Big Red (Imperial Red) | Southern Tier Brewing Company

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321 Reviews
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Big Red (Imperial Red)Big Red (Imperial Red)

Brewed by:
Southern Tier Brewing Company
New York, United States

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by oberon on 07-03-2006

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 321 | Ratings: 398
Photo of HombreWing
5/5  rDev +29.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22oz - Imp pint

Eyes: Pours bright...Pale ale orange...Head pours big and and quickly falls to a 1/2"

Nose: Toasted malts ...subtle biscuity/bready ...spicy hops
No caramel what-so-ever

Tounge: Lovely toasted malt balanced by spicy hops ...not citrusy or piney but at the same time still an American feel to it.
again....very little caramel malt flavor.

Mouthfeel....high end medium body

Overall experience: The 9.5%abv is so well hidden, one could almost question it. I judged this beer as to what I thought it represented ..An American Imp Pale Ale (at it's best) ..vs. what it bills itself as, A Imp Red. A superb ale regardless

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Photo of techdiver
4.85/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a nice orange with a modest head.

Balanced nose, nice malt background.

Taste is outstanding. Balanced with alcohol so well hidden.

Great mouthfeel and great drinkability. Southern Tier makes some great stuff, and this is one of the finest examples.

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Photo of Lupe
4.77/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a slightly hazy pale copper with a foamy white head. Head sticks around a bit before settling to a thin sheet and leaves wispy lace.

Nice blast of hops - juicy citrus and fresh pine. Some toasted bread and caramel come out next. Building spice rounds things out.

Flavor upfront has toasted grain and caramel. The malt leads the way for spicy and floral hops to shine. Hops are fresh and bright, adding lots of flavor and a solid dose of bitterness - not at all overwhelming. Through in some fruit and light roast before a spicy finish. Alcohol is barely noticeable adding additional spice to mix with the hops'. Delicious and hard to put down.

Medium-bodied and silky smooth with a lingering spicy tingle on the tongue. Ridiculously easy to drink. Feels and drinks like a session beer, but you are going to find trouble in a 9.5% abv 22oz bomber.

The mighty Hallertau - this beer continues what Sam Adams Imperial Pilsner did to showcase the noble hop. Great beer.

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Photo of sacrelicio
4.75/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

My God, how I love a good amber/red ale! Southern Tier is new to my homeland, and I love their innovative "imperial" takes on common beer styles. This one is fantastic, with a nice, rich appearance, a refreshing smell and taste, with plenty of noble hop aromas and flavors. Rich and herbal, with that "red" flavor that I can't quite put my finger on. The mouthfeel is good, and the drinkabilty is superior. This tastes sessionable but will likely kick your ass. It might kick mine, I'm only halfway done with the bottle! Better than Unearthly.

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Photo of Mitchster
4.68/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

$5.99 for a 22oz bottle at Merchants. 9.5% ABV, OG=20 degrees plato, 93 IBU's, 15 degrees Lovibond. Brewed with 2 row pale malt, caramel, and chocolate malt. Hallertau magnum & hallertau tradition kettle hops. Hallertau perle & hallertau magnum dry hops.

Pours out to a sparkingly clear deep crimson, forming a large rocky and sticky yellow head with superior retention and beautifully gorgeous lacing. Carbonation is mild to medium. The aroma is great...spicy hallertau with plenty of resinous and grapefruit overtones, then a large wave of husky and sticky malts with caramel, toast, and grain husk. No off-aromas. The mouthfeel is as smooth as a silk pillow, genuinely soft with a dense, big body. The taste is exceptional. Spicy and resinous hops up front, followed by waves of huge sticky malts. Grapefruit and pine in the finish, and sweet grain husk and toast in the aftertaste. No off-flavors, and alcohol is barely perceptable. I drank this at about 45 degree F which was perfect.

This is an amazing brew. It cloaks it's strength very well. Especially considering it's strength, this is exceptionally well-balanced. I could drink 3 of these bombers without suffering palette fatigue. This bomber went down way too easily. I would buy this again in a heartbeat. Highly recommended! Besting Red Rocket and Red Rye as the best of the best.

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Photo of Gehrig
4.58/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

My latest sampling of the Thankful for Southern Tier Tour, Big Red gets its extended, dedicated tryout this afternoon. Banging the body low and getting position on the blocks in the post or hitting the "j" from the elbow, Big Red showed that it's the equivalent of Bill Walton, another famous Big Red from a few decades ago. This stacks up, people.

Two dense fingers of off-white foam crest atop a rich, clear, ruby body with mahogany highlights--not the other way around. Several dense, seemingly permanent rings of lacing adorn my right-hand man, the Ommegang glass, looking like a windshield in a blizzard. The most decorative Red I've ever enjoyed, giving Big Red a Five is a cinch, for me.

