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: 789 | Ratings: 1,978
Photo of yamar68
4.13/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Another tasty treat from alelover - 2013 vintage:

Honey amber body with a creamy half finger of pale khaki.

Bright sour fruits countered with nutty spice and dry hops.

Tobacco earthiness, mildly sour, some papery malt flavors, a touch of spice. Really nice. I'm not always crazy about Flanders style beers, but this is tasting great.

Thanks Joel!

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Photo of alaimoa
3.78/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

La Roja bottled in February 2013.
Appearance: deep amber/reddish brown with limited bubbles that don't linger too long.
Smells of champagne sourness with spiced apple
Tastes sour apple, grape, earthy notes. Fairly deep with complexity and lots of carbonated bubbles
Overall this beer has many layers of flavor and a Good/Great wild that I would buy again

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Photo of hopsputin
4.37/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

bottled 12/26/12 drank 5/31/13

a: dark amber, mahogany, orange, burnt camamel. 2 finger off white head that fades relatively quickly

s: apple cider vinegar, tart cherries, oak, plums, sweet malt, some vanilla. a nice earthy aroma

t: not too tart at all - this is really smooth. caramel malt, real nice oak flavors. there is a nice cherry flavor here with only minimal tartness. the oak gives a nice smooth vanilla. on the back end there is something like grape juice.

m: lighter side of medium

o: i'm a fan. there is some tartness here, but nothing off the charts. there is a really nice harmonization of tart and malt sweetness. real nice cherry and oaky vanilla tastes here. its not incredibly complex, but the flavors that are there work real well.

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Photo of hagbergl
3.99/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bought a 750 mL bottle of Jolly Pumpkin's La Roja at Downtown Wine & Spirits in Somerville, MA. Poured into my Dogfish Head snifter.

Appearance (4.25/5): La Roja is unusual for a Flanders-style sour red ale because of its white head (I'm used to off-white or khaki colored head on beers of this style). It has a reddish-brown color with red highlights. Very cloudy, as you'd expect from a Belgian-inspired, bottle-conditioned, yeasty beer like this one.

Smell (4/5): Smell is fairly typical of Flanders Reds, perhaps a little less acidic/vinegary than others. Some tart cherries, lightly apple-like, winey/vinous and some oak barrel aromas are worked in, too. I would say the aroma on La Roja is muted relative to standouts of the style (like Rodenbach Grand Cru), and in this way it reminds me of Monk's Café. Solid aroma, nothing offensive here, but also nothing that really "wows" me.

Taste (4/5): Tart and acidic in the foretaste but doesn't linger too long. Mellows and left with some barrel woody and leathery qualities. Wine like and cranberry and red apple flavors. This one is a tad muted, and thus not the most impressive example of the style. Beautiful woody aftertaste. Gets more tart and full flavored with warmth.

Mouthfeel (3.75/5): Smooth mouthfeel. Light puckering. The beer could have had a little more "bite" and carbonation to it. This may seem like a minor quibble, but it's not; a tart beer like this needs a good level of carbonation to make the mouthfeel and flavors really "pop."

Overall (4/5): Jolly Pumpkin's La Roja certainly is a good beer, but it's a tad expensive for what you're getting. A Belgian import like Rodenbach Grand Cru is a better value. If you prefer your Flanders Red Ales very sour like I do, La Roja isn't exactly the ticket for a sourness-fix. It has complexity for sure, but if you expected a puckering palate walloping, this is not the beer that'll do it for you. La Roja is an easy-going Flanders Red.

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Photo of SHODriver
4.16/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: poured into a duvel tulip to a reddish brown with a small white head that fades quickly
S: smells of sour cherry and lactic sourness with a hint of sweetness
T: tartness, band aids and funk up front with some sour fruitiness, a hint of oak and a slight barnyardy quality. swallow is more tartness, some bretty chalky flavor and a lingering lactic acid finish
M: lighter side of medium with soft carbonation from bottle conditioning. sour finish but surprisingly not drying
O: a finely crafted beer with loads of flavor without being overly sour.

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Photo of garuda
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - Cloudy amber, thin head has no retention and no lace.

S/T - Sour cherry, oak barrel, vanilla, rich caramel sweetness.

