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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.

1,632 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,632
Reviews: 724
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 10.17%
Wants: 164
Gots: 124 | 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: 1,632 | Reviews: 724 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jera1350
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep crimson brown with smaller dirty white head that reduces to a ring.

Smell is of huge floral citrus hops to begin and then as it mellows more of the sweet caramel malt comes out.

One word to describe this- BIG. Big rich malt and big citrusy hops. Nice sweetness and greatly balanced. Some dark fruits, caramel and toffee and a hint of alcohol come through. This is one unique beer and really is in a nonexisting beer style.

Nice soft velvety texture. Medium bodied with a pretty clean and dryer finish.

Pretty darn drinkable. So unique that I think this would taste great on a hot summer day, the dead of winter or anywhere in between.

jera1350, Aug 19, 2009
Photo of TheTrevor
3.85/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured a deep brown with red highlights and a single-finger head. The smell is a mix of different hops including some piney and citrusy notes with a solid malt backbone. The taste starts off with some sweet malt that gives way to a bit of piney hops followed by some grapefruit bitterness. The mouthfeel is moderately thick with a decent amount of carbonation. This is one of those beers that incredibly hoppy but balanced well enough to be completely drinkable. Another good offering from Lagunitas.

TheTrevor, Aug 19, 2009
Photo of Daniellobo
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hmmm, strong... Sticky, aromatic and flavorful ale. A great brew.

Presentation: 12 oz bottle. Design is a bit all over the place but somehow it works nicely. Between the mash of fonts and the tongue in cheek legibility it builds up quite a recognizable image. Brief narrative between the historic and descriptive. Lacks date of bottling or freshness, shows IBUs (84.20), original gravity (1.072), and Alc. (7.5%) Poured into a tulip glass.

A - Dark burnt color. Fairly brown with red around the transparency. Starts with a head shorter of an inch that dissipates into a small layer and ring during the rest of the drink. Minimum lacing while foam ring remains with some surface touches.

S - Rich smell, over sweet malt there is a hoppy resin whiff that permeates the drink.

T - Sweet hop flavors? Over that malt it has quite a nice personality.

M - Smooth, there is a bite, a subtle one, but not the typical of an IPA, or an DIPA, this is something else.

D - Very nice, it has all the potential to bring hopheads into malty routes and vice versa.

Notes: It is full of character and yet I think that outsiders could give it a successful try if they are a bit open minded. It is not quite an IPA although it is like a deviant malty cousin to love. Reminds me of their Lucky 13 but it has been a while since I had that and may need to have it again to compare :-) Bottle says "Limited Release", I sure hope it is limited to the next couple of decades or so.

Daniellobo, Aug 15, 2009
Photo of jbhuxley
3.98/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Aggressive pour from a 12oz bottle into a snifter yields less than 1/4" of tan head which quickly fades into a thin ring around the edge of the glass. The beer is quite dark, which I know is amplified by the snifter. When held to light, brilliant ruby tones show through.

It smells very sweet. It is not quite the type of sweetness that I would expect. It is almost berry like with hints of chocolate. As it warms, the piney hops begin to creep into the picture.

It has a very chocolate/toasty start. But the bitterness of the hops quickly comes through. Nice piney bite at the end.

Smooth and creamy. Very enjoyable. I'm not sure if I would want to do more than a couple of these at once, but it does go down quite easy.

jbhuxley, Aug 15, 2009
Photo of TheNapkin
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A solid Imperial IPA. Great hops aroma; classic CA sharp citrus hops and red malts. I tend to think of IPAs as falling into one of two categories: 1) crisp (more citrusy IPAs, floral, resinous and clean) and 2) musty IPAs, big aggressive hops [i.e. Warrior] can impart a vegetal, grassy, garlicky earthiness that tends to be a little more interesting than the crispy IPAs, but not as drinkable). This beer is definitely the first category. Taste is aggressively hopped (in a good way); sharper and more pronounced flower and pine characters than I would normally expect from a "red ale." There's the fruitiness (I detect lime, which is a little different) and the floral characters, and then the beer finishes with a lingering bitterness that tapers into a numbing spice. Mouthfeel is full and rich, slightly thicker/more viscous than your average IPA, finishes velvlety and smooth.

TheNapkin, Aug 13, 2009
Photo of rtratzlaff
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear, but deep dark reddish brown body with a tan two finger head that coats the glass with lacing. Aromas are of caramel malt, slightly charred toast, and grapefruit hoppiness. The flavors are matched perfectly. Strong hop resins coat the tongue and stay around leaving a good grapefruit flavor in the aftertaste. Up front it is much more malty and sweet with a slight roast character to it. The body is moderate and full without being heavy. There isn't a trace of alcohol on the flavor.
The IBUs are enough to beat many a good IPA.

rtratzlaff, Aug 12, 2009
Photo of kaseydad
4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Was excited to try this as the lable states Lagintas is brewing this in almost the same style as their original. Cool.

