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Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Lagunitas Imperial Red AleLagunitas Imperial Red Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,662 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,662
Reviews: 728
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 10.17%
Wants: 167
Gots: 129 | FT: 0
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:
54.2 IBU

(Beer added by: Reidrover on 03-05-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale Alström Bros
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Ratings: 1,662 | Reviews: 728 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Dee's. Hoppy piney aroma and variety of hops in citrus taste that worked. Tasty.Spicey and fruity finish. Medium and good mouthfeel. Good understated carbonation. resin-works. Drinkable, could stay on it all evening. Another winner from Lagunitas.

Sammy, May 14, 2006
Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

t0rin0, Oct 20, 2012
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear copper with a 1 inch foamy beige head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Thin rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, tropical fruit, and citrus zest. Taste is of tropical fruit, citrus zest, and herbal hops up front with a malt finish. A medium amount of bitterness lingers on the palate after each sip. This beer has a light level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer but I think it smells better than it tastes.

UCLABrewN84, Feb 22, 2012
Photo of djrn2
3.75/5  rDev -9.2%

djrn2, Apr 18, 2014
Photo of Thorpe429
3.68/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Pours a nice amber color with an off-white head that starts out at about two fingers and works its way down with some nice lacing. The nose brings a bit of malt as well as nice floral, citrus, and piney hops. Taste is a bit cut back with some lightly-sweet malt as well as some pine notes from the hops. A bit of sugar and bitterness in the feel. Pretty good, but not my favorite from them.

Thorpe429, Nov 14, 2010
Photo of zestar
4/5  rDev -3.1%

zestar, Aug 01, 2014
Photo of nmann08
4.5/5  rDev +9%

nmann08, Dec 04, 2011
Photo of metter98
4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is clear deep amber in color and has a moderate amount of carbonation. It poured with a finger high beige colored head that has excellent retention properties and consistently left a thin head covering the surface and left lots of lacing running down the sides of the glass.
S: There are moderate to strong aromas of citrusy hops in the nose—grapefruit seems to stand out in particular.
T: Like the smell, the taste has lots of flavors of citrusy hops along with caramel malts. There is a moderate amount of bitterness.
M: It feels medium-bodied and very crisp on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is packed with a good balance of hoppy and malty flavors and also hides its alcohol very well.

metter98, Apr 04, 2012
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fiery reddish orange or orangish red, take your pick. Superfine bubbles slowly ascend to a cap the color of brown sugar mousse. I love the color contrast between head and beer and I love the fact that there's no shortage of abstract-patterned lace. This is just about how I'd expect an Imperial Red to look...

... and to smell. Heavily toasted caramel malt holds down the bottom end while spicy, citric pithy hops take care of the top end. I'm sure that multiple C-hops make up the hop bill and I'm guessing that Chinook is foremost among them. I'm also betting that this is going to be one humdinger of an ale.

Whether you feel that Imperial Red Ale is a valid style or not (and it looks like the brothers Alstrom do not), Lagunitas IRA tastes pretty much how I would expect a beer of that style to taste. Make that 'an outstanding beer of that style'. It helps if you not only don't mind wall-to-wall hops, but actually prefer them.

The caramel maltiness is as firm as titanium toast and does its best to counteract the buzzsaw-like hops. Bitter white grapefruit pith is having a field day in my mouth as their alpha acids etch furrows into my tongue. Hopheads will find a lot to like here. Now I know why I drink hops monsters at the end of the day. My taste buds will be (happily) stunned for the next 12 hours at least.

The glorious raw hoppiness of Imperial Red reminds me a little of Midnight Sun Humpy's Sockeye Red. Both are big bruisers that ask for no quarter and give none. It also bears some resemblance to Arrogant Bastard, although the Stone beer has more malt if my memory isn't faulty. The fact that the pint glass is throughly coated with an unbroken sheet of crusty lace turns a shaky appearance score into a solid one.

