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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.

1,649 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,649
Reviews: 728
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 10.17%
Wants: 166
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: 1,649 | Reviews: 728 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Proteus93
4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Nice, rich and deep amber with ruby hues. Semi-foamy head that doesn't retain very well, but leaves a full sheet of lace over the beer.

S: An intriguing, full aroma of citrus - particularly fresh grapefruit and tangerine. A little bit of sugary sweetness.

T: A big, hoppy flavour - somewhat pungent. Citrus rind, some resins.

M + D: Big, a bit chewy, and oily. A slippery residue left behind briefly. A decent brew, full of hops flavours... something I'd happily do again. The last half ended up going well with a burger smothered in hot sauce.

Proteus93, Sep 28, 2008
Photo of cthulu81
4.72/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Right then, let me just start this here review by saying this is one of my favorite Laggy beers and as such, yes, I am going to be personally biased. Too freakin' bad, eh? This stuff is delicious. West Coast delicious. We gots the malt, we gots the hops, and we gots the hops s'more. This stuff combines potent ABV, potent flavors and you-will-be-doing-stupid-stuff-later drinkability. My kind of elixer. I wouldn't normally plagerize for a review, but the stuff that Lagunitas wrote on their bottle is too good to be missed. Here is the description verbatum:"This special ale is, in reality, a reconstructed exhumation of the very first ale that we ever brewed way, way, back in 1993. Brewed with a big head, a muscular malty thorax, a silky texture & all strung together with a hoppy sweet nerve sack...yum." Pretty cool. I realize this isn't the most beer geeked rendition of my experiences with this ale, but I do think it fits nicely with the whole uber-chill feel of the Lagunitas line of fine, fine ales and lagers.

cthulu81, Sep 26, 2008
Photo of JohnGalt1
3.98/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz picked up today at the Coop for about $1.75... poured into my Smokestack goblet.

1" head dies back quick... brew is amber brown until held to a light.. and bright cherry red highlites emerge.

Aroma is thick and hoppy.. pine and citrus with quite a bit of caramel... sorta reminds me of an American Barleywine.

flavor is also big and hoppy.. fairly bitter.. going into a malty brew .. some toasted malts and more caramel.. with abundant citrus hops.. a little bit of yeasty fruitiness emerges as sweet and sour cherry mix.. finish is fairly long bitter hoppiness... this one is fairly bitter from front to back... body is medium and the carbonation is everpresent..

Not bad... and a pretty good deal for a brew when you want a little bit of sweetness with your malts.


JohnGalt1, Sep 24, 2008
Photo of dqderrick
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Samuel Adams New Glass

Appearance - 4.5
Pours 1/2 white head. Clear brown and amber color. Reminds me of Coke a little.

Smell - 3.5
I can smell some malt and a subtle hop scent. Not much going on here, but what I do pickup makes it hard to not jump right into the tasting.

Taste - 4
First sip was very smooth. Took 3 more quick sips. Taste lingers nicely... a little bitter. I can pick up the red style and it seems to have a nice subtle hop kick. I can taste something that may be alcohol burn but is not bad. It just reminds me of the usual Imperial tongue teasing.

Mouthfeel - 4.5
Smooth, smooth, smooth. Low carbonation feel; very smooth. Mouthfeel is not overwhelming at all... even with some swishing and aerating in the mouth.

Drinkability - 4
This is 7.2%? Well, it actually seems low for an Imperial style. But what do I know? I could drink 2 or 3 of these without blinking. Then I'd need something with a little more flavor.

Comments - Excellent to try and I'd buy a single 12oz bottle or 2 again. But I'd probably reach for some Ballast Point Amber instead. (Yes, I know it isn't an Imperial Red) I don't have much experience with the Imperial Red style (ie. none), but I'd say this is tops in the category for me. Excellent brew. I only wish I bought more than one 12oz bottle now.

12oz bottle purchased at Pizza Port Bottle Shop in Carlsbad, CA on Friday, September 19, 2008. Consumed on Tuesday, September 23, 2008.

dqderrick, Sep 24, 2008
Photo of popery
4.47/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I tried this beer after a couple disappointments from Lagunitas that made my expectations pretty low for this Imperial Red Ale. Happily, this beer was great and pretty much redeemed Lagunitas for me. This beer is a bit like a Stone IPA, not quite as good as Ruination but better than the normal IPA. This probably isn't an entirely fair comparison but some very similar hop notes came through for me so I couldn't help but compare them.

