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 NEhophead
4.13/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Rustic copper in color with full shades of auburn. Creamy, off white head that slowly mellows to an intact sheet. Patterned, ringed lacing with good strength.

Rustic and earthen, floral hop aroma; bright lemon citrus aromas as well. There's a semi-sweet creamy, toasted malt character; slightly bready.

Creamy, toasted malt character; biscuit flavors. Touches of semi-sweet caramel. Big, earthen hop flavors with light hints of citrus and pine. The gritty, bitterness is sharp and rather intense, but the smoothness of the toasted malts makes for a creamy finish. The aftertaste is filled with citrus and burnt, floral hops.

Medium bodied; creamy and smooth, yet earthen, gritty and full. Reminiscent on the palate of what you would expect from your bigger, hoppier beers.

The alcohol presence is detectable, but doesn't overpower all of the flavor complexities of this brew. A unique take on the style; well balanced and a good flavor profile. My favorite Lagunitas offering to date.

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

Pours a pretty pretty red color. The nose is pugent hops. Potent, pungent hops. The taste isn't quite as potent as the smell suggests but it's still pretty potent; ruby grapefruit juice comes to mind.
Very very drinkable for the style. Goes down very easily. Much more accessable than arrogant bastard for the style. Almost between an IPA and a double IPA... with some citrus flavor added... lime, maybe.
Hits you pretty quick and dirty.
Good stuff.

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Photo of Tupperwolf
4.89/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I've had a couple of Lagunitas bombers, both of which were forgettable. However, this one caught my eye recently, looking like a standard Lagunitas 'dog's head over a very large capitalized block letter name' - except that the block letter name was splashed over with hasty graffiti-like writing, Imperial Red.

I think it was the words "muscular malty thorax" on the bottle that really perked my interest, and I started laughing aloud as I read Lagunitas' usual sneering rant in tiny letters on the side. I had to buy it.

All the pint glasses were warm after coming out of the dishwasher, so I opted for a bulbousy Gulden Draak tulip to savor this "Imperial Red". It pours a deep, rich ruby brown which is clear in color and alight with rising bubbles. A thin, liquidy head clings to the surface for a little while, then fades, leaving behind soapy lacing from the ring that remains.

The scent is all hops, baby - Burly, beefy, grapefruity hops! Da-yum! I haven't had this much grapefruit in the nose since Ruination a few months ago. Serious, serious grapefruit. it stings the eyes!

The flavor hits with a rumbling, metallic alcohol blended into a roaring yank of hops, a bitter, bitter, grassy, floral jerk on the tongue. Hops dominate the beginning of each mouthful, sending your tongue shrivelling from the bitterness as though it were a salted slug - then, suddenly, a wonderful thing happens. Rosy, caramelly malts come out to play! From behind, the formerly no-show malts rise to the fore upon swallowing, sending the hop bitters on their way, and the tongue is coated with a sticky, sweet, almost rye-like layer of malt.

The mouthfeel begins as what I - and this is a word I've never even thought of to describe a mouthfeel - would consider 'bright'. It's not zippy - it's not oily. It's bright. it's light. The carbonation is of such quantity and bubble size that it draws out all of the flavors and contributes a tingling sensation without being obnoxious. Alcohol is present; bitterness and some saltiness assault the tongue's regious. Swallowing leaves a sticky, mucousy (mmmm) layer of malty goodness on the tongue and throat.

Final thoughts - Lagunitas' other beers may have been forgettable - this is a smack outta' the freakin' ballpark for any self-respecting, hop-adoring American. It takes a seriously good beer to get me to write reviews like this one these days! :)

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

Pours a clear mahogany colored ale with a tall thick tan head.

Smell is woody and a bit sweet with a good aroma of fresh citrus hops. Aromas of grapefruit, menthol, black pepper, and brown sugar are fairly strong but this beer is distinctly woody in aroma. Fainter whiffs of chocolate and coffee.

Taste is mild and on the sweet side at first, and noticeably thick. Hops kick in after the first sip and are strong but not harsh. Base flavor is malt and oak woodiness from the hops. Higher hop flavors of pineapple and grapefruit mix with an agreeable bitter edge.

Mouthfeel is notably thick here, didn't expect that, but it is pleasurable.

A pleasant and strong ale here that I liked a lot. Hoppy but accessible for both hopheads and non-hopheads. I could almost say that this is a really mellow barley wine; but the brewer says it is an Imperial red Ale so I guess that it is.

