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Big Red (Imperial Red) - Southern Tier Brewing Company

Big Red (Imperial Red)Big Red (Imperial Red)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

390 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 390
Reviews: 319
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 10.82%

Brewed by:
Southern Tier Brewing Company visit their website
New York, United States

Style | ABV
American Amber / Red Ale |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: oberon on 07-03-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 390 | Reviews: 319 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

After sitting around in my cellar for nine months, two of us finally got to total this on a good summer day. The label came apart letter by letter from accumulated moisture. Probably the beer benefitted from some ageing, there was good big bitterness there, with the malts secondary and truly adding balance. Great with lunch. CItrus hop aroma, and decent head.

Serving type: bottle

06-10-2007 03:22:14 | More by Sammy
Photo of BuckeyeNation


4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dusky pumpkin orange with no trace of red... unless I hold the glass up to the red Christmas lights outside my front window. The head, and especially the thick lace that it lays down, are outstanding. Pastel caramel in color, the cap is firm, bubbly and rocky. Pocked sheets of lace cover every square millimeter of glass and will probably look even better after additional pours. If the beer was richer and more multi-hued, the next highest score would have been a given.

I don't mind Hallertau hops and I like them quite a bit in some styles. I'm not 100% sure that a single-hopped Imperial red ale is the correct place for them, however. That was my bias prior to cracking the crown. Sniff.... not bad, not bad. In fact, I like the way the spiciness of the Hallertau stands up to the caramel malt. The best part about the nose is how many hops the brewers added. We can't have an Imperial red without a few fields' worth of hops, now can we?

I would imagine that it isn't easy to Imperialize a red ale and have it taste like a big red ale and not a barleywine or something similar. After all, styles tend to blur at some point. Amazingly, Big Red tastes like a big red. I wish that I had given it another six months to rest so that the alcohol could have cooled down a bit more, but anyone who buys a 9.5% beer knows what they're in for.

The malt bill is made up of pale, caramel and chocolate malts. By concentrating on the former (presumably), the brewers were able to add a modicum of caramel flavor, while staying well short of a barleywine-like amount. The beer could use more toffeeishness though, since the malt doesn't contribute much in terms of flavor; which it needs to do in a red ale in my opinion.

As I suspected, hops rule the roost. I'm not sure that the Hallertau are up the task however. They seem better when present in smaller quantities or when paired with another variety. I'm well aware that that's a personal preference, but then this is my review and my preferences are all that matter. German hopheads oughta dig Big Red.

I'm not a bit surprised that a big beer from one of my favorite breweries has a killer mouthfeel. It's big and firm, like a statuesque supermodel, rather than big and soft; qualities that fit the spicy resinous of the hops beautifully. I'm enjoying the mouthfeel more and more as the beer warms toward an estimated 60 degrees. Which reminds me, please feel free to ignore the 42 degree recommendation on the silk-screened label.

Big Red Imperial Red would be one of the best beers in many craft brewer's lineups. This is Southern Tier though. Their regular lineup is amazing and--top to bottom--is bested by few. While I have no desire to seek out another bomber, this was a ride well worth taking.

Serving type: bottle

12-11-2006 22:25:45 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of mikesgroove

South Carolina

3.13/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

One of the next in the series of big beers from Southern Tier I was set to try. I grabbed this one out the night I got home from Vacation as I had been wanting something a little heavier and new. Served chilled from the cellar fridge and poured into a n oversized wine glass, this one was consumed on 10/14/2008.

The pour was rather non impressive. A nice light brown color with a good amount of cloudiness and haze to it. Not much in the way of a head reaching up through it at all, in fact it was rather lifeless on the first pour, though the second got a bit better. Nice side glass lacing towards then end and some moderate carbonation coming up through it.

