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 Bluetick
1.16/5  rDev -71.8%
look: 2 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Perhaps I got a bad 6-pack/batch as I rarely trash a beer.

The very first taste & smell of this beer reminded me of gasoline and finished with diesel notes. I could only drink two out of the 6-pack before giving up.

I am very perplexed as to why my experience with this beer was radically different from other reviewers. I had other Lagunitas Brewery beers and have enjoyed them, not sure what happened with this one.

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Photo of darklordlager
2.17/5  rDev -47.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Pours a dark ruby red with a healthy head of foam which tantalizingly coats it. Looks great.

Smell is overtaken by a sugary sweetness, with sweet citrus hops. Reminiscent of other Lagunitas brews that are very sweet but lacking depth. Slight bready/biscuity aroma, but is covered by the cloyingly sweet smell.

Taste is intensely sweet--some hoppy bitter citrus makes an attempt to tame it, but fails and is lost in the overly sweet layers...

M- The carbonation keeps it from being too syrupy, but doesn't make up for the taste.

D: Incredibly sweet with no depth of flavour. This one was a big letdown. Drain pour after a few sips.

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Photo of njmoons
2.51/5  rDev -38.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Well I have to go counter public opinion on this one. Way too hoppy and bitter. The hops over-power the beer in all aspects.

Poured a bottle of dark reddish brown with a thin head that quickly dissapated.

In the smell I could immediately smell the heavy malt, and Hops (Cascades I would guess). Both were very strong in the aroma.

Taste, for me is all in the balance. I got some hops in the aroma, hops up front with the malt, and heavy hop flavor and bitterness on the back end. Not a beer I enjoyed, nor would I drink again.

I know the hop heads may disagree, but I have had much better beers from Lagunitas.

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Photo of Minkybut
2.53/5  rDev -38.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I poured this overly hopped beer into my tumbler at 50 degrees. The beer was a nice red color. The head poured was also pretty nice. The beer had a heck of a hoppy smell and indeed had a heck of a hoppy taste. Tasted like eating a blended Christmas tree. Had a decent malty after taste that would have been nice if the spruce flavor would not have annihilated it. I will not buy again.

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Photo of harrymel
2.85/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Bottled 25JAN12

Pours a brown red with a finger of lighter caramel foam and some nice grainy lace. Smells of rich malts and some herbal hops - atypical for Lagunitas's style, but welcome nonetheless. I like it as a traditional red ale. Medium sweetness countered with bitterness and some herbal notes juxtaposed with a slight bitter orange peel flavor. A little more bitter than I'd like. Medium bodied with moderate on hi carb and a dry finish. Decent beer, but nothing outstanding.

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Photo of charlzm
2.95/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Draft, consumed at Lucky Baldwin's in Pasadena on 12/03/07.

Dark, coppery color with modest carbonation and thin head. Aroma: grapefruit hops. Strong malt flavor initially that phases into strong grapefruit hop finish. Well balanced. Almost no aftertaste. Only problem was, when the beer warmed up a bit, it turned into pure hop juice as the malt flavor vanished. Ack!

Couldn't finish the pint.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3/5  rDev -27%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle: Poured a bright amber color ale with a relatively small foamy head with average retention and not much lacing. Aroma of citrus hops is not bad but pretty standard compared to some other West Coats hop bomb. Taste is also dominated by loads of citrus and piney hops and a medium caramel malt backbone. Not the most interesting beer out there.

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Photo of JDV
3/5  rDev -27%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Deep reddish color, with a very inviting bright, fresh floral hop smell. Light beige head. Taste is as expected I'd guess, and is a "big" red ale. Quite well hopped, with a semi-strong rich lasting alcohol and hop aftertaste making it a bit difficult to drink. Not my preferred style, but good nonetheless.