The beer looks pretty good but isn't exactly spectacular. It's a nice red amber color with a good head that produces some nice lacing. I don't really have a lot of basis for comparison with other Imperial Red Ales, but it's a nice looking beer.

The smell was the first indication for me that I was in more than I was expecting. The citrus hops come right through with some great sweet malty notes. The smell was good and strong, as well.

These hops dominate from the first sip and hits nearly as hard as Stone Ruination, which is a high compliment as I just love Ruination. You pretty much have to like heavily hopped beers to like this beer, but I don't really understand not liking huge hops if you like good beer. I don't really know much about IBU ratings, but this one is pretty high. There's a lot of citrus flavor with some malt, like the smell, but you'll definitely be feeling those citrus hops more than the malt.

The mouthfeel is great for me. I could certainly understand a lower rating here because you might have difficulty tasting the subtlety of other beers after this one, but I just enjoy it. There's enough carbonation to move the taste over your tongue without shocking your mouth further than the hops already do. I have similar feelings on the drinkability. It's a great beer that I enjoyed immensely.

popery, Sep 24, 2008
Photo of beerfairy
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Red/gold and cloudy with a roiling fluffy white head that leaves a TON of lace on the pint glass.

S - Big time hoppy flavor. This smells like a red ale and an IPA combined.

T - Tastes much like it smells, this is really, really hoppy and freshly hoppy. Good stuff!

M - Full bodied, and think IPA.

D - Very nice beer...this isn't a Killians for sure.

beerfairy, Sep 24, 2008
Photo of aubuc1
4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured in to a goblet.

Pours a clear, copper/red color with a slightly thin white head.

Smells hoppy with some sweet fruit, maybe even apple.

Taste is complex. Bitter, rust flavor without the fruity taste from the smell.

Great full mouthfeel that carbonates when it hits your mouth.

Alcohol is very present, and taste doesn't do too much for me, but he feel and smell alone make this a very good beer. Classic Lagunitas character.

aubuc1, Jul 13, 2008
Photo of Durge
3.8/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A clear copper color with a solid off-white head and great lacing. The aroma is licorice malt and some herbal hops. A heavy alcohol presence with very dry bitter hops. A sort of stinging bitterness with plenty of alcohol warming. Some candied malt with solid body. Minimal drinkability but a tastey option.

Durge, Jul 11, 2008
Photo of StonyB
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

As you may have heard, Lagunitas likes to brew strong beers. You've got your Hairy Eyeball, your Brown Shugga, Maximus, Gnarlywine, etc. But if you want some great flavor to go with a deceptive kick in the teeth, try their Imperial Red Ale...

Appearance - Body is a burnt crimson with an orange undertone. Very cloudy, though not opaque. Thick, rocky head that eventually fades to a half-finger. Stubborn lacing.

Smell - Oh, sweet malt. Intoxicating aroma of bready malt, tropical and dry fruit, caramel, cinnamon, spices. Very nice.

Taste - Sweet at first, toasty malt with some assertive fruit, toffee and a little bubblegum. Piny hops kick in, leading to a slightly bitter and drying finish.

Mouthfeel - Slightly crisp and well-carbonated, contrasting with a fairly thick and silky texture. Just the slightest hint of alcohol warmth.

Drinkability - Dangerously sessionable. The 7.6% ABV is well-hidden. This one can sneak up on you.

Lagunitas Imperial Red is an enjoyable, tasty strong ale. Highly recommended.

StonyB, Jun 06, 2008
Photo of pmcadamis
4.88/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I tried this at another downtown Champaign joint that I totally failed to catch the name of. I really need to start looking up at the signs when I barhop around town!

A - Red/gold and cloudy with a roiling fluffy white head that leaves a TON of lace on the pint glass. This is thick and nasty looking, although it does let quite a bit of light through. This one looks like a beautiful dusky evening.

S - Big time autumn leaves and gritty hops. Fresh bready yeast and saltine crackers tightened up with grassy and leafy hops. This smells like a red ale and an IPA making love...on methamphetamines.