M - A little heavy, low carbonation. Finishes crisp and clean, but no lasting flavors in the aftertaste.

O - Pretty good for a readily available, barrel aged year round wild ale. Sits a little heavy on the palate and lacks depth of flavor in the aftertaste, which other beers in the style seem to have.

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Photo of facundoCNB
4.19/5  rDev +5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

a murky amber pour with a thin ring of white foam.. not the best looking beer i've poured. smells of funky brett, grapes, cherries, oak, vanilla, caramel... smells are all over the place but honestly seems to work out. oh that's nice and sour :) like green apples .. lots of cherry sourness up front, a little bit of wine flavor, definitely getting barrel flavors in the finish with a lingering tartness from the fruit. a nice caramel backbone to back it all up as well.

nice and tart, medium body, mild carbonation. this is an awesome example of an american sour ale. wasn't sure if i'd be a fan of all the barrel aged flavors in this but they worked out perfectly. looking forward to throwing the yeast dregs into my homebrew and seeing what happens.

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of Wolfpack2005
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Blend 16. Bottled 8-30-2011

A-Poured a nice dark hazy amber with minimal head that doesn't hang around

S-Tart lemons, cherries, malt vinegar and a little barnyard funk.

T- A sweet and sour vinegar flavor upfront that is on the lighter side. Hints of lemons and cherries just like the nose. An oaky funk from the oak barrels maintains a presence throughout.

M-Light-medium body with a slight sharpness and moderate levels of carbonation.

O-Nice beer, sort of a Flanders Red light, not over powering and very drinkable.

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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 UnderPressure
4.04/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

La roja

Hazy dark copper with a decwnt size lingering head.

Sharp, pungent sour aroma. Dark fruit, raisins. Some vinegar like aroma.

The flavor is malty and sweet along with the sour. The sourness doesn't linger like I wish it would.

A surprisingly clean finish.

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Photo of davey101
3.61/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage unknown, but seeing as this is the older style bottle and CT hasn't seen JP in about two years this has to be a few years old. 750 ml crowned bottle into a tulip glass. In typical JP fashion, this was a huge gush over.

A - Pours a murky red/brown body. Tons of frothy off white foam just clings to the side, pretty ridiculous level of retention. The foam almost has a cherry pink hue to it while swirling.

S - Cherries, lactic vinegar, oak, and vanilla. A touch of alcohol burn on the finish. A bit more pronounced oak than a standard Flemish bruin/red. Has a distinct sour twang on the end. Quite nice.

T - Surprisingly muted and thin. Cherries and oak followed by an off putting taste that isn't quite vinegar....rubber perhaps? Finish is clean with no lasting aftertaste or mouth puckering'ness. In fact this isn't even that sour at all. Boring and lacking.

M - Thin to medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

O - Age has not done the wonders to this beer that I was hoping for. I'm going to have to revisit this with a fresh example. This vintage whatever it may just average.

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of TrappistJohnMD
4.09/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Blend 6. Bottled 5/3/2011

Pours ruby color in tulip. Thin white head that dissipates to ring around edge of glass.

Smell is tart and acidic. Cherries and apples.

Taste is tart up front but not overpoweringly so. Nice acidity. Sweet with cherries and apples. Slight bitterness comes in late to balance it out.

Mouthfeel is light-medium bodied. Good tingly carbonation.

Overall this is an excellent example of the style.

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Photo of olympuszymurgus
4.92/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

La Roja! I am constantly amazed that a beer of such quality is consistently available to me at a reasonable price. I've had old bottles, young bottles and from the tap and each one is a god damned treat.

Pours a ruby red with brown highlights, a white wisp of foam on top with grapefruit and candy sugar aroma wafting off. The flavor is top notch, some Germanic malts, mineral salts and grapefruit rind, some hop aromatics, some love and care.

Each blend has highlights, each batch some variance. Blend 10 from 2012 is particularly superb with candy sugar notes and a delicate tartness buoyed by funky breath. God damn if it doesn't just get me all hot and bothered.

Jolly Pumpkin, marry me.

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Photo of Hopdaemon39
3.68/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into an alesmith tulip- pours a clear dark red with one finger of head, very little retention save the edges, and some nice splashes of lacing.

