Ard Ri | Upland Brewing Company

77 Reviews
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Ard RiArd Ri

Brewed by:
Upland Brewing Company
Indiana, United States

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
"High King" is an Imperial Red Ale

Added by Bitterbill on 10-09-2007

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Reviews: 77 | Ratings: 142
Photo of Viggo
3.72/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, again thanks to SPLITGRIN for sending my way in the Gentlemans Club BIF.

Pours a clear dark orange, some reddish highlights, medium sized off white head forms and quickly settles to a thin ring, few lace spots stick. Smell is nice, very caramelized, brown sugar, grapefruit, some floral, lightly fruity, alcohol, a bit woodsy, not bad. Taste is similar, big and malty, caramel/toffee, some buttered bread, biscuits, fruit, grapefruit, alcohol, along the same profile as Rad Red, but bigger. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with medium carbonation, some warmth but alcohol is hidden pretty well. Not too bad. Thanks Michael!

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Photo of grub
3.98/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Viggo shared this one. thanks eric!

12oz bottle. sampled oct 11/09.

pours hazy deep orange, almost red and actually shows a nice ruby colour when held to the light. a small very fine white head forms, quickly dropping to a ring around the glass and leaving a bunch of spotty lace as it falls.

aroma is nice. light alcohol. caramel. touch of butterscotch. bit of pine and grapefruit. multi-grain bread and biscuit. bit of cracker. bit of orange and tangerine too.

taste is good. medium bitterness level. lightly warming alcohol. biscuit. multi-grain bread. bit of cracker. grapefruit and pine. bit of orange and tangerine. caramel and light toffee.

mouthfeel is good. medium-large body. very fine carbonation, just under medium level.

drinkability is great. nicely balanced. decent depth to the malt profile. as it warms the alcohol starts to pull through a little more, but it still works ok. a solid barleywine, which seems to fit the beer better than the "imperial red" indicated on the label.

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Photo of sholland119
3.7/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to heliosphann for this cool extra, my first Upland beer.

A-Pours a clear orange with a hint of amber, a thin white head and some residual stickiness.

S-Mostly caramel malt with some citrus hops and a hint of alcohol in the back.

T-Caramelly sweet, almost too much malt, with some moderate citrus hops.

M-Medium bodied and well caronbated.

D-Nice enough, glad I had one, not as good as the best of the style.


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Photo of Cresant
2.73/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured this 12 oz. brown bottle into a Sierra Nevada hops glass. Bottled on "F 09". The body was cloudy and deep golden. The mild head settled to a creamy cap.

Smell was sweet marmalade. Malty. Floral.

Taste reflected the aroma, only there was a strong alcohol presence in the taste. Not as good as I had hoped.

Mouthfeel was full bodied with less than expected carbonation.

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Photo of paco1029384756
3.4/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to heliosphann for the bottle.

Pours a cloudy ruby orange color with one finger of white head.

Scent of caramel, sugars, faint hops, and a hint of alcohol. Not really a whole lot here, but it is a satisfying scent.

Taste of caramel primarily, alcohol, and light fruit flavors. It has a decent flavor, but there is too much alcohol and very little hop bitterness at this point.

Mouthfeel is medium light bodied with good carbonation.

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4.48/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This Upland brew is one I have wanted to try for years. I am enjoying it in celebration of Saint Patties day.

Nearly three fingers of biscuity tan head has nice retention and leaves waves of lace as it fades. Body is a perfect brownish amber that almost glows. Nose is minerally and nicely toasted with sweet malts and marmalade like citrus hops. Complexity is noted off the bat as you take first sip and malts and hops mingle together wonderfully. I get notes of rye, caramelized nutty malts and a mineral and citrus based hop profile. This beer really reminds me of Nugget Nectar and Rye Squared both of which I love. Minerals, sticky hops and a slight nuttiness make up the mouthfeel. Exceptional drinkability. Probably my favorite from Upland.

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Photo of tmoneyba
4.13/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from Keg Liquor.

Poured clear rddish copper color with an average frothy off-white head that was mostly lasting with excellent lacing. Moderate citrus hop and toasted malt aroma. Medium to full body with a slick smooth texture and soft carbonation. Moderate to heavy bittersweet flavor with a medium to heavy bittersweet finish of moderate duration.

My expectations where more then met.

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Photo of waltonc
4.03/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Received this as an extra in a trade a few months ago. I didn't realize there was such delicious beer awaiting me in the bottle, as I've never had a red ale I liked.

