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Tongue Buckler - Imperial Red Ale - Ballast Point Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Tongue Buckler - Imperial Red AleTongue Buckler - Imperial Red Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

227 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 227
Hads: 870
Avg: 3.9
pDev: 22.82%
Wants: 87
Gots: 105 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 227 | Hads: 870
Photo of barleybadger64
3.27/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Color was amber, aroma was a nice hop (western?) but missed some maltiness. Taste was skewed too far toward bitterness. I'd like to see more balance from the malt. I probably had my expectations too high. I will give second chance at later date.

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Photo of delta490
3.98/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a deep copper with a nice cap of light tan head that lasts through the beer, leaving small sitcky lacing. The aroma is light but has some nice caramel malt sweetness and a little hint of hops. The taste is more robust, with same elements as the aroma but amplified. There is nice big malt sweetness up front and the hops is much more prevalent and dominates the finish. The body has a nice thick feel to, with a little tingle on the tongue from the alcohol and a hopped bite on the finish

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Photo of RyanK252
3.71/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle poured into a BarrelHouse Brewing Co pint glass

A: Pours slightly hazy deep copper amber with a creamy tan head that settles and laces well.

S: Rich toffee malt sweetness, a bit spicy and fruity, with faint pine and citrus.

T: Pine hops, a little citrus, spicy, a bit fruity, peach fig , brown sugar and toffee malt sweetness, floral notes, maybe a touch of alcohol on the back end.

M: Medium to full body, moderate prickly carbonation, a little warmth

O: I'm a big fan of hoppy reds, but this one is kinda disappointing. A bit too malty for me despite the load of hops. My bottle was pretty fresh and had bite so I'm not sure how much has faded out, but I can imagine this being better super fresh. For now it's just ok.

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Photo of Pourharddrinkslow
3.79/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bomber into a teku glass.

Look - looks like I want to drink it

Smell - Honestly doesn't smell like all that much to me, which I feel is typical of a red. I can smell some hops and a little bit of an "Earthy" scent

Taste - Solid beer here, slightly bitter with a nice blend of hops and malts. IMO some reds can have too much of one or the other (hops/malts) but this one has a great balance to it. The hops feel "dirty" and I don't mean that in a bad way. It just has a tinge of pine, which adds to the Earthy feeling you get when drinking. I feel obligated to drink this beer on a nice day that I am able to spend outside. The booze is hardly noticeable at all (the opinion of the booziness seems to be split down the middle based on other reviews I have read.)

Mouthfeel - Smooth, light carbonation. Goes down easy despite the complexities of the flavors.

Overall - While red ales are not my favorite style, I can definitely enjoy them; although I do struggle to review them, as my palate may not be advanced enough to single out certain flavors in this style. This is a nice, complex beer that I enjoyed and any aficionado of red's should as well.

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Photo of sa93
2.27/5  rDev -41.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 1.75

This has the distinction of being the least enjoyable beer I have had this year. Despite being just 10% ABV, it tasted like pure booze. I could hardly even taste the hops and malts anymore. More boozy than any barleywine, quad, or imperial stout I've had. No balance at all. This beer pretty much turned me off on anything Ballast Point.

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Photo of founddrama
4.06/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Very mildly boozy what is otherwise a pretty standard-tasting red. Smooth though, and I like the style, so… great "with food" beer.

Also: great head on this one.

ALSO: an adequate substitute for the Lagunitas Imperial Red (though the Lagunitas is superior by a full point).

Maybe *slightly* overdoing it in the hop bitterness department.

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Photo of hardy008
4.02/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark amber, with a light beige one finger head, with good retention and lacing. The aroma has grapefruit, caramel, and floral hops.

Has a mostly bitter taste, balanced by some sweetness. There is grapefruit, pine, floral hops, citrus zest, and caramel. There is no hint of alcohol in the taste, which is impressive for a 10.00 % abv beer.

Medium to full bodied with average carbonation. Chewy, and has a long, bitter finish.

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Photo of jwc215
4.32/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours slightly hazed orange/reddish amber with a thin creamy head. Lacing sticks.

The smell is of pine/resin with citric/tropical fruit, bright caramel and a hint of toasted bread.

The taste is of big bitterness upfront with pine and citrus, but plenty of the smooth caramel backbone comes through. Smooth despite the big bitter bite, it has a long, juicy finish.

A wonderful hoppy red - juicy, chewy full-bodied beer. It's like hop candy in a bottle. By the way, the alcohol is so wonderfully covered I didn't realize the abv was so quite so high until I went to enter the review.

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Photo of EnojysAnyBeer
4.85/5  rDev +24.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

One of my favorite styles done right. Huge beer here, balanced though. Pretty easy drinking for a 10%er

Incredibly balanced. Resiny hop flavors and sugary sweet malt flavors blend together to provide a feeling of perfection.