The aroma was sweet, nice touches of caramel malts and an almost candy like sweetness that was wrapped up nicely in a bit of a grassy, earthy, hop like nose. The flavor was more of the same, but I have to admit I am not terribly impressed here at all with this. Lots of alcohol in the flavor here, a bit of a hotness that I have not seen in the rest of the series. Lots of grainy malts, touches of light caramel and a mostly understated hop flavor. Lingering taste of hot alcohol and grain left me hanging again as well as I really was expecting more from this here.

Overall I am not so sure about this one. I have been rather impressed by everything from Southern Tier up until now. This one really just left me kind of flat. Needed more depth in the flavor and more character for me.

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2008 10:43:50 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of Phyl21ca

Quebec (Canada)

3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a medium brown color ale with a medium foamy head with better then average retention. Aroma of bitter citrus hops backed by some interesting caramel malt. Taste is also a nice mix between the caramel malt and a lingering bitter finish. Carbonation is appropriate and body could be fuller. Alcohol is very well hidden and at a proper level to sustain the big malt and hops.

Serving type: bottle

09-18-2006 19:53:41 | More by Phyl21ca
Photo of BEERchitect


4.18/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wrong style! No matter how much amber malt they put in the brew kettle, it cannot stand up the the serious hops. A big hoppy nose delivers citrus, pine, and perfumy aromas with a hint of malty sweetness. The flavors again show citrus, grassy, and earthy flavors and become more spicy as the beer warms. A contributing toffee, caramel sweetness drags the hops into reality, kicking and screaming. The feel is large and full, but not thick or heavy. Alcohols and hopping deliver a complex and evaporative, dryness, and numbing. Warm late with a follow-up of hop bitterness. Really good IPA with an English Ale maltiness. Really good stuff.

Serving type: bottle

01-16-2007 02:51:21 | More by BEERchitect
Photo of metter98

New York

3.98/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is slightly hazy light amber-orange in color and has a light to moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high light beige head that gradually died down, leaving some bubbles on the surface and around the edge of the glass.
S: There are moderately strong aromas of spicy hops in the nose along with some hints of caramel malts.
T: Like the smell, flavors of spicy hops and a light to moderate amount of accompanying bitterness stand out in the taste, although they are in no way overpowering because they are balanced by a sizable amount of caramel and bready malts, which also contribute some notes of malty sweetness.
M: It feels medium-bodied, a bit crisp and slightly smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The beer is surprisingly easy to drink considering its strength because any traces of alcohol are well hidden from the taste.

Serving type: bottle

08-25-2011 01:44:19 | More by metter98
Photo of ChainGangGuy


4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a clear, amber body with a small white head.

Smell: Full scent of spicy, floral hops and underneath are some toasty, caramelly malts.

Taste: Toasted grains with some caramel sweetness and even a tiny hint of dry chocolate starts things off. A tiny handful of discarded peanut shells. Flavorful floral, spicy hop character but only around a medium-high level of bitterness. Finishes dry and lightly woodsy with a bit of mintiness in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: I liked it! Tasty and reasonably well balanced with the alcohol so well integrated that you almost begin to think the 9.5% abv is a dubious claim.

Serving type: bottle

04-21-2008 20:37:07 | More by ChainGangGuy
Photo of oberon

North Carolina

4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A new "big" beer produced by Southern Tier,a big red brewed with generous amounts of Hellertau hops,brewed in kettle with hellertau magnum and hellertau traditional hops,and dry hopped with hellertau magnum and perle hops.Pours a brilliant bronze with a tight 1 1/2 finger white head aromas are of complete balance of big caramel malt and citrusy/grassy hop that lingers softly.Flavors startout somewhat sweet and caramelly melding into a big hoppy citrusy finish that lingers on the tongue.A very nice "big" red the use of hellertau hops is pretty unique to the style and it comes together quite well.

Serving type: bottle

07-03-2006 23:15:37 | More by oberon
Photo of TheManiacalOne

Rhode Island

4.53/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a mug glass.

A: The beer is a deep amber color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is full of floral hops, fruity citrus and caramelized malt.

