Big Red (Imperial Red) | Southern Tier Brewing Company

very good
398 Ratings
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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.

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Ratings: 398 |  Reviews: 321
Photo of ultralarry2006
3.58/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle. Leaves one finger of a tan head that has excellent retention, and it leaves excellent lacing. Body is orange amber.

Smell - weakly, there is some citrus and floral hops along with caramel and toasty malt biscuits.
There is also a hint of brewed tea with lemon.

Taste - some citrusy hops washing with barley saltine crackers. There is some medicinal alcohol on the finish, along with some more citrusy hops. Decent, but not very exciting.

Mouthfeel - full bodied, slightly semi-dry at times from both the hops and the alcohol.

Drinkability - this is a decent ale, but not a great one, and also its very high abv limits sessionabilty anyway.

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Photo of tmitch75
3.58/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Cool silk-screened 22 oz bomber. I'm excited to have Southern Tier available in IL and to try more of their beers.

Mild malt aroma is quickly overpowered by a resiny hop smell.

Starts slightly sweet with a quick oily/piney hop blast. A little grapefruit too.

Body is far too light. Very watery.

I didn't know what to expect from my first Imperial Red, but the body of this beer was not it. Other than that it's a pretty tasty beer.

Tasted on 3/14/08.

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Photo of Dewey0603
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear golden honey with a large frothy tan head. The head lasts and leaves good lacing. The smell is lighter than I hoped,but you can pick out bread yeast,sweet malt and alcohol. The taste is very interesting,it's almost porter like with coffee,chocolate,sweet malt,and alcohol. The m/f is medium with all the flavors mixing well. A nice beer with a real different flavor.If you see it pick it up.

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

A: Clear cherry red color.

S: Malty aroma some citrus and grassiness on nose.

T: Very smooth considering abv and ibus. Very smooth hopping which is very refined and not coarse like many over hopped beers for this style. Very well balanced and drinkable. Some dry pine, for a hop bittering, with citrus.

M: Some grassiness in mouthful and is pretty light on the tongue.

D: Hoppy but very eloquently done and very smooth.

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Photo of cokes
3.68/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours to bourbon-like amber body with a tall and sticky ivory head.
A small parcel of grain on the nose is pummeled out of the way by the dry grassy/juicy pink grapefruity/resiny sprucey Hallertauers, along with a fat belt of juniper-laden Gin. For a beer of this magnitude, the nose is on the small side, and perhaps too much like it has been fortified with Beefeater.
Mouthwise, it progresses much the same. Conservatively meted out graininess. Then a flash of apple cores, which become caramel covered only once this warms all the way up. And with that, malt is over and done with. There's a sense of cream-like girth in the middle, but little to associate with it, flavor-wise. Hops come in earthy and full of flora, like chewing one's way through a field. After a mouthful of milkweed, dandelion, and big blue stem, it grows juicier and more resinous with citric pith and evergreen needles. This last thing mingles with a fairly evident and exposed ABV to create, again, a distinct (and high-proof) Gin influence. It rides out with Gin-suggested juniper berries and angelica, as well as rust and human blood and a curious blast of cinnamon.
It's full bodied, but doesn't always drink like it, the carbonation is minor, but steady, and the hops (and alcohol) add a brutality that begs for quenching. And since this is readily on-hand...
I'll pass this because I like hallertauers quite a bit, and the somewhat forward alcohol doesn't irk me too much. There are some interesting things going on, despite its obvious (and probably intentional) unevenness. It just seems like the malt slept through it all.

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Photo of dedrinker
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a rusty amber color, almost clear, and a soft foamy off-white head. Aroma is a balance of mild hops and very lightly toasted malt. I taste biscuits and a little caramel malt with hops coming in more on the finish. I must say though that there is nothing imperial about this red other than the alcohol content. You shoulda had that Lagunitas Lucky 13. But for all that smack talkin, the beer is well crafted, well balanced, and the alcohol does not dominate the flavor as some of their other "imperial" offerings do. Indeed, the flavor does not hint at any strength, yet the mouth feel betrays its high gravity not by a heavy or rich malt character, but more by the perception of the alcohol's body on the back of the tongue. Follow me? I mean that I don't taste lots of hops or malt, nor does the beer have a particularly full body, but I can sense the alcohol in the mouth feel as something separate. I would take this recipe - keep the same everything, but then ratchet the late addition hops way up and then conquer the east coast.

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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

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.81/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - golden orange pour, a finger of smooth and creamy foam, eggshell colored. Nice bead action underneath to feed it. Leaves quite a thick layer of lace behind.

Aroma - orangey citrus supported by plenty of grain.

Taste - starts out imperial, grain with an alcohol edge, like a malt liquor. Hops come in quickly though, adding spice and citrus, orange with some grapefruit peel. The swallow moves more toward grapefrut as alcohol warms the palate and belly. Some length on the finish.