Aroma is consistent with the style- tart and earthy. Maybe a hint of caramel but mostly the funk.

Taste is also consistent with the style- you taste the tartness before it even really hits your tongue. Sour cherries, some wood, currant. Not out of control sourness but to me, it is all rather the same. Good same but pretty one-dimensional. Finishes earthy and tart.

Mouthfeel is good- medium body with moderate carbonation. Again, tart is the name of the game. If you're not disk with that, don't get this beer. If you are into the funk, buy it but not if you're in a region where it's 14 bucks a bottle. Unless you're bored and have money to burn.

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

750 ml into a pint glass

appearance- reddish-brown with a thinnish white head that slowly recedes leaving a lacing behind on the sides. a nice color for a Belgian Flanders style.

smell- a little bit of funky yeast and a tad fruity. not overly powerful but still nice

taste- starts with a bit of caramelly malts, the majority of the taste is funky yeast, mixed with oak. it is very well balanced and pleasant. the finish has some notes of sour fruits.

mouthfeel- light to medium in body and has a stronger carbonation. it ends a little too sticky for me.

overall- a very good beer. i have been wanting to try it and i am glad i did. at the price (~$12)it is i think its worth a try and on some occasions but not all the time. my third try at jolly pumpkin and my favorite by far (bam biere and bam noire)

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Photo of Living816
2.96/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Disappointing. Once and done beer for me. Bottle says "Blend 10. Bottled 5-28-2012"

Lovely aroma. Tart, acetic, sweet, sour, slightly herbal and oakish. Lots of little bit. Copious little floaty bits in it. Reddish brown color. Teensy head.

Taste is horribly tannin. Horrible astringency. Tastes like heinously overbrewed black tea. WAY over oaked. Sticks to the inside of the mouth like a rash, coating the teeth and sucking all out all moisture.

Body is absent. Thin, watery, totally lacking in substance. Slightly sweet on the tongue, slightly tart. Slight funk.

Overall, a disappointing, thin, astringent and bitter sour. At $12 for the bottle, one of the worst values in beer I have come across.

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

Reddish brown body; one finger of cream colored head that dissipates almost immediately; no lacing at all. Simple aroma of oak, tart cherries, mild vinegar; vaguely herbal hops. The flavor is pretty much in line with the Flanders style; oak, cherries; light vinegar, well hidden booze. Modest caramel sweetness and light sweetness reminiscent of underripe cherries, lemons, Granny Smith apples.

Medium to slightly light bodied, medium carbonation. Some liveliness on the palate. In the end this was a perfectly acceptable riff on a Flanders brown/biere de garde crossover but its hard to say much more; not particularly exceptional, but priced as if it were, at least on the easy coast.

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Photo of MarioM
4.36/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

750 ml poured into RR stemmed glass

A: A beautiful light brownish red color, no haze or cloudiness, very clear. Creamy smooth head made of medium to tiny bubbles. Great lacing and obviously good amount of carbonation.

S: As soon as I opened the bottle I got a huge aroma of brett. The nose on this brew is just amazing... Slight fruity, dry, huge brett nose, red wine and good phenols.

T: Much more mild than expected, very easy to drink with great flavors of fruit, brett, just enough sweetness to balance out the sourness/tartness but amazing how the overall balance is spot on. Very drinkable and extremely enjoyable. No one flavor stands out and overpowers the rest. Very complex flavors, can't really pinpoint too many things.

M: Dry with a good bite from the high carbonation. Sourness and sweetness lingers, leaving what almost feels like a thin film of La Roja all over the inside of my mouth. After a while after sipping I can still taste a lot of fruit, mainly dark cherries but very mild.

O: Great take on a flanders red in my opinion. Not as fruity as other more well known but more on the dryer side. Still a great beer and will continue to buy when ever i see it at the store, got this one at whole foods two months ago. Very complex yet simple beer to drink and savor. Not as sour as expected but might improve with age, I just could not wait.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.63/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

My sister sprung for this one in a Minneapolis bar. She paid $24.00 for the bottle; I can't say I support that decision but there were no other sours available and that's what she likes. Served into a generic tulip. Expectations were high. Reviewed from notes taken earlier this month. Blend 3 bottled 01-25-12. So I guess it had ten months age on it.

