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

841 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 841
Reviews: 231
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 11.51%
Wants: 81
Gots: 84 | 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: 841 | Reviews: 231
Photo of GarthDanielson
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured on-tap at the brewery, this beer was served in a pint glass. The beer was a hazy copper-orange coloring with a thin film of head. Citrus and booze on the nose, with caramelly sweet tones mixed in. The flavors were caramel and citrus sweet touching down on the front tongue, but they are quickly overpowered by bitter and sour flavors around the sides and back of the tongue. Caramel and sour characteristics stay through to the aftertaste. The beer is surprisingly light bodied, but the finish is in for the long haul. Booze accompanies all the flavors listed throughout here, but remains a supporting cast member throughout. Very interesting and tasty brew!

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 SDtastentune
4.8/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Red or brownish, cant remember exactly. No much head, or lace but there.

S - Smells of malts and caramel malts, somehops back there but not like an IPA

T- Taste is somewhat complex, think malty, grass/deep hops, red kinda beer flavor, kinda homebrew taste. Hard to explain.

M - Pretty great sipping a half pint fresh from BP, kinda lower carbonation, but well liked and balanced.

O - Nice, well rounded strong ale, malty, hoppy, and redish all at the same time, mixed in with a homebrew kinda vibe. Thumbs up for a different style!

Photo of mothman
2.51/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured into snifter.

Pours 1/2 finger of beige head. Color is a dark orange amber. Decent retention with some lace rings.

Aroma: Dank weeds, floral hops, grapefruit citrus, caramel malts, and bready malts.

Taste: Bitter hops - floral and grassy. Pretty malty. Biscuits, caramel, and bready malts all show. Has some citrus fruits.

Mouthfeel: Dry and bitter. Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends dry and sticky.

Overall, the age shows a bit as it is malty. However, the hops really showed and that surprised me. Very bitter.

Photo of portia99
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle sent as a great extra in a trade with beernerd81. This has been a long time want of mine, so I am very thankful to finally get to try this one. Cheers Ben! Poured into a Bruery tulip.

A - Pours a very pretty and super clear amber red color with a huge two fingers of long lasting cream colored head. The foam slowly fades away after a couple of minutes leaving tons of beautiful lacing on the glass and a thick skim coat that never fades away.

S - Getting a combination of caramel, some toasted malt, grapefruity citrus and pine with some alcohol and a light soapy aroma.

T - Very hoppy up front with an assertive bitterness that gives a slight medicinal and maybe a bit of a metallic aspect also. Pine and citrus hop flavors are prominent too. Some caramelly sweet malty flavors are firmly planted at the base with some contribution of breadiness and some toasted and medium-dark roasted malts as well. Bitterness is pretty harsh overall, even for the hophead that I am. Still very good overall.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation level. Carbonation is slightly prickly, but tends more towards the creamy feel. Mild to medium alcohol warmth. Hops are a bit harsh and coat the entire mouth with a sticky, resiny feel. Bitterness and alcohol warmth linger past the swallow.

D - Reminds me a bit of fresh Flying Mouflan. Strongly hoppy and bitter. Definitely lives up to the name - the bitterness is a bit bracing and in your face. I'm enjoying this beer, but it is certainly not an easy drinker...tends more towards being a sipper. I started the night with this bomber and I think this is where my night is going to end too. This 22 is a session in itself.

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 biglite351
2.09/5  rDev -46.5%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

A - honey-brown and quite clear. Very tall tight head rant leaves a lot of lacing.

S - very hoppy with some grapefruit smell.

T - very not me brew. Hop heavy with some caramel in the depth.

M - a bit thin with a tingle in the back of the throat.

D - I could see why people would like this but it is not my bag.

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

Thank you to stevemcqueenjr for the bottle!!

Pours a bright reddish brown with a compact tan head. Mild lacing. Off the nose I get malt, toffee and grapefruit. The taste is rich malt along with a the grapefruit hops. Mouthfeel is superb...Medium body and super smooth fine carbonation. Overall a very tasty imperial red.

Photo of Jwale73
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Thirstybird for sharing. Poured a copper-amber color with a semi-translucent clarity. Pour exposes a quarter inch off-white head that dissipates into a skim and a cluster of bubbles, but refreshes with a swirl. Some spots and strands of lacing exposed during the tasting. Nose reveals caramel, toffee and some grapefruit notes. Taste consistent with nose, all on a big, malty backbone. Mouthfeel was medium-bodied with a consistent background carbonation. I am really growing to appreciate Ambers, and Tongue Buckler is definitely a standard for the style.

Photo of metter98
3.81/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is very dark amber in appearance and has just a few bubbles floating on the surface.
S: A distinct hoppy aroma dominates the smell. There are also some hints of caramel and toffee.
T: The taste very much follows the smell and is of bitter hops, although there is a good amount of balance in the flavors from the underlying caramel malts.
D: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and the finish is somewhat dry.
M: The alcohol content is well masked but this is a beer that tastes like it is strong and definitely needs to be sipped.

