1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Lagunitas Imperial Red AleLagunitas Imperial Red Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,469 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,469
Reviews: 711
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 9.69%
Wants: 156
Gots: 84 | 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
Ratings: 1,469 | Reviews: 711 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Jimbo87


3.95/5  rDev -4.4%

Poured clear red amber into pint glass with beautiful 1 inch off-white head. Left little lacing.

Smells hoppy. Slightly maltier than an IPA, but still very IPA-like.

Again, slightly maltier than most IPAs, but still quite bitter in the finish. A lot of hops, which are perhaps slightly citrusy/floral. Very strange, on some sips it seems very sweet, on other it seems bitter. But somehow the particular sweetness and bitterness in the beer don't seem like they mesh quite perfectly. Still tasty.

No complaints with the mouthfeel, nice carbonation.

Drinkability is good, but I don't think I'd want to drink more than one at a time. A solid ale, but there's a specific sweet element in it that I'm not sure if I like, but which I can't put my finger on. My dad loves this beer though. This beer stands out to me as "different." Definitely worth a try.

01-14-2009 13:55:20 | More by Jimbo87
Photo of malcontent


4.22/5  rDev +2.2%

Vibrant deep ruby body hosts an immovable, off-white head. The lacing is like paste.

Strong citrus hop presence collides with a simply outstanding earthy-sweet malt nose reminiscent of caramelized onions mixed with brandied cherries and rye. Sounds gross, smells sublime.

Well, it's really sweet, bordering on cloying in fact...but it's saved by the hops. Actually, it's more than saved as it's quite good, especially once it settles in and you're able to adjust to it. Tons of fruit right up front with tangerines, sweet cherries and lime peel smothered in brown sugar mid-palate. Finish is rye and caramel with a lingering bittersweetness. Layered and rewarding and, oh yes, sweet; this is a real malt load.

Body is perfect for the style, rich and semi-thick with restrained carbonation. Obviously, a strong ale will always have somewhat limited drinkability and the sweetness doesn't help the cause but at "only" 7.2% ABV this is pretty manageable.

01-14-2009 01:03:49 | More by malcontent
Photo of garymuchow


4.83/5  rDev +16.9%

To quote P.A., local radio host and voice of the Vikings, "my oh my, sure am good". Now he is referring to something else, but the sentiment works well here.
Great classic West Coast IPA hop aroma. Fresh, sweet, a little citrus, green grass. Very nice. Just enough sweet malt backing to add character.
Smallish dense dark head. Deep amber of dark golds and reds. Very clear. Classic looking. Plenty of lacing.
Especially when cold a great sweet malt flavors show forth up front. It tends to leave in time, but next is a wonderful sweetness that is a mix of amazing light fruit and honey like sweetness (but not overly sweet). Double mmmm. After all these flavors the hops finally move in. At there worst they overwhelm with bitterness (which fortunately isn't frequent), but at their best the hop flavors enhance and blend well with the initial set-up. At the finish they lay flat on the tongue and last a good long time. mmm again. As the drink moves on the hop flavors are primary with the malt blending and balancing. Man this is good.
Smoothness an softness in both the body and the carbonation. It never lays heavy, yet shows body. Slight note of filling with bubbles, but I'll get over it.
My this is good. Drinks so well. What an enjoyable experience. Flavors vary throughout the drink, yet never sways from the basic foundation. An exceptional beer. One of the best I've had and well work the price of admission.

01-10-2009 03:10:56 | More by garymuchow
Photo of Lexluthor33

New York

4.38/5  rDev +6.1%

A reddish,amber with a nice sized head and lace.
I thought the aroma was sweet,full of malts with some fruit and hops.
The taste followed the nose as it was sweet and had a good amount of hops. Caramel notes and malts.
It felt medium in body and carbonation. Smooth as can be and just a touch of alcohol in the finish. Some mild bitterness but very well balanced overall.

Notes: It was a pleasure to have and next time I will have a few more.This had a nice ABV and still felt easy to drink.

01-10-2009 02:07:06 | More by Lexluthor33
Photo of likestoswallow


3.9/5  rDev -5.6%

A: A translucent amber pour with a fine creamy beige head that had good retention.

S: The nose is pungent with sweet malted barley, caramel and sweetened spices.

T: Biter hops forward with good piney hops set in a caramel malt backdrop. The finish is long and sweet with lingering caramel.

