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La Roja | Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

very good
785 Reviews
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La RojaLa Roja

Brewed by:
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
Michigan, United States | website

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: 785 | Ratings: 1,957
Photo of russpowell
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle pours a volcanic amber/caramel with floaties (cleared nicely) & 3+ fingers of fluffed up sand-colored head. Very good lacing & above average head retention

S: Sour & oaky, not picking up any weird/funky Brett notes (maybe gave it all up through fermentation? That'd be okay by me! )

T: Sourness, apple skins, oaky dryness & a hint of vanilla up front. Tart raspberry follows as this warms. Finishes sour, tart, slight caramel whispers. with tanic notes & hints of cherry & raspberries

MF: Medium-bodied, spritzy

Drinks great for a sour beer& the ABV; this is my 1st American Wild Ale. I'd just about given up on this brewery, this one takes me back to cautiously happy about their offerings, easily the best Jolly Pumpkin product I've had

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Photo of dbrauneis
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a bottle at DBGB Kitchen & Bar in New York, NY

A: Pours a lightly hazy dark amber to garnet red in color. The beer has a half finger tall off-white head that reduces to a thin ring at the edges. No lacing is observed.

S: This beer definitely has some light vinous notes along with the aromas of sour cherries, tartness, light sourness, and just a hint of mustiness.

T: The tartness of the sour cherries definitely comes through in the taste as well as some light vinous sourness. There is a hint of mustiness and a very light bitterness in the finish. Very nice balance and complexity.

M: On the lighter side of medium bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation.

O: I really enjoy this beer and it pairs so well with pork. I really like the tartness and the light sourness, making this beer very enjoyable to drink and certainly one that I could enjoy multiple glasses over a meal. I need to pick some more of this one up at some point soon.

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

Thanks to Shane for hooking me up with this bottle. Review from notes.

A: Pours a cloudy amber with a large 2 finger head on top, white in color. The head stuck around for a few minutes then slowly dissipated to a thin layer on top. Nice lacing down the sides.

S: Nice sour/tartness up front. Deep sour cherries and other light fruits. Light oak and just a little bit of funk, but the sour cherry dominates.

T: Light but plenty flavorful. A little bit of sour cherry, some apple, peach, and apricot. The sour bite increases a bit as it warms. A slight hint of wood from the aging.

M: On the lighter side of medium bodied with a good level of carbonation that lets it drink very smooth.

O: Was very happy with this beer. Not overly sour/tart and had a really nice fruit flavor to it. Look forward to getting this one again for sure.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 01/07/12 notes. Thanks to whoever shared this one at the last DC RB tasting. Blend 2, from 3/18/10.

a - Pours a murky orange amber color with one finger of off white head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of lightly sour fruits, light funk, brett, oak, earthy notes, and barnyard funk. Very nice, a nice mix of fruits and funk.

t - Tastes of fruity malts, lightly sour fruits, barnyard funk, oak, earthy notes, and musty notes.

m - Medium body and low carbonation.

o - Overall a nice beer. Not my favorite JP beer, but seems to have held up well. Some light sour fruits and that JP beer, would have it again.

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Photo of billab914
3.92/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750ml bottle into my lost Abbey stemware. Poured brown in color with a frothy off white head taking up the top 1/2 inch of the glass. The head had some decent retention and left some great lacing as I drank it.

The aroma has a very nice mix of sweet, fruity, malty flavors and a tart, funky, sour flavor. It has a lot of sweet and sour cherry flavor coming through in the nose as well as some grape and apple cidery flavors. Very complex and appealing aroma to it overall.

The taste is a little more moderate in the sourness then what was in the nose. It has more of a tart fruitiness to it with a moderate sourness coming through more in the finish. Some apple, grape and cherry flavors all come through in the fruitiness. Some caramel and malty flavors help give the beer a nice base.

