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: 800
Photo of Sammy
3.66/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I was surprised on how sour this was. I know the brewery is fooling with wild yeast strains, but this was gushing white. Lambic aroma vinegar. The others who shared the bottle gave great reviews so I am pressing ahead with my impressions. Hypnotic effect for those used to sour beers in terms of drinkablility, it wasn't a cantillon but the sourness overpowered the spiciness.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.25/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Single finger head with excellent lacing on a murky copper body. Aroma of tart dark fruit, caramel and toasted malts, breads and candied citrus. Flavor follows very well with caramel, candied fruits, brown sugar and bready malts. Light to medium body, oily and light to medium carbonation. Almost has the sense of a brown blended with a sour beer. By the time I finished this one I loved it and wanted another. A very nice and complex brew. It's just a little too thin for me.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.78/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 11/25/13. Batch 206/208.

Pours a murky orange-brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Tiny chunks of sediment are seen floating around in the beer after the pour. Smell is sour with malt, cocoa, spice, cherry, funk, and acidic aromas. Taste is much the same with sour malt, cherry, vinegar, funk, and acidic flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of acidity on the palate with each sip. This beer has a high level of carbonation with a crisp and prickly mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with cocoa and spice qualities in the aroma, but the taste is mainly sour fruit and funk.

Serving type: bottle.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

this trip down memory lane of revisiting all the jolly pumpkin beers has been time and money well spent. all of their stuff is awesome, maybe none more unique than this one, a tart brown ale with orange peel, cacao, and cinnamon, all of which are subtle but definite. hazy light brown ambery glow, heady as can be, bone white and patient. the nose is just like the finish, an odd relationship we don't often see, but its loaded with orange peel, citrusy, tart, acidic, yet dry, very clean and refreshing. this one may be a bit light for winter, even as a brown. i taste powdery cocoa chocolate malt, buttery cacao, zesty citrus fruits, wild yeasts and brett all over the shop, and only minimal cinnamon, just enough to make it puzzling. very light malt flavor, but there is a lot of body in this, made luxurious on the palate by tiny tickling bubbles, similar to other beers from jolly pumpkin, but rounder and softer from the cacao. all orange in the finish, a bit of brown malt, and a memorable zest of refreshment. a summer brown i think, but maybe more versatile with the cinnamon. their yeasts kick butt, and so does this beer, can't recall anything even resembling this one.

edit: cracked a bottle from 2012 last night (thanks claystatio) and was surprised how much is changed, still real dry and lively, but after its done gushing out, the cinnamon has really fallen back and the tartness has increased. certainly a cellar worthy brew, but i may prefer it a little fresher.

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Photo of metter98
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is hazy amber in color and has a light amount of carbonation. It poured with a two finger high dense beige head that died down but consistently left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface along with lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: The nose has a slight amount of sourness, which also has aromas of orange peel and cinnamon.
T: Like the smell, the taste is a little sour and has orangey flavors along with some hints of cinnamon and oak.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is very easy to drink with all of the interesting flavors, but it's really easy to drink because any traces of alcohol are well hidden.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.42/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Typical of Jolly Pumpkin in that they take a terrific style of beer and improve it. What would be a solid Belgian-style Brown Ale, became a balances sweet/tart, malty/vineous, woodsy/clean Sour Brown. Spicy and sweet from the right from the start, but quickly evolves into an under-rippened berry tartness, shrarply acidit and with dusty must with Flander's Red-like acetic sourness, toasty malt, and peppercorn bite. Lightly hopped for added bitterness and earthy grass notes. Amazingly holds onto a light toast (almost cocoa) flavor and firm creaminess despite the alcohol and modest astringency. Another true challenge for the tastebuds. An amazingly well crafted Sour Brown ale that draws inspiration from Belgium but made in America.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.86/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

750ml bottle, part of a gaggle of new offerings from this brewery now available in Alberta, after their introductory onslaught a couple of years ago.

This beer pours a hazy, verging on dark bronzed amber colour, with four fingers of puffy, loosely foamy, and frothy beige head, which leaves a bit of sudsy rock outcropping lace around the glass as it evenly bleeds away.