The mouthfeel is as expected given the surfeit of ingredients. Tons o' malt provide a full, syrupy, sticky, heavy silkiness while tons o' hops provide a bristling, biting, saliva-sucking dryness. A low level of carbonation delivers just enough energy to keep the beer drinkable and no more. Just how I'd draw it up.

Lagunitas brews quite a few good, but far from outstanding, beers. Just when I consider writing them off as an also-ran in the cutthroat world of Calfornia craft beer, I drink a Brown Shugga' or a Lagunitas IPA or a Cappuccino Stout. And now I can add Imperial Red Ale to that distinguished list. This is great beer folks. Especially if you're a quart low on hops.

BuckeyeNation, Sep 13, 2006
Photo of Phyl21ca
3/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle: Poured a bright amber color ale with a relatively small foamy head with average retention and not much lacing. Aroma of citrus hops is not bad but pretty standard compared to some other West Coats hop bomb. Taste is also dominated by loads of citrus and piney hops and a medium caramel malt backbone. Not the most interesting beer out there.

Phyl21ca, Dec 23, 2009
Photo of Texasfan549
3.5/5  rDev -15.3%

Texasfan549, Aug 13, 2014
Photo of BEERchitect
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Much more hops than expected from an American Red Ale; that's why is characterized by an American Strong Ale. Hop aroma is evident even before the glass reaches the nose. Pine and flowery aromas swirl around a bready, malty sweet smell. Tastes boldly of sweet malts: bready, caramelly, lightly toasted, and a tad grainy. The the hops...more than just bittering. Flowery flavors, herbal, grassy, earthy, and a little dirty (for extra measure). The taste is muddled a bit, but certainly adds character to an otherwise unappealing brew. Finishes dryer than expected from Reds because of the hop character and alcohols that go largely forgotten. I look forward to having another.

BEERchitect, Apr 04, 2006
Photo of mikesgroove
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to derrickt007 for the bottle.

Poured a deep red amber with little head, and what was there faded quickly. But the nice cloudy amber looked good. Smelled of deep malts with a hint of dark fruit and a bit of a sweetness and alcohol. The taste was rather fruity. Dark fruit commanded the flavor with a subtle sugary behind it almost grape like, very enjoyable. Rather intresting and not what I would expect. No hint of the alcohol whatsoever and that makes this very drinkable. My first offering from Lagunitas and it definatly has me intrested.

mikesgroove, Jan 16, 2007
Photo of kjkinsey
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%

kjkinsey, Sep 07, 2014
Photo of GRG1313
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Summer 2009 batch. Pours a nice red with a beautifully thick and firm head that lasts. Head even partially lasts until the bottom of the glass and after some time in the glass. Impressive.

Nose of pleasant and assertive spiced peaches, cooked fruit and malt with citrus undertones. A pleasant and most complex nose with hints of coffee, carmel and whiskey.

Mouthfeel is wonderful with a big and rich creamy character. Just plain feels good in your mouth.

Flavors make this beer a real winner. Starts out like a Belgian with rich hints of sweet malt and fruit and layers down your palate to grapefruit and pine but finishes with a malted coffee and carmel characteristic and then back to the bitter hops.

This beer is wonderfully balanced and very complex. Simply put, this one has a lot going for it. Almost like the best of both worlds...big malt and pretty big hops, at times.

Hops most assertive in front finish and as part of a very complex hoppy, coffee finish. I like this one a lot.

GRG1313, Aug 25, 2009
Photo of spycow
3.5/5  rDev -15.3%

spycow, Mar 08, 2013
Photo of kylehay2004
4.43/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Single finger head with nice lacing on a amber with crimson and golden hues body. Very aromatic with lots of hops, citrus and pine. More than I expected. Flavor is more malty with a barley wine note, bitter hops with the sweet balance coming from a distinct caramel malt. Medium body and moderate to high carbonation. Overall very drinkable with a full and complex aroma. A must have a second time brew.

kylehay2004, Mar 09, 2012
Photo of jaydoc
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%

jaydoc, Monday at 05:26 AM
Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.85/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a marvelously clear copper body with a white, diminishing head. The lacing was thin and uneven.

