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 DrunkPagan
4.23/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reds are my favorite, so I was eager to try this Imperial Red. Great color came out of the bottle, a perfect deep bronze red color. You can smell the hops easily, and taste them a LOT more easily. This puppy is bursting with hops, at least two different kinds that I can't ID yet, and in great quantity. The first taste almost bowled me over. (I gave a sip to my Dad, and he nearly fell out of his chair.)

Once you get used to the hops, this is a great beer with good drinkability and excellent flavor. While I'm not as much of a hop head as some, I was still able to get into this one... eventually. With any luck, I might be able to ID the hops.

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

A gorgeous reddish amber with a two finger head under aggressive pouring that melts to a sticky fine lace in time.
Aroma is of sweet, sweet red malts with a slight citrus hop finish.
Taste initially rich and thick sweet red malt then melts to a balancing citrus (lemon and grapefruit)
Finishes with a lingering sweetness and bitter hops.
Mouthfeel is slightly cloying from the sweetness, but nicely bitter and drying afterwards from the hops.
A decent imperial red, but I still prefer offerings from Bear Republic and others.

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Photo of lackenhauser
3.85/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Impressive, hazy orange color with a decent, thin head on top. Citrusy aroma-reminds me of the smell of an orange lollypop. Quite the mix of flavors. Grapefruit, orange baby aspirin (but in a good way), fresh cut grass, and spices-black pepper? The funny thing is they all work together. Leaves a sweet sticky flavor on my lips though the beer itself finishes dry. Good body. Overall a very interesting and unique beer. The flavors might make for too much after a bottle or 2 so I sort of knock it down a notch in drinkability. Well worth a try however.

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Photo of brewcrew76
4.12/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Auburn hazy copper with a thin off white head.

S - All hops, citrus and grapefruit. Smells like a double IPA. Slightly sweet malt backbone once you search past the hops. Wonderful.

T - Sweet malt, citrus and grapefruit hops. Same as the aroma but the malt is a little more prevalent.

M - Medium body, slightly sticky.

D - Easily drinkable and very smooth. Nice and hoppy.

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

650ml Imperial Red, with more ridiculous but lovely nonsense on the label from Lagunitas. Nice to see this, a SEASONAL from a US micro(doesn't happen too often up here), at the Kensginton Wine Market. Popping the cap gives a wafting aroma of rubber and brown sugar. The beer's colour is in between ruby and light orangish-red. Actually the hue itself is somewhat hard to describe...but I like it. Possibly a very dark rusty water or cola with red food colouring. The head is long-lived and compact with seamless little bubbles, cream-coloured. Walls of whiter lacing that cling well. Exquisite appearance, though interestingly a little "browner" than other reds I have sampled. Aroma--now this is what I was looking for this week. After the Maximus last night and Rogue's DIPA, this beer's maltier but still hop-filled smell is a welcome guest to the nose. What I like about the aroma is how it makes you continually sniff in order to find if the hops or the malts are dominant...what's the word?...oh yeah: balance. Wonderful complementing of the thick barley notes with spicy wild citrus hops. The malting makes the first impression, burnt and almost barley-wine sweet. Phenolic, solvent-like, piquant, with notes of licorice and horehound, almost medicinal. The sugar is all here too, like bubble gum and caramel, toffee, and vanilla wafer. I also get some faint strawberry, and a little lemon. Now thrust your nose deeper into the glass and get your dose of some earthy tree-bark hoppiness, perhaps a little hard to find at first, but once they come out it really shows off how well-hopped the beer really is. Just enough. The beer's nose is fantastic. The taste does not disappoint, starting with fairly basic but tasty roasted gristiness. The beer is a little weak on the front of the tongue actually, but the middle and finish make up for it with a wonderful rush of soft but bitter hopping and leaving the mouth with lip-smacking sweetness with the floral hopping adding some sweet perfume flavours. Again, balance is the name of the game. Cinnamon and chicory, lactosy malts that bring tastes of buttered toast and peanuts. Red licorice and light brown sugar, with some mollasses. Sweet, but with enough hopping to satisfy the h-heads. Complex enough, but beyond the complexity is just the solidity of the malts working with hops and vice versa. A medium carbonation, moderate bitterness, and very little alcoholic burn make this an extremely drinkable strong red ale. Through balance, Lagunitas just made this beer WORK, by coincidence or design matters not...this is a flavourful slaker of my thirst. I will be buying more.

