Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale | Lagunitas Brewing Company

2,296 Ratings
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 javenbohall
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep, dark red. What little head there was disappeared quickly. Smells immediately of hops, with maybe a bit of citrus and then the malt. It tastes almost exactly as the smell would lead you to believe; clear (almost surprising) hops up front, then a little bit fruity and sweetly malty. Finishes dry with another little hop kick. Maybe the I shouldn't be surprised, as the ingredients are listed as "...hops, malt, hops, yeast, hops, water, and hops." If I haven't made my point by now, this is a special ale with some extra hops thrown in. Good stuff. This is a very drinkable beer, especially considering its ABV. It makes for a great change of pace, but I'd have to be careful with this baby.

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Photo of cerveza5150
4.03/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

AP: Dark, beautiful, ruby red color. Small bubbles of carbonation give way to a nice, creamy head with nice retention.

S: Sweet honey/vanilla malt with a touch of spice from the hops.

T: Starts out sweet from the malt and dries out nicely due to the hops and the slightly high alcohol. Definately better tasting than some of the other Lagunitas brews. I could take 2 more of these!!

M: A little more carbonation would be nice, but overall - great mouthfeel.

D: I could kick back and drink a few of these. Someone call my work! I'm calling in sick!!!!

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Photo of zipperergj
4.45/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at Bevmo, apparently they were sampling it that day. I didn't bother trying it because Lagunitas is a pretty reliable brewery and I trust them with my heart and soul.

On the pour,It looks like a ruby sunset, has about a half inch of head with lace going all the way down. Nice hoppy and sweet/malty aroma, and tastes absolutely deeeelicious. This one it got me drunk real fast now ya' hea'.

If you love 'Hairy Eyeball' and 'Brown Shugga', you'll probably love this one too, becuase I do.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fiery reddish orange or orangish red, take your pick. Superfine bubbles slowly ascend to a cap the color of brown sugar mousse. I love the color contrast between head and beer and I love the fact that there's no shortage of abstract-patterned lace. This is just about how I'd expect an Imperial Red to look...

... and to smell. Heavily toasted caramel malt holds down the bottom end while spicy, citric pithy hops take care of the top end. I'm sure that multiple C-hops make up the hop bill and I'm guessing that Chinook is foremost among them. I'm also betting that this is going to be one humdinger of an ale.

Whether you feel that Imperial Red Ale is a valid style or not (and it looks like the brothers Alstrom do not), Lagunitas IRA tastes pretty much how I would expect a beer of that style to taste. Make that 'an outstanding beer of that style'. It helps if you not only don't mind wall-to-wall hops, but actually prefer them.

The caramel maltiness is as firm as titanium toast and does its best to counteract the buzzsaw-like hops. Bitter white grapefruit pith is having a field day in my mouth as their alpha acids etch furrows into my tongue. Hopheads will find a lot to like here. Now I know why I drink hops monsters at the end of the day. My taste buds will be (happily) stunned for the next 12 hours at least.

The glorious raw hoppiness of Imperial Red reminds me a little of Midnight Sun Humpy's Sockeye Red. Both are big bruisers that ask for no quarter and give none. It also bears some resemblance to Arrogant Bastard, although the Stone beer has more malt if my memory isn't faulty. The fact that the pint glass is throughly coated with an unbroken sheet of crusty lace turns a shaky appearance score into a solid one.

The mouthfeel is as expected given the surfeit of ingredients. Tons o' malt provide a full, syrupy, sticky, heavy silkiness while tons o' hops provide a bristling, biting, saliva-sucking dryness. A low level of carbonation delivers just enough energy to keep the beer drinkable and no more. Just how I'd draw it up.

Lagunitas brews quite a few good, but far from outstanding, beers. Just when I consider writing them off as an also-ran in the cutthroat world of Calfornia craft beer, I drink a Brown Shugga' or a Lagunitas IPA or a Cappuccino Stout. And now I can add Imperial Red Ale to that distinguished list. This is great beer folks. Especially if you're a quart low on hops.

