La Roja | Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

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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: 1,958
Photo of Phatz
4.15/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

(I LOVE BRETT) Thanks to Woody Chandler for sharing this fantastic brew. I had a sample of La Roja and boy did it leave an impression on me. I now need to learn more about Brettanomyces Lambicus yeast strain, and beer that use it wow! I really enjoyed this one.

Appearance: Pours with a amber - ruby color bordering sienna with highlights when help to the light. It had a 2 finger frothy beige head that leaves a nice cap.

Smell: It had a unique tart Lambicus aroma (like berries) that I was told is the Brett. Nice I like it.

Taste: One stand out attribute was the numbing tartness that ever so gently pushed your tongue into a tingle. The flavor is big but nimble and active and keeps your mind racing to catch up. Overall it was sweet malty and gently sour. I got some oak and cherries, before my beer got up and walked away ;-) It is a complex and tasty beer that I will need to have again to fully wrap my mind around it.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation combines with the tart active flavors to give a certain prickly nature to it.

Drinkability: A Belgian Strong Dark Ale with Lambic Flanders, attributes. How drinkable could it be? If you don't mind the tartness it is very drinkable.

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.78/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 750ml brown glass flat bottomed flask bottle sealed with a small red crown cap. Colorful cartoon like label has a “Puss in Boots” type character leaning against a large Ships Wheel. Listed as an ‘Artisanal Amber Ale’, Barrel Aged and Bottle-Conditioned with a strength of 7.2%.

Back of the label states:
“La Roja, an artisan amber ale produced in the Biere de Garde tradition. Rich and warming with undertones of caramel, fruit and spice, truly an ale of grace and distinction. Enjoy!”

Appearance: Muddied red-brown start clears to a fiery dark copper body; the clarity soon showcases a feisty Champagne-like streamer laden body which seems to scream life. Lovely creamy head, beige in color but composed of fine intensely small bubbles which carpet the upper surface and form a meniscus at the edges of the glass. Smooth Belgian style lacing on the walls seems to last.

Nose: Saturated with sour aromas, oak and a hint of lambic base sit in the background. Cherries and acidic berries mix into the base to add a sour fruit dimension that is rather appealing. Low strength tartness retains some sweetness in its presentation.

Taste: Sharp wood soaked entrance with a berry laden tartness which is medium strength. Dry feel in the middle, lactic tartness, nutty fruits seem to benefit from a hop input in the finish. Astringent at times, never quite the balanced brew, but it has some appealing qualities which intrigue me. The finish has a little vanilla oak in the lingering tart death.

Mouthfeel: Supporting carbonation adds a prickly feel to the texture on the tongue. Always exudes an internal confident tartness, but it never seems to upset the front stroke and manages to handle the square balls quite easily.

Drinkability: The tart character never seems to stick its head above the parapet, it’s a fine border line affair that displays a weak Flanders Red nature or a funky Farmyard Amber dimension, depending on your point of view, I’m all for the former - but it doesn’t step up to the plate in sufficient numbers to be counted, but I could handle a few bottles of this one no worries.

Overall: I’m no style junkie but exactly as to how this is an Amber Bière de Garde somehow confuses me slightly, I’m not sure that I am that familiar with that many examples of a barrel-aged Amber BdG. Moreover, it seems to exhibit far more of a Flanders Red character, which I’m not complaining about, in fact I think it falls more comfortably into this category. That said it’s far from perfect, bolster the body, clean up the finish and magnify the tartness a tad and this could be quite the brew. Right now it seems to be “A Half a Dozen of One and Six of the Other”, neither here nor there, a little confused in its identity.

All said, an enjoyable brew that I seemed to like more than most, oh well, I’ve never been mainstream or popular, so what the heck?! Despite its shortcomings, I like it. Cheers Joe!!!

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Photo of Westsidethreat
4.15/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Appears as a cloudy tucson red. The head is offwhtie and very respectable. Currently a good 1/4 inch and holding strong.

S: Sweet, sour and brett. Hints of cherries, bubblegum, raspberries, tea and honeydew melon.

T: Lots of sweetness. Gentle stawberry, apricot, ethanol and subtle carmely vanilla with a nice aftertaste of bubblegum.

