Redhook Big Ballard Imperial IPA - Redhook Ale Brewery

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Redhook Big Ballard Imperial IPARedhook Big Ballard Imperial IPA

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95 Ratings
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Ratings: 95
Reviews: 59
rAvg: 3.64
pDev: 11.81%
Wants: 1
Gots: 6 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Redhook Ale Brewery visit their website
New Hampshire, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  8.60% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: barleywinefiend on 04-24-2010

In 1982 Redhook was born in a converted transmission shop in the Ballard District outside of Seattle, WA. After 28 years of brewing, Redhook is paying homage to its roots by releasing Big Ballard Imperial IPA. Big Ballard has a rich, deep golden and a very assertive hop character that hits you in the nose before reaching your lips. The flavor and aroma are balanced with complex malty undertones. While it has a friendly side, make no mistake - Big Ballard is brewed for diehard IPA fans.

73 IBU
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Ratings: 95 | Reviews: 59
Reviews by BaronRogue:
Photo of BaronRogue
3.24/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

My first Imperial IPA... poured from a bomber into my chalice-type glass. It was nine months old and non-refrigerated, but i wanted to try it and it was a good price.

Appearance is akin to raw honey, a murky golden. Strong head and good lacing. After the head dissipates there is a tiny layer of bubbles on top that never goes away, along with a slightly thicker layer of bubbles around the edge of the glass.

Smells like prunes and alcohol, not really my favorite.

Taste surprised me... I was not expecting it to be so sweet! Although the higher alcohol content cheap malt liquors are sweet, and this clocks in at 8.6... woah. Tastes like prunes and alcohol as well, with lots of maltiness as well. I was definitely impressed with the aftertaste... such a good taste is lingering on my tongue. I like this beer more with every sip.

Mouthfeel is good, the tiny bubbles dance around your mouth and make it a little thick tasting.

Drinkability is quite good, although pacing yourself is a must. If you slam this one, you will be feeling it. I'm halfway through the first 12oz. and the alcohol is definitely making itself known.

Wouldn't really get this one again, but is definitely a solid beer.

More User Reviews:
Photo of RoyalT
3.86/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - This liquid is pretty average-looking, a light and pure orange in color, but this head is just amazing. It is a deep, rich yellowish-white and usually yellow is a bad thing but here it is incredible. The foam is a cross between a puffy white cloud and a mug full of shaving cream, not the stuff you get now from a pressurized can but the kind that you lathered up yourself in the days of straight razors. It lasted forever and left clumps of foam on the inside of my mug.

Smell - The nose is tame for a Seattle DIPA. I don't get the monster pine resin as expected but the hop profile is complex and refined. The malts are light as well but very sugary and full of caramel.

Taste - This is mellow at the taste as well. The hops are an even mix of light pine and orange and almost have a European compliment to them. The malt is very sugary and gooey and laden with caramel.

Mouthfeel - This just is medium-bodied with a light but unmistakable bitterness throughout the drink and a very smooth blending that pleases the palate. It is incredibly smooth and just flows through the mouth like a Rocky Mountain river. The velvety sensation that you get on the inside cheeks and tongue is amazing, and the light, high-quality carbonation just adds to the experience.

Drinkability - What this one lacked in punch it made up for here. The complex hop blend and sweetish malts kept it going down like water. Don't buy this if you want a huge PacNW heavy-hitter but for an everyman's DIPA this is hard to beat.

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.89/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was cautioned by the waitperson that this beer was 8% ABV. Nice to see that there's an attempt to make people aware of the potency of the higher alcohol beers.
In a tulip, the beer was gold colored, with a pretty small white head and minimal lacing. Not what I expected in an IPA.
It had a pronounced floral aroma, maybe a little citrus.
Up front malt taste, pine, tiny bit of grapefruit.
Pretty shy, definitely not an aggressive DIPA.
Still, an enjoyable beer.

