Maracaibo Especial | Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

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Maracaibo EspecialMaracaibo Especial

Brewed by:
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
Michigan, United States

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by marburg on 02-28-2005

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Reviews: 331 | Ratings: 798
Photo of unibrew
2.06/5  rDev -48.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

This is NOT what I was expecting when I bought this beer. I was expecting to taste more cacao and spices and brown ale qualities at the very minimum. After a glass, I can't seem to find any of that, only sour apples. It's funky. Too funky, and nowhere on the bottle does it say anything about being a saison or farmhouse ale. It's supposed to be a brown ale with cacao and spices, inspired by the monastic brews of Belgium. Instead, it's a bombastic brew for a brown ale. It's sour. I'm not getting any cacao, nor any's sourness is overwhelming to me. I don't like saisons or farmhouse styles, so, this is especially disgusting to me. $12.00 for the bomber, and only one glass. The rest goes down the drain. No more Jolly Pumpkin for me.

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Photo of Overlord
2.19/5  rDev -45%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I've given Jolly Pumpkin two shots now. One more beer like this, and I'm done.

Pours a hazy deep amber. Nice white foam that settles to a very, very long lasting rim. No lacing.

Smell is offputting. A hint of orange rind? Try a crapload. Should I be smelling, as opposed to tasting, this much spice? And what is that musty background odor? Is that the cacao? If so, that shouldn't be in beers.

The taste is actually better than the aroma, as the godawful orange rind, spiceiness, and cacao? flavors are submerged a bit into a sour base. They do, however, leave an utterly unappealing spicy aftertaste that makes me want to cleanse my palate.

A disaster on many levels.

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Photo of ricknelson
2.21/5  rDev -44.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Six of us attending a beer tasting that I hosted in my man cave pub gave this beer a score of 8 out of a possible 30 for and an average score of 1.33 It ranked dead last out of the 12 beers we tasted. The group of six were divided evenly, 3 that favored IPA's and 3 that favored Stouts. It actually was so bad that no one even finished the 5 oz pour, and a good portion of it was dumped down the drain. It had a very vinegar taste. Maybe it was a bad bottle, I still have another one un-opened. But do I dare try it!

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Photo of litheum94
2.44/5  rDev -38.7%
look: 1.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

750 ml bottle. "Blend 9 Bottled 12/7/10."

Light tan head explodes out of the bottle, filling the entire glass. I had to pour this beer in stages; it seriously took me 15 minutes just to pour a quarter of the bottle. Very annoying.

Aromas of vinegar and socks. Some orange peel and spices, with a ghost of chocolate bitterness.

Wow. Where to begin? Spices go from faint to overwhelming. Is that chocolate in the background? Who knows. Sour orange zest and cardboard. Here's where it almost ended up in the drain, but I forged ahead. I was slightly rewarded, as the spices start to meld with the sourness as the beer warms. But I still call this a mess.

I don't know what the person who wrote the label description was drinking, but it wasn't this beer. There's cocoa nibs in there? Could have fooled me. Not good at all, especially considering I paid $16 for the bottle. No thank you!

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Photo of 57md
2.61/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Appearance is brownish-copper with no appreciable head. There was some fine lacing on the glass, but not much.

The nose was too mild to discern much of anything - there was a touch of sourness, perhaps. The taste offers a quick shot of cocoa and then fruity sourness that was like biting into a beer flavored jolly rancher.

I've heard a great deal of good hype about Jolly Pumpkin, but my first try at one of their offerings was a complete disappointment. I will certainly try another of their beers, but I will certainly not believe the hype again until I taste the proof.

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Photo of benito
2.75/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Hey, anyone else getting tired of Jolly Pumpkin beers that all have the same sour taste and thin body?

I won't take my inchoate frustration out on a single beer, and Maracaibo Especial isn't awful. In fact, if it were my first JP beer, I'd think I would probably be quite excited. It's a brownish cider color with a thick head this is slow to dissipate. The bouquet and flavor are full of sour apple; it tastes almost vinegary at times. The body has a medium-feel and slightly malty edge that keep this from treading into too sour a realm; however, I don't detect any of the spices (cacao, cinnamon, coriander) that are supposed to be so prominent in this brew. It certainly has nothing of the monastic tradition in it, and the lack of complexity in flavor and texture leaves a lot to be desired.

I really love what Jolly Pumpkin sets out to do and some of their beers (Oro de Calabaza, Luciernaga, Biere de Mars, and the new Perseguidor) are true to style and very tasty. Even some of their weaker offerings, Bam Biere and Calabaza Blanca, have redeeming characteristics. Maracaibo Especial is the weakest of them all, though, as it only has some of the (by now) ho-hum sourness of a Jolly Pumpkin beer without any of the intriguing and playful complexities of their better brews.

