Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale | Lagunitas Brewing Company

777 Reviews
Lagunitas Imperial Red AleLagunitas Imperial Red Ale

Brewed by:
Lagunitas Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.80%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
54.2 IBU

Added by Reidrover on 03-05-2005

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 777 | Ratings: 2,296
Photo of jtierney89
5/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Deep amber color with a nice off white head. Great clarity and garnet edges. Great looking beer. Nice resinous piney nose. Touch a citrus and grapefruit.

Much more subtle than expected which is nice. Very drinkable. Bit of a fruity hop bomb up front rounded out by bready and caramel Malts on the side of the tongue. Finishes smooth and slick. Amazing balance. Full body with good carbonation. Amazing combination of Malt and hops. Really well balanced and dangerously drinkable at 7.5. One of the best imperial reds I've had and so incredibly smooth. Not super complex but it doesnt have to be, it's just good. Just wish this beer was more readily available.

This beer is simply the best high abv session beer with amazing flavor i've ever had (I know high abv session beer doesnt make sense, but I could drink 6 of these easily, be drunk, and fall asleep happily)

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Photo of woodychandler
5/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Sitting down at Bridgewaters Pub, awaiting my return train from PHL to LNC, I happened to notice this as being on tap. I had never had it before and I am not normally a fan of red ales, imperial or otherwise, but I decided to give it a shot.

It had a deep tan head that was explosive with CO2 bubbles. Its appearance would have enabled it to pass the Nebraska clarity test and it was a deep-copper color to boot. The nose had a solid malty sweetness to it, which left me wodering if I was going to like it. The mouthfeel was medium with an unexpected hop presence in the mouth. Wow! My continued drinking revealed the malt that I had noted on the nose, but exceptionally well-balanced with the hops. The finish was where the malt really asserted itself. It created some great lacing, also. This was the kind of red ale that I can really get behind. I really did not envision myself saying that as a self-avowed hophead.

Not only was this a solid winner, it also served to reinforce my opinion of Lagunitas. I really like everything that they are doing and hope to visit during WHF2, Summer Tour 2007.

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Photo of djbreezy
5/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2012 vintage.

appearance - nice amber/orange/red appearance, excellent retention and lacing

smell - nice citrus and pineapple hop profile, very tropical

taste - full fresh hop profile, sweet and citrus/tropical but not overwhelmingly sweet, focus on the hops, nice malt back plays a subtle background, the hops are the key here

mouthfeel - medium/full body, heavy carbonation, sticky, slightly dry, lingers on the palate

overall - wow, i'm pleasantly surprised, lots of hop profile, no alcohol flavors, citrus and fruity, just a great beer

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Photo of GrizzlyBrew
4.92/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had to hear about this beer from a friend who helped finish the supply at Brick Store (Georgia Shout Out) LAST YEAR!!!

I've been waiting for it since then. This is my absolute favorite beer of the moment! Beautiful!

A: Dark, dark amber. My pours did not have alot of head - perhaps due to extreme coldness.

S: It smells like someone poured a malt syrup over a pile of hop cones and threw them in my face!

T: Rich, caramel, hoppy, nice level of pine. Delicious!

M: A little heavy, but the alcohol helps cut through.

D: I think I could drink a million. Probably the thickest "session" beer I would endorse. Overall, very well balanced and fabtastic flavor!!!

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Photo of Tupperwolf
4.89/5  rDev +19%
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! :)

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Photo of pmcadamis
4.85/5  rDev +18%
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.

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Photo of Brad007
4.85/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark red color. Aroma is strong and malty(Reminds me of Arrogant Bastard a bit). Aroma alone is very inviting. Taste is hard to describe. It's basically a layer of malt that sets the course for this brew. Strong, smoky and a hell of a beer. I love the aftertaste especially. It's bitter and malty at the same time. It's not called a strong ale for the novelty.

Then again, I have a love affair with beers like this. Well done and it makes a worthy contender to Arrogant Bastard in my eyes.

However, I love a strong ale now and then.

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Photo of MrTopher
4.84/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Been through 3 packs of this stuff already, it is hands down my favorite beer that Lagunitas makes, Sucks comes in 2nd. Wife loves this stuff also.
A – Nice rich amber color, poured in such a way not to create a head. But nice carbonation that maintains bubbles throughout the drinking process.
S – Nice citrus and floral nose, the malt is sweet and robust, but not over the top. Exceptionally balanced.
T – This is a colored IPA, it just has IPA written all over it. The hops are HUGE with citrus and pine in the front. There is a nice rich malt character.
M – Perfectly balanced, not too chewy but exceptional.
O – This is hands down the best Imperial Red on the market, and Lagunitas should consider making this year round. Stone 13th (fresh) comes close, but not close enough. This red just trumps all others.

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Photo of WMEugene
4.83/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Pours a deep amberish red color with a thick, slightly off-white head and great lacing.

S - Strong piney hops, a little bit of citrus and sweet amber malts.

T - Piney hops are strongest, but there is an excellent malty backbone with hints of caramel. There is all sorts of complexity in the hops (almost onion-y), but most importantly, this is simply a delicious beer.

