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Jamaica Red Ale | Mad River Brewing Company

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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

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Reviews: 257 | Ratings: 496
Photo of merlin48
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed this, on tap, at Barley's Taproom in Asheville, NC, before the "Pop The Cap" event on 8/14/04. This Red arrived in an unchilled glass, with a 3 cm, beige head perched above a clear, copper body. Rings and sheets of attractive lace were left down the sides of the glass.

Aroma was pleasantly balanced. Malty fruit(apple) and caramel/toffee aromas were nicely complimented by pine cone hops.

Mouthfeel was medium bodied, with a solid, bitter hops bite on the tongue.

Taste has an outstanding, toffee/caramel malt backbone that is balanced well by pine hoppiness. As this warms, some citrus flavors emerge, and grapefruit and orangepeel take the flavor profile to another level. Finish is dry, with a citrus hop aftertaste.

Loved this one, and look forward to having it again. It really is excellent with Jamaican style, jerked chicken. Try it and see!

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Photo of PopeJonPaul
4.54/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I once had a friend say "this beer looks like dirt!" so ever since I've referred to it as my 'dirt beer.' Amber, dark, cloudy, with a tan head, yeah I guess it kind of looks like dirt - looks more like homebrew. The smell is awesome - pear juice, caramel and the evergreen forests of the Northern California coast (i.e., the hops.) Very tasty, with a generous amount of hoppiness. Carbonation is just right and you get a good savory tingling mouthfeel from the hoppy finish. This is one of my favorite beers.

Sadly, I am drinking the last bottle I smuggled back in my luggage as I write this. Needless to say, at the inevitable (I hope) Mad River premiere at Blind Tiger someday, I hope to welcome these guys to NYC in style. And take the next day off work.

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Photo of Gasp100
4.2/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this one up one a tip from a fellow BA. This poured a deep red syrupy color with a frothy head and terrific lacing down the glass. Citrus, floral hops. crisp bitterness, sweet malts, a little of everything. This brew is great and really nice as a session brew --- I went through a case a little too quickly. This is a really interesting take on the Amber/Red Ale style -- I loved it!

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Photo of JahNoth
4.73/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nice frothy head and sweet orange aroma that balances nicely with the pungent, citric hops. I love the cloudy, reddish amber apperance. Nice malty flavor well balanced with PNW hops. A tasty treat. What I love most about this beer is the variety of the ingredients. The hops and malt don't just project one style/flavor, but give you a tasty melange. This is a great beer!

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Photo of WesWes
4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a dark ruby red color with a thick frothy offwhite head that fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice malty scent that boasts of pale and crystal malts. It also has a kick ass piney hop aroma that enhances the beer. The taste is good. It has a good malty core with pale and crystal malts, but the flavor is overpowered by an awesome piney hop taste. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium bodied beer with good carbonation. This is a damn good red ale, maybe the best I've ever had. This is a good sessions ale.

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Photo of HiroProtagonist
4.47/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Jamaica Red Ale was served from a 12 oz. stubby bottle. In a pint glass, the beer was a murky amber-red color and was topped by a light tan head. Suspended particulates abound. The nose held a barrage of wildy aromatic malts and spice...sasparilla, toffee-sweetness, and plantain-banana. A spicy hop bouquet topped it off. On the palate, a rich and aromatic spicy malt profile delivered some banana-nut flavors on the way to an excellent spicy hop finish that left a nice lingering roasty-astringent bitterness....similar to the Cinder Cone Red finish. The body was quite smooth, full, and somewhat creamy...working well with the flavors and character of the beer. Jamaica Red Ale had a well-developed collection of flavors...finsihing brilliantly. A very interesting, tasty, and finely-crafted interpretation of the style.

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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.

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Photo of woemad
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had a bottle of this at The Viking in Spokane for $2.75. I was running out of inspiration for what my next "tour de beers" choice should be, and the bartender reccomended this to me, describing it as a red ale with extra hoppiness. As I've generally felt that particular style needed a little more hop oomph, I figured what the hell.

