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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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Reviews: 786 | Ratings: 1,968
Photo of shbobdb
3.04/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

So this is the controversial Jolly Pumpkin. I've gotta say -- what's the big deal?

It tastes like a Belgian Strong Dark Ale to me. Sure, there is a sourness at the end, but I wouldn't call it overpowering. I only really notice it when I lick my lips. Otherwise, it, well, pretty much tastes like any other BSDA on the market.

Not being a huge fan of the style, perhaps both its uniqueness and controversiality is lost on me, but I don't get it.

Big beer, lots of yeast funk, a touch of flavour from rich dark malts, all those I see as normal. The mouthfeel is much rounder and fuller than I've come to expect from beers loaded with sugar, so that's a bonus. Killer head retention. Touch of sourness, a bit of a brett bite at the end.

I think its a wonderful example of how hardcore bugbeers can be made to taste, well, like non-bug beers.

In that respect, mission accomplished.

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Photo of beerwolf77
3.06/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Bottle shared by Sweemzander with the tickerazzi. Thanks buddy. Poured into my tulip.

A: Dark pink/red. Modest head flecks of soapy lace.

S: Whoa who left there wet socks on the basement floor. We got a brett bomb here. I like em funky but this one is a bit overdone. A bit of sour cherry can be picked out but it's a struggle.

T: Luckily the tart fruits come through a bit more in the flavor but the moldy basement is all up in your mouth. Like gym socks that sat in your locker for months. I see where they were going here but I'm not sure I want to follow.

M: Medium to light body. Light carbonation. Dry finish.

D: Overall there's funk and then there's FUNK. This one is just a bit ot far off the funk rails for my tastes.

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Photo of JDV
3.06/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a cloudy brownish red color with foamy off white head. Smell is funky, tart cherry and some musty vinegar. Taste is funky, dry, fruity, with some cherry and very faint sweetness, but predominantly dry. Decent, but certainly didn't blow me away.

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Photo of Teleweizen2
3.06/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - pours a clear deep amber color. Virtually no head. Just a bubbling ring around the edges.

S - smell is pretty intense. Reminiscent of a jar of pickles. Lots of. Vinager. There is also a soft caramel sweetness and some tart fruit esters like sour cherries.

T -sour. Very sour. More like drinking white vinegar then drinking a beer. Not much else is detectable.

M - smooth. Medium bodied. Lightly carbonated.

D - I could not finish the bottle. This beer was just overwhelmingly sour. But I will say it did pair up fairly well some tortellini and red sauce for dinner and it might be intended to be this sour so while it might not be for me its still a well made ale.

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Photo of ATPete
3.08/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

batch 6

La Roja pours an amber brown color, murky, with a tall tan head, lots of sticking and noisy foam. Tart and instantly acidic barrel notes in the nose lead to a sweet malty profile with a large citrusy hop bite mid/late palate. More funky than 'sour' as its often described, and i like funky, this just seems to be a forced funk. Lots earthy notes of over ripe fruits and hay. All and all it really falls short for me, flat in flavor, almost one dimensional, wood is just a tease once the body is felt. Medium body, gueze like in nature, very bright carbonation and a seltzery feel to it. Possibly its just young? It just drops off the face of the earth mid palate.

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Photo of divineaudio
3.1/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

1pt 9.4 fl oz bottle into an oversized wine glass. blend 4 bottled on 4-23-10.

pours a gorgeous hazy copper with a pinky of off white head. head calms to a thin film that lasts throughout. leaves some spotty lacing in the glass.

smells like a glass of red wine with a bit of woodiness and biscuity malt. slight alcohol presence.

taste is sour, acidic and fruity. i can just barely pick out some malt character and a bit of oak, but no hop flavor. really tastes more like wine to me than beer.

mouthfeel is lighter with a puckery sourness. lots of carbonation, but avoids being prickly or fizzy.

i can see why wild ales are an acquired taste, i had a hard time finishing this bottle. the flavors were pretty off putting at first, but improved a bit as i worked my way through the bottle. even still, i won't be revisiting this beer or even this style anytime soon.

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Photo of flowerysong
3.13/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Medium brown body with a slight haze, coarse yellow-tinted head.