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Photo of Reidrover
3.08/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

New one from Lagunitas "Imperial Red",
Nice enough to look at deep amber with a nice frothy tan head.
Extremelly hoppy aroma..almost citric in its intensity ( no way is this beer only 40 IBUs as it say on the label.)
The taste is strange its starts off ok..piney/citric like a strong IPA..then it just falls apart into a metallic,sugary mess. weird.
Its ok on the palate to start..and then becomes cloying to the stage of being annoying.
Not great drinkability.
I really dont know what happened to this has all the ingredients to have been another good Lagunitas beer,but it just fell apart.

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Photo of imasloth
3.17/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Poured into pint glass- highly carbonated, visible through light amber to orangish brew. Cream-coloured thin head, moderate lacing.

S- All hops, nothing else. Get citrus and floral notes.

T- All hops- similar to smell.

M- Light to mdeium body. I'd like mine a bit heavier. Some bitter afterfeel.

O- A red ale?! Tastes like an IPA to me, and a one note one at that.

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Photo of dbalsock
3.17/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Served ruby red with a slight off white head. Weak lacing and only slight head retention.

Smell: A good balance between deep caramel malts and aggresive hopping. The sweet aroma of the malts mixes well with the piney and heavily plant like hops.

Taste: The malts provided enough of a backbone to make it alright, but the hops took over for the taste of this beer. Very piney like the smell and overall too powerful. Impressively, however, the alcohol is not even a factor in the taste.

Mouthfeel: This beer was way more bitter than it needed to be. If it gave in more to the sweet malt base, the mouthfeel would have had a thicker mouthfeel and creaminess that would counteract the intense bitter character.

Drinkability: The bitterness is too much, and the taste isn't enough to keep me interested in this beer. I've gone through one pint, and have no interest in trying more. I'm not so unimpressed to give it a label of being unimpressive.

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Photo of ccrida
3.28/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a nonic, the Imperial Red is a clear amber with a small, tight olive-tinged ivory head that leaves moderately heavy lace.

Smell is pretty soft, mainly gingerbread like malt, sweet with a touch of spicy hops.

Taste is smooth and balanced, bready malt, semi-sweet and a little soapy, with a lingering citrusy bitter finish. Something about this one just doesn't work for me, I think it's the soapy hops. ABV is well hidden.

Mouthfeel creamy but a bit thin.

This is smooth and on the lighter side for it's size, in both flavor and body, which helps it really go down with ease. On the other hand, it's not that appealing to me that I need to drink more then one, even though I'm sure I could get myself drunker then I mean to with this one.

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Photo of vette2006c5r
3.34/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Imperial Red pours a reddish color with a nice large lacing head. There is a very earthy aroma, and very earthy taste, with some big hop flavors. Nice flavors, good body, but the earthy flavors are just too much.

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Photo of SilentSabre
3.38/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I should have known to expect this from Lagunitas, but this thing was much hoppier than I was anticipating. It poured up a clean, medium dark red colour with a fairly large two and half finger slightly off-white head. Thick, glue-like froth heavily coated the sides of my glass. Smell, to me, is grapefruit rind oil and not much else. If you're in the mood for hops, but don't really want to go the route of your standard American IPA, this'll fix ya' right up. Taste, too, seemed to be very assertive hops with little else to accompany it. This is good beer, for sure, but alas, yet *another* over-the-top hop bomb. Still glad I was able to try it.

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Photo of teromous
3.43/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

First off, my bottle says "Limited Release" on the side so I'm not sure if this was a pre-retired beer or a re-release of the old one. It didn't come in a 12oz longneck, but came in a stubby instead.

A: It has a medium brown color, with hints of orange. It's semi-transparent. There is a billowy off-white head about the thickness of my little finger and it leaves good lacing.

S: I get a light resinous smell to the beer, accompanied by an even stronger malt scent. It smells strongly of caramel and toffee. The scent is strong enough to smell the beer away from the glass.

T: I get some light bitter notes, like a strong tea. There is not as much sweetness as the scent would put on. There is very light bitterness.

M: The beer is medium-bodied, leaving behind light bitterness in the mouth. It is wet, and very refreshing, but not sticky.