The mouthfeel is a little above medium bodied and carbonation is also above average. Drinkability is pretty good, it had a lot of great flavors to it. It was pretty well balanced between the tart and sour flavors and the sweet fruity flavors which definitely helped the drinkability. Very good beer overall.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.6/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appears a clouded ruby amber brown...I guess at this point it's safe to call it mahogany. Forms an effervescent light tan head that leaves at least two fingers worth of foam. Very nice presentation as it the head dwindles a collar of lace is left with each sip, leaving all senses appeased includinig the visuals. Aroma has tart cider oak barrel notes, it's almost perfumey in nature enticing to say the least...vinous as in from the vine notes run rampant as well. Amongst the poetry of aromatics this beer has to offer, comes an amazing spice mix and funky wild barnyard notes, in the words of Vince Vaughn's character in Swingers this beer is "so money". Taste definitely rings in with a rolling crescendo of different flavors, bready at times with hints of charred oak some bitterness from herbal hop bursts entwined with a caramel inspired malt profile. WIth thos spice additions delivered from the heavens above, also comes the backbone of the flavor profile that tart cider character. Delicious on multiple levels not much left to report here. Mouthfeel...this is beer that captivates your palate with it's medium body and fine carbonation it really goes down much too smooth. This is beer really captures the Belgian style ales mouthfeel that most American brewers have a hard time recreating and I'm guessing this is being pulled off with all of the traditional brewing methods. Drinkability is excellent on both in number and leaving me to desire more of the incredible flavors melded in this brew. This Haiwaiin/Spanish speaking individual up in Dexter, MI has not disappointed me yet and so far I've had the Bam biere, Blanca, Oro de Calablaza, and the Luciernaga all incredible I really admire these products.

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

What the hell. For 15 minutes I watched this bottle foam over. I keep having to clean the foam off before it goes all over.

Pours a ruby hue with some head that rapidly fades to nothing. Nose is like caramelized apples and I also feel like I am standing in an old wine cellar that is ripe with so much exposure to moisture. Just an almost musty, old wood smell. Flavor reminds me of a wine, or better yet a brandy. Different from that though of course. Apple flavor is distinct, but not overpowering by any means. This is my first of this style, so I don't really know what to expect. Which makes this nothing more than an amateurs rating. But over the journey I have taken in beer and coming to this point, I kind of like it. Definitely not something to pick up right off the bat after just getting into the craft brew. But good to push the palate in a forward direction.

Batch 7, 2008

Pours a foggy orange hued brown with a creme head. Nose is all wood with some vanilla and wild yeast tones. Flavor is bitter with an earthy citrus thing going on. Very acidic wood profile overall. Feel has a bit of a biting carbonation to it and a liquid feel that is a bit thick and slick. Nice tiny drink. A bit rough on the edges, but you've gotta love a readily available wild ale.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by jayhawk73. Thanks Jeff!

Blend 12
Bottled 7-11-2011

The beer appears dark ruby hued with a half inch of tan head that leaves some nice lacing on the snifter. The aroma brings funk, wild yeast, oak, cherries, assorted fruit. Really nice flavor. Complex, sour, delicious. I am a happy guy. I have had this a few times now. While this is not necessarily a great introduction to the style (though Jeff may disagree), due to the brash complexity and unorthodox nature of the beer, I highly recommend this. Sour cherries, with a healthy sour, lactic presence. The beer in some regards reminds me of Russian River Consecration, which is a very good thing. Ya man, this beer is good stuff. Recommended.

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Photo of jwc215
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to jcwattsrugger for sharing!

Pours orangeish amber with an off-white head. Some lacing sticks.

The smell is of a vinegar-y sour with cherries and some bready notes. Smells reminiscent of a tart/sour cherry pie.

The taste is of tart cherries with some caramel. Sour with a touch of sweetness. Some vanilla/oak comes through. Finishes dry.

Nice on its own - unique - but really shines with cream cheese covered with cherries.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.62/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This started with a frothy, deep-tan head that quickly dissipated. The color was a lightly-cloudy deep red. The nose had notes of coconut, must, and white wine. The mouthfeel was rather thin, but really effervescent and palate cleansing. The taste was vinous, dry, and slightly brett-driven. The finish was likewise dry. This was a pretty good offering from one of my favorite brewers, but not destined to be a top favorite of mine.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My first Jolly Pumpkin, much anticipated, and great props are thrown to LuckySeven82 for providing. I nod at the wily pirate cat on the label, as I embark on my adventure...

Poured into a wide-mouthed La Trappe goblet, it's a distincitively cloudy crimson hue, adorned with a sturdy, long-play head of creamy amber foam.

Aroma? A heady mix of sour and yeast, wild and wooly, like the best of Belgians...a loud and lively nose, big and burly..puts me in mind of a more extroverted Maudite, maybe? Spicy, sour, yet sweet, and unearthly...I must admit, I like it...

Taste: hmmm...big carbonation, high alcohol, bold flavor, but doesn't quite reach what I feel it was going for, doesn't approach the promise of the aroma. I almost want to say "flat", but that would be wrong, just lacks in a forward, full flavor..misses something ethereal in the mix. Other than that disappointment, still quite nice.
And, I shy from seeming to strike at the knees of a new, starting, ambitious brewery, I recoil from calling this out as a failing.
It is tasty, it is a bright, fruity yeasty thing, and it is satisfying....but it's just missing something.
With enough encouragement, perhaps this little Michigan brewery could turn out something really great! (maybe it's waiting in my fridge with the 2 other JP beers in store for me?)

