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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.

1,311 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,311
Reviews: 688
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 9.9%
Wants: 142
Gots: 39 | 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
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Ratings: 1,311 | Reviews: 688 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of thewhitecosbykid


4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: 1 finger head, fades quickly. auburn color with seemingly little carbonation

S: crisp hoppy smell with a touch of citrus

T: smooth, not biting, hops; more pronounced citrus flavors

M: good amount of carbonation, really smooth mouthfeel, almost creamy

D: very drinkable, would definitely have again

I've recently become a big fan of red ales and this is a solid representative of that class.

Serving type: bottle

10-28-2007 04:42:25 | More by thewhitecosbykid
Photo of Georgiabeer


4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark copper with a good head that fades to a cap. Ok lacing. Smells of citrusy hops with a dry malt background. The taste has a very nice lingering grapefruit bitterness nicely balanced with some slightly sweet malt. A very bitter orange pith finish. The mouthfeel is substantial and even a little thick. Quite a tasty brew, and perfect for winter. Real stick to your ribs kinda beer.

Serving type: bottle

10-28-2007 01:13:35 | More by Georgiabeer
Photo of bigdeuce


4.55/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This pours an outstanding creamy head with a great piney scent on the nose. Copper to red, deep red colour on the pour. Lacing all the way down the glass. Should be available permanently! Tons of hops, similar to Nuggett Nectar, almost comparable. Lots of malty flavors on the front and smooth hoppy bitterness on the back, extremely balanced. Highly recommended!

Serving type: bottle

10-27-2007 02:07:17 | More by bigdeuce
Photo of chefboy812


4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I poured this one into a brand new american pint glass. With high hopes resinating in my head from the lush descriptors that Lagunitas is famous for printing on their labels, i first noticed the crystal clear, glowing red color. a nice homage to fall foliage. At cellar temperature, the head rises briefly to about two fingers of off-white foam then leaves a lacey ring that barely marks sip points.

It's aroma is preasent, but not over whelming or extremely juicy.

On first taste, a nice biscuity almost crackery malt is demolished by a hop smack that gives you a nice suprise. citrusy without too much grapefruit, and also some floral notes are present; Lily & roses?

The second sip is where the money is, with an aclimation to the hop level, you can really stat to pick apart the malt characters. I get more breakfast bread flavors, waffle like, with a backbone of bread and graham cracker.

The hops also come in and play well, with citrus astringency that dries the malt off the tongue at just the right moment.


Serving type: bottle

10-26-2007 21:11:25 | More by chefboy812
Photo of timtim

District of Columbia

4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours a clear, reddish dark amber with light amber feet. Off white little head that has pretty poor retention but leaves nice lace and keeps a thin layer of foam. Smell is predominantly hoppy with a nice caramel and bread malty scent that compliments the hops really really well. The taste is just like what the nose told me it was going to be. What is really impressive is that the flavors blend flawlessly, creating one flavor. Nice. Medium body with great tasting water. Pleasure. I don't know about imperial, but this is really a nice beer. Not overboard, and not quite as good as my favorite - Red Rocket - but a fantastic beer nonetheless.

Serving type: bottle

10-26-2007 16:14:34 | More by timtim
Photo of jakon


3.73/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz twist cap bottle indicates this beer contains 7.6% abv and 84.20 IBU.
Stamped best by date is unreadable.

Pours reddish amber with a medium sized off white head that displays nice retention and leaves solid lacing as it recedes. The aroma is inviting but distant. Hops and sweet caramel malt. The taste is not overly complex or as in your face as other imperial styles, but this is very enjoyable. Just a satisfyingly hoppy brew with enough malt character to balance the bitterness. The mouthfeel is luscious and thick with low, but adequate carbonation.

Serving type: bottle

10-25-2007 06:48:55 | More by jakon
Photo of williamherbert

New York

3.95/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The brew is a dark mahogany-cherry red. Not the typical amber color. Has a good half-finger of head. Thick and hazy, but also glassy.

First smell is grassy hops; dry and piney. Underneath is a toasted, nutty amber malt. Nice balance in the smell: woody meets roasted.

Toasted malt is the first taste; very bitter, roasted (almost burnt) flavor. Hops are also bitter, but act as an accent to the malt. Sharp bitter bite.

Feel is a bit thick, has a minor bite. It really smooths out as it warms. Overall it's a good, bitter red, and full of flavor. Good for a couple, too bitter for a bunch of them.

Serving type: bottle

10-25-2007 04:18:17 | More by williamherbert
Photo of dedrinker


4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Orange, reddish amber color - not hazy, but clear. The head disappeared quickly, but this is fresh, so maybe I'm a terrible dishwasher. Nose of citrus oils and flowers. I taste modern, late addition hops with the added depth of juicy caramel malts. Perhaps I've said it before, but I rather prefer the hoppy reds and ambers these days due to their added malt component - one more piece in the puzzle; one more dimension. The finish is fruity with occasional notes of spice reminiscent of Indian curries. Hurray for California.

