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 ehammond1
3.78/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4


Churchill's Pub & Grille
San Marcos, CA

Pretty amber and visibly creamy in texture with a thick, whipped-creamy light khaki colored head that leaves gobs of lacing down the glass. Gorgeous cask beer.

Aroma is a pleasant combination of sweet caramel malt along with some orange and grapefruit flesh and zest. Very nice.

The flavor follows the aroma, and this is most certainly a nicely hopped amber. There's enough bitterness and grapefruit presence to put a little excitement into an otherwise malty, somewhat boring style.

Medium bodied with low-moderate carbonation. Somewhat creamy.

Somewhat creamy, nicely hopped amber, though nothing particularly exciting or new here.

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Photo of BMoney575
3.77/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on 12-3-08

Pours a slightly hazy amber/brown, with a foamy head that quickly settles.

Smell is very thick and a little malty, subtle with lots of grassy hops near the end.

Taste is very Strong Ale. Much like others, a decent malt and bitter hops. Nothing new.

Mouthfeel is good, thick and syrupy.

Drinkability is also good, the balance makes a good choice for a strong session beer.

Overall, I grow weary of this style. Stone has it tied up, it's going to take more creativity to do better.

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Photo of scotorum
3.77/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled July 7th 2014.

Poured from the 22 oz. bomber into a Tree House tulip pint.

a: Clear copper with a finger and a half offwhite head which receded to thin surface foam and patchy and spotty lacing.

s: Mild ripe fruit, peppery spice and bready malt

t; Slightly fruity and peppery spice under a sharp hop bite. Bitterness lingers at the back sides of the tongue. Dry finish.

m: Medium with good body and plenty of carbonation tingle.

o: A good Imperial red which makes its presence known and is reasonably tasty.

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Photo of Cannibalgasm
3.77/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 22oz. bottle.

A: Pours a bronzish red with one finger of off-white head. Solid retention and lacing.

S: Pine, caramelized malts, cracker, and some fruit undertones.

T: Pine, earthy hops, rich malts, citrus, rye, barley, and some bitterness at the finish.

M: Medium bodied, moderately carbonated, finishes wet and slightly oily with a kick of bitterness.

O: A very solid and delicious red ale. The nose left a lot to be desired but the taste more then makes up for it. Definitely a re-visitable ale.

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Photo of cjgiant
3.77/5  rDev -8.3%

Bottle (no noticeable date)
Pours quite clear auburn-red with a lingering head that provided a modicum of lacing. The nose is of a fairly common Lagunitas pine-woodiness with what I will describe as a cherry-wood type sweetness that I also associate with Lagunitas. With some warmth I get indistinguishable pitted fruit.

The taste starts out English-bitter style [that I describe as] caramel-copper taste. The taste has a classic apple-grape fruit impression that battles and eventually loses to an alcohol-tinged woodiness. The feel is somewhat light initially, but given time, there is a drying effect that might not be typical, but that I notice as quite strong.

I have somewhat unconsciously enjoyed this style for a while, and I can't say this interpretation fails, but the drying nature of this beer battles what I have generally enjoyed about the style I the past.

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Photo of beerphan
3.76/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle -> imperial pint
no date, but the bottle is coded

Pours clear orange amber with a nice 2inch tan head, that leaves rings of lace that sticks around and some oily froth. Carbonation appears slow but robust.

Nose: Some citrus hops, a big punch of malt, a little alcohol.

Taste: Lots of caramel malt lets the mouth water before the bitter hop bite sucks out the sweetness. Its a great combo. The hops linger on the palate and leaves the mouth looking for some water, or just another sips. Not a typical red bitterness. (84.20 IBU!!)

Mouth is full and creamy but is left dry and stinging.

I would love to session this on tap, although i doubt i'd be fortunate to find it. A drinkable red if you like them bitter, if not stay away.

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Photo of Docer
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: (3.5)
- Dark amber sun-tea color, clear. Quickly dissipating finger of white foam settles with a milky medium sized ring of lace in the glass.. and a spotty thin blanket above the tea.

