Great Lakes Brewing Co.

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Red Ale - Imperial
Ranked #7
Ranked #3,919
4.09 | pDev: 10.51%
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Ohio, United States
Notes: Don’t be afraid of things that go hop in the night! Rich roasted malt flavors haunt the shadows of our Imperial Red Ale’s bitter teeth.
Reviews: 952 | Ratings: 2,745 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of hoptheology
hoptheology from South Dakota

2.99/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

12 oz bottle.
Best by 12/9/20
Into wide mouthed glass.

Predictable yet still stunning fiery red with a predictable off-white egg-foam yellow head of 1 finger, receding to a creamy ring but not before leaving great lacing on the glass.

Aroma is thick caramel malt, with some toasted rye bread, with an odd dill presence, lots of earthy beets, and slight dipping vinegar.

Flavor is bold and full of amber and toasted malt, with some spoiled hops (my fault). But then...some grape sucker...some... dill? Tons of earthy, gross, buttery beets. Yuck.

Feel is starchy from the beginning, with alcohol heat, and moderate carbonation.

Overall, this was not for me, not at all. Blah. GLBC is pretty great usually, but what even was this? Yiiiiick. Drain pour.

Jan 30, 2021
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PathofChaos from Maryland

5/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

If Halloween could bleed, this is what it’d look like: a deep, forbidding, blood-orange red. The ale dons a shapely circlet of creamed froth whose contours lace deeply. It retains patiently, regal and hypnotizing, tempting you closer…

Delicate caramel malts dappled with brown sugar rise from an earthy, hop grave that's littered with pine needles. A distant memory of warming spices and grapefruit peel impress themselves upon the drinker.

A softly carbonated medium, slick with hop oils and sugars, yet somehow unerringly crisp.

Semi-sweet malts glide forward wearing a dark cloak of brown sugar and oh-so-subtle toffee. Then, with deliberate slowness, something unnoticed creeps forward... Powerful hops in a sudden, swift bite. Those hoppy fangs drip with emollient pine sap, salving their wicked edge and enhancing the charming sweets that led to this moment.

Incredible balance, dangerously drinkable.

Oct 26, 2020
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HoppingMadMonk from New Jersey

4.18/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Around medium carbonation with a just above average body,overall a really nice feel.
Aroma is malt,brown sugar ,a little earthy hops and spice.
Taste was really nice,brown sugar,malt, fruit cake, earthy mildly bitter hops.
This was a really nice surprise, very flavorful with a really nice body. I picked up just a single but would look for a six pack next time.

Oct 24, 2020
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dd53grif from Michigan

4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a medium brown color with a foamy tan head that lasts quite a while. Aroma is roasted malts and caramel. Tastes of roasted malts and hops. Finishes slightly bitter from the hops.

Oct 22, 2020
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HorseheadsHophead from New York

4.28/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Clear, ruby red in color with a creamy medium-sized tan head. Pretty good retention, and nice lacing.
The aroma is predominantly sweet malt--toffee, brown sugar, caramel--and then the intense hoppiness creeps in. Pine, pepper, grapefruit peel.
The flavor is predominantly malt-driven. Sweet pumpernickel bread, with caramel and toffee. Strawberry and black cherry. Then powerful hops, pine sap, grapefruit pith and peel, and a hint of black peppercorn. The bitterness lingers with a sticky resin but the malt sweetness and hop bitterness stay in tandem and neither overpowers the other. Incredibly well balanced and dangerously drinkable for 8%!

Medium mouthfeel, well carbonated, slick with hop oils and sugars, yet somehow pretty crisp.

A fantastic imperial red ale. Old-school goodness.

Oct 21, 2020
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daliandragon from Maryland

4.06/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Been looking to review this one for a while. Creamy head above handsome amber head with orange and red highlights. Nose is malty and funky with a bit of spice and yeasty weirdness, which is a plus here.

The taste starts similar but makes a hard turn to hoppy bitterness, featuring citrus and herbal tones. Maybe a little overcaffeinated in the finish but the aftertaste is still slightly oily and pleasing.

Oct 17, 2020
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DDiFran from Ohio

4.18/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Deep rich amber with a thick head that laces nicely. Dank hops smell. Toasty malt body with a sharp hop bite. Best of both worlds. Look forward to this one every fall

Sep 12, 2020
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dacrza1 from New Jersey

4.23/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

DATE: November 15, 2019... OCCASION: prepping for tomorrow's cold tailgate at the Penn State-Indiana game... GLASSWARE: Otto's willibecker... this begins with a dark mahogany body, limited effervescence but big on intimidation... its head is thick and foamy, slowly turning to appreciable lacing that flares to the glass's lip... rife with dank hops, this clashes with itself, employing caramel, toffee and toasted bread malts as a counterbalance to its syrupy resin... initially creamy, this warms with medicinal mouthfeel and late effervescent fire... medium-bodied, it sinks its teeth in with a warming ferocity, lively throughout and antagonistic with its alcoholic undertones... grainy textures make this a drink worth sipping and chewing... the flavor wins with toasted bread malts, caramel, sweet toffee, and thick, dank resin that drips with a syrupy thickness... wow, this checks off just about every box--flavorful, rewarding and elevating... another win for Great Lakes!