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Photo of scooter231
3.88/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Boy is this guy easy to drink. Pours a pretty red color, very clear, with tons of puffy head, just tons of it. Smell is hoppy and piney, some good maltyness too. Taste reminds me of an IPA, hoppy, grassy, earthy, a bit of a twang to it. Mouthfeel is sudsy and light. Very easy to drink these, a few of these, at a time.

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Photo of Sammy
4.29/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Dee's. Hoppy piney aroma and variety of hops in citrus taste that worked. Tasty.Spicey and fruity finish. Medium and good mouthfeel. Good understated carbonation. resin-works. Drinkable, could stay on it all evening. Another winner from Lagunitas.

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

Slightly cloudy reddish brown color. Nice two-finger beige head. Good tight lace.

Attractive malty aroma. Slight hop for balance. Creamy.

Strong hop presence. Strong alcohol notes. Very full bodied with proper carbonation. Similar to an excellent IPA. Delicious.

This is a great beer, well worth seeking out.

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Photo of IronDjinn
4.38/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This one just came in off the boat at the Kensington Wine Market, which I grabbed while picking up their new Rogue selections as well. I'll be jiggered, I've never fathomed an Imperial Red. And the small blurb on the side of the label this time around is absolutely priceless! "We often describe our ales as having the luxuriant aromas of broccoli, kerosene, and burning tractor tires while bragging about their stagnant pond-water flavours." A nice poke at the market, and us beer geeks who dissect and write down every nuaunce of what we sample and review, be they real or psychosomatically induced. Cheers to Lagunitas on that point alone.

But there's an Imperial red ale sitting in front of me here to review. Pours out of it's 22 oz brown bottle a brilliant clear dark burnished coppery hue, indeed bright red when held up to sunlight. Big creamy cinnamon head with good retention that settles to a cap and leaves a hell of a thick layer of lacing on the glass.

Sweet grapefruit and pine from the hops smacks me first upon inhalation. I dive down deeper and come up with a bottom-dwelling chewy malt presence as well. No kerosene though, or broccoli....

Massive flavour, perhaps "Imperial" IS the correct term for this stuff, as it lays seige to and quickly colonizes the palate, and isn't budging. Already the tongue is trying to plan out a peaceful coup while trying not to rock the boat in the mean time. Right from the beginning it's a huge whallop of chewy caramel malt and big Cascade hops, side by side in step for a casual friendly race to the finish. The hops do eventually win, as can be determined in their lingering on in the aftertaste doing a victory lap. Very balanced for such a big beer, the flavour is intense, but in tune as well.

Stellar mouthfeel for a red as well, full and creamy and smooth texture, like the robes of monarchy, and incredibly easily quaffable for such a big beer.

Fantastic stuff, I am thoroughly impressed. Most reds are either too cloyingly malty or too hopped up or simply too bland and watery, but this bad boy is beautifully balanced along with it's high octane hepped up flavour profile. I'll be stocking up on more of this, a very welcome limited release from Lagunitas.

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

Never had an "Imperial Red" before...most likely a highly-hopped amber ale? Let's see: Poured into a standard pint glass, the beer is a shimmering transparent copper with a thick, clinging ecru head. Detectable aromas of pine sap and bitter citrus pith -- confirmation of extra hops, I imagine. Indeed, the hop content of Lagunitas' Imperial Red Ale is certainly on the high side: notes of grapefruit rind and sweetish blood oranges. Malt presence is discernible, but only just, and primarily as a caramel/toffee flavor fighting for survival in a sea of hop juice. Bitter piney finish -- Chinooks maybe? Sticky lacing clumps around the glass in a web pattern. Mouthfeel is crisp, dry, and smooth. Thicker body than most red/amber ales, but nothing too hefty. In fact, this is quite drinkable -- at least for a slave to the hop like me.

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Photo of nlmartin
4.21/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer was poured from the bottle into a pub glass.

Appearance: The beer pours a dark amber coloration. The head is a massive three fingers high. The head has incredible staying power and never really goes away. The beer leaves lacing on the glass like pancake batter.

Smell: The beer has a very pleasing caramel and brown sugar smell. There is ample pine resin hoppyness with a bit of citrus to provide a nice counter note to the malty sweetness.

Taste: The beer has a very upfront pine resin peppery hoppyness. The beer then has a malty caramel and brown sugar combo. This gives way to a dry citrus zest flavor. The flavors definately compliment each other and meld nicely.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: The beer has a very extra medium mouthfeel. The carbonation provides a good lift on the taste and drinkability of the beer. The beer is a very smooth and easy drinking beer. I wish I had more of this to drink later.