Smell: Very light nose-some vague fruitiness (maybe a hint of cherry) and sweet malt. A whiff of caramel.

Taste: Oak leads off, falling into vanilla and biscuit with some lightly sour cherry notes in the middle and a hint of brett on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Highly carbonated with a fairly light body. Very mild astringency in the finish.

Drinkability: Makes me think of a light Flanders Red. Fairly nice, if a bit uncomplicated.

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Photo of dgallina
3.14/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750ml bottle with no freshness dating.

Pours clear and highly-carbonated dark red with an inch of very creamy tan head and superb lace. Smells faintly woody and oaky, perhaps with a touch of mothballs. Powdery bitter lemon peel on sour wood flavor. Not well integrated at all. Something like licking a wine barrel with a lemon chaser. Medium body with lots of carbonation, but so dry it makes your mouth pucker. The beer becomes lighter and more gassy as it warms.

Kind of a mess and difficult to finish the bottle. Was hoping for more given their other offerings.

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Photo of sensorglitch
3.15/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into pint glasses. I like the amount of head tat it holds, though the color of the head isn't really anything to write home about. There is a copper red color which I am not complete used to seeing, is not transparent, a little bit hazy.

Has an interesting aroma to it. Smells very tart, has fruity overtones to it.

The taste is not what the color and smell would lead me to believe it to be. It definitely loses out for taste quite a bit.

Drinkability is not really good, i couldn't really drink think of a regular basis, maybe once in a while, but not too often. The mouth feel has a sort of odd, dryness to it, that I don't really like.

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Photo of ptykozoon
3.18/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours dark peach, decent beigy head and sticky lacing.

Butter, citrus - mostly lemon, hint of fruity sweetness in the background, cherries?

Interesting taste, full mouthfeel is a dominant characteristic, but not as buttery (diacetyl yuckiness) as anticipated. Lots of earthy flavors, oak, average to above average amount of sour. The spicy, herby earthiness (which is the main component here) after a while gets abrasive and overwhelming however unfortunately - needs to be toned down.

Denser mouthfeel than anticipated, creamy and lightly carbonated.

Overall a decent sour, worth a shot. Not a beginners sour however.

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Photo of bamarado
3.18/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Ok, I'm not trying to say I'm an expert, but many of you need to reevaluate your scoring. All I read about this beer is that it's mediocre, underwhelming, so-so... But you all still manage to give it a 4. 3 is OKAY, so do the math... 4 means it's good. It is ok, not the best, but... Just judge accordingly.

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Photo of Copernicandream
3.19/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

750 mL bottle, poured into tulip.

A: Rich red amber color, minimal to absent head. Relatively transparent for an unfiltered beer.

S: Sour, oak, earth tones (which to me is wet leaves)

T: Underwhelming. I get little more than a dry tart on the front end with a mellow souring in the rear. Hoping for a little more fruit and some more funk. Oak, tannins, mild unidentifiable (cherry/plum?) sour fruit.

M: Light and crisp, mild carbonation.

O: Underwhelmed, neither fruity nor complex sour. The more I drink the more tannin I taste, as I finished the bottle I was left with the sense of a over-oaked flanders. It's not bad by any means, but I would recommend others in the same genre far earlier.

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Photo of zjungleist
3.2/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Well, to start, it says "Artisan Amber Ale" on the front and "Bier de Garde" on the back. BA says it's a Belgian strong dark ale. Can we get a little agreement here? I'm not sure who to agree with. I can certainly say it's more of a Belgian dark than an amber anything. Never had a bier de garde, so I can't comment on that.

So... from the top...

The pour reminds me a bit of apple cider, slightly cloudy and brown, but with a crazily huge, loose and crubmly head. The nose is a bit funky and musty, but with some medium fruit in there too. The taste is pretty funky and yeasty up front, but mellows a bit with some hop bitterness and nearly pleasant sweet fuity/malty aftertaste. I find this a little thin for a Belgian dark, but on par for an amber ale. This is not a typical brew, and I have to says it's gonna lose some points on style. I can't imagine, ever in my life, being thirsty specifically for this beer.