Serving type: bottle

10-25-2007 02:36:07 | More by dedrinker
Photo of scottyshades


4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very nice beer. Picked one up from ABC just because I noticed that they were new on the shelf
A: Rich amber color with a 1" head and a beautiful lace
S: Hopy, spicy, flowers...very pleasant and unique
T: Nice and hopy, the alcohol is completely hidden, tastes much like an IPA..
MF: Bitter and dry, but the aftertaste is good
D: Highly drinkable, but watch out, the ABV will get you

Serving type: bottle

10-25-2007 02:30:26 | More by scottyshades
Photo of Brad007


4.88/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark red color. Aroma is strong and malty(Reminds me of Arrogant Bastard a bit). Aroma alone is very inviting. Taste is hard to describe. It's basically a layer of malt that sets the course for this brew. Strong, smoky and a hell of a beer. I love the aftertaste especially. It's bitter and malty at the same time. It's not called a strong ale for the novelty.

Then again, I have a love affair with beers like this. Well done and it makes a worthy contender to Arrogant Bastard in my eyes.

However, I love a strong ale now and then.

Serving type: bottle

10-24-2007 01:59:55 | More by Brad007
Photo of joe1510


4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz Stubby
$10.99 6-Pack
Sam's Chicago

84.20 IBU

I love big hoppy reds. Let's see how Lagunitas' version tastes. Pours crimson with a barely noticeable amount of haze. A two finger creamy dirty white head formed on the pour and faded to a collar leaving some thick drink line style lacing. I see no carbonation rising to the surface.

Smells like my kind red ale. Big juicy lightly sugared grapefruit hit the nose first along with a strong showing of pine. A sweet caramel maltiness comes along and balances the aroma. Starts off bitter and hoppy, finishes sweet and caramelly.

Flavor sports the same characteristics as the aroma. The caramel sweetness comes through upfront and the slightly sweetened grapefruit along with piney hoppiness mingle and create a nice balance of juicy flavors. A toasted graininess shows up mid-palate and disappears as quickly as it came. The sweet caramel and juicy grapefruit finish things off along with a quick alcohol spiciness. I drank three of these from this 6-pack already and this was the best one. Strange.

I find a lot of Lagunitas' beer to be too syrupy sticky for my liking. The body on this beer is done nicely. Medium bodied with a nice creaminess. The carbonation is on the low end of the spectrum and actually works nicely in this beer.

This beer goes down extremely easy. Big flavor in a 7.6abv and the alcohol is just enough to let you enjoy a few in a sitting.

The big hoppiness is balanced by a big maltiness and it's all around juicy. The mouthfeel is done right which, for me, is a big hurdle in truly enjoying Lagunitas' beer.

Serving type: bottle

10-24-2007 01:59:08 | More by joe1510
Photo of Blakaeris


3.9/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours clear ruby red with a crisp white head that leaves slight lacing.

Aroma is sweet and malty, but matched with a strong citrus hop bitterness.

Taste is caramel malt and brown sugar up front. Then the piney aggressive citrus hop takes over and adds a solid bitterness to the finish. Elements of light fruit and biscuit add some complexity. Only a slight warming alcohol flavor.

Mouthfeel is medium-full. very smooth, with expected hop oil.

Flavor is aggressive but balanced. The hop bitterness really shines as it warms, but doesn't completely dominate the strong malt sweetness. Definitely more of an IPA hybrid than a red ale.

Serving type: bottle

10-24-2007 00:40:28 | More by Blakaeris
Photo of Monkeyknife


3.93/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle a brilliant deep amber color with a rich tan head. Sticky lacing to the end.

Aroma is sweet, grassy, with a touch of grapefruit.

The taste is sweet caramel malts and citrus. Nicely balanced. The 7.6 alcohol is very well hidden in this beer.

Light to medium mouthfeel, drying, and moderately carbonated.

This is a very enjoyable beer. Almost too easy to enjoy.

Serving type: bottle

10-16-2007 21:11:03 | More by Monkeyknife
Photo of HardTarget


3.65/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the Draught House in Austin, Tx.

Aroma: Mild hops that went citric, grapefruit, and West Coast.

Appearance: Clear red glass with a ½ finger cap of white. Mild lace

Flavor: Bitter and sweet collide, with a side of yeast. Mild sweet crystal malt with full on pine and citric hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium heavy body with a clean finish.

Overall Impression: Good flavor. Hop driven to be sure, with all the pine and citric notes this hits me as an XPA, possibly a low end IPA. Pretty solid beer, worth a shot!