It's not enough anymore to make a 'sour' Belgian brew and expect folks to foam at the mouth automatically. Jolly Pumpkin's brews routinely show that bretta funk isn't something to treat as an occasional fad, but this brew just seems to wallow in their own showiness.

Not recommended.

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Photo of churchillps
2.86/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

On no planet is this a brown ale---it's definitely a sour, and a merely average one at that. Very thin mouthfeel, faint smell of orange, and overpowering sweetness, almost nutra-sweet-y. Cannot taste the cacao at all. Really pretty beer with a great creamy head, though.

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Photo of np0x
2.9/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

The nose on this beer was interesting with all the promise of a good sour beer, the clarity and mouthfeel were nice, but when it came time to drink it...The bitterness was overwhelming with little malt to balance it out, making the beer almost undrinkable. I like most sour beers, but in this case it seemed like the beer was overly bitter and then the bugs ate all the residual sugars leaving the beer with an inhospitable bite in the taste profile.

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Photo of WoodBrew
3/5  rDev -24.6%

This beer is really sour. Beer pours a rich amber with white head that is leaving a nice lace. The scent and taste were primarily sour dough. The mouthful is medium in body with good carbonation. Overall not for me.

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Photo of CortexBomb
3/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Pour is a very attractive dark coppery tone with a smallish white ring of carbonation. Smell is fruity, oakey with definite caramel and chocolate aspects...very enticing.

Taste starts out with a strong sour hit which then segues into oak, in spades...a very woody aspect continues throughout. Tons of estery goodness is hitting my tongue all over the place and a lot of sour appleish tone seems to be the final effect. I'm also getting the caramel and chocolate from the nose in the actual flavour. Very complex but I think the sourness mixed with the oak dominance is a bit over the top, and it knocks the flavour down to slightly below average. It's depthy, but the depth isn't all that tasty.

Mouth is medium bodied, but with some good tingly action on the back of the tongue, so also good. Drinkability is suffering a bit, the flavour is again, a little harsh, and it makes this a harder beer to drink. Particularly toward the end the flavour can really start to become harsh and hard to drink.

Overall, another interesting artisan beer from Jolly Pumpkin. As I said above, I think the flavour is unique and depthy but too abrasive. That said, I like it when breweries try to nudge up against the line that is established norms, and I applaud this beer on those terms though I personally feel that they were off the mark on this one.

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Photo of Zorro
3/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

3/4 Liter bottle received from LuckySevens82 and BIF33 - Team Spring.

Pours a cloudy brown colored ale despite the fact it has been sitting in my refrigerator for 2 weeks settling any sediment that might be in the bottle. Momentary tan head that doesn't last.

Smell is fruity and mildly sour in scent much like a granny smith apple. Beech wood and faint spice are lesser scents.

Taste is sweet and sour but still mild in the first sip. Woody and somewhat sour this isn't really what I would call a great Belgian Brown Beer. Flavor doesn't develop much more at all.

Mouthfeel is OK.

Not a beer I can really recommend here. Below par Belgian Ale.

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Photo of faernt
3/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I duped myself by reading. I know a picture is worth a thousand words but no where in the descriptors does it say SOUR. This is a sour Belgian brown. I wanted a dubbel and I got a sour brown. Re-write your copy.

It is a well made beer. It has good small bubbles, a decent medium body and as a sour brown it makes sense. I don't like sour brown. Call it sour and I have no problem. It's true to style but who knew...True.

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Photo of TheLiterati
3.03/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I read the description of this special brown ale and admit that I was enticed by the description: "Brewed with real cacao and spiced with cinnamon and sweet orange peel for a sensual delight."

What the heck - it was Valentine's Day, I didn't have a date, and so I figured curling up with a good ale and a good book in front of the fire place would be a nice way to spend the evening.

I have to agree with some of the other BAs, here: I just can't get my head wrapped around this beer. While the appearance was rather nice - a deep, rich brown - and the smell was equally enticing, what with all that cacao, cinnamon and sweet orange essence tickling my nostrils, once the beer hit my palate, I was somewhat confused.

To be fair, I'd had a not so tasty small serving of greasy fish n chips a few hours before which seemed to leave a coating of some sort on my tongue. As well, I wasn't feeling 100%. So perhaps that was the problem.

Rather than give up completely, I stored the rest of the bottle with a airtight top and decided to give it another try the next day.

