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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: 869
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: 869
Photo of ffejherb
4/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

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Photo of juhl31
4.05/5  rDev +3.8%
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

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Photo of CosmoHopHead
3.9/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of homebrewhawk
4.12/5  rDev +5.6%
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.

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Photo of paco1029384756
4.23/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

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Photo of TexIndy
4.23/5  rDev +8.5%
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]

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Photo of VaTechHopHead
3.78/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Dark dark orange/copper colored with a thick light tan head, but not as much lacing as I was expecting with such a thick head.

S - Very fresh earthy hop tones at first but then switches to slight caramel and sweet dark sugars like molasses, very nice.

T - Hop explosion up front with dry woody hops which stay throughout the entire palate, and in the background there are hints of caramel, slight roasted malts, smoky flavors, and dark sugars again. It has a faint alcohol taste/burn in the aftertaste as well.

M/D - Medium to heavy body, slight above average carbonation, and finishes nice (not dry from the hops) except for the alcohol burn/aftertaste. Definitely a sipping beer due to the 10% alcohol and thickness of the body.

Very good beer, almost like two beers in one...a DIPA combined with a Red Ale, very complex and something you don't taste everyday.

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Photo of stawn
4.32/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured into a tulip - a deep mahogany with a fluffy off white head that dissipates slowly with good lacing.

S - Smells of pine and sweet malt. Lots of hop aroma!

T - Taste is VERY balanced. Not overly hoppy at all. Malty sweetness quickly aided by piney hops.

M - Full thick bodied. Hops come out more as it warms.

D - Can't tell its 10% until you're done! ;)

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.55/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber, listed at 10%, well up from 6.4%,

A: Pours a red-brown with a thick 2-finger off-tan head.

S: A pine tree/bitter resin bomb, heavy caramel with some volatile ethanol.

T: Grapefruit and some guava immediately in the hops. Some toasted biscuit and caramel come as the malt shows up. Great cinnamon spice meets Christmas tree in the finish. Hoppy throughout, but always a good balance. Ethanol is present, but it melds seamlessly with the spice and the hops note; it is very well integrated, great structure of flavour.

M: Pretty much what you would want in this style. Resinous of course, but very smooth and silky. Soft, luxurious carbonation. The finish is long and true, also being zesty and tangy.

D: Usually with a beer this big like a barleywine, the bomber would last 2-3 hours, but 20 minutes into this one I had about 8 oz. left in the pint glass. Just a beautifully drinking beer for it's strength. A fantastic Imperial ale, I really just can't say enough good things about it.

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Photo of mikedashg
4.31/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a slightly hazy but very clear, well, amber color! spot on! With a good size super light tan head.

S- Candied sugar, hops, citrus

T- Wow! Those hops are killer. In your face and tounge buckling. Nice pine and citrus flavors too. Very powerful. A bit caramel and toffee, with a bit of grapefruit.

M- Perfect full body and good carbonation. Nice and crisp.

D- Couldn't have too many of these. But they sure are good.

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Photo of kirok1999
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dense garnet with a nice head and great lacing. Rich smell of deep malts, mild caramel.
Taste is hugely hoppy...Tongue Buckler is a very appropriate name. All the hops of a DIPA with the nice rich characteristics of a red ale. Nice thick mouthfeel with just a bit of alcohol noticable.
Very easy to drink but at 10% I'm not sure how long I oould drink this.

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Photo of mcallister
4.13/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Damn nice looking. Deep garnet colored with 3 finger off white head that has amazing length and retention. Tiny bubbles of carbonation effervece up the sides of the tulip.

Thick with toffee and caramel aromas citrusy hops lead into a pine driven force then grapefruit and stone fruit.

A monster beer. Thick and hoppy as hell. Full of resiny oily hops from front to back. Thick caramel, red currant, plum, stone fruits. Pine with a bit of earthyness. Very bitter and chalky on the finish. But it should be with this amount of IBU's. A toung buckler indeed.

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Photo of wagenvolks
4.05/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to hopheadlouie for including this as an extra in a trade! 22oz bomber passed around at JDV's place (Happy Birthday to his gf, Erin!)

Tongue Buckler pours an attractive, burnt copper hue with nice clarity and hints of gold at the edges. A rich, creamy custard head retains well atop, slowly diminishing to a thin patch of foam that instantly springs back to life with a quick swirl of the tulip. Rich, gooey caramel malts play well with the sweeter amber notes and a boozy heat in the aroma. The hops smell tropically fruity--and delicious.

Before going into this beer, I had heard it was so bitter that it would rip your face off and make your tastebuds curdle. Well, it's not THAT intense, but it is one bitter mother of an amber ale...a friend compared it to Nugget Nectar or steroids. However, what I enjoy about NN is that it utilizes more hop flavor, whereas Tongue Buckler focused more on hop bitterness, as it coated the tongue with raw, leafy hop cones and alpha acids galore. The amber malts are sturdy in the background, giving the body a medium-thick consistency and semi-creamy mouthfeel. Lingering bitter bite lasts throughout the finish. This is a beer for the geeks...Ballast Point has a winner with Tongue Buckler, my only "beef" is that I'd like to see a bit more hop flavor complimenting the massive bitterness.