M: Full and silky smooth with lively carbonation.

D: This is a sessionable ale that I very much enjoyed.

01-08-2009 21:56:50 | More by likestoswallow
Photo of prototypic


4.38/5  rDev +6.1%

Appearance: This one's a brilliant, deep red color. It's very clear with no haze at all. It's topped with an off-white head that stands about two fingers tall. Retention was nothing short of excellent and a thick coat of lace clung to the glass. Impressive.

Smell: There's a citrus blast of grapefruit and orange initially. It's very sweet and enticing. Hops quickly follow and have a strong elements of citrus and pine. Man, if I were judging by the nose, I'd suspect this was an IPA. There's a healthy amount of toasted and caramel malts. But, the hops seem to be holding their own. No alcohol is noted.

Taste: It is sweet and a little sugary. Citrus grapefruit and pineapple flavors are very well done. They're likely attributable to the strong citric hop presence. Hops are piney, bitter, and very flavorful. Toasted and caramel malts add more sweetness, but don't totally overwhelm the hops. I like that. The bitter, piney flavor remains well in tact. Alcohol is masked very well and isn't apparent at all. It finishes sweet, dry, and bitter.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It features a medium body that's very smooth. Carbonation is light and doesn't intrude on the silky feel at all. Drinkability is very high. This is a very flavorful, deep beer and its 7.6% abv doesn't intimidate too much. I'd be more than happy to tackle a few of these in a sitting.

Lagunitas has one kick ass beer here. This might be my favorite Lagunitas beer. Yes, it really is that good. It's chock full of flavor, very hoppy, and a pure joy to drink. Sounds like a recipe for greatness. If this one's not there, it's as damn close it can be. Highly recommended.

01-06-2009 02:44:18 | More by prototypic
Photo of GordonQuid


3.78/5  rDev -8.5%

Poured a deep ruby red with a one inch white head and ample lacing.

Smells of grapefruit and pine needles. Some amber malt characteristics present.

Taste is a sharp cascade/galena hop with an amber malt finish. Some buttery toast and marmalade jam flavors as well.

Medium bodied and moderately drinkable

01-03-2009 19:57:53 | More by GordonQuid
Photo of BuffaloTapHugger

New York

4.28/5  rDev +3.6%

Poured 12 oz. bottle into pint glass. Receding head quickly faded. Color is nice muli tone, with a dark brown reddish top and a slightly darker red bottom half. I smell strawberries and sugar. Peasant on the palate and plenty of hops can be found upon reception. Has a bite, but nothing too pretentious in nature.

Could be a session beer in the right mind frame. ABV blends well in this strong ale. Recommended to all the IPA lovers around the world as a different means to the end.

01-03-2009 06:32:36 | More by BuffaloTapHugger
Photo of brewbucker


4.33/5  rDev +4.8%

I love this beer. Pours a dark clean copper with a small quickly fading head. Aroma is of piney hops, malts and citrus. The malts come out a little more in the flavor and the hops are not far behind. Bitter, dry and resiny. I do not see this very often so when I get the chance I always ick up a couple of 6's of it.

01-01-2009 02:11:18 | More by brewbucker
Photo of beertunes


3.68/5  rDev -10.9%

Poured into a straight pint glass. A beautiful deep red ,yet clear. Strong but pleasant aroma. Very strong flavor, with a clear hop bite. The body is a little thin, could use some more backbone. Very drinkable, on the strong side for a session, but having a few in a row is certainly possible. If you're in the mood for a hoppy strong ale, hit this if available. I like this beer more than my review might indicate. You should try this when you can, I will certainly include this into my go-to list.

12-26-2008 16:10:26 | More by beertunes
Photo of ThreeWiseMen


3.93/5  rDev -4.8%

Picked up a sixer of this at the Fresno BevMo.

Appearance: Pours a dark mahogany with loose, one-finger, khaki head. Though dark, body is lucid and active carbonation can be seen within. Head dissipates slowly and is extremely sticky, dragging great lacing.

Smell: Loads of caramel, brown sugar, and pine. Hop resin makes a strong showing. The sweetness and hoppiness seem to clash. I like the smell, but it's a bit odd.

Taste: Again, a lot of sweetness and a lot of hoppiness. Starts off with tons of caramel, and sweet, moist pine, and finishes quite hoppy with a hint of citrus. EDIT: Now on the third bottle, I'm getting more fruit flavors - specifically grapefruit and mango.