Smell: (3.5)
- Huge citrus hops. Pineapple, apple juice, grainy sweet brown sugar, a little vegetable hoppiness.. slight onion and skunky hop. A bit sweet and candy sugary.

Taste: (4.0)
- The aroma fights against the nose, but the flavor later comes through. Light bready grain, brown sugar and a tea flavor from what must be an abundance of hops used late in the brewing process. Big citrus hops as well as onion hops.. much like what Widmer, or Oskar Blues uses.. Nice pine resin in the belch.

Mouth Feel: (4.0)
- Medium bodied brew, slightly cream, a bit drying and chewy.. overall very well carbonated and easy to drink. Very impressive. Well carbonated, and done well.

Overall: (3.5)
- For me this is a more impressive beer than their IPA's.. but doesn't touch the browns and other rare special releases they have had, such as those named after Benny & the Jets, and others like Zappa. But it is a great drinker, and tastes quite good. The aromas though really fight for a space in your face. Worth the try.

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Photo of natemort13
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Frothy light tan head that subsides quickly into a filmy thin cap. Nice clear bubbly deep ambery red color to it.

Nose is dank pungent ripe grapefruit. Thin bready malty sweetness underneath. Feel like there's some orange trying to come out too. Gets ever so slightly herbal after a bit. Grass is also apparent as it warms.

Taste is sweet at first, then fades into a slight metallicishness and then bitter grapefruit with a sweet red malty finish. The metallic quality of the taste fades as the beer warms, but it was quite off putting to begin.

Mouthfeel is medium and highly carbonated yet remains creamy. Helps balance the strength of the grapefruit taste.

Overall this is my last of the six pack I bought about two weeks ago or so. I did not notice the metallic taste in the other bottles so I'm guessing my palate is out of whack or those two weeks in the fridge produced some off flavors. Or I'm just perceiving the bitterness differently this evening. Had a six pack of holiday leftovers and the last bottle had some white flaky crystallization in it that threw some gross off flavors over what was otherwise one of my favorite beers of the winter. Anyways, metallic qualities fade as it warms, hope lagunitas isnt having any QC problems because theyre awesome, all in all very good beer, end rambling.

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Photo of DeFaz
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%

This is often compared to Nugget Nectar, and I'm not sure why. Anyway, this brew has a great appearance--not an exceptional color, but a very nice, thick head and sticky lacing. The smell is unremarkable, but the taste is pretty nice. This is also highly drinkable, as the mouthfeel is spot-on for the style (whatever style you want to call this hybrid). Anyway, adding a lot of hops to an otherwise successful red ale just doesn't work--even though I love hops. I love the great bomber price, but the "Imperial" red ale falls short as the balance is lost and the style is compromised in an effort to appease hop-heads (including myself).

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Photo of semihobo
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Undated 12 oz, last of a sixpack I bought several months ago. Had to try it at home after having a pint at a bar, it was amazing fresh.

Very red body, not too opaque but with tons of tiny floaty microparticles. Pretty body with a little creamy head.

Smells of piney and resinous C-hops. Moderately citric as well.

Not as good in the bottle as it was on tap, more so than for most beers. Pale/amber malts take a back seat to the hop show ... let's see what they've got. Nice and piney, a little peppery with some grapefruit. Not extremely bitter, although the tap version is much more hop flavor and less plain bitterness.

Lush, velvety mouthfeel. Finish is sticky and couples with the resiny hops for a massive aftertaste, although for the style and ABV it's expected.

A success as an amped up red ale. Drinkable for the ABV and showcases nice cascade / centennial flavors without whacking you over the head with bitterness. Legendary on tap, too bad that's not what I'm reviewing... good in the bottle, though.

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Photo of illidurit
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Stubby 12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Copper-amber color with a thick tan head. Lots of lacing. Aroma is mainly citrus hops, with a very tangy character, and caramel malt. Flavor is the same. Sweet and substantial malt base, orangey grapefruity hops, and a slight metallic note. Piney bitterness takes the edge off the sappy sweetness. Finish is a little dirty/sticky, body is a couple shades over medium.