From it's garishly bright bottle, this poured a dark, brownish red, with a moderate tan head. Not too much lacing left in the glass.

The smell of this was of citrusy hops and mildly sweet malts. Definitely the most hoppy smelling amber/red I've yet come across.

The taste is of mildly sweet malts, floral hops, and a bittering hops citrusyness. I think the hoppiness of this added a considerable amount of depth to what would have otherwise been a typically bland amber ale. I think this is well balanced, so long as the drinker doesn't mind a little hoppiness. While it's not an IPA, someone expecting a bland amber might be taken aback by it. Me, I think it's just fine.

This is a very medium bodied ale. The carbonation is not too much for the style. Just about right, I'd say.

This is a very drinkable amber ale, and is more interesting than most in the style, in my opinion. I don't know why more brewers don't add more hops to them, personally. At the very least NW brewers, who have such a reputation for hoppy beers anyway, should add a little more than the norm, perhaps start a sub-style of their own - the Northwest red/amber ale. Just a thought. I could have had several of these, and if I hadn't wanted to add to my "tour de beers" sheet, I'd have had several more.

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Photo of cokes
4.47/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Muddied crimson under a stack of yellowed cream.
Nose full of resin, pine and citrus, backed with toasty caramel. Potent and powerful and nearly perfect, aroma-wise.
Begins with a substancial malt base. Liquid toffee and caramel, and mostly just thick. Grainy and bready too, with a few straggling carob notes. As powerful as the upcoming hops are, this is balanced in full.
The hops arrive, as we all knew they would, carrying coniferous pitch, ruby grapefruits, and sticky brick reefer. Full of dank resin, bright citrus, and growing evergreen pulp. This is West Coast hopping in it truest and best utilized sense.
Medium bodied, leaning even fuller. Drinkable in gulps and nothing less.
This is nearly peerless in the red ale category.

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Photo of abents
4.18/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Apperance: Pours a murky red with slight white head.

Smell: Nice hoppy aroma with a slight sweet carmel noted as well.

Taste: A strong hoppy start with a nice bready taste leaves you with strong citrus taste. Follow this with a nice carmel malty roundness and you have yourself a great beer. Very smooth well rounded beer that leaves you refreshed and wanting more.

Mouthfeel: A decently chewy red that goes down smooth and feels great.

Drinkability: Very drinkable beer, a great session beer for sure. Great Red ale.

I was very impressed with this brew and I was expecting a whole lot worse. Great surprise.

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Photo of MobBarley
4.66/5  rDev +21%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a ruddy, brownish red with a small head. Moderate lacing. Aroma is nice and malty with some strong hazelnut notes and an underlying Cascade aroma that spells "P.N.W.". The taste is similar, starting off sweet and bready with some notes of roasted nuts, pine and astringent greenness. Mouthfeel is great, a little on the chewy side of normal. Just how I like my reds. Drinkabilty is supreme. An absolutely delicious, if slightly less available PNW beer. Finely crafted brew.

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Photo of rkhaze
4.05/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a cloudy red/orange/amber with a medium foamy, creamy tan head and noticeable carbonation. Not much lace. Smells of sweet malt, caramel, fruit and earthy, mildly citrus hops.
Taste is slightly sweet with lightly roasted malt, caramel and lots of fruit (mainly tropical). Nice hop balance with some citrus and a bit of nuttiness in the finish.
Light to medium bodied with a semi-creamy mouthfeel. Almost seemed to have a bit to much carbonation but great in the drinkability department. Very crisp and refreshing.

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Photo of RootedFool
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I purchased a Mad River variety box of 12 at the Arcata Co-op and tried all of them except the extra stout. The Jamaica Red Ale stands out as the best, so far. Appearance is dark, cloudy brown, with a fluffy head. Smell is sweet malt with a hop center, very balanced.