T: The taste is very hoppy and very sweet with strong flavors of grassy hops, fruity citrus and caramel. There’s no trace of the 9.50% ABV in the taste and if they didn’t call it an “Imperial Red Ale” I would swear that it’s a 2IPA. There’s a little bit of smokiness in it and a very hearty malt character. The after-taste is sweet and slightly hoppy.

M: Very crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky but still dry.

D: Very tasty, goes down dangerously easily, not too filling, strong kick, I had expectations for this beer and they were certainly met. Even though it’s not listed as such, this beer is as drinkable and flavorful as any Double IPA you’ll find. This is yet another high-quality big beer from Southern Tier.

Serving type: bottle

11-18-2007 03:46:31 | More by TheManiacalOne
Photo of russpowell


4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a ruddy caramel with 2 fingers of sand colored head. Clears nicely & shows good head retention & above average lacing

S: Pineyness & toffee

T: Pineyness, caramel. breadyness, toffee & grapefruit up front. Caramel oozes through as this warms, along with a hint of grainyness, some drynes, plus a whisper of booze. Finishes dry with cakeyness, grapefruit & much pineyness

MF: Chewy, low carbonation & slightly sticky.

Drinks too easy, could probably do 2 bombers easily despite the heft. Good take on the style IMO

Serving type: bottle

03-03-2009 05:44:36 | More by russpowell
Photo of WesWes

New York

4.15/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours an amber color with a thick frothy offwhite head that fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a dry, roasted malt scent along with a mild hop aroma. There is a slight caramel malt aroma as well. The taste is good also. It has a rich, burnt toffee flavor that goes down easy and finishes dry with a nice hop bitterness. It's bold with a higher than average abv., but it's well hidden. The mouthfeel is great. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is an easy drinking beer despite the high abv.. It's rich and flavorful with lots of malt and hop character.

Serving type: bottle

07-30-2007 23:47:10 | More by WesWes
Photo of Mora2000


4.22/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a hazy orange-yellow-brown color with a white head. The aroma is very similar to a barleywine. I get a lot of caramel malt along with some citrus and chocolate. The flavor is heavy on the caramel malt with some orange citrus notes. There is not much alcohol present. Low to medium bitterness. I also get some piney hops and some chocolate malt. Medium mouthfeel and low carbonation.

Serving type: bottle

05-27-2010 01:40:40 | More by Mora2000
Photo of zeff80


4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a cloudy, burgundy color with with light copper highlights. It had a foamy, tan, two-finger head that left sticky rings of lace.

S - It smelled of roasted malt and sweet alcohol notes. It also had some floral and citrusy aromas.

T - It tasted of sweet biscuity malt, slightly spiced with a good deal of sweet caramel. It had some hoppy citrus flavors that added an nice bitter kick.

M - It was crisp and sharp. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is not your typical amber ale. It drinks more like a DIPA and packs a powerful hop punch.

Serving type: bottle

01-16-2009 02:11:22 | More by zeff80
Photo of Knapp85


3.25/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This brew pours out as a nice red color with tan colored head that has some decent lacing for a little while. The smell has some good caramel malts with a bit of hops in there. The taste has a pretty interesting bite to it, this beer gives off both the sweetness and the bitterness of a common red ale. The mouthfeel is a bit thicker than most red ales which is good since it's an imperial. Overall, this brew is pretty good. I'd drink it again if given the opportunity.

Serving type: bottle

06-01-2011 03:36:31 | More by Knapp85
Photo of jwc215


3.68/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours reddish copper with a fluffy white head that descends to a lasting thin layer.

The smell is of spicy hops - floral - Hallertau written all over it. In fact, not much else is detectable (other than a subtle whiff of alcohol.)

The taste is of hops - not much malt here - the hops have a nice aroma, but in the taste - well, it doesn't really work as well. The hops dominate - this is like a Hallertau IPA to me. I like this hop, but would like a little more to add complexity to it. Very floral taste. Some hints of a red ale malt in the finish - enough to make it into something, but the earthy/floral bitterness outweighs any real balance.

