La Roja | Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

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La RojaLa Roja
2,001 Ratings
La RojaLa Roja

Brewed by:
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
Michigan, United States

Style: Flanders Red 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: 2,001 |  Reviews: 792
Photo of dwvarner77
3.41/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a copper orange with a hint of plum highlights. Tall, tall head rapidly falls to give a half-inch frothy foam. Aroma is not greatly distinctive, amber malt with a hint of yeast and tart cherry.
Taste is rich with amber malt; lightly spicy, with a definite yeast character present. This is followed with a bit of hop bitterness for balance. The woody undertones from the oak barrel aging are evident, and more than a hint of alcohol is left in the aftertaste.
Active carbonation gives a pleasant mouthfeel, and it's sufficiently drinkable considering the alcohol. There's a lot going on, but overall, it's kind of underwhelming.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4/5  rDev -0.7%
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 weeare138
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to walleye for this!
Appears a deep amber mahogany with a murky, unfiltered haze with pockets of light carbonation hidden towards the bottom of the glass. A small beige head fizzles out, leaving a small film in the center of the goblet. There are tiny to no remnants of lacing.
Smell is of dark fruit, yeast, vanilla, and bourbon-esque oak.
Taste is of rich plums, figs, spice, ripe mangoes, along with a touch of creamy vanilla,oak, and bourbon near the finish. In my opinion, this is an extremely complex taste.
Mouthfeel is full bodied with exotic flavors and perfect amount of oak and bourbon thrown in to the mix. Sweetness, bitterness, creaminess, richness…this brew packs the
complexity of a well done Imperial Stout.
Drinkability is nice. I find it hard to believe that it’s only 7.2% abv but it’s so nice that you won’t care about the premature buzz it gives off.

Finger licking good!

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Photo of LuckySevens82
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into a St. Bernardus snifter.

Pours a nice Amber brown, with orange tints. A lose, tan head tops this one off. Retention is lacking, but lacing is pretty good.
Smell is strong caramel, spice (cinnamon, nutmeg), and fruit (pears, figs, and plums). A slight alcohol presence is acompanied by a nice hoppiness that creates something really nice.
Taste is a rather strong spiciness up front with the cinnamon and nutmeg kind of overpowering the caramel. Hints of chocolate are there as well as a very fruity backbone, balanced nicely by a plesant bitterness. There is some alcohol heat as this coats the back of the tongue. There seems to be some oakiness as well.
Overall, a very good beer. The flavors meld well, and this is a fine example of the style.

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Photo of walleye
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

from the bottle. poured a cloudy reddish brown, with a light tan head. aroma, plums, carmel, fruity, yeast hints of grapes and alcohol, and a sourness finishes it off, a very enjoyable aroma. flavor, fruity with a nice blend of caramel, yeast , plums and sour grapes.

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Photo of Gaisgeil
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is one very well crafted brew, I'm impressed, score another solid Michigan brewery!

Pours a deep brown with lots of sediment swirling around accompanied by a creamy tan head with decent retention. Nose is quite alcoholic, a bit malty, hops detected as well. Taste is quite nice, a bit fruity, very spicy, hints of coriander and ginger and other spice I can't quite place. Mouthfeel is mildly heavy.

Overall I'm impressed, as a newer brewery I expect they will only get better and better.


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Photo of nortmand
4.77/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours dark amber and crystal clear, with a red hued foam and a decent two finger lacing.
The smell has a deep banana tone with a muted spiciness and, dare I say it, creamy backdrop.
Ripe bananas abound upon first gulp. The beer actually has some creamy qualities, different from what I've had before, on the sides of the tongue. It ends with intermingling roast and alcohol flavor. In fact, my only complaint with this beer is that the alcohol isn't hidden too well. But, considering the brewery's size, I can't complain too loudly.
Nice, fizzy mouthfeel, that rolls smoothly across the tongue.
Very drinkable, this brewery is already producing phenomenal beers, I can't wait for the future!

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Photo of Sammy
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Very satisfying, thanks Wohlfs. Refreshing spices. Rum whiff. Well carbonated. All taste. Lots of different malts. Licorice, corriander, rum, bourbon, fennel, fruit. Another bottle two years later and in particular sour, more than I would expect from a biere de garde and great looks from lace and head.

