Imperial Red Ale (Lagunitas)
Imperial Red is a revival of the first beer Lagunitas ever brewed back in 1993, an interesting bit of nostalgia for the company as they prepare to dramatically expand their operations. It pours deep amber with a large, marshmallow-y, off-white head. Pungent hops and inviting sweetness occupy the nose, along with a mix of tropical fruits, hay, and a little butterscotch. It has a bitter and surprisingly tart sucker punch of berries, sugary malt, and fistfuls of hops on the front end, settling into some milder citrus, strawberry, and pine flavors on the retreat. The flavors here are challenging, strong, sweet, and irreverent – all Lagunitas trademarks – but they don’t mesh particularly well, and Imperial Red lacks the nuances and qualities of their better brews.