Jamaica Red Ale | Mad River Brewing Company

very good
257 Reviews
Jamaica Red AleJamaica Red Ale

Brewed by:
Mad River Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our legendary red ale. This mahogany hued ale brings an intense spectrum of spicy aromatic hop character balanced by a full-bodied caramel richness. 2011 Silver Medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival in the American Style Amber/Red Ale category.

IBU: 45.3
Malts: 2-Row Pale, Crystal 70/80, Wheat, Black Patent
Hops: Columbus, Chinook, Cascade, Willamette, Summit

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-23-2001

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 257 | Ratings: 499
Photo of Sammy
3.23/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Passable red ale, more malty than hoppy. Drinkable, but not very drinkable. Dark amber appearance was pleasant. Malts in the nose. More or less, not that interesting, a tad of citrus after a tad of spiciness.Average mouthfeel though carbonation a bit aggressive. WOuld like more hops.

 284 characters

Photo of kylehay2004
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: brown and red. Murky. two finger head.

S: mostly caramel malt and some pine.

T: caramel malt with apple and pine/light hop notes.

M: smooth. Moderate carbonation and medium body.

Overall: This one isn't too bad. Its very drinkable and has a fairly complex taste for a red.

 279 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.46/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap for the 4th Annual LA Beer Week Beer Festival at Union Station in Los Angeles, CA.

Pours a slightly murky reddish-brown with a foamy orange head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Thin rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, citrus zest, and herbal hop aromas. Taste is much the same with a mild herbal hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but the smell is quite mild.

 520 characters

Photo of metter98
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is very hazy amber-yellow in color and has a light to moderate amount of visible carbonation along with lots of particles floating in suspension. It poured with a thin beige colored head that died down and left a large patch of bubbles on the surface, a collar around the edge of the glass and some lacing down the sides.
S: Aromas of sweet caramel malts are present in the nose along with some hints of spicy hops.
T: Like the smell, the taste is very malty and has lots of caramel flavors along with some hints of spicy hops towards the finish. A very light amount of bitterness is present.
M: It feels medium-bodied and a little thick (but not sticky) on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This is a nice beer if you like something that is rather malty, but I couldn't see myself having more than one of these in one sitting.

 858 characters

Photo of oriolesfan4
4.5/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a nice brown/red color... huge head to it.. a little bit of lacing on the glass. Smell is of brown sugar and caramel with some hops to it.. nice aroma going on here. Great mouthfeel and body to this one.. just the right amount of thickness to it. A nice balance of caramel malts and still pretty hoppy all with a clean finish and a slight (very slight) tinge of alcohol.... solid beer right here, wish this was distributed to CT.. I love me some red ales and this is one of the better ones I have tried.

 509 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
3.83/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Another outstanding beer by these folks. The appearance displays a more visous than normal qulity with a bigger emphasis on deep-ruby hues, weighted body, and creamy head retention. Aromas balanced toward the malts show an abundance of pine and lemongrass in the mose. Very rich of breads and barley malt. Flavors are boldly malty, toasty, and light on the esters. However the hops gain intensity into the finish with agressive pine and lemon-grass. As expected, a fuller, richer body that usually found in the style. Where it excels in character and body, it sacrifices in drinkability. The finish is cleaned up and dried out by the growing hop flavor and resins, but still reamins sweet and weighted. Very good beer overall.

 726 characters

Photo of brentk56
3.73/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a reddish brown body with a medium head but little lacing

Smell: Nice floral hoppy elements on the nose

Taste: Sweet and sassy! Caramel and grapefruit combined. Very nice and full-flavored.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a bit of carbonation

Drinkability: This is a nice full-flavored red ale that is very drinkable.

 345 characters

Photo of oberon
4.2/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Was more impressed with this than the extra pale ale,poured a nice deep brown/red color with great creamy head.Incredibly hoppy took me by suprise but a roasted malt flavor comes in to balance this bad boy out.Loved this beer great to find it around here will have many more for sure.

 284 characters

Photo of chinchill
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle served in pint glass

Pours a slightly hazy reddish-copper with a modest tan head. Small amount of sediment at bottom of bottle (added).

M - medium body and carbonation; smooth yet fairly crisp.

Subtle aroma of sweet malt and slight hops. Rich, complex, and well-balanced flavor. A serious taste battle between sweet and bitter components. Hops are more evident during tasting than smelling. "Crafted with whole hop goodness" indeed.

 449 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.03/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce twist-off cap bottle - $1.99 at Hop City in Atlanta, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours out a clouded, dark amber-brown body with a lofty, lasting, lightly beige-hued head.

Smell: Aroma smelling of generously toasted bread, sweet-scented caramel candy, pine bark, dehydrated lemon peel, and even a pinch of Lawry's seasoning salt.

Taste: Deeply toasty opening with an added hint of burnt bread crusts and sweet touches of dark caramel. Modestly fruity ester accents. Fairly robust hop character brings zesty, dried citrus rinds and earthy pine with some slight woodsy tones to it. Though drying and remaining slightly bitter, the finish still has a good dose of maltiness to it.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation. Soft mouthfeel.