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Photo of Stevedore
3.74/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A- Darker reddish-amber body, half finger white head with fair retention, no lacing.

S- Straight up grapefruit mixed in with toffee. It smells just about what I expected it to- lots of west coast hop character backed up by caramel-forward malt.

F- Caramel, grapefruit, a bit of lemon. Quite bitter, with the grapefruit and pine finishing things out with a strong stinging bitterness. Again, as expected!

M- Medium bodied, slightly syrupy but good carbonation; the bitterness is a bit much as it doesn't seem to be as superbly balanced as I'd like.

O- Solid imperial red, but I think it's not as balanced as it should be.

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Photo of travolta
3.17/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Appearance: Minimal head retention, a nice ring of lacing. Red and golden tinge of apricot. Not very attractive.

Nose: Apricot, pine, sweet grains, a little licorice and medicinal at the end. A bit of citrus in the middle as well.

Taste: Crispy carbonation with a bold and heavy mouthfeel. Syrupy just long enough to be taken over my hop bitterness. Alcohol hotness forms at the end. Bitterness, malty sweetness, carbonation, and alcohol all get a chance to show you their stuff during each sip. It is a heavy beer with lots of medicinal and metallic qualities coming through. The dryness s pronounced and plays with the bitterness. Very medicinal at the end.

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Photo of beergoot
4.18/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Deep copper colored body with a very sticky, dense head; lots of clinging sheets of foam coating the glass. Rich caramel aroma; heavy fruits--apricot; pine resin. Sweet grain and cereal flavors with a bold, intense hop bitterness from the git go and lasting long into the finish. Coarse on the palate; chewy; heavy body.

A fantastic, deep, rich, complex and nicely balanced beer. The alcohol content remains behind the scenes while the grain bill and hops do the bulk of the work in pleasing your senses. The malt sweetness isn't in your face while the hop bitterness isn't too brash. If big, bold, and beautiful (in a beer) is your thing, then this is one to check out.

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Photo of Hendry
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

True Imperial Red appearance,frothy two finger ecru head, laced the Teku in rings all the way down. Beautiful looking beer.

Sweet malt mingles with pungent and earthy hops, rich aroma.

After the initial blanket of sweetish malt, a wave of intense hoppiness takes hold, rendering a strongly bitter aftertaste that not fade away. There seems to be a blend of hops used, leading to complex flavors that are predominately dank and bitter overall.
TB is anything but subtle, and it seems it wasn't created to be that way.

Mouthfeel is light medium,lower level of carbonation.

Fans of Imperial Reds should find something to enjoy about Tongue Buckler, but there is an intense bitterness that may not be for all, and at $10 for a bomber, the value factor is on the low side. I find the recent wave of New England style hoppy Red Ales more to my liking, finding the Simcoe for hopping and dry hopping more appealing personally (Lawson's Steve's Back Yard Red Ale and Fiddlehead Ruby Claire are my favorite examples of this style). I'd recommend trying it if you can handle a beer that was designed to challenge your palate to a duel!

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.99/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this is crazy beer, super hoppy and not sweet at all, like i often associate red beers as being, or at least ambers, which i expected this to be, you know, heavy with caramel malts and overbalanced. not the case, this one stands as a gnarly big red ipa, super hoppy, a lot of action on this one, resins and pine, grapefruit peel bitterness, and some of the alcohol. its distinct from others in its size but gentle feel, in its refreshment capacity for a strong ale, and in its use of red malt to add character without sweetness. hoppy as can be, but never harsh, just super intense there, and a little hard to drink in mass quantity, but like all beer from ballast point, especially the big strong ones, this is excellent and original beer, worthy at any table.

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Photo of Southerndiscomfort
4.26/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A little boozy but the name tells no lies. It's sticky red and hop forward. It'll warm you up going down. There are better in this style but if you like ballast point then this is worthy of a pick up.

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Photo of Greywulfken
4/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

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Photo of FickleBeast
3.94/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured into a snifter.

Pours a ruddy red color with two fingers of off white fluffy foam. Great head retention. Aroma is a huge hoppy conglomeration of flavors... citrus, pine, spice.

First sip has an initial rush of crystal malt sweetness followed by an intense wave of hop flavors and very strong bitter finish. There is a hint of oxidation / cardboard in the flavor, which is a bit of a detractor for me. Body is extremely viscous.

This beer is very complex, and takes some effort to chew through. Crazy sweet, crazy hoppy, and crazy bitter, however, they don't quite blend harmoniously.

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Photo of Beaver13
4.1/5  rDev +5.1%
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.

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Photo of laituegonflable
4.33/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a really vibrant red colour, with a deliciously bright yellow-tinged cream head; foamy but sunk to a thin crown. Lace is not so impressive, but otherwise looks fantastic.

Smell is fairly fruity with a big underlying caramel sense. Malty and pleasant, touch of oat and just a whisper of lychee and tangerine. Could use a bit more hopping to freshen it up, but still very nice.