O: Overall I thought it was a little better than average because of the good lacing and overall visual appearance. The taste and mouthfeel are so-so. This is a pretty good beer, but it's nothing to write home about.

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Photo of belgbeerdrinker
3.43/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a: almost ruby red, very little head, barely traceable bubbles, slight lacing
s: difficult to discern; malty/hoppy mix with malts winning out
t: immediate clash of hops and malts makes for interesting taste that finishes much the same but malts win out again; bitter aftertaste takes a while to appear
m: medium to heavy body with nice balance of carbonation; not smooth but still a nice balance/adventure
d: once it warmed a bit, this was a pretty enjoyable brew, just nothing memorable

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Photo of LeftyBWS
3.44/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz. brown bomber into a Sam Adams pint glass.
A: Caramel-amber color, kinda orange-red and hazy, with tinges of brown. Frothy white head with sticky rings. Looks very nice.
S: Sweet caramels dominate, with some citrus hops and grassy scents, too. However, the overall effect is off-key and almost seems manufactured, fake. The sweetness is almost too sweet, and the hop scents are floral and grassy but out of place.
T: Sweet and tingly bitterness with some floral hops. The middle is sweet yet earthy, kinda strange. Finish is leafy and floral, and with plenty of caramels, too. Overall, it's fine, but not stunning.
M: Okay. Bitter at times, but not harshly so. The malty sugary feel is fine but almost too much.
D: Not bad. Easy to put back, but the overall effect of the whole beer doesn't leave me wanting more.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.45/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard into EKU 28 snifter in LA. Live. Paired with a breakfast burrito. fridge cold. expectations pretty high/brewery

A: Pours a one finger nice cream lacing, good thick, and good retention for the abv. Colour is a clear amber with copper tinge. Appealing.

Sm: Quite hoppy, with both bitterness and floral notes coming forth. Some untoasted bright malts. Mild in strength.

T: Hoppy, with cherry ester notes and some amber hops. The hop bitterness is well concealed, and only comes through a biteen on the finish. It's hidden by sweetness on the climax, a nice touch. The malt foundation is clean, bright, and unobtrusive to support the cherry esters and hops. It's pleasant to drink and nicely balanced. No yeast comes through, nor does any alcohol - an achievement given the relatively high ABV. Quite enjoyable. Complex enough, but not unique or special.

Mf: Crisp, clean, smooth, wet, and a touch creamy (on the open). Carbonation is adequate. It's a bit too smooth on the finish. Neither too thick nor too thin. Suits the flavours well.

Dr/Ov: Very drinkable for the ABV, which is quite well concealed. I'd have it again on-draught. I don't know that aging would help it on account of its hoppy character; hop death wouldn't mellow the beer but rather might ruin its appeal. A well constructed imperial red that I quite enjoy. Its relative simplicity and lack of bold flavours hold it back, especially when coupled with the relatively flavour-empty finish, but it's certainly worth a try for any beer fanatic - certainly those that like the style.

Best judged as a red ale, not as this "American Strong Ale" nonsense. She drank just grand out of me snifter. A good snifter is probably ideal for this beer; a pint glass might bring the appearance score down. The aroma is worth trapping.


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Photo of Pjilsner
3.47/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a 12oz into my Anderson Valley tulip.

A: Amber, like fresh motor oil with a pretty weak head that didn't stick around very long. Lace clung to the glass like sea-foam on the beach.

S: Could smell it clearly from the moment a head began to form. Tempting citrus and floral aroma which made my mouth start to water. I'm excited to taste it, it's scent is so refreshing.

T: Grapefruit, lemon and some kind of tropical fruit I can't place. Less bitter than the hoppy scent led me to believe, with a nice roast malt which reminded me of a medium roast coffee (only present in the aftertaste). Eventually I found myself wishing that the malt were balanced a little more. The hops take over and I prefer my Red Ale's to have more malt characteristics. Still tasty though!

