La Roja | Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

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La RojaLa Roja

Brewed by:
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
Michigan, United States

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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Ratings: 1,989 |  Reviews: 790
Photo of claspada
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a translucent dark amber color with a large amount of fine effervescence and topped with a goodly-sized, off-white head.

Aromas begin with toasted bready and caramel malts, but then the wild yeast-derived funkiness begins to emerge. Oakiness, light lactic acid and some cherry.

The tastes begin with initial maltiness of heavily toasted bread crusts and dark caramel with a brief, restrained sweetness quickly clear the way for a veritable tide of funk-induced flavors. Sours cherries, red apple peels, vanilla and some puckeringly tannic, fouled wood barrel tastes. Fairly earthy and acetic at times.

The mouthfeel is medium-bodied with traditional Jolly Pumpkin high carbonation. Finish is intially sweet but ends up dry from the ample bubbles. Slight acidity also present in the finish.

Overll this is my favorite year round offering from Jolly Pumpkin and really hits the mark for balance as far as American Wild Ales go.

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Photo of fropones
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was my first sour ale, and I quite enjoyed it. The pour was a coppery brown color with a one finger beige head that took a long time to go down. The smell was similar to red wine with a bit of cherries and some oak. At first, the taste was fairly astringent and quite sour, but as it warmed up the astringency dissapeared and a tart cherry flavor remained. The mouthfeel was medium and bubbly. This went down fairly easy, especially after it warmed up, but I'm not sure I'd run out and buy another bottle. Perhaps I'd try some Flander's ale.

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Photo of tayner
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml brown bottle

pours a cloudy, medium honey color topped with a wihte foamy, sticky head that never leaves.

smell is funk, wood, sour, tart,

taste is very slight barnyardish wiht tart, unripe cherries and a bit of lemon/lime sourness. as it warms the malts balance this one out nicely.

mouthfeel is creamy with lots of soft carbonation and light. finishes crisp and dry.

easy to drink and refreshing, and reasonably affordable.

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Photo of wpg245
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle. Served in a Abbaye du Val-Dieu chalice.

Poured a hazy amber/brown with a low head and aggressive carbonation. Really nice fruity aroma with some sour cherries. Starts out tart and fruity, but not nearly as sour as the aroma would suggest. Effervescent mouthfeel.

First foray to this style and brewery. definitely will be back again.

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Photo of jwinship83
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml capped bottle drank from my duvel tulip. the blend is from 2008. been looking forward to this one for a while.

A- this one pours out a translucent reddish brown colored body with a rather large khaki colored head on top. the head lasts for a very long time and leaves behind large globs of lacing.

S- the first thing i thought about the odor was sour. lots of earthy funk mixed with a distinct acidic note. subtle vanilla from the oak. a little bit of caramel malts, and a nice touch of cherry.

T- the taste starts out with some cherry flavor that is lightly sour. there is a modest level of vanilla from the oak barrel. plenty of earthy funk. not as sour as the smell would have indicated

M- light bodied with a high level of carbonation. nice and dry from all the wild elements. the alcohol is nowhere to be found.

D- this bottle was easy to finish. enjoyable as any jolly pumpkin that i have tried. this is a seriously underrated brewery pumping out almost exclusively american wild ales. check this out if youre a fan of the style.

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Photo of biegaman
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle sample thanks to Derek!
Label describes this as a beer of "grace and distinction"...
Pours a cherry-red in colour but dark with brownish hues. Some thin sheets of head that stay mostly to the outskirts. A great aroma with notes of many exotic fruits and wild yeast. The barrel aspect isn't too obvious from the smell, the oak not all that pronouced, hardly present. Flavour upfront with a very cherry tartness. Not much lingering. I'm beginning to find the wild yeast is starting to overpower the flavours in the newer Jolly Pumpkin batches. This was still plenty interesting, plenty tasty, and plenty enjoyable like all the Jolly Pumpkins I've tried.

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Photo of tpd975
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up at Knightly while on a trip to Orlando.