Photo of NWer
4.2/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass from a 22 oz. bottle.
Disclosure: Born and raised in Ballard. A fight song at Ballard High School went "lutefisk lutefisk lefsa lefsa we'll beat (fill in the blank) ya sure ya betcha".
Obvious Scandinavian heritage which I am a part - my dad immigrated from Norway and was an Alaska halibut fisherman.
OK - now for the review - given all the less that enthusiastic reviews, I was expecting to be disappointed and perfectly willing to accept that Redhook didn't do that great.
I was pleasantly surprised. Obvious bias notwithstanding, I thought it was a very good IIPA. Disappointed at the lack of hop feel at the beginning but exploded after a few sips - or drinks - whatever. And very drinkable.

Photo of mikechance
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a very nice beer. It's not a over-the-top Imperial IPA, but it's certaining not lacking interesting characteristics.

I had the first 10 oz when it was nice and cold. This was very enjoyable and brought out the hoppiness. The remainder of the bomber was enjoyed about 45 minutes later after the beer had warmed up a little. Allowing the beer to warm up changed the taste slightly and brought out more variety in it especially the bitterness.

For $4-5 for a bomber it's a very good beer!

Photo of Mora2000
3.11/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The beer pours an orange color with a white head. The aroma is a mix of perfume, flowers, citrus and some toffee malt. The flavor is orange and caramel malt with some perfume and flowery hops mixed in. There is a lot of different flavors going on in the beer but they don't really work together too well. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. I am not sure what it is, but something with this beer is not working for me. Not a terrible beer, but you can do much better in the Double IPA category.

Photo of whoneeds8
4.12/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Duvel tulip a golden orange with a thick froathy white head, good retention and great lacing. The scent is of strong floral hops, very nice. The taste is a good hop wallop. There is a nice amount of malted carmel flavor that balances out with the equal amount of hop bitterness. Very well done. It's not a kick in the pants IIPA, but it's put together very well. The mouthfeel might be considered a tick on the thin side for the style, but nothing that takes away from the beer.

I would have to say that I have a feeling this beer doesn't get high reviews because it's from a bigger micro brewery not known for great beers.

Photo of Glibber
3.68/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice looking copper colored beer with a decent white head. I can smell the Munich hops and grapefruit, and the front end has some citrus and some good carbination. The pine and hops come out in the back end. Tastes a bit like the original Ballard bitter with a little more fruit/grapefruit. The 8.6% is hidden quite well. Too hoppy to drink all night long, but goes down quickly.

Photo of kdevry
4.7/5  rDev +29.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Not a RH fan. This is delicious! Reminds me of Green Flash Imperial IPA. Hops are there but hidden. Mmm

Photo of GRG1313
4.3/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I'm very surprised at the first few reviews. This may be the best Red Hook I've tried; it's first rate.

A crystal clear orange amber with a nice white head. Big assertive orange/yeast fruity nose that's pleasant and appealing in all regards.

Mouthfeel is big, rich and bold with a nice creamy and "large" character. Perfect carbonation and with a bright, uplifting character.

Flavors are delicious and very drinkable. Pleasant all around with wonderful balance of big, rich, bold, bright and very bitter honey grapefruit hops followed by a big and rich and full honey fruit and grapefruit flavor profile. This is one nice drink, made all the better by the price. However, at twice the price, or more, this is still a really nice beer.

Finish is rich and pine/grapefruit skin bitter that lasts forever and last in a good way. This is a very well balanced, big flavored imperial IPA and a very nice example at that. The 8.6 abv is well masked and without a big alcohol character. This is one worth trying.

3.63/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clear orange, golden edges. Big smooth frothy offwhite head. Great organic lacing.

Kind of muted for a IIPA. But there are some hop aromas. Orange, Grapefruit, lemon, grass, pine. And a muted toasty caramel malt backing.

Juicy orange citrus, bitter grapefruit. Toasty, bready, and a sweet caramel. Above average bitterness, grapefruit rind.

Med body, slightly sticky and dry. Slow/low carbonation.