Mouthfeel - ample carbonation, the weight is quite solid, good stuff here.

Drinkability - a fine brew, one I'd pick for a cool evening by an outside fire.

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Photo of tpd975
3.58/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Another one from the one and only BeerTruth. My BA Bro!

A: Pours a dark rusty sort of brown color. The head is nice and bubbly, pillowy almost. Spider webbed lacing dots that sides of the chalice from top to bottom as the contents disappear.

S: Being a ST brew I expected more hops in the nose. This one is more about the malt. Nice sweet caramel malt nose with hints of dark brown sugar with underlying piney hops.

T: Wow the nose should have clued me in but this one is rather malty. Bold caramel malt comes at you sort of sweet, yet very rich. After the malt dies down tinges of citrus and but mostly pine sting the tongue in the finish. I wish this was a little more hop forward. Sorry I'm a hop head. Malt lovers would rejoice.

M: Somewhat carbonated and very smooth.

D: Very nice.

Overall: I probably scored it a little lower than I should, but I expected more hops out of ST. I am a huge fan of theirs and their hop forward brews. I guess maybe it's a good thing that they put a nice malty brew out there (though make no doubt about it this one is hopped), but I love hop bombs. Not my favorite ST brew, but an excellent drinker nonetheless.

Thanks Adam, you rule!

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

Was expecting it to be extremely red, but it actually pours a more orangey amber with only slight hints of red. Has a glorious piney hop aroma. Has a mild toasted flavor mixed well with the floral hop flavor. Can also detect a bit of bread or biscuit in there. It is very balanced, with only slight bitterness. Very good hop feel and flavor to it, extremely drinkable, a very solid amber. Yet another Southern Tier big beer that goes down smooth and easy.

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Photo of ZimZamZoom
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber, poured half into a tulip glass. Nice copper color with some red tints, and pretty big light tan head. The head is rocky and clings to the glass greedily. Fades nice and slow, looking more rocky and wonderful as it does.

This imperial red has a big citrus hop nose, with some caramel and other sweet malt lurking in the background, intermingling wit some spice notes. It would be easy to think this beer is all hops, but the more discerning olfactory glands know better.

Taste is a bitter fruitiness that reminds me of unripe plums, still green even. There is a fair amount of spice to this as well, all throughout. Through the middle, some caramel sweetness mixes with the spicy hops and bitter fruitiness to promenade defiantly across the palate. The finish is big bitter hops to the max, with pleasant remnants of sweet malty goodness in the back of the throat. I say it all the time, but the long bitter aftertaste leaves the enthusiast yearning for another sip.

Big body, smooth mouthfeel and great drinkability IMO. I worried about opening this bomber on my own, with no one to share it with. I am not averse to finishing it myself.

Another in the excellent series of big beers from this great brewery!

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Photo of dsa7783
4.32/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle copped for $5.99 from Gary's in Madison... an excellent American Amber... top notch, and above and beyond the typical representation... another excellent sample from Southern Tier... According to the bottle logo, this particular brew pays homage to Hallertau hops, which dominate this sample and is the main factor to the strong and powerful flavor associated with this brew which included strong honey, caramel, and vanilla notes... strong amber and red flavor make this a memorable sample... pours a light-copper, tangerine color with minimal frothy head... smell is dominated by hops and citrus, with strong floral notes... Taste is extremely crisp, clean, clear, and refershing, with a strong hop presence and an equally good mouthfeel that was rich and satisfying... drinkability was also very good, and the 9.5% ABV struggled to make itself known behind a rich combination of creamy and noticeable flavors... great depiction of the style... Definitely recommended...

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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 mully
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a-- Thick head fades slowly leaving a thick lace - color is a clear auburn

s-- slightly astringent hops caramel malts and hints of chocolate malts

t-- smooth velvety hop bitterness is strong but not over whelming, great attenuiation there is still some body to the beer, but there is not a lot of residual sweetness, as it warms chocolate notes emerge.

m-- starts a little watery on the palate but finishes full and strong aftertaste fades away pretty quickly.

d-- the higher levels of alchohol are hidden well not a hop bomb and not full of malty sweetness very drinkable beer.

Overall-- Good beer, I'm pretty sure that it is my first imperial red, I liked it and doubt it will be my last.

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Photo of t0rin0
3.51/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a deep dark red color into my pint glass. Pretty clear and had some sticky foam on top. Not much lacing or retention but its a red ale.

The aroma was weak but was of sweet sugary caramel malts and was balanced by some hops. The taste was similar but not blended the same way. There was some piney halfway bitter hops and then plenty of sweetness. The sweet part was a bit bland and typical of any red ale but the hops gave it a nice twist.