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Photo of martymoat
3.84/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A. Poured into a pint glass with a amber red hue, head is good at first
then disappears to just a dusting on the top

S. Good roasted malt smell over a small piney hop fragrance, and the
slightest smell of the alcohol coming off this.

T. Much like the smell, strong malt taste upfront followed by a piney
and slightly citrus hop taste.

M. Smooth in mouth, bitter and leaves a slight dry taste in mouth.

D. Very good drinkable beer. Only problem is its slightly high in
alcohol and like I said very drinkable, may lead to waking up on a floor
saying what *^%$##@*.

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Photo of clickpush
4.05/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pour: 12oz bottle to tulip glass. A luminescent red body unbroken by carbonation spills out of the bottle and is capped by a smallish one finger off white head. The head melts away quickly, leaving plenty of residue on the walls of the glass and nice lacings.

Nose: Grapefruit and a bit of pine, huge hops presence and a mild touch of the malts. Hints of grapes and caramel in the sweeter half of the aroma.

Mouth: Enters with a light fruity bitterness up front and a huge, long lasting, dry, bitter finish. This is the epitome of grapefruit flavored hops. Some pitted fruit, apricot, in the fore flavor. Excellent carbonation all the way through, in spite of its rather flat appearance.

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Photo of RedChrome
3.92/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a light red/dark amber color. Nice thick but fluffy two inch eggshell colored head took a while to dissapear. No carbonation bubbles to be seen. Clumps of lacing.

A nice strong citrus aroma hit the nose first. It had a very strong hops quality that also attempted to dominate the scent. Main citrus was a blend of grapefruit and tangerine.

Taste had a very earthy hops taste. A light spice blend made the citrus taste seem weak when compared to the hops bite. Aftertaste leaves a very citrus flavor on the back of the tongue.

A very sturdy body. No noticable carbonation kick in the mouth. nice residual body to leeave taste in mouth.

A very nice beer. This is one I would enjoy with light appetizer fare like buffalo wings. Also a very nice selection to sit with on a warm summer day. Try one for yourself if you have the chance.

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Photo of SethB2
4.04/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

A - Pours a deep redish amber color with a small head, despite an agressive pour. Looks thick and a bit syrupy because of the lack of carbonation, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

S - Whoa. Hoppy in a big way. I wasn't expecting this. Very floral with grapefruit notes. Also very sweet on the nose with a nice interplay between the sweet and toasted malts. I really like the smell of this beer a lot.

T - Nice and hoppy with a big bitter finish. The sweetness doesn't get a chance to break out much over the hops, but it is there in the background. Roasted malts a very, very present, giving this beer a nice character. I wish it were a little sweeter, but it's still good nonetheless.

M - Same fault I have with many bitter finishing beers is that is also finishes very dry. Other than that, the low carbonation isn't a bad thing the the texture of the beer in comparison to the taste is just about right.

D - Good. One of the better Lagunitas beers on the market.

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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 Beerzebub
4.08/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Brilliant clear rosewood color, with thick beige head in dunes. Smells like lots of fresh hops, with citrus and berry notes.

Plenty of hop bitterness, orange rind and grapefruit, but also some pine. Hoppiness is nice and fresh, not just bitter. Loads of malt, somewhat sweet. Sticky mouthfeel reminds me of Lagunitas IPA. Thick, sticky lace paints the side of the glass, with hardly a hole to see through it. This is a serious beer.

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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 Westsidethreat
4.06/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: A ruddy tawney colored brew, perhaps unfiltered but hard to tell by the glass. Killer oatmeal colored head...loads of small and medium bubbles creating a gnarly web of sticky swiss cheese. This head is going the distance.

S: Minor sweet red fruits; strawberries, plums and melon. Lightly malty.