Nov 16, 2019
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Guppy314 from District of Columbia

4.07/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

From a bottle, pours as a haze deep copper with a thin off-white head plus loads of carbonation. Aromas of caramel and grapefruit. Wow, loads of bitter hops and sweet malts with a citrus/grapefruit kick. This is a great occasional beer. Great because it is balanced enough, hops vs malt, that one can appreciate the added citrus, etc, bonuses. Occasional because I have zero sweet tooth and so the solid sweetness dose of this brew means that having a second is a real turn-off.

Nov 08, 2019
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DrBeergood from Ohio

4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Pours dark orange+red. Low carbonation & even lacing. Crystal clear.

S: Malty and tangy. I can't smell any hops despite it's 70 IBU.

T: Mellow candy. Roasted malts, caramel. Enough hops to balance the sweetness.

F: Slight bitterness on the back palate. Smooth and easy drinking. Dry. Heavy.

O: Enjoyable, fresh, and packs a punch. Some people love this stuff.

Oct 24, 2019
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Peach63 from New York

4.89/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours copper with half inch yellowish-tan head. Good lacing. Light carbonation.

Aroma of cascade and simcoe hops.

Taste of pine, caramel, raisin, roasted malts.

Medium bodied, semi-dry finish.

This is an outstanding imperial red ale. Excellent color.

Sep 30, 2019
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claminat420 from Michigan

4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured heavily into my great lakes lake erie monster pint glass. please enjoy by 11/05/19 then 24898DE marked underneath it.

Appearance- pours a clear mahogany color with a tannish head. leaves some moderate lacing. pretty solid.

Aroma- a slight floral hop smell with some light graham cracker.

Taste- a semi-strong burnt caramel flavor with the slightest floral hop. abv is well hidden. bitterness is there and makes a statement.

Mouthfeel- medium with a slight heaviness body. good carbonation. alil slick.

Drinkability- easily gonna crush the four pack.

Overall- not nearly as hoppy as great lakes states but definitely what it's described as a imperial red. if you're looking for a malty brew this time of year with some bitterness I would highly recommend this.

Sep 22, 2019
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jrc1093 from Connecticut

3.65/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Best before 11/3/19

Pours a clean deep maroon body with multiple fingers of rocky, thick khaki foam; spectacular retention fades steadily to a bubbly collar and mounds of webby, soapy lacing clinging persistently to the glass.

Aromas are an earthy and sweet balance of toasty caramel malts, pine resin, and red berry syrup; a roasty balanced richness is short-lived but potent.

Taste brings out more subtle boiled dark fruits along with sticky caramel malt upfront; brief punches of pine further define a profile finished with a floral char and herbal bitterness.

Mouthfeel presents a body on the lighter side of medium and with lower carbonation; semi-sticky, but drying easily along the palate; the finish fluctuates sip-to-sip between fairly hearty and somewhat thin.

Eminently drinkable big-ABV red ale that's just a touch more body away from an ideal malty definition. At present, though, it's the straightforward approach to burly caramel malts teamed with herbal bitterness that would have me returning to this one with relative ease.

Sep 22, 2019
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DoghouseReilly3946 from Kentucky

4.19/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Date: Best Before 11/05/19, drained on 08/31/19.

Appearance: In the glass Nosferatu takes on a deep blood red color and produces about a fingers worth of khaki colored head that quickly reduces to a small ring around the edge of the glass.

Aroma: A brief whiff reveals a beer dripping with assorted malts creating a nice array of caramel, candied nuts, toffee, and biscuit dough. The hops, while not the main attraction, do introduce a pleasant bold pine aroma to contrast all those rich aromas. This one may sound a little one sided but it's a great smelling beer that feels completely balanced.

Taste: All those sweeter caramel, nutty and bread like elements initially flood the tastebuds and continue swirl around through the mid palate. As I begin to wonder where the hops will come in, suddenly all those rich sweet flavors have the life nearly sucked out of them by a sharp and bold piney hop taste. The big hop flavors and the dregs of the malts mix to create something reminiscent of slightly burnt toast. There is also just a hint of herbs on the back end, something like oregano. The aforementioned bitterness lingers on the palate with hints of subtile splashes of malt sweetness. The mouthfeel is wonderfully full and doesn't lack in the least. Alright, for my money Nosferatu has to be one of the best readily available fall beers and I plan on this one being my October / Halloween season fridge filler.

Sep 09, 2019
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Antichrist-Kommando from Ohio

5/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I've had a lot of different beers and this one in particular is my absolute favorite. Breaks my heart that it's seasonal. One of the two vampires I look forward to around Halloween time, the other being Count Chocula.

