Tongue Buckler - Imperial Red Ale - Ballast Point Brewing Company

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Tongue Buckler - Imperial Red AleTongue Buckler - Imperial Red Ale

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very good

840 Ratings
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Ratings: 840
Reviews: 231
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 11.51%
Wants: 81
Gots: 83 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Amber / Red Ale |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: xlperro on 11-25-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 840 | Reviews: 231
Reviews by Ralphs66:
More User Reviews:
Photo of Greywulfken
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: amber brown and perfectly clear; towering head of fine bubbles draped lace behind

S: piney and resinous hop aromas with spikes of a dark, pithy citric aroma; hearty malt character underscores it all

T: caramel sweetness preps the palate for the slow-moving train of hop action that follows - lots of pine and resin draped over the citric elements and flavors; malt flavors are rustic and roasty, with suggestions of nuttiness and earthy spice

M: medium-bodied, ample carbonation; slight chew, but the abv airs it out quickly; dry wood aftertaste hovers o'er the numbing bitterness...

O: hop-forward "American" Imperial India Amber Ale (new style category!) - essentially a dark IPA Imperialized effectively - big hops, hearty malts - easy-drinking with a hammer of hops to hide the high abv. I really dug it.

Photo of MattR2014
3.89/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Had out of 22oz bottle. This is a big beer. 10%. Taste the booze but it's hoppy also

Photo of oberon
3.86/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Iam a big fan of uber hopped imperial reds so here we go!Poured into an imperial pint glass a clear rich bronze color with a billowing one and a half finger off white head that spits and shoots into a craterous mass leaving a full ring of lace behind.Herbal and grassy hops with a tinge of pine resin,not a big malt profile wich surprised me a little,but I loved the hops.Not quite as full as I would have liked in the mouth,not watery but for the style I may have liked a little more fullness.Flavors of alcohol dipped malty-gummy fruitiness and brown sugar then more of a herbal/leafy hop flavor that turns into a big of grapefruit rind,as I drink more the complexities unfold more.There is a nuttiness that keeps the beer from becoming overly sweet and boozy.At first the beer didn't impress much but as I drank more it impressed more.

Photo of Dmann
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer hit the spot the other night and I hope to come back for more. Had this on tap at the San Diego Brewing Co. and it was great. Poured a great amber color with a great head and nice lacing. The smell leaned more towards the IPA side of things with a nice wiff of hops and a little carmel malt scent in there too. The taste was very good and was a perfect mix between a strong amber and an IPA with a nice healthy hoppy flavor backed by a sweet malt that broke through very nicely and came to the foreground to ballance. I too hope they bottle this one someday, I'll buy!

Photo of Beaver13
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle. Pours red amber with a big creamy off white head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is sweet caramel malt blended with green resiny hops.

The flavor is some sweet nutty caramel malts and lots of fruit with tons of piney resiny hops. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with low carbonation.

Overall, a nice big hoppy red. The alcohol is well hidden.

Photo of Billolick
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Growler filled at DeCicco’s In Ardsley, NY

Nose is boldly of hoppy goodness.

Pours ruby hued amber, medium tan head, stays and then leaves a thicker collar and plenty of fine lacing.

Dense layers of hops, resins and spruce. Big and bold brew, with interest, quality and attitude abounding. About what I would expect from the Ballast Point brewers.

Complexity, character and density of flavors adds up to a quality brew thats well worth seeking out.

Photo of Mora2000
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to kaiser81 for sending this beer my way.

The beer pours a reddish-amber color with an off-white head. The aroma is caramel and toffee malts with some nice fruit tones. The aroma smells very sweet. The flavor is caramel and chocolate malt with a good amount of orange and pine hops. The malt backbone goes very well with the strong hop profile. Medium bitterness overall. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Photo of magictrokini
4.18/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is huge. Pours dark crimson with a tiny tan head. Aroma is mostly hops and caramel malt, with some fruitiness. The taste is very strong. Thick with malt and caramel, but offset by the heaping of bitter hops. Some citrus towards the back. Creamy mouthfeel with some stickiness. Its a sipper, but a really good one.

Photo of ehammond1
3.97/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On Tap

Churchill's Pub & Grille
San Marcos, CA

A deep and dark auburn red with a thin tan head. Leaves nice lacing.

Best part of this beer was its aroma. Pungent grapefruit burst followed by more citrus notes. A bit of sweet and caramel malt aroma as well. Pungent and powerful.

I can't taste the citrus hops as well as I hoped I might. Extremely bitter, though that should be expected with the name. Sweet, bready, and caramel malts do their best to match up, but this beer banks on bitter.

