Mad River Brewing Company - Jamaica Red Ale

Mad River Brewing Company - Jamaica Red Ale

Beer Club featured in U.S. & International Variety Beer Club U.S. Microbrewed Beer Club


United States

Alcohol by Volume:


Mad River Brewing Company - Jamaica Red Ale

  • ABV:

  • Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs):

  • Serving Temperature:

  • Suggested Glassware:

    Pint Glass or Mug
  • Malts:

    2-Row Pale, Crystal 70/80, Wheat, Black Patent
  • Hops:

    Columbus, Chinook, Cascade, Willamette, Summit
The red or amber ale style category is in many ways a sort of catch-all for beers of a certain hue that don’t neatly fall into other categories. They can be hop-focused, though typically not as much as an IPA. They can be malty, almost like märzens or Vienna lagers, but brewed with ale yeast. When high in ABV, they can begin hinting toward barleywines. Or they can be both hoppy and malty in the very bold, powerful way that this red ale is. Certainly one of the better of the style that we’ve encountered in many moons (and a 2011 GABF Silver Medalist), Jamaica Red presents an unfiltered, deep, rich, reddish color capped by a big fluffy head that descends to a thick collar that drops plenty of lacing. Caramel malt aromas spring forth, overlaid by hop notes of sweet, candied citrus fruits. On the palate, one may have a hard time deciding if the malts or hops ultimately win out; the malt-hop interplay is impressive, creating huge complexity. Rich, chewy malts offer toasty caramel notes with moderate sweetness, while hops provide a very resinous and floral character with spicy citric notes of tangerine and grapefruit. Look for added complexities in varying intensities like maple syrup, spruce, toffee, earthy bread, and anise. Big, round, smooth, and creamy, Jamaica Red is very well-balanced in the most aggressive sort of way. The brewery recommends pairing with savory crepes, pasta with white sauce, or grilled chicken. We'd like to add well-done (nearly burnt crust) white pizza to that list. Cheers!
Amidst giant redwoods in northern California’s Humboldt County lies Blue Lake, a small town of approximately 1135 people, and home to Mad River Brewing Company. The seeds for Mad River B.C. first started to take root back in the late 1970s as homebrewer Bob Smith began dreaming of one day starting his own commercial brewery. It was around this time that he met Ken Grossman at Ken’s homebrew supply shop and learned of his plans to start what would become Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, CA in 1979. As Sierra Nevada grew over the next decade, Bob remained interested in establishing his own brewery in Humboldt. Opportunity came knocking in 1989 when Sierra Nevada was expanding and Ken offered to sell his original brewing equipment to Bob. Because of Sierra Nevada’s success (and that of a handful of others), investors were willing to provide the financing necessary to finally turn Bob’s dream into a reality. Mad River’s first beers were poured on draft in December 1990, with bottles going on sale across Humboldt within just a couple months. The product was a hit and in their first year in business, Mad River sold twice as much beer as they had expected, reaching a total of 1500 barrels. As the microbrewing revolution exploded over the next few years and the market for their beer expanded beyond Humboldt County, the brewing facility was expanded and by 1996 capacity was up to 100,000 barrels per year. In addition to being at the forefront of the American beer renaissance, Mad River has also been a trailblazer in eco-conscious brewing, long before it was trendy to be “green.” Their ultimate goal is to produce zero waste, and so not only do they recycle all their paper and metal, they provide their spent grain to local farms. For more info about the brewery and tasting room, call (707) 668-5680, or visit their website at
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