M - Medium bodied, smooth drinking, nice hoppy finish. Good carbonation.

O - I was very impressed with Lagunitas Imperial Red. It has strong hopped flavor that is really well balanced with the amber malts. Very pleasantly surprised and I highly recommend.

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Photo of Taylor88
4.82/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I love this beer! This is the beer that dragged me away from a serious IPA habit. I still love my IPA's (and my over-the-top-hops), but this beer does it all for me. The hops are still there, but the hops are partying with the malt and making one big red beer.

12oz Bottle: In a pint glass

APPEARANCE: A beautiful reddish-brown color with a small cream colored head

SMELL: Big hops and big malt balancing themselves perfectly while they walk (shall I say dance?) along the tightrope of my olfactory senses...Damn, that was beautiful!

TASTE: It's a mouthfull. Hops, malt, some more malt, some more hops. Did I tell you that I love this beer?

MOUTHFEEL: Very smooth for a big red. Slightly creamy. Nice

DRINKABILITY: I could drink a lot of this. It satisfies my need for big flavor. Goes down nicely for a 7.2 abv. It is not too much for me to think of this as a beer I could make an evening of.

RAMBLING ON: I've said it before and I'll say it again. Lagunitas is arguably one of the most imaginative (actually, I called them "nut jobs") brewers out there and trust me, they're "out there"...just check out their beer list...Long Live Lagunitas...Did I tell you that I love this beer?

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Photo of garymuchow
4.8/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

To quote P.A., local radio host and voice of the Vikings, "my oh my, sure am good". Now he is referring to something else, but the sentiment works well here.
Great classic West Coast IPA hop aroma. Fresh, sweet, a little citrus, green grass. Very nice. Just enough sweet malt backing to add character.
Smallish dense dark head. Deep amber of dark golds and reds. Very clear. Classic looking. Plenty of lacing.
Especially when cold a great sweet malt flavors show forth up front. It tends to leave in time, but next is a wonderful sweetness that is a mix of amazing light fruit and honey like sweetness (but not overly sweet). Double mmmm. After all these flavors the hops finally move in. At there worst they overwhelm with bitterness (which fortunately isn't frequent), but at their best the hop flavors enhance and blend well with the initial set-up. At the finish they lay flat on the tongue and last a good long time. mmm again. As the drink moves on the hop flavors are primary with the malt blending and balancing. Man this is good.
Smoothness an softness in both the body and the carbonation. It never lays heavy, yet shows body. Slight note of filling with bubbles, but I'll get over it.
My this is good. Drinks so well. What an enjoyable experience. Flavors vary throughout the drink, yet never sways from the basic foundation. An exceptional beer. One of the best I've had and well work the price of admission.

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Photo of Grizz_Dayly77
4.79/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I great beer. Smooth hoppy taste with a great amber red color. Had a good 1.5" head and was very crisp. Definitely adding this on to the top favorites list.

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Photo of BeerRun13
4.79/5  rDev +16.5%
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.

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Photo of xhcadamx
4.77/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served On Draft at my house out of my kegerator

A - Imperial Red lives up to its name - a beautiful copper red sits before me with a thick creamy head that stays for almost the entire beer

S - HOPS!!! Very citrusy, heavy on pineapple.

T - Citrusy pineapple hops with a nice bitter kick in the end. This beer isnt just about the hops. Very well balanced.

M - medium body with a carbonated bite

D - I want to drink this all day long

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Photo of JackieTH
4.77/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2012 bottling. Pours a clear ruby red with a cap of khaki foam that recedes quickly but leaves excellent lacing. Smell is handfuls of grapefruit and tropical paradise..mangos, papaya, pineapple. Taste is exactly pleasantly bitter, again, there are grapefruit citrus elements, also mango, papaya, maybe even a bit of star fruit, it's juicy, delicious. Well crafted body holds together well with ample carbonation. Finish is clean, refreshing, luscious, and dry - not cloying. Very, very good. More please. I will be seeking this one out by the case.

I don't get the category this is in. In my opinion this tastes like a world class IPA or DIPA.

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Photo of DKRowden
4.75/5  rDev +15.6%

Poured into a large snifter from a 22oz bomber. It has a light mahogany color with a small cream colored head. It has a sweet malty aroma with a light fruity note and a hoppy hint. It tastes great. Its very balanced with a sweet malty medium body and a light hoppy bite. It has creamy Mouthfeel. Overall it's a great red. Will definitely buy again.

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Photo of montageman
4.75/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

While picking up lunch for some co-workers this afternoon, I decided to run into Cloverleaf Wine. I'd never purchased beer from there before, but was pleasantly surprised to see a Lagunitas offering on the shelf. A relatively new beer up here in Michigan, I've only heard about Lagunitas. I'm a huge fan of the imperial red style, so I was excited to pick this one up.

A: Deep red in color, but very clear aside from carbonation bubbles. Decent amount of head that leaves a lot of lacing and is quite sticky.

S: Sweet and spicy - some caramel and floral notes as well.