2008 Blend 1

A: Pours a cloudy reddish orange color that is radiant at the edges. The head is somewhat creamy and there are some floaters in the glass.

S: Sort of winey with hints of dark fruits, sour, and oak. There is a bit of spice hiding beneath it all.

T: Oaky up front with wonderful flavors of slightly bitter dark cherries. There is a bit of fruity sweetness in the middle. The finish is where the sour kicks in. Nice.

M: Nice and bubbly. Perfect level of carbonation.

D: Very drinkable. I love this style but it's not one I can usually drink an entire 750 ml bottle of myselft. I was able to do that with this one.

Overall: Another wonderful beer in the Jolly Pumpkin lineup. Tons of fruit flavor with just enough sour. Nothing is over the top.

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Photo of scruffwhor
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

La Roja means "the red" for a reason. Lots of dep leathery red hues. Nice and gunky looking with some mil yeasty haze. You can still see the carbonation and the head retention is pretty good throghout the entire beer. Plenty of barnyard smells intermingled with lightly toasted malts in the nose. The tase is a mix of light riding blankest, hay, sangria, and Domaine DuPage. But much more close to the real framhouse style. The middle is a but sry while the fginish is a bit bread. Like sourdough.

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Photo of rapidsequence
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle. Bottled 8-30-2011. I think I got it at Bottle Revolution.

Appearance: Very attractive clear red. Slightly off white head. Doesn't retain that well, but leaves some spots of lacing.

Smell: Sweet and sour apple at first, dark cherry as it opens up. Some vinegar. Very oaky, suggests red wine.

Taste: Very oaky and tannic with more sour than sweet fruit. Apple and cherry dominate, and some red grape too. Mostly lactic acid with less acetic. Not real funky.

Mouthfeel: Very silky feeling, but with high carbonation. Feels crisp as it goes down. Dry finish, clean.

Overall: This is a very good sour beer that is not over the top, but still complex, tasty, and drinkable.

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Photo of Dunkle
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Split a 750mL bottle at Jolly Pumpkin Cafe and Brewery in Ann Arbor. According to the sticker, this was bottled on August 27th, so it's quite fresh!

A: Dark amber in color. Reminds me of apple cider. Almost no head, even with a 90 degree poor.
S: Smells sweet, spicy, and sour with a hint of alcohol.
T: This has a lot of flavor. Sour fruit notes are apparent throughout, as well as some spices. Alcoholic, tart aftertaste.
M: Relatively high carbonation, but it fits this brew well. The medium body feels good in the mouth and on the palate.
D: I was surprised that this is only 7.7% ABV; it tasted like more. I sipped this and am glad I split this one.

Worth a try.

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Photo of thecheapies
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Jolly Pumpkin La Roja 750 ml. Blend 5, bottled 02-20-2012. Brought back from Indiana by my main-man Brian for (I think) $12. Enjoyed side-by-side with a just-picked-up bottle of Cisco Monomoy Kriek.

Some premature foamy-jaculation after popping the cap. Reddish-amber pour with decent clarity. Nothing more than three-quarters of an inch of head that has receded somewhat quickly. Lovely color, however. Strange enough, there's visible foam sitting on the surface of the beer still left INSIDE the bottle.

Very tart cherry aroma with a good bit of bretty funk. Unripe cherries, acetic acid, wet burlap, hay, and sour lemon. Expecting a good punch of sour from this delectable nose.

Subdued sourness, after all. Still featuring a strong acidity with light lemon, cherry, and pomegranate notes. Can't believe I'm saying this, but there are hops present. Some unblended lambic notes of lemon rind, sun-baked hay, and husky barley grains. Faint cumin.

Medium-bodied with some nice even spritz. Easy-to-drink. No part of the feel is overpowering.

Delicious sour. Nothing off-the-hook. I kind of like how it's half-sour and half-amber. Makes for a great beer. One that I had been meaning to try for years now.