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Photo of CRJMellor
4.15/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a ruby red and brown color with a dull, but thick white head with some serious staying power.
Aroma is caramel candy corn, brown sugar, some honey and dark citrus fruit tones. Relatively large sweetness is balanced with a gritty but light bittering that acts as a nice accompaniment.
Flavor is strong on the malt and brown sugar side, some roasted notes in mid-mouth followed by nicely fruity hop kicker on the end.
Mouthfeel is medium-bodied and a hint fo the alcohol kicks in as it warms. With all the caramel, sugar sweetness going on this beer could have been too much but the bitters used give it really well done balance.
Drinkability was rather high, really well balanced and enjoyable, big step up from all the generic red ales out there, worth seeking out.

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

On tap @ Redbones 3/21/06

I am really starting to like some of Lagunitas' offerings quite a bit. This one was especiallly good. It beers a deep red inviting red. It has a strong malt profile, no doubt, but has an even stronger fruity hop bite. As the previous reviews state, it is quite smooth going down which makes it fairly drinkable despite the fact that it tastes bigger than its actual alcohol content.

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

Pours a bright orange-red color topped by a half-inch of off-white head that sticks around a while. Aroma of fresh floral hops, with a little bit of sweet malt in the background. Palate is thick with both assertive floral hops and lightly sweet malt. Notes of pine and and light fruit come through. Body is nice and sturdy, with a slightly syrupy feel that provides a warming finish. Still, the alcohol is hidden fairly well. Overall, I have to say this one is pretty tasty.

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Photo of bkett01
4.35/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

*3/25 Update*
Had this on tap at the linwood last night, and WOW. If you ever see this one on tap I strongly recommend giving it a try. The hops really jump out at you in the taste and smell. Easily one of the best beers I've ever had on tap at a bar. Upgraded taste to 4.5.

*original bomber review*
Poured a brilliant ruby red with a half inch head from the bomber into my pint glass. Smell is dominated by fresh piney hop aromas. Reminds me of the cascades I use to brew my own ales. No malt is detectable through the scent.

Rich taste starts out smooth and finishes with a nice hop bite. Little carbonation is visible in the deep red hue. Very fresh taste is kept through the serious amount of "hopping" that this one surely goes through. And while clearly dominated by the hops, the malt does make itself known as it balances out the overall taste.

Medium mouthfeel and an average drikability. Definitely a bomber that I'm glad I picked up. Worth a try.

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

Deep reddish amber color, with a brilliantly clear, rich red color when held up to the light. The head is quite large, four-fingers thick, frothy and a lightly amber-tinged tan color, which even leaves a bit of lacing as I work my way through my glass. The aroma is satisfyingly hoppy with a raw, herbal hop edge that is backed by a solid sticky citrus note that reminds me of grapefruit. The aroma is just so resinous, seriously evoking some thoughts of it's near, green budded cousin. Underneath the hop aromatics is a solid malt character which has notes of both toffee and lightly toasted biscuits.

The taste is lightly sweet up front, but it is really drowned out by the ample hop character that is found from beginning to end in this beer. A resinous hop character is immediately noticeable; raw and a bit aggressive this character is only amplified by the solid bitterness, which lingers on into a reasonable long finish. Underneath the easily noticeable raw pine-like herbal character is a soft citrus note that is a mix of ruby red grapefruit and tangerines. This beer has a fairly full body to it, it is definitely needed though to balance the aggressive hopping levels.

This is a beer for hop lovers, it is fairly aggressive. This beer is raw and hoppy and I almost think that this beer could use a bit more malt sweetness to amplify the hop character. A bit more malt might play up the citrus notes a bit more, and soften the raw hoppiness a bit. As it is you will definitely want to be a hop head to enjoy this one. Luckily I can be, and am, so this is quite enjoyable.

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Photo of sinstaineddemon
4.03/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - this lagunitas pours with a day old coffee brown color, but turns its namesake red when alit, it pours with a creamy white head that laces after nearly a ful minute

S - distinctive hoppy aroma, almost approaching a cedar-y odor

T - the hops hit my tongue first with an explosion, but instead of ecoming bitter or acidic, they roll very smoothly down my gullet, very surprising, smelled like would be dry and it wasnt at all

M - bittery smooth, very impressive

D - very much so, a good ale for drinking with or without food

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Photo of Dewey0603
4.03/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I saw this and had to try it. It pours a orange red color with a huge tan foamy head. The smell is very strong with a citrus,grapefruit, hop aroma. The taste has a very nice citrus start and ends with some hop bitterness. The m/f is light and the only problem I have with this beer is the very bitter aftertaste is a little too bitter. Maybe I should age one. All in all, This is a brew that you should not pass up and I will buy it again.