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Photo of GordonQuid
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a deep ruby red with a one inch white head and ample lacing.

Smells of grapefruit and pine needles. Some amber malt characteristics present.

Taste is a sharp cascade/galena hop with an amber malt finish. Some buttery toast and marmalade jam flavors as well.

Medium bodied and moderately drinkable

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Photo of HoppyBastard
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a Shaker pint glass, there was no date I could find on the bottle.

APPEARANCE: pours a deep and clear amber color with 1 finger off-white head that dissipated to a thin broken layer of bubbles that lasted throughout, there is significant lacing on the glass.

SMELL: the smell of pepper dominates, some pine.

TASTE: the taste follows the nose, liquid pepper and some pine, the taste really lingered, the 7.8% alcohol is perceptible.

PALATE: this is a full bodied beer with slightly below average carbonation.

OVERALL: this is a good but not terribly complex beer, a little too boozy for my liking, I would probably not seek this one out again.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. About a finger of head. Color was a deep, dark caramel amber. Light gray lacing on the top that dissipated quickly initially, but then slowly deteriorated. Good looking cobweb film on the sides. Uneven and sporadic.

Got grapefruit hops (and a bit of lemon) on the first smell with a bitter note. Also seemed to be rye (which I only know from beer), a bit like iced tea (always my same comparison). I guess you could throw some pine in there, too.

Tasted that same rye taste. Not nearly as much as the Fox Trot, but still that iced tea feeling. Even a bit of a soapy taste. Grapefruit definitely lead the hops, but the soapy taste keeps coming in.

Medium body. Oily texture. Average carbonation. Bitter finish.

A good beer, but I have to say I was hoping for a bit more. A couple of my ratings could have changed a bit, so I went with a 4.0 for the overall.

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Photo of charlatan
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours from 22oz bottle with decent head, a small amount of which sticks around for the long haul leaving limited lacing in its wake and a pretty red amber colour. I believe that this is a very recent release (bottle claims it is limited, but I can't believe their unlimited relases are unlimited!) which arrived at Fred Meyer within the last week.

Smells both metalllic and herbal with a slight dairy influence.

There is an interesting interplay (actually more of war) here between hops which are leaning citrus and a brown sugar/alcohol flavour (this second element being somewhat reminiscent of the same brewery's Brown Shugga). I couldn't call this well balanced and the alcohol certainly isn't well disguised, but it is certainly an interesting brew, and is definitely worth the $2.69 I paid for it.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.73/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours clear and red for sure, great carbonation. Aroma is that of an earthy woodyesque scene.

Taste comes through, deliciously hoppy. Big malt backbone and a hint of sweetness. Slides from sweet to a denser heavier feeling on the palate. Drinkable, sure, can't really say what is better, this or the Lucky 13, the same, if not very similar style.

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Photo of TrickKnee
3.73/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The more I drink reds the more I enjoy them and the Lagunitas is right there at the top when it comes to reds that I have had. Normal carbonation but very little head. Tons of different citrus flavors flow through it, such as orange and pineapple. A definite must for any red ale fan or actually any beer fan!!

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Photo of geexploitation
3.73/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

This one lives up to its name. Pours a deep red, rusty brown with a thick, two-fingered head that leaves lacing on the glass. The nose is quite fragrant, with piney hop aromas and earthy hop aromas intermingling. It's quite a big hop nose -- what you'd expect from an imperial red from Cali. Tastewise this one starts off with bitter hops. The hops are briefly interrupted by sweeter malt notes before the hops come back in the finish. The flavors and body of the beer are very full and well-rounded. This is a very well rounded beer; its only drawback is drinkability, which is diminished by its weight in the stomach, which is pretty substantial. That fact makes it a beer that wouldn't be "sessionable".

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Photo of jakon
3.73/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz twist cap bottle indicates this beer contains 7.6% abv and 84.20 IBU.
Stamped best by date is unreadable.

Pours reddish amber with a medium sized off white head that displays nice retention and leaves solid lacing as it recedes. The aroma is inviting but distant. Hops and sweet caramel malt. The taste is not overly complex or as in your face as other imperial styles, but this is very enjoyable. Just a satisfyingly hoppy brew with enough malt character to balance the bitterness. The mouthfeel is luscious and thick with low, but adequate carbonation.