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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 WanderingFool
3.98/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

An imperial red? I've had lots of beers, but I don't think I've ever had an impy red before. This brew pours a clear copper color into the glass with a thick creamy off white head on top. The foam dissolves slowy to a thick sheet on the beer while leaving behind a fair amount of clumpy lace on the sides of the glass.

The aroma is mainly hops. Grapefruit, lemon and pine with just a hint of toasted malt mixed in. Each sip of this medium to full bodied beer is smooth on the palate. The soft carbonation leaves just a bit of a tingle on the tip of the tongue, while bringing out all the flavors on the rest of the palate. The flavor begins and ends hoppy. Grapefruit, lemon, and pine. However there is some nice caramel and toasted malt blended in to help balance out all the malt. At the end there's just a hint of alcohol. Once the beer is gone some of the malty sweetness remains, but it's mainly hops that linger on.

I really enjoyed this beer, but found it more like an IPA or Imperial IPA than a red. I'm still not sure what the difference is.

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Photo of oberon
3.83/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep copper/amber with a well established of white head that took quite awhile to subside leaving a sheet of lace behind.Grapefruit and and other citrus fruit dominate the aromas with a lighter pine notes and caramel,lightly roasted malt.The hop profile is nice on the palate but I dont think there is quite enough of malt base for a red there is a light roasted and sweet base but not qite enough to hold up to the hop attack.Saying that it is a nice beer and I like the hops,its close to being very top notch.

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Photo of Gusler
4.27/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer disembarks the 22-ounce brown bottle a sparkling burnished copper color with a behemothic semi-creamy light tan head that ever so slowly erodes leaving a thick and clinging sheet of lace to obfuscate the glass. Nose has a spicy hop floral aroma, chased by the sweet malt, citrus crisp, and as clean as the air after a sprint rain, absolutely mouthwatering, start is lightly sweet, the grain presence noticeable, the top is light to middling in its feel to the palate. Finish is kind in its acidity, the hops are dynamic in their spiciness, making themselves known quickly and lasting to the very end, leaving a fresh tangy aftertaste, “Whoa Nellie”, this ain’t your normal Red Ale, and another treat from those fine folks at Lagunitas.

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Photo of bodybyadam
3.85/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hops On Equinox 06 is the time I enjoyed this one. I've always seen it in the local market but have always ignored the dog on the box, I'm not sure why, but not anymore.

Poured into a small 6oz pilsner sampler that appeared reddish-light brown in color. A mellow 1/4-inch head, with a nose that let you know it was hoppy. First taste was a strong sweetness, probably the alcohol. I enjoyed its very hoppy character, with a mix of fruity pears and grapefruit made for a great mouthfeel. The finish had a well-balanced bitterness that made this a very drinkable beer.

All in all, you should be able to enjoy IPAs to truly appreciate this yet not too bitter to prevent you from having another that night.

Elbows Up,

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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 NolateM
4.35/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on tap on two different ocassions, at one of my favorite local restaurants (a place I pretty much go to because of the bar). Poured into a regular pint glass... very attractive and somewhat translucent red color, with a rich white head. The first thoughts I had were "this tastes like an IPA" and "this tastes like cranberries." And despite not being a huge cranberry fan, I was definitely a huge fan of this beer. Very hoppy, sort of piney flavor to it. Definitely tasted like a high-alcohol beer, but in a good way. If you like strong bitter ales and/or IPAs, give this a try!

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

No mistaking the red color. High carbonation feeding a huge head that lasted. Clear and transparent. Appetizing.
Bright and grassy hop character.
Herbal, astrigent hops dominate initially then give way to semi-sweet malt finish.
Medium body. Good amount of carbonation, but not too much.
Striking red color and creamy head give this ale a complete package for looks. Smooth transition between hoppy start and soothing malt finish. Flavors in lock step with IBU listed on label. Not sure where this fits in style, other than it has 7%+ ABV for an American strong ale. I would need some grilled meat with a heavy sauce to stand up to the hops in this brew. Overall a happy hoppy experience although 40+ IBU's are a little much for me unless enjoyed with a balancing meal.

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

A big red Ale from Lagunitas. Pours a cheery reddish brown, topped by a bit of creamy off white head.

A whole bunch of hops in the nose- a solid hit of citrusy, resiny goodness.