Hops and malt assail the nose with Big Red--big blasts of Hallertau hops with caramel and chocolate malt make for a terrific smell, really first-rate for a red. It's indeed imperial, given the hop prevalence. The taste is only confirmation of the Imperial qualities of Big Red--lots of hops, bold malt backbone. Hops carry the day, but malt provide the back beat. Terrific. The mouthfeel closes the deal for Big Red for me. It's the apex of creamy smooth and hopped, for a red. More creamy than resiny given its style and content, that the hops carry through so far in this gem is remarkable. I'm in awe.

Big Red is the best Amber/Red I've ever had, no question. This is no small feat, for St. Rogue is tremendous, Lagunitas Lucky #13 is excellent, and Ruedrich's from North Coast is way tasty. Big Big Red surprised me. It just might be my favorite thus far from the sterling Southern Tier. Nestled deep within the extreme southwest corner of Western New York, Lakewood harbors a gem--Southern Tier. Among its wares, the rest of which I certainly look forward to trying, Big Red is something else.


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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.52/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a mug glass.

A: The beer is a deep amber color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is full of floral hops, fruity citrus and caramelized malt.

T: The taste is very hoppy and very sweet with strong flavors of grassy hops, fruity citrus and caramel. There’s no trace of the 9.50% ABV in the taste and if they didn’t call it an “Imperial Red Ale” I would swear that it’s a 2IPA. There’s a little bit of smokiness in it and a very hearty malt character. The after-taste is sweet and slightly hoppy.

M: Very crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky but still dry.

D: Very tasty, goes down dangerously easily, not too filling, strong kick, I had expectations for this beer and they were certainly met. Even though it’s not listed as such, this beer is as drinkable and flavorful as any Double IPA you’ll find. This is yet another high-quality big beer from Southern Tier.

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Photo of Kendo
4.49/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: From a 22 oz bomber into a pint glass, it pours a slightly murky reddish-amber with a 1-finger foamy khaki-colored head with decent retention. Some lacing remains behind all the way down.

S: Very pleasant in the nose -- sweet caramel with a slightly fruity hint to it, but also a spicy, florally kick as well. I kept putting my nose in the glass to get a good wiff, and each time I did I enjoyed it anew.

T: First impression was of the caramel malt sweetness, but it follows up with the taste of honey-drizzled, juicy hops. A very nice balance between the two, though these are not the bitter kind of hops, so the overall impression is more of sweetness than a bitter/sweet balance. Still, it is not an annoying or cloying kind of sweetness at all, but rather is nicely balanced between the malty and the hoppy sweetness. Suprisingly at 9.5% ABV, the alcohol isn't noted at all in the taste, but it definitely warms the belly. And the buzz is felt pretty quickly too.

M: Smooth and creamy but full-bodied.

D: Very good, but I found myself slowing down a bit as it warmed. Good idea with a beer of this strength.

Notes: First -- what's with the painted labels on bombers from Southern Tier? This one fell apart in sheets, similarly to the Unearthly I had a few months ago. . . . The bottle suggests you use a snifter for this, which is what is usually recommended for barleywines. Normally when I see that I use an oversized wine glass, but I was at a friend's house and didn't have that option available. Given the taste of this, I could see why they'd want to treat it like a barleywine. Especially as it warmed, I felt it displayed more characteristics of a BW or a DIPA than an amber or red ale. Maybe the "Imperial Red" moniker is justified, as the color was clearly in red or amber territory, but in taste it's a lot bigger than your average amber or red ale. Being a fan of those kinds of bigger beers, I enjoyed this beer and would recommend it as a sipper for a cool night.

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Photo of ccrida
4.48/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber (thx Hojaminbag!) poured into a nonic, Big Red is a clear, bubbly copper with a huge, tight, off white head that holds a very firm shape as it rises a good 1.5 inches above the rim of the glass without breaking tension. It remains meringue like while it slowly settles, leaving heavy lace rings Wow!

Smell is moderate, spicy and floral. Really nice mango and cotton candy notes. Served at cellar temp.

Taste is great, gingerbread malt and spicy noble hop, smooth and clean. I don't my amber's to be too complex, but I do like them on the richer side, spicy and hoppy with a full flavor. Big Red is exactly what I look for in this style (even though it's a bit of an outlier).

Mouthfeel is thin and oily, with a much lighter body then I expected for the size, which is a plus. It has that watery english ale feel, with a prickly finish.

Drinkability is high, this one's deceptive in it's strength. These big hoppy reds have quickly become one of my favorite styles, and I believe this was the first one I had. After not having it in a good while, it's great to revisit and remind myself how good it is.

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Photo of mindlucent2007
4.47/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a rich, red-copper color with about an 1/8 inch head that turns into a film that represents a well developed brew.

Clean crisp aroma of hops, the Hallertau perhaps. A flowery and earthy blast as I sniffed the last pour of this bomber.