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.65/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Found this review on a sticky note behind my phone case! I need a better system...
750 mL bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled 7/11/11.

Appearance - Pours a clean amber. Small off-white head with decent retention.

Smell - Acetic acidity with a malty presence. Reminds me of a light Flanders Red.

Taste - Bright lemon acidity. Very brief. Turns a touch vinegary as the maltiness comes through. Finishes with all sorts of muddy sour flavors.

Mouthfeel - Very light. I expected and maybe wanted a heavier malt presence.

Overall - Much better than other JP beers. I was beginning to lose faith as all of them started tasting the same to me. This one has a variety of sour flavors, even if it seems muddled and unclean.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.77/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass.

Deep red, with a bit of burnt rust color to it, but fairly bright for it's dark appearance. Opaque, with very slow crawling fine bubbles rising. Minimal head creation with a faint tan color, leaving a thin collar on the glass.

Wonderful bouquet on this brew. A great mix of balanced sweet caramel and tangy sour red fruit. Senses like a bowl of sour cherries, and sweet malts. Definitely getting a Flanders like vibe from this for an American brewery for me is kind of rare and very impressive. Sweet taffy throws itself in the mix too. Real nice.

Palate comes off a little more than disappointing. Light malted body and slightly wet, with not a lot of hint of barrel aging character. Some good sweet mix of cherry/raspberry like tones in the mid palate, with a nice controlled finish. Aftertaste comes off more light and hinting towards a summer light brew, which is impressive since this rolls in at a much higher undetectable abv. Slightly flat carbonation, but not giving to the caramel sweetness on the palate. Some mild pepper finish seems to give a bit of menthol heat too.

Overall an ok wild, but feels more like a summer quencher quick thrower, than a malty classic oak wonder.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.58/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Drinking this beer makes me wonder what the grand reserve is like, a lot.

Beer poured from a bottle into a tulip glass. Beer is red and hazy, forms a thin head that disappears slowly leaving no evidence that it was ever there.

Aroma is bretty, mildly acidic, and has this mild cherriness about it. It smells interesting but its odd overall. Too many different things.

This beer is better cold than at room temperature. Its quite bretty in the mouth, mild tartness, sourness is moderate. There is some sweetness to it up front but mostly this is a brett bomb. Overall its pretty good for a wild, i wouldn't really describe this beer as overly fruity or sour. If I want a sour made with cherries I think I'll go for a supplication.

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

Transcribing my notes from my review on my website to here, after this beer coming up in a discussion this weekend. From a 750 ml bottle:

A - Cloudy, rustic burgundy body with a creamy & bubbly tan head.

S - Sour fruity notes: Granny Smith apple and sweet caramel malt. Spiced clove and crushed garlic, also.

T - Sweet and sour cherry, gooseberry, woody oak notes in the linger. Finishes dry and tart.

M - Perfect amount of carbonation (on the lower end) giving this a medium body, great for a Wild Ale.

As one of my first "sour" beers, this is a great place to start. It's not nearly as acidic or lactic as other sours on the market, it's tame but approachable - justifiable so a wonderful introduction to the style.

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Photo of Billolick
4.45/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Large brown bottle, capped, w/o freshness info, pours medium brown, semi clear, with bubbles rising, under a looong lasting tan head, that falls to a 1/16 of an inch film (thick) and leaves heaps of thick lacing...malty, musty, earthy dense and complex nose...notes here of sour (some brett?), more earthyness, dark fruits, funk, smoke/wood, mustyness...complex, tasty brew. The yeasty, murky final bottle drain pour add plenty of sediment and more funk....bring on some stinky cheese, crusty bread, BBQ...yum, nicely crafted brew, well worth seeking out a fresh and tasty sample of this nectar

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Photo of WoodBrew
2.98/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Attractive ruby-brown semi-hazy brew. Head is rosy tan and initially large. It fades to a ring leaving little bits of lace straggling behind. Aroma is fun to take in. Maraschino cherries, green apple, rum, butterscotch, toffee, maple syrup, brown sugar, spice, and something tart....Jolly Ranchers come to mind though its been along time since I've had any. Taste is crisp, clean, sour, tangy, fruity...fermented fruity...and enjoyably bitter. Definitely some nutty stuff going on here in an intriguing and mouthwatering way. There's something reminiscent of stinky armpits in this...not to be taken negatively. Earthy and rooty flavors perhaps... Rooibos? The sourness of this grows on you as you get further in. Texture is lightweight and delicate. Grape-like dry, finely gritty, slick throughout, and generally lip smacking. Medium body with soft carbonation. I am enjoying this. A welcome change of pace.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.45/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

01/21/07- Purchased at Ledgers Liquors in Berkeley, CA.