Taste is great, looks amazing, fantastic color, smells great, goes down easy but has a nice bite to it. Love getting it on draught when it's in season, but the bottle is fantastic, too. I mean look at that artwork!

Dec 11, 2018
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macrosmatic from Florida

3.63/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to maximumu13 for sending this particular bottle. Reviewed from (very) long-standing notes. Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Cycle Brewing goblet.

A: Hazy to murky reddish brown with a thin off-white head and a low amount of visible carbonation. The head fades to a ring of foam pretty quickly.

S: Caramel and toasted malts, resin hops and some citrus pith. A bit grassy and vegetal, and a touch of oxidation and cardboard in this bottle.

T: Toasted malts, toffee; resin, vegetal, and citrus pith hops. A bit of the metallic naked alpha bitterness as well. Just a bit of oxidation on the flavor - less so than the nose. Some resinous pine bitterness in the swallow with some residual caramel sweetness.

M: Medium body with carbonation sensation on the low side. The alcohol is obvious without being obnoxious.

O: I don't know if this particular bottle had issues, since I did feel like there was some oxidation present. It’s still not bad, but was relatively caramelly and boozy, with hops that were fairly bitter but lack much in the way of an interesting hop profile. Not outstanding but not terrible by any stretch.

Nov 26, 2018
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MurphyMacManus from Pennsylvania

4.27/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into oversized wine glass

Look: clear ruby red/off-white head. Impressive head, considering my halfhearted pour.

Smell: Dark fruit, toasted brown bread, slight notes of American hops. Maybe a little hint of (medicinal) alcohol?

Taste: solid malt backbone. Toasted bread flavors and a little sweetness, but nothing overpowering. American hops in the finish balance out the malt character. There are some dark fruit flavors in there as well. No overt alcohol notes, despite its strength

Feel: I'm not the best judge of body in a beer, but this feels pretty light. It's easy to drink, not overly carbonated.

Overall: It's very easy to drink a lot of this very fast because it's balanced, doesn't have a heavy body, and doesn't taste like it's 8%abv. Proceed with caution.

Oct 28, 2018
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Tripel_Threat from Michigan

4.28/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Gorgeous red ale. Poured from bottle to nonic pint glass. Deep garnet, clear, with a finger of foam. Fruity aroma (cherries, plums), herbal and floral hop notes. Flavor is a big ol kick in the taste buds. Tasty toasted bread and toffee malt meets fruity notes with an herbal, tea like finish. Absolutely delicious.

Oct 20, 2018
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bierzeit from Ohio

3.94/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Deep, slightly translucent red
S: Little positive smell
T: Initially slightly sweet, perhaps cherries, followed by a strong presence of malt
F: Palpable carbonation; velvet, soft texture
O: Very good tasting beer, minus the lack of definable aromas

Oct 04, 2018
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KurtisCarman from Ohio

4.14/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A lot of red ales just have an amber hue. This one you can really see the red, even in the head. But look isn't everything. Aromas are relatively dull compared to the robust flavors. Great lakes does another red ale that is more mild but still good. Nosferatu is far from mild. It is bold and delicious.

Sep 27, 2018
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jkblr from Indiana

3.98/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle bb 11/5/18 poured into a Spiegelau IPA glass at fridge temp 8% ABV 70 IBU. The beer pours bright, dark copper in color with red tinted tan colored head. The head recedes to a film and slight ring around the glass. Lacing is present, but sparse. The aroma is toasted bread and some earthy hops. The taste is layered sweet and toasted bread building toward a nearly chocolate flavored, semi bitter finish. Mouthfeel is medium to thin bodied, adequately carbonated and dry in the finish. Overall, very good. This is how hoppy beers tasted when I started drinking craft and it's lovely in it's simplicity. Layers of toasted malts with a firm bitterness and clean finish.

Sep 02, 2018
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jenrhart from Minnesota

3.96/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

If you put this beer in a glass, it doesn't even taste like the same beer. It needs to breathe. In the glass, I think it should be rated closer to a 4.15-4.2..

Sep 01, 2018
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rapayn01 from Kentucky

4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a tasty bottle consumed last fall (just catching up on some reviews). The high abv is dangerously hidden in this flavorful beer. It is fairly balanced between malt and hop, which is what I prefer in a red ale -- though I'm also ok if it tilts towards the hop. It is not overly malty.

Aug 13, 2018
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VABA from Virginia

4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Revisited 9/9/18
A-Pours a nice dark amber color with a nice head and lacing.
A-Aroma had pleasant malty hints
T-The taste follows the nose with a pleasant malty flavor
M-A medium bodied well carbonated beer.
O-A well done Imperial Red Ale

Jun 09, 2018
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REVZEB from Illinois

4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Tastes exactly how you you expect a midwestern styled amber to. Hints of german influence in the malting, but overall a very authentic beer to the style. Nice biscuit and toffee to go with moderate hops. Very solid beer all around

May 30, 2018
Nosferatu from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 2745 ratings