Mouthfeel: A pretty syrupy feel to this one. Medium-heavy in body and moderately carbonated. Feels very sticky and coats the mouth well.

Drinkability: Definitely a unique brew. While i think I could down several (and may be tempted to try), it seems that the pungent taste and fairly large body would slow me down. Worth a try for sure.

12-23-2008 05:46:28 | More by ThreeWiseMen
Photo of illidurit


3.73/5  rDev -9.7%

Stubby 12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Copper-amber color with a thick tan head. Lots of lacing. Aroma is mainly citrus hops, with a very tangy character, and caramel malt. Flavor is the same. Sweet and substantial malt base, orangey grapefruity hops, and a slight metallic note. Piney bitterness takes the edge off the sappy sweetness. Finish is a little dirty/sticky, body is a couple shades over medium.

12-21-2008 06:29:45 | More by illidurit
Photo of paulthebeerguru


4.05/5  rDev -1.9%

Lagunitas RED (bottle)
A: pours a wonderful crimson color with a nice off white head, that's close to tan. Outstanding head retention and decent lacing.

S: huge notes of caramel and amber malts. Very sweet aroma for the malts, almost sugary. Hops do make a great appearance in the nose, slightly earthy and a nice sweet blood orange aroma.

T: big flavors of caramel from the malts, big malt backbone in this brew. Some flavors of pine resin from the hops, light blood orange notes as well.

M: medium to full bodied, this beer really warms the mouth. Great holiday brew. A little muddy.

D: a very nice beer, but the 7.2% ABV lower the drinkability for me a little bit.

12-20-2008 20:45:53 | More by paulthebeerguru
Photo of bobsy

Ontario (Canada)

4.72/5  rDev +14.3%

Wow, this is a beast of a beer! Ruby red body with a small tan head. Large hop aroma - citrus and pine, but paired up with some caramel malts. For the life of me this smells like an IPA, and the taste delivers on that assumption too. Lots of grapefruit and pine play off against a nice malty caramel background. 84 IBUs is obvious, but very pleasing. Medium body and carbonation. This is an absolute stunner and I'll be hunting it down again. Thanks Shawn for sharing!

12-13-2008 23:20:28 | More by bobsy
Photo of magictrokini


4/5  rDev -3.1%

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.

12-10-2008 17:45:33 | More by magictrokini
Photo of feloniousmonk


4.3/5  rDev +4.1%

Clear and fully crimson colored, slimmed head...not much to see...
Sweet and hoppy nose, malt and hops really going at it. Big fat smack of citric hop over everything else. Me, I love it.

Taste: Huge hops, vast malt, fat bodied, rich mouthfeel...hard to complain about this one. Best of all worlds.

Big malt , big hops, big all around, and a delight to drink. And way too tasty.

Yum, yum...

12-08-2008 09:43:26 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of iceball585

New York

4.28/5  rDev +3.6%

A- Reddish brown color, semi-transparent, thin white head that faded quickly, some bubbles rising throughout

S- Caramel malts, pine, bitter hops, hint of citrus

T- Malty, earthy hops, citrus, fruity, sweet, creamy, slightly bitter, bite of alcohol

M- Medium body, medium carbonation, crisp, well balanced, dry finish

D- Worth buying again

I'm very suprised that this brew is that strong. Even though you taste the alcohol bite a little, it's still very easy to drink.

12-07-2008 23:11:24 | More by iceball585
Photo of BMoney575


3.75/5  rDev -9.2%

Sampled on 12-3-08

Pours a slightly hazy amber/brown, with a foamy head that quickly settles.

Smell is very thick and a little malty, subtle with lots of grassy hops near the end.

Taste is very Strong Ale. Much like others, a decent malt and bitter hops. Nothing new.

Mouthfeel is good, thick and syrupy.

Drinkability is also good, the balance makes a good choice for a strong session beer.

Overall, I grow weary of this style. Stone has it tied up, it's going to take more creativity to do better.

12-04-2008 02:05:26 | More by BMoney575
Photo of SShelly


3.88/5  rDev -6.1%

On tap at callahans in S.D.

A medium reddish/brownish color with crystal clarity and a fluffy off-white head.

Excellent citrusy and piny hops in the nose, I could smell this beer from the instant it hit the table.

Flavor is big and malty with some of the same hops in it, a little dissapointed that most of the hops are in the aroma and more of them didnt make it into the flavor side, more sweet than bitter, this is a fairly well balanced beer for how big it is.

