Big Red (Imperial Red) | Southern Tier Brewing Company

very good
321 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 321 | Ratings: 398
Photo of Homebrew35
2.07/5  rDev -46.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

2008 bomber.
Pours with barely a half finger of head. Hardly a ring of lacing remains. Clear amber in color. Smells Carmely sweet and a sour twang, we suspected the bottles from this vintage to be infected and this definitely is. Tastes sweet and carmel, sour tart lactic acid, shoe leather, tart cherry, some hop bitterness. Hard to swallow after a few ounces. Medium full bodied, medium carbing. Overall this is a let down and sad to know that I've now had three different new and old infected bottles from ST.
Drain poured after 4 ounces shared among friends.

 563 characters

Photo of beals
2.57/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

22oz bomber, poured into a snifter.

first impressions: hm, no "pop" when taking the cap off. something must be amiss.

a: pale, looks like slightly-reddish apple juice. expected this one to be darker, perhaps more opaque. i can see clean through it. no head. no bubbles at all.

s: alcohol, sweet caramel, some esters. slight citrus hop aroma.

t: alcohol, sweet hops, some fruity esters. no, and i mean *zero* carbonation, which throws the whole taste experience off.

m: zero carbonation. i think i must have gotten a bad bottle here.

overall: i was really excited about this beer going in, and i generally love ST's stuff, but this was a huge disappointment -- to the point where i would take it back to the store for a refund, if i hadn't already drank some of it. i know it's mostly due to the lack of carbonation, but you gotta have some QC here, guys.

 860 characters

Photo of ToddT
2.73/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- Coppery red color with minimal cream colored head. The head quickly fades to a ring and leaves a light amount of lacing on the top of the glass.

S- Subtle aroma of hops more grassy than grapefruit or pine. Caramel and malt is in there too, but not much else.

T- Malt and a big rush of sweetness come at you first. This is then replaced by the bitterness of the hops and an astringent alcohol flavored finish. A little on the harsh side.

M- Thin in the mouth and lightly carbonated. Has that oily, not always pleasant, aftertaste of the hops.

D- Play of the sweetness and the bitterness is out of balance, more of a clash than a counterpoint. The 9.5% ABV is easily noted in the finish. Drinkable but not an easy one.

Needs more balance to make me a fan.

 761 characters

Photo of hardy008
2.73/5  rDev -29.5%
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 RonfromJersey
2.74/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Orange-gold body, excellent clarity, mild carbonation streams, topped by three fingers plus of off-white foam. Excellent lacing.

Nose is plenty of bread, with a strong candied sugar cookie bite at the front. A little too sweet.

Some nice malt notes on first taste, but the foundation doesn't quite set. Some earthy hops follow the slippery sweet malt, and temporarily overtake it. After a nice hop nip at the swallow, there's a sudden snap of over sweet alcohol at the finish, clashing with a lingering noble hop finish.

Mouthfeel is a bit sloppy, a bit too slick. The slight and sudden alcohol bite hurts drinkability.

A disappointment compared with much of Southern Tier's offerings. A solid idea, but this particular brew just never came together.

 755 characters

Photo of LilBeerDoctor
2.86/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle. Pours a clear amber with a small off-white head. Aroma of sweet malt, lemon, raisin, alight booze, some oxidation. Flavor is sweeter, with lots of malt, iced tea, prunes, and raisins. Not very good, not hoppy either. Could be an old bottle, but I'm really not sure. Meh.

 278 characters

Photo of caddybuyer
2.93/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Gotta hand it to Southern Tier...I love those painted bottles

A-Veiled light amber IPA'ish look to it. Not quite what I expected for something classifed as a red/amber ale. Fluffy white head that settles rapidly.

S-Pine hops on the initial nose, with some malts in the background. I expected a bit more here.

T-When cold, the initial sip is overwhelmingly harsh, not in a bitter hops kind of way, but in a "this tastes like raw kerosene" kind of way. It searches all over for a kind of malt and hops balance, but just ends up being overpowering. As it warms, it mellows to more of a barleywine profile, but never quite ends up in the right place.

