Big Red
Southern Tier Brewing Company

Big RedBig Red
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
American Imperial Red Ale
3.9 | pDev: 10.51%
Southern Tier Brewing Company
New York, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Big RedBig Red
Reviews: 321 | Ratings: 399 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of barczar
3.87/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one got away from me in the cellar, then I figured I'd just sit on it for a while. After 5 years...

Score is adjusted to current average.

Aroma is floral, with notes of deep caramel, dates, muddled dark fruit, and cardboard.

Flavor retains that amber malt fruitiness, with a touch of medicinal phenolic and tongue numbing warmth. Backbone is fairly sweet, but the fruitiness counters nicely, carrying into a moderately bitter, boozy finish.

Didn't try it fresh, but it aged into a nice beer.

 502 characters

Photo of mrfrancis
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: Pours a cloudy golden amber with a tight, clinging white head.

S: Aromas of caramel, heavy cream, biscuit, grass, lemon, straw, wildflowers, herbs, and mild spices are present on the nose.

T: Notes of lemon, orange, herbs, grass, straw, honey, flowers, and spices give way to notes of caramel, toffee, cream, biscuit, nougat, and roasted nuts. The finish is smooth and mild with a pleasant combination of caramel, cream, biscuit, honey, grass, herb, and lemon flavors.

M: Full in body and neither dry nor sticky. Carbonation is simultaneously delicate and firm. Alcohol presence is very subdued.

O: An awesome amber/red ale. Well-balanced for such a big, robust beer.

 674 characters

Photo of hardy008
2.73/5  rDev -30%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Pours hazy amber with a small off white head, which has decent retention and lacing. The aroma has spicy hops, some earth, grass, and biscuit malt.

Tastes sweeter than expected, based on the aroma. there is caramel and biscuit malt, spicy hops, grass, and citrus zest. This was most likely hoppy when fresh. I didn't know until I checked this site that this ber is retired. Since there is no date on the bottle, I had no way of knowing I picked up an old beer. Since there is no bottle date, I am going to judge any problems I might have with this beer as the brewery's fault. It should be mandatory to date all cans and bottles.

Medium to full bodied, with low carbonation. There is a lingering spicy hop flavor, from the Hallertau hops. Not my favorite Southern Tier beer. I'm not sure if it would have been a lot better when it was fresh?

 843 characters

Photo of CloudStrife
3.94/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a snifter. Dusty and off a shelf today, havent seen one in years.

A: Pours a cloudy orangish brown with an off white head. Leaves some nice lacing on the sides of the glass.

S: An aged profile going on with this one, can tell it has mellowed out over the years. Malts are dominate with a bready aroma. Perhaps a touch of oxidation. Hops are in there giving a bit of earthy quality.

T: Nice flavors going on here, hops have held on well and add a fruity characteristic. Malts are solid backing it up nicely. Everything seems to have melded together here.

M: Medium to full body with mild carbonation. Smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Alcohol is nicely hidden.

Overall I'm real happy to have found this one. Had it many years ago and am surprised how the flavors have aged and blended together.

 821 characters

Photo of Schwerzpunkt
3.41/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter....

Appearance: Pours a hazy orange-amber color with a large, rapidly dissipating head. A swirl of the glass leaves moderate lacing which also disappears quickly.

Smell-This was my favorite part of the beer. The malts dominated the aroma. Smelled very yeast and very much of biscuits. Almost like a dog treat...but in a good way. It was also somewhat sweet smelling with moderate fruity notes (especially apple, but some citrus as well) and a hint of caramel. Very pleasing.

Taste-Malts were very much on the forefront. Sweet was the predominant flavor, with notes of caramel and fruits, such as apple and citrus. Some hop bitterness present, however, it seemed more of an afterthought and outweighed by the malts to the point of being unbalanced. It left a faint, bitter, slightly medicinal aftertaste. Finally, there was a faint presence of alcohol flavor towards the back.

Mouthfeel- High carbonation with and moderately full bodied. Noted a slight alcohol burn as it slid down the throat.

Overall- The best part of the beer was the aroma, which I absolutely loved! Alcohol was definitely present in the taste, and there was the slightest burn, however, I think it worked with this beer and was not unpleasant. The malts were very much on the forefront and dominated the hops to the point of putting this beer out of balance. That being said, one must keep in mind that this is a retired beer and past its prime, so some of the hop flavor could have faded. I'd wager that a fresh version of this beer would be a bit more balanced.

