You've Already Made the Choice
A Review of Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale by Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Posted on 3/31/2012 by Chops
A big part of better beer is learning who you can trust. If you have one bad experience with a brewery, you can't immediately write them off without giving them the benefit of the doubt. If you have two bad experiences, you may have to consider the possibility that you are dealing with a subpar brewery. And if you continue having bad experiences, then for the love of the almighty beer gods, back away from the pint glass. On the flip side, what does it mean when you have zero bad experiences? Well my friend, congrats are in order because you have just found yourself a trusted brewery. One such brewery for me has been Lagunitas out of California. At this point I have lost count of how many beers of theirs I have tried, but one thing is for certain: they have all been delicious. So when I sat down at my favorite local pub and saw the Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale on the menu, the choice was practically made for me.

In the glass, this beer has a deep coppery color and is almost fully brown. It does have that signature reddish shade, but isn't as prominent as typical red ales. It comes with a frothy white head that dissipates at a reasonable pace. The aroma consists of two main talking points. The first is a thick sweet malt that takes the form of toasted breads and caramel. The second is a strong floral hop profile with plenty of pine and citrus notes. This beer actually smells more like an imperial red/IPA blend. My attention was locked as a fan of both styles, so I was eager to dive in for that first taste.

Once this beer touched my lips, I instantly knew why the hop profile was so pungent. This beer has a massive malty backbone with a rich caramel taste that is dominant and merciless. The hops provide a much needed counterweight to the sweetness, which would otherwise be like drinking liquidized brown sugar. That being said, be not afraid because this is one delicious beer. The flavors are rich, the body is thick, and the mouthfeel is both smooth and tangy. The hops add a zesty quality to the malt profile and also go a long way in taming any alcohol burn. The result is a highly drinkable imperial red with a heavy bitter finish.

Overall, the Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale is a delicious brew with a lot to offer. I found it to be a great representation of the imperial red ale style. Its big flavors and biting hops make it a must try for imperial fans. For the same reasons, this beer is probably too big for novices. But no worries, Lagunitas is one of those breweries that literally have something for every palate, so I highly recommend exploring their full line. And once you inevitably become a devoted Lagunitas fan, give the Imperial Red Ale a try. It goes a long way in showcasing the talent of these great brewers.

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Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale by Lagunitas Brewing Co.
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