A: hazy caramel color with white head.
S: some what subdued smell - malty but not much else.
T: Delicious taste - sweet malts, caramel, a tinge of floral notes, not much hops. Flavor isn't too complex, but sure is good.
M: Pretty thick, sticky, medium carbonation.
D: High ABV and sugar knocks down drinkability.

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Photo of scruffwhor
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep copper color with a nice head that recedes to an equally nice foamy film. The aroma is a sweet toasted crystal and caramel malt. The hop add a dose of orange zest and mint. Heavy toasted, sweet malt anda syrupy malt balances very well with the hopping. The orange zest and pepperminty. Very nice tasing and feeling beer. Great to look at and enjoy.

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Photo of brdc
4.03/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks splitgrin for this unexpected bonus.

Let's start stating the obvious - this is not an amber ale, by any stretch of the imagination.
Poured from the small capped bottle into a snifter, it shows a beer somewhere between copper and amber, with a tan head that dissipates quickly, but the collar hold all the way to the end, and leaves nice lacing.
Aroma is the only weak link of the beer, quite pleasant, with herbal, caramel and piney notes, but could use a bit more strength. Later on, as the beer warms up, it shows a bit more punch.
Nearly full bodied, it changes nicely, improving as it warms. Exquisitely well balanced, it shows some sweet caramel, a bready substance, piney hoppiness without being overly bitter, closing out dry.
A very nice beer, somewhat closer to a barleywine, easy to drink for such a high ABV.

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Photo of charlesw
3.9/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pale amber/red. Smallish head of tiny little off-white bubbles that are still around next Tuesday. Needs to be a bit darker, eh?

Smells like caramel malts and cascade hops.

Wow. Wow. HS. Wow. Amber ale my ass. Since when is an amber at 9.5%? It's huge. i guess I didn't quite realize what I was getting into as a last beer before bed. All the heck over the mouth. And 9.5%? Dang. So, yeah. I'll have to file a change on this one. Then you'll think my comments odd and out of place. But maybe the beer will score better because it will actually be in a category where it fits, eh? It's huge on flavor. All over the mouth. Really a "wow" experience. Not really well balanced in flavors but the sweetness (of which there is a lot) is balanced out by a healthy dose of bitterness. And if I speak of the flavors that way it's because there's something a little off. Like, well, maybe tobacco juice or something. Actually, that seems like a pretty good way of putting it. Tobacco juice. So a little smoked and a lot bitter. Very sweet. That big citrus smell and citrus burp (but oddly little to no citrus flavor).

Right. So now I'm going to have to say what style it is in order to properly review it and to justify my numbers. Well, let's ask the bjcp, shall we? Oh. Well. Duh. It's an old ale or barleywine. Well, I think I'll post the change as an old ale because the category is much broader in interpretation and this could be really good there. For a barleywine I'd tag it for low color and low aroma, at least. Ah. But it would be interesting. Well, if I got and reviewed another I'd have time to think about that. As it is now I've only got this one and it's obviously not an amber ale. Like, hello.

Edit: well, it's probably an American barleywine. The flavor is a little weird and includes some strange things (oxidation?) but the bitterness is really way too high for an old ale. Let's think about the scores... No, this still seems pretty close.

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Photo of brentk56
3.56/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy amber color with a nice head that retains well, and leaves plenty of lacing behind

Smell: Malty caramel aroma with piney herbacious hops

Taste: Tastes much like it smells with a big caramel malt bill up front, in the middle, the hops add an herbaciously piney bitterness that builds but does not dominate the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Not really my thing as it leans to the sweetness and the hop bill is not among my favorites

Thanks, jonallen, for the chance to re-visit - better than I remembered but not among my favorites from this brewery

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Photo of MichaelinFishers
3.93/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured cold from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Enough carmel-colored head to cover the top, but not much more. Perhaps should have let it warm up some more. Head retention and lacing were good though. Hold it up to the light and the beer is a very clear, deep red. Appearance lives up to the "imperial red" moniker.

Aroma and taste are both very malty, with good, but not strong hop presence. For a style that's supposed to emphasize the malt, it's about right. The bulk of the hops here are in the bittering. More on that later. A fair amount of alcohol flavor also comes through.

Mouthfeel is quite full, more so even than some stouts. Creamy, and (again) malty are the word that come to mind.

The finish is an alcohol kick followed by a deep hops bitterness that clings for a while.

All in all, this is a good beer that is what you would expect from the somewhat made up "imperial red" style. I've had two bottles from my six-pack and am going to cellar the rest for a few months to see if the alcohol and bitterness mellow.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.83/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to heliosphann for tossing me one of these at the KBS release party. Served in a mug.