Tastes surprisingly sweet, at first. But after a pregnant pause, the hops shine thru, providing an earthy, piney bite. Malt wrestles tastebud control away from the hops and lays down some caramel sweetness chock full of woody, bark-like overtones. Finishes with a diminished lingering bitterness.

Lots of body to be found here, with the mouthfeel winding up fairly thick, but avoiding any heaviness.

This seems like a perfect beer for the "American Strong Ale" tag. It's not an IPA, and it has alot of the qualities of a Barleywine, on a smaller scale. Whatever it is, it's a pretty great beer, one I wouldn't mind having again.

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Photo of TastyTaste
4.01/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I really like the style that Lagunitas was shooting for, and I thought they pulled it off very well. Red body, but what were you expecting? Taste was very interesting. Carmel sweetness is present, but a lot of the experience was the alcohol coming through. Made the taste full and raw, with some grassy grain to boot. I would like to see more in the style of DRA.

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Photo of soulgrowl
3.58/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: A broad spectrum of autumnal reds, oranges, and browns lie beneath a thick, beige, soapy head with good retention.

Smell: Raw hops, remniscent of a freshly mown lawn with some woody, piney, and citric notes. A fine yet bracing smell without much depth.

Taste: Not bad, not bad at all! Toasty malts cry out for attention from behind a brick wall of hops. This might be better classified as an IPA or a double IPA.

Mouthfeel: Just right for the flavor, thick yet airy.

Drinkability: Hmm. I don't know... maybe it's just because I'm damn full from the dinner I had a little while ago, but I'm not finding this exceptionally drinkable. Goes pretty well with Japanese "Rich Harvest" cookies (almond-sesame-chocolate flavor).

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

Much more hops than expected from an American Red Ale; that's why is characterized by an American Strong Ale. Hop aroma is evident even before the glass reaches the nose. Pine and flowery aromas swirl around a bready, malty sweet smell. Tastes boldly of sweet malts: bready, caramelly, lightly toasted, and a tad grainy. The the hops...more than just bittering. Flowery flavors, herbal, grassy, earthy, and a little dirty (for extra measure). The taste is muddled a bit, but certainly adds character to an otherwise unappealing brew. Finishes dryer than expected from Reds because of the hop character and alcohols that go largely forgotten. I look forward to having another.

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Photo of pjwilson
4.13/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

appearance: dark copper color and quite transparent, isn't a dark red at all and i've seen ipa's darker than this. not a complaint however. the head is thick and fluffy and chunky. carbination looks strong for an american style ale.

smell: mmm resiny hops. this is headin' into ipa territory very fast and i'm digging it. sonoma county keeps it real when it comes to that piney resiny hop smell. mabey a faint hint of bisquit. lots of grapefruit kids.

taste: very, similar to Drake's IPA, which was actually darker than this. This beer isn't quite as delicious as that beer, but it is still quite good. same sort of blended mix of piney hops and caramal malts, with some nice bisquit. getting some grapefruit here as and the beer is not as bitter as a true Ipa, which makes it nice to drink down, actually the only reason this isn't an IPA, is the relativly low bitterness 40.63 IBU's. it's still got some bitterness for sure, though

mouthfeel: very lite considering, lite to medium mouthfeel. works here

drinkability: kinda silly good for a beer of this strengh. this one is a keeper.

Ok the imperial red name is kinda silly, and they give you no actual descrition on the bottle, however I buy everything Lagunitas puts out at least once. This one is a winner. If you like this try Drake's IPA, it is very similar tasting.

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

amber brown in hue, no head to speak of, lacing is more like film but it is clingy like wine (it has legs... not like zztop...)

subdued, very mild for a strong ale, smells like a tamed DIPA, uncleaned wet mushrooms, some hop florals that drift slightly into the ethereal pine realms and finish with a touch of lime, hints of sweet toasty malts also linger, nice but a bit too mellow imo.

taste etc...
the subtelty in the nose works here. you get a real plate of flavor. The red sparkles and fades into bitter and there is a linger to it all. The sweetness of the malt kicks in just before that "Red" flavor does. And this is an easy sipper for sure (easy like a sunday morning? if you are drinking this shit in the morning.. you have a problem...). mouthfeel is good, not great. This has a nice bitter finish with the piney side bitters really doing a river dance on your tongue. The alcohol is perceptable but not distracting to this reviewer. The sweetness makes this very drinkable... almost reminds me of some IPAs (specifically the Pizzaria Uno IPA I get here locally)

tasty but nothing I will go ape looking for. for $5 a bomber it is pretty good though if you have it available locally.

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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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