I did - and though it definitely hit my palate with a more pleasurable taste the next evening, and I noticed the nice balance of carbonation and more of a spicy flavor, my final conclusion is that this beer is interesting, but in an average kind of way. I can tick it off on my ever-growing list of beers I've tried, but it's not one I'll likely go back to.

PS - this bottle was from Batch 254.

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Photo of vickersspitfire
3.09/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The body is a deep brown, murky color, almost like water but with a few golden hues floating around. The head is thick, two and a half fingers thick and it’s very creamy and billowy and its an off white color. Mild lacing marks every sip.
Floral hints mixed I with some mild apple butter.
Sour up front, but this fades as it warms up and a lemon zest flavor starts coming out. I cannot detect the cacao or the cinnamon even after it warms up a bit.
Crisp and medium to light bodied.
Pretty good overall, a bit to sour in my opinion for a brown ale, but still a very good ale.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.1/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750mL bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled 12-19-2011

(A)- Pours a cloudy dull orange color. Some good white froth.

(S)- Slight chocolatey nuttiness with an underlying yeasty dryness.

(T)- Quite fruity in a dried fruit sense: Figs, raisin, honey, and orange peel. Subtle underlying cocoa and nut elements.

(M)- A good carbonation level. Quite fruity for a brown ale, though perhaps a bit too old at this stage.

(O)- Honestly, this is not my favorite by Jolly Pumpkin, however I think I want to give it another try and track down a much fresher bottle to compare

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Photo of dsa7783
3.18/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

750 ML bottle purchased from Gary's in Bernardsville for $7.99...
"Ale Brewed With Cacao Nibs and Spices" on the front logo sticker...
As with many of the Jolly Pumpkin beers I've sampled, there is a noticeable Oak-aged presence in the smell as well as taste with this one...
An aggressive pour yielded a humongous frothy and foamy head that left quite a bit of lacing before gradually receding... Dark brown, mahogany hue, murky and cloudy...
Smell full of spices, caramel, sweets...
Taste was average due to the strong suggestion of oak-aged flavors that pervaded this sample and took away most of the taste... Bitter and sour, I wasn't too thrilled about this one...
Mouthfeel also took a hit due to the heavy amount of oak in this one and the cloying flavors...
Same story with the drinkability, which was average at best in my opinion...
Not a favorite of mine...

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Photo of stegmakk
3.18/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.75

Batch 931 bottled 12-2-11
Drank 4-19-13

Appearance-Brown orange...liquid leather. Nice head fine bubbles dissapated fine lacing.

Smell-Sour fruit. Some bready malt mixed in.

Taste-For what is labeled special brown with cacao, cinnamon, orange flavors...none of that is present. Sweet sourish taste yes...helles yes. I dont have anything against a sour belgian kind of beer. I just expected more flavors and a better blend.

Mouthfeel-went down smooth with fine carbonation tingling on my tongue.

Overall-Not a "drainer"...but I Would not buy again. At $16 for a big bottle...not worth it. Much cheaper sour beers with more flavor out there.

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Photo of phisig137
3.18/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Got this one in a trade with Northertimber.... thanks Chris.

Once I pop the cap, the bottle erupts into a volcano of foam and beer. I manage to get a glass full and clean up the mess. The result is a gorgeous hazy mahogany color, with a two finger head. Great retention leaves behind only a ring around the top of the glass.

Aroma is woody, funky, sour, spicy, and round. Quite complex, I think the sour pops out more than anything else. Hints of vanilla tell you this was barrel aged, but you can also smell the actual wood.

Flavor is interesting. Slighty sour all the way through, but not overly so. There are some chocolate and cinnamon flavors, but buried deep in there. Little in the way of malt and hop flavors, I get mostly spice and barrel funk. Mouthfeel is light and well carbonated. Drinkability is decent.

This is an interesting foray into beer, that I wasn't expecting at all. I love some of the other beers from Jolly Pumpkin, but this one, not so much. I can't tell if this is exactly the way the beer should taste, or if the bottle was infected (as evidenced by the geyser of foam, and horrendous mess). I'll have to re-review this if I ever get my hands on another bottle.

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Photo of John_M
3.2/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

One thing is for sure. The Jolly Pumpkin label art is some of the best.

Tried this beer the other night from a 750 ml. bottle.

As expected, the beer pours a rich amber brown color with an excellent, thick head. Head retention and lacing are both impressive and this beer looks like it will be excellent. The nose is very complex and attractive. I get aromas of cherry, wood, maple syrup, bourban, vanilla and fuji apple. The beer smells fantastic.

