Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Lagunitas Imperial Red AleLagunitas Imperial Red Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,253 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,253
Reviews: 786
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 9.71%
Wants: 228
Gots: 306 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Lagunitas Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Amber / Red Ale |  7.80% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Reidrover on 03-05-2005

54.2 IBU
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ratings: 2,253 | Reviews: 786
Reviews by JayQue:
Photo of JayQue
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first Lagunitas beer. I have no idea what an Imperial Red Ale is, but nice, hoppy West Coast beer is always a welcome addition to my palate and gut. Pours a clear amber/reddish color with a big ivory head. Head retention and lacing are excellent. Smell gave a promise of hoppiness and also a scent/flavor that I couldn't identify. Some people refer to toffee in connection to the malts. I didn't get any standard malty scent or flavor so I'll go with "toffee" also. Taste was good....hoppy as a good IPA but with this additional flavor as well. Mouthfeel is fairly rich....the first swallow provides the coating for the rest of the beer...nothing thin about this one. Very crisp and hoppy. A nice slight change of pace for an IPA loving hophead. ABV is a bit high for a session beer, but this one is very drinkable.

More User Reviews:
Photo of Greywulfken
4/5  rDev -2.9%

A: ruby brown ale, faintly hazed, with a couple of fingers of pale foam that left some small lacing down the glass

S: warming bready malts under resinous pine and citric hop aromas

T: warm brown bread and biscuit, slightly sweet; muted fruitiness; grapefruit and orange citrus elements as well as piney wood

M: medium-weight, enough chew that you're not likely to down it, but not so much that you couldn't if you wanted to; moderate carbonation

O: a nice take on the red/amber ale, IPA-like hops, but the malts give it a heartier, rustic character. Solid.

Photo of utopiajane
3.84/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours orange and clear with only a few bubbles wafting toward the top to meet a creamy head of off off white foam that fell slowly and left lace. The nose is pink grapefruit with it's sweet little backing, earthy pine, some fresh orange and a biscuit like malt that promises a bit of sugar. Taste is excellent. The mouthfeel is pristine. A touch of weight from that malt and then airy lightness but smooth. Good carbonation that goes largely unnoticed. The beer is a touch sticky and lip smackingly so with a bit of resin that coats the tongue and lets a bit of the grapefruit pith and the earthy pine come through just a bit more before the creamy smooth malt rolls through to the finish. Finishes with a slight bitter that is a lovely accent to all the fruitiness of this beer.

Photo of StonedTrippin
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

new affordable bomber from lagunitas, pushing the red ipa style here, but still probably more malt driven than a red ipa would be. clear brick red in color with a tall and wispy off white head with a ton of rising bubbles collecting at the surface, very alive looking brew. the nose here is piney hops and a lot of breakfast coffee cake type red malt giving it both some lingering sweetness and plenty of body. the hops are mostly all in the finish, leaving the first half of the beer for the grain, which is sweeter but not at the expense of the hops or the finish. pine needle hop complexion is bold but not over done, we all found this to be an exceptionally easy drinking brew, especially for one almost 8% abv. clean finishing, quite refreshing, and a well made take on the style. I prefer it to the lucky 13 red beers they make, its more lively and unique. the price makes it that much better too!

Photo of lordofstarside
3.86/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber to an imperial pint glass

Pours amber in color, with a finger of slightly tan foam. High visibility, low carbonation, pretty good retention and lacing

Smell is upfront citrus- lots of pine and grapefruit that gets balanced out pretty evenly with a strong aroma of spicy caramel caramel. Finishes with some alcohol

Taste follows pretty close. Not as hoppy as the nose made me believe, but same pine and grapefruit flavor. Biggest difference is how much more balanced it is towards the malts, sweet spicy caramel with some doughy notes. Finishes with a splash of booze

Feel is moderate / heavy body, moderate bitterness. Alcohol is concealed alright, it's not hard to drink

Overall solid red, good for the price

Photo of oberon
3.83/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep copper/amber with a well established of white head that took quite awhile to subside leaving a sheet of lace behind.Grapefruit and and other citrus fruit dominate the aromas with a lighter pine notes and caramel,lightly roasted malt.The hop profile is nice on the palate but I dont think there is quite enough of malt base for a red there is a light roasted and sweet base but not qite enough to hold up to the hop attack.Saying that it is a nice beer and I like the hops,its close to being very top notch.

Photo of ddean
4.29/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a bunch of these into glasses from a 12 oz. bottle.

Appearance- Rusty red, dark and opaque but not hazy. Froth stays around and beads against the glass when you swirl, which is kind of a cool and (I think) unusual effect.

Smell- Black tea, mild lemon, some alcohol and even some smoke and cherries. Very pleasant.

