AleSmith makes 2 delicious versions of this beer every year. The obvious, Winter edition (bottle colors being red and green) and the "Christmas in July" Summer edition (pictured to the left). Both are extremely delicious and very limited. So pick up as many as you can if you are lucky enough to cross paths.
Winter Edition 2006
92 / 100
AleSmith has been strong in it's stance that this beer is an Imperial Red. This version seems to be most along that terminology, but far less than the Winter 05 version, which in some ways was much like this year's Evil Dead Red.
It pours a burnt red color with a consistent head that retains with slight lacing. It packs the hop punch - pine scent mostly. The taste is more complex than just the hops - there's a nice caramel maltiness. It has a medium to full body with plenty of warming and a slightly bitter finish. The alcohol was definitely apparent but it was still easy making it through the bottle.
I've found that despite the high hop profile these age pretty well in the short term. I wouldn't push it beyond 15 months, as by then the hops have lost their bite. A year old one though is brilliant.
Summer Edition 2006
90 / 100
This one is described by AleSmith as a Double IPA. It's everything a DIPA offering in Southern California should be: a full flavored with lots and lots of hops. Immediately after opening the bottle, the wonderful aroma (think hops with a wee bit a of pepper) lets you know you're in for something special. The pine and citrus notes of the hops are relatively well balanced with the sweet malt. But generally, if you're drinking a DIPA, you're not looking for a lot of balance - you're looking for a lot of hops. And that's what you get. Refeshingly crisp too.
A textbook example of a Double IPA. Drink this one as fresh as you can.