It is on the fuller side of medium body.

A big hoppy beer here - If you like Hallertau hops, you'll like this one - if not, well...you probably won't. Interesting, and smooth with a fairly well-hidden abv level. It's nice, though I don't know that I enjoyed it as much as my score reflects. The imbalanced aspect becomes a tad bit too wearisome despite the nice aroma and decent taste. It seems like a cross between an English IPA with German hops and a hint of American red ale malt. Unique.

Serving type: bottle

07-02-2007 04:37:31 | More by jwc215
Photo of RblWthACoz


3.93/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber with a small light tan head. Nose is hoppy sweet. Flavor is definitely influenced by alcohol, but not hijacked by it. Beyond that, there is a pretty consistent earthy and leafy thing going on. Definite hops. Definite sweet tone. Feel is good. Nice liquid thing going on and the carbonation is nice. If the alcohol weren't kicking me in the mouth as much as it is, this would be more drinkable. Overall this is a good brew. But one of my least favorites out of the Imperial Series. If they really have retired this one, then it's no big deal I think. They should just try again.

Serving type: bottle

01-01-2008 04:31:41 | More by RblWthACoz
Photo of WVbeergeek


4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up for a good price at the Six Pack shop in Moon Township...it appears a caramel amber red hue with a large tuffet of caramel tan head after slowly dwindling down it leaves fine annular specks of lacing around my chalice. Aromatics don't let me down with large doses of herbal grassy citrus noble hops...Hallertau both regular and dry hopped in this one, read the label it's an Imperial Red ale designed around different varieties of Hallertau...kick ass. Malt presence is rather imperial with big lucious bountiful caramel toned breadiness to balance out all that hopage. Flavor is upfront with the bitterness and simply bursts open the door with hop flavors like citrus and grassy herbal hop tones matched beautifully with a caramel toasted nut malt bill that balanced so well yet remained aggressive throughout the 22oz. portion. Mouthfeel is medium to fuller bodied to me and has very smooth even carbonation all topped with streaks of oily hop resins running along the palate. Drinkability...so freakin' effortless the flavor keeps me craving this succulent masterpiece while the alcohol warns me not to over consume.

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2006 20:36:39 | More by WVbeergeek
Photo of Gavage

New Jersey

3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: pours a reddish orange color with a 1" head that slowly receded. Moderate lacing develops during the session.

Smell: loads of caramel and ripe red fruits are easy to detect.

Taste: big caramel and malt sweetness with red grapes, plums, grass, hint of biscuits, strong piney bitterness, and alcohol. This is an alcohol laden and candy sweet kind of beer that is very bold on the tastebuds.

Mouthfeel: smooth throughout. Brief aftertaste of caramel, bitterness, and alcohol. Medium-heavy in body.

Drinkability: the alcohol really a bit to overpowering to score higher on this mark. Not a wimpy red ale at ale, a real slow sipper but still quite tasty.

Serving type: bottle

05-19-2007 23:10:39 | More by Gavage
Photo of smcolw


3.6/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Frothy, rocky head that leaves superb ring lace. The color dark amber and clear.

Mild aroma but well-balanced--slightly stronger on the malt side. The hop has some pine notes to it.

The start and finish of this beer is nice. It starts with a solid, dry amber-malt flavors. The finish has good hop spiciness. The middle is off to me--metallic. Rich body with good carbonation levels.

Serving type: bottle

10-19-2008 18:59:57 | More by smcolw
Photo of tempest


3.68/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I like to think I try a lot of different beers, but this is the first one in a while that makes me ask, "what the [explitive deleted] is going on here?"

Basically I was able to boil this beer down to a few flavors: big caramel malts, a touch of chocolate malts, an edge of grassy hops. Definately a combo I've never experienced before. I thought it might be like a barley wine, but I'll be darned if it's close. Not much residual sweetness, and only some hops bitterness.

If you like different beers, find this one now.

