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 Floydster
4.17/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle from Beverage Warehouse in Los Angeles

Pours a deep reddish brown color with a thick white head

Smelled like a strong, strong ale

Tasted very smoky and hints of an IPA, comparable to Port Brewing's Sharkbite Red

Limited release and now I wish I would have bought more because who knows if I will see this again before next year

Very very good beer and highly drinkable for its alcohol content

Another great beer from Lagunitas, check out Kill Ugly Radio as well with the bottle art of Frank Zappa on it

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Photo of Jmamay22
3.88/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark amber red with a large one finger rocky khaki colored head that leaves some good lacing along the sides of my pint glass.

Lots of resinous hops and very reminiscent of their cream ale. Piney floral hops dominate.

Hops, hops and more hops. Very piney taste, but there is some malt there. Quickly the hops take over and finish with a sharp bittering taste. I'm finding that the few beers I've had from Lagunitas taste very similar, which I always thought to be a disappointing aspect of any brewer.

Very drinkable even with the 7.6%abv. Malts provide a creamy aspect to the mouthfeel. No alcohol to be seen in the nose or taste. This is a very IPAish Strong Ale. Recommended for hop fans.

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

This is a good rich beer. I’m glad to see that they released it in a 6pak instead of just the bomber. It has a big hop smell to it and pours a dark copper tone to it. The alcohol is noticeable at 7.6 but is just about right for easy drinking. There is a big hop taste. I would almost call it a red IPA.

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

Holy freakin’ crap, this is a good beer!!! I’ll go through all the formal aspects, but first I have to say, this is simply a high quality, good-value, great-tasting, great-drinking beer. Even my wife, who does not go for strong or hoppy ales, took a few sips and found it very nice (almost enjoyable!).

Imperial Red pours a nice deep ruby-copper-brown color that looks very clear. The head came up around one finger, nice and creamy looking and it lingered for quite a while. As I drank the beer, the head left a nice thick, foamy lacing on the pint glass into which I had poured it.

The smell is largely that of crisp, piney hops with some slightly fruity undertones. It’s such a bright, welcoming aroma! It really readies the palate for the wonderful flavors. The taste is a near perfect balance of bitter piney hops with some citrus notes, with a rich but subtle malty flavoring. The flavors evolve across the tongue as the beer flows down, and finishes with a refreshing dry sensation in the back of the throat.

The mouthfeel is tremendous, with a relatively high level of carbonation, which is a great compliment to the strong hop character. It results in a very bright, crisp feel. Drinkability? Superb. It goes down very smoothly, but with a pleasant dry bite to finish it off. This is a beer you experience.

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Photo of psinderson
3.92/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass.

Appearance: Murky deep brown/red color. Thick off-white head, minot lacing.

Smell: Fruity - I detect orange and apple. Some caramel malt aromas in the background.

Taste: Nice roasty sweetness. Plum-like flavor with a lingering hoppy finish. Quite a complex brew.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with a lot of carbonation.

Drinkability: The lasting bitter finish kind of builds up and hinders drinkability somewhat.

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

Every time I have this beer I am surprised at the hoppiness this red delivers.

A: Nice dark red/amber color with a 1 finger off-white head that leaves a fair share of lacing.

S: Nice piny hops with a touch of sweet, caramel malt.

T: Excellent piny hops present themselves at the forefront. This is followed by a semi-sweet caramel malt that has a touch of woodiness to complement the hops. A bit of citrus character seems to be hiding back there too - along with a nice hit of hop juice. Very piny and earthy overall. The flavors all work together nicely, and make for what is truly not a standard red. Resiny. Nice.

M: Very good mouthfeel. Perfect carbonation level for this style with a good richness.

D: Extremely high - this beer is so tasty and so drinkable.

Highly recommended. Love to see these interesting reds - the Lucky 13 is great also.

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Photo of MrMcGibblets
3.82/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

had this style only once before so when i saw "imperial red" i had to get some. pours a deep, dark ruby red with an off-white head. big american hops in the nose, piney and citrusy, along with caramel, toffee, and dark, ripe fruit aromas. peaches? taste is started off by just a little malt sweetness but the big malts still make their presence felt. dryer profile than i expected but it still works. bitterness kicks in quickly. shitloads of hops for a "red" style beer. looong finish. mouthfeel is medium/big. drinkability suffers from the abv. will definitely revisit this one.

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

Dark, deep, glowing amber body. Thick and rocky stained white head. Lace is quite bountiful. Beautifully balanced nose of rich, thick caramel malts and resiny hop oils and tropical fruit sensations. The flavor of this beer is delicious as well. Across the board, this beer is in the "Very Good to Great" category. The caramel and toffee malt base is very sturdy and rich and thick. The hops add some tropical fruit qualities....especially sweet, ripe pineapple. The bitterness is held in check and the alcohol is barely perceptible. This beer is full bodied and full flavored and a bargain at $1.49 for a single.

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

A: The ale is a brown-red color, maybe giving off some orange as well. The head was near 1 finger on pour but did not last very long.

