Jamaica Red Ale | Mad River Brewing Company

very good
509 Ratings
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

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 509 |  Reviews: 258
Photo of cdizinno
3.79/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: Poured into a pint glass from a 12oz bottle, different than pictured. No dating information provided on bottle

A: Cloudy, rusty reddish-brown, with a nice off-white head and moderate lacing.

S: Very mild malty, grainy scents. Some background hop aroma present.

T&M: Strong flavored and full-bodied. Nice hop level. Caramel malty sweetness up front. Hop bitterness throughout with a nice tangy fade to a mild sweetness. This stuff has a nice chewy texture and it is well-balanced.

I might not search this one out specifically but it is defintely a decent drinker. Especially if you enjoy the style.

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Photo of jibbyvonjibb
3.06/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Dark amber color. Ivory thin head leaves little lace.
S: Caramel. Sweet. Raspberry. Apples.
T: Sweet caramel malt prominent. Some earthy hoppiness takes background role. Clean, slightly sweet finish.
M: Medium carbonation, medium body.
O: Too malty for me, especially because it's not especially complex.

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Photo of DefenCorps
3.91/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from The Village Pump.

A mildly hazy reddish copper with a dense, light brown head with great retention and thick, dense lacing, this is a great-looking beer. The nose opens with a blend of juicy pine hops and a caramelized brown sugar malt character that's pleasing. There's also a faint cocoa and toast as well. The hops are moderate, there's not much bitterness here.

The palate opens with a great blend of dark caramel, and pine hops. Definitely spicy as well, it does taste like some rye was used, or a hop that imparts some of those flavor characteristics. Bitterness is moderate, but there's nice pine and grapefruit present. Mildly sweet on the finish, this beer is medium-light in body with moderate, creamy carbonation. Spicy and juicy on the finish with a little sweetness, this beer is much better than I was expecting

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Photo of meeekyh
3.63/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I have finally found this fine ale after about six years during which I didn't see it available for purchase. My first impression is that the original label was more appealing. The new one is too busy.

I choose a Hennepin chalice for the review receptacle.

I note this is a very hoppy beer. This is the first beer I tried in my craft-beer-newbie stage that was akin to an IPA and the dark malts back up the hops so well that I was just infatuated with the beer, though I always drank it out of a bottle, he this was 1995 and I never even considered a glass for beer, though I almost always drank craft beer. Anyway, this is a great beer and I will get back to the actual review.

The beer is a deep amber with moderate turbidity and a deep tan head. Lacing is small but I have been having issues with my barware so I believe the receptacle is to blame for that.

Smells are deep with malts that smell toasted and hops that are more pine than citrus.

Taste is bitter and tart and rounded without sweetness.

Mouthfeel is much lighter than many of these very hoppy reds and the finish is shorter and dryer.

Drinkability is very high and I would say 'overall' it is a very, very good beer that has few equals and will scare many drinkers of 'American Amber' beer like Fat Tire, but please hop-heads far and wide.


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Photo of emmasdad
3.8/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Back in the olden days of craft beer, there wasn't the overwhelming number of unique and original beers on the shelves we enjoy today. Therefore, I had the time to sample quite a few of the pedestrian offerings from Mad River (getting better these days). This one has always been one of their better beers. Pours a nice reddish color with a good tan head. Aromas of hops, biscuit and caramel. On the palate, medium bodied with hops, biscuit and caramel.

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Photo of chugalug06
3.29/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Holy hell what a head this one pours... Super aggressive slightly brown soapy-foamy head. Brew is very clear with the color of a fine brandy. Very good head retention, slightly spott lacing. Looks delicious!

S - Quite piney! Slight scent of pineapple... A fairly underwhelming scent. Maybe some raisins too. Decent amount of caramel and crystal in this one. Hops are pretty farce.

T - No bitterness at all. Very caramel with slight hop flavor. Not at all a hop or sugar bomb. A very high quality Red Ale. Maybe a little on the biscuity side...