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Photo of timtim
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

man, there is a lot going on here... deep, dark amber with a tan head that holds well and leaves a good amount of lace. soft caramel and a savory maple syrup (like pancakes with bacon and syrup?) scent hit me first followed by funk and vinegar and wrapped up with wood and musty, earthy fruitiness. the wild and sour sides come out a lot as it warms. taste is all of the above, and it seems to have a peaty almost whiskeyish note in the finish. i know it's barrel aged, but is it bourbon barrel aged? just a little too hot for me, but interesting, complex and well made.

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Photo of tectactoe
4.06/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

La Roja pours a light-ish ruby red color with some copper tints popping out here and there. Translucent with a slight clarity as light busts through without much of a problem. A slightly foamy, beige head bubbles up and perches at about a quarter-inch, but fades to nothing but a ring relatively quickly.

Tart cherries make up a large portion of the aroma here; sour, juicy, and very fruit forward. It's a nice, clean smell - freshly picked and overly juice cherries, rather than syrupy and medicinal. Pungent, lively, and in-your-face. There might also be a little bit of a grape aroma, borderline vinous, but I'm really getting mostly cherries from this. Very light oak in the background but no real discernable funk or barnyard - at least not right away.

As expected, the taste is lightly tart up front but not too heavy - not quite puckering or lip-smacking, just a few notches below that. Cherries are abundant, but the grapes come out much more on the palate, and La Roja actually does have a strong vinous character to it. Oaky and woody notes come out big-time, especially near the latter half of the sip. Light yeast and funk notes come out a bit, too, but not as heavy as many of Jolly Pumpkin's other offerings. Oak and sweet cherry aftertaste, dry and carbonated heavily.

A solid offering from Jolly Pumpkin and a relatively "easy going" sour/wild ale that would be nice to easy newbies into the style without scaring them away.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.06/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on draft, in a tulip glass

dark amber in color, white head - good head retention. tart aroma. taste is fruity with a sharp acidic bite, but not too strong. refreshing. medium bodied.

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Photo of polloenfuego
4.06/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of AndyBeerGuy
4.06/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of philipquarles
4.07/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a murky reddish caramel with a medium off-white head. Dissipates quickly to leave a foam layer and a lot of lacing.

Smells strongly of sour cherries and other fruits. Woody (I guess oak) notes are surprisingly evident. Other funky smells that I can't describe well.

Taste is rather complex. The sour cherries esters are still evident, but roasted malt comes through quit a bit. Wood and other spicy notes come through also, adding nice nuances.

Really quite a drinkable beer; the sour flavors aren't terribly bold, making it easy to down. Good stuff.

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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 WanderingFool
4.07/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

La Roja pours a clear copper color with a small creamy head. A few lines of lace remain on the glass as the foam fades away.

The aroma is fruity and tart with notes of cherry, strawberry, oak and vanilla.

Each sip of this medium bodied beer is watery on the palate with fizzy carbonation. The flavor is tart and sour. Dark fruit (cherry/strawberry) blend nicely with oak and vanilla. It finishes moderately tart. The fruity flavor and tartness lingers on the palate when gone.

This beer isn't overly tart and fairly easy to drink for the style. The fruity flavor is pleasant.

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Photo of Lolli1315
4.07/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Updated review

A- Brown color with an obvious red tint that has obvious ruby highlights. One finger of an off white head composed of small bubbles. Retention isn't too bad and lacing is decent as well.

S- Tart cherries and green apples prevalent underneath a rich malt complexity. Sourness reveals itself in the middle, but not an overbearing amount, mostly clean. Alcohol begins to rise into the middle and lingers in the finish.

T- Malt complexity in the beginning of the beer that is complimented with fruit esters of tart cherries and a noticeable green apple flavor. Sourness builds in the middle, but is not dominating in the taste. I would personally like to see a little more, but it is very refreshing. Alcohol becomes noticeable in the middle and builds towards the finish. A "sweet and sour" finish with lingering alcohol.

M- Medium-light in body with medium-low carbonation. Sweet body helps lend to the "sweet-and-sour" taste.