I will definetly order this when I see it on tap, another great lagunitas beer.

12-03-2008 17:57:54 | More by SShelly
Photo of Beerking721


4.72/5  rDev +14.3%

Finally... a red that I really like!

A= Brown/Red and slightly cloudy with a rich, creamy head exhibiting refined lace and fine effervesence. Head can be refreshed many times without "flattening" the beer.

S= A balance of sweet maltiness blended with well checked hopiness.

T= Toasted/sweet malt giving way to mild fresh "floral" hops that provide a smooth lingering finish - just right in duration. The 84.20 IBU rating is misleading due to the inherent smoothness.

M= Slight oiliness combined with the unmistakable richness of an "Imperial" style.

D= Easily qwaffed... this is a great stand-alone brew or excellent as an accompaniment with your favorite (semi spicy) chili. Should also pair well with grilled medium-rare ribeye. Due to a stout ABV (7.2% on the label), this will sneak up on you if too many are enjoyed! ;)

Great job Lagunitas!!!

12-03-2008 01:34:38 | More by Beerking721
Photo of AgingWarrior


4.33/5  rDev +4.8%

Pours a dark reddish brown color into my tulip glass. There was very little head and very little retention.

Smells like caramel malts, sweet fruit and just a bit of hops.

Tastes great! The first hit on the tongue is sweet and crisp, then you get the balance of the hops on the backside. Very tasty finish.

Excellent mouth feel. Creamy and smooth, no alcohol burn at all.

Easy to drink for an Imperial and 7.2% abv.

11-29-2008 20:33:29 | More by AgingWarrior
Photo of Kadonny


4/5  rDev -3.1%

Poured from a tap into an IPA stemmed glass.

A: A dark reddish color with a light red/off white one finger head. Nice lacing.

S: Sweet fruit malt smells with floral earthy hops.

T: Sweetness of the red ale hits first with caramel, sweet fruit and some breadiness. The earthy floral piney hops pick right up after the malt sweetness and carry the beer to completion. Underlying sweetness stays there and provides a very balanced beer. Nice and hoppy.

M: Medium to maybe a little thing. Very crisp and clean and no alcohol for the 7.xx abv.

D: High, very drinkable.

Overall a very good red although I don't know that I would classify it as an imperial. Still another solid beer from Lagunitas.

11-28-2008 18:18:30 | More by Kadonny
Photo of atsprings

North Carolina

4.33/5  rDev +4.8%

2 12z bottles into a Duvel snifter. Pours a murky but crisp dark ruby red with a thin off-white head that diminishes to a thin layer and leaves decent lacing. Aroma is crisp caramel malts and pine hops. The taste is a nice balance of sweet caramel malts and lingering bitter pine hops, very well balanced in the initial with the IBUs showing through in the finish. The beer is medium bodied with slight carbonation. This is a very enjoyable beer, one I look forward to having again.

11-27-2008 04:07:25 | More by atsprings


4.65/5  rDev +12.6%

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into pint glass.

A: pours a deep, grand reddish amber with a finger of slightly fragile head. Not very much lacing left on glass.

S: Peaches and biscuits with a pleasant hop kick.

T: I was truly blown away by this beer's delicious character. Up front, I get grilled peaches and brown sugar, followed by spicy, bitter hops and a refreshing citrus twang. In my opinion, this beer gets as close to the perfect balance of flavors as I've ever tasted.

M: Medium body with just enough carbonation to ass a refreshing feel that cuts through the richness.

D: I could see myself drinking enough of these to regret it the next day. I'll be keeping this one in steady supply.

11-22-2008 04:11:24 | More by FACEMEAT
Photo of KarlHungus


4.47/5  rDev +8.2%

This beer pours a shimmering bright red color. The head is one inch in height, and recedes very, very slowly into a nice cap of lacing. The aroma is of grapefruit, pine, with a firm bedrock of caramel malt. The aroma is a bit maltier than the aroma, but there are still tons of hops. There is a strong caramel presence, with grapefruit, and pine in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with a velvety texture, and lively carbonation. Overall, this is one fine beer. I have always been a fan of Imperial Amber/Red ales. I live them even more than DIPAs, and this is one that I will certainly drink again, and often..

11-22-2008 03:36:39 | More by KarlHungus
Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 1,469 ratings.