A spicy and fruity complex combination here. Very balanced with the hops bite at the beginning and a malt backbone for sure.

Very light for an imperial brew, no way this is 9% abv in terms of heavyness I am thinking.

The crisp and light feel of this bad ass makes it rather addictive. I'll be seeking out this one again. Southern Tier with a heavy hitter here.

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Photo of Gosox8787
4.47/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Pored from a bomber bottle into a snifter glass in two parts.

Appearance: Brownish in color with a deep reddish hue. Light, pillowy, beige head that sticks heavily to the edge of the glass after each sip. Really good retention.

Aroma: Grapefruit notes from the hops, with a subtle hint of pine, make up the backbone of the aroma. Also, some sweetness and a little spice are also present and blent together nicely.

Taste: The malt spice and sweetness are a lot more notciable here. The hop notes are also present. The hop presence is not overwhelming but helps contribute to a nice falvor profile.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and rather creamy. Not much carbonation.

Drinkability: Really smooth with the ABV not that present anywhere. The falvor profile is really good and does not wear thin at all.

Overall, a really good Imperial Amber Ale. The flavor profile is really outstanding and the spice of the malt and hops are balanced perfectly. The flavors could be a bit stronger, but they still are strong. Just a really enjoyable brew. Comparable to Nugget Nectar in my opinion. Cretainly worth a try for anyone who enjoys this type of ale.

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.45/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle, served in a snifter.

A - clear, copper color with a good sized tan head of foam that settled to a floating island, leaving a good deal of lacing.

S - earthy and somewhat spicy aroma.

T - the malts are sweet, the hops are bitter and the taste is a very good balance between them.

M - medium bodied with a good carbonation feel.

D - very easy drinking, good tasting brew.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.43/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Dark cedary orange color that sustains a brilliant glow through it. Nice medium capping of frothy dusty tan foam that keeps a well displayed crop of bubbles and skim ever present. Lots of crazy lacing in lazy looking broken sheeting and thick stringy globs.

Thickly malted aroma thats sweet and apple-y with lots of caramel goodness and a slight toasty realm with a nice dry hop woody spice sense over the top that lends a terrific balance.

Taste is mighty and fulfillingly rich with a big malt side that slips and slides a smoothness of slick caramel and some subtle fruit tones sidelined with a bit of crunchy toasted edges and some gradual warmth. The hops are equally impressive as they create a welcoming balance of spicy wood character on the underside with firm yet poofy leafyness. Very fresh and wholesome with one very nice warmth and well-rounded character and balance.

Feel is quite fully loaded with lots of malty girth and wholesomely good character as is its nurturing hop side with wood spice and light dryness. Very smooth and boldly rich with a full bodied tenderness that warms the gullet quickly and keeps a liquidity all on its own thats stupendously yummy and wonderful to drink down.

This Impy Red is much like an aged Barleywine of sorts. The body, taste, and drinkability really stand out in that kind of fashion. With a bit of hops still mixin' it up...A wonderful brew by Southern Tier.

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Photo of generallee
4.42/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: It was poured from a brown 1pint 6oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: It has a deep reddish/orange amber body with a slight haze. On top is a creamy egg shell white colored head, which is about two fingers tall and quickly settles to a thin covering. This small cap of foam hangs on well and makes lots of spotty and slick lace patterns on the glass.

Smell: The aroma has loads of caramel maltiness and sweet bready notes with a solid backing of perfume like citrusy hops.

Taste/Palate: There is a good solid load of bready and caramel like maltiness with a very slight hint of bitter chocolate. Right up there on the tongue with the malt base are the hops which bring solid bitterness and floral and spicy citrus flavor. The palate has smooth slightly slick but well carbonated feel and the finish has a slow hop bitter fade.

Notes: This is an overlooked and I think under rated beer from Southern Tier. At 9.5% abv it is way too easy to drink.

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Photo of jondeelee
4.42/5  rDev +14.2%
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.

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Photo of cameraman
4.42/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A deep red and amber color with a light beige colored head forming on top, about quarter inch thick. A strong malty fragrance with a bready and cracked grain aroma, with touches of caramel as well, finishing with grassy and citrus scents. The malt is strong and hearty at the front of each taste that lasts through till the end. There are touches of dried fruit and the flavors of earthiness, along with a mild citric bitterness at the end. A medium bodied feel at the front, then it gradually gains weight as it rolls across the palate. With a more, malty flavor than one would expect, both the aroma and flavor are strong. The look is appealing and the hearty feel, make this very drinkable.

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.42/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a reddish-pink color. The head is half an inch in height, and recedes quickly into sparse lacing. The aroma is of pine resin, grapefruit, citrus, with loads of malt beneath. The taste is of malt, then hops, then malt again. All the aspects of the aroma are present with the addition of a nice, lingering hop presents. The mouthfeel full bodied with lively carbonation. Overall, this is a very fine beer. Imperial Amber/Red Ale is one of my favorite styles, and this one really hits of spot. I will certainly drink this one again.