It smells of sour, fairly yeasty pale grain, bittersweet cocoa powder, a touch of gingerbread - one heavy on the cinnamon, natch - and somewhat stale blood orange and random grocery aisle melon fruitiness. The taste is rather tart toasted grainy malt, further sour bacterial/yeast notes, wheat crackers, dry chocolate wafers, wet tobacco, bar-top nuts, muddled orange, cherry and lemon acidity, damp, almost dank wood, and musty floral, earthy, and weedy hops.

The bubbles are a bit tight in their manifestation as a not-quite fully dull sword, the body a sturdy medium weight, and not un-smooth, sort of just barren, in a good way, if that makes any sense. It finishes off-dry, the yeastiness driving the show, with some vinous fruitiness (not necessarily grapes, just wine-like overall), toasted caramel malt, and floral, perfumed hops putting a dot on it.

Not yer standard American Brown Ale (it does say 'special', right on the label), that much is certain right off the bat - the yeast and guest spices taking that bow of mea culpa. However, it all seems to slowly work towards a common goal of good taste and whatnot, as the cocoa and spices blend into the base brown ale more or less behind the scenes, and the funk slowly, but surely trails off by the end. As usual, this brewery's beers are pretty hard to categorize or pigeonhole, and, well, all the power to them.

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Photo of brentk56
4.09/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pours a hazy chestnut with a nice head of foam that leaves strands of lacing

Smell: Tart,with brown bread, cinnamon, chocolate and orange peel

Taste: Bready forward, with tartness building, bring with it the flavors of chocolate, cinnamon and orange peel; leathery and dry after the swallow and through the finish though the underlying flavors remain throughout

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: A rather unusual take on the style; high quality as are all the brews from this brewery

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Photo of emerge077
4.23/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Anticipating foam, I opened the bottle and poured quickly. Only a plume of gunsmoke escaped from under the cap. It poured a deep chestnut color, with reddish highlights. Not opaque, but very effervescent. Sandy foam and lacing stuck around for the duration of the bottle.

Notes of oak, spice, fig, and apple in the nose. Very pleasant aroma.

Taste is moderately complex, a blend of tart to sour apple from wild yeast, figs, raisin, mystery spice, and dry caçao nibs. Slightly roasty malt in the middle. The finish is dry, but it seems more attributed to the yeast or chocolate aspects than to oak barrel aging. One bottle goes down easily, and it becomes slightly more mild as it warms up to room temp. The carbonation isn't too overdone, but gives a lighter balance to the richer flavors.

Strangely enough, once the bottle is empty, it's still halfway full of foam...

A winner from JP...

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Photo of largadeer
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Murky turbid brown with a massive 3 finger head that lasts and lasts.

Smell: Bretty funk with undertones of cinnamon and cacao. The spices come out more as the beer warms, but never to the point of overpowering the funk.

Taste & mouthfeel: Cacao and cinnamon are the first flavors tasted before the funk and tartness consume the palate. The mouthfeel is dry and highly carbonated, a common characteristic with Jolly Pumpkin beers. Cinnamon and cacao appear again in the finish, lingering for a moment along side the drying tartness.

Notes: Excellent stuff, one of the better JP offerings I've tried.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.06/5  rDev +2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Kryptic: Poured a hazy brown color ale with a bug light brown color head with great retention and great lacing. Aroma of funky yeast with some brett-like aroma with some sour and tart notes. Taste is also dominated by sour notes with loads of oak and barnyard-like notes. Minimum filtration with great carbonation and no apparent alcohol. I really enjoyed again the wild taste of the JP beers but cannot say that I detected much cinnamon or cacao.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.65/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle picked up at Connecticut Avenue in DC.

Blend 4; bottled November 19, 2010. Served in a Jolly Pumpkin tulip.

Pours a clear chestnut brown color with a single-finger off-white head and some good lacing on the way down. Thin cap throughout. The nose has a bit of cocoa as well as some mild earthiness. Just a touch of funk in the background.