Serving type: bottle

12-23-2006 06:58:40 | More by tempest
Photo of akorsak


3.53/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A 650 mL bottle purchased at State Line on 23-Dec-07.

A: The ale pours with a copper color, looking a shade lighter than a penny. A two-and-a-half finger head resulted from the first pour of the bomber and has laced extensively around the glass.

S: A grainy, almost vegetal, aroma emerges from the glass. I was expecting a bigger blast of hops, so this is an interesting development. It fits in with the style, but the imperial moniker is misleading.

T: The first sip reveals a load of hops that never quite made it into the aroma. Floral bursts of flavor accompany lots of grains. Both flavors fight for attention, with the hops shining up front and the malts taking the latter part of a sip. For an amber ale, this flavor is solid, but I fail to taste anything that sets this apart. It is not in the same ballpark as Nugget Nectar.

M: Lots of grains and lots of hops, but only the malts leave a consistent flavor in the mouth.

D: The big abv should support more hop flavor, so I am disappointed. This bomber is enough and I'll stick to the other Imperial offerings from Southern Tier.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2007 03:01:38 | More by akorsak
Photo of Billolick

New York

4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber bottle purchased at NYC's gem of a beer store, New Beer on Christie st., god I love visiting that place!....anyway, I also love big beer and guess what, this is a lovely, BIG beer. Pours a nice dark honey, almond amber, semi cloudy with a fine and tiny bubble, creamy, light tan head. A gentle swirl leaves plenty of fine, scattered and splotchy lacing. So far so good. Caramel and smoky, nutty notes on the nose. This is a well hopped, very smooth and tasty ale. Layers of malt, balancing spicy hops. Lingering oily hops on the palate, spice and heat ever present. Delicious, heady brew. Great tasting, easy drinking, another very worthy offering from NY's Southern Tier Brewing.

Serving type: bottle

10-28-2006 12:38:37 | More by Billolick
Photo of rhoadsrage


4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a tulip glass)

A- This beer has a warm nutty pecan colored body that is clear with a wall of tiny bubbles gliding to the surface. There is a sticky off-white head that makes rings with each sip.

S- The smell of soft honey toasted malt has some notes of dry toasted malt coming through as it warms. There is a nice green fresh aroma of hops that doesn't really have citrus qualities or noble qualities.

T- This beer has a soft dry toasted malt flavor with some good freshness and nice depth. There is a light sweetness to the finish of the malt and just enough biscuit and raw grain flavor to add support without overpowering the other flavors. The finish has a dandelion greens bitterness to the hops with a floral quality to it. There is a nice bitterness that balances the malt but doesn't linger.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a slight sticky texture and no alcohol heat.

D- This beer has a real nice depth to the grain bill and a good hop flavor to support it. The hops have a nice twist to them and although they have a nice presence they are not the only flavor in this imperial red.

Serving type: bottle

01-10-2008 19:16:03 | More by rhoadsrage
Photo of jdhilt

New Hampshire

3.43/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a three finger cream head that fades slowly, leaving a good lace. Clear red/amber color. Light carbonation and medium bodied. Slight hoppy nose. Flavor is some caramel but really balanced with slight bitter finish. High ABV is completely hidden. $7.25 for a 22oz bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma. The plastic label comes off in tiny pieces if it gets wet.

Serving type: bottle

08-20-2008 22:35:47 | More by jdhilt
Photo of Wasatch


4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to jwc215 for this brew.

22oz. Bomber

Poured into a chalice a nice clean/clear dark golden color, nice carbonation, tiny fizzy off-white head, which leaves some tiny islands and sticky lacing. The nose is slightly malty/hoppy, floral, some spices, and a good dose of caramel. The taste is sweet, hoppy/malty, some caramel. The finish is slightly dry. The alcohol is hidden very well, but still a sipper. Medium body, well rounded brew. Very drinkable, my first Imperial Amber Ale. Thanks, Joe

Serving type: bottle

09-11-2007 00:09:20 | More by Wasatch
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Big Red (Imperial Red) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 390 ratings.