Serving type: on-tap

10-16-2007 02:49:16 | More by HardTarget
Photo of bluegrassbrew


4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a bold red with a good head and some sticky lace as well. That fiery red color just looks so good in the glass.

Smell is lovely! Pineapples and bready malt. Caramel and more caramel.

Taste is more of the same. Very good balance between the citrusy hop flavors and the strong caramel malt backbone.

Overall, this is a wonderful brew! In the past, Arrogant Bastard has been a go to beer of mine, alas it is not available where I currently reside. Luckily, Lagunitas has created (re-created) this beer, which makes up for my lack of the Bastard.

Serving type: bottle

10-16-2007 01:22:08 | More by bluegrassbrew
Photo of Mitchster


4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2007 'Limited Release'. $1.90 for a 12 oz bottle @ Jacks. OG=1.072, 84.20 IBU's. 7.6% ABV.

Pours out to a slightly chill-hazed deep crimson amber, forming an average-sized yellow head with average retention and some mild lacing. Carbonation is moderate. Apparently filtered as there is no sediment. The nose is all about the hops...lots of piney, resinous, oily, pungent hops in droves. Cleanly fermented. The mouthfeel is very smooth and pillowy soft with a medium-dense big body. Oh yum...hops by the bucket, well-balanced with a big malt body and a nice pungent, but not overly aggressive bitterness. Fruity up front and kinda dry in the finish.

Wow, what an awesome beer. Up there with Racer 5 and Founders Red's Rye. Thank heavens Lagunitas is here in Michigan, because this will become a staple in my beer diet. Excellent!

Serving type: bottle

10-14-2007 23:47:04 | More by Mitchster
Photo of ultralarry2006


4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle. Leaves a tan two finger head that has excellent retention, and leaves excellent lacing. Body is garnet with red highlights.

Smell - citrusy and piney hops, where's the malt ? There is also some medicinal alcohol.

Taste - same as the smell - citrusy and bitter piney hops over a very hard to find malt backbone (it's like there is none), and some medicinal alcohol. This seems to me to be a DIPA, or even an AIPA, but not an ASA, as it is listed here.

Mouthfeel - medium bodied, and very slick from the hop oils, and semi-dry.

Drinkability - this is a very hop-centric ale, and a good one at that. It is a little high in abv to call it sessionable.

Serving type: bottle

10-14-2007 16:18:36 | More by ultralarry2006
Photo of Shaw


4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer looks fantastic. It's very, very red with a thick off-white head. It's perfect.

It has a nice hop aroma of citrus and tea and a bit of solvent aroma that tweaks my nose a bit.

The flavor is strong but balanced between powerful malt flavors and bitter hops. This is a strong ale, indeed, with a complex flavor profile that includes tastes of raisins, tea and caramel. There are other flavors in there that I not skilled enough to identify.

The body is slick and smooth, thanks to the higher alcohol level.

Overall this is a very good beer, especially for hopheads.

Serving type: bottle

10-14-2007 03:54:05 | More by Shaw
Photo of ArrogantB


3.68/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Falling Rock during GABF week. This was a nice red color with a decent aroma of hops. The mouthfeel was similar to all Lagunitas beers, creamy yet also slightly sweet. Flavor was some hops and some caramel. This beer was decent but I enjoyed the Hop Stoopid much, much more.

Serving type: on-tap

10-11-2007 15:39:16 | More by ArrogantB
Photo of RustyDiamond


4.53/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16 oz pint glass at the Brick Store Pub. Shiny clear red hue with 1 finger of almond colored head. Aroma of sweetness and of course, hops. Body had a twinge of caramel/toffee nicely balanced with lots of hop flavor. Lovely hop flavor! Lite fruity hop, dry finish. My favorite from Lagunitas.

Serving type: on-tap

10-11-2007 13:37:06 | More by RustyDiamond
Photo of phisig137


4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a medium brown copper color with a one finger head. Little retention, but gorgeous delicate lace is abundant.

S- Definitely a west coast brew, as exemplified by the abundant citrusy and piney "C" hops. Not overly green or abrasive, but solidly hoppy. There is also a hint of caramel like malt, making this almost smell like a semi-aged barleywine to round it out. Quite nice.

F- Surprisingly well balanced for a Lagunitas brew. Great malt complexity up front, with many layers of delicate sweetness. Pine like hops take over the finish, making for a bracingly bitter aftertaste. Definitely more of an American strong ale like BA lists than the red ale claimed on the label.

M- Thick, sticky and smooth

D- Quite drinkable, but feels like it's a higher ABV than it really is... so I knock a point for that.