Considering the smorgasbord of aroma on the nose, and considering the impressive look to this beer, I was shocked by the flavors on the palate. The flavors are VERY disappointing. One gets a hint of underlying sweetness, spice and malty brown ale, but it's completely overwhelmed by the sour/tartness to this beer. The beer has a somewhat light mouthfeel, with a weak, almost watery finish. Drinkability is really poor (at least for me), given the excessive, all pervasive, sour/tart flavors. Considering all the stuff I get on the nose, I'm amazed by what I taste on the palate. Sour, sour, sour and more sour.

Ultimately, I was unable to finish a glass of this beer. There are too many other great beers in the world to try to choke down this.

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Photo of GClarkage
3.23/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

08/12/08- Purchased at Chunck's WIne and Spirits in Chagrin Falls, OH.

Presentation- 750ml bottle with a batch number on the back of the bottle. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Lightly murky deep brown colored pour. About a 1/2 inch head upon pour. Leaves light lace trails and streaks behind.

Smell- Has lots of different stuff going on. Spices such as cinnimon, maybe a touch of clove with a deep chocolate scent as well. Mild funk also.

Taste- Rather odd taste. Fruit, chocolate and jerk spices all combined. Huh? English like hops with a deep deep chocolate flavor combined with a deep cinnimon flavor. Good flavors on their own, but as my friend Ethan said...kind of two beers in one...or flavors that might not work as well together.

Mouthfeel- Medium carbonation with a english hoppy/malt aftertaste.

Drinkability- I'd pass on this if offered again. Wasn't really bad., but just not my cup of tea.

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Photo of BTPete
3.28/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Drank on 5/9/10 to tulip.

A: Clear golden brown liquid with a big fluffy head. Thousands of bubbles rise from bottom.

S: Smells of sweet fruit, oak, and an underlying mustiness. A certain yeast character to the aroma also.

T: Slightly sweet then spicy. The spiciness seems to build with time and as the beer warms. Slight funk in the mouth but not very much at all. Less than I would have hoped for.

M: Highly carbed but didn't seem overly carbed. Medium bodied.

D: Good not great for me. Maybe with some time and a building brett character might be better for my palatte.

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Photo of akorsak
3.31/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I am drinking a 750 mL capped bottle, poured into a Chimay goblet. The ale has warmed to room temperature.

Appearance: The ale has a deep brown color that is very hazy. There is a bit of lace around the glass, but not much.

Smell: The ale has a gamey aroma, which I think is par for the course for Jolly Pumpkin. The aged ale suggests hints of a flanders red in the cherry-like nose.

Taste: The ale seems to be angling towards the sour ale zone, but falls a bit short. The flavor is solid and the aged component dries the mouth a bit but not too terribly.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is interesting, as the ale does not appear to be aged too significantly long.

Drinkability: Average. I'd have another, but it is not at the top of my dubbel list.

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Photo of NeoClassicist
3.36/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A reference to Venezuela, my ancestor's homeland, in the name, very good.
Made with Cacao, potential there.
Poured into a glass mug with a handle, nice foamy head, good retention, two fingers even after a minute's wait.
Herbal aroma, intriguing.
Tastes thin, feels thin. Like a sour, without the full-on raspberry masochistic assault. Label claims Belgian influence, I can't taste or smell yeast. Not as thick as a Dubbel, not sweet either. Aftertaste is scant and dissolves quickly. Takes effort to finish.
I stopped short of pouring it down the drain, the price was too dear.
$20 here in Honolulu, never again.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.36/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

25.4 oz. bottle, Batch 253,

A: Pours a relatively clear brown, with a full, long lasting white head, great full lacing.

S: Lactic acid dominates, some spice, but not really that complex, the orange peel is evident.

T: Acidity, brown malt and light bacterial funk form the main flavour at first. Orange peel is the main spice flavour, the cinnamon is there, but much more secondary. Struggling to find the chocolate, thought there would be more of it, it's really only there in the aftertaste. A bit of raw oak in there as well.

M: I like that the carbonation is light, acidity for a JP beer is mild, easy to drink for a sour.

D: I liked this beer, but it didn't really impress me, hoping for more chocolate and spice. Would have again for sure if offered, but whouldn't shell out the $12 for another bottle.

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Photo of haazer
3.37/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Off white head atop a brownish, amber looking beer.

S - Slight sour notes. The base beer brown ale is present in caramel, and some nutty aromas.

T - More funk tastes than sour. Dark caramel, toasty malts. A tiny bit of chocolate, and a dried plum taste.

M- Light to medium body with mid level carbonation.

O - Went with this $8.50 small pour at the prohibition taproom for my first beer during PBW. Should've went with the Obscura for price, but still an ok beer. Different take on a brown ale with the "sour" part.

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Maracaibo Especial from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
3.98 out of 5 based on 798 ratings.
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