T - Tastes much like it smells, this is really, really hoppy and freshly hoppy. Good stuff!

M - Full bodied, thick, and greasy.

D - Outstanding stuff.

pmcadamis, May 30, 2008
Photo of hckyfn9999
4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a reddish brown color with a white head. Aroma is dominant of sweet caramel malt along with some piney hops. Taste is toasted malt, caramel, citrusy lemon zest and piney hops. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. Very easy drinking for 7.6%. Very tasty beer. Glad I picked it up.

hckyfn9999, May 24, 2008
Photo of jasonpeckins32
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a reddish brown hue with a massive khaki colored fluffy head.

The nose is hoppy and resiny.

The taste is very rich and flavorful. Bitter hops and fruity esters combine to make quite a nice ale here.

The mouthfeel is big, almost chewy. Nice and smooth with just enough carbonation to get by. Reminds me of some of Sierra Nevada's brews.

Drinkability is nice too. High quality beer here, I'd check it out if you see it.

jasonpeckins32, May 09, 2008
Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light brown color (I don't see any red but that's ok), with a thin off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains a nice burst of hops, along with citrus and caramelized malts.

T: The taste starts with a pleasant sweetness of caramel and citrus. Then a good strong floral hops presence quickly follows and provides a very good balance.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean.

D: Very tasty, goes down quite easily, not too filling, nice kick, this is a very good beer that has all of the elements to make it an excellent choice to drink for an entire evening.

TheManiacalOne, May 04, 2008
Photo of tempest
3.48/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Maybe my bottle has been sitting around to long, but I'm not tasting the 80+ IBUs listed on the label. The appearance is a red-amber body with a white head and lacing. There's a general citrus and grapefruit flavor, aroma, and bitterness with very mellow, subtle malt flavors. The soft caramel and toffee flavor are nice, but tough to pull out. In general, a sweet citrus hop flavor rules this beer and I'd like more out of it.

tempest, Apr 23, 2008
Photo of MaltyGoodness
4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle

Pours a clear, pretty copper color with ruby highlights. Creamy tan head that maintains, thick lacing on the glass.

Aroma is a balanced blend of citrusy and floral hops with a nice caramel maitiness. Mild fruity tones.

Caramel malty upfront with a nice fruitiness leading into an aggressive hop bitterness and pleasant blend of citrusy and floral hop flavors. Finishes deceivingly dry with some caramel malt flavors and a lingering bitterness.

Medium-full body, well carbonated.

Red ales are hard to predict as there is a broad interpretation of this style. I wasn't expecting much when I opened the bottle, but what a nice surprise. Everything I have had recently from these guys has been decidedly delicious, and this red is no exception.

MaltyGoodness, Apr 19, 2008
Photo of Offa
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is one of my favourite Lagunitas beers, with lots of flavour, and good complexity and balance.

It is dark red, slightly brownish, with a medium, creamy,light tan head with a hint of orange that slowly shrinks and leaves a little decent lacing.

The aroma is rich, caramelly and very fruity, like caramelized fruit, a little toasted bread crust, sugar, citrus (especially grapefruit), pine. It is very aromatic.

The taste is similar, with all the elements noted in the aroma. It has a strong, full malty sweetness of caramelized plums, a hint of burnt sugar, more fruit, hint of pine, and quite a bit of cirtus, primarily grapefruit. The piney-citrus bitterness balances the strong sweetness and there is a light, but smooth, alcoholic warmth. It is creamy and full-bodied a bit pungent and heavy to drink a lot of, yet astill very drinkable.

Offa, Apr 15, 2008
Photo of happygnome
3.98/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: pours a dark ruby red color with orangish hues around te edge of the glass, an aggresive pour prodices about a quarter inch of head that dissapears relatively quickly leaving a good amount of sticky lacing around the edge of the glass that leaves notches as i continue to sip away.
s: strong citrusy and piny hop bitterness aroma very inviting mainly hops with little malt
t: strong bitter citrus piny hop flavor followed by sweet malts
m: medium bodied brew with little carbonatoin

overall, i really enjoyed this and will get it again

happygnome, Apr 15, 2008
Photo of maximum12
3.45/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Hmmm. Picked this up as part of a mixed sixer during a cross-border beer scramble this past weekend.