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Photo of klewis
4.42/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a light copper with a frothy one-finger head. Moderate lacing.

S: A fruity smell with a floral hop aroma.

T: Malty, with a strong toffee backbone. Superbly balanced with a spicy minty hop character.

M: Full-bodied with fairly light carbonation. Sticky and somewhat dry.

D: Super easy to drink and a damn fine beer. I'll be revisiting this one.

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Photo of jjayjaye
4.42/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy light apple cider color with a full finger off white foamy head that resists fading. Spotty patterns of Belgian lacing enjoyed. The smell is primarily sweet caramel malt balanced nicely by a flowery signature "Southern Tier"combination of hops. Interesting how the sweet malt persists each time it's agitated. Adequately carbonated, the mouth feel is full boded with a nice tingle of hops and alcohol. Full flavored, the taste is a unique balance of caramel malt and hop bitterness. Scoring points for imagination and creativity. Beware: the 9.5% ABV is real and will take you there!!! This is kick'n the standards for Red Ale. Gotta love it!

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Photo of BMoney575
4.37/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Sampled on 8-6-07

Pours a nice orange amber color with a foamy white head thats leaves rings of lacing around the glass.

Smell is super fruity hops, with a hint of earthy malt.

Taste is big, fruity, grassy hops with a very pleasant earthy maltiness to keep it all in check. The finish is bitter and dry with a huge, tingly alcohol warming. No booze flavor at all.

Mouthfeel is good, spicy carbonation makes it even more fun.

Drinkability is astoundingly good for a thinner beer with such a big abv.

Overall, I've never had anything like it. You can feel the alcohol, you know it's there, but you can't taste it. It adds a hugeness to this beer that wouldn't be there otherwise. Recommended.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
4.35/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Just introduced to this brewery; I'm very impressed. A 22oz bottle, poured into a snifter. It was a reddish orange color with a small white head. It had a fruit and malt aroma. The taste was more on the malt side, just a little fruit. Very good hops presence that lingered on. The flavors improved as the beer approached room temperature. Nice beer.

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Photo of EStreet20
4.35/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 Ounce bomber bottle poured into a 20 ounce nonic pint glass.

A - A nice dark golden color. A two finger head that is nearly white sits atop.

S - Citrusy hop along with a sugary sweetness.

T - A nice blend of in your face sugary and alcohol along with hop flavors. The hops take an approachw ith less huge bitterness and more of a tea like flavor. Very nice.

M - Nice and smooth. Even medium body with just the right touch of prickly carbonation.

D - Very good. A nice hoppy amber. Borders on strong ale due to the ABV but is a little more subtle than an American Strong ale.

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Photo of bwyker
4.35/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a snifter.

Appearance: Clear, golden red body, off-white head

Smell: Lots of grapefruit hop with a bit of sweetness coming from the malts. Also a hint of alcohol.

Taste: Big citrus hop punch at the start. Complex malt sweetness in the middle. Followed by some bitterness and spice in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, slightly sticky, but overall pretty smooth. Slightly dry in the finish.

Drinkablity: Moderately drinkable. I could see the 9.5 abv catching up quickly, but definitely a tasty brew.

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Photo of ryanonline
4.35/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear deep red. White head that is fluffy and recedes quickly. Good lacing.

Smells deeply malty and bean like. Has a lot of citrussy and piney hop notes. A very basic beer not a lot of spice.

With the scent I was expecting this beer to be much more bitter. Suprisingly the citrus flavors of the hops shines through most. Also the taste isn't as malty as would have been indicated by the aroma, more caramel and less bran.

Mouthfeel is light and thin with a nice creamyness to it as well as a bittersweet finish that sticks but does not cling to your palette.

Tasty and light bodied with a high but not "too high" alcohol content makes this an impressively drinkable beer.

I shall hail southern tier as new kings of my fridge. I have yet to have a southern tier beer I do not like and this beer is quite something for an impy red.

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Photo of cbak999
4.35/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- poured from the bottle an orange copper color. Minimal head but enough to lace the glass.

S- I think the Hallertau hops hold this back. Hop smell is not evident, but chocolate is. I like the use of chocolate in a red.

T- First noticeable taste is chocolate. Hops are not overpowering at all. Could maybe use a bit more hop since it's an imperial, but I think the chocolate hides them.

D- Drinks very easy for a 9% beer. I don't taste any alcohol, and overall, I really like this beer.

This beer almost drinks like a weak, lighter porter. Compared to other Imperial red ales, this one can hold it's own. Again, I like the chocolate, but would also like a bit more hop.

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Big Red (Imperial Red) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
3.87 out of 5 based on 398 ratings.
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