Taste is pleasant as well. Very red ale-esque with a great belt of sweet caramel toffee malt - sticky at times and a touch of salted caramel in there, well tempered. Hops help here too, a bit astringent with lemon pith, white pepper and umami. Bitterness is long, but not overwhelming. Overall it's very well balanced and enjoyable.

Smooth, bit of foaminess. Leaves a little heavier than I'd like, but still good.

This is a beer that people would really like. It's not too big, hoppy, or sweet, it's just a well-rounded, character-driven ale. Charming and helpful with lots of good anecdotes about the good ol' times when it wrangled cattle in Montana.

Do people wrangle cattle in Montana?

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Photo of far333
3.31/5  rDev -15.1%
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.

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Photo of antott0523
2.9/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Beautiful translucent mahogany with a foamy off-white head that settles to a half finger with a fair amount of lace.

Smell: Citrus hop notes that comes through as an almost artificial lime scent that reminds me of Rose's Lime Juice. Some tart pineapple as well. There is a an odd scent that I can only describe as brussel sprouts. Grainy and grassy notes come through as well. A minor hint of alcohol comes through.

Taste: Pine and grapefruit notes of hop bitterness. Some sweeter malt notes of caramel and grain that come through as well. The finish is balanced, not too dry, and consists of grapefruit pith.

Mouthfeel: The hops have some presence on the palate. Nothing more than a gentle tingle, and definitely not buckling my tongue. The beer is fairly thick.

Overall: This beer is okay. There are some off-putting elements on the nose that reminds me of cooking brussel sprouts or cauliflower. There is an artificial citrus element as well. I love the big amber style of beer, and I will say that this does not come close to Nugget Nectar or Lagunitas Mondo, which are two of my favorite examples. Overall, I think it falls short because it lacks that clean, crisp and fresh hop character that the others have.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.74/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

On tap at the Rochester Taproom in Rochester, NY.

Pours a clear dark amber, with a half inch head, and not much lacing.

Smells like strong caramel malt, and bitter pine.

The taste is similar. A little bit of grapefruity-ness, but lots of pine needles and sweet caramel malt. It's fairly bitter, but not quite as much as the name implies.

Medium bodied, creamy, sticky mouthfeel, very drinkable, no discernable alcohol.

A pretty decent imperial amber, could be a little cleaner.

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Photo of matjack85
3.43/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Roommate brought a few of these home as he works at the distibutor for Ballast Beers in this area, so not sure what the store price is on these 22oz brown bottles. He gets to bring them home for $1 each, so it was nice to take advantage of that insider discount. An enjoy before date is stamped on the bottom of the front label.

The beer pours a clear dark crimson color with a 1-finger tan head that lasts a few minutes and leaves lots of nice lacing.

The beer smells like burnt sugar and lots of hops.

There is nothing subtle about the flavor. Everything in here is put in in massive doses. The first thing that hits you is a massive rush of sugar. The caramel sweetness is so intense it borders on being sickening sweet. This is followed up by over 100 IBUs worth of orange/grapefruit citrusy hops. I wouldn't call it balanced because both the malts and the hops scream for equal dominance. Neither one can tame the other. Big lingering bitter grapefruit aftertaste along with some alcohol.

This is a thick, creamy full bodoed beer with medium carbonation.

I can't decide if I like it or don't like it, but it certainly is different. This is also definitely not a session beer. Between the 10% abv and a 22oz sized bottle, one is enough to start your head spinning.

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Photo of SavvyStudent
3.85/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: Some light red tint to it but some DIPAs are the same color. Medium lacing and visible carbonation. Good transparency and filtered.
S: Clean hop smell but not too much on the nose. You get the malts paired with the grapefruit and lemon profile.
M: A lot of bittering hops without the mouthfeel that usually follows. still medium-heavy on the palate and medium carbonation.
O: Recently there has been a number of IRAs being released and this one is good but does not quite measure up to some of the competition (e.g. oskar blues)

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Photo of lordofstarside
3.89/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bomber to a snifter, no dates

Pours a very dark red with hues of brown and a little over a finger of tan foam. Moderate carbonation stemming from the center of the glass, pretty good lacing and retention on this one

Smell's a little muted for an imperial anything. Strong citrus hops taking the front followed by notes of pine. Very spicy caramel as is expected along with a nice dash of alcohol. Not very pungent but good when you get your nose in there

Taste is close with the nose, upfront citrus and some pine from the hops, the malts come in a lot stronger though. Heavy caramel along with a bit of biscuit, finishing with a big blast of alcohol. Pretty strong

Feel is a medium/thick body, dry finish, very bitter. Alcohol isn't masked much so drinks boozy, but comfortably warm. Definitely not something to be quaffed

Overall solid imperial red. Not something I'd get often for $8, but a solid one to try

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Tongue Buckler - Imperial Red Ale from Ballast Point Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 227 ratings.