M: Quality mouthfeel, good bouyancy, nice carbonation

D: More good work by JP. Very enjoyable and drinkable.

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

750 ml bottle

Redish brown color with a tan head. Heavy streams of carbonation. Smell is initially sour cherries which is followed by oak aged whisky flavor. Also get a hint of yeastyness. Taste also starts our sour but then the caramel malt flavors take over. Also a hint of peppery spicyness comes out. Somewhat fizzy mouthfeel due to the high carbonation level. This is my first Jolly Pumpkin and while it didnt' blow me away it left me wanting to try others. It borders on being something special but falls just short. I anticipate that one of their brews is going to hit the mark with me.

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

A good, solid brew. It pours a dark ruby with a great head and very bice carbonation. Smell is very interesting...malty, sour cherries, oak, whiskey? Tasete follows the same line as the smell, with a very nice tart quality. Mouthfeel is nice, with a very nice dry finish. Not too bad on the drinkability scale, either..great dry finsih makes me want for more.

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Photo of TastyTaste
2.55/5  rDev -36.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

750 ml capped bottle with a cool Puss-in-Boots label.

Appearance: Striking kool-aid red body, huge off-white head which leads a lot of lace as it fades. Streams of carbonation make their way to the surface.

Smell: Sour fruit smell, I wasn't expecting something like a Flemish sour. Not bad vs. that style, but not much like a BSDA should be.

Taste: Sour and citric, malty and earthy, a little carmel. The flavor has a slight metallic twang to it as well. Very tart, this beer starts to get on your nerves as the level in the bottle drops, kind of makes you wish for a traditional BSDA.

Drinkability: Well, this beer is just eccentric enough to not be A) Good or B) worth the money for the bottle.

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Photo of patrick16o
3.56/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle. Pours an earthy red tone with a thick, pillowly light tan crown. A tad bit hazy with good head retention. The aroma has hints of plum, citrus, and spice. I find the flavor quite difficult to discribe. It is tart, sour, and citrusy, with maybe a hint of caramel and malt. Very unique, unexpected taste. Mouthfeel and drinkability are good.

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Photo of ggaughan
3.97/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from a 750 ml bottle at a cousins wedding over the weekend. The beer poured a redish/orange color, a bit hazy, with a bubbly body and a bit of a white head. The aroma is a bit tart and citrusy. The taste is bready and zesty with citrus notes but not as much as the aroma. The body is medium and quite drinkable.

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Photo of Bighuge
2.56/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Dim scarlet red. Small beaded streams of carbonation rise very rapidly. The light tan head is fluffy and airy. Good retention is noted. Lacing is quite nice. Aroma is funky, sour, vinegar like and a little vegetal. Flavor is sour, vegetal, funky, tart, acidic, tannic and really not that appealing to me overall. Mouthfeel is quite carbonated. Fizzy feel to it. Airy and a bit gaseous. Light body. I'll pass.

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Photo of DrJay
4.27/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Slightly hazed, deep orange/red colour with clumpy, off-white head. Good retention. Light caramel and toffee aromas play well against some wood and vanilla, giving it a definite whiskey character. Flavour is on the sweet side with plenty going on - caramel, vanilla, oak, apples, sour cherries, tobacco. A light, balanced tartness is evident throughout and pulls all these flavours together. Medium body and carbonation, sligthly creamy. Quite interesting - this one really worked for me.

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Photo of Viggo
4.12/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly hazy red/orange, medium white head, goes pretty fast, but leaves lots of spider web lacing, settles to a ring. Smell is bourbon, vanilla and oak, caramel, some sour acidity and citrus in the finish. Taste is tart and acidic, caramel, oak and vanilla, bourbon, some more citrus. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with high carbonation. Really different and really nice, not what I was expecting from it, but Jolly Pumpkin can do no wrong in my mind. Thanks DrJay!