Photo of womencantsail
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at 38 Degrees

A: The pour is amber though it leans more toward red than anything else. The head has a slightly tan hue and leaves some nice lacing.

S: A blast of dank, juicy grapefruit is the first thing to hit the nose. The intense citrus and pine hop aroma lasts throughout the sniffing process, and is mixed with some brown sugar and caramel.

T: The hop flavors, particularly the grapefruit, are not quite as bitter as I would have expected. There is a definite sweetness to the beer, provided by some caramel malts and a brown sugar taste. There is some decent bitterness on the finish, however.

M: A medium to full bodied beer (for the style, anyway) with a crisp carbonation and bitter finish.

D: The alcohol doesn't necessarily show itself in the course of the smelling or tasting of the beer, but it does make itself known (and not surprising at 10%). Still a nice beer, but it can sneak up on you.

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 Arbitrator
3.04/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Chilled bottle into a glass. Shared by chswimmer. Thanks Craig!

Seems like it was $12 at City Beer... Ouch.

A: Pours a reddish, orange-toned amber body with fluffy off-white head. Initially the cap is about 1", but over a minute or so it becomes a scattered cap. Some lacing down the sides during sips.

S: Wow, very hoppy. Pine-forward like a Douglas fir, this one, with a supplementary floral and cinnamon character. It reminds me of Nugget Nectar. And Nugget Nectar reminds me of... well, you can read my review of that one for the association. Caramel and light booze.

T: I pick up more malts here than I could in the aroma, but this is basically a lightly-ambered DIPA. Caramel, toffee, even a hint of chocolate. Pine flavors are aggressive and sharp, even dominant (maybe too much) at times. Perfumey floral hops are always around, but not quite as strong. Cinnamon contributes toward a drying finish.

M: Medium bodied with medium-plus carbonation. A little prickly on the palate, but otherwise enjoyable. A hint of booze in the aroma and a small burn on the taste.

D: Imperial reds are a funny beast; not too many people make them (that I'm aware of), especially in this area. I love the Lagunitas take on the style, and Nugget Nectar is good but falls short due to certain smell associations that this beer also shares. However, what kills the interest in this one for me is the $12 / bomber price. It's a good beer for the style, but when there's a beer I enjoy more that costs less, I'm not going to spend much time on this one.

Photo of foxbat2500
3.99/5  rDev +2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Red like a red delicious apple. Nice foamy head. I love the way this beer looks.

Smell - Not huge, - a bit of hops and pine.

T - Kadony's review below is dead on. You get hit in waves - first with the hops. Then carmel and fruit. Lingered aftertaste maybe from the alcohol.

M & D - Really a very tasty treat, but its a pallet destroyer for sure. Pair it with a good meal.

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

Poured from a 22 ounce bomber bottle into my tumbler. appears a hazed deep crimson amber color with a good two fingers of light rust colored foam. The head leaves a nice lacing in its wake. Nose and flavors consist of huge bitter citrus notes such as white and red grapefruit juice, pith , and peel, toasted sweet caramelized malts, pine, toffee, floral notes, certainly on the bitter side. Medium to full bodied with ample carbonation. Very bitter after each sip and swallow. Somewhat dry as well. Decent overall.

Photo of bulletrain76
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle. Red-brown with a creamy beige head. A piney and spicy hop nose with light alcohol and toasted malt and caramel. The flavor has a lot of classic pine and grapefruit hops and a fat caramel and toffee malt balance. Very bitter and pretty dry for how malty it is. There is a little alcohol in the finish, but the burn balances the malt well. Very enjoyable, with a medium body and creamy carbonation that is perfect for this beer. I love how they got lots of malt flavor to balance the hops, but attenuated it enough to have just about as lean and drinkable a beer as you get at this size.

Photo of Monkeyknife
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle a hazy amber-orange color with a very thin and wet tan head.

Aroma of sweet caramel malts, molasses, floral hops, and nuts.

The taste is much like the aroma with sweet caramel malts, floral hops, berries, rye bread, and molasses. The 10% alcohol definitely lets you know it's there.

Medium bodied with a sharp carbonation.

A very enjoyable Imperial Red from Ballast Point.

Photo of slaintemhor
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The colour of this beer was a dark amber. The aroma was a hoppy smack in the face! I couldn't detect much else as the hops were predominant. On the palate, WHOA! A hop caliope! Geez! Citrusy hops galore, sweet, resinous and an extremely long finish that ruined my palate for the rest of the night (but in a good way!).

Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.01/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Brent (Swimsum) shared this with me. Thanks buddy!

Poured into a snifter.

Appearance: Crystal clear deep red with a white halo on top. No apparent carbonation. Nice lacing, nice retention. I really dig the color.