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Photo of Rastacouere
3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ruby reflects on a brown background. Nicely cloudy. Off-white cover. Earthy, musty cellar flavors comprises a generous fruitiness underneath (grapes, apples, pears). Mellow tart aspects, cloves and earthy dryness in abundance. Mellow barrel notes, possibly the most obvious of the 4 JP and definitely the driest. Cork flavors, bitter finish. Soft and elegant gentle bubbles accompany the lenghty finish. Very cohesive. I’m with Mat. That brewery has seized the meaning of crafting like no other and in the car state of all places!

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Photo of ppoitras
4.18/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle obtained via trade with CRJMellor. Thanks for the opportunity...

Poured into a Rapscallion glass, formed a frothy 1 1/4" of creamy beige head over the murky deeply reddish amber brew. Head lasts, and laces well with foamy remnants. Aroma is of slightly spicy yeasts, with barrel notes easily noted, although I almost wish they were a bit more in the background. Taste is initally a somewhat fruity spice bread, which traipses into oak-land, and then returns with a dry aftertaste. Mouthfeel is good, very creamy, which keeps the aging notes from completely taking over, and the drinkability is great. Another good one from Jolly Pumpkin...

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Photo of beergeek279
4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in the 750 mL bottle into a tulip. The color is a very dark ruby red, with a thick, foamy white head. The smell is very strongly smoky. The taste is dominated by the bourbon barrel smoky flavor, with a good bit of plum sweetness and a good touch of esters and just a touch of alcohol and pepper, with the smokiness lingering in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is well-carbonated. As for drinkability, I'd have a few.

If you've wondered what a barrel-aged double would be, well this is it. Unlike the other JPs, that are just touched with the barrel aging, the barrel is a serious part of the flavor in this beer. This is enjoyable, and unlike a barrel-aged tripel, the double is a little more robust and sits a bit better with it. Once again, maybe I'll make my obligatory call for JP in Pennsylvania :). Fairly enjoyable, and this is one I'd gladly have again!

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Photo of nomad
3.82/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I have been slow to review this ale despite enjoying it on many occasions. If the Jolly can be accused of inconsistency (I would rather call it variance) this beer is example A.

It pours a deep red-to-amber color with moderate head and lacing properties. A little hazy from time to time but fairly ballsy with the rouge appearance though not noted for catching eyes.

Smell shows some of the aforementioned variability of this creation - as aged in oak barrels it often has the requisite vanilla, coconut, and earthy but enjoyable wood aromas. Behind these perky wisps are a solid caramel, and truly the essence of that descriptor, covered in spices. Not plant-born spiciness but the punch of alcohol and the character of Saison yeast.

Upon sipping the ride begins, leading you in different directions with each bottle. On a good day the caramel and oak-effects are resplendent and congeal into a liquid treat with deftly balanced dryness and spice in the finish. On a bad day the booze is brazen, the barrel aging is non-existent, and the malt structure is misshapen. Typically always showing some butterscotch and cider-like presence. Sometimes rounded and easy, other times prickly as a cactus. Sometimes thick, sometimes thin. Rum, pepper, marshmallow, a bevy of hints that appear once in one bottle of many.

A picture of wild swings is not what I'm drawing - most of the time this beer falls somewhere between the poles. But, these extremes do exist and can be appreciated if you are lucky enough to regularly enjoy the fruits of the Pumpkin. Giving this beer a numbers to describe is rough - its the definiton, at least in my head, of artisanal and I'd like to leave it as such. Screw the ratings and read the reviews.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled lightly chilled, December 2004
Pours a hazy amber color, and is topped by a frothy full tan head. As I pour I get hints of apricot, orange, dust, and musty wood. Interesting enough to go in for a deeper contemplative smell. Hmm, this one smells wild and musty, almost has the aroma of a beer that has been in a corked bottle for a while, though this hasn't. I get fleeting spicy notes that are perhaps reminiscent of grains of paradise, ginger, clove, which then moves into malty notes mixed with musty wood notes. Quite an interesting mix of aromas, I am not quite to sure if the taste is going to be good or bad, it depends on which notes come through the most.

Ok, the taste, it is soft and lightly sweet up front, and then moves to a tangy, orange-like middle, then finishes with some astringency. Definitely an interesting beer. This beer is rich with a healthy dose of malt notes that are full of caramel, biscuits, and crusty French bread. The malt mixes with spicy notes of pepper, ginger, clove, and orange peel. There is a musty tartness to this beer that, though not overwhelming, certainly contributes to this beer. This beer finishes with a slightly hot, astringent finish that I am not quite able to pinpoint.