S: The nose is malty, very grainy and thick, with a strengthened hop profile that is very citrusy with a hint of pine.

T: The malts are very strong here, thick and concentrated with a semi-sweet fruity nature. The fruitiness includes some raisins and figs, dry yet tangy. As the fruits fade away, some citrusy hops emerge to add a distinct bitterness to the malt depth. The finish, especially as the ale warms, is a citrusy sweetness that has a warm alcohol undertone.

M: The mouthfeel varies from figgy grape graininess to citrusy bitterness, keeping the tastebuds on their toes.

D: The abv is creeping upward but the big malts are nicely done.

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.14/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this beer about 2 weeks ago and wrote notes for this review...

Poured into a pint glass, amber color, small white head, little to no lacing.

Has a nice malty smell, toasty aroma, don't really smell the alcohol.

Yum, this is really good beer, very balance, good malty taste hop bite on the finish, very slight warming as the abv sinks in.

Good tasting beer = Good drinking beer...


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

A 12oz. brown bottle with a red cap and no freshness date. It pours a nice orange-copper with a thick foamy ivory head of a finger. Good carbonation and lots of lace clinging everywhere.

Nice hearty malt aroma followed by some semi-serious hops and even some alcohol sneaks through as it warms...very nice. A sweet spicy floral brew that really pleases my sense of smell.

Some large malt flavors start sweet, yet earthy as they blend smoothly with an equal dose of hops...well balanced and rather tasty red here. Good medium-plus body with a smooth, fluffy kind of mouthfeel and the head can be re-kindled with a slight swirl of the glass.

Moderate ABV that is more than easy too drink...a great session beer in my opinion, cheers!

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Photo of BeerTruth
4.15/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

Imperial Red pours a rusty clear amber color with a thin head. Lace is consistant throughout. Smell is a good mix between mild citrus/piney scents with a soft carmel undertone. Hopiness is clear but not overwhelming. Taste overall I feel is well balanced. The hops slightly overpower the malt. At first the hops fill your palate, but the finish is more of a caramel malt. Taste seems to be quite fresh and crisp for a 7.6 abv. Very smooth for an "Imperial". I was quite suprised by this ale. A lot more drinkable than I had assumed. Surely give this one a try if you enjoy your Arrogant Bastard type brews.

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Photo of ClockworkOrange
4.02/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into my Samuel Adams shaker "pint" glass. Appears the color of cloudy iced tea with two fingers of cream colored foam. There is a moderate amount of lacing coating the glass. Smells of rich caramel malt, piney hops and raisins. Tastes of the same bitter, piney hops evident in the nose, as well as lemon, and sweet caramel. Finish is dry and bitter. Moderate in both body and carbonation. A nicely balanced ale. One I would seek out again on it's next release.

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

Serving 22oz bottle

A deep, ruddy orange body, nearly the color of bright rust, rests below a pillowy dark beige head. Countable fine bubbles slowly trek the the surface, many to become thick and plentiful rings of lace that coat the glass after each sip. An ever present dense cap of froth refuses to budge from its perch atop this brew showing great head retention.

The nose, rife with piney hop and caramel malt aromas, reveals stunning complexity with hints of brown sugar, resins, lemon zest and a dash of alcohol.

Sweet brown sugar and caramel malt lead the charge, eventually giving way to a mad dash of piney hops and citrus zest on a full mid palate. Wood resins, gentle hop bitters and a dab of alcohol wrap up a delicious finish that leaves leafy hops flavors and loads of lemony citrus zest gripping the palate to create a bitter, demi-sec aftertaste lasting nearly a minute.

Full on the palate, this brew has an awesome finish and even better aftertaste. It's tough going down when cold yet improves with time and warmth to offer a good slick mouthfeel. Proper carbonation would give this beer a truly great mouthfeel.

Easy to drink for the style and not your normal quaffing ale. Yet another solid offering from Lagunitas.


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Photo of rickcampie
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

well if its lagunitas if probally going to be good. this offering pour with a clear amber color hints of red when held to light. tops off with an inch or creamy had, thats settles down quit nice. as you drink youll notice a good stretch of lacing down the glass.

initial taste is light piney hops,not to overpowering mabey a little hint of malts,overall very light aroma.

taste provides a nice balance of hops, malts,and a little citrus, alcohol is masked very well, makes this very drinkable.

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Photo of Gavage
4.14/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: pours an reddish amber color with a nice 1/2" head that lingers a while. Some spots of lace develop.

Smell: caramel, over ripe fruits, and hints of alcohol are bold and up front.

Taste: this is a very malty beer. Loads of caramel and ripe fruit sweetness is balanced with a hefty pine bitterness an some alcohol.

Mouthfeel: smooth from start to finish. The aftertaste seems to glue the flavors to yuor tongue for a while. Medium-heavy in body.

Drinkability: alcohol kind of catches up to you in this beer. A hearty and full flavored beer is not a session beer at all, but enjoyable on a cold evening.

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Photo of nase
3.65/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle, no date?