Taste- Much more malt and less hops than you'd expect from the smell, but this seems to be typical of the West Coast Imperial Reds that I've tried, so I guess it's the style. The hops that is there is nice, just more subtle than the Cali IPAs I know and love. That smoke comes through a little later, along those cherries in the aftertaste. It is a really nice set of flavors. I'd just like a less malt and a little more in the hops and smoke department for my taste. I don't get pine like others are claiming.

Mouthfeel- Smooth with low carbonation. A little filmy for me, probably from the heavy malt. Not crisp.

Drinkability- The malt makes it a little heavy for beer after beer, but the taste is interesting enough for you to make an exception.

Overall, very unique taste, albeit more subtle than it's sister brew and my favorite, the Maximus. Nice for slow sipping and savoring late at night when you can take your time. Try listening to cool jazz in the process.

Photo of RoyalT
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – This one poured a beautiful reddish-brown in color with a terrific head that showed good retention and left gobs of snot-like foam on the inside of my Wildcat glass.

Smell – This one is very balanced at the nose. The malts are big with lots of caramel and other gooey sticky sweets. There’s a good toffee smell in there along with maybe some powdered or refined table sugar. The hops are noticeable yet very smooth and unobtrusive.

Taste – The nice toffee and caramel pick things up a bit at the taste. The malts and hops work well together to keep things nice and even. All of the flavors follow along through the finish. This is a complex and very solid flavor profile.

Mouthfeel – This medium-bodied ale has some good herbal bitterness in the mouth, yet it’s not overly emphasized.

Drinkability – This was a terrific-drinking ale that’s as close to a “strong session ale” as you’ll find. The balance coupled with the smoothness of the flavors makes you want to gulp this puppy down. Or is it pulp that guppy down? See, I’m buzzed already. Great job, Lagunitas!

Photo of brownbeer
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This has a really nice nose of citrusy hops and doughy malt with just a touch of alcohol. It's got west coast written all over it.

Bready malts carry throughout the taste with cherry and orangey hops fading in and out, leading to a balanced finish with the hops just taking the edge.

This is s rich, well-crafted beer that doesn't lack character, as most Lagunitas brews are.

Photo of cynicgiraffe
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep red, almost brown. Frothy white head. Resiny floral aroma. Has none of the malty backbone that a red should have. Tastes mostly like a typical west coast IPA think Sierra Nevada's Torpedo but dark red. Not bad for what it is, but there isn't much of a red ale here if that's what you're looking for.


The first time I had this beer I reported that it was more like a red colored Sierra Nevada Torpedo. I'm not really sure what I was thinking. The nose and taste of this dark red ale have some wood aromas/flavors, and the hop profile is lots and lots of pine. The hops flavor here is almost like a thick resiny hop syrup that coats the tongue. A fantastic beer that I could sit and have 2-3 of.

Photo of weatherdog
3.8/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass

It pours a crystal clear copper/ruby with a small off white head. Head retention is low and lacing is minimal.

Aroma of a little bready malt with accompanying medium level of grassy and pine hops.

The taste starts off pretty bitter. Like hop resins coating the mouth. A hint of caramel sweetness comes in to lessen the bitterness. Most grass hop flavors. Hops are the showcase it seems but the flavor just doesn't impress me terribly. The hop flavors are just too grassy for my taste.

The mouthfeel is mostly comprised of the mouth coating bitterness and lasting aftertaste. I'm not a huge fan of this harsh bitterness personally.

Overall it's a really nice and drinkable beer. My only complaint is the harsh lasting bitterness. Otherwise it's a fine and pretty drinkable beer.

Photo of wrycon
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Quite transparent. Orangish-ruby with a pearl-white head. Really strong pine scent. Really strong. Thick at first. Malt up front that blunts the hop onslaught that's coming. The hops carry the middle through to the end. Finish is very clean and invites another sip. Very much enjoy these hoppy reds and this is near the top. Very good.

Like It? Quite

Photo of steelerguy
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Clear amber, off white head, very low carbonation...too low.

S - Lots of citrus hops and sweet caramel malt.

T - Big flavors, the first was a load of hop bitterness, almost off balance until the huge malt backbone comes in just after. There is a good bit of sweetness left over that goes very well with the citrus flavors that then come on from the hops. This beer feels like it is going to just hit you over the head with hops, but comes across pretty balanced.

M - That sweetness of the flavor comes from a good bit of residual sugar. Coats the mouth, feels like an imperial beer, could use some more carbonation to clean the end up a bit.

O - Another solid beer from Lagunitas and a worthy limited release.

Photo of Beaver13
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle. Pours a copper red with small floaties and a creamy off-white head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is sweet caramel malts and green grapefruity hops.