Ultimately, I think that this beer is a little out of wack, it is sort of in the gray zone between conventionally fermented single yeast strain fermented beers, infected beers, and beers that are fermented purposefully with wild, yet house derived character. This beer needs to decide which way it wants to go, and I would certainly be in favor of it going fully funky, if it can be kept in balance. Right now it is certainly interesting, certainly drinkable, and even enjoyable, but it seems a bit muddled by various competing fermentation by products. I could see a bottle of this beer being laid down for a year or two and becoming quite stellar, if not intriguingly different. While I am being quite critical here, this is a beer that I am quite enjoying, and I will look forward to procuring some more bottles of this beer. Cheers to Jolly Pumpkin for pushing the boundaries in the middle of America, and cheers to my personal Santa who delivered this treat to my doorstep.

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Photo of Mitchster
2.1/5  rDev -47.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

750 ml bottle with a pirate cat wearing a red hat with french whiskers. Barrel aged and bottle conditioned. Pours to a murky medium brown, forming a modest light tan head with good retention and lacing. Aroma is kinda funky...cloves, alcohol, distant banana, and this wierd sulfury-leather-yeast-mold-booze thing going on..the funk is like wet, moldy pizza crust. Kinda off-putting at first. Mouthfeel is sharp, ruddy in the finish, and medium-bodied. Taste starts out with a whopping ton of cloves..lots of phenols, followed by some woody amber malts and mild herbal hops. In the middle moderate fusels and higher alcohols appear consistent with a poor ferment. The finish is ruddy like wet cardboard with notes of bourbon, window cleaner, and lots of warmth as it goes down the tube. Sherry like flavors muck it up as it warms.

There are just too many off-flavors here...the alcohol is too strong, the window cleaner fusels, the cardboard finish....tastes like a 70/30 mix between the god-awful Ommegang and the great Maudite. I was excited to try a new Belgian-Style brew from a Michigan brewery, but go ahead and pass this one sucks ass.

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Photo of BrewMaster
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a capped 750 ml bottle. The beer is a cloudy brown with touches of amber to its color. The off white head on top of the beer lingers for a good while. The smell is a distinct smell that I've sampled before, but I just can't name it. It is very Belgian in character, but I can't name it beyond that. Somewhat spicy and sweet in the nose.

The beer opens a little watery without much flavor to begin. Then the taste is very rich with sweet apple rind dominating. There are also notes of lime, orange, corriander, and plum. There is pretty much no hop bitterness to this beer. The beer is smooth on the palate with a light to medium body. It is an excellent beer that I would gladly enjoy again and again.

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Photo of trumick
4.42/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep dark red with a 1/2 inch head that sticks around for a bit, very little lacing.

Scent is of spicey bananas, carmel, malt a lot of people have mentioned "rum like" I would have to agree.

Taste, wonderfully complex, is of sweet malts, spices, fruits mainly banana, but there are other more tart hints of maybe cherry and also a woody alcohol all upfront. I get the same slight tart sweet in the finish with a dry, sweet, nutty, and alcohol finish along with some dark fruits that go on forever. The warmer it gets the more intense the flavors become.

Mouthfeel is fullbodied and sticky with the perfect amount of carbination.

Drinkability is great. This beer is smooth and drinkable. The alcohol is noticeable but not overpowering, so this is not a beer to enjoy too many of at once. I know I would regret it.

This is a great beer, and the first from this brewery that I have tried. I will be trying more from Jolly Pumpkin.

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

Pours slightly coludy and murky amber and orange. Very thin wispy white head dies quickly leaving uneven swirls of off[white head contracsting against the amber nectar.
Aroma has some chocolate, caramel, bread and butter notes with a sweet sheery or scotch tone also detected.
Flavors of wheat bread,s ome caramel and intensely, spicy yeast profile couple with a finish that is woody charcoaly and sherry in nature. Little bit of vanilla also detected. Very complex
Mouthfeel starts sharp and spicy and finishes with an agressiveness sweetness.
Drinkability is very good. The sweet sherry notes make it very unique. If your tastes lie on the sweeter side you will love this beer.

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Photo of ken3c
4.82/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear deep red. A thick creamy head recedes to layer of fine foam. Lots of lacing is evident.

Smells like carmel and vanilla. It's quite pungent.

I taste the carmel and vanilla notes but also a nutty finish. By nutty, I mean like black walnut. I'm sure it comes from the oak conditioning but it reminds me so much of black walnut that I find myself picking my teeth. Now, I think, I know what chewy tastes like.

Medium body and silky smooth. Very warming.