 1,560 characters

Photo of rlee1390
3.9/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-Cloudy deep orange, good carbonation, one finger head.

S-Lots of malt, a lot of caramel with floral and grassy notes.

T-Very sweet and malty. A lot of caramel with dirt, grass and a tad bit of floral notes. Some bitterness still.

M-Medium bodied, a tad on the lighter side, some carbonation.

O-I know this beer is retired and this one seems like it may have turned. It is still good but the fresh presence of the hops might have made this a little more balanced.

 469 characters

Photo of PorterLambic
3.62/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a slightly hazy dark orange color with a big, fluffy, nearly two finger high head, light tan in color. Great retention. Nice amount of lacing.
Smell is malty with floral and hop notes and maybe a hint of citrus. Nicely balanced.
Taste is malt, citrusy hops and a floral note. Balance is good here as well.
Fairly full bodied with a short-lived medium effervescence. A slight medicinal note crops up in the aftertaste after about 30 minutes or so.

 453 characters

Photo of oriolesfan4
3.4/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a slightly hazy orange color, very little head or carbonation to it. Smell is of faint caramel malts. I'm a big fan of red ales, especially imperial ones, but I was a bit let down by this one. Taste is very sweet upfront, caramel and hops bombard you. A bit unbalanced, isn't the smoothest drink. Not a bad taste in the aftertaste and plenty of taste for this bigger ABV beer, but the initial sweetness knocks this one down a few pegs. Had high expectations for this, still a pretty good beer but not the caramel deliciousness I was expecting.

 549 characters

Photo of jondeelee
4.42/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big Red opens with a malty, yeasty nose that bears a strong resemblance to floury baguettes, wheat toast crust, and yeasty rising bread dough. The aromas at first are largely breads and grains--perhaps eighty percent--but some touches of orange and apricot come through, as does a sprinkling of lemon, grapefruit rind, and pine resin from the hops, and a touch of brown sugar, caramel, and vanilla. But then something strange happens: after the beer has been let to air for a minute or so, the aromas suddenly take on much sweeter tones, with Jolly Rancher-like cherry and watermelon candies bubbling to the surface in syrupy goodness, and the hops sprouting forth with greater pink grapefruits and lemon candies. As a whole, I was at first unimpressed with the nose, but the sudden rush of candied sugars reversed this opinion rather suddenly, and the beer now smells delicious and very drinkable.

On the tongue, the first notes are of breads and toast, but these are joined a split-second later by orange, cherry, apricot, melon, and berry fruit esters, supported well by vanilla, caramel, and brown sugar. The flavors are largely sugary sweet here, but not overly so, for a peppery spice and some toasted nuts linger just beneath the surface, and the hops, while they do contribute some sweet lemons and pink grapefruits, also bring in a nice countering dose of pine resin, dandelion stem, and eucalyptus. As the beer remains on the tongue and the sugars slowly die off, a larger bread and grain base emerges, and just at the end the hops add a pleasantly bitter dash of dandelion stem and pine sap. The aftertaste is largely these latter hop notes, with touches of bread and sugar, and lingers on the tongue for a good while. Mouthfeel is medium, and carbonation is medium.

Overall, this is delicious beer, being very nicely balanced so that the sugars, bitters, and breads work in near-perfect harmony, emphasizing and building off each others' flavors. It says much that the 9% ABV is hardly noticeable during the mouthful, being mostly present as a light alcoholic vapor on the breath after swallowing. But as another mouthful quickly resolves even this tiny problem, the beer obviously boasts enough flavor--flavor that, by the way, doesn’t diminish from mouthful to mouthful--to overcome any problems. Recommended.

 2,327 characters

Photo of Beerenauslese
4.33/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber, this has been in my cellar at least a year, probably going on two.

Popped the cap, surprised it is a light gusher. Poured into a Bruery tulip glass. Looks good: has a clear orange body, poured to a 1 inch beige head that dissipated to a ring and cap, with some sticky lacing.

Smells of sweet malt, sweet caramel and brown sugar, and orange. Nice orange aroma.

Tastes of sweet pale malt, orange, with an herbal bitterness. There is just a touch of dark malt and milk chocolate. Finishes clean and dry. Love the high dosage of Hallertau with its orange flavor and a grassy bitter finish.