T: A very sweet red ale full of Hawaiian punchy malt, sugars and fruits. Tangy with hanging caramel, red berry roundness and some over ripe mango. Finishes with a sneaky bitterness which creeps up with out a lot of warning and spreads gently out across the palate.

M: Medium bodied with a standard carbonation.

D: This is my favorite Lagunitas to date. This is a darn good red ale.

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Photo of flexabull
3.93/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Another good offering from Lagunitas. Deep dark red color, with a very slight head. Smell is a bit faint, but has a sweet malty and subtle hop aroma. The taste is dominated by the sweet malts, but it certainly has a hoppy enough finish to balance it out well. It says it's an imperial red, but to me it almost tastes like a barleywine that is toned down just a bit.

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Photo of cokes
4.47/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear ruby bronze with a tightknit eggy froth.
Scented strongly of pine needles, ruby grapefruit, and sweet breads.
Begins with a caramel-toffee sweetness, that unfolds into a fuller breadiness. Backended with a load of hop flavor --orange zest, pineapple, rust, and spruce--bitterness, though, is relatively minor, considering.
Its taut, medium body makes this drinks dangerously smaller than it is.
Solid, throroughly.

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Photo of MLegendre
3.8/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Amber in color, thin white head, quite a bit of carbonation.

S: A very strong burst of piney hops hits my nostrils immidiatly and not much else. Smells like this will be similar to an IPA

T: There is a strong hop presence, but not too overpowering like an IPA. The maltiness is very present, but kind of in the background. It has the bitterness of an IPA, but none of the piney or citrusy flavors I usually associate with an IPA. The ABV is kind of high, but I couldn't taste the alcohol at all. Very well hidden.

M: A bit thick and a good amount of carbonation.

D: It does go down very easily and for something that has a slightly high ABV, it's very easy to drink and easy to lose track of how many you've had. A good solid beer, but probably not something I'd go out of my way to get.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.28/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bright copper with a slim tanned top of firm foam. Nice thinnly placed sheeting lace sticks across the glass with the stick of velcro.

Mellowing nose of roasted orangified hops and bready malt. Kinda toasted with a burnt sugary wrapping of orange jelly filled doughnut. Rounded citric hops are the main aura overall.

Nice warming taste fills in nicely over the palate with citrusy orangey stuff, semi dulled, more popping in the trailing ends. Kinda of a grainy, crystal and slight caramel malt fills the background with a fluffy/gritty sweetness with a lasting, unsticky pineyness and a perfect addition of grapefruit pith bitterness in the finish. Balanced well in body and form from front to back with a coarsing length of malts played with a nicely piney bittered grapefruit hoppiness that gradually gets better and bigger with a slight pine oily texture tossed with a small leafyness.

Feel is pretty firm, semi-beefy, and warm within a smooth medium body, a solid texture, and a slippery crispness surrounded by a well balanced grapefruity citric hoppy bitterness. Finishes well with a lengthy boldness of semi toasted sweet malt offset by a lengthy, hoppy, slender pined, smooth grapefruity finish.

A nice Red with a bolder rendition of flavor and length then the normal Red's one would find. So the Imperial label is suiting to a certain degree. I liked the play in textures between the malts and the hops. A fun beer to drink and good to boot.

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Photo of poluti
4.12/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle
It pours a red tint with a nice little tuft of tan head. I noted that it was very carbonated
Aroma of pine and citrus notes balanced with a sweet malt profile made this beer seem very promising.
I noted that this beer does deliver the piney goodness of the hops and that it was indeed very rich with dark malts. I found that the hops shine through a little more than the malts and I did pick up some citrus in the taste as well, but I had to strain through the bitterness on the back of the palate.
It flows over the mouth and tongue very well with just the right amount of carbonation. The after effects on the tongue downgraded it slightly.
This is a very drinkable beer. I'm picking some more up from Bevmo on my next run, assuming they're not all out.