M-Medium mouthfeel, a bit over carbonated.

D-Not. A very unfinished feeling product. I'm guessing that with some cellaring it will mellow out a bit, and I intend to buy another and do just that to give it another chance.

Imperial Amber? I would classify this more as a barleywine...and as such, there are much better out there...

 984 characters

Photo of Arbitrator
2.94/5  rDev -24%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

Chilled bottle into a glass. I can't remember for the life of me who sent this one -- I think amietaj1 or busch03. Sorry guys, my trades are running together in my head. But I appreciate the bottle, and thank you to the sender.

A: Pours a hazy copper-amber body with a couple of inches of fluffy foam. Retention is impressively long; over 5 minutes the head collapses in sections before leaving a thick island clump on top, which floats around as I drink. There is also a thick collar around the edges that leaves some beautiful lacing down the sides of the glass.

S: Toast, caramel malt, and a bit of chocolate. The hops are floral and spicy, which makes for a pretty interesting aroma. Needs some agitation to bring it out though.

T: Something's off about this. The first few sips have a harsh and medicinal quality to them. The beer does have red characteristics, with caramel driving the flavor and toasted / chocolate malts fleshing it out. But it doesn't seem, well, "Big" as the name says. It's just "Red." The spicy and floral hops are kind of weak against the sweetness, and contribute more to the idea that this is just a hopped red ale. I also find that the choice of floral hops makes for a strange flavor contrast that I just can't get into. The finish is toasty, with no trace of the ABV.

M: Since the pour brought out a lot of the carbonation in the head, the result is a medium-bodied brew with low-moderate carbonation and a generally creamy effect. Absolutely well hidden ABV.

D: This is a very mellow imperial red. That's an accomplishment in itself, but it also makes the beer fairly unremarkable in its flavor profile. I don't think I'd really care to pick this up again.

 1,701 characters

Photo of Patrick999
3/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

I swear I like Hallertau hops, but they just don't do it for me here.

It looks like a big red ale. EXTREMELY clear orange-red, wow. That is one clear beer. Lots of active bubbles and foam.

Aroma is of pungent onion, leafy tobacco....interesting multi-faceted green noble hop smell. Whatever my opinion of the taste, it's pretty cool to have a hop bomb with different hops than are used in most other hop bombs.

I was good with Big Red up until I put it to my lips. Once again, it has that unpleasant dull Southern Tier bitterness! It seems that no matter what hops they use, they can't avoid it. Tastes like chewing on dirt, twigs and leaves, and not in a good way. This just isn't to my taste.

Pretty good creamy mouthfeel...for me this is a damned good beer in all categories except taste and drinkability.

 814 characters

Photo of MMAJYK
3.07/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From my notebook.

A- Honey gold with reddish highlights. Head is minimal, just a thin ring. Not very amber...

S- Honeylike malts dominate, touch of hops, touch of smoke and roast.

T- Sweet, no hops to compensate. Off balanced mess, actually.

M- Light and low carbonation.

D- Not a good beer. Off balanced and just all over the place.

 338 characters

Photo of jmarsh123
3.08/5  rDev -20.4%
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 sleazo
3.1/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A_Pours a hazy brown with slight hints of red. Decent off white head results in vertical whispy columns of lace.

S_Caramel malt dominates the nose with hints of grassy medicinal hops. There is also an iodine like quality here as well. The alcohol and malt make this smell more like a barley wine.

T_The Alcohol is more subdued in the taste. The caramel malt makes its presence known but it is backed up by a grassy and slightly spicy hop backbone. The finish lacks a burn fromt he % but produces a good balancing bitterness.

M_A bit sticky, mild carbonation.

D_This was purchased last summer. It seems like the type of beer that would have been very hot if drank immediately. I would say it is surpsirngly mellow alcohol wise but the overall flavour is strong. Definitely drinks more along the lines of a barleywine. This is another Southern Tier beer that pushes boundaries. To be honest I am not sure if the idea behind the beer makes complete sense(Hallertau in an American Imp Red?) but it is interesting.