Mouthfeel is slightly creamy, a little sticky around the roof of my mouth.

Taste is also very balanced. Kicks off with a hop tingle on the tip of the tongue and then the malt floods over. Aftertaste is mostly hops, spicy and sharp. Delightful.

I will keep my eye out for this beer again, when I'm in the mood for a session brew that isn't at all simplistic.

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

Appearance – Dark brown with a reddish hue and a nice, lacing head. This one is cloudy and looks good.

Smell – Sharp citrus hops come out big in the nose. There’s also a nice, lightly-toasted malt balance to this aroma.

Taste – The hops calm down at the taste, making this a nicely balanced ale. The malt is more noticeable here. A good, all around flavor.

Mouthfeel – Somewhat refreshing and medium-bodied. There’s also a slight tinge of sourness to this one, like a drop or two of lime juice has been tossed in for good measure.

Drinkability – This would make a good summer refresher, but it’s nice here at the end of November as well. It is wonderfully balanced.

Comments – Thanks to mickeymac for sending me this bottle.

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

12.oz bottle.

Pours a deep ruby brown. It looks like iced tea. A good head that is gone too quickly. Little to no lacing. A very passion fruit smell. Sweet buttery malts. Some green grape and not much hop.

Flavors are malty. Red pare, passion fruit and over ripe mango. Some mild green grape and green tea. There is a bit of a hop bite but it is barely present and not really necessary for this ale. It is dominated by its tea and fruit flavors and that is what it shall be. No need for over the top hops.

This is very smooth with a slight tang. Slick and a little less than medium bodied. Carbonation is at a minimum. It drinks quite well and has a refreshing quality.

Overall this is a very well crafted beer.

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Photo of Gusler
3.92/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On the pour a beclouded cheery red, the head modest in size, frothy in its texture, and a light tan color, the lace forms a nice concealing sheet upon the glass. The aroma of sweet malt also buttery with a nice crisp freshness to greet the nose and a sweet malt-laden start, the top is middling in its feel to the palate. Finish mildly acidic, the hop potent in their spicy bite, quite dry and linger aftertaste, a decent drinking beer that I just don’t sample often enough.

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Photo of beerguy101
3.08/5  rDev -20%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown color, kind of cloudy, small white foamy head. Aroma is malty and slightly sweet. Hoppy and slightly bitter, nicely malty. Malts are nutty and sweet. Good flavor with some malt sweetness. Smooth mouthfeel. Finish is smooth. Aftertaste is slightly bitter.

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

Ok comes ina pretty simple package..brown 12 oz short neck and a cheap looking yellow ..green and red label.
Wow what a surprise it is to see when poured into my mug..a nice dark brown with a huge creamy off white head..quite "murky " too!
Very pungent aroma to this ale..hops but also a wonderful light chocolaty aroma.
mmm nice taste starts of sweet malts..then a hoppy zing..then a strange yet attractive sourness..I like this.
Very nice on the palte lingering aftertastes.
Great drinkable beer..but my its hard to place this in a particular style..it says on the side of the label it is a "Crisp,hoppy Red-Bitter"..well thats as good a description as any..a hybrid..but a nice beer!

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

Present in a 12oz short bottle. No freshness date.

As this is an unfiltered offering, it pours a cloudy, deep garnet colour with an off-white sticky, creamy, well-retained head. Wonderful aroma of raw, spicy, herbal hops with strong notes of citrus.

Oh yeah! Smooth, medium-body, luscious fruity/malty sweetness with notes of toffee, wood, earth, ripe pineapple and bready notes. Yeast flavours. Crisp. Sharp, somewhat coarse and leafy, hop bitterness that smacks with notes of citrus and herbal and backs the maltiness just right. Alcohol is spicy, very present and fusel. Linger alcohol, sweet bread flavours and wood linger in the finish for quite sometime.

