Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Lagunitas Imperial Red AleLagunitas Imperial Red Ale

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2,253 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,253
Reviews: 786
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 9.71%
Wants: 228
Gots: 306 | FT: 3
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:
Beer added by: Reidrover on 03-05-2005

54.2 IBU
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,253 | Reviews: 786
Photo of waldowin
3.48/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a golden amber, with a thin white head that sticks around. Excellent lacing.

Smells of oats, cinnamon, and a bit of grapefruit.
Tastes of almonds, cinnamon, and grapefruit. Finish is fairly bitter and astringent, but this is a tasty, crisp clean beer.

Mouthfeel is smooth, pretty carbonated, but a bit astringent on the finish.

If it weren't for the bitter finish, this beer would be extremely quaffable.

Photo of NolateM
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on tap on two different ocassions, at one of my favorite local restaurants (a place I pretty much go to because of the bar). Poured into a regular pint glass... very attractive and somewhat translucent red color, with a rich white head. The first thoughts I had were "this tastes like an IPA" and "this tastes like cranberries." And despite not being a huge cranberry fan, I was definitely a huge fan of this beer. Very hoppy, sort of piney flavor to it. Definitely tasted like a high-alcohol beer, but in a good way. If you like strong bitter ales and/or IPAs, give this a try!

Photo of KingofNoPo
3.66/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No mistaking the red color. High carbonation feeding a huge head that lasted. Clear and transparent. Appetizing.
Bright and grassy hop character.
Herbal, astrigent hops dominate initially then give way to semi-sweet malt finish.
Medium body. Good amount of carbonation, but not too much.
Striking red color and creamy head give this ale a complete package for looks. Smooth transition between hoppy start and soothing malt finish. Flavors in lock step with IBU listed on label. Not sure where this fits in style, other than it has 7%+ ABV for an American strong ale. I would need some grilled meat with a heavy sauce to stand up to the hops in this brew. Overall a happy hoppy experience although 40+ IBU's are a little much for me unless enjoyed with a balancing meal.

Photo of germaniac
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A big red Ale from Lagunitas. Pours a cheery reddish brown, topped by a bit of creamy off white head.

A whole bunch of hops in the nose- a solid hit of citrusy, resiny goodness.

Tastes surprisingly sweet, at first. But after a pregnant pause, the hops shine thru, providing an earthy, piney bite. Malt wrestles tastebud control away from the hops and lays down some caramel sweetness chock full of woody, bark-like overtones. Finishes with a diminished lingering bitterness.

Lots of body to be found here, with the mouthfeel winding up fairly thick, but avoiding any heaviness.

This seems like a perfect beer for the "American Strong Ale" tag. It's not an IPA, and it has alot of the qualities of a Barleywine, on a smaller scale. Whatever it is, it's a pretty great beer, one I wouldn't mind having again.

Photo of TastyTaste
4.01/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I really like the style that Lagunitas was shooting for, and I thought they pulled it off very well. Red body, but what were you expecting? Taste was very interesting. Carmel sweetness is present, but a lot of the experience was the alcohol coming through. Made the taste full and raw, with some grassy grain to boot. I would like to see more in the style of DRA.

Photo of soulgrowl
3.58/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: A broad spectrum of autumnal reds, oranges, and browns lie beneath a thick, beige, soapy head with good retention.

Smell: Raw hops, remniscent of a freshly mown lawn with some woody, piney, and citric notes. A fine yet bracing smell without much depth.

Taste: Not bad, not bad at all! Toasty malts cry out for attention from behind a brick wall of hops. This might be better classified as an IPA or a double IPA.

Mouthfeel: Just right for the flavor, thick yet airy.

Drinkability: Hmm. I don't know... maybe it's just because I'm damn full from the dinner I had a little while ago, but I'm not finding this exceptionally drinkable. Goes pretty well with Japanese "Rich Harvest" cookies (almond-sesame-chocolate flavor).

Photo of BEERchitect
4/5  rDev -2.9%
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.

Photo of pjwilson
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

appearance: dark copper color and quite transparent, isn't a dark red at all and i've seen ipa's darker than this. not a complaint however. the head is thick and fluffy and chunky. carbination looks strong for an american style ale.

smell: mmm resiny hops. this is headin' into ipa territory very fast and i'm digging it. sonoma county keeps it real when it comes to that piney resiny hop smell. mabey a faint hint of bisquit. lots of grapefruit kids.

taste: very, similar to Drake's IPA, which was actually darker than this. This beer isn't quite as delicious as that beer, but it is still quite good. same sort of blended mix of piney hops and caramal malts, with some nice bisquit. getting some grapefruit here as and the beer is not as bitter as a true Ipa, which makes it nice to drink down, actually the only reason this isn't an IPA, is the relativly low bitterness 40.63 IBU's. it's still got some bitterness for sure, though

mouthfeel: very lite considering, lite to medium mouthfeel. works here

drinkability: kinda silly good for a beer of this strengh. this one is a keeper.