Drinkability: A good balance between the malts and hops here, making for a pleasant, enjoyable red ale. Nice job, Mad River.

 871 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Murky to start, opaque to finish; dark tawny with bright orange trim. This is one red ale that looks like it means business. The color alone says "look out Jack, you're in for something a little out of the ordinary". The cap is orangish beige and is airy, but stiff. Wispy streamers of lace arch across the glass, just above the nonic bulge.

Jamaica Red smells like an IPA. Granted, a more malty than most IPA, but an IPA nevertheless. The label calls it a 'red ale', but along the side, in smaller lettering, it says that it's a 'red bitter'. Yet another clue that hops have been emphasized. It smells like a boatload of Chinook has been used. It's spicy and earthy, yet still grapefruity hoppy; which is how I think of that particular hop.

As suspected, this isn't your standard red ale. For one thing, Mad River hasn't scrimped on ingredients. The mega malty backbone of heavily toasted malt brings to mind an Oktoberfest of all things (Munich malt must make up at least a portion of the malt bill). The hop load is more than up to the challenge however. This is a well-balanced beer in a 'weighted down scales' kind of way.

I'm still thinking Chinook as at least one member of the hop bill. The above description still applies: spicy, earthy and citrusy. The bitterness is perfectly countered by a sweetness that results in an additive effect (and an addictive one) rather than a cancelling out. The long, lingering finish is reminiscent of toasted whole-grain bread slathered with grapefruit marmalade and a fine dusting of cinnamon.

Jamaica Red, according the website, was originally brewed for a local reggae festival. The bright yellow, red and lime green label is a testament to those origins. This is an aggressive, hoppy red that seeks and achieves 'otherness'... a more than valid goal if good beer is the result. There aren't too many reds that are memorable, but Jamaica Red makes a lasting impression.

 1,929 characters

Photo of mdaschaf
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Cory for this brew!

A: Pours a dark ruby/amber color with a small tan colored head on top. Not much retention, but some nice rings of lacing formed around the edge.

S: A little closed, but there is some sweet malt and caramel. There is a little bit of pine and a touch of grapefruit.

T: Less hoppy than the aroma (which wasn't overly hoppy to begin with), with some caramel, sweet malt - almost candy sweet, and some bready malt.

M: Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Drinks smooth with no lingering bitterness.

O: Decent little amber/red ale. Would have liked it a bit hoppier, but thats more preference than a knock on this beer.

 653 characters

Photo of russpowell
4.17/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured with an extemely thin head and almost no lacing was left. On the positive side the deep rich (hazy) color was accented by a small steady stream of bubbles rising throughout.

Smell Thick fruity/maltiness and earthy/piney hops colide. A slight alcohol wiff is also there, slightly dry.

Good balance and slight under carbonation make for good mouthfeel

Drinkable effort, no classic to be sure

 406 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
3.67/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

another new one for me. this one poured into the pint glass a nice reddish amber color with a smooth, even coat of lacing that cling to the sides but settled down quite quickly.

nice caramel and piney hops lead the charge with warming really letting the hops dominate on this one. smooth, even flavor with a nice fullness to the body that allowed the flavor to really take shape. caramel settles in as it warms up and the overall finish was clean and smooth.

Overall I thought this was a very nice hoppy red ale.

 515 characters

Photo of smcolw
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tight, if modest, long-lasting head. Some spottiness on the glass after each sip. Brown color with a definitive haze

Caramel aroma, light toffee; almost like a brown ale. No notable hop.

The key to middle-of-the-road beers is the complexity and balance. While the smell is slightly sweet with no bitterness, the flavor has a wonderful hop bitterness that lingers through the aftertaste. There's a touch of cream in the mouth, both in flavor and body. A very nice beer.

 470 characters

Photo of Slatetank
4.19/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

orinally rated back in '13 -4.25, re-review from bottle enjoyed chilled in a goblet, purchased at Brass Rail shared with octopus89.

The color is like a bowl of punch -rosy red with thick haze and thin pale cream head with very fine bead and lots of lace stickage. The smell is very expressive- I get some citrus as I pour with fruity almost plum-like scent and vinous berry accent with nice sweet aroma and ester of yeast. The feel is very tangy and juicy almost with medium high carbonation and moderately sweet feel with semi--dry and light astrinent aspect with mild tannin in the residual feel.

The taste is very fruity with tangy flavor off hibiscus giving a juicy berry and tea-like taste with yeast backing up the tropical flavor with a almost fruit-punch-like tangy and semi-sweet flavor as it finishes. The taste is excellent -I really enjoyed this and recommend this especially if you like hibiscus with tangy tropical fruit quality which has a sweet subtle but very drinkable result

 998 characters

Photo of Jason
4.44/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz short brown twist bottle with no freshness date to be found. Thin layer of sediment on the bottom of the bottle.

Appearance: Big creamy and thick light tan head with a well painted trail of lace all the way down to the bottom of the hazy very deep brownish red brew.

Smell: Thick aroma of hops and caramel malt. Hops are a tad pungent to the nose and the caramel is quite well rounded.