Body is medium and the carbonation is moderate and round, giving this a full, creamy mouthfeel.

I enjoyed this red ale. The alcohol level, malt sweetness, and hops push it into imperial territory, yet the alcohol is well contained and the brew is well balanced and interesting. Too bad ST is not making this any more.

 926 characters

Photo of superspak
3.98/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into tulip glass, no bottle dating(but this is definitely fairly aged, it is in a twist off bottle). Pours hazy reddish orange color, with a small 1 finger off white head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Some decent spotty lacing on the glass. Aromas of big caramel, biscuit, floral, toffee, pine, light chocolate, toast, and herbal spiciness. Some pretty good aromas here, with big caramel sweetness noticed. Taste of big caramel, chocolate, toffee, biscuit, grapefruit, toast, herbal, floral, and light pine. At 93 IBU, there is a surprisingly tame amount of herbal bitterness on the finish. Lingering notes of caramel, toffee, chocolate, citrus, biscuit, floral, herbal, and light pine on the finish for a bit. Big sweetness over the hoppiness, but it is not cloying at all. Nicely balanced and smooth flavors. Medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a nice creamy, slick, and slightly sticky mouthfeel. Alcohol is extremely well hidden at 9.5%, with only a small warming after the finish. Very smooth to sip on as well. Overall this was a damn nice imperial red, despite being pretty old. Great flavor balance, and very smooth for such a big beer.

 1,204 characters

Photo of budgood1
3.58/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bomber.

pours out a bright orange and copper colour, slightly hazed with a dense light tan head. in the nose, caramel and chocolate malts are detected followed by hints of spicy hoppiness. the taste profile is a pleasant mix of layered maltiness, quite rich and creamy in texture...toffee, nougat and cocoa notes all meld well together. spicy, herbal hoppiness add a touch of splendor to the overall flavour profile and also provides a good dose of bitterness. there are hints of alcohol and oxidation...just a hint of wet cardboard. doesn't really affect the enjoyment too much. full bodied...with a slick yet coarse mouthfeel. drinkability is's enjoyable yet restrained in nature.

overall i'm guessing i may have sampled this past its prime. a few off flavours can be detected in both the aroma and taste. oh well...

 837 characters

Photo of TTAmod
3.87/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bomber poured into pint glass. It looks like this bottle has been dragged through the Capitol Wastelands (after bombing Megaton, of course.) Oh yeah, I just plugged a video game in a review of a retired beer that no one will probably ever read. But seriously, the silk-screen letters on the side are all upside down and in random spots. It looks hilarious.

And....since ST doesn't date their bottles (damn you!), I have no idea what the age of this beer is. I'd guess it was from last year, but there seriously is NO WAY to know. I found it at a little shop in a Podunk town that has a lot of little gems here and there. Saw it sitting on the shelf next to a Mokah. It had no price tag and was the only one there. I'm guessing they probably found it in the 7th circle of stockroom Hell -and just put it out for the lulz.


A: Cloudy light amber color. Head is a one finger tan head with good retention and lacing. There's quite a bit of sediment flouting about, as well. This is to be expected with a beer like this...

S: Still smells good enough. Has that familiar ST malt base (think Unearthly.) I smell faint grassy hops, caramel and toffee.

T: Nice, toasty grain up front. Remnants of Unearthly-like hops after that. Goes into a bit of a metallic taste along with a nice dose of spice. Finally finishes slightly bitter and has that toasted grain on the end, as well. There's also a kiss of juicy fruit at the end, too.

Malt base is a nice roasted caramel and toffee. Hops have held up pretty well.

M: Medium-heavy. Creamy. Ample carbonation, which is nice. Pretty good.

O: Still pretty damn good. I'm quite surprised, really. This one can kind of be compared with the Lagunitas Imperial Red. The Impy Red is a bit better, but this one has a lot of age on it. This beer gives off a similar vibe.

If you still find it sitting around somewhere, not a bad way to go for $5.99

 1,903 characters

Photo of BEERMILER12
3.85/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No bottle date, so this is at least a year old, possibly closer to 2 years.

