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.

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 777 | Ratings: 2,296
Photo of mikesgroove
4.27/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to derrickt007 for the bottle.

Poured a deep red amber with little head, and what was there faded quickly. But the nice cloudy amber looked good. Smelled of deep malts with a hint of dark fruit and a bit of a sweetness and alcohol. The taste was rather fruity. Dark fruit commanded the flavor with a subtle sugary behind it almost grape like, very enjoyable. Rather intresting and not what I would expect. No hint of the alcohol whatsoever and that makes this very drinkable. My first offering from Lagunitas and it definatly has me intrested.

 553 characters

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

Pours a clear red/copper, thick white head forms, some lace and good retention, settles to a good layer. Smell is sweet, lots of toffee, metallic, some pine and floral, nice. Taste is malty, caramel crystal malt grainy flavour, pine and floral, sugary finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, with low carbonation. Not bad, didn't do much for me.

 341 characters

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

Appearance: 4.0 Pours an attractive amber copper color. Translucent. And it has a creamy beige head and loads of lacing lining the glass.

Smell: 4.5 Caramel and a sweet poignant grapefruit aroma, hints of earthy woodyness, and creamy sweet browned butter, a toasty brown sugar and a gently ‘delightfully’ phenolic butterscotch aroma induce the salivation. This beer is a sniffer.

Taste: 4.5 This beer does a beautiful dance upon the palate. The sweet sensations from the candied caramelized malt to the orange pine hop biter that prance on my taste buds with a hint of mint, lightly toasted malt and butterscotch candy flavors followed by some alcohol showing through just enough to warm the palate and ease the mind, oh yeah!!! Mmm! It finishes with a strong green pine hop bitter kick that lets you know it was there, but the aftertaste is so pleasant it is worth savoring even after the beer is gone. Spectacular!

Mouthfeel: 4.0 It is a velvety smooth medium – full body beer that is spicy astringent and enjoyable.

Drinkabilty: 4.0 I really enjoy this beer but ‘golly me’ I am done with one. I is big in IBU and sweetness and alcohol is up there too. This is an enjoyable beer in moderation. Not a sessioner by any means.

Hope this is helpful.

 1,276 characters

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.

 758 characters

Photo of NJpadreFan
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lagunitas- Imperial Red Ale

Appearance- Hazy reddish copper with a small head.
Smell- Strong caramel malt, pine hops, and alcohol.
Taste- Big sweet caramel malt with a balanced infusion of pine hops.
Mouthfeel- Sweet up front, turning bitter and dry. Has some real bite to it.

Overall- This has a big strong bold flavor. A 6er of this and you would be feeling just right!

 380 characters

Photo of dirtylou
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz single, perhaps obtained in the "these go to eleven bif", enjoyed in my Lake Geneva resort hotel room

appearance: poured into a pint glass...muddy amber-mahogany body, frothy beige head with pretty strong lacing

smell: dripping green hops which is the norm for lagunitas, syrupy caramel malt body, light booze presence...prune, plum, raisin, dark red fruit

taste: high bitterness level, dripping green hops, strong pine bite, big caramel backbone, syrupy malt, a bit boozy...pretty tasty and a nice american strong ale at a low price

mouthfeel: high bitterness, strong hop bite

drinkability: fine

 616 characters

Photo of OStrungT
3.68/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a brownish orange color, with a tfluffy, very light tan head. The head fades slowly, leaving a nice lacing.

This beer has a sweet caramel malty aroma. It is slightly nutty. It has a subtle citrus hop aroma.

This beer tastes quite sweet. It has a nice caramel malt flavor. It is mildly hoppy. A slight nutty flavor is also present.

This beer goes down smooth, leaving a mildly nutty aftertaste. The alcohol content is well hidden. It is carbonater to perfection.

This beer might make a good session beer. It tastes good, but it is mild enough to have a few. The only problem is the slightly high ABV.

Overall: This beer is good, just a little booring.

 683 characters

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

Pours a hazy amber copper color with a good sized creamy cream colored head that recedes very slowly and laces the glass nicely. There is some faint citrus aroma along with sweetness from the malts, white grapey and sprite-like sweetness. Taste is well balanced, although the hops again only present a mild citrus flavor and the mats are sugary sweet, there is a nice hop balance with some dryness and bitterness. Medium in body, sugary with a silky smooth creaminess. Nice example of a strong ale, incredibly easy to drink, not super hoppy like some, but just well balanced and tasty.

 585 characters

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.

 966 characters

Photo of cbl2
3.6/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

10/31/2006 $4.99 22 oz. 7.60% No best by date.


Pours a murky brown with a quarter inch of tight white head that settles slowly leaving behind a nice lace.


Mildly hoppy with a slight iced tea sweetness to the aroma.


40.63 IBU's according to the label, but this has a larger profile than indicated. Assertive bitter hop character dominates the palate to begin which is supplanted by a malty sweetness by midsip. Iced tea flavor which was present in the nose is here as well with the delicate balance of bitter and sweet. An interesting beer, not sure I would categorize it as a Strong Ale, but it is good nonetheless.