The flavor has a bit of dark cocoa. There's a bit of light oak and earthiness toward the back. Not nearly as much going on as other Jolly Pumpkin beers; this is more "normal." It's a pretty good brew, but there's nothing there to take the complexity to the next level.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 11/30/2010. Pours lightly hazy reddish copper color with a nice 2-3 finger dense and fluffy light khaki head with fantastic retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of tart apple, cherry, lemon, orange peel, pepper, clove, cinnamon, toast, cocoa, hay, grass, leather, funk, light vinegar, and yeast earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of malt, spice, and yeast ester notes; with good strength. Taste of tart apple, cherry, lemon, orange peel, cocoa, toast, pepper, clove, hay, grass, cinnamon, leather, funk, light vinegar, and yeast earthiness. Good amount of earthy/spicy tartness on the finish; with lingering notes of green apple, cherry, lemon, orange peel, cocoa, toast, pepper, clove, cinnamon, hay, funk, light vinegar, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance and complexity of malt, spice, and yeast ester flavors; with a great malt/spice/tartness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium-high carbonation and medium bodied; with a fairly creamy, crisp, and slightly acidic mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with zero warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent wild brown ale! All around great balance and complexity of malt, spice, and yeast flavors; and very smooth and crisp to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of nickfl
4.27/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Hazy, reddish-orange body with a large, off white head. The foam has great staying power and leaves excellent lace.

S - Pungent sourness, backed by sweet malt. Black pepper, a heavy dose of oak, and a bit of vanilla.

T - Toasted malt and caramel with acetic sourness up front. Peppery yeast notes and lemon oils in the middle, followed by strong toasted oak flavors. More spicy yeast and a hint of herbal hops in the finish along with lingering oak notes.

M - Creamy, full body, high carbonation, and a very dry finish.

D - Another nice beer from JP. As with all of their products it is hard to attach a style to this beer, but it is complex and refreshingly sour. Somewhere between a Flemmish red and a acidic, Fantome-style saison; which is a combination that suits my taste quite well.

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Photo of jlindros
3.98/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tap at Armsby Abbey,

Fluffy 2 finger head off a very long pour, slowly fades wroth thick lacing, hazy golden peach orange color.

Nose of Belgian malts, light and dark, citrus and fruits, a light tart sour mash and light sour fruits, a little bready, light sweetness.

Taste starts a little funky with some light tart fruits and sour mash, bit of lactic, semi sweet Belgian malts, little bready and light wild yeast funk, bit of bitterness, light citrus and lemon zest, smooth and tasty. Finishes with more bitter lemon peel and some light tart funk, little lacto and flemmy.

Mouth is med to a bit lighter with decent carb.

Drink is good, not much abv and the tartness is balanced well with light sweetness and bready malts and light funk, the lacto and flemmy take away a bit.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.23/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 349 Maricaibo Especial pours a very dark chestnut-colored body that hints at notes of crimson and orange, but never quite makes it there. The full glass sitting on the bar, however, displays a reddish dark-mahogany. The head is initially frothy but settles quickly to become a creamy yellowed-white pillow. As might be expected, the head retention is quite good and the lacing is fantastic.

In the nose, cloves appear right up-front, almost bubblegum-like, and then quickly dissipate. They're followed by tart notes, and then further tones of wet leather, minerals and oil, and thin shears of metal. Subtle spices arise, mixed with fruit, but they never become quite clear.

In the mouth it's medium-bodied, and gently-zesty-then-creamy as it warms across the palate.

The flavor is a broad spectrum of changing flavors as it warms and your taste buds become accustomed to certain notes. The phenols and Brettanomyces appear first, followed by spice/cocoa/fruit, and then leafy and grassy hop flavors. There's a bit of citrus as well, but who knows where that's coming from. I find sweet red apples, green apples, rotting apples, orange, papaya, mango, melon. Then notes of brown sugar and dry biscuits. Even just lightly browned bread dough hot out of the oven! It suggests sweetness, but it's not really sweet. (Well, it is sweet towards the end). The malt moves back and forth between the fruit/yeast/hops in an almost ghost-like fashion - here one second, gone the next. Nutmeg flickers through, adding to the spicy dryness, but there's a real hop bitterness as well. A rigid bitterness. It finishes dry with a strong note of orange rind and some subtle cocoa, as well as a lingering bitterness and some leafy hops and yeasty mineral and earth. The cinnamon becomes apparent at some point in the lingering finish as it just doesn't fade that well. And at that point everything kind of gets tumbled over and just slightly rearranged to go again in the next few sips. And in some of those new sips the cinnamon and orange merge which is quite nice. But there are so many combinations that it's almost not worth mentioning.