At first taste, I didn't think I'd like this beer as much as the Oro de Calabaza. Near the end, I knew I'd like it at least as much. Now, I can't wait for the next one. As far as I'm concerned, this is a truly great beer.

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Photo of granger10
3.26/5  rDev -19.1%
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 inebrius
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Boozier than the squash beer previous. Tempting aromas of caramel coated grape bubblegum on a bed of greens. Hard edged unpeeled fruit stand out against a backdrop of gingerbread house with the iced roof and gum drop gate. More mature "The Red" might flow easier. I hope that Jolly Pumpkin is around in five years for a new/old taste comparison.

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Photo of fingolfin72
4.27/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I usually like to share beer, but I drank the whole 750 ml bottle myself, and I was pleasantly buzzed.

The aroma was quite sweet; it reminded me of brown sugar but had some of the cotton candyish aroma that I detected from Delerium Tremens.

A strong but balanced wave of brown sugar, smoke, sherry, peat moss and an elusive white-wine-like zing washed over my palate. The finish was quite lengthy with a few spice notes peeking out as it faded.

Good heavens, what a beer. This one demands your attention as soon as you sip it. This would be hazardous as a session beer, since it is not hard to drink but fairly strong.

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Photo of proc
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I find it appropriate that I review this right after fellow Michigander BA, trbeer...

This is a complex beer and I mean that in a good way.

This "Artesian Amber Ale" clocks in at 7.2% ABV and is one of the more interesting beers I've had in the past year. I had sampled it at The Michigan Beer Festival in July of this year, which piqued my curiosity to try a good amount (more than 3oz.) of this one.

It pours out to a cloudy, somewhat murky, amber in the glass with a decent head. The aroma reminded me of the liquor "B&B", Bourbon and Benedictine. I knew right away this was going to be good. The taste reminds me of bourbon, rum, spice and light fruit. There is a nice, light spice on the swallow that begs for another sip.

This reminded me of some of the Unibroue line of beers, but even better.

Jolly Pumpkin...Nicely done.

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Photo of mjohn27603
3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 750 ml bottle got out of the refrigerator and allowed to warm some before opening. Pours a varnish brown with some redness. A thin, less than one finger, head develops. The smell is of figs, bourbon, and wood. The first sip reveals bourbon with a slight hops bitterness in the aftertaste. Dry in the first few sips. After just a few sips the bourbon flavor just starts to dominate and it is like someone playing the same note on a piano over and over again. A bit too much bourbon flavor. Near the bottom of the glass a sweetness develops and coats the tongue.

I was really hoping for more than this. I want the idea of Jolly Pumpkin to succeed. There are many more beers to come out. I will be waiting eagerly.

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Photo of frazbri
4.87/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Ruby brown body with a high tan head. Aroma of oak, apple, apricot, and vanilla. Flavors of vanilla, oak, black curran, and bourbon.

I was at the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Festival and saw the listing for Jolly Pumpkin. I had visions of pumkin ales and other kitche brews. I passed it by... big mistake. The labeling and beer names may be jolly and jovial, but this is serious beer. Its been a long time since I've had a beer that blew me away. La Roja did. All Hail Jolly Pumpkin!

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Photo of marburg
3.97/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On personal preference alone, this beer is nearly undrinkable. I get too much of a bourbon flavor out of it, and it leads to me to unfond recollections of college parties -- and then I want to stop drinking. It's a pretty serious reaction, really.

But after having this two or three times now and with notes in front of me, I feel qualified to discuss it.

Aromatics include a heavy apple juice redolence that almost reminds me of rotting apples and rock candy. A blast of whiskey in the nose clears the apples -- and the sinuses -- and making it a big difficult to concentrate on what else is there. My mom makes a sugar-sprinkled, butter coated pie crust, however, that lends a slick,oily, sweet, appetizing note to any of her pie desserts -- and there's something of that here as well.

One of Putnam's colleagues at Cloverleaf commented that this could use more bubbles, and I agree. The bourbon flavor weighs heavily on my mind and on my tongue as I find it difficult to swallow at first. More refreshing, lively bubbles would really help a drinker taste this beer. The bourbon barrel flavor lingers. And lingers. And lingers.

Astonishingly nuanced. But I don't think this is for everyone, and after thinking about the suggestion posed to me, I agree; this could use some more vigorous carbonation. Nonetheless, while the bourbon intensity isn't for me, this is an extraordinarily cool beer.

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La Roja from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
Beer rating: 4.03 out of 5 with 2,001 ratings