Pint glass pour with a cola, amber appearance.
A small but creamy head of off-white foam is present throughout most of the session.

I am getting a major candy aroma. Molasses, malty, woody and a lot of bubble gum is evident. A hearty malt backbone gives this a major flavor kick.

A major competition of malt and hops on the initial drink. A mild bitterness on the tastebuds but overall not disturbing. A chewiness is also there.

Drinkability is good as I was able to consume a few in one seating, but the alcohol can creep up.

Another well done, quality beer from one of my favorite breweries.

kaseydad, Aug 09, 2009
Photo of TheFightfan1
4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had this at Uno Langhorne PA. Poured a copper color with a with a thick white heading that dissolves right away.

Smell is hoppy, malty, and a nice fruitiness to it.

Taste is awesome big malty beer with a fruity blast and finishes up very hoppy.

Mouth is medium-full bodied amazing carbonation with a nice hoppy sting on the tongue.Went right down really smooth without a hassle.

Drink is great for 7.2% ABV. Even for being a bit on the heavier side this would make a great session beer. Those big malts with well balanced hoppines just makes this awesome.

TheFightfan1, Aug 05, 2009
Photo of AmberMan22
4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a strawberry red, leaving a finger of head that settles to about 1/4 inch of big bubbles.

S: Smells very strongly of hops, also of strawberries.

T: hops hops hops. I am fairly overwhelmed. The initial taste mixes wonderfully with caramelly tasting malt. Definitely hints of floral/fruit tastes to underpin the hoppy overtones.

M: Solid. Fairly light mouthfeel, plays over the tongue easily. Carbonation adds to the intense hoppy bite. Malty sweetness adds some heft.

D: I mean, this is a fairly strong beer on a number of levels. Sitting on 7.2% ABV, plus about 3lbs of hops in each bottle, I don't think I could have more than 2 before starting to not enjoy them. And I'd like to enjoy them, because the taste really is quite good.

AmberMan22, Aug 05, 2009
Photo of mjl21
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle poured into a snifter. Comes in at 7.50% and 84.2 IBUs. No bottling information but this is the just released summer 2009 release.

A-Pours a dark brown that looks a lot like Coca Cola. It is very clear in the light and has a really nice reddish glow. It has a one finger tan head that has some great retention; a splotch of foam remains in the middle and a nice frothy ring stays the whole time.

S-Great hop nose. Lots of pine coming through. Also gets whisps of cola sweetness. It smells like a sweeter version of Lil Sumpin.

T-Lots of pine upfront which turns bitter midsip and on the finish. There is caramel and brown sugar sweetness after it has gone down. The pine bitterness remains throughout the beer. As it warms I get a definite roasted taste. The ideal score for this category would be a 4.25.

M-Thicker bodied with good carbonation. Not at all sticky.

D-I love the pine hops, but the sweetness eventually would get to me. Great for one or two in a session.

Another great beer from Lagunitas that is both hoppy and well priced. Would gladly have this again, but by the time I get around to it they will have another seasonal in the beer aisle.

mjl21, Aug 04, 2009
Photo of grayburn
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was a little bit worried about this beer, with the vicious rumors circulating about the evil hop exctract use of Lagunitas...I must say that I found these rumors to be completely unfounded. If this beer is made with extract, then the quality of hop extract is good enough for me.

The smell and taste are both delicious hoppy pine and mint with some citrus background. Very nice, with just enough malt to bring things into balance...not too sweet at all.

The mouthfeel is pretty thick, which suits the beer quite well, and makes it damn drinkable for it's abv.

grayburn, Aug 03, 2009
Photo of BeerSox
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into pint glass.

One of the darker Red Ales I've ever seen, almost bordering on brown. Right now, in the light, it's closer to a deep burgundy. A one finger tan head slowly settles to an even cap. With an aggressive pour it would probably be about two fingers.

The aroma is very sharp, like grape meets citrus. The hops also have a very strong tea-like herbal aroma. The malts add a sugary dark fruit aroma along with some caramel.

Very sharp hop flavors, which linger for a while and add a drying flavor toward the end. The malts are dry as well, adding a highly toasted characteristic. Full bodied, well carbonated.

This beer seems to me like an Imperial Irish Red Ale, or maybe a toned down Barleywine. The herbal aromas remind me of the Irish Red Ale, and the deep ruby-like hue and sharp hops remind me of the Barleywine.