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Photo of trep
3.66/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A pristine looking bloodsoaked brown with a thin creamy khaki head. Random carbonation. Not bad lad.

Pennies, faint hops, sweet sugary carmelized malt and a lil kick of alcohol.

Initially very bitter, soon fades however to let the hops, and caramel malts come through. Quite pleasant once the bitterness fades. Very smooth after the initial intensity of bitter.

Nice creamy mouthfeel. Appropriate carbonation. Bitterness is kind of tough to keep the drinkability high.

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Photo of loren01
3.63/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from 22oz bomber an amber color with 2 finger width head. Lots and lots of lacing down the glass.
S: Smell is sweet/malty at first
T: Lots of piney flavor. Bitter aftertaste, however not overwhealmingly so.
M: Medium bodied, slighly dry
D: Pretty good red. Slighly on the heavy side, does not go down as easily as some. Nevertheless good tasting beer.

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Photo of bennetj17
3.53/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Clear deep amber color, light tan foam reaches a full inch and holds nicely. Good streaming carbonation throughout. Smell is mild with a caramel malt and sweet grassy hop mix. Flavor begins without much complexity, the bitterness hits first and finally I can detect some nutty malt. It just really misses the front of the tongue. Lots of hop presence but its a bit dank, and leaves a slight sourness afterward. The alcohol is fairly noticible. Mouthfeel has a good creaminess and sharp carbonaion, not bad. The main problem with this beer is the flavor, and unfortunately that's the most important part. Worth trying but I wasn't into it.

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Photo of DrJay
4.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reddish with a slight haze, it poured with a thin, light tan head that reduced to a ring. Some lacing. Clean pine and grapefruit aroma with a bit of caramel thrown in. Lots of piney hops in the flavour, with a bit of citrus and caramel. Medium body and carbonation, slightly dry. This is a tasty beer - solid malt and tons of hops. Thanks biegaman!

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.88/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a deep amber hue with a light tan cream head leaves even lacing. Aroma has a deep piney floral character with semi sweet caramel tone evident alcohol presence. Taste: Biscuit dough and caramel toned complex a bit of a peppery herbal, piney, floral hop bite pretty quality mix of flavors. Mouthfeel has a medium body slightly resinous evenly carbonated. Drinkability is nice but let's be serious an Imperial Red can we say IPA.

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Photo of Imstillthegman
4.3/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Zorro for this bomber.

Pours a ruby/amber color with about an inch of off-white head that remains as a thin blanket the entire glass. Leaves nice rings of lacing down the glass. The smell is of sweet malts with a bit of citrus as well...very inviting. Flavor comes first from the malts...sweet and a little bready, then the hops pop up with a citrusy, bitter kick at the finish. Nicely balanced between the two. Mouthfeel is just shy of being thick and creamy with just the right amount of carbonation. Now, if they could only start showing up in stores around here....

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Photo of tastybeer
4.12/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Red + warm brown color, with just the right sized two finger white head. Nose is deliciousy hoppy. Dominant hop aromas are of dank resinous forest, citrus, and floral. Sweet grainy malt provides a nice backdrop for the juicy fresh hops. Pretty basic flavors but in large quanitities, and very tasty. Appropriate medium body and slick, hop resiny texture. The nice, not overwhelming, hop bitterness through the finish leaves a good juicy-dry feeling in the mouth.

Very fresh and mouthwatering. Mmmmm resinous pine.

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Photo of wedge
4.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear red to amber color with an off-white head that spends most of its time as a creamy sheet. Real nice resinous hop oil aroma finishes with sugary sweet grapefruits and a bit of caramel - tame yet tantalizing. Pungent citrus hops supported by a strong sweet malt and grain presence - well balanced. A mix of grassy and sprucy hops with some barley finish it off. Smooth, medium body ends up a little creamy.

The balance and tasty, sticky hop flavors make this very enjoyable. Resinous and sweet at the same time...mmmm. I love a balanced brew.

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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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