Ok the imperial red name is kinda silly, and they give you no actual descrition on the bottle, however I buy everything Lagunitas puts out at least once. This one is a winner. If you like this try Drake's IPA, it is very similar tasting.

Photo of Ego
3.8/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

amber brown in hue, no head to speak of, lacing is more like film but it is clingy like wine (it has legs... not like zztop...)

subdued, very mild for a strong ale, smells like a tamed DIPA, uncleaned wet mushrooms, some hop florals that drift slightly into the ethereal pine realms and finish with a touch of lime, hints of sweet toasty malts also linger, nice but a bit too mellow imo.

taste etc...
the subtelty in the nose works here. you get a real plate of flavor. The red sparkles and fades into bitter and there is a linger to it all. The sweetness of the malt kicks in just before that "Red" flavor does. And this is an easy sipper for sure (easy like a sunday morning? if you are drinking this shit in the morning.. you have a problem...). mouthfeel is good, not great. This has a nice bitter finish with the piney side bitters really doing a river dance on your tongue. The alcohol is perceptable but not distracting to this reviewer. The sweetness makes this very drinkable... almost reminds me of some IPAs (specifically the Pizzaria Uno IPA I get here locally)

tasty but nothing I will go ape looking for. for $5 a bomber it is pretty good though if you have it available locally.

Photo of NEhophead
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Rustic copper in color with full shades of auburn. Creamy, off white head that slowly mellows to an intact sheet. Patterned, ringed lacing with good strength.

Rustic and earthen, floral hop aroma; bright lemon citrus aromas as well. There's a semi-sweet creamy, toasted malt character; slightly bready.

Creamy, toasted malt character; biscuit flavors. Touches of semi-sweet caramel. Big, earthen hop flavors with light hints of citrus and pine. The gritty, bitterness is sharp and rather intense, but the smoothness of the toasted malts makes for a creamy finish. The aftertaste is filled with citrus and burnt, floral hops.

Medium bodied; creamy and smooth, yet earthen, gritty and full. Reminiscent on the palate of what you would expect from your bigger, hoppier beers.

The alcohol presence is detectable, but doesn't overpower all of the flavor complexities of this brew. A unique take on the style; well balanced and a good flavor profile. My favorite Lagunitas offering to date.

Photo of ommegangpbr
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pretty pretty red color. The nose is pugent hops. Potent, pungent hops. The taste isn't quite as potent as the smell suggests but it's still pretty potent; ruby grapefruit juice comes to mind.
Very very drinkable for the style. Goes down very easily. Much more accessable than arrogant bastard for the style. Almost between an IPA and a double IPA... with some citrus flavor added... lime, maybe.
Hits you pretty quick and dirty.
Good stuff.

Photo of Tupperwolf
4.89/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I've had a couple of Lagunitas bombers, both of which were forgettable. However, this one caught my eye recently, looking like a standard Lagunitas 'dog's head over a very large capitalized block letter name' - except that the block letter name was splashed over with hasty graffiti-like writing, Imperial Red.

I think it was the words "muscular malty thorax" on the bottle that really perked my interest, and I started laughing aloud as I read Lagunitas' usual sneering rant in tiny letters on the side. I had to buy it.

All the pint glasses were warm after coming out of the dishwasher, so I opted for a bulbousy Gulden Draak tulip to savor this "Imperial Red". It pours a deep, rich ruby brown which is clear in color and alight with rising bubbles. A thin, liquidy head clings to the surface for a little while, then fades, leaving behind soapy lacing from the ring that remains.

The scent is all hops, baby - Burly, beefy, grapefruity hops! Da-yum! I haven't had this much grapefruit in the nose since Ruination a few months ago. Serious, serious grapefruit. it stings the eyes!

The flavor hits with a rumbling, metallic alcohol blended into a roaring yank of hops, a bitter, bitter, grassy, floral jerk on the tongue. Hops dominate the beginning of each mouthful, sending your tongue shrivelling from the bitterness as though it were a salted slug - then, suddenly, a wonderful thing happens. Rosy, caramelly malts come out to play! From behind, the formerly no-show malts rise to the fore upon swallowing, sending the hop bitters on their way, and the tongue is coated with a sticky, sweet, almost rye-like layer of malt.