Pretty good introduction to the american strong ale. Red w/ light brown/amber tones. Lacing preserved. Taste has that dominant sweetness to it typical of ASA's. Good mouthfeel typical of the style and quite drinkable for 7.6% ABV.

App - 3.5, Smell - 3.5, Taste - 3.5, Mouth - 4.0, Drink - 4.0

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Photo of EPseja
4.65/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22oz bomber. Served at just below cellar temperature in a pint glass.

A - Pours with great thickness. Hazy burnt apricot amber in color with a glow-stick-liquid orange vibrance when struck by light. Thick, creamy and very substantal head. Big bubbles beneath, micro bubbles on top. Great staying power -- the surface of the beer is never fully revealed! Lacing is sticky and erratic, but well developed. G

S - Fresh, sweet hoppiness atop a big basement of malty goodness. Again with the grilled, carmelized apricots. Fruitcake, even. Tantalizing.

T - The sweetness is rather tame, and the malts become very toasty on the tip of the tongue. As it pushes toward the throat, the hoppinesss brings a very nice counterbalance as well as a crisp, natural bitterness that hits just enough to push it into the medium-dry territory without sacrificing the sweetness. Fantastic!

M - Big and thick going in, with a microbubbled carbonation that turns it into a velvety smooth cream and delivers only the slightest tingle on the tongue. Round and throat coating. Excellent for this style!

D - This is a wonderfully balanced, supremely drinkable beer that's got all it's parts in place. A pleasure to drink.

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Photo of jwc215
4.17/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours reddish amber with a frothy off-white head that descends to a thin cover, leaving lacing on the glass.

The smell is of caramel, citrus and pine. Dough and some peppery alcohol also present. Very aromatic.

The taste is of citrus and pine with sweet caramel. Assertive hop profile with a sweet characteristic. An underlying fruitiness adds to the complexity. Restrained alcohol gives it some spiciness, but not in a boozy way. Finishes dry and sweet, with just a nod of an alcohol fruitiness.

It's creamy and full. Fairly dry with a lingering sweetness. Flavor hangs on. Nice texture.

This is one hell of an ale. A bit "over-the-top", being an "imperial red" - very complex with full aromas and a delicious taste. It's an American Strong Ale with characteristics of a red ale...a wonderful brew that's a good "sipping" beer that is very easy to drink for the abv. Well-done!

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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 RonfromJersey
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reddish copper body, excellent clarity, no carbonation streams, topped by a level three finger slab of off-white micro bubbles. Very stretchy lacing.

Bready, yeast aroma. Bit of sweetness around the edge.

Taste kicks off with a huge hit of caramel, sweet, but with depth, dark chocolate more than a pixie stick. The sweetness slowly erodes in the face of a rising tide of earthy herbal hops, with eventually rise to the top and deliver a nice bite before the swallow. Mild tingle in the aftertaste, along with mildly reassertive caramel.

Fairly thick mouthfeel ventures toward stout territory, but works well.

Maintains good drinkability throughout. A lot could have gone wrong, but doesn't.

Imperial red, like imperial pilsner, is a style open to a wide variety of interpretations still. This is a whole different animal from say Troegs Nugget Nectar, but definitely an enjoyable beer.

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

Another beauty from Lagunitas. As the name implies, we have a very red brew here. Great head with legs, and stamina. The nose is delighted with rich caramel malt and honey. Taste follows suit, with a surprisingly tight finish, with more than a little blast of hops.

The mouthfeel is good, but a tad syrupy, and the drinkability suffers just a little bit. Nitpicking aside, an outstanding beer.

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Photo of ReDave
3.81/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Another fine Lagunitas product.

Pours a dark honeyed reddish amber. A thinnish head [cream colored] with very little lace.

Nose is limited .. some hops some malt.. not very prominent.

Taste, now we are talking. Nice strong bitter up front. some maltiness, great hoppy malt aftertaste.
Over all seems pretty balanced.... if you like hops!

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Photo of Luchman
4.07/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass

A: Hazy, but clear, light amber color, with hues of orange and hues of yellow towards the bottom of the glass. A small, creamy, off white head comes off the pour.

S; Pretty subtle in the nose, but smells tasty. Sweet, almost candy like, caramel/toffee malts control the nose. Some slight citrus and pine hops can be found as well. Light breadiness, and even some light fruits.

T: Like Lagunitas's other beers, this is pretty sweet. Pure caramel/toffee malts dominate, like the smell, with some of the citrus and slight pine hops added to create a balance that works pretty solid; The malts are definably the heavy hand, but never is it one sided. Alcohol shows up juuuussst a tad when it warms, but hides well enough. Ends clean with a very slight hop bite.

M: Medium body with a nice carbonation to follow. Creamy and clean.

D: Another solid beer from Lagunitas. Sweet, but not overly sweet, with just enough hop balance to please anyone. Very drinkable and pretty yummy.

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Photo of stephendr
3.6/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle- color of light mahogany , with a light off white head - nose of piney hopps , earthy , malty , tar / resin , and light citrus – taste of grapefruit , malts , tar , hopps and resin - body medium carbonation , and earthy– aftertaste of resin , hopps and light citrus

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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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