Thick mouthfeel. Heavy and substantial, which is appropriate given the style and the ABV, but there's no way to drink a lot of this, nor would I particularly want to.

A true tongue-buckler. This beer has earned its name, perhaps the most bitter non-DIPA I've ever had. Tasty, but not incredibly drinkable.

Photo of far333
3.31/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Burnished copper with bright red highlights and a thick head of dimpled foam that settles slowly. Aroma of sweetish malt, lots of caramel.

Rich flavor of caramel malt and toffee, but piney hops burst to the surface. The hops are missing the sharp edge that a bold hoppy beer normally has, leading me to wonder if the undated bottle has some age on it. There is a definite ABV contributing sweetness.

Full mouthfeel, with noticeable alcohol warmth, fairly viscous. Would like to try another bottle knowing that it's fresh to see if it's any different. Decent beer overall.

Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Excited to try another of the semi-rare but delicious imperial red ale style. This pour is breaking in my new DFH signature glass. Pours a deep, clear blood red with a thick fluffy off-white head. Smell is boozy caramel malt, completely overshadowed by hops. The hop scents start off with some mild pine/citrus rind, followed by tons of sweet fruit. Taste is sweet toasted malt, a sudden wave of booze carrying tons of juicy and bitter hop flavors with it. Finishes with sticky sweetness rolling in bitterness and the heat left over from the alcohol. Definitely a sipper, but great if you like big hoppy beers.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.35/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A deep red to almost brown pour, amber, auburn somewhere in there, not much head to speak of on this one. Aroma wasn't as hoppy as hoped for, dry hopping could have been stronger.

Massive amount of caramel and toffee malt flavor is paired with an equally difficult bitterness. It lives up to the name tongue buckler, but comes off as if its sole point was to be bitter, rather than pleasantly bitter. Lacks complexity. Big malt, big bitter. Harsh at times, syrupy, but not so much that it has no place. This is one of those extreme beers that is basically just a doubling of everything normal to style, except the dry hopping here. Seems like a double hop boil, double malt by the poundage. The bitterness takes from a grapefruit hop characteristic, don't taste pine or a friendlier citrus thing going on.

Alcohol stays warm on you in this one.

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Flowing at Smokin' Joe's in the Southside pours a copper hue with a light off shade of white head, big chunks of lacing. Aroma has big abrasive pine/caramel blended with some dank smelling herbaceous goodness, quite a nose with a some booze edging in this good just as easily be a barleywine in most beer cultures. Flavor again earthy herbaceous and citrus peel accented hops bring a strong bitterness full big booze and big caramel malts with a bit of dirt/mineral quality going on. Alcohol is soothing and fits within the massive arrangement of this beer, never seen bottles in the Burgh but definitely scattered on a limited basis on tap. Mouthfeel was big a bit harsh with bitterness and alcohol but I new what I was getting into when I ordered this one. Overall a high quality big aggressive West Coast Tongue Buckler, meaning it pretty much assaults your palate with intense flavor.

Photo of glid02
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tried this courtesy of ChuggyMcBeer, mbudner, and TempsPerdu - much obliged!

Pours a slightly hazy amber color with a one-finger light tan head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of light citrus and floral hops with good amounts of caramel malts.

Tastes similar to how it smells. The hops aren't quite as intense as the smell led me to believe they would be, but it's still a highly-hopped amber. The ending isn't as absurdly bitter as the name would imply, but it is robust. I wouldn't have guessed this was 10% ABV.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with moderate carbonation - not quite on par with NN but not a far cry either.

Drinkability is very good. I finished my glass with no problem and could have a few of these.

Overall this is a well done amber, although not quite in the top tier. Still, it's worth a shot.

Photo of Brenden
4.36/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Tongue Buckler is a deep orange-brown; there's a red effect, but it's not exactly red as such. The light brown head is about half a finger high and soft but firm. Retention is fair and lacing is decent.
Fruits flash for a brief couple of seconds in the aroma before a big bitterness bursts out. It's delicately spicy all the way through. The hops bouquet offers mostly pine and citrus rind. Malts come through with a touch of caramel, but those hops are powerful.
As with the aroma, in the flavor there's a quick flash of sweetness right up front before, this time, a big pine bitterness comes out. Breads and caramel add malty balance, and it's necessary with this much hop punch. It's got a warmth from alcohol and just a little flavor with some depth, but otherwise a skillfully masked alcohol content. A taste of brown sugar is at the back end of every sip.
Despite the size and heft of this beer, it impressively manages a proper medium body. There's a bite all the way through while it remains creamy smooth until the end.