The alcohol wasn't overly noticeable in the smell or taste which was cool. Nice beer all around with a medium/heavy body. Drinkable for sure but there are plenty of other beers out there that I'd like to have more than this.

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Photo of MrMcGibblets
3.78/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured from the bomber into a rodenbach glass, this was a orangey/reddish amber with good clarity, a small/medium creamy off-white head/lacing, and no sediment. nose is of sweet, powerful caramel malts and spicy noble hops, also some fresh, nutty bread aromas. taste was a medium to full caramel sweetness and a big, spicy (cinammon?) hop bitterness. long, smooth bitter finish. thick and viscous mouthfeel with some nice prickly carbonation. this beer was a good lesson on the hallertau hop and a great amber/red ale.

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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.

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Photo of scruffwhor
4.34/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Very mediocre amber, no bubbling at all and ver little head. Slowly recedes to a ring of foam . The aroma is a bittersweet caramel and flowery pine mix that invites your first sip. The first taste gives hint of hard water and dry biscuits. The finish is a syrupy bitter caramel orangey hop goodness. Very smooth strong beer. I could drink this beer one after another if it wasn't 9.5% alcohol. Tastes like it wasn't even close to that abv.

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Photo of BBeerL
3.42/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice dark red color, with plenty of green cirtus hops on the nose. The imperial aspect of this beer was not bad at all. But I felt the over use of hallertau hops really funked this beer up a little too much. The green bright citrus hallertau did not go well with the red ale body. Not the best I have ever had from them but still an acceptable brew.

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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 lpayette
4.3/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a snifter right around the 42 F mark just as the bottle suggests.

The appearance is a hazy red-amber with a very small head. Despite its size however, there is plenty of lacing to go with this head.

The aroma is pleasant, but perhaps could be improved with a bit more carbonation. The hops are first to hit the nose with the magnums producing some heavy hitting aromas, with the rest of the hops lingering in the background. Some nicely roasted chocolate and caramel malt characteristics are nearly at the forefront, but not quite. The chocolate is not so intense that it is immediately apparent to the palate- instead it melds with the caramel to produce almost a biscuity characteristic.

The taste is spot on with some very interesting traits. The chocolate is not immediately noticed, but once I realize it's there, it's hard to ignore. By no means is it a show stealer however, as there is plenty in the way of paler malts to balance it all out. Speaking of balance- the hallertau hops to a wonderful job of bringing the whole thing together, and make this a rather well-balanced beer. The hopping is reminiscent of victory's old horizontal... seems odd, but that's what I'm reading.

The mouthfeel is full, but not as full as one might expect, which helps to make this an exceptionally drinkable and enjoyable beer. Highly recommended.

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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.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.33/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a tulip glass)

A- This beer has a warm nutty pecan colored body that is clear with a wall of tiny bubbles gliding to the surface. There is a sticky off-white head that makes rings with each sip.

S- The smell of soft honey toasted malt has some notes of dry toasted malt coming through as it warms. There is a nice green fresh aroma of hops that doesn't really have citrus qualities or noble qualities.

T- This beer has a soft dry toasted malt flavor with some good freshness and nice depth. There is a light sweetness to the finish of the malt and just enough biscuit and raw grain flavor to add support without overpowering the other flavors. The finish has a dandelion greens bitterness to the hops with a floral quality to it. There is a nice bitterness that balances the malt but doesn't linger.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a slight sticky texture and no alcohol heat.

D- This beer has a real nice depth to the grain bill and a good hop flavor to support it. The hops have a nice twist to them and although they have a nice presence they are not the only flavor in this imperial red.

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Photo of Slynger
3.73/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 22 oz bomber pours a bright, crystal clear, orange-amber color with golden edges and a big fuzzy white cap that leaves great lacing around the glass.
The big, earthy-spicy, Hallertau tops are indeed at the forefront of the nose as indicated by the bottle. They go along nicely with a strong biscuit malt backbone and faintly sweet caramel malts and red apple fruitiness.
The taste is slightly sharp of earthy spicy-hops. A large biscuit malt flavor comes next, and lightly grassy-bitter hops close out with alcoholic warming. The mouthfeel is full of big bubbled carbonation.
Overall this one is a great looking big, spicy, hallertaufest. I could have used a touch more sweetness and less biscuit in the taste and a bit less alcohol, but it is still a pretty solid offering.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.91/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber with a small light tan head. Nose is hoppy sweet. Flavor is definitely influenced by alcohol, but not hijacked by it. Beyond that, there is a pretty consistent earthy and leafy thing going on. Definite hops. Definite sweet tone. Feel is good. Nice liquid thing going on and the carbonation is nice. If the alcohol weren't kicking me in the mouth as much as it is, this would be more drinkable. Overall this is a good brew. But one of my least favorites out of the Imperial Series. If they really have retired this one, then it's no big deal I think. They should just try again.

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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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