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Tongue Buckler - Imperial Red Ale | Ballast Point Brewing Company

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Tongue Buckler - Imperial Red AleTongue Buckler - Imperial Red Ale

Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company
California, United States | website

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by xlperro on 11-25-2002

User Reviews
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Reviews: 235 | Ratings: 919
Photo of Kegatron
3.73/5  rDev -4.4%
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.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.04/5  rDev -22.1%
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.

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Photo of foxbat2500
3.99/5  rDev +2.3%
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.

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Photo of ClockworkOrange
4/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

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Photo of bulletrain76
4.3/5  rDev +10.3%
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.

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Photo of Monkeyknife
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

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Photo of slaintemhor
4.42/5  rDev +13.3%
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!).

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.01/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

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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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Tongue Buckler - Imperial Red Ale from Ballast Point Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 235 ratings.