T: Totally balanced (one of the reasons I love this style). Some pine from the hops, caramel sweetness, a sturdy malt backbone. Excellent.

M: Great carbonation lends itself to an almost chewy texture. Could use some more creaminess.

D: Easy drinking here. Very nice flavors meld dangerously well with the nearly 8% ABV. Highly recommended.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
4.73/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I love a big-ass red! Or a big red ass!

Dark coppery red color with a large off-white head. Crazy lace stuck everywhere with good retention.

Smells of toasty malt with citrus hops and mild pine hop. Smells like awesome.

Delicious toasty malt bolstered by perfect bitterness and citrus hops. Perfectly balanced for such a big beer. Mouthfeel is incredibly smooth and creamy. So good it's slap your grandma good.

I new fav, I want to drink this all day everyday.

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Photo of snaotheus
4.73/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


Deep red-gold in color, light head with little lacing, smokey caramel smell. Strong hops hit you first and hold all the way through with a nice balance of sweetness to finish it off. I could drink several of these in a session (and have done so before).

This is one of my all time favorite beers. It was the start of my path to hoppiness (believe it or not, that pun was unintended - I didn't get into hoppy beers until I tried this one).

200 4 1 7141 1926 is the bottle code. First time I've revisited this in a long time. Maybe since the last review. Bomber poured into a large mug.

I may not give a perfect 5 for appearance any more, but it's extremely pretty. Rich reddish with a big fluffy head that fades slowly into big fluffy piles. The smell was striking during the pour without even getting my nose close to it. Smell is fresh and hoppy -- definitely piney, slight caramel/roast. I might give it better than the 4.5 I gave it before.

The taste is honestly better than I expected -- I've experienced so many beers since 2008, I didn't think this would stack up very well any more. But, it does. Maybe not a 5 any more, but still excellent. Pine, caramel, slight toast.

Mouthfeel is just on the right side of too thick. Overall, I'm delighted to report that I still love this beer, and less delighted to report I only bought two bombers.

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Photo of bobsy
4.71/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Wow, this is a beast of a beer! Ruby red body with a small tan head. Large hop aroma - citrus and pine, but paired up with some caramel malts. For the life of me this smells like an IPA, and the taste delivers on that assumption too. Lots of grapefruit and pine play off against a nice malty caramel background. 84 IBUs is obvious, but very pleasing. Medium body and carbonation. This is an absolute stunner and I'll be hunting it down again. Thanks Shawn for sharing!

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Photo of Beerking721
4.7/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally... a red that I really like!

A= Brown/Red and slightly cloudy with a rich, creamy head exhibiting refined lace and fine effervesence. Head can be refreshed many times without "flattening" the beer.

S= A balance of sweet maltiness blended with well checked hopiness.

T= Toasted/sweet malt giving way to mild fresh "floral" hops that provide a smooth lingering finish - just right in duration. The 84.20 IBU rating is misleading due to the inherent smoothness.

M= Slight oiliness combined with the unmistakable richness of an "Imperial" style.

D= Easily qwaffed... this is a great stand-alone brew or excellent as an accompaniment with your favorite (semi spicy) chili. Should also pair well with grilled medium-rare ribeye. Due to a stout ABV (7.2% on the label), this will sneak up on you if too many are enjoyed! ;)

Great job Lagunitas!!!

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Photo of bigelo1016
4.7/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- poured deep reddish copper with half inch light tan head

S- The hops are right up front, smells delightful

T- Big dose of sweet toasty maltiness followed by an excellant floral hoppiness, finishes dry but refreshing.

M- Medium bodied and really smooth, carbonation feels right on.

D- Drinks almost too easy, I really enjoy this beer

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Photo of cthulu81
4.68/5  rDev +13.9%
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.

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Photo of heymikew
4.68/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Red! Red! We want Red. There's no substitute for Red!
Every time I drink this deep red-amber concoction I sing that old Sammy Hagar song in my head.

Evoking the 2011 "Lagunitas Sucks, Brown Shugga Substitute" but on a grander scale, this is a perfect balance of malt and hop. Weighing in at only 54.2 IBUs, it has a sticky resinous character that rivals some of the bigger IPAs.

As I buy up the dwindling stock that's getting harder to find, I hope that our dear friends at LBC will consider making this a staple

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Photo of mikul93
4.67/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A Beautiful clear amber a small egg shell head

S Wonderful smelling beer. Hops, pine, citrus and a slight malty sweetness

T Outstanding! I'm getting the hop oils and grapefruit. Middle of the tongue comes the malt profile that is so harmonious with the oils, pine and citrus. Slight bitterness lingers.

M Nicely carbonated. Very refreshing beer. Medium viscosity.

O Very impressed by what Lagunitas is pumping out. This is a delicious beer and an outstanding value as well. If this exact beer had a Three Floyd's label on it, people would be going gaga over it. Pro's and con's to that. Good for me that it's low on the radar. Bad for Lagunitas for not getting the true respect they deserve. I'm sure they don't care about that anyhow. Cheers!

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Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company
4.11 out of 5 based on 2,296 ratings.
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