 1,014 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
3.15/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

One of the next in the series of big beers from Southern Tier I was set to try. I grabbed this one out the night I got home from Vacation as I had been wanting something a little heavier and new. Served chilled from the cellar fridge and poured into a n oversized wine glass, this one was consumed on 10/14/2008.

The pour was rather non impressive. A nice light brown color with a good amount of cloudiness and haze to it. Not much in the way of a head reaching up through it at all, in fact it was rather lifeless on the first pour, though the second got a bit better. Nice side glass lacing towards then end and some moderate carbonation coming up through it.

The aroma was sweet, nice touches of caramel malts and an almost candy like sweetness that was wrapped up nicely in a bit of a grassy, earthy, hop like nose. The flavor was more of the same, but I have to admit I am not terribly impressed here at all with this. Lots of alcohol in the flavor here, a bit of a hotness that I have not seen in the rest of the series. Lots of grainy malts, touches of light caramel and a mostly understated hop flavor. Lingering taste of hot alcohol and grain left me hanging again as well as I really was expecting more from this here.

Overall I am not so sure about this one. I have been rather impressed by everything from Southern Tier up until now. This one really just left me kind of flat. Needed more depth in the flavor and more character for me.

 1,450 characters

Photo of jwinship83
3.16/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- pours into the nonic a dark amber color with a finger of white foam. The head sticks around for a while and leaves spotty lacing along the sides of my glass

S- lots of bready malt and a little bit of fruity hops. Kind of a let down, I was expecting it to be very hoppy.

T- lots of malts. Caramel and bread like. Finishes with a small amount of piny or fruity hops.

M- medium bodied with ample carbonation.

D- one bomber was enough. I was kind of disappointed with this one, I remembered it being a lot hoppier last time. i don't think ill be checking this one out again for a while.

 591 characters

Photo of nrbw23
3.16/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a nice red color with a decent white head and nice spotty lacing down my glass.

S- Sweet malts and caramel malts and whiskey, very boozy. I could also pick up some yeast and spice.

T- Light caramel malts, starts out nice and sweet and then gets blasted by spices and a burning taste.

M- Medium in body, low carbonation and alcohol and spice burn the entire time.

D- Ok. This is pretty filling and very bitter.

 423 characters

Photo of ppoitras
3.18/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz bottle purchased as a single from Julio's, Marlboro, MA.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" beige head over the slightly cloudy red brew. Head holds on nicely, with coating lacing. Aroma is balanced with grains and hoppy character. Flavor starts with a moderate maltiness, but is quickly overpowered by hops bitterness. The malt does make a comeback near the swallow, but then is quashed by the somewhat raw alcohol aftertaste. Mouthfeel and drinkability are both not working very well for me either. That parting blow of booze that lingers in the mouth just does nothing for me.

 603 characters

Photo of Jeffo
3.18/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Got this at De Bierkoning in Amsterdam.

From a bottle into a snifter.

APPEARANCE: Pours a 1 ½ finger thicker looking off-white head with good retention. Clear and somewhere between carmine red and rust in color. Some carbonation evident. Slowly fades to a thin film and a thick bubbly ring. A thin film remains and leaves some good lacing down the glass.

SMELL: A bold nose of pale and toasted malt, as well as some caramel sweetness. A good dose of floral and citrus hops with touches of pine. Relatively hoppy nose for a red. Perhaps some sugary ginger bread in there too.

TASTE: Pale and toasted malt, like the nose. Caramel and toffee through the middle followed by some floral and piney hops. Not much citrus at all, unfortunately. Ends quite bitter-sweet with some sugary candy and a slightly metallic note. A nice beginning, but a disappointing ending. Average at best.

PALATE: Medium body and a little light on the palate really. Could be a little heavier and creamier. Goes down smooth enough and finishes slightly mouth-coating.

OVERALL: A decent beer, but the least impressive Imperial Red I've had so far. The finish was a bit messy on this one. Southern Tier makes some good stuff, but this one was a little disappointing.

 1,248 characters

Photo of NEhophead
3.2/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 fl oz brown bottle; served in a tulip.

Slightly hazy, light copper in color. Creamy, half-inch white head that fades to a thin film. A few trails of thin and spotted lacing.

