Arriving on store shelves in Brooklyn this week is a longtime favorite of mine that, sadly, went missing for about two years. About two years ago, the good people at Lagunitas Brewing Company, makers of one of the more ubiquitous (and solid) straightforward IPAs in the craft beer world, for some reason stopped making their Imperial Red Ale, but it’s back now–albeit in 22oz bottles rather than the more cost-effective 6-packs. At around six bucks a bottle, though, it’s still a total bargain, especially considering how much flavor is packed in there.
It’s characterized as a Red Ale, or an Amber Ale, which usually implies something leaning toward the rich, malty side of things, but given the degree to which it’s hopped, it’s most accurately described as a Red IPA. It smells, and tastes, like candy–sweet grapefruit, orange zest, tropical fruits are front and center. They’re sufficiently supported by a big malt backbone that gives hints of caramel and maybe even a touch of chocolate, in addition to providing body. It’s bitter, but not excruciatingly so, and it’s high enough in ABV at 7.8 to be substantial but not overly so. Drinking 22 ounces on your own won’t send you immediately to bed, which is nice.
Should you be looking for a similar option that happens to be locally produced, you’ll want to check out Barrier‘s Bulkhead India Red Ale. As far as Beer Menus is concerned, it’s currently only available at The Ginger Man and Draught 55, both in Manhattan, but it’s very much worth the trek. It’s one of my favorite locally made beers, and if they ever get around to bottling it, I will never, ever, be without it.
Follow Mike Conklin on Twitter @MikeConklin.