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Photo of ADR
3.78/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Murky ginger brown appearance, nice thick head with lots of substance to it. laces thickly, like steamed milk. Tart aroma, fruits but with some warmth alongside, somewhat like lots of perspiration in woolen socks. Light body, carbonation is plenty active. Quick sense of yeasty funkiness and astringency, cherry flavors, but with an ever-present backing of unsweetened chocolate, enough to catch in the back of the throat. Some decided senses of toasted Wheat Chex. What strikes me most about this beer is an early complexity with aroma enhancement, but a relatively simple and diminished close to the profile. Certainly not a run-of-the-mill brew, I'll leave the sense of "charm" to the cheerleaders. Good drinkability, nothing is offensive, despite thinking more was coming.

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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 VoodooBrew
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

La Roja pours semi-murky brown with a good dose of head. On the nose is raisin, complex malt aromas, and big-time alcohol. These elements find their way onto the palate as well, with raisin and alcohol -- you know, the usual. A generous dallop of malt is chased by more of that boozy goodness. La Roja drinks quite smoothly. No reason to turn this one down.

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

Pours a turbid reddish brown with a decent head that lasts for awhile and leaves some lacing. The smell is very interesting. A medicinal yeasty character comes out, but a grapefruity sourness and a peppery aroma are also there.

The taste is complex and unique. At first, when the beer was cooler, the thick bready and caramelly malt came out more, but now as it warms, the malt is still there, but I do get some sourness as well. Some apricot makes an appearance, and there's also a spiced rum flavor. In the finish, a pure hoppy bitterness takes over and combines with the medicinal flavor to create a somewhat unpleasant biting sensation. This would have definitely been a 4.5 besides that.

I'm definitely also enjoying the mouthfeel. Medium bodied with just the right amount of carbonation. Drinkability is good.

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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 akorsak
3.38/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I am drinking a 750mL capped bottle poured into a Westvleteren goblet. The ale is slightly below room temperature.

Appearance: The ale is a deep auburn color, with ruby red hints when held to the light.

Smell: The ale has a bitter, tart aroma. Think cantillon, but toned down a bit. That gives the ale a bit of a cherry-esque aroma, similar to Liefmans Goudenband. Not to shabby.

Taste: The tart aroma continues into the taste. The biggest contract between this and a sour flemish red is that the ale actually tastes good. The aged, naturally fermented flavor is slightly sweet while making you pucker up a bit. I think that the ale gets dinged a bit (both in smell and taste) because the components of this ale are that of a Flemish red or oud bruin, not a BSDA. If the ale were classified as a Flanders red, I'd give it 4's on smell and taste.

Mouthfeel: The sour cherry flavor makes one pucker up, and then instinctively reach for another sip.

Drinkability: The ale is drinkable, although the sour notes can be a bit much after a while.

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Photo of phishgator
3.42/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This poured into a oint glass with a deep orange/copper hue. Unfiltered with a slight chill haze. The aroma is that of a wet blanket, musky. The taste is unmistakenly tart, just like any other spontaenously fermented brew that I've had! It's a little bolder with it's malt content, but the tart dominiants. The mouthfeel is slick like yogurt coating your entire mouth. All that being said I think one shared (750 ML) is enough for a sitting. An interesting brew to try.

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Photo of Crosling
3.67/5  rDev -8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark Red. Aroma is very medicinal, and shows caramel, pit fruit, malt and subtle hopping. This has a distinctive house character that I also noticed with Oro De Calabaza. It’s unique, or weird, either one. Notes of wine stained oak, caramel, medicines, cherries, toasted malts and noble hop (algae, herbs). Just like others, I see a lot of potential with Jolly Pumpkin but nothing I have had so far has been exceptional.

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Photo of RedHaze
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy reddish/brown with a one inch off-white head that settles slowly to thick cap and ring that never fades away, and leaves behind a thick sheet of lace.

Smell; wow, I can really smell oak and tannins in this, along with some vanilla, caramel and some pepper. There's some dark fruits in the background, and I think I'm getting some hints of coconut. This smells great.

Taste; the oak barrel flavors really stand out on the first few sips, but the other flavors come out as this warms. Vanilla and coconut, as well as plums and caramel all show up along with a bit of that Belgian yeasty funkiness. The wood from the barrels mingles with a nice peppery spiciness in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and creamy, and it's a bit on the dry side.

This is a very good beer from Jolly Pumpkin, and I will definitely be seeking out more of this on my next visit to Michigan.