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Photo of RustyDiamond
4.85/5  rDev +24.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Sadistic blood orange pour into the Duvel glass. Quite the devil. Very inviting looking...crimson red with a striking off-white frothy 3" head. Chill hazy...ominous. Aroma of hot citrus glaze on a piping hot waffle with pineapple singing backup. Big ole flavor of spruce tips and thick indian river grapefruit. So balanced for such a big ole crunchy hop bomb. Perfumey as hell in the mouth yet the tongue buckler sensation was omnipresent. Rich, malty taste and I get hints of bittersweet chocolate and toffee somewhere. So aromatic hop nasty yet so rich and malty. Citric piney overhand then a sweet uppercut maly smack. This one is a winner!

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Photo of Docer
3.66/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Alexd3891 for the trade... am a big fan of imperial reds..

- Wonderful clear red/amber color.. super rich tone. Great creamy head which leaves a ton of lacing. I think this was the best part of this beer.

- Smell is rather mild... sweet caramel and mild hop odor.. smells balanced....

- There is a large caramel malt profile as a backbone, but I feel it is smothered by bitter bitter hops. A little bit of pine... but all the best parts of a hopping are absent here... it's just bitter and not much of a pleasure to drink.

- Dry, sweet aftertaste.. slightly chewy.

- Says 10% Alc. I don't really buy it.. especially after slamming the whole bomber.. I usually get a bit more of a kick out of one... but if it was... it was well hidden by the bitterness... otherwise a smooth malt profile.

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Photo of DoubleJ
4.55/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I'm ready to walk the plank with this strong red ale. On to the beer:

Good clarity in the body. It has a beautiful amber reddish glow, topped by a thick, hearty head which continues to hold up. The aroma is quite a treat as well, it's both malty and hoppy. Where to start? Assorted tropical fruits, mango, passionfruit, caramel, toasted malt. Is this a Double Bastard clone?

Oh my! All the flavors are mixed together, and it feels softer than silk. A burst of citrus, passionfruit, and burnt sugar cling on to the palate at first. Hops explode everywhere, but they are controlled without getting too fiesty. A little uncooked veggie gets noticed. Toasted towards the end. A tad more malt would make this perfect for me, but I'm merely nitpicking at this gem. Luscious and smooth like no other (sorry Newcastle!), the alcohol is hidden extremely well, and it is dangerous to drink.

Tongue Buckler is more of a Mind Buckler to me. How Ballast Point managed to pull off this beer without any major leakage of alcohol deserves props. An excellent beer, but watch your consumption: it drinks more like 7% ABV than its listed 10% ABV.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was fore-warned about this bruiser before I even drank it. Pours a reddish brown in color with a nice two inches of off white head. Smell is hops, but accompanied with enough malt to be noticed.
Taste is an absolute ripper. Very bitter, almost painful hops. I can see what everyone is commenting about now. Still quite drinkable. Very piney, resinous hops. They hit you like a freight train. Not in the same way that a juicy DIPA would, but just bittering strong ale type. Kind of like when you were tricked as a kid to lick the end of a 9 volt battery. Bitter and biting.
Very bitter and hoppy in the mouthfeel. What can I say, another outstanding beer from Ballast Point.

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Photo of sweetbrew82
4.22/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. into a snifter

P: Crimson-soaked deep amber with a light tan head that's dense, creamy, and fluffy. It didn't show very good retention (10% ABV), but left some nice lacing on the glass.

A: Hops just erupt out of the glass with all of the citrusy, piney goodness filling the entire room! My wife said she could smell it all the way across the living room. Rips through the nasal passages with aromas of ruby red grapefruit, pineapple, and pine trees. Toasted malts are barely even noticeable!

T: Just as hoppy on the palate as it is in the nose! Ruby red grapefruit is right upfront with notes of lemon zest, pineapple, and some other tropical fruits underneath along with lots of resinous pine. Toasted caramel malt is a distant second place, while the caramel tries valiantly to take the edge off the intense bitterness, but fails miserably because of the huge mismatch. The alcohol is present on the palate, but even more so in terms of warmth. This baby is a tongue buckler indeed!

M: I would say that this Impy Red is medium-bodied, with a slick, oily, resinous feel that does finish a bit dry and sticky, but not as much as you would expect from the huge hop bitterness.

Notes: This is a very tasty Imperial Red! It's uber-hoppy with not much in the way of malts to get in the way. The super flavorful, intensely bitter hop bill does a good job of hiding the alcohol in taste, but the warmth of the ethanol kind of hinders the drinkability of this one. Maybe with a little age, this one will really come into its own. Don't plan on using your tongue for anything important afterwards!