Overall, another great beer from Lagunitas. It's not a red ale by any stretch.... aside from the color. Fantastic aroma though. Despite the ABV, I think I'll pick up a few more of these to cellar for a bit. I think the malt complexity could be really great once the hops fall a bit. Recommended, and worth seeking

Serving type: bottle

10-09-2007 02:33:50 | More by phisig137
Photo of Kendo

New York

4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

"Life is Uncertain. Don't Sip."

A: Into a Sam Smith's nonic-style pint glass. Body is a clear, dark copper in color, topped off by a 2-finger, fluffy but thick khaki-colored head. Some bubbles slowly rise. Head retains nicely and leaves behind rings of lacing all the way down the glass.

S: I wrote "reminds me of a weaker Stone Arrogant Bastard in the nose." There's brown sugar, caramel malt and even JuicyFruit gum underneath the citrusy, piney hops.

T: Starts out sweet and malty, with brown sugar, caramel malt and husky grains up front. Malt is knocked back by citrusy, resiny hops. Early on the hop bitterness seemed minerally, but as it warmed it seemed more resiny, piney and grassy. However you describe it, it coats the mouth and lingers for quite some time -- like I said, the piney or grassy taste makes it dry, but there's also a juicy sweetness at the same time. You try and figure that out, I couldn't. Slight alcohol warmth on the way down the gulley, but otherwise I didn't really taste any booze.

M: Body weight is lighter than expected. Pretty smooth and creamy, but the prickly carbonation keeps it active and alive in the mouth. Long lingering dry bitterness.

D: Real good. I toyed with giving it a 5, but I think the ABV would put the brakes on the quaffing after a couple of these, even if they did go down fast.

Notes: I've had this a few times on tap recently (at the Lionheart in Albany) and thought it was excellent, so I grabbed the 6-pack today to try it in bottles. I think the tap version would score higher on the mouthfeel, but this is still a great beer in the bottle. And at Olivers I paid $10 for the sixer -- including tax & deposit -- which at $1.67 per bottle I thought was pretty reasonable. Another winner from LAH-goo-KNEE-tuss.

Serving type: bottle

10-06-2007 02:32:07 | More by Kendo
Photo of MrBendo

New Jersey

3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to todd1 for the bottle. Clear orange/copper color with a small head. Good lacing. Aroma of citrus and sweet tropical fruit. Taste is pine and citrus hops with some caramel sweetness, bordering on brown sugar. A little 'bite' on the tongue, but it stops well short of being bitter. Fairly dry finish. A very well done American hop vehicle.

Serving type: bottle

10-03-2007 20:49:26 | More by MrBendo
Photo of malty


4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a brilliantly clear brownish red/amber with sparse visible carbonation slowly rising to keep the 1" cream colored head from looking too fake. Really, there's almost no carbonation rising after the initial pour of this ale. Chunky globular lacework sporadically down the glass.

The scent is booming with tart citrus hops. A mellow vanilla cream scent mixes nicely with the vinous hop presence. A few brisk swirls evoke a creamy, toasty maltiness, which tells me this puppies got some thick foundation.

The flavors slowly greet my tongue with a firm handshake and thorough introduction; Hops - check (Although a bit tame from what I was anticipating from the fresh nose. Very vinous and less citrus). Sweet maltiness - check (Toasty with caramel/toffee edges to create a nice counter balance of the grassy/vinous hops). I really can't describe the overall flavor of this ale better than a caramel covered tart apple freshly made - but how'd they get the hop leaves stuffed in the center?

Mouthfeel is a bit syrupy and medium bodied. Carbonation is ultra fine and very low. Oily feel left on my gums and teeth.

Drinkability is good, but it's a bit heavy to throw a few back in succession.

Overall a very good and flavorful ale from a brewery I've heard a lot about, but only got the chance to try in my home state just this week. The label is correct when they say, '...a muscular malty thorax...' and it's just what the doctor ordered going into the fall season. I'd love the chance to pair this with a fresh piece of carrot cake with sour cream frosting. This is a very sturdy and hearty ale for sure. I like it.

Serving type: bottle

10-01-2007 00:50:23 | More by malty
Photo of elricorico

Alberta (Canada)

4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Clear, ruddy copper colour with a perfect creamy two finger head formed after a quick pour. Receding starts quickly, but lacing sticks all around.

Smell is dominated by citrus hops. Sharp grapefruit and lime aroma. Underneath is a little bit of sugary sweetness and baked bread. Keeps you coming back for another smell.

Some caramel is first to touch the tongue. Sweet cherries flash in the middle. Finish with a hoppy citrus burst and pine resin. Quite good. Only drawback is the sweetness seems a little artificial in some mouthfulls, but that is a minor complaint.

Slightly sticky mouthfeel, with a restrained carbonation. Does a good job of smoothly carrying the flavour.

Best I've had so far from Lagunitas. I like it much more than I expected.

Serving type: bottle

09-30-2007 02:21:27 | More by elricorico
Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 1,311 ratings.