Semi-sweet toasted breadiness. Fresh floral hops; citrus hints as well without overpowering. Subtle but fresh.

Toasted malts with a hint of caramel. Slightly musty with a profile of dried nuts: peanut and almond. Hints of of saffron and a bulky, warm alcohol. Clean, but non-descript floral hops. Nutty and phenolic in the finish.

Medium bodied; grainy, yet slick due to the unmasked alcohol character.

A bland, floral hop-based ale with an over-the-top alcohol presence. Very one-dimensional and nothing special.

 695 characters

Photo of BeerBelcher
3.2/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Far from the best Southern Tier beer I've had, but still not bad.

Red and transparent, but not brilliant like most other Southern Tier beers I've had. Aroma is a bit hoppy and contains a malty bitter. Flavor is a bit metallic, full maltiness which to me comes across as non-hoppy bitterness, but there's also a good amount of hop. Mouthfeel is what I'd expect from an amber, and unremarkable but not bad.

I'd weakly recommend this beer. I bought this 22oz bottle at 3 Cellars in Franklin, WI.

 494 characters

Photo of Stoneman78
3.21/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle purchased at Sam's in Clybourn

Appearance is a clear light orange hue with amber edges, clumpy off-white foam dissipates, watery lacing

Smell is subtle aromas, hints of bread and caramel malts, light hops, and yeast

Taste is initially bread malts and grain, transitions to subtle caramel malts and floral/pine hops, finishes dry

Mouthfeel is medium-bodied, watery slick texture, moderate to prickly carbonation

Drinkability is fair, surprising lack of [caramel] malts for a red ale, hallertau is subtle and lacks some of the hop body presence seen in the other beers in the ST Imperial lineup, alcohol is well-masked, this feels more like a pale ale than a red ale

 676 characters

Photo of asabreed
3.25/5  rDev -16%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bomber into a pint glass.

Appearance: A red with a golden yellow color, little retention, and minimal lacing? Little to admire here.

Smell: Bready and doughy malts with some caramel, along with some mild citrus hops. Average.

Taste: Malt sweetness and citrus hops, with mild earthiness, woodiness, caramel malts, maybe mild chocolate. Hoppy semi-dry finish. A bit better than average and balanced, but doesn't make me crave more, as it's not all that complex, even as it warms.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a decent tingle of carbonation, but nothing more really.

Drinkability: I haven't been this disappointed from buying a beer in a long time. I paid $6.99 for the bomber, and I may not buy another Southern Tier brew (that's probably not true, but still...). The labels are nice, they talk a big game, but I'm skeptical and annoyed at this point. I've had so many better reds at this point, and this is not one of them. I wouldn't buy this again, especially for the expected quality and the price tag.

 1,014 characters

Photo of bigdeuce
3.26/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a nice red color with a pillowy head. Smells of sweet malts and caramel esthers and whiskey, very boozy. That is the problem I had with this beer, although good, very very boozy. It overwhelms the great flavors of the beer. I think a little less syrup in this one, would have kept the brew balanced. It is a good beer, though, with juicy hops that can be tasted on every sip.

 381 characters

Photo of bierguru
3.28/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A -
head forms a thin lacing body is amber with a redish hue

S -
hops light hint of some other spice

T -
definitely something different different right up front cant but my finger on it and then a big bold hop finish but i do also get some oak

M -
smooth upfront hops linger on the tongue

D -
i actually really like this beer love th big simple hop taste

 360 characters

Photo of Knapp85
3.28/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This brew pours out as a nice red color with tan colored head that has some decent lacing for a little while. The smell has some good caramel malts with a bit of hops in there. The taste has a pretty interesting bite to it, this beer gives off both the sweetness and the bitterness of a common red ale. The mouthfeel is a bit thicker than most red ales which is good since it's an imperial. Overall, this brew is pretty good. I'd drink it again if given the opportunity.

 470 characters

Photo of steelerguy
3.29/5  rDev -15%
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

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Big Red (Imperial Red) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
3.87 out of 5 based on 398 ratings.
  • About Us

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

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

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

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