, melon. Then notes of brown sugar and dry biscuits. Even just lightly browned bread dough hot out of the oven! It suggests sweetness, but it's not really sweet. (Well, it is sweet towards the end). The malt moves back and forth between the fruit/yeast/hops in an almost ghost-like fashion - here one second, gone the next. Nutmeg flickers through, adding to the spicy dryness, but there's a real hop bitterness as well. A rigid bitterness. It finishes dry with a strong note of orange rind and some subtle cocoa, as well as a lingering bitterness and some leafy hops and yeasty mineral and earth. The cinnamon becomes apparent at some point in the lingering finish as it just doesn't fade that well. And at that point everything kind of gets tumbled over and just slightly rearranged to go again in the next few sips. And in some of those new sips the cinnamon and orange merge which is quite nice. But there are so many combinations that it's almost not worth mentioning.

Complex. Intriguing. Requiring some focus.

Eye-opening.

Do yourself a favor.

(Those last three lines should be a slogan :)

How is it that a brewery that makes less beer than many brewpubs can produce something that's so compelling?

And I'd even say that perhaps this is not that compelling in comparison to some of their other beers that are more full-throttle, but this one is certainly more balanced in some way.

NeroFiddled, Mar 07, 2009
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Maracaibo Especial from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
89 out of 100 based on 671 ratings.