In this beer's defense, it does get a bit sweeter and less yeasty at it warms. I would not recommend serving this one too cold.

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Photo of dsa7783
3.23/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750 ML bottle purchased from Wine and Beverage Depot in Totowa...
"Artisan Amber Ale Aged in Oak Barrels" on the front logo sticker..
Impressive pour, a deep, earthy, dark-amber color with a moderate-sized foamy and frothy head that exhibited nice staying power...
Aroma was likewise very earthy, with caramel and butter notes...
I wasn't prepared for the extremely sour and slightly bitter taste of this one - it caught me off guard... The oak-barrel essence is certainly noticeable along with sour citrus, floral, and bitter caramel flavors...
Thick, creamy mouthfeel but very sour and an unpleasant aftertaste is also evident...
To me, drinkability was average at best due to the extremely sour notes that pervaded this beer and really took hold... Although it does start to slowly mellow out over time, I wasn't too crazy about this one and was expecting more from this one...
If you appreciate a very sour beer, than this one is for you...

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Photo of MaltyGoodness
3.23/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750ml bottle

Pours a hazy dark brown with some ruby highlights. Has a thick tan head that maintains. Lots of bubbles are visible from the abundant carbonation. Thick lacing on the glass.

Aroma is malty and bready with a dark fruitiness and a hint of sourness.

Taste is lightly malty and bready upfront with less fruitiness than in the aroma. It finishes dry with a mildly sour bite at the end.

Body is rich and creamy with plenty of carbonation.

Well, this is my least favorite of the Jolly Pumpkin offerings that I have tried. It's not a bad beer, but just a bit off for the style. The sourness is more what I would expect from a lambic.

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Photo of shodrod
3.23/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This beer pours with a deep reddish color. The ivory foam holds for just a minutes and then leaves some ok lacing. The aroma instantly reveals what Jolly Pumpkin does best: sour. Heavy scents of sour apple and wild yeasts, as well as hints of oak. The flavor is exactly what you expect from the smell. Heavy sour notes hit you right up front with a dry, oaky finish. This beer is a very good example of a sour ale, but know what you're getting into when pouring this beverage.

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Photo of katan
3.23/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured out of a 25 oz bottle, no date.

A - Pours an amber color, almost leaning towards the red side. Had a nice rolling bubbling for the first few seconds. Settled to a millimeter head.

S - Has a smell something akin to cherry's. Absolutely a fruity smell.

T - Hits with the cherry/malt flavors. It has a sweet note, not very much of a bittering hop background. Does finish with a sour/earthy flavor, which is probably due to the wild yeast.

M - Its a very smooth beer. Even with the visual appearance of lots of carbonation, there wasn't much in the mouthfeel

D - An interesting change of pace. At times it feels like its a replacement for a bottle of wine on the table. Don't think I would drink more of one of these in a sitting.

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Photo of n2185
3.24/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours a murky reddish-brown wit a finger of off-white head that quickly recedes into a thin ring with only a little lacing.

S: Lots of tart, sour aromas on the nose at first followed by some musky, funky barnyard aromas. Underlying it all is a bubblegum sweetness.

T: Tart and sour at first along with a lightly sweet malt flavor. A fairly strong funky, sweaty flavor follows with a light bitterness. The finish is surprisingly weak and watery with just a touch of yeast flavor, giving an overall bland finish.

M: Medium-light body with mid-low carbonation, this beer feels crisp at first but then finishes a bit watery.

O: A decent wild ale that I wish had a bit more depth of flavor and body. It' not bad by any means, but is far from great.

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Photo of DoubleJ
3.24/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Magnum bottle from my local store (Wayne's Liquor), on to the beer:

Sticky head retention on top of this deep colored amber beer. Put it under bright light and it looks magnificent in my flute! The aroma is a little sweet and tart. I can smell a little oak and light sour characterists of a Franders Red. Tastes very much like a Flanders Red as well, but a bit one-dimensional in my view. The flavor is sour and very acidic with little regard for anything else. The acidicness in this beer burns your chest for a brief moment after it's swallowed. Pickle juice and tartness flavors are subtle.