Smell: Sweet caramel and amber-like characteristics. The ABV also comes through a bit. Not a whole lot to smell here unfortunately, but what is there smells nice.

Taste: Toasted grains, candy apple caramel, red berries, pine and citric hops. Nice, balanced profile of flavors. Very enjoyable. Alcohol comes through in the finish, but isn't too pronounced. Mild bitterness. Nice!

Mouthfeel: Creamy, sweet, and well-balanced. Beer becomes frothy when swished. Sticky and syrupy to an extent. Kinda heavy. Definitely warm.

Drinkability: Pretty syrupy and hot at times, but otherwise a solid imperial amber. I recommend splitting this with someone else.

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

22oz. bomber poured into a goblet.

A - Slightly hazy ruby red body with one-finger frothy beige head that settled into a quarter inch of creamy retention and sparse, sticky lace.

S - Initial aroma is a waft of alcohol, burnt caramel and sugars and a hefty dose of floral and perfumy hops.

T - Opens with an assertive floral and perfumy hop character, followed by quite a bit of alcohol warmth in the middle. Caramel malt shows up to smooth out the aggressive bitterness, while some citrus notes emerge in the backend.

M - Medium to full bodied with a very thick, syrupy texture and lively carbonation. Bitterness really camps out on the back of the tongue. Aggressive bitter finish with a bit of residual burnt sweetness.

D - While not as severe as, say, Stone Ruination, Tongue Buckler is aptly named. The hop presence is quite aggressive, yet it still maintains its drinkability for such a hoppy red ale.

Photo of juhl31
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

thank you adam...

-good reddish, brown head with a tan, tall, lasting head

-some hops nose in there, and some nutty kind of scent

-i get some creaminess, a little bit of hops and a little malt

-it feels like i ate some chocolate, even though the beer didnt taste like it at all. i enjoy the feel quite a deal though

-some interesting stuff throughout the whole experience. each level seemed to have something different going on. and it changed a bit once it warmed up too. an odd drink for me but i really enjoyed it

Photo of CosmoHopHead
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: dark ruby/amber in color with a think off white head

S: smells caramel malty sweet but bitter on the nose. You can pick up the alcohol as well

T: Bitter with mixture of malts, caramel and a little bit of a sugary presence.

M: pretty mouth puckering. You can sense the sweetness but the hops dominate.

D: Probably only need one of these bad boys. Lots of alcohol at 10% abv and the bitter hops will for sure pucker your cheeks.

A very nice red ale. Would recommend any hop lover check out.

Photo of homebrewhawk
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to MASPuros for this one. 22oz bottle served in a Duvel tulip. Poured a pretty amber/red color with about two fingers of light tan head. Big piney hop aroma with a fair amount of malt. It's pretty bitter, but not as much as the aroma might suggest. Nice malt base with some sweetness in the middle. Maybe of bit of oxidation, but in a good way. Some dry mouth pucker from the hops in the finish. Nice balance of malt and hops. The hops are not as over the top as you would think from the name (or maybe I'm just jaded!) To me, this is pretty much a barley wine, but you don't have to label it, just enjoy.

Photo of paco1029384756
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear dark ruby color with a lasting large sticky white head.

Scent of bitter grassy hops, caramel, and a hint of alcohol. Hops dominate all other aspects of the scent, very bitter smelling.

Taste of bitter hops, sugars, caramel, and some alcohol. It is still pretty bitter, I can only imagine this super fresh. A tasty Red Ale with strong bitter hops balancing out the strong sweet sugar.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with strong carbonation.

Photo of TexIndy
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Re-review on 3/31/10. Poured from a 22oz bottle into a pint glass. No dating info but Milt pick this up at the brewery on the release date so it's fresh. It was a rich garnet color with fair to good amount of carb streams. It had a large beige head that very slowly settled into a foam cap and thick collar. Great lacing with lots sticking.

The aroma was heavy on the hops - citric, pine - with a bit of malt in the back but that's expected as this is meant to be a hop show. Bitter hop aroma. The taste was also heavy on the bitter hops. My original review noted that the hops were too far on the bitter side for me. But this time, while still bitter, I didn't have a big issue with it. Not sure if the formula was changed any (doubtful) or if I just got my big boy hop pants on this time (most likely). The bitter hops are dominant from start to finish with just a little malt to offset it. Hop attack as advertised. I still prefer the more citric vs bitter hop beers but this one works just fine. Mouthfeel was medium to full with almost too much carbonation as it distracts from the finish.

Overall, a really good bitter but not too bitter beer. Another great beer from an outstanding brewery. Highly recommend. A/R - not avail here in TX so got some shipped from Milt in SD. If here, I'd get a couple per release. As is, would get at least 1 shipped per year. [M/OR;y;Sy]

Tongue Buckler - Imperial Red Ale from Ballast Point Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 841 ratings.