D- Jolly Pumpkin, I apologize for last review of the La Roja. I was young and naive to your sour ways. Please forgive me. I promise I will visit you more often. I'm not the same person I was then. Please allow me this second chance. So what do you say, can we have a fresh start?

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Photo of Rschis16
4.07/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottled on date of 6/24/2011 served in a tulip, taken out of the fridge and poured half an hour later.

Flat ruby color with hints of caramel-like brown and orange. 1 finger head that dissapates fairly quickly down to a thin ivory sheet. Some stringy lacing left on the glass. A bit boozy on the nose with some vinous qualities, white wine coming to mind. Among the vinous aromas are some interesting earthy aromas of spicy caramel. Sweet to the nose as well with some dark cherries, raisins and other dark, even dried fruits. Very nice and aromatic.

Not overly sour, like biting into a lemon would be, but remeniscent of that. Not a lemon though, a sour cherry maybe, as it has a less citrusy vibe to it. The caramel holds the front of the palate down, keeping the sourness on the mild side while still letting it be a main component of the beer. There is a lightly bitter hop presence that makes its way through the sourness, even mingling with it, to be a reminder that this beer doesn't want to be two dimensional. It does a fine job of keeping some balance in this wild ale. Past the acidic qualities, this beer is pretty complex and nice to drink. Could use a bit more spritz in the mouthfeel to give that cleansing note. It finishes dry, but the carbonation is light, giving a too-smooth, unexciting feel.

I've never been a huge fan of incredibly sour treats and beers, but this beer does a good job of being somewhere in between. The caramel and touch of hops meet the sour fruitiness and a solid beer is the result. Definitely give it a try if you are trying to get into sour beers/wild ales as this one will have a fighting chance of not turning you off of them.

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Photo of crookedhalo
4.07/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy copper/amber color with a fizzy light tan colored head. Head holds for a while in the tulip at its narrowist point leaving some nice lacing. Aromas of rotting crabapple, hints of vanilla and oak, malt and a healthy brett character. First thing noticable upon first sip is that it is pretty mellow. Some tartness, some caramel and crystal malt sweetness but neither overpowering each other, some champagne-like flavors near the finish. I was expecting some more sourness, but I'm not disappointed. Healthy carbonation, prickly on the tongue with the medium-to-lighter body; attenutaion seems almost complete. Dry finish with some seltzer water aftertastes. A very nice beer that I'd order again.

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Photo of aubuc1
4.07/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle poured in to a goblet (blend 2, 2008).

Pours a murky tea like color with an off white head.

Big sour smell. Woody sour apple with some plum. Cinamon also.

Sour taste. Quick sour hit, then a dry finish just as quick. Fruit taste lingers.

Mouthfeel is sort of thin.

Pretty drinkable for my first reviewed real sour. A very complicated beer that is worth seeking out.

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Photo of damienblack
4.07/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Blend 6, 2008.

Pours an amber, like a lighter apple cider. Not a huge head considering the splooge out of the bottle when I opened it, quickly dissipates. Smell is awesome, tart apple, other wild berries, huge oak barrel whiff. Something else, maybe vanilla. It all combines to form something almost tobaccoey, but not gross. Taste is a lesser version of the smell. Tart apple, in this case the sour kick is very bitter up front when the beer is cold, and then carries through nothing. As it warms it really opens up, the tartness carries through less focused but longer. Like apple cider or granny smith apple. Very much dry, but a lot less barnyardy than other wild ales or saisons. I can't tell if that makes it more or less versatile. Mouthfeel suffers, it's kind of thin through, doesn't really have anything memorable here. Just sort of bounces off the senses so far as chewiness, thickness, or anything else like that goes. Unremarkable there. Very drinkable for a wild ale when it warms, but you have to let it warm first.

Overall, an all around solid wild ale. the best part is the smell, but the taste is pretty good as well. Solid if not groundbreaking. I will buy again, after I try some other JP offerings.

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Photo of Gemini6
4.07/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

La Roja from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
3.99 out of 5 based on 1,989 ratings.
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