BeerSox, Aug 02, 2009
Photo of thekevlarkid
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Out of a bottle I found with my stunning Russian companion this beer was a copper/red color with one finger of beige head. The retention of the head was good and it left lacing in thin bands. The aroma was big: citrusy hops, pineapple in particular, roasted malt, sweet malt and alcohol. The flavors were also big and full of lemon and citrusy hops. The pineapple was notable in the profile and I really enjoyed it. I also tasted some in-your-face alcohol, sweet malts, dark caramel, toffee and hints of wood in the roasted malt. The body was full, the mouthfeel good and the carbonation a bit frothy. Well balanced for such a big beer in its both strong hops and malt elements as on would hope from an 'American Strong Ale.' Definitely worth a try.

thekevlarkid, Jul 27, 2009
Photo of allergictomacros
4.22/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear ruby red with a copious head of tan foam. Good lacing. Nose is malty and citrusy - hints of mandarin oranges and caramel. Sweet malty body with some caramel and toastiness. Citrus, apple and light tropical fruit. Finish is nicely hoppy with a lingering toasted edge. Smooth body and moderate carbonation. Very drinkable and tasty.

allergictomacros, Jul 24, 2009
Photo of OldSchoolGamer
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Lagunitas has easily been one of my top brewers lately. They have been making some top notch ales. Here is my review of their Imperial Red:

A: Pours a deep amber color. Almost looks like a Brown Ale as it is so dark. Pretty clear with a nice tan head. Lacing is present.

S: Hops smell somewhat grassy. Some citrus. Not much else, but smells very awesome.

T: Now this is a Red Ale. Lots of hop flavor going on here. Grassy, earthy, and a touch of citrus hops. Malt adds a little sweetness to the beer. Tastes pretty much like sweet hops. Very nice.

M: Pretty light body with a nice slick feel. A tad bitter in the finish. Somewhat dry.

D: This is going down very smoothly. Drinks like a sweeter IPA. Not Lagunitas' best, but very solid and I could drink multiple in a session.

It is becoming harder and harder to find a Lagunitas beer that isn't great. Another classic, this beer is one of the best Double Red Ales available. Although not the most complex beer, this one remains enjoyable throughout. Excellent.

OldSchoolGamer, Jul 23, 2009
Photo of Bluetick
1.15/5  rDev -72.2%
look: 2 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Perhaps I got a bad 6-pack/batch as I rarely trash a beer.

The very first taste & smell of this beer reminded me of gasoline and finished with diesel notes. I could only drink two out of the 6-pack before giving up.

I am very perplexed as to why my experience with this beer was radically different from other reviewers. I had other Lagunitas Brewery beers and have enjoyed them, not sure what happened with this one.

Bluetick, Jul 20, 2009
Photo of ToddT
3.48/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Tan with a slight red highlight. Head is cream colored and long lasting leaving a fair amount of lacing on the glass.

S- Caramel and lightly roasted malt are the dominate notes. Little whiffs of sweet fruit and grapefruit hops every now and then.

T- Malty up front with sweet caramel and honey notes. Unexpected strong grapefruit taste of the hops at the finish. Slightly out of balanced between the sweet and bitter.

M- Medium in body, but a little syrupy from the sweetness. Carbonation is good. Finish has a lingering bitterness and a little bit of oily residue from the hops as well.

D- Pretty easy drinking for an imperial, and at 7.2% ABV it deserves some respect. The alcohol doesn't show through but it is a little on the sweet side.

The sweetness becomes more apparent as this warms, if it was just a little better balanced this would be a great one.

ToddT, Jul 06, 2009
Photo of yelterdow
3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to EPseja for the complementary bottle for this review. I'll serve this one a few degrees above fridge temperature in an Imperial pint glass.

Appearance- Big and red, that's for sure. The richness is evident right from the start, viscous and huge in its appearance. The bone white head, which carries with it a tint of red, billows to three fingers and stays put with its firm density. Streams of lacing line the inside of the glass.

Smell- Succulent, massive hops are shrouded in an oversize cloak of malt. There are only two adversaries, and they choose to join forces with determination and purpose.

Taste- The enormous malt backbone is balanced by a generous hop bitterness, creating a full tasting experience that leaves nothing to the imagination. The hop attack isn't as forward as Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale nor is it as magnificent, rather it's a maltier interpretation of the style.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- The texture is absolutely sublime and couldn't be improved in my opinion. It begins soft and slick, then garners up some foam and disperses it across the tongue with total elegance. This is heavy handed and will make its presence felt, and it will certainly please fans of stronger ales from our West Coast.

yelterdow, Jun 23, 2009
Photo of BeerImmediately
3.98/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, no freshness date.

Poured an opaque orange color, like an overbrewed iced tea. Tiny head, without much lacing.

Hoppy, orange peel smell simply jumped out of the glass - no burying my nose in this one. Candied sugar and alcohol also present.