M - Super smooth. Dry, but not bitter. Very easy drinker, difficult to let set for long. Yeasty.

O - A very good red. By no mean the best I've had, but still quite a good brew. Something has changed since the last time i've had this brew, as it's changed greatly; I'm still trying to decide for the better....

Nice work Mad River.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
2.88/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A red ale that is fairly hoppy, although not as much as, say, Odell's red. While these hops are prominent, they are over shadowed by a not-so-good malt presence. I'm not sure what it is, but the malt seems musky and stank. Perhaps the selected hops, which are earthy and piny, accentuates this malt characteristic. I don't know, honestly. I want to drink it again to make sure, but it's just not happening.

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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.

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

This beer has been around for awhile and seemingly under a lot of peoples radar. A true red ale with more malt than hops but with enough of the hops to keep it interesting unlike some of the newer red ales that are hop bombs. Nice rounded mouthfeel and finish which goes with the reddish brown colour. Solid drinking beer that I wish was available in BC

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

A murky orangish red that poured to a two finger head. It has nice lacing around the glass. I really like the look of this beer

S nice nose with a bread note along with a hint of hops and citrus

T Very nice I could taste the malt up front and then get hit with a nice mild hop finish. Very nice Red Ale

M Nice carbination but not to airy feeling like a macro. Good beer any time of the year. I'd knock one of these back after mowing the yard or sitting round the camp fire with friends.

O Good beer!!! Now a WOW beer but very solid. I'll add this to my session beers.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.44/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appears a hazy, murky amber/orange. Odd. Unfiltered? Sizable froth fades to a memory. Floral hops and some citrus make up for most of the aroma. In the taste, a well balanced brew with caramel malt, brown sugar, and a light bitterness and hop profile. Distant grapefruit and some pine. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth. Overall, a good Red Ale with some hop presence.

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Photo of jmerloni
3.62/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - A pale dark brown color. Hazy in the middle. Medium off-white head that doesn't lace particularly well. Kind of strange looking.

S - Citrus and yeast and a lot of malt.

T - Tastes like a decent red ale mixed with a whole lot of tea. I get an herbally black tea taste here and it's kind of interesting and amirable but it seems kind of strange and off at the same time. It has an oaky taste or something like that that tastes really earthy in a harsh way. I mixed a 6 pack and would have to have this again to figure out what I really though of this I think.

M - Medium bodied. Very very dry except for the hoppiness on the downbite. A little bit grainy and unfiltered tasting.

D - Weird beer. I don't quite know what to think about it. There's something about it that's really unique and pleasant and something about it that tastes dirty and poorly crafted. I'd have to try it again. My opinion isn't worth much here. Wouldn't want to drink 4-6 of these right now, though.

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Photo of sjverla
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nose: Sweet and crisp, like a molasses cookie. Raisiny. Very subtle hop citrus brings out the high end.

Appearance: Hazy, deep violet amber. Short lived head.

Taste: Dark fruit and roast bitterness. Prominentgrassiness at the end. This is the last of 6, and I've found them to be somewhat inconsistent.

Additional notes: I've had this before and it tasted much different--much more hop-forward. I loved it the first time. I picked up an undated six-pack, and the hops had likely suffered from sitting on the shelf. I would gladly re-review with a bottle that's guaranteed to be fresh.

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Photo of mvanaskie13
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a standard pint glass; nice creamy head, thin and dissipates quickly; color is solid amber, not translucent, lightly effervescent.

Smell is caramely malt, lightly roasted; mild hop bitterness.

Taste is a solid mix of caramely malt with good hop bitterness balance. Malt comes through with bready, biscuity flavors with a hint of mineral or earthy presence.

Mouthfeel is well balanced, good flavor on the tongue, good carbonation.

Very drinkable, this beer comes through in the taste and mouthfeel.

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Photo of cocogan
4.07/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Visual: Pours amber-brown with a two finger head that recedes to a light froth.

Nose: Citrus,hops, and toasted malt

Taste: Great. There is a present grainy characteristic along with citrus and strawberry notes. Finishes bitter with a grassy, lime taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, balanced carbonation.