Photo of RBassSFHOPit2ME
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Cloudy red, small amount of activation in the pint glass served at Toronado SF but head retention and lacing pretty damn solid.

S - Malty...hops there evened out with the malts but you can tell this one is going to be maltier than the average West Coast Imperial Red.

T - Follows smell exactly...this one is BIG...a sipper. Took me longer to finish than my usual Imperial Red or Imperial IPA. Thick, hoppy and equally malty.

M - Big, creamy and heavy due to the ABV and large dose of malts.

O - Everything about this beer is good but nothing mind-blowing. Recommended.

Photo of Sammy
3.89/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from Lueken's Liquors. A smooth mouthfeel, with an initial maltiness followed by a pleasant citrusy hop finish. Well integrated blend of malt and hops, the perfect imperial red beer. Another master craft from this brewery. Above average mouthfeel.

Photo of augustgarage
3.98/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap first at Mohawk Bend where I took very brief notes, then at Blue Palms Brewhouse which is the primary source of this review. Served in a goblet.

Clear, carnelian liquid with a lasting dense creamy layer of ivory foam. Thick pasty lacing refuses to dissipate. Superior retention.

Strawberries, bubblegum, oranges, and floral hop aromatics blend seamlessly with a honey-infused malt base.

Ester-heavy, like a field of berries in a summer rain. Candy-like sweetness is persistent but balanced by a moderate faintly peppery bitterness from the citrus-forward hops. Finishes medium-dry and crisp.

Medium-bodied, somewhat oily and creamy with a solid alcohol kick.

It's interesting to compare what I think was a super-fresh keg against this one which has been on for many days now. The fresh keg was more astringent and biting (in a good way) but maybe with a little less nuance...while the hops seem to have fallen off a bit in the older keg, allowing more fruit to come forward albeit with more sweetness.

Photo of socon67
3.89/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Maroon\amber color. Cloying foam laces the glass.

S - Best feature of this beer. Smell of fresh english malt, caramel, and wood, combines with oily scent of hops. Just impressive.

T - Hearty malt flavor, with notes of caramel. Behind that is a slight bitter bite. There is a subdued boozy burn at the finsih.

M - Feels heavy, and the robust styles lead to this being a bit overwhelming. Surprisingly it went very well with dinner. So it can compliment food though I'd never session this.

O - A great amber for folks who want a very robust beer. Liked some things about it but not everything.

Photo of prototypic
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tongue Buckler pours a mostly clear amber color with a deep scarlet hue. Very nice looking color. It's topped with a vanilla colored head that's nearly two fingers deep. It was extremely slow to recede and left a thick web of lace on the glass as it descended. All in all, damn impressive.

The nose is phenomenal. Hops are extremely strong and are absolutely rolling out of the glass. They're very citric and feature strong grapefruit, pineapple, and mango aromas. I'm unsure of the hop bill here, but it's damn nice. There's a touch of pine from some variety in there, as well. Despite the strong hop aroma, caramel and toffee notes are prominent and smell sweet. There's plenty of malt here, but it sure as hell bears strong resemblance to an IPA. I'm amazed that there's very little alcohol coming through. It's blended extremely well and I would've never guessed this was a 10% beer. There's a faint yeasty aroma on the tail. This smells absolutely scrumptious.

My impression after the first sip is that this is very good beer. I'm on the fence about the score, so I'll hold that call. There's no question that hops assault the palate from the very beginning and don't waver much. A citric variety seems to be the primary feature and has the usual grapefruit, pineapple, and mango flavors. It's very bitter and piney. I'd even go resiny on this one. The hop force is very strong with this one. There's sweet caramel and toffee flavors buttressing the hops, but they don't do much to balance it out, at least as far as I can tell. It probably does a little. It remains very bitter (and delicious). Hard to imagine how biter it could be. Alcohol is mildly noticeable, but isn't strong enough to suggest that it's 10%. It's not warm or hot at all. A little yeast is noted on the finish. Otherwise, it's a little sweet, bitter, and dry. A resiny, bitter flavor really sticks to the palate. It's not the most pleasant aftertaste.

Its body is medium, but leans a little light. Carbonation is mid-range and pretty well restrained. It's smooth, but could use just a little more body. Drinkability is good. I like Tongue Buckler. It's hoppy and aggressive, but not so much that it's unwieldy. It is strong at 10% and a little limited in that regard. But, it's satisfying and goes down pretty.