This is a great Red Ale, with a wonderful malt and hop profile. Thoroughly enjoyable!

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

The bottle really stands out with the island colors and a series of stars and a heart on the label. It pours a very distinct dark red with an off-white head that's on the small side. The smell is very nice: a winning combination of hops and malt. It's very inviting, and the taste is even nicer. Malty sweetness is backed up by enough hop bitterness to give each drink a good kick. It's a very good warm weather beer (keeping in line with the name) and goes down very well. I'd bring this along to a poker game.

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Photo of wofat
4.04/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A dark red ale with a slight head that dissapates rather quickly, leaving no hints of lacing behind as I work my way through the brew. Has an aroma of caramel and spicy hops, slightly grassy. This is a very smooth and flavorful brew that starts very smooth and mildly sweet, fading quickly into a hop bitterness and finishing with an excellent hop flavor. A tasty beverage indeed, that could go down easily for hours.

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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.

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Photo of zerk
4.42/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a murky amber brown with a thin but persistent off white head. Aroma is big and bold... citrus hops, fruit, and a caramel malt backing. The flavor is very unique.. begins with an all out malt assault with biscuit and caramel flavors, then becomes nutty. Has a wonderful citrus and spice hop finish. Not overly bitter, but enough to grab your attention. Medium to full body with ample carbonation... slightly rough and oily. A damn fine brew. Serious thanks to DavidBanner for this one!

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The first time I tried this beer was when I met fellow BA’s StoutLove77 and DavidBanner for the very first time at the Yard House, Long Beach during one of, if not the, first official BA Social and LB Pub Crawl. They suggested I try this. It was stunningly characterful then from draft, and no less dissapointing from the 12 fl.oz. (355ml) Bottle, which they incidentally brought round for me last weekend because they knew I liked it and I was in no state to Review in the Yard House (because I was relaxing, and not drunk I hasten to add!!!!!).
It has a very colourful label yellow, red, green & black, in a true Jamaican pictorial style.
Head was large at first, light tan color, that soon settled to a thin ⅛” on the surface and a ¼” rope around the edges.
Nose is absolutely marvelous, a very fruity, deep smelling hoppy character that screams – “marry me”. On careful sniffing, some sweet malt is also detectable but the fruity hops are dominant and firmly control the nasal specifications of this beer for sure.
The first thing I notice though – is that on draft it was murky to say the least, after being in the fridge for nearly a week, the yeast stayed firmly adhered to the base of the bottle, and it poured perfectly clear! A deep highly polished chestnut brown in color, that looks stunning. Minimal carbonation but has a solid mouthfeel. Initial tastes are of hops, the middle has some sweet malt undertones, and the end is an incredibly dry fruity lingering experience that finishes with an astringent hoppiness. A truly great "ass-kicking" Red Ale that is highly drinkable. Smooth, Malty, Fruity and very Hoppy. Just how I like it. A really great beer, I simply must try other Mad River beers some time.

A **huge** thanks to StoutLove77 and DavidBanner for this offering. You’ve really added a whole new dimension and a massive driving force to the LA Area BA Events. You can come around my Apartment anytime, just bring some more Mad River Beers!!!!!

Whow!!!… I going to Jamaica…….

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Photo of QXSTER1
4.33/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer makes unfiltered wheats look like distilled water. It poured a turbid, dense, opaque, reddish brown that was a bit disconcerting at first. The bottle version is much clearer. My initial impression was a dominant cidery, fruity taste. This led into some caramelly, thicker malt flavors that blended well with the fruit. Some sourness in mid palate and then some subtle hop bitterness to finish. This is a red to be reckoned with. Not just an ale with a bit of red color, but a bold, complex, head of the class red ale. If you liked this in the bottle wait till you try it on tap.

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Jamaica Red Ale from Mad River Brewing Company
3.85 out of 5 based on 496 ratings.
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