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Photo of Kadonny
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bomber bottle. Note: The label says this beer is 10% ABV, not 6.4% and it shows.

Poured from the bottle into my Sam Adams pint glass.

A: A dark copper reddish color with a deep off white two finger head. Nice full glass lacing.

S: Earthy hops with a deep sweetness and sweet fruits.

T: Hops hit first with the pine earthy hops, massive hops that just pound on you, but then the balance come in with a real dark sweentess of dark fruits, raisins, toffee, caramel and maybe some brown sugar. The hops keep coming as the finish is massive but not overly bitter. Very full bodied beer that has more balance than I expected.

M: Full coating, resiny, nuff said. Alcohol is apparent.

D: Medium, the one bomber was more than enough, but it was damn tasty.

A very fine beer, like we expect anything else from BP. It is a bruiser though, and it is a beer that can only be enjoyed in small quantities, but boy is it a huge beer. Nicely done.

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Photo of brentk56
4.05/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clear copper color with a sturdy ecru head that leaves a fair amount of lacing

Smell: Pop the cap and the piney citrus wafts out of the bottle; stick your nose in the pint glass and the hops aroma almost burns like a chili pepper

Taste: The hops don't wait for the malt to make an appearance, jumping into the fray from the get go, with a juicy, almost fiery, citrus and pine combination that truly tries to buckle the tongue; after the swallow, the malt leaves a trace with some residual sweetness on the tongue, but the bitterness persists for quite some time afterwards

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation; burning warmth in the gullet after the swallow

Drinkability: Fun to taste for a hop head, but a tough one to consume in any quantity; one of the most aggressive beers I have ever tasted

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Photo of csmiley
3.9/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Many thanks to prototypic for scoring this brew.

A - This one pours amber with hints of red that show in the light. The almost beige head tops out at maybe just over one inch and sticks around for a while. The lacing left behind in the glass is nice and abundant. This is a very nice looking brew overall.

S - Sweet citrusy hops start out the aroma. Grapefruit is easily picked out with some lemon coming in quickly to follow up. Malt comes through midway with notes of hard candy and caramel. The tail end is pretty complex with tobacco, fresh cut grass, and alcohol. The alcohol doesn't really get in the way at all.

T - Big citrus flavors start this one out with a bang. I'm getting more orange in the flavor mixed in with the grapefruit. The fruitiness is followed by some earthy flavors such as tobacco and pine. The malt backbone is a little hard to pick up but it is in there showing notes of caramel and cookie dough. Alcohol really dominates the end of the flavor and can be a little too warm at times.

M - This one is on the lighter side of full bodied and has a mild carbonation that works well. Finish is dry and has a bitterness that is almost brutal. This finish just won't let go, sticking around forever on the palate.

D - Drinkability is good for a 10%-er. This is a BIG red with a huge hop presence. The ending bitterness is just a tad too much for me. Actually, I kept sipping on this one to avoid the unrelenting bitterness at the end but that just brought forth (and amplified) the heat from the alcohol. That pretty much brings this category down a notch or two. Glad I got to try it though and can't help but love the name and label.

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Photo of hopdog
4.09/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle acquired in trade with WeeHeavyHD (thanks!).

This one initially poured all head. Settled into a medium to deeper orange color. Aromas of pine, toasty, caramel, and citrus. Tastes of citrus, caramel, a little fruity, pine and floralness. Tastes definitely nice and hoppy but also had a nice balance. Medium alcohol burn in the finish. Lacing left on the glass. Piney hoppy burps.

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Photo of prototypic
4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
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.

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Photo of aerozeppl
4.12/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks go out to Weibull for sending this as an extra in a trade.

A: Very nice looking red ale. Bright and clear. Medium color of red with a touch of copper. A half finger of white head with some nice lacing.

S: Nice hoppiness right off the bat. More citrus than anything else but it didn't really lean one way or another. Malt sweetness as well.

T: Nice and hoppy. This beer is bitter as hell but I guess that is the point.

M: Medium body. Well carbonated with a touch of thickness to it.

D: Very drinkable. We split the bomber with a few people and it was gone before we knew it.

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Photo of ChillMike
4.11/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Brilliant amber color with a two finger head that's a light khaki color, forms really nicely and leaves a brilliant coating of lace around the glass. Gorgeous looking beer.

S: Nice piney hops, bits of pepper, chocolate, caramel, it just seemed packed with as much as could possibly be put into it.

T: Chocolaty and smokey malts and piney earthen hops that give it just enough balance. While there is a noticeable alcohol content taste it's done very eloquently and extremely well for a beer at %10 abv.

MF: Medium-Big bodied beer done very nicely just spot on with the carbonation. Well done.

D: As drinkable as a 10% beer is going to get. That being said it's still 10% hah!

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