 672 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.83/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a marvelously clear copper body with a white, diminishing head. The lacing was thin and uneven.

Smell: Caramel malts in the nose with a nice bit of toastiness. The hops are piney with fruity undertones.

Taste: Light bready caramel malts joined by crisp, hoppy flavors of pine resins and grapefruit. Very tea-like at times. Herbaceous hops round out the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with a pleasingly smooth mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Though the hops can be a little cutting at times its a rather likeable red ale, and quite quaffable.

 567 characters

Photo of jcdiflorio
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a tulip glass,a very haziey reddish brown color.An off-white very creamy head,a lively looking beer,many tiny bubbles tightly strung together racing to the top of the retentive head.
The aroma was carmelly,friuty,citrusy,nutty with a sweet smell like honey. A very pleasing complex aroma.
The taste was citrusy,piney,fruity,carmelly,honey,clean with a nice tartness,and bittersweet at the finish.Delicious!
Mouthfeel was medium,slight cloying,velvety.An airy feel to the palate,a light prickly feeling to the tongue,that makes the mouth water for more.
Great tasting,refreshing,juicy.I want more,more,more.Extremely drinkable even with the tounge feeling like it just trippled in size.

 701 characters

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

Pours a burnt sienna body with a moderate cream colored head that creates some attractive looking lacing from top to bottom.
The nose is of citric hops and it makes my mouth water.
It initially tastes like juicy mandarin oranges, and it bitters with time. I get more caramel as the beer warms, along with subtle alcohol tones. The finnish is almost cottony dry and I find sharing a six-pack over a single conversation to be trivial.

 434 characters

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.

 1,106 characters

Photo of AndoBrew
3.57/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

*dont think I liked it would not buy it*

app: its red, and has a cream head.

smell: 's lika dipa. nice malts nice hops. lets try to define. alive citrusy hops, nice and fresh smellin. and kinda nutty mostly sweet smellin almost fruity malts.

taste: huh. suprised. mostly hops in tha mouth. I mean the malts are there or this may melt your teeth, but the hops win the fight for sure.. start to finish.

2nd gulp not tons of carbonation.. more balance from the malts.. kinda a floral/citrus hop mix, more citrus though.

wow is this thing lacing.. its more like pasteing.

nice beer, good booze qualitys. this beer is mostly driven by the grapefruit type hop flavors. but even though they are the loudest note in the mix they are not painful. wish you could maybe taste a touch more malt. the cute notes on the lable seem to indicate though that this is a hop head beer. I agree.

mf: kinda lacking.. It seems dead in the mouth, like it.. passed on inside the bottle and you are drinking the yummy remains.

drinkable?: yeah it is.. it is hop hops away, but it is still drinkable for sure!

thoughts any one? this is a good beer. I am not a hop hop hop head, but I still like this beer, it is mostly hops, but it is not painful. kinda has a dry feel to it, like its lacking some vibrant charcter in the flavor... i dunno. I thought an "imp red" would maybe be more malt than say an "imp IPA" I think the same about big hoppy monster though.. I dont get the whole red thing from these 2 beers when this is more like the standard thing for a "dipa" now.. oh well They do look red.. maybe everyone else is wrong, just put more malt in next time and then I might buy the whole Imp red thing. are red/amber ales supposed to be hoppy?? has the term imperial become a substitute for LOTS OF HOPS!!! .. huh.. I am so confused.

good beer though, really.

 1,871 characters

Photo of scruffwhor
4.12/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle. From the get-go, this is not just an American Strong Ale, it should be an American IPA or Double IPA.

Appearance- Pretty clear amber with some slight coppery haze when held to the light. A little bubbling a a little sticky lacing.

Smell- A very caramely, toffee, flowery mix of malts and hops. Nice!!!

Taste- The caramel is very well defined at the start. Mixed with a shot of hop flowering and splashes of grapefruit zest. The finsh is a little more toffeeish, giving way to a more pronounced hop character.

Mouthfeel- The finish is very sweet for an IPA. Caramel like sweetness.

 622 characters

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

I guess this Imperial red category is a new trend. I've tried the terrapin hoppy monster and this Lagunitas has a little more hops showing thru. And had a much larger head on it. I can see why they call these beers red though. The color when under a light is tranlucent. So vibrant with dark ruby overtones.One other difference between a dbl Ipa and a red imperial ale seems to be more malty and less hoppy bitternes. The extra malts do a good job of hiding the high alcohol level.

 481 characters

Photo of gbarron
3.9/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From a 12 oz. bottle.

A - beautiful beer. Clear, reddish brown in color, head is a frothy, off-white thick cake. Lacing and head retention is outstanding.

S - sweet, tangy malt with a significant citrus, pine hop backbone. Spicy.