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Photo of BeerRun13
4.79/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Slightly pale to be called a Red. Fact is this is an American Strong Ale. Pale amber color left a nice thick off white to tan head that thins out but hangs on for the whole ride. Little lace is left.
Wow this beer smells hoppy, sweet, and wonderful!
The taste is very well balanced. There is a definate emphasis on the hoppy kick (40.63 IBU's), but the malted barley is the backbone. The alcohol shows slightly as it warms as does a little more of a caramel like malty flavor.
The mouthfeel is smooth. Glides through the mouth and leaves a slightly citrusy hop flavor at the swallow.
Not like the Red that you find at your local brew pub. This hoppy, alcoholic (7.6%), brew is a real treat! I strongly recomend this beer to anyone who likes hoppy beers. It is a good way to get the hoppines without going for an IPA or DIPA.

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Photo of DogFood11
4.47/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A shiney copper w/ red hue on the outside. Decent head and sporadic lacing. laid back in the carbonation department.

citrus hoppy, piney at times. Pretty hardcore stingy hops...welcomed. One of the strongest tea smells I've encountered. Amazingly drinkable as this pup dissapeared pretty fast even though it was a 22. Piney resinous hop residue lingers for quite some time....but again its not annoying its more like hey!....can you hang around a bit longer please?!

Lagunitas rarely gets put into the top 10 lists on the message boards, nor does it get a whole lot of attention that it deserves. Thank you for such a fine brew, Fresh, Crisp, Sharp. Yummmm.

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

22 oz Bomber, pours nice rich amber color with pillowy head and very nice lacings that never went away.

Overpowering smell of piney hops, almost like opening a fresh bag of raw hops. But if you concentrate there is a powerful malty smell hiding behind. Awesome smell.

Fairly thick body with creamy but slick mouthfeel, noticable alchohol. Taste is heavy malt and hops, aftertaste is puckering bitter hops with a malty sweetness lingering. Basically this beer is lots of malt and lots of hops but leaning to the side of hops.

Actually this beer is quite drinkable for an Imperial anything. . . As a homebrewer I appreciate the distinct pronunciation of the malt and the hops. Not much to compare to except as a version of an IIPA, not as bitter as an IIPA but yet with more hop aroma. A very nice brew indeed.

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Photo of rowew
3.7/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 22 oz bomber with the typical Lagunitas novel. All that, but no date info?

Appearance: Pours a dark red color with some haze and sediment. Very nice sized head that fades to leave a thick coat over the top and on the side of the glass.

Smell: Rich aroma - lots of hops and malt sweetness, with some definite pine smells.

Taste: Very smooth mouthfeel. Starts off fairly sweet and then the hop bitterness takes over, leaving a fairly bitter finish.

Overall impression: Not bad - smooth mouthfeel leads to a high drinkability, but the bitterness was a bit much. Not quite enough malt backbone to go with the other flavors.

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Photo of WesWes
4.42/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a nice dark amber color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. There are plenty of floaties present. The aroma is great. It has a rich malty scent that boasts of pale, roasted, and crystal malts along with an intense piney hop aroma. It seems a bit warm, but it's well hidden with the malts. The taste is great also. It has a very bitter hop flavor with a nice solid malt base. It boasts of crystal and roasted malts and adds good balance. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium/full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn fine brew. I love the hop character. It really makes the taste. This is a good drinker.

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Photo of weeare138
4.23/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a reddish brown with decent 3 finger beige head that sticks around for more than a minute. Decent webbing is left from this one.
Smell is of caramel malt, along with some pine and grapefruit dry hopping.
Taste is awesome. Lots of hops on top of a decent caramel highlighted malty brew, making for a kickass red that demands attention.
Mouthfeel is pretty good. Sugary sweetness with a nice hoppy bitterness to balance it out. Medium bodied with nice carbonation.

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

Double duecer released into a tulip with an auburn hazy hue topped with a settled khaki thin head cap leaving a coating of khaki lace stuck frozen to the glass.

Super nose of jacked up hops joy. Double IPA hop nose goodness. Sizzling with citrus grapefruit and malty backing.

First swigs: Cherry and graperuit thick hop assault. Some caramel apple red malt holds down the hop fort from getting too out of hand. Some spice wafer malty red aspects.

Feel is medium bodied and loaded with sugar tackiness.

Last swigs: Essentially a red that thinks its a 2IPA. This brew gets street cred for throwing the word RED into an exciting flavor.