A: Pours a copper/light amber color with a fingers worth of head that recedes to lace within a minute

S: This is similar to a lot of ST's hoppier beers, with a bite of hops and lots of sweet malts as well. Prominent caramel as well, which adds to the sweetness

T: Definitely on the maltier side, but the hops provide a fairly bitter finish. Hops are definitely flowery as well, which goes surprisingly well with the malty sweetness. The alcohol adds a nice complexity with some fruity esters

M: Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation

O: I'm surprised by how well the hops have held up over the year or 2. If anything, the alcohol is the only thing that got mellowed out by the age. Seeing as how this won't be released any more (this year at least), you should definitely pick up a bottle if you haven't had it yet

 901 characters

Photo of BlurryVisi0n
3.56/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured unto a pint.

Appearance: Pours a semi cloudy amber, white head is roughly 1/4" thick.

Smell: I would love to rate this a little higher but it is a light smell, nothing to rave about.. but if it smell like anything dry hops, and slight flowery.

Taste: Slight caramel, and feel of pine. For all IPA lovers this is the light flavor but full alcohol flavored version.

Mouth: Perfect balance of medium carbonation. This is pretty smooth.

Overall: Just drink this and sit back, this is pretty good beer. Definitely not perfect, but just enough. Salud.

 560 characters

Photo of deadonhisfeet
3.43/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Hazy apricot color with a nice 2-finger head, great retention, and excellent lacing on the glass. The nose offers primarily sweet cedary tones, some floral hop notes, and some alcohol. The flavors are sweet and malty and there is a noticeable presence of alcohol throughout, giving the beer that medicinal taste that I associate with barley wines. The hops counteract it some, but more are needed. There is a light, semi-dry finish and a good firm mouthfeel.

Not a bad beer, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. The slight booziness is a bit of a turnoff for me, but fans of barley wines might really like it. I also feel that this beer would benefit greatly from additional hops.

 694 characters

Photo of jmarsh123
3.08/5  rDev -21%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a dark gold with a 1.5 finger white head.

Some sweet bready malt and spicy hops.

Starts off with a slight floral hop presence. Healthy amounts of caramel malt finishes with a dry earthy hop finish.

Medium mouthfeel with adequate carbonation.

Nothing overly complex. Would prefer a little bit bolder hop blend in this as the malt overpowers a bit.

 356 characters

Photo of heysuz
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Intro: Split a 22oz. with a friend in a snifter glass.

Appearance: Thin but bubbly head that slowly recedes and a cap that stays with lacing that clings to the glass. As we continued to drink the head stayed strong and the lacy cling to the end. Some carbonation and true to its name, it is a reddish amber color.

Smell: Strong citrus aroma with some malty smells in the background but not very strong.

Taste: Bold hoppy flavor smoothed out with a nutty, resin aftertaste that blends together with good balance, but I bit strong on the grapefruit and lemon notes. The taste was a surprise based on the nose of this beer.

Mouthfeel: I feel the alcohol in the back of the throat more than I really taste it. It has a pleasant dryness, but little to no aftertaste.

Overall: This is just one more example of the consistently good quality from Southern Tier. While it may not be a top ten, mostly because I have not tried any of this style before, but it is a very good beer. I would consider this a second shelf beer, its good, but there are lots of others I would reach for first.

 1,082 characters

Photo of Beer4Baltimore
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - cloudy light copper with two fingers of foamy head over a bubbly pour.
S - sweet with a light fragrant hoppiness that doesn't knock down a hophead.
T - sweet up front and in the middle but finishing pleasantly hoppy with a little more drying than I expected. Malts are rich but not overly heavy. The hallertau hops are enjoyable even without the bitter bite.
M - moderately heavy with nice carbonation and it is exceptionally smooth.
D - an easy drinker and a definite repeat.

 480 characters

Photo of ngeunit1
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a clear copper-red color with a finger of frothy white head atop. The head fades slowly leaving behind some nice lacing in the process.

S - The aroma is a mix of super sweet and rich caramel malt and some pine hops. There is also a bit of booze evident.

T - The beer starts off with strong sweetness from the rich caramel malts. There is just a touch of pine hops in the background at this point. Through the middle, the richness of the malts backs off a bit and the piney hops get a bit stronger with some bitterness alongside. The finish is a mix of sweetness and some hop flavor, though a bit more mild, with some of the booze flavor coming through.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. The beer feels fairly smooth with a bit of warming due to the booze flavors.

D - Pretty drinkable. The flavors are very rich, especially the sweetness. The booze is also pretty evident, though it actually works well with the other strong flavors in the beer.