T - mixture of sweet, rich malt and sharp, citrus bitterness. Basically an extra-large india pale ale. Lots of crystal malt in this one. Tons of sugary, sticky sweetness, but fairly well balanced beer with lots of piney resins and tart citrus. Little bit of alcohol.

M - a little sticky, carbonation is average.

D - tasty, but nothing spectacular in my book.

 603 characters

Photo of kmpitz2
4.15/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber; 11 oz sample. The beer pours a very deep amber color with a finger of ivory head that falls to a full coat over top. The clarity is fairly good, and the carbonation is minimal. The nose is nice as well. There is a moderate caramel maly, with a solid biscuity character that adds a graineyness to the brew. There is a nice moderate earthy hop in there that adds nicely to the grainyness of the malt. I like the earthy quality of the beer. The flavor is very nice. It is incredibly strong in earthy British hops that pairs well with a solid biscuit malt graineyness. There is a mild caramel malt behind it that adds sweetness that really rounds things out. The bitterness really hits nicely on the finish, while maintaining some reserve and not being offensive. This is a nice tasting brew. The feel is thick, with a solid modeate carbonation to it. I am a fan of this brew. Even though the earthy flavors are not my favorite, I think this one makes them very approchable. It is defiantely very approachable even with the strong biscuity character and the earthy flavors. I will grab more of this in the future.

 1,123 characters

Photo of rajendra82
4.33/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Terrapin Big Hoppy Monster was the first beer I have had, that claimed to be an Imperial Red Ale, and this is the second one that I have run across with that claim. The beer poured exceptionally clear, and had a hue that was amber, tinged with ruddy pink. The head was two fingers high, and the carbonation was steady and finely textured, so the head lingered on. While the looks were quite stunning, the mild aroma was subtly redolent with citric and floral hops. The taste was quite balanced for the style, with the bitter hops being just a little more dominant than the succulent caramel and pale malts. The hoppy aftertaste was supplemented by saltwater taffy like mouthfeel that was both sticky and mineralized dry at the same time. It did however feel thinner than what the label description suggested. Although classified as an American Strong Ale around here, I find this to be lot more similar to a standard (or a double) IPA. At first, it was hard to believe they rate this at 84.20 IBU, which is starting to approach Ruination territory, but as the pint glass neared emptiness, and the hop burps reached a crescendo, the realization hit that I had basically been immunized with Pacific Northwest hops. May I have more please?

 1,236 characters

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

Picked up a bottle from Sportsman's Fine Wines in late May for $3.39.

Beer poured a deep amber with a nice tan long sustaining head. Nose is a nice combination of citrus and malts. Taste is a wonderful blend of malty goodness and a nice blast of citrusy hops. Mouthfeel is full for the style and nicely carbonated. Drinkability is very good. The abv is well masked. This beer is extremely smackable and recommended to those who enjoy a malty beer that is well hopped!

 470 characters

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

This beer poured a slightly dark amber color, with a slight hint of red. A slightly yellow head, mostly white and it lasted a little less than a quarter of the beer with a minimum amount of lacing. The smell was a hoppy smell with a hint of tartness.

The taste was nice, a very traditional red ale taste with a huge hop kicker. Also a very dry characteristic to this beer, nice and refreshing. The mouthfell was good with the CO2 being almost perfect, just a hint to the high side and the thickness being perfect.

All in all another solid beer from Lagunitas, it's seasonal, so give it a try if you can find it.

 617 characters

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

Poured a perfectly crystal clear medium copper coppper color with modest white head. Virtually no lacing.
Smell is fruity and malty with a bit of piney hops.
Taste is extraordinary, with a dtrong fruity maltiness tempered with a nice hop bitterness. Perfect balance.
Finish is the perfect combination of malt and hops with a bit of the alcohol beginnig to show through.
The drinkabilty of the beer is scary, because it goes down so smooth, you forget about the alcohol content. Another great beer from a great brewery.

 522 characters

Photo of far333
3.68/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Copper-colored with a half-inch of beige lumpy froth that lingers long. Faint aroma of doughey malt and ripe fruits, some grainy brown sugar, plus a subtle hop aroma riding beneath. Flavor of light brown sugar malt, some toasted malt notes, piney hops, and the slightest sting of ABV. A grapefruit peel bitterness lingers, mellowed slighlty by a malt sweetness. Good balanced flavor. Mouthfeel is full and round and satisfying. Thanks to BeerRun13 for sending this one along.

 475 characters

Photo of RootedFool
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours translucent mahogany, frothy off-white head that sticks around leaving some lacing. Nose: bright waft of cotton-candy sweetness encompasses a solid hop bouquet, gritty and citrusy. Taste: melon-sweet upfront yet quickly undercut by a pleasantly grating hop bitterness. The middle is all hops -- drilling a hole through the roof of my mouth, lovely -- leavening off into a lingering hop feedback and static, as the malt sweetness curls around the edges of my palate, fading. Middling carbonation, slick mouthfeel with some weight to it. Another good one from Lagunitas.

 574 characters

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

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.