A - One finger of creamy off white foam with excellent retention and solid lacing. Hazed rich brown color with a hint of red to it.

S - Malty, with breadiness and rye, along with a hint of citrus hoppiness. This is a long way from Nugget Nectar. Kind of understated in the smell department, and not super complex.

T - The taste is much more interesting! Brown sugar, bread, and a nice rye bite and some hop bitterness at the back end. There's also a bit of alcohol harshness that keeps it from being outstanding.

M - Nice medium body with loads of creaminess and a nice hint of carbonation. Easily the best part about this brew.

D - I think that one of these is more than enough - the aftertaste gets a little sour and bitter, and the ABV is pretty high as well.

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Photo of cnally
4.1/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

just missed this on tap when I was in bloomington. bottle will have to do.

the color is a grand red burst. fluffy white head with plenty of sticktuitiveness. really grand looking beer.

really sweet smell. malty, fruity, almost like a fruit basket with rye.

a very good flavor. I am impressed. malt takes a back seat to the hops and, damn! a great hop kick right up front. the apricot/grape fruit flavor comes second. balanced, strong and very punchy with the alcohol.

creamy, great mouthfeel. a real treat to taste. just a loaded brew.

I am really impressed. I have had problems with Upland's bottling before with the bad elmer's and dragonfly (and the wheat, ugh). it is great to see a well bottled beer representative of the tap beer you get in bloomington. and, what a different take on the red! stronger, delicious.

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Photo of nesta
4.08/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer is powerful! In both flavor and alcohol, this beer is strong.

Rich, caramel and toffee flavors from the malt, with a spicy, earthy hop character that is extremely present but not overwhelming.

The smell and flavor both are delightful, but I'm a little confused by it being labelled an "imperial red ale." I have never heard of this category of beer before, and while it is a makeshift name and a suitable name, it has no characteristics for which I could distinguish it from a barleywine. Color, flavor, aroma, strength, everything points to barleywine. I hate to suspect the style name is a gimmick to lure in adventurous beer guzzlers, but the beer is good enough that even if this is the case it's forgivable. I may buy another six pack of this to cellar, I suspect it would age quite well.

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Photo of roadhouse
3.95/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

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

Appears a mostly clear copper red color with a one inch off-white head. Leaves some moderate lacing behind.

Aroma is some sweet caramel with a bit of a buttery toffee note, a fruitiness that can't really be nailed down to anything in particular, and some citric hops.

Taste is sweet up front with that caramel and buttery toffee taste that lasts throughout. Midway through we get a good amount of citrus hops coming through but it's a balanced bitterness. Finishes with lingering citrus hop flavors.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with an extremely creamy feel to it that I really like. Decent drinkability, but I wouldn't really want more than one in a row myself.

This one is actually one of the better brews I've had from Upland. Solid stuff and a good representative of the style.

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Photo of WhiteRiverSuds
3.13/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a reddish/copper color. There was very little head even w/ an aggressive pour. Minimal lacing. Faint smells of caramel, toffee, malt & alcohol warmth. The taste is a malt and candy sweetness that quickly turns to a persistent and oily bitterness. The mouthfeel is slick with light carbonation. I thought this beer was fairly smooth, but a bit thin for me. Based on reviews from previous years/batches, I'd like to taste a different batch to compare with.

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Photo of SirSketch
3.78/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Ard Ri is arguably the best seasonal Upland has to offer. The sweet and caramel malt aroma blends nicely with the piny, wet grass smell of the hops. Alcohol lends a little heat to the smell as well. This beer has a very thick head that clings beautifully. Copper orange in color and oh-so clean.

This beer is all kinds of sweet, from caramel, taffy and candied sugar. Very malty with a bitterness to balance, but any hop flavor is overpowered. Aftertaste is dry and tart, and the carbonation feels just right on the way down. A nice and assertive beer that won't disappoint.

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Photo of emerge077
4.13/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the Heorot & Fickle Peach in Muncie, IN.

Pint arrived with a small cap of reddish tan foam, the color was an opaque reddish brown. Intense malty aroma, with some light floral things in the background. Visually it looked like a very hearty beer.

Rich malt flavor, some inkling of grapefruit rind is there, but it's mainly a steamroller of full-bodied malty goodness. Elements of Scotch ale are present too, but not especially sweet or smoky. It's abv is well hidden, and i'd imagine a few of these could wreck you easily.