Edit 03 Sep 06. I have to say that every time I revisit this beer there's always somethig different about the flavor than the previous bottle. The oe I'm drinking now is more sour/tart than any of the previous bottles that I've had, and I like just as much as I have in the past, even with the differences. Ron's beers always seem to be an adventure.

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Photo of Ego
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

now available @ oak tree buy rite (edison nj)

this beer has an audible crackle when poured, so much so I had to sit there and hold my ear to the glass to enjoy it.. the head fades quickly however to nothing. deep dark and red , like an angry irish bitch... nothing too special too look at but better than average

sour bubble gum, peppery like a shiraz, really this smells like a peppered rodenbach. there is a touch of belgian funk in there as well. a really interesting nose.

taste etc...
very much like rodenbach but different in the finish.. wetter if you will. It also has a very funk component compared to rodenbach. The barrel aging smooths this out and makes it very drinkable, the acrid nature of it sneaks up and really activates your saliva glands. This was totally not what I was expecting from this beer! The carbonation is perfect here, where as I find some belgian dark ales a bit lacking carbonation wise this is nicely done, more active than most. The complexity is brilliant, each sip reveals different characters in this play of flavors. A little bit of salt from some chips brings out the sour nature, on it's own it leans more towards the funky belgian tradition with a little spicy bite. This is absolutely delicious. The ABV is a mere afterthought here, I am sure when I try to get up I will feel it but this beer is an island of sirens seducing me into submission.

hell. yes.
I will be going out tommorow in the AM to pick up more of this fine brew. What she lacks in looks she delivers where it counts. outstanding.

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Photo of Jredner
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sweet malty aroma. Notes of caramel. Reddish brown in color. Fluffy head that settles down quickly. A lot of spice. You can tell right away that this would age well. You get a lot of flavors that don’t come on until the distant aftertaste. Pepper, red peppers, spice, tobacco, ripe fruits and the oft mentioned caramel. This beer sits with you and gives the throat a workout. Very interesting beer.

re-rate 5 minutes later:
Just got done rating this and duhhhh bourbon really comes out as this warms. Don’t know how I missed that.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from big bottle (750mL, I've never seen any smaller bottles from Jolly Pumpkin). Appearance was really good due to the clingy durable foamy head. Liquid was murky brown.

The aroma is acidic, definitely bret-like. I'd place it closest to the smell of Supplication or Temptation from Russian River. The taste is along the same lines. Kind of Flanders Red type flavor. Pretty strange until you get used to it. I think I'm finally coming around to this style of beer.

I recommend this, but only if you like sour beers.

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Photo of neonbrown82
4.15/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The bottle pops open spewing forth a steady stream of foam. I was worried at first, but this turned out to be great. The beer pours to a dark brownish amber color with a huge fluffy white head that sticks around throughout the whole glass. Lacing is phenomenal. Carbonation comes up in fine streams along the rim of the glass.

The smell is tart and fruity with a nice bit of woodiness. Some funky horseblanket smell in there as well. Slightly candied.

The taste is up front sweet and fruity with a very subtle tart. A bit of raisin and earthy fruits. Some sour green apple, grapes, and a hint of pineapple in the tart flavor. Begins to dry off and show some funkiness in the finish. Quite good, but a little dry. The finish also shows some of the woody flavors.

This is yet another phenomenal American brewed belgian from Jolly Pumpkin. Brewers like Jolly Pumpkin really make me question whether lambics like Cantillon can only be made in the Seinne valley. This is as authentic as it gets for American belgians.

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Photo of MuddyFeet
2.83/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

An odd and dissapointing beer. Poured a clear tranish brown in color. Kind of thin looking. Overly carbonated with a giant head resting on top that slowly receded to a thin film.Nose is nutty with just a slight hint of spice.

At first I thought this beer was an amber ale with te flavor. Malty sweet with some peppery and spicy tones around the edges of the tongue. Very thin in flavor. Also has a wooden flavor that reminds me of my 7th grade woodworking class. Slightly dry and very watery mouthfeel. Oddly enough for such a huge head on the beer there was very little carbonation in the mouthfeel. Just kind of a strange beer.

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