The flavor is sweet melon-ey malts followed by a big resiney grapefruit / pine hop burst that lingers. The mouthfeel is medium to full with decent carbonation.

Overall, a very nice brew. This reminds me a lot of their Lucky #13. A lot of their beers are similar in this vein (Undercover as well). Some are better than others, this one is up there - not quite as good as I remember Lucky #13, but it is available in 6 packs.

Photo of mikechance
4.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted at brewery on February 19th

A --- clean, red and about 1/2 of foam

S --- excellent mixture of sweet malts and fruity hops

T --- sweet, malts, citrus

M --- full bodied with the right amount of carbonation

O --- this is an excellent beer. I will go back to it time and time again.

Photo of Jason
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz brown bomber with no freshness date.

A- Two fingered tan lace clings to the glass almost all the way down, nearly clear and bright reddish amber hue.

S- Piney citric softness of the hop aroma permeates with a mild fruity alcohol and lean caramel malt tone. All in all very aromatic.

T- Big malty palate with more than enough hop character to balance, bitterness is semi-clean with pungent citric finish. Light warming alcohol. Maltiness holds its own with a creamy caramel note. Long finish of malt and a citric hop bite.

M- Super smooth with a creamy full body.

D- As big as it is ... it goes down pretty quick due to the smoothness. Perhaps far from a session beer but it certainly was not a core to quaff this one down.

Very recommended IMO especially if you are into big and hoppy strong ales.

Photo of Billolick
3.88/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber bottle, pours dark orangy almond amber. Tan tight head, showing some retention. Some fine scattered lacing left on the glass Nose here is faily thin and of citric hops and mildly toasted malts. This is rich, flavorful brew. Nice malty package of sweat notes, hops are just around the corner to delver a drying note and finish. Smooth and rounded, nicely done. Big and bold but not over the top. Well worth trying a bomber or two.

Photo of warriorsoul
4.27/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A big thanks to Nick @ Bauer Wine & Spirits for this one.
Pours a clear bronze w/ two full fingers of foamy beige head...lacing is fairly thin and has very little cling.
Very nice aromas filled w/ fruity hops, sweet malt, citrus, and the faintest detection of alcohol.
Taste is mighty fine...not your typical red as you would suspect. A bit surprised to see this one classified as a Strong Ale, but not so stunned after drinking this.
The hops and malt balance this one out beautifully and while the alcohol was apparent in the nose, it is nowhere found in the taste.
A complimenting bitter finish...mouthfeel is not too thin and not too thick.
This one could be a session brew for me. This 22oz. bomber will be gone in minutes.
For me, Lagunitas has its hits and misses. For this one, it is most definitely a hit. Good stuff.

Photo of Motleydrunk56
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%

22 oz Bomber.The Red Rocker has touched down in the Antelope Valley.After 3 weeks of looking for this in the `beer stores` a friend of mine came in to work and told me he just got two Imperial red ale`s at Stator Brothers grocery store.I asked him how many they had left and he said a whole row.By the time I got in there they had two left and I gladly bought both of them and i`m glad I did.Great.Very Hoppy with a touch of citrus.This is one of those once a year beers lagunitas puts out so if you see it grab it.I loved it.7.8 ABV which makes this a nice little package.Watching the last of summer burn off outside with this fine brew listening to some Doobie Brothers and it was indeed,a very good night. .And at 4.99 a bottle,great deal.Motley out.

Photo of bsp77
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Reddish-copper with nice sized head and light lacing.

Smell: Grapefruit and other tropical fruits with some caramel-like malts. Sweet, sticky and tart smelling.

Taste: Malty upfront with caramel and some rich dark fruits. Nice hoppy overtones of grapefruit, orange and pine. The finish is spicy and just somewhat bitter. Pretty balanced overall.

Feel: Smooth and creamy with a medium to full body. Moderate carbonation with a fairly dry finish.

Overall: Another winner from Lagunitas, and a great example of the Strong Ale / Imperial Red subcategory. It is hard for me to pick a favorite brew from Lagunitas, as Olde Gnarleywine, Sucks, Little Sumpin' Sumpin', Undercover Investigation and Hairy Eyeball are all great. Now I can add this to that list as well.

Photo of magictrokini
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A thick, heavy, barleywine-type strong ale. Mahogany pour with a negligible head. Kind of a ring of oily bubbles. Heavy leather, bread, and malt in the aroma. Typical Lagunitas sticky, sugary-sweet taste up front. More hops than their Hairy Eyeball offering, but very similar. Solid malt core.