A: Pours a one finger beige colour head of nice cream and thickness and decent retention. Colour is a refined dark red (true to its moniker, I might add). No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Tart cherry, sour wild yeast, bacteria, clean malts, and hints of oak. A pretty strong aroma; subtle and evocative. I can't wait to try it.

T: Tart bright fruit (cherry, raspberry), clean yeasty notes (biscuit, maybe a hint of spice), clean indistinct formative pale and amber malts, bacteria, wild yeast, and acidic wine/grapeskin-esque notes. Well balanced and built, if slightly simplistic in comparison to other beers in the style. Nicely subtle and evocative. Pleasant to drink. I quite like it. Limited background oak.

Mf: Tingly coarseness from the tart bacterial notes - perhaps even a bit of manifested crystal malt. Good thickness and carbonation. Too smooth on the open and finish. Suits the flavours nicely.

Dr: Drinkable and enjoyable for the style. I quite dig it. I'd have it again, preferably aged and at a better price. A good sour, especially considering its country of origin. Could use a bit more rounded tartness. A lovely beer from Jolly Pumpkin.


*I had to play with the overall score to get the letter rating I wanted. This keeps my reviews fair and consistent. Please see my profile page for more information.

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

750ml capped bottle poured into a snifter. blend 5, bottled 4-8-2011 (roughly 1 1/2 years old)

pours out a very cloudy burnt orange, red color with about one fingers worth of light tan/ off white head off of the pour that settles to a thick retentive ring of tight bubbles after a few minutes. very light, spotty lace.

the aroma is mostly that of horsey, bretty funk, some tart cherries and lemon citrus with a bit of rotted wood and footy funk as well.

again, sour cherries and tart lemons lead the way with some horsey, footy funk right behind. maybe some sour apples as well. hints of nutmeg like spice and caramel come in, but are soon overtaken by the dry tartness in the finish.

fairly light to medium in body, slightly bitey carbonation with a good tart/ sourness that lingers for a bit.

a pretty decent wild, a bit one dimensional at times, but easily enjoyable. the sourness of this beer is about is about right in the middle when compared all the other wilds ive had in the past. leaves me even more interested to try the la roja- grand resevera.

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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 tut2528
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours a nice reddish-brown with some light orange tints. Huge carbonation and about 1/2 fingers worth of cream white head formation that quickly dissipates. held directly up to the light it becomes bright orange and is still opaque.

S: i get an awesome sour blast of cherries, raspberries and blackberries with an amazing balance of oak barrels and vinegar.

T: barrel oak really comes out here (more than the nose offered) and is complemented by strong tartness and vinegar. i pick up on the cherries and other berries aforementioned, and it has a very nice spice character that helps balance the entire brew out. I do pick up on just a slight sweetness of caramel but I feel that the vinegar quickly takes away this nice sweetness

M: nice solid medium bodied, nice a nice tartness, yet just enough caramel sweetness on the palate that urges me to take another sip

O: Simply stated... I really enjoyed this one. I loved GI 3 Sisters and I find this one similar as far as quality. La Roja lacks the really intense fruit characters like GI, but it makes up for it by adding in a nice caramel sweetness creating a uniqueness of its own. In addition, the barrel aging is evident further expanding its complexity. My first offering by Jolly Pumpkin and I must admit, a strong first impression

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Photo of silentdonkey
3.53/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured in a tulip from a bottled labeled: blend 6 3-2-2012

A: A murky burgundy and deep copper combo. Lots of carbonation developed an airy reddish brown head that dissipated quickly and left little lacing.

S: There is a faint tart vinegar smell with oak and cherries. Some funkiness, but not as much as I would like.

T: Sweet maltiness and a slight sourness up front. Follows with some taste of dark fruits and cherry. Finishes crisp with a lingering oak flavor.

M: Light body and with a crisp carbonation.

O: A decent Flemish red, kind of disappointed for the price. The body is lacking a bit. It almost seemed a bit watered down. Surprising especially because it clocks in at 7% abv. The sourness and malt are nicely balanced. It is an easy drinker and an accessible sour.

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La Roja from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
3.99 out of 5 based on 1,978 ratings.
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