Taste was of rich, ripe fruits - maybe some raisin. Fruitcake came to mind as well. Grapefruity hop quality.

Mouthfeel was thick and lingering, but broken up by some nice carbonation.

Drinkability is OK if you're used to imperial/extreme styles, as this was was 'extreme' in nearly every category.


2/28/12 EDIT: This beer has changed dramatically since I first reviewed it back in 2009... much more of an American Amber Ale now... far, FAR from an American Strong Ale. Sharp, and almost astringently hoppy now. No sweet raisin or fruitcake qualities now. But easier on the drinkability scale.

BeerImmediately, Jun 21, 2009
Photo of luciusgilmer
4.22/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottle served in tulip glass

a: beer presents with a coppery red color and nice, big white foamy head. The head dissipates to leave a pretty creamy lacing on the top, and a noticeable ring around the glass. Thick opaque red.

s: this smells just great--not sure where to start, but it's a bit sweet (like some other reds, I suppose), even sugary, but really it's malty and a bit caramel like.

T: Strong and sweet, rich flavor. Some noticeable bitterness at the back of the throat, but it's well balanced overall.

M: Great carbonation: smooth, but heavy ale, great to swirl around the mouth.

D: Not too heavy, and doesn't reek of alcohol like some in this ABV range. I may look for this again: a good sipping ale. Another winner from Lagunitas.

luciusgilmer, May 14, 2009
Photo of sholland119
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours a clear orange amber with a fluffy, long lasting white head and good lacing.

S-Malty sweet aroma with light citrus hops in the background.

T-Hoppier than the nose, I am happy to say. Starts off with a nice caramel malt sweetness and a crisp grapefruit hop bite in the finish.

M-Medium bodied and a bit oily.

D-Very nice. I would gladly have another.


sholland119, May 13, 2009
Photo of biegaman
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A rustic cognac tone garnished with copper coloured tinsel. Its light haze is (seemingly) the result of bottle-conditioning and does nothing really to detract from clarity. The head is sparse except along the perimeter where it bulks up and resides in layers of crusty lace.

The hops impart a great deal of musty, outdoorsy pine. Never mind imperial red ale, this should be the imperial beer of the forest! Each sniff is definitely a walk through the woods with all kinds of musty, mildewed, floral, earthy and herbal smells coming to the fore. A hint of candied grapefruit is also afforded.

The taste is far more malt-focused. Sweet caramel and astringently steeped black tea combine alongside crunchy nougat, almond bark, maple syrup, cocoa powder and the candied fruits. This combination makes up the majority of the flavour but pine sap and bitter citrus are never far behind and show face before the conclusion of every sip.

I'm not sure if this is a beer you could stay on all evening but I get the impression it might stay on you all evening. The flavours stick to the tongue, and the roof of the mouth and the back of the throat and in the nostrils for that matter, too. It is surprisingly smooth, however, given the aggressive level of hops and higher than average alcohol percentage.

Lagunitas makes only good beers as far as I'm concerned. Actually, they make many great beers too. In fact, I'd say I'm wowed by their beers about as often as a coin lands on heads. I'd consider this particular offering only good although another day, another time, another sample and who knows, it may very well be great. I plan to look again into it.

biegaman, May 01, 2009
Photo of jsh420
3.58/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

notes from 4/8/09

pours copper red with a 2 finger head that left good lacing. smell is piney with strong sweet malts. taste is candy carmel malts and pine hops. a medium body with good carbonation. glad i tried this one but overall this is just too damn sweet for me.

jsh420, Apr 28, 2009
Photo of Gmann
3.53/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pretty honey red color with a small yet dense khaki colored head. The aroma is strong with a doughy honey malt, quite sweet, perhaps some light grassy hops. The doughy malt is also dominate in the taste, some honey and a bit sugary. Some dull hop bitterness in the end struggles to balance out the sweetness. Quite a chewy feel, probably a bit heavier than it needs to be. Fairly soft carbonaton, probably could use a bit more; finishes bitter. A bit disappointed in this brew. I was expecting more of a fresh hop flavor. The heavy malt sweetness dominates the brew. Much better "Big Reds" out there.

Gmann, Apr 25, 2009
Photo of TheNightbird
3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- A red copper color with a nice head that coats the glass.

S- Citrusy, floral and piney hops. Carmel with a nice slight alcohol note in the background. Centennial hops are what I feel make up the aroma.

T- Carmel and the hop bitterness are upfront. Then the citrus & floral hops come through. The finish is slightly dry. Not too bitter, the taste is balanced.

M- Medium body with moderate carbonation.

D- Easy drinking for a beer that is 7.2. Not too bold, drinks like an IPA.

TheNightbird, Apr 24, 2009
Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 1,632 ratings.