Monday, October 08, 2007

Quick Takes: Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale

A running debate between myself and the executive editor/founder of this blog has been the content of a list that would contain our top-five all-time beers. Admittedly, I’m kind of terrible at this, largely because I never truly fall in love with beers. Don’t get me wrong - I like a lot of different beers, but it’s fairly rare for me to fall in love with one.

That being said, I’m absolutely head-over-heels, eyes-bugging-out-of-their-sockets nuts for Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale. I became introduced to this a few weeks ago, when I picked up a sixer of it over at Oliver’s, a local beverage distributor.


It was love at first sip. The pour from bottle into pint glass revealed the color of the brew to be a deep, clear copper – it simply looked inviting. I inhaled deeply, taking in a delicious blend of maltiness and hops. When I took a sip, I couldn’t believe that this was an imperial style – it was far lighter than I expected, which is not to say that it’s a light beer by any stretch of the imagination. It’s smooth, rich, and creamy – and when you consider that it’s a 7.60% ABV beer, that seems like quite a feat. As I let the beer warm up some, the high ABV did become more apparent, but it never became overwhelming (although I could see this becoming a factor if I consumed more than, say, three in an evening). One thing that I really, really like about this beer is that it’s neither too malty or too hoppy; malt and hops both play a significant role in this brew, but neither dominates this beer’s taste.

Fortunately, this beer has been featured on tap at a couple of Albany-area establishments (most notably, the Lionheart Tavern at the intersection of Madison Avenue and Lark Street), so I was able to try it as a draft. As it was served to me, in a 20-oz imperial pint glass at Lionheart, I fell even more in love with the beer. The creamy texture of this beer was strongly accentuated in this style of serving, and the beer’s depth opened up as it warmed (I was able to catch a bit more citrus-y undertones, which I can’t say that I got from the bottled version).

I’m going to go ahead and say it: this may be a top-five, all-time beer for me (personally). It’s pretty amazing, and I recommend it highly.

1 comment:

Ami said...

I had the worst experience of alcohol -induced sickness after drinking just one bottle of this beer. I'm a 26 yo female, a moderate drinker, and never have I been as tipsy and unbalanced in coordination after having just one bottle! The experience blew me away - I woke up the next day with a headache, beer burps and a very bad feeling of nausea. I don't know how this happened, considering I'd only experience such "tipsiness" after at least 3-4 bottles of beer.

Initially, the tipsiness was very enjoyable - warm, friendly feeling, laughter, etc. Quickly, it became clear it would not wear off and turned into a dull headache. 3 hours after not one more sip, I was still incredibly thirsty. I called Whole Foods (from where I purchased the item) and asked whether any other customers had complained, but was answered in the negative. Perhaps I am allergic to the yeast or hop by which it's made; perhaps the 7.6 AVB on a semi-empty stomach did it, but boy... I can tell you, this has turned me off any type of alcohol for at least 2 weeks!