Smell: Caramel malts in the nose with a nice bit of toastiness. The hops are piney with fruity undertones.

Taste: Light bready caramel malts joined by crisp, hoppy flavors of pine resins and grapefruit. Very tea-like at times. Herbaceous hops round out the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with a pleasingly smooth mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Though the hops can be a little cutting at times its a rather likeable red ale, and quite quaffable.

ChainGangGuy, Oct 29, 2006
Photo of oberon
3.8/5  rDev -8%
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.

oberon, Apr 27, 2006
Photo of largadeer
4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Perfectly clear dark red with an inch of off white head. Retention is good, lots of lace, a great looking beer all around.

Smell: Hops up front with a touch of toffee-like malt beneath. The hops have an earthy quality, bringing to mind tobacco and pine; chinook I'd guess.

Taste & mouthfeel: Aggressively hoppy, there's a touch of toffee malt flavor here but it's drier than the nose suggests. Earthy, resiny, piney hop flavor is dominant. This beer is similar to Arrogant Bastard in many ways, though this isn't quite as satisfying as that beer. The finish is long, dry and bitter. This is ideal stuff for quaffing during the Autumn months.

largadeer, Oct 06, 2008
Photo of zeff80
3.95/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a burgandy/amber color with a thick, foamy, off-white head that left sticky rings of lace.

S - It smelled of malt and tons of Cascade hops.

T - It tasted very malty with a biscuit like breadiness. It also had a nice hop bitterness.

M - It was crisp, sharp and dry. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a very good beer. It really has a nice blend of malt, spice and hops.

zeff80, Nov 13, 2007
Photo of biboergosum
3.78/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle. Here's to hoppy sweet nerve sacks, all around!

This beer pours a clear, dark ruddy amber hue, witb one fat-ass finger of loosely foamy off-white head, which leaves a rugged band of sudsy lace around the glass as it slips away.

It smells of grapefruit rind, aged orange flesh, some musty earthiness, and straight-up caramel malt. The taste is strong muddled citrus hops, contentedly bitter, with a musty grassy addendum, and a sourdough-tinged caramel/toffee malt backbone. The elevated ABV is really well integrated - nary a wisp of warming to be told.

The carbonation is on the low side of average, the body a solid medium weight, a tad clammy, yet still agreeably smooth. It finishes off-dry, the indeterminate bitter citrus and weakening malt still going toe to toe.

Another decent hoppy ale from Lagunitas, as if I would expect it any other way. The red ale base adds a little more dissonance, but that's ok, variety being the spice of life, and all that.

biboergosum, Feb 21, 2012
Photo of JAHMUR
3.5/5  rDev -15.3%

JAHMUR, Nov 03, 2013
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Although it may be labeled an "Imperial" red ale; and may indeed have an alcohol content of 7.6% by volume, this is nothing more than a really good beer!
Its clear copper body has a reddish cast beneath its full head of creamy ivory froth. The head retention is excellent, and it leaves sheets of think lace draped about at the outset of the glass. Resinous, grassy, piney/spruce-like, and citrusy hops dominate the nose over a seemingly-sweet and toffe-ish malt. The mouthfeel is medium-full and creamy-smooth across the palate with just a light tingle from its moderate, fine-bubbled carbonation. Hops return in the flavor, wrapped in a soft, luscious malt that's seductively sweetish but not quite sweet, decidedly caramel accented, softly bready, and even a touch biscuity. Yeasty fruitiness accents everything, and brings the citrusy hop notes forward, leaving the piney and resinous characteristics to help the firm bitterness balance things by lingering dryly in the finish. There's alot going on, and yet it's incredibly straightforward and balanced leaving it drinkable to say the least; and the alcohol never makes an appearance beyond when you go to get up from your seat and realize you may have had too much of a good thing. Very nicely done!

NeroFiddled, Apr 05, 2005
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Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 1,662 ratings.