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Photo of EStreet20
3.73/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Stubby 12 ounce bottle poured into a shaker pint glass.

A - Pours out a deep reddish/brown translucent amber with a nice finger of thick off white foam. Nice staying power on the head and rings of lacing forming on the glass.

S - Citrusy hops present along with a faint sugary sweetness. Aroma overall is fairly subdued but nice smelling.

T - Sugary sweet malts balance well with some nice hop bitterness creating a tea like flavor that is very pleasing. The aftertaste is a bit sugary with some alcohol kick.

M - Medium body.

D - That sweetness on the aftertaste gets a little annoying. Still, this is an interesting take on an American Strong Ale.

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Photo of matjack85
3.72/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I picked up this squatty 12oz brown bottle as part of a build-your-own 6 pack for $9.99 at the Binny's store in Bloomingdale, IL. No freshness date, but the website says they were released in January and this is August, so I'm assuming my bottle is around 8-9 months old.

The beer poured a clear red/amber color but only produced a half finger of off-white head that didn't last very long, but despite the lack of head, there was still a good amount of lacing on the glass.

Very fruity smell with pine hops and caramel malt aromas.

More hoppy than malty flavor, but still nicely balanced. Caramel malt, a kiss of honey, and a pineapple fruit flavor all lie underneath the dominating piny, citrus, and oily hops. There is also a bit of alcoholic flavor in the finish.

Medium body with fairly high carbonation. Finish leans towards the dry end.

Not a bad effort from a really good brewery.

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Photo of rpstevens
3.71/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a smuttynose tulip. The beer pours a deep amber with a thin off white head that fades quickly to a tight ring around the edge of the glass, leaving a small amount of oily lacing.

The smell is pretty subdued, but I get mostly sweet malts. There are some sweet citrus notes as well, but this one has a pretty malt forward nose that isn't well defined.

The taste is much more balanced than the nose. There is a definite malty sweetness, caramel, toffee and vanilla, but it is followed by a blast of citrus hops. There is a strong note of grapefruit, orange peel and lemon zest, as well as some hints of piney bitterness in the finish.

The beer is not that carbonated for an Imperial Red at only 7% abv, but it is classified as an American Strong Ale. I would say for an ASA it's got a light mouthfeel, but for an Imperial Red more carbonation would lighten it up and make the flavors come to life a little more. One of the better Imperial Red's I have had, but lacking complexity for an ASA.

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Photo of beerking1
3.71/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours deep amber-red, with a large cream-colored head that leaves a heavy lace. Aroma is West Coast hops, crystal malt (probably fairly dark), unfortunately marred by a green apple-like acetylaldehyde note. The good news is that the acetylaldehyde is not very strong in the flavor, which is all dark crystal and West Coast hops. Finish is really nice, leaving a sweet malt tail that begs for more.

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Photo of Franchise
3.7/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This offering from Lagunitas delivers a maroon foggy body with a creamy tan head that disappears quickly. The aroma is west coast hops, herbal, sweet, baked cookies, and a promising caramel sweetness. The taste is the opposite of the nose, the nasal part of my palate was thinking "sweet malt bomb" but this offering came at me with a brutal bitter hoppy citrus rind pimp slap. This is a good brew and balances that aggresive hop taste with some toffee goodness that again ends bitter. Another great offering from Lagunitas.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.7/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass.

A two finger head that is slightly creamy is made, off tan in color, sitting on a very crystal clear body and dark red brown amber. Not much visible carbonation here stuck to the glass, and some slow rising bubbles can be seen.

An airy sweet malt, mixing in with a faint hop. Smells more akin to strong ales with a little bit of fruit ester. Nice but rather simple.

Taste brings a hint of soft malt and also a fleeting hop finish. Dry sticky rooftop malt and powder. Not much unique flavor to this behind a solid malt body.

Overall it's tasty, but I am not exactly floored by this or desiring it as much compared to other Ambers I've had.

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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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