Beer of the Week: Alaskan Imperial Red

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I really love the Alaskan Pilot Series beers – big beers and interesting styles made in small batches. I was excited when they released the Imperial Red for the first time and ran out to pick up a 22 oz. bottle. It wasn’t inexpensive at $9, but Imperial Red isn’t a style that you see much and I figured it was worth a shot. The beer clocked in at 8.5% ABV and 70 IBU.

From the Alaska Website:

Recently made popular by west coast American breweries, Imperial Red ales feature high hop bitterness, full-flavored caramel malt profiles and a higher original gravity. While balance is key, Imperial Red ales are more malt-forward than other hoppy American beer styles.

Alaskan Imperial Red is a full-bodied deep mahogany ale with ruby red highlights. Citrus notes of chamomile, grapefruit and Meyer lemon brighten the aroma. A zesty array of hop flavors from mango and bitter orange to green mint and hibiscus meld with the nutty, roasted caramel and subtle dried fruit flavors of the complex malt profile to create a surprisingly fresh, yet warming example of the style.

Alaskan Imperial Red Ale is made from glacier-fed water, a generous blend of Centennial, Citra, Meridian and Summit hops and premium two-row and specialty malts. Our water originates from the 1,500 square-mile Juneau Ice Field and from the more than 90 inches of rainfall Juneau receives each year.

sasdsThe beer pours deep amber red in color with notes of caramel, wheat, mild hops and just a small amount of oak and whiskey, which was odd since this beer was not barrel aged. The beer starts out with deep notes of caramel and toffee followed by heavy malt and medium hop profile with just a hint of bitterness. The finish is slightly syrupy and sweet without a great deal of complexity. The balance is slightly better as it warms but it was really lacking direction and focus and I got none of the hop character I was hoping for, especially with the high expectations I usually have with Pilot Series beers. I am wondering if I may have had a bad bottle since I did start to detect notes of wet cardboard toward the end of the beer.

Alaskan Imperial Red casts its pots but hauls up a disappointing 2 Paralithodes camtschaticus out of 5.

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