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

22oz bottle purchased somewhere local, Spirit Haus or Julio's, most likely.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1 1/4" of tan head over the, well, I'll be darned, red brew. Head holds well, with very sticky lacing prevalent. Aroma is sweet malts with a potent leafy, fruity pine hops aroma. The taste follows the nose, with sticky sweetness on the lips, but balanced and more so by the potent hops. Mouthfeel is smooth, and drinkability is very nice as well. One of the better imperials from Lagunitas, nice to see them not over do the hops here.

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Photo of KingSlender
3.58/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bomber picked up at Bev Mo.

Glassware - Rogue Pint

Pours a nice light amber. Seems a tad bit thick in density to what I expected. The light brown head forms up nice and looks enticing....a bit like cinnamon whipped cream.

The smell is not the best part of this beer, but it's OK. A sweet malty grist to it with a bit of roasted nuts.

The taste is heavy on the malt with a surprising hop bite towards the end of each sip. A sweet carmel core comes through and with a little higher alchohol content might taste similar to a barleywine.

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

I am sampling a chilled bottle in a pint glass. Courtesy of Watermelonman, thanx for the hookup!
The beer pours a clear bright copper color with a large fluffy beige and slightly orange head of 3 cm building easily. The head fades slowly leaving windowpane latticework as it drops.
Aroma is some sweet caramel and a mix of piney and citrusy hops, some orange scents for sure among others.
First sip reveals an average body with a smooth texture and very mild soft carbonation. The flavor starts off sweet toffee, but is quickly overtaken by pine and orange rind hops that linger in bitterness across my palate. The bottle says 7.6% but I dont find that anywhere, as the beer goes down super smooth. A clean crisp brew that I am enjoying on this hot July evening.
Another tasty beer from Lagunitas!

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Photo of beerceller99
4.15/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear copper color with an off white head. Nice medium strong piney hop smell. Medium to full bodied. Softly carbonated with a creamy mouthfeel. Strong, sweet malt bready flavor followed with a decent hop bitterness.
The big malt presence here with nice hops makes for a great brew.

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

Bomber bottle, pours dark orangy almond amber. Tan tight head, showing some retention. Some fine scattered lacing left on the glass Nose here is faily thin and of citric hops and mildly toasted malts. This is rich, flavorful brew. Nice malty package of sweat notes, hops are just around the corner to delver a drying note and finish. Smooth and rounded, nicely done. Big and bold but not over the top. Well worth trying a bomber or two.

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

22 oz brown bomber with no freshness date.

A- Two fingered tan lace clings to the glass almost all the way down, nearly clear and bright reddish amber hue.

S- Piney citric softness of the hop aroma permeates with a mild fruity alcohol and lean caramel malt tone. All in all very aromatic.

T- Big malty palate with more than enough hop character to balance, bitterness is semi-clean with pungent citric finish. Light warming alcohol. Maltiness holds its own with a creamy caramel note. Long finish of malt and a citric hop bite.

M- Super smooth with a creamy full body.

D- As big as it is ... it goes down pretty quick due to the smoothness. Perhaps far from a session beer but it certainly was not a core to quaff this one down.

Very recommended IMO especially if you are into big and hoppy strong ales.

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

It came to be a bright ruby red, with a nicely sculpted off-white head that dwindled soon after the first sip. Delicate lacing graced the sides of the glass.

The aroma delivered the hops in grand fashion, with citrusy swirls of pine and floral air. A broad-shouldered but indistinct malt sweetness punched through in spots, but lay well to the rear.

Upon sipping, the toasty malt made its first and strongest play for attention, with a berry sweetness that slid into a more sugary character as it lost ground to the burgeoning hops. And once the hops laid claim, they flexed their resinous muscles to dominate with pine, citrus, and grapefruit notes. What was left of the malt at that point was a breif glimmer of alcohol warmth with its ensuing dryness, further separating the hops from the malt presence. I'm not one who clings to balance as some kind of mantra, but the malt just made too brief a showing here.

Medium bodied, it occupied the mouth well, but the clingy oil of the hops numbed the palate before long.

I know that this is not the highest IBU brew out there, but the hops just laid heavy over the malt body, giving it just enough exposure to tantalize, but not enough to be able to savor. And that's a shame, because the malt spine of the beer did tease with some worthwhile elements worthy of further exploration and discovery. But, the hops, and their rather simplistic bittering result, just weren't interesting enough to be the headliner. Nothing offensive here, and it IS drinkable, on the surface, but considering I can get hops lots of places, and often with something a bit more going on in partnership, I'd have to say it was enough of a disappointment that I won't be dipping back into this well unless it was pretty much devoid of real competition.

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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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