Good drinkability. A bitter, tasty, balanced, and average IIPA.

Photo of Rutager
3.87/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance. Pours gold with a little red and a touch of haze. One finger of bubbly white head.

Smell. Fruity hops and sweet, light toasted malt. A little citrus fruit juice. Yum.

Taste. Rich malt with a good hit of bitter, citus and grassy hops. Clean, bitter herbal finish takes over the thick malt. Not bad for such a malt-heavy ipa.

Mouthfeel. Medium body with medium carbonation. Some warming alcohol.

Drinkability. As with all malt-heavy ipa's, the drinkability suffers a bit for me. That being said, this beer pulls it off pretty well and was gone quick enough.

Photo of Docer
4.03/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

- Pours a dark copper... clear... thin off-white head... leaves a few spots of fizz around.

- Nice citrus and fruit hop scent... little sweet caramel.. pineapple, and some slight funk... like a waldorph salad...

- Bitter punch with a blend of fruit salad, pineapple... caramel sweet malt.... malt is not overdone which I like.... fruity... but the fruit salad and nutty funk still is present in flavor. Nice pine bitterness up front though... hops are great.

- Dry, bitter, medium bodied... carbonated just right... overall a very decent IIPA..

- Just missing something... and it's not the hops... the bitter punch, and finish hops are fantastic... the malt base is a little boring, and leaves an odd funk to it.... overall a very solid IIPA though.

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.31/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2nd bottle of this... $4... great price for a 22.

Foamy lite khaki head... the brew is a polished deep golden... good retention and lacing.

Lite (for the style) pithy citrus hoppiness... some good pale maltiness.

Pretty damn bitter out of the gate that moves into the hops that show both pine and citrus yet that lean toward the citrus side of things.... again nice maltiness shows for a short time mid-palate and then moves into a sorta abrasive bitterness on the finish that lingers metallic.

Body and carbonation both are good for the style...

I remember being surprised how good this was on the first bottle I had... but this is a pretty big let down on most fronts except the price tag.... I will certainly buy it again just for this reason though.


Edit: I was going to give the flavor a 3.5... but the metallic nature really grew on me with warmth.

Photo of mikesgroove
3/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

amber color with a ton of orange highlights mixed in throughout. haze and a nice two inch foam top that never wanted to settle.

sticky, resin like hops all the way. Oodles of pine aroma, mixed in with some rich orange and tangerine. Sight hint of a sweet malty base around here as well. pine hops, sticky with a resin like flavor and a good bready and biscuit like base to it. Nice balance here, but still way leaning towards the hops in terms of a definte direction

Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.95/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had in the Cataqua.

Pours a clear golden color, not much for head, actually it was hard to tell if there was any carbonation except for a few big bubbles sitting on top, reminds me of when someone pours a beer right from the tank for a sample.

Smell has a nice citrus aroma, large malt backbone though so it isn't a huge hop bomb but more on the balanced side of things.

Taste had some good balance in the beginning, the malt and the hop citrus meld well, in the aftertaste the bitterness is more pronounced than you would first think.

I'm not blown away when it comes to DIPA's, but I feel this is quite a good offering from Red Hook, at least the tap version.

Photo of Zorro
3.4/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a clear amber beer with an orange tinge. Head is small and white. The color falls in the "IPA Orange Spectrum."

Smells sweet and herbal with a pleasant citrus aroma hat is more orange than grapefruit. Picking up menthol and mint from this one, expected grapefruit and pine are mostly missing.

Starts out sweet and sharply bitter. A fairly bitey IPA Sweetness hold off the hops but it does sting the tongue a bit. Citrus and wood flavors, not a lot of subtlety here, more like being hit with a shovel.

Mouthfeel is good.

Drinkability is questionable. Good flavor but that tongue sting thing is annoying, I give it just average.

Photo of CHickman
3.8/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours clear amber orange in color with a 1 finger creamy off white head that faded quickly; decent lacing that slides down the glass.