Drunkability: This would be a good session beer. The 6.5 abv is perfect to get a nice rasta feelin without being full as hell afterwards.

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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.

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Photo of confer
3.88/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Brown with a tan head that leavea plenty of lacing.
S-The hops are all you smell, but the smell is now real strong just heavy with hops.
T-There is a solid steay hop flavor with a malty blast in the middle.
MD-I'm not sure what the IBUs are on this but the hops never overpower but stay constant all the way through the taste.

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Photo of secondtooth
4.04/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This murky amber red bitter ale presents itself initially with a bright, floral citrus nose. Very promising! First taste summons caramel malts and a rich, fruity finish. Definitely prominent with both malty sweet flavors and a muted hoppy finish, this one's an interesting and delicious brew.

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Photo of flexabull
3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark and clear amber color with a pretty nice white head.

Aromas are of brewed tea, caramel, grains and earthy hops.

Taste is crisp and dry. Brewed tea, light caramel sweetness, and a biscuit grainy flavor settle in from the malts. Finish has a nice mineral and earthy hop bite. This is complex and tasty.

Mouthfeel is good, nice fullness, and crisp carbonation.

Drinkability is also good. This is a solid flavorful amber ale. Too strong to be sessionable, but I'd happily have a couple of pints.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - A nice dark amber with an inch of head.

S - Sells mildly hoppy with a bit of malt and grass.

T - Tastes kind of red. And not nearly as hoppy as expected. Still the bitterness of the malt is masked and it is drinkable for the ABV.

M - Medium bodied and nice.

D - Well I guess I don't really understand the style and it's hard to have this after Lucky 13 since its way lower in hops, but it's still a great tasting beer. Cheers.

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Photo of NorCalYeti
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

taste- lingering hop bitterness, caramel richness

color- mahogany

clarity- clear

smell- spicy, floral, sweet hop character

body- well balanced, full body, medium-long finish

appearance- nice clear beer with a rich head and good carbonation

overall impression- malty red bitter ale. a solid well balanced complex drinkable beer. very solid and go-to...can adapt well in any situation.

notes and comments- pair with pasta with white sauce, crepes, and chicken. like the new label

glassware: pint glass

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Photo of skeeordye11
3.45/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark ruby with a thin tan head that sticks
around on top nicely with minimal lacing.
S: Caramel, malty sweetness, woody/piney hop aroma.
T: Similar to the aroma, sweet maltiness with strong (not bad) caramel overtones. Fair amount of bitterness with some piney hop flavor as well.
M: Surprisingly thin for the amount of perceived caramel sweetness.
D: Better than expected. I would buy this beer. Nice mix of maltiness with a fair amount of woody hop presence. Nicely done.

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Photo of JackieTH
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Amber-red and cloudy with an off-white head.

Smell: Caramel and piney hops. Pungent.

Taste: Caramel and malt out front along with subtle hints of chocolate, roasted malt with a nice punch of citus/grapefruit and piney hops throughout. Clean finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium and smooth.

Drinkability: Creamy, smooth, flavorful and easy to drink.

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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.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.08/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a red ale? It looks darker than red, is hoppier than red etc. . . chunky head, unfiltered for sure, great retention.

Aroma is very pungent hop and caramel. Again, smells nothing like a red ale, and its all good, because I'm not really a fan of traditional red ales. This is a hoppier west coast version I guess, and its for the better.

Taste, good, lots of hops, a heavy dark and chocolate malt feel interplays with the caramel. Carbonation keeps this one feeling fresh all the way through. Really didn't think the hops would come through. This beer is a little bit of everything, kinda like a precursor to black ipas, this one is dark, but hoppy, substantial, but not massive on the palate weight wise. All in all, its nothing like 99% of the red ales you see out there, which is why it scored high.

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Jamaica Red Ale from Mad River Brewing Company
3.85 out of 5 based on 509 ratings.
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