Photo of jcdiflorio
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a tulip glass,a very haziey reddish brown color.An off-white very creamy head,a lively looking beer,many tiny bubbles tightly strung together racing to the top of the retentive head.
The aroma was carmelly,friuty,citrusy,nutty with a sweet smell like honey. A very pleasing complex aroma.
The taste was citrusy,piney,fruity,carmelly,honey,clean with a nice tartness,and bittersweet at the finish.Delicious!
Mouthfeel was medium,slight cloying,velvety.An airy feel to the palate,a light prickly feeling to the tongue,that makes the mouth water for more.
Great tasting,refreshing,juicy.I want more,more,more.Extremely drinkable even with the tounge feeling like it just trippled in size.

Photo of Taylor88
4.82/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I love this beer! This is the beer that dragged me away from a serious IPA habit. I still love my IPA's (and my over-the-top-hops), but this beer does it all for me. The hops are still there, but the hops are partying with the malt and making one big red beer.

12oz Bottle: In a pint glass

APPEARANCE: A beautiful reddish-brown color with a small cream colored head

SMELL: Big hops and big malt balancing themselves perfectly while they walk (shall I say dance?) along the tightrope of my olfactory senses...Damn, that was beautiful!

TASTE: It's a mouthfull. Hops, malt, some more malt, some more hops. Did I tell you that I love this beer?

MOUTHFEEL: Very smooth for a big red. Slightly creamy. Nice

DRINKABILITY: I could drink a lot of this. It satisfies my need for big flavor. Goes down nicely for a 7.2 abv. It is not too much for me to think of this as a beer I could make an evening of.

RAMBLING ON: I've said it before and I'll say it again. Lagunitas is arguably one of the most imaginative (actually, I called them "nut jobs") brewers out there and trust me, they're "out there"...just check out their beer list...Long Live Lagunitas...Did I tell you that I love this beer?

Photo of Kraken
3.97/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Picked up a 6er of this at the local. Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a standard pint glass. Very aggressive pour yields a film of a head that makes like the dodo bird and disappears very quickly. Beer pours a very deep ruby red and leaves no lace.

Nose- Fresh citric hops, deep caramel notes with hints of toffee.

Palate- Hoppy Blast, citric and astringent. Orange, grapefruit, caramel, and brown sugar. Long bitter finish. lightly carbonated, this is more like an IPA in my opinion. Very well hopped, booze is well hidden.

Mouthfeel- Citric, oily, lightly carbonated.

Drinkability- Fairly drinkable. More like a balanced IPA then a red. Was expecting more caramels and toffees. Very tasty.

Lagunitas continues to brew outside of true style guidlines, and continues to make very very nice beverages.

Well done.

Photo of jondeelee
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Imperial Red opens with a nose that is mostly hoppy, though strong touches of sugars do shine through. The hops lend the beer an overwhelmingly grapefruit-based nose, with heavy pink grapefruits predominating, as well as touches of grapefruit zest; in fact, the beer bears more than a passing resemblance to a grapefruit spritzer because of the potency of these aromas. Some pine and a hint of mint do add a bit of nuance, but are deep in the background. The beer does also bear good droppings of sugar, with orange and orange zest, lemon, white grape, and apricot rounding out the fruit esters, and brown sugars and vanillas adding complexity. The faintest touch of rising wheat dough helps ground the brew slightly, but for the most part the nose is heavy on citrus and sugary aromas. As a whole, because of the high levels of these aromas, the beer does come across as well-made and appealing, but does seem slightly overly fruity, and reminiscent of wine coolers or spritzers.

On the tongue, the beer opens with a fraction-of-a-second grapefruit spritzer sweetness, then delves immediately into deeper, darker hop flavors, with heavy vinous, stem-like flavors rising and bringing dandelion stem, rose petal, and pine resin overtones, as well as peppery oils and touches of anise. Sugars once again largely take a backseat, but do offer apricot and orange notes, and the grains do come through more strongly in the mouthful, bringing toast crust and biscuit. The 54.2 IBUs tingle playfully on the tongue and soft palate, but do not get in the way of the beverage’s flavors. The aftertaste is largely hop-dominant, with the darker flavors from the main mouthful carrying through almost exactly, and lingering on the tongue for a good while. Mouthfeel is a slightly syrupy medium, and carbonation is medium.

Overall, I do like the hop flavors present in this beer, and am glad that the grapefruit spritzer aromas didn’t translate into flavors. I do, however, question an Imperial Red that has so many hop flavors that the sugars are somewhat lost; I would have been happier with this beer tasting it blind, rather than knowing its supposed style. As it is, the beer comes across to this drinker as overly-hopped and therefore out of balance, and needed a stronger sugary backbone to better showcase the Imperial Red flavors. Still, it is worth trying, for the hops are rather nice; think of it as a strong IPA, and you’ll be fine.

« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 2,253 ratings.