Smells of sweet malt, floral hops, citrus hops, grapefruit, lemon and light caramel; the citrus hops dominate the aroma.

Tastes of lemon, floral hops, citrus hops, piney hops, caramel, orange peel, grapefruit and light spices like pepper. Pretty tasty brew overall with a crisp and dry finish.

Mouthfeel is crisp and creamy, with medium carbonation and a medium body. Pretty drinkable and quenching, I liked this beer and will have it again.

Note: Had this on tap over the summer (of 2010) and just found these notes, so I will have to try this beer again when I come across it.

Photo of Braz
2.97/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Just don't like the aftertaste.

Photo of bunnyhustle
3.65/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bomber into a tulip glass. Pours murky golden with 2 finger head and some retention and lacing. Had to do a pretty rough pour to get any head at all. Smell is mainly of a caramel malt with some sweetness to it. Some hops of course but they weren't overly dominant, bit of a grapefruit presence. Taste was a dry malt at first followed by a somewhat bitter west coast hop kick. A citrusy and bitter hop taste. Mouthfeel was medium bodied and very smoother going down. Overall a good beer and the ABV was very well hid. Better than I thought but not the best Imperial ever.

Photo of Hatzilla
3.22/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up this 22 ounce bomber for 3.50 at the local BevMo. Bottled 10/25/10. Consumed 1/31/11.

A - Clear orange pour with a one inch quickly dissipating head, leaving some decent lacing in its wake.

S - Not much aroma to speak of. Some caramel malt, honey and orange.

T - Taste follows the scent - Muted malts, honey and orange.

M - Medium carbonation, good mouthfeel.

D - Drinkability is decent for this DIPA, but the hops are sorely lacking. I will revisit this beer and update my review when I can find a fresher bottle.

Photo of JackieTH
2.94/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured amber gold with three fingers of creamy bubbly head that laced nicely.

Nose was pine hop, sweetness and alcohol; overall there just wasn't much of it.

Palate was spicy hop and warming alcohol embedded in a too-thin body with a dry finish.

I've got to say I was a little disappointed, the pour into the glass had all the right appearances hinting at a good hoppy flavorful brew, but right away the nose was weak and the taste similarly so. I had never tried this before, so perhaps I'm lacking sentimentality?

Photo of froghop
3.7/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pours a little hazy amber with a small egg-shell head, and good lacing.

smell is of grapefruit, caramel, some malt, and citrus.

taste is of grapefruit, hops, caramel, and a touch of pine, ends creamy and very bitter.

a very well done imperial indian pale ale.

Photo of warbird07
3.81/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to BigE90 for this extra...poured into a hotel red wine glass(best I could do)...

Appearence is hazy tangerine with a nice foamy off-white head..,nice lacing..

Smell is a bit muted...not really an out of date bottle...some citrus malt aroma, fruity malty..I expected a bit more..

Taste is good..a bit on the malty side..fruity, sweet, bitter..pretty nice..

I was not disappointed with the mouthfeel..real nice..nice carbonation..very good for the style..

Good beer..would love to try one super fresh..but very drinkable..

Photo of Gosox8787
3.33/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 10 oz. pour served in a Redhook tulip at the brewery in Portsmouth.

Appearance: Bright orange in color and slightly cloudy. Very small, less than a finger, white head with not much retention.

Aroma: Grapefruit notes upfront. A touch of sugary sweetness here too. Not too strong.

Taste: Grapefruit is definitely the dominant note from the hops. Some herbal and pine notes too. Slight malt backbone of caramel. Pretty clean finish. Not very strong. Slightly soapy finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with some slight carbonation. Some crispness.

Drinkability: The ABV is hidden pretty well and the flavors are light enough so that I can drink a couple of these.

Overall, a forgettable, but decent Imperial IPA. The flavors are on the lighter side and the hop profile has a sort of odd taste to it in parts. Not bad, just not a stand out.

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Redhook Big Ballard Imperial IPA from Redhook Ale Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 95 ratings.