Taste: Medium body moderate carbonation, hops are very flavourful with a straight-up bitterness and the pungent citric aftermath. Huge wave of malt, caramel rides on top with both chocolate and roasted flavour underneath. Fruity of pear though a grapefruit citric character from the hops rips right through to disorient the taste buds into nirvana. Finish is a bit clean with some residual caramel sweetness and a dark grainy bread flavour.

Notes: This is really good stuff, this one showed me that American beer can still reach this height of greatness. 6.0% abv.

 982 characters

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep chestnut amber with yeast floating very suspension like in appearance, forms a big billowing tan caramel head leaving heavy even lacing down my pint. Aroma: Nice citrus bursts of hops flows nicely along with the roasty caramel scented malts. Taste: Slight bready tone with a caramel roasted malt profile solid hop bitterness comes out not a bad red ale. Mouthfeel: Medium bodied light carbonation, the only way to obtain the fluffy head was with a very vigorous pour. Drinkability: Nice amber bitter, I could definitely picture myself visiting the Reggae Festival someday that this was brewed for.

 614 characters

Photo of WoodBrew
3.99/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ttying the Jamaica Red at Yards in Long Beach. It poured a hazy amber with white head that is leaving a lace. The scent is malt. The taste starts malty with caramel as the base then finishes slightly bitter. The Mouthfeel is medium in body with good carbonation. Overall it's a good beer and would drink it again.

 316 characters

Photo of tdm168
3.77/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark amber with a quarter of an inch of brownish, soft, dense head that has great retention. Big, malty, bready, barley malt dominates the nose. There are also hints of a sugary sweetness. The flavor is also dominated by malt is far subdued from what the nose would have you believe. The malt character is bready with a slight sugary sweetness in the finish. There are faint notes of dark fruit as the beer warms. The hop character is very mild and offers only balance and very faint astringency in the finish. The mouthfeel is lighter than expected, smooth, and well carbonated.

This is a sessionable beer, but disappointing. The nose was big and robust leading me to believe the flavor would be intensely malt forward and medium to full bodied. In my opinion it fell short of the mark. I would have it again though if offered.

 837 characters

Photo of jwc215
3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours reddish copper with a thin tan head that descends to a wide patch. Dotted lacing sticks.

The smell is of grapefruit, caramel, some breadiness and a hint of herbal spicing.

The taste is of grapefruit and herbal hop spicing backed by caramel and some musty bread. Finishes with a bitter dryness, but with a rounding sweet caramel sweetness.

It has a sharp, firm medium body.

Very drinkable despite the bite. Hoppy, but with a caramel maltiness in play too, and some breadiness. A solid choice for a hop-accented red!

 524 characters

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled at the Library Alehouse, Santa Monica, 12-02-04.
Dark amber color, full, creamy head.
Arom is large, warm, herbal, malty...
Taste: lush mouthfeel, full on the palate, and very pleasing, earthy, meaty, plump...this is an exemplary amber ale, one that never lacks in flavor or in body, and after this one draft pint, i must say surely ranks among the best available in the U.S.
As I was in the company of others, my notes were brief and succint, so no over-effusive typical monkish rambling this time, but it was thoroughly enjoyed and will be long-remembered!

 570 characters

Photo of GClarkage
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

01/12/09- Purchased at Total Wine in Roseville, CA.

Presentation- 12oz bottle, forgot to look for freshness info. Poured into a random pint glass.

Appearance- Caramel-brownish-red in color. One fingered head upon pour leaving some small spots of watery lace behind.

Smell- More of a deep roasted malt flavor, maybe a slight whiff of chocolate and some hops.

Taste- Hops aren't as prevelant as I would expect in an American Red Ale. They are there, but not really a large bite. The malt, which is pretty deep really defines this beer.

Mouthfeel- Medium carbonation level, rather thick and chewy for a lower abv beer. Not much of an aftertaste.

Drinkability- Perfectly fine output from Mad River. Not for hopheads though. Pretty easy drinking, but malty Red.

 762 characters

Photo of Wasatch
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks goes out to RedHaze for this one.

Pours a nice cloudy amber color, nice carbonation, very nice two-finger foamy off-white head, with lots of nice sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, with some nice little hop notes, and lots of caramel. The taste is malty, slightly sweet, slightly hoppy, with lots of caramel. Medium body. Drinkable, a pretty tasty brew, glad to have finally gotten a chance to try it.

 420 characters

Photo of tempest
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a single at Liberty St. Tavern. Appears a hazy red with a short, off-white head.

Mmm. Spicy hops and caramel malts. This seems to have a slight Scottish influence for a dry, herbal background flavor. There's also a bit of soft toffee with grapefruit and orange zest. The aroma has a touch of milk chocolate and clean, very lightly roasted grain. This all makes for an overall tasty balance of hops and malts, like any great red. It's all more impressive because some notably delicious reds, like Thomas Hooker's, have a thicker body which hurts drinkability. Not the case here. Definitely worth a try.

 612 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Jamaica Red Ale from Mad River Brewing Company
3.85 out of 5 based on 499 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.