Complex. Intriguing. Requiring some focus.


Do yourself a favor.

(Those last three lines should be a slogan :)

How is it that a brewery that makes less beer than many brewpubs can produce something that's so compelling?

And I'd even say that perhaps this is not that compelling in comparison to some of their other beers that are more full-throttle, but this one is certainly more balanced in some way.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a very lightly hazy amber to garnet red in color. The beer has a finger tall creamy light tan head that reduces to a thick film covering the entire surface of the beer and a thicker ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate to significant lacing is observed.

S: Moderate to heavy aromas of sourness (likely from brett) along with some much lighter notes of cinnamon and orange peel.

T: The taste is very similar to the smell with a light amount of sourness (brett) upfront. After that there is a strong presence of oak along with lighter hints of orange peel bitterness and some light spiciness (cinnamon).

M: Light to medium bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation. Slightly thin.

O: This beer is really very interesting - very unique combination of flavors and smells. I like the sourness and the barrel flavors in the beer but it is not the easiest to drink. Good beer for sipping and the alcohol is well hidden.

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Photo of Rifugium
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First had: on tap at Capone's, Norristown, PA

Worthy of note: this did not come off as a brown ale in any regard whatsoever. I don't think "special brown ale" qualifies this as a brown wasn't. Labeled as a sour ale on the beer list.

Served in a 9oz. snifter, this beer poured some kind of orange-brown-pink hybrid color that I can only really otherwise describe as "imperial topaz;" hazy, with a thin cap of delicate bubbles on top. Aroma was a bit subdued: tart, but actually pretty mildly so, with soft notes of wood and leaves. Taste of cherries, orange pith and apple skins, again, like the aroma, tart, but not overly so, sour, but not lip-puckering, oak and leafiness, tannins, citrus, and light spice with the lightest dusting of cocoa powder. Very nice and complex. Medium-bodied, very drying, very easily drinkable, but nice to sip on slowly.

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Photo of dcmchew
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Mahogany, hazy, with a really cool creamy slightly off-white head.
Ah, ok, so it's a FOB. Did not expect (from the label) to smell this mix of lactic acidity, slightly sour cherries and pretty rich caramel malts. Add to that some light nuttiness, citrus peel, faint cocoa powder, a whiff of fresh toast and some rustic wine notes, gone a bit too sour, of course.
A really nice mix of sweet and sour in the taste, like caramel and lemon juice (and peel), with the funky tartness gaining more and more ground. Subtle fruity notes, with apple, orange, faint cherry, and those added cocoa nibs (/powder?) show off for a bit on top of the toasted malts. Dusty kind of spices, a bit earthy, with some cinnamon, faint nutmeg, a touch of pepper. Tartness sticks till the end, which is slightly yeasty, but nice and dry, almost mildly bitter.
All the sour notes disappear in the aftertaste, leaving a bit of nut, a "dusty" note, just hinting at cocoa (not too strongly) and toasted malt. Medium body and carbonation.
A pretty tasty sour, authentic, but doesn't surpass the top of its Belgian counterparts.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.02/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle - $13.99 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Blend 1 - Bottled 11-9-10.

Appearance: Dispenses a clouded, medium-brown body with a tall, gushing, slowly receding, off-white head.

Smell: Presents a slow shambling toasted, molded bread maltiness and toasted, earth-strewn nuts with a quick snap of phenols bringing one to attention, then, the cacao and cinnamon slips past followed by ripe fruits, a even little berry.

Taste: Toasted maltiness, slight caramel sweetness, and with more chocolate flavor than I'd ever have expected. Pinch of cinnamon, but also a clovesque, peppery note alongside acedic berries soothed with umeshu. Becomes predominately earthy and acidic as it progresses. Finishes with a flourish of engaging, burp-inducing carbonation.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body. High carbonation.