Presentation- 750ml bottle. Capped, but not corked. Wonderful artwork as usual on the label from JP. No freshness info found. Poured into my Duchesse goblet.

Apperance- Burnt orange or rust colored pour. 1/2 inch fairly creamy looking head. Half of which remains for the intirety. Nice streaks and patches of lace.

Smell- That lovely flanders scent. Pungent and sour cherry-raspberry nose with oaky aspects. A nice whiff of barnyard as well.

Taste- Perfect sourness backed by a significant level of malt. Lovely fresh fermented fruit taste. Heavy berry flavors (cherry, raspberry, loganberry).

Mouthfeel- Oaky and sour aftertaste with a nice carbonation level.

Drinkabiltiy- Combo of a Goudenband and Duchesse. More malty than either though. Best american flanders I have had to date. Worth the $11.50 I dropped on it.

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Photo of vfgccp
3.79/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A – Pours a beautiful, deep ruby amber. Nice white head that settles fairly quickly but leaves a nice lace.

S – Soft sour apple and tart unripe papaya.

T – Tart and sour cranberry / unripe apple. Hay. Touch of golden raisin. The entire profile is fairly soft on your palate and not overwhelming tart.

M – Medium body. Dry, clean finish with a light residual tartness.

O – A nice sipping beer with a refreshing tartness. Plays nice with a huge swath of food pairings, from red curry, to caprese salad, to earth cheeses.

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Photo of WesWes
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a cloudy amber color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great! It smells of pale and crystal malts along with lambic bacteria. It's sour with a slight oak barrel aroma; very nice. The taste is great as well. It has a smooth bisquity amber flavor that goes down easy and finishes sour and earthy with some oakey notes. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium/full bodied beer with adequate/good carbonation. This is a good drinking beer; probably the best that I've had from these guys. I have to say that this is a Flanders red ale (says so on the bottle). I don't know who declared the style for this one.

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Photo of Gobzilla
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark brown with reddish highlights that had a half finger of head which had great retention and left some bubbly lacing sticking to the glass. The aroma made it seem like it would be tart in flavor that consisted of slight vinegar, cherries, funky, oaky, and mild acidic notes. It did have some lemon character as well. The flavor reminded me more of a flanders red but funkier. the cherries were more potent on the palate with oaky, funky, and slight vinegar accents with acidic tart lemony notes. The brew was medium in body with a good amount of carbonation which had a sweet, fruity, acidic, citrusy, oaky, funky, tart, and tingly finish. It drank great and reminded me how tarty this brew was. I definitely need to pick up some bottles of this in the near future.

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Photo of tempest
3.95/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Split a bottle with a friend. Some sours can pack so much tangy punch, it can be hard to split a 750ml bottle, but this had nice, slightly restrained character. The opening earthy barnyard character is subtle and not so overpowering like an old, stinky gueuze. It's followed by tart lemon and sour cherries. It doesn't come off as the most complex sour, though maybe a year or two in a cellar would change that. but it's pleasantly sour while remaining relatively drinkable and I appreciate that.

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Photo of Gavage
3.99/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours a cloudy amber color with thin 1/2" head that immediately drops to a surface foam. No lacing develops.

Smell: caramels and ripe fruits.

Taste: caramel, ripe plums, hints of vanilla, mild bitterness, yeast, and a light sourness all wrapped in an earthy tone. Very differnent and interesting.

Mouthfeel: crisp at the start and finish. The aftertaste is short with the the caramel and fruits. Medium in body.

Drinkability: nicely drinkable, even though it is a bit on the funky side. Definitely worth a look.

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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 Duff27
3.43/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a half inch off white head on a dark copper body. Average lacing and head retention.

S- Aromas of apples and acidity.

T- Somewhat sour but relatively tame compare to others in it's style. Fruity character.

M- Medium mouthfeel, medium carbonation.

D/O- Tartness could be upped a tad and would make for a better overall beer. As is, an enjoyable wild that fails to make it to the upper echelon.

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La Roja from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
89 out of 100 based on 785 ratings.
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