 975 characters

Photo of metter98
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is slightly hazy light amber-orange in color and has a light to moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high light beige head that gradually died down, leaving some bubbles on the surface and around the edge of the glass.
S: There are moderately strong aromas of spicy hops in the nose along with some hints of caramel malts.
T: Like the smell, flavors of spicy hops and a light to moderate amount of accompanying bitterness stand out in the taste, although they are in no way overpowering because they are balanced by a sizable amount of caramel and bready malts, which also contribute some notes of malty sweetness.
M: It feels medium-bodied, a bit crisp and slightly smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The beer is surprisingly easy to drink considering its strength because any traces of alcohol are well hidden from the taste.

 894 characters

Photo of antlerwrestler19
3.55/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours deep golden amber with a 1.5 finger head that is very frothy and thick - I was expecting it to have more of a red or crimson hue to it following its name and style. The smell is sweet - caramel, hints of tropical fruits no one thing standing out over others. The taste is unexpected - very sweet up front with burnt caramel, fire roasted cinnamon apples (cinnamon is very faint), remains sweet on the tongue with a slightly bitter ending. The mouthfeel is full bodied and very sticky almost chewy - I kinda like it. I was expecting more out of this beer - I hope my anticipation for drinking it didn't kill how much I enjoyed it. Don't get me wrong this was a good beer just a little sweet, perhaps needs to be a little roastier??

Note: after drinking down for awhile it shows nice lacing


 804 characters

Photo of jtingue
4.12/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip.

Appearance. Pours a crystal clear red-amber. A half-finger of head dissipates to nothing but a ring of bubble around the glass. Very viscous, almost imperial stout like viscosity.

Smell. A mix of herbal, grassy, slightly fruity hop aroma. Sweet, carmely, candy apple like malts are equally as strong as the hop aromas. The two mingle to crreate a complex nose.

Taste. A sweet bitterness starts out this great progression of flavors. This is followed by a nice floral sweetness. Herbal, and grassy notes take over, along with a flavor that reminds me of the skin of a fresh red apple. The finish is dry with a lingering bittersweetness.

Mouthfeel. Medium to heavy in body with fairly low carbonation. Pretty standard really.

Much like Unearthly is to IPAs this is an interesting take, for me, on red ales.

 831 characters

Photo of Gmann
3.34/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a golden color with some amberish hues. Not very amber for an imperial amber. The head is of moderate size and dense. It leaves a creamy cap with some slight lacing.

The aroma has a strong scent of tropical fruit hops. Big on the candied pineapple. Perhaps there is some apricot notes. The malt brings a large toffee presence with some caramel. Some pepper rounds out the aroma. Must say this is not my favorite aroma profile, way too sweet.

The taste starts off with a strong toffee and caramel wave from the malt. It is smooth and sweet. The pineapple from the hops adds to the sweetness. There is some subtle grassy and pepper notes.

Full bodied with prickly carbonation. Mainly sweet on the palate but does have some bitterness to try to balance. It is a bit sticky on the finish.

I am disappointed in this beer. I guess this is an amber ale because of the big toffee/caramel presence but other than that it doesn't remind me of others within the same style. The hop profile is also disappointing since it is rather sweet to go along with a sweet malt. Southern Tier's hoppy ales don't really do it for me.

 1,120 characters

Photo of steelerguy
3.29/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Pours copper, low to moderate carbonation, huge head that sticks around for a bit and leaves some lacing. Great looking beer if this were an IIPA or even pale ale, but it is supposed to be an amber and an amber it is not.

S - Sweet caramel, hay, some toast, and a bit of spiciness.

T - This tastes like it smells, but a bit subdued. Seems like it is almost all pale malt with a touch of caramel and only the faintest hint of the chocolate malt (that is actually good). The hops take a back seat to the malt that doesn't want to seem to take the forefront. There is nothing Imperial about this other than the name and perhaps ABV.

M - Feels over attenuated, there isn't enough body for an Imperial style ale. Not much going on here, I would expect to get a bit more warmth from the alcohol, so that is well hidden at 9%.

O - This is a boring and pedestrian example of an Imperial anything, let alone an Imperial Red Ale. I wouldn't even call this a red ale. Not a bad beer, just not to style and fairly one note. Not something I will get again.

 1,052 characters

Big Red from Southern Tier Brewing Company
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 399 ratings