Tongue Buckler is a damn good Imperial Red. The hops are very aggressive and bitter, but my tongue's still in tact and in its proper home. Given my love for all things hoppy and bitter, I like this beer...a lot actually. Much to my surprise, I believe I'd like it a little better if it were slightly less hoppy. It seems like some of the malty sweetness that's desired in an Imperial Red is just a little lost in the shuffle. The aftertaste is also a tad too intense and resiny. Just needs a slight tweak there. Still a very tasty beer that's more than certain to satisfy any hophead. Seek out a bottle and see if your tongue's up to the challenge.

Photo of tempest
3.65/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had a goblet at Liberty St. Tavern. The alcohol was well hidden, but overall this was a thick beer without as many stand-out flavors as I'd have liked for something this strong. The hops were juicy, with a citrus rind finish, but lacked depth for such a big beer. The malts were also fairly big, with a soft bready character, but oddly indistinct. Finally, the bitterness, likely thanks to the residual sugar, was far too balanced for anything with the name "Tongue Buckler." I don't want to give the impression that this is a bad beer, but when we're talking about 10% ABV hop-bombs, there are better options.

Photo of Kegatron
3.73/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap @ O'Briens (San Diego, CA) on 3/22/10. Served in a pint glass.

Pours a clear amber in the glass (this has a nice coppery sheen to it) with about a ½ finger of smooth off-white head. This retains with a fairly thin but still creamy look to it, which leaves a good bit of spotty and foamy lacing behind. The aroma is thick and very tangy upon first whiff, with a good bit of pine resins and tropical fruit character being propped up by a sticky backing of toasted bread and caramel malts. MAN, this is sweet and sticky feeling in the nose. Maybe a bit too so...

The taste is pretty much the same, with plenty of hoppy resins, bitter rinds, and spice present, as well as a sweet background of fruity citrus flavor, toffee, and even some light cocoa notes, which all just dominates the flavor profile at times. Much like the aroma, tangy sweetness mostly controls this but the hops do return in the finish, providing plenty of pine and spicy dryness. The mouthfeel is fuller bodied, with a nice easy smoothness to the carbonation. Things feel a lot heavier and stickier underneath with some definite alcohol presence but luckily none of the taste is coming through.

This was a bit of a letdown from Ballast Point, coming off just way too sweet in it's profiles at times. I would have liked for those West Coast hops to shine just a wee bit more. That being said, this still had a very impressive mouthfeel for a 10% beer. This was overall decent but I expected just a little more here.

Photo of DonDirkA
4.38/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into DFH laser-etched snifter.

Pours a deep, opaque red/mahogany with a thick light brown head that dissipates down to about a half finger. Nose is super hoppy. Pine, tangerine, caramel, grapefruit, molasses and brown sugar. The taste is pine, grass, red grapefruit, black tea, caramel, toffee and bitter orange. Pine explodes and quickly turns into tart grapefruit then plunges into caramel/toffee with a hint of grassy bitterness and some notes of black tea (almost like unsweetened iced tea) that all fades out into a bitter orange and caramel that clings onto the tongue and doesn't let go. This "red ale" is a better DIPA than many beers that are classified as DIPAs (I'm looking at you Palate Wrecker!). Very awesome, love me some Ballast Point.

Photo of thagr81us
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from tap into a sampler shaker. Poured red-orange with a one finger off-white head that subsided to a minimal amount slowly. Maintained excellent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet amtl, citrus, citrus hop, and sweet alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, citrus, citrus hop, grapefruit, and sweet alcohol. It had a medium feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a pretty nice brew. Nice aroma going on here and a very complex flavor. This one made the citrus shine throughout. The alcohol on the followthrough was very noticeable. Everything seemed to work really well together. A definite must try and a great example of the style.

Photo of Gmann
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a bit of a murky amber color with a short cream colored head that settles into a light ring.

The aroma is sweet. Lots of tropical fruit notes from the hops. Big pineapple, candied apricot, and orange. There is a peppery note as well. The malt is bready with hints of caramel. A bit too on the sweet side for my liking.

The taste is of a piney and resinous hop, quite bitter. There is a strong pineapple tropical fruit presence as well. The malt is quite big, with caramel and toffee notes. Some grassy and pepper notes in the finish. A big sweet amber ale and with signicant hop bitterness. Way too sweet for me. Its not cloying but the hop profile along with the malt doesn't do it for me. Doesn't match up to the other hoppy ambers out there, way too big.

Sits full on the palate. It would be slick but the hoppy bitterness counteracts that. Not a desirable aftertaste IMO. Some noticable alcohol presence.

An aight hoppy amber. Its way too big and the hop profile doesn't suit me.

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Tongue Buckler - Imperial Red Ale from Ballast Point Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 840 ratings.