Pours a lighter red, almost oragnish color, with an almost non-existent head. What's that? Holy crap! The hops & malt come out of the glass with a big smelly baton whacking me upside the nose. This red smells fantastic!

I'm disappointed that the taste doesn't back up the great nose. It's OK. I like the warmth, & the imperial reddity comes out strong.

Mouthfeel is pretty good, full & woody & I'm feeling the malt backbone. Goes down easy.

Not a bad red, but I'm going to keep looking.

maximum12, Mar 19, 2008
Photo of SurlyDuff
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Imperial Reds/Amber/etc are becoming all the rage, and i'm all for it.

Brick colored with orange highlights. Fairly thin head until my final pour, which i let gravity take over and got a fingers worth of sticky tan head.

Bright citrus hops. Some pine notes in the aroma.

Yummy hops in the taste right away. The pine comes out strong, a cedar or redwood type of aroma. Alcohol is barely present, hidden nicely, but the warming is felt in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is smooth, medium body. It has a decent puckering bitterness that I enjoy.

Aftertaste is a biting bitterness and a tad resin coating.

Overall a great brew, I look forward to getting a 6pack. One bottle isn't enough!

SurlyDuff, Mar 16, 2008
Photo of OWSLEY069
3.68/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a clean deep amber color, with a small white to light tan head. In the aroma, grapefruity/ citrus hops, and a small sweet maltiness. In the taste, just as it smells, grapefruity hops, and a sweet malt backing it up. A hoppy and medium bodied mouthfeel and a small grapefruity hop aftertaste. A very nice hopy presence, smooth, easy, and good!

OWSLEY069, Mar 09, 2008
Photo of charlzm
2.93/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Draft, consumed at Lucky Baldwin's in Pasadena on 12/03/07.

Dark, coppery color with modest carbonation and thin head. Aroma: grapefruit hops. Strong malt flavor initially that phases into strong grapefruit hop finish. Well balanced. Almost no aftertaste. Only problem was, when the beer warmed up a bit, it turned into pure hop juice as the malt flavor vanished. Ack!

Couldn't finish the pint.

charlzm, Mar 02, 2008
Photo of dsa7783
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Short, fat, 12 oz bottle copped singly from Gary's in Madison...
Pours a very impressive appearance, with a ruby-red hue and an impressive foamy and frothy head that lingered on for a bit before receding...
Outstanding Imperial Red smell, bursting with noticeable hops, vanilla, and caramel...
Taste paid homage to the aroma, with a nice balance of hops, caramel, vanilla, slight bittersweet sugars, honey, and amber nuances...
Excellent creamy mouthfeel - rich and thick, with a very nice balance of bitter and sweet, a dead-on, great depiction of the style...
Easy drinkability - crisp, clear, clean, and smooth without the slightest hint of the hefty 7.6% ABV...
Overall, this is a teriffic brew, one of the best I've sampled from Lagunitas... This one is definitely on-par with Nugget Nectar - one of the best representations of the style...
Definitely recommended...

dsa7783, Feb 26, 2008
Photo of MerkinMan
3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours from the bottle a cloudy red color that is quite appealing if not for the haze. I am not sure if that is intentional.

Smells hoppy. A good whiff of one of the California C hops.

Tastes good. A more balanced version of an APA. Nice hoppy / malty taste. No fruity yeast flavors.

Mouthfeel is nice. Not too think, but there is something there.

Okay on the drinkability scale.

MerkinMan, Feb 24, 2008
Photo of JDV
2.93/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Deep reddish color, with a very inviting bright, fresh floral hop smell. Light beige head. Taste is as expected I'd guess, and is a "big" red ale. Quite well hopped, with a semi-strong rich lasting alcohol and hop aftertaste making it a bit difficult to drink. Not my preferred style, but good nonetheless.

JDV, Feb 22, 2008
Photo of dsigmon
3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Bronze with perfect one finger head

S: smell of caramel and pine earth and some sweetness i can't quite put my finger on.

T: Initial bitterness from the hops but very quickly covered by the thick maltiness. Sweet tasting but not too sweet, large amount of spices present and roasted nuts.

M: Oily like I like them, not overly carbonated.

D: I could drink this until I cant remember...love imperial reds

dsigmon, Feb 11, 2008
Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 1,649 ratings.