Fun fact: The photo on the label is from a larger scene of Stan from the Heorot with his pet wolves. There is a banner above the bar at the Heorot.

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Photo of iconoklaztor
4.28/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow, what a great offereing from Upland. Its a fucking fantastic beer.

The color of this beer is a rich red and with a small head. The smell is nice and bold but not overpowering

The taste is one of the best from this brewery. I really like this brew.

Overall, this is possibly the best brew from upland. I'm picking up a growler hopefully tomorrow.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.08/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got this in a trade with joe1510. Thanks Joe!

This pours a hazy reddish colour with a 1 finger head of foam and some good sticky lacing.

The smell is mostly citrus hops with a dash of sweet and roasted malt there as well.

The's big. The first thing I notice is huge notes of caramel and roasted malt that brings on the sweet but doesn't go too far in that direction; some nice hoppy flavours, grass and some slight citrus stop it in its tracks and brings on some good balance. I also get a sense of some fruit. Nice.

Hey, this is hefty son of a gun at 9.5%abv and I do feel some warming after the swallow but that's about it and I'd better keep just sipping on it or I'll be in trouble. ;^)

It has a medium mouthfeel, the carbonation is fairly light, and it finishes with another nice carress of roasted malt and grass. This is a darned good Red Ale

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Photo of joe1510
4.02/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz Bottle
$10.99 6-Pack
Big Red Bloomington

Bottled 2/08

This is an Irish-style imperial red ale. A somewhat aggressive pour produces a fingers worth of dirty white head over the top of a rusty red body. The body has some haze to it and the head leaves some thin patchy lacing on its way down. Not a bad looking brew.

I can't pick up much in the nose until I swirl and it comes alive for a minute or two until the next swirl awakens it again. You don't usually hear it too often from Irish-style reds but this is robust. Caramel drizzled biscuity malt is big throughout. Somewhere in the middle a sweet bread of some sort pushes its way in but fades just as quickly. There is some sugary pineapple hoppiness on the backend but it's faint and comes through just enough for some balance. There's a ghost like alcohol on the finish.

The flavor follows the nose in stride. Toasty, biscuity, and caramel malts all mesh together nicely. Some of the pineapple and citric hoppiness show up mid-palate through the finish but just to balance things out. I have to give Upland credit. There is zero alcohol noticeable in the flavor, which is quite an accomplishment for a beer weighing in at over 9%.

Healthy carbonation gives this beer an incredibly fluffy, velvety mouthfeel that's unusual for such a monster. The body is on the bigger side of medium and really fits things nicely.

Ard Ri goes down far too easy for such a big beer. The mouthfeel makes this a pleasure to imbibe. This drinks like a standard Irish red. Watch out, these could catch up to you in a hurry!

Ard Ri ended up being a solid seasonal (St. Paddy's Day) release. I'd pick this up again. I just wish I would have had it on St. Patrick's Day, would have made the night even more fun!

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Photo of TheBierBand
3.45/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had this on-tap at the Heorot in Muncie, IN. It arrived in a pint glass with almost no head.... so there was no lacing and no head retention. The color was a deep amber and clear.

The nose was of sweet malt and a hint of floral hops.

Taste: fairly mild for such a high abv beer. I barely got any warming sensation. I believe that the prominant taste was as toasted malt that left more sweetness and fruitiness on the tongue. The hops were barely noticeable. I think that they were more of an aromatic nature.

Mouthfeel: A bit flat. Could have used a bit more carbonation to provide body. This could have been a terrific beer... it had the potential... just a little more body please.

Drinkability: It seems that I could have a few of these... I didn't really notice the alcohol. I may give this one another try.... maybe in a bottle... IF I want to spend the bucks.

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Photo of bassmantin
4.23/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I saw this new release at my local beer store and picked it up especially for St. Patrick's Day. Looking forward to trying my first Imperial Red Ale.

I poured it ito a tulip glass, and the appearance is beautiful. Very full red/brown with a nice fine white head. This beer seems to glow, and there is a good bit of carbonation bubbling up through it.

The hops make the nose quite appealing with a good deal of sweetness in the backbone as well. The taste is much different than I expected. It has a good strong alcohol burn throughout (which I enjoy), with a great sweetness at the end (almost Belgian in a way). Plus, the hops are very well done; a bit subdued, but very delicious.

Overall: This beer is incredibly well balanced. Probably the best beer I've ever had from Upland.

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Ard Ri from Upland Brewing Company
3.72 out of 5 based on 142 ratings.
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