M: Medium carbonation with an equally balanced mouthfeel, which seemed almost grainy in my mouth, as though I were eating a meal-y apple. Finish is dry, with a bitter aftertaste which made me want another drink. I found this beer very refreshing in this aspect. Alcohol didn't make an appearance with me in flavor and it wasn't until I started to feel a nice buzz that I was reminded of it's ABV.

O: I really enjoyed this one. A friend of mine had recommended it to me and I didn't think much of the concept until I tried it out. I've bought two six-packs so far and I'll be sure to pick up another before it's run is over. A refreshing change from the winter brews you've possibly been enjoying, as I have.

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Photo of tempest
3.48/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Maybe my bottle has been sitting around to long, but I'm not tasting the 80+ IBUs listed on the label. The appearance is a red-amber body with a white head and lacing. There's a general citrus and grapefruit flavor, aroma, and bitterness with very mellow, subtle malt flavors. The soft caramel and toffee flavor are nice, but tough to pull out. In general, a sweet citrus hop flavor rules this beer and I'd like more out of it.

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Photo of waldowin
3.48/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

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

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

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

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

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Photo of mactrail
3.48/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

As usual with Lagunitas brews, the head and foamy mouthfeel are impeccable. Quite beautiful coppery amber color in the tall Stella glass.

Slightly sweet with a rich sensation. Even a little sticky. More on the earthy side than other Lagunitas offerings. But hey! it's a Red. The smell is particularly dank and herbal. Moderately bitter with some darker notes of bark and dirt. The malt flavors emphasize the roast grains and a little perfumey taste.

Quite drinkable for a double Red. Not quite hopped into IPA territory, though the bitterness is sufficient with the dry aftertaste. From the 12 oz bottle.

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Photo of ToddT
3.48/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Tan with a slight red highlight. Head is cream colored and long lasting leaving a fair amount of lacing on the glass.

S- Caramel and lightly roasted malt are the dominate notes. Little whiffs of sweet fruit and grapefruit hops every now and then.

T- Malty up front with sweet caramel and honey notes. Unexpected strong grapefruit taste of the hops at the finish. Slightly out of balanced between the sweet and bitter.

M- Medium in body, but a little syrupy from the sweetness. Carbonation is good. Finish has a lingering bitterness and a little bit of oily residue from the hops as well.

D- Pretty easy drinking for an imperial, and at 7.2% ABV it deserves some respect. The alcohol doesn't show through but it is a little on the sweet side.

The sweetness becomes more apparent as this warms, if it was just a little better balanced this would be a great one.

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Photo of SportsandJorts
3.5/5  rDev -14.8%

Appearance: deep blood red almost brownish. one and a half fingers of a whitish head that fades slowly and leaves a pretty strong lacing. has a brightness to it but still a little bit hazy. 4.25/5

Smell: super strong and sweet caramel, darker caramel malts that hint at dark fruits. lots of bitter hoppiness coming through with resin, pine and citrus. some additional candy sweetness. 3.75/5

Taste: opens with a mix of dark caramel malts and caramelized sugar. the initial sweetness is quickly muted by a good dash of hop bitterness. hops include resin, pine and some citrus. Not quite as good as the smell due to the lack of balance. 3.25/5

Mouthfeel: medium to full bodied. good bitterness but does not linger. almost not enough bitterness for all the sweet in this beer. 3.5/5

Overall: not quite the level I expect from Lagunitas and certainly not in the same ballpark as their other imperial red they release in bombers.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.5/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Great clarity and redness to the beer, 1" head, off white. Aroma imparted a lot of that red malt woodsiness, hops were behind that.

Now the hopes hit you in the taste, they definitely ramp up the bitterness of this one. Minor malt residual sweetness. I dunno if they just changed the name for Lucky 13 or these are discernably different beers. Its a pretty standard high IBU imperial red for Lagunitas, you know what you're getting into if you've already had a few dozen Lagunitas beers. Hides the alcohol well.

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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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