The mouthfeel begins as what I - and this is a word I've never even thought of to describe a mouthfeel - would consider 'bright'. It's not zippy - it's not oily. It's bright. it's light. The carbonation is of such quantity and bubble size that it draws out all of the flavors and contributes a tingling sensation without being obnoxious. Alcohol is present; bitterness and some saltiness assault the tongue's regious. Swallowing leaves a sticky, mucousy (mmmm) layer of malty goodness on the tongue and throat.

Final thoughts - Lagunitas' other beers may have been forgettable - this is a smack outta' the freakin' ballpark for any self-respecting, hop-adoring American. It takes a seriously good beer to get me to write reviews like this one these days! :)

Photo of Zorro
4.23/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear mahogany colored ale with a tall thick tan head.

Smell is woody and a bit sweet with a good aroma of fresh citrus hops. Aromas of grapefruit, menthol, black pepper, and brown sugar are fairly strong but this beer is distinctly woody in aroma. Fainter whiffs of chocolate and coffee.

Taste is mild and on the sweet side at first, and noticeably thick. Hops kick in after the first sip and are strong but not harsh. Base flavor is malt and oak woodiness from the hops. Higher hop flavors of pineapple and grapefruit mix with an agreeable bitter edge.

Mouthfeel is notably thick here, didn't expect that, but it is pleasurable.

A pleasant and strong ale here that I liked a lot. Hoppy but accessible for both hopheads and non-hopheads. I could almost say that this is a really mellow barley wine; but the brewer says it is an Imperial red Ale so I guess that it is.

Photo of CRJMellor
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a ruby red and brown color with a dull, but thick white head with some serious staying power.
Aroma is caramel candy corn, brown sugar, some honey and dark citrus fruit tones. Relatively large sweetness is balanced with a gritty but light bittering that acts as a nice accompaniment.
Flavor is strong on the malt and brown sugar side, some roasted notes in mid-mouth followed by nicely fruity hop kicker on the end.
Mouthfeel is medium-bodied and a hint fo the alcohol kicks in as it warms. With all the caramel, sugar sweetness going on this beer could have been too much but the bitters used give it really well done balance.
Drinkability was rather high, really well balanced and enjoyable, big step up from all the generic red ales out there, worth seeking out.

Photo of bignick
4.23/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap @ Redbones 3/21/06

I am really starting to like some of Lagunitas' offerings quite a bit. This one was especiallly good. It beers a deep red inviting red. It has a strong malt profile, no doubt, but has an even stronger fruity hop bite. As the previous reviews state, it is quite smooth going down which makes it fairly drinkable despite the fact that it tastes bigger than its actual alcohol content.

Photo of ElGordo
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a bright orange-red color topped by a half-inch of off-white head that sticks around a while. Aroma of fresh floral hops, with a little bit of sweet malt in the background. Palate is thick with both assertive floral hops and lightly sweet malt. Notes of pine and and light fruit come through. Body is nice and sturdy, with a slightly syrupy feel that provides a warming finish. Still, the alcohol is hidden fairly well. Overall, I have to say this one is pretty tasty.

Photo of bkett01
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

*3/25 Update*
Had this on tap at the linwood last night, and WOW. If you ever see this one on tap I strongly recommend giving it a try. The hops really jump out at you in the taste and smell. Easily one of the best beers I've ever had on tap at a bar. Upgraded taste to 4.5.

*original bomber review*
Poured a brilliant ruby red with a half inch head from the bomber into my pint glass. Smell is dominated by fresh piney hop aromas. Reminds me of the cascades I use to brew my own ales. No malt is detectable through the scent.

Rich taste starts out smooth and finishes with a nice hop bite. Little carbonation is visible in the deep red hue. Very fresh taste is kept through the serious amount of "hopping" that this one surely goes through. And while clearly dominated by the hops, the malt does make itself known as it balances out the overall taste.

Medium mouthfeel and an average drikability. Definitely a bomber that I'm glad I picked up. Worth a try.

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.8/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep reddish amber color, with a brilliantly clear, rich red color when held up to the light. The head is quite large, four-fingers thick, frothy and a lightly amber-tinged tan color, which even leaves a bit of lacing as I work my way through my glass. The aroma is satisfyingly hoppy with a raw, herbal hop edge that is backed by a solid sticky citrus note that reminds me of grapefruit. The aroma is just so resinous, seriously evoking some thoughts of it's near, green budded cousin. Underneath the hop aromatics is a solid malt character which has notes of both toffee and lightly toasted biscuits.

The taste is lightly sweet up front, but it is really drowned out by the ample hop character that is found from beginning to end in this beer. A resinous hop character is immediately noticeable; raw and a bit aggressive this character is only amplified by the solid bitterness, which lingers on into a reasonable long finish. Underneath the easily noticeable raw pine-like herbal character is a soft citrus note that is a mix of ruby red grapefruit and tangerines. This beer has a fairly full body to it, it is definitely needed though to balance the aggressive hopping levels.