Overall: As always, it’s another weird, wild ride from Jolly Pumpkin.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.55/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Rusted orange peel with bright Sunkist borders. The large crown is the color of ice cream to which orange juice and cinnamon have been added. Since sweet orange peel and cinnamon are used in this 'Special Brown Ale', that's only fitting. The cap is almost Belgian-like in character and deposits a respectable amount of sea foam lace.

I like the nose because I like Brettanomyces. I'm tempted to score it one notch lower, though, because the things that I believe make Maracaibo Especial distinctive (cacao, cinnamon and orange), (or at least have a chance to), don't have a prayer of being appreciated given all the funk. It better be a different story on the palate.

When I first learned of Maracaibo's Especial's ingredients, I was intrigued. I'm pretty sure I've never had a Belgian-inspired brown ale that uses this combination of fruit and spice. The sad thing is, it doesn't matter because the brewer is in love with light-bodied, sharply carbonated, sour, acidic, dry (in other words, highly attenuated beer)... and I'm not.

If I can get my taste buds to filter out the funk (a near impossible task) I can sorta see what this beer is trying to be. It's clearly brown malty, as opposed to pale or roasted, and has the suggestion of cocoa (make that 'cacao'). There's a warm spiciness that isn't identifiable as cinnamon and a puckery citric fruit zestiness that isn't identifiable as orange. In addition, the flavor profile contains as much wood as your average Upper Peninsula forest. Again, the Brett razes everything in its path, effectively eliminating any chance at depth or complexity.

Simply put, I don't care for the way JP beer feels in the mouth. I respect it, I just don't like it. See several paragraphs above for the specifics. If others love it, more power to 'em.

Maracaibo Especial (and the rest of the Jolly Pumpkin lineup) strikes me as 'no compromises' kind of beer. It seems as though the brewer has a particular vision that he doesn't care to deviate from. Hey Ron, would it kill you to ease off the funk and to allow some of the malt sugars to make it to the end product?

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Photo of Slatetank
3.94/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I enjoyed this on tap at Brass Rail in Campbelltown, review from notes.

The color is dark amber with light hazed brown thick beige head with fine bead. The smell is light wood with mild fruit and wild yeast with lemony rind and light vinegar essence and sour cherries. The feel has funk, spice medium high carbbonation and light chalkiness with very dry nutty texture in finish with some alcohol warmth.

The taste is sweet at first with tangy fruit and gentle sour aspect and some wild yeast flavor with mild toast from the malt with woody dry and mild moist raisin in the linger with hints of spice but cacao and cinnamon are hard to pick up out especially over the barrel and wild yeast acidity. This is a decent brown with sour flavor but feel and aroma are slightly better than the taste with decent drinkability but alcohol is noticeable.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.05/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: The pour is an interesting mix of orange and brown with a fluffy off-white head.

S: A surprising amount of oak, apples, a bit of chocolate, cherry, and only a mild tartness.

T: The cherries are probably the most prominent fruit to go along with the mild tart flavor and a moderate level of funk. There's quite a bit of oak in the flavor too and lends a very dry feeling to the beer.

M: As noted before, the high presence of oak makes the beer fairly tannic and dry. I enjoyed this, my girlfriend did not.

D: Another interesting offering from Jolly Pumpkin. Certainly not my favorite, but I'd definitely give it another try and I'd like to see how it might develop with some age.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Murky amber color with beige head. Aroma is tart, slightly acetic and spicy. Taste is just a bit tart and spicy but no detectable specific spice. Medium body and soft carbonation. Quite nice and easy drinking overall.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.8/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 09/15/10 notes. Had at a small DC tasting.

a - Pours a dark amber color with 2 inches of fluffy white head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of spices and dark fruit. Also some fruity malts and bready malts.

t - Tastes of sour, dark fruits, spices, bready malts, and caramel malts.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

d - A pretty good dark ale. I wasn't expecting the taste to be quite as sour, but it was still enjoyable. Would try again.

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Maracaibo Especial from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
3.98 out of 5 based on 800 ratings.
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