The dangerous level of acidicity in this brew makes this hard on your chest and mediocre tasting. But at least it's amazing to look at!

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Photo of Elicoleman
3.25/5  rDev -18.5%

A: Dark amber
S: Sour green apple, oaky, wonderful smell
T: Almost no real discerning flavor, washes with the slightest bit of sour. Definitely doesn't match the smell
M: Zero carbonation, watery, empty
O: I was incredibly excited to try this beer based on the rating and my love of Wild Ales but this was a let down, especially after the smell. This was easy to drink in the sense that it literally goes down like water but I wouldn't recommend anyone rush out to get this beer.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.25/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Chilled 750mL into a glass.

A: I've let this settle in the fridge for days, but a gentle pour still produces a cloudy, murky amber with reddish tint at the edges. It has a finger of off-white head that recedes quickly into a broken film and moderate collar on the brew. It deposits some lace.

S: Tart, slightly boozy cherry that evokes a passing comparison to cough syrup. Some must, sour apples, and oak.

T: An earthy, musty taste greets the tongue. The cherry cough syrup comparison flits briefly through my mind, but I decide the taste is better described as tart cherry skins, a touch of vinegar, sour apple, and oak. There's some muddled anise or spice in there, but it's haphazard and I can't pick it out consistently.

M: Light-bodied, with good carbonation. It still gets a lot of tannic buildup after a while, as the cherry skin residue builds on the palate without being scrubbed properly. That can be an issue when drinking a full 750mL. It's also boozier than I would expect for a 7.2%er, and that's not particularly attractive.

D: I used to love this when I was new to sours, but after a couple of years of exploring the style, I can't honestly put this on the same pedestal as Russian River. It's not terrible, but it's closer to middle of the pack than upper-tier. Quite a good value, though.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3.26/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

My girlfriend picked this up because the pirate cat on the label. I do love pirates. Wild ales not so much.

Blend 3, 2008. Translucent reddish brown color it looks like some sort of raspberry rum daiquiri. Thin white head that never diminishes and rides intact right down the glass.

Sour fruity funk aroma: bready caramel with lots of chardonnay characteristics. Taste is similar. With fruity esters galore it's almost like a wild old ale or maybe chardonnay mixed with watered down Kool-aid fruit punch (oh yeah!). Sour settles down a bit as it warms.

Overall I found it messy and hard to grab a hold of. Like the cat though.

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Photo of granger10
3.26/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer pours a brillian auburn color with yellow highlights and a small foamy tan head. The nose is a bit on the weak side with notes of toasted malts, spice, and cherry liquer. The taste begins with a fruity flavor which is mainly cherry but there's also some banana phenols and red grape tannins in here, like a hefeweizen meets merlot mixture. The toasted malts are here as well but get overwhelmed by the alcohol flavor. This is like spiced rum at times. The alcohol gets too strong and I feel it towards the finish. The yeasty aspect is not quite there in the finish but I do notice a slight earthy flavor in the middle that is probably from the yeast. Body is medium and not too lively. This beer has excellent potential but is simply too young right now. Try it in a year and it will be fabulous. But for now, stick with the Oro de Calabaza.

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Photo of stickydankhop
3.26/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Smell: 1st wiff sour like vinegar hints whiskey and oak. Taste: very tangy and sour pucker. Reminds me of a Belgium cherry ale. Very different and may require an acquired taste.

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Photo of chicano4craft
3.26/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottled 6-17-10 Blend 6

Poured into a snifter. Cloudy and deep amber with a tight white head. Carbonation feeds the head for quite awhile. LOTS of sediment. I saw it coming down the bottle neck as I poured.

Nose is, well, sour. Kind of salty. When it comes to Flanders I usually have a hard time getting past the tartness to smell much else.

Taste is puckering! I do get some wood from the barrels mixed some sour fruit. Decent amount of funk.

Mouthfeel is average. Maybe a bit to much carbonation. I nursed a glass for the better part of an afternoon and got a little bored with the flavor. I need a certain amount of fruit to come through for me to really enjoy a sour or Wild ale.

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La Roja from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
3.99 out of 5 based on 1,968 ratings.
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