This is a beer for hop lovers, it is fairly aggressive. This beer is raw and hoppy and I almost think that this beer could use a bit more malt sweetness to amplify the hop character. A bit more malt might play up the citrus notes a bit more, and soften the raw hoppiness a bit. As it is you will definitely want to be a hop head to enjoy this one. Luckily I can be, and am, so this is quite enjoyable.

Photo of sinstaineddemon
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - this lagunitas pours with a day old coffee brown color, but turns its namesake red when alit, it pours with a creamy white head that laces after nearly a ful minute

S - distinctive hoppy aroma, almost approaching a cedar-y odor

T - the hops hit my tongue first with an explosion, but instead of ecoming bitter or acidic, they roll very smoothly down my gullet, very surprising, smelled like would be dry and it wasnt at all

M - bittery smooth, very impressive

D - very much so, a good ale for drinking with or without food

Photo of jmz62565
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I saw this and had to try it. It pours a orange red color with a huge tan foamy head. The smell is very strong with a citrus,grapefruit, hop aroma. The taste has a very nice citrus start and ends with some hop bitterness. The m/f is light and the only problem I have with this beer is the very bitter aftertaste is a little too bitter. Maybe I should age one. All in all, This is a brew that you should not pass up and I will buy it again.

Photo of BeerRun13
4.79/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Slightly pale to be called a Red. Fact is this is an American Strong Ale. Pale amber color left a nice thick off white to tan head that thins out but hangs on for the whole ride. Little lace is left.
Wow this beer smells hoppy, sweet, and wonderful!
The taste is very well balanced. There is a definate emphasis on the hoppy kick (40.63 IBU's), but the malted barley is the backbone. The alcohol shows slightly as it warms as does a little more of a caramel like malty flavor.
The mouthfeel is smooth. Glides through the mouth and leaves a slightly citrusy hop flavor at the swallow.
Not like the Red that you find at your local brew pub. This hoppy, alcoholic (7.6%), brew is a real treat! I strongly recomend this beer to anyone who likes hoppy beers. It is a good way to get the hoppines without going for an IPA or DIPA.

Photo of DogFood11
4.47/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A shiney copper w/ red hue on the outside. Decent head and sporadic lacing. laid back in the carbonation department.

citrus hoppy, piney at times. Pretty hardcore stingy hops...welcomed. One of the strongest tea smells I've encountered. Amazingly drinkable as this pup dissapeared pretty fast even though it was a 22. Piney resinous hop residue lingers for quite some time....but again its not annoying its more like hey!....can you hang around a bit longer please?!

Lagunitas rarely gets put into the top 10 lists on the message boards, nor does it get a whole lot of attention that it deserves. Thank you for such a fine brew, Fresh, Crisp, Sharp. Yummmm.

Photo of kgotcher
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz Bomber, pours nice rich amber color with pillowy head and very nice lacings that never went away.

Overpowering smell of piney hops, almost like opening a fresh bag of raw hops. But if you concentrate there is a powerful malty smell hiding behind. Awesome smell.

Fairly thick body with creamy but slick mouthfeel, noticable alchohol. Taste is heavy malt and hops, aftertaste is puckering bitter hops with a malty sweetness lingering. Basically this beer is lots of malt and lots of hops but leaning to the side of hops.

Actually this beer is quite drinkable for an Imperial anything. . . As a homebrewer I appreciate the distinct pronunciation of the malt and the hops. Not much to compare to except as a version of an IIPA, not as bitter as an IIPA but yet with more hop aroma. A very nice brew indeed.

Photo of rowew
3.7/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 22 oz bomber with the typical Lagunitas novel. All that, but no date info?

Appearance: Pours a dark red color with some haze and sediment. Very nice sized head that fades to leave a thick coat over the top and on the side of the glass.

Smell: Rich aroma - lots of hops and malt sweetness, with some definite pine smells.

Taste: Very smooth mouthfeel. Starts off fairly sweet and then the hop bitterness takes over, leaving a fairly bitter finish.

Overall impression: Not bad - smooth mouthfeel leads to a high drinkability, but the bitterness was a bit much. Not quite enough malt backbone to go with the other flavors.

Photo of WesWes
4.42/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a nice dark amber color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. There are plenty of floaties present. The aroma is great. It has a rich malty scent that boasts of pale, roasted, and crystal malts along with an intense piney hop aroma. It seems a bit warm, but it's well hidden with the malts. The taste is great also. It has a very bitter hop flavor with a nice solid malt base. It boasts of crystal and roasted malts and adds good balance. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium/full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn fine brew. I love the hop character. It really makes the taste. This is a good drinker.

Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 2,253 ratings.