Last year, one of my favorite beers was Lagunitas' Imperial Red Ale. Hoppy, rich, super flavorful, and only about $8.99 per six-pack made it a great find AND a great bargain.
I've been on the lookout for it this year as well, but I hadn't seen any until this past weekend. My wife and I made a trip to Lukas Liquor Superstore at 135th and State Line to check the selection. We're closer to the one at 119th and Metcalf, but the Missouri store has a somewhat larger selection due to a larger number of breweries licensed to distribute there.
Sure enough, as we made it to the back of the store, two six-packs of the good stuff were sitting there on the shelf.
I was happy, but the fact that Lagunitas beers are just about everywhere these days made me a bit suspicious that I hadn't seen the Imperial Red anywhere else in the Metro.
(That, and two different people have told me they have found a lot of old beer on Lukas' shelves.)
I looked at the bottles for clues only to find a lengthy serial number stamped on each with no obvious "code" to determine the brew date.
After picking up a couple other treats, we headed to the cashier. I asked if there was any way to make sure this wasn't left over from last year. She emphatically told me there was no way this could be left over from last year; they keep a very tight inventory and there's no way it would be old.
Fair enough; off I went with my beer.
Most who know me would understand I could not leave it at this.
I emailed Lagunitas:
I'm a fan of Lagunitas out here in Kansas City.
I've been looking around for the Imperial Red this year, and I hadn't seen it...until I happened to find some last night.
Problem is, I get the sneaking suspicion it's left over from last year.
So I thought I'd ask:
1. When did you last brew the Imperial Red?
2. If this is an old batch, how does it hold up to aging?
It was one of my favorites last year, so I won't throw it out unless you tell me it's going to be hella skunky.
In the meantime, the Undercover Shutdown will keep me company.
The response (emphasis mine):
We have not brewed the Imperial Red since last year. It should hold up well if the storage conditions were good. For obvious reasons, I cannot guarantee that it was stored properly or that there were no temperature changes in storing the beer.
I would suggest that you open one up and see.
Hope this helps….
Lagunitas Brewing Co.
I haven't tasted the beer yet, since I'm in the process of finishing a sixer of Rogue's dry-hopped red. But that's not the point.
The point is: if you're shopping at Lukas, you should check your beer to make sure you're getting fresh stuff.