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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 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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Photo of jjh19
3.1/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Deep red, decent head.

Smell: Not a lot in the nose.

Taste: Sweet and malty. Some toffee. Much more intense flavor than I would have guessed from the aroma. Fairly boozy.

Mouthfeel: Medium-ish body.

Drinkability: Solid. A bit heavy handed on the maltiness. Not a favorite.

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Photo of JoshuaMason
4.3/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage: 2013
Appearance: Deep redwood; Fluffy, tan head; good lace; medium carb activity
Smell: Pineapple; Woody/Floral hops; Black Cherry; Caramel sweetness
Taste: Black Cherry; Plum; Woody/Floral hops; Orange rind; Alchohol
Mouth-feel: Balanced; Medium Body; Big Carbonation; Dry Finish
Overall: Wonderful West Coast style Red. The ample malt sweetness is nicely balanced by the hops

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Photo of BB1313
3.6/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle poured into a tulip. Pours a dark amber with nice clarity; fluffy off-white head that fades and leaves nice lacing and retention. The aromas are full of sweet caramel malts. Some candy apple. Some toffee and butterscotch. Subtle amount of citrus. The flavors are sharp and bold. Some grapefruit in the mix. Solid bitterness. Lots of malts. Lots of caramel. More toffee. Fresh red apple is in the mix. Some pine resin is there. Subtle warmth in the finish but it's not hot or boozy at all. Mouthfeel is wonderful. It's full-bodied and pretty creamy. Moderate carbonation making it pretty smooth. Alcohol ultimately goes unnoticed for the most part. This is ultimately dangerously drinkable, but the complexities make this a great sipper.

This is a very solid Imperial Red Ale. It has just about everything you can look for in the style. It's not flashy or over the top, but it's traditional and well crafted.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
3.87/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Type: Draft
Glass: 0.25L glass
From: Tiger! Tiger! in North Park (San Diego), Calif.
Price: $5.50
Purchased: Jan. 5, 2014
Consumed: Jan. 5, 2014
Misc.: N/A

Poured a reddish amber semi-clear color with 2-to-3 fingers of khaki white head. A good amount of spiderweb foamy lacing on the sides of the glass. Above average retention on the top.

Smelled smooth citrus notes, lemon, floral notes, grapefruit, pine and caramel.

Tasted rye hops, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, citrus notes, grapefruit and pine, all in a mellow form.

Medium body. Oily texture. Average carbonation. Long, smooth finish.

A really smooth beer and I enjoyed it very much. It was a good follow up to Bear Republic’s Café 15.

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Photo of Premo88
3.09/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

22 oz. bomber poured into mug

L: chocolate brown, murky, caramel/tan head about 1/4 to 2/5-inch tall that sticks a bit; the color is classic American DIPA -- brown, full murk, so opaque light struggles to get through it; next to no red/amber in this brew

S: at first I thought we had a cool English pale ale/brown ale thing going with that sweet lighter malt mixed with just enough hops, but as it warms, it's descending into standard American DIPA caramel/super sugary tropical fruit; definite fig; man, there's some malt trying SO HARD to peek through, but ultimately it's gone ... the hops have killed it

T: much like the nose, starts off with an interesting English ale note from the UK malt, almost light but detectable even amid the massive bittering hops; as it warms, standard American DIPA caramel/mango/tropical fruit

F: strong, solid, good carbonation; almost thick but not ... very drinkable and a definite midweight

O: I don't get why every American brewer has to make 4-10 versions of what we all consider the American Imperial/double IPA, but that's what they do, and that's what this is. There is nothing "amber ale" about this -- and, in fact, I wouldn't even put it into the American strong ale category. It's yet another DIPA, and I'm yawning as I drink it.

With that said, if you're a big DIPA fan, this will do you up right. It's got the big sweet, the big bitter; the hops won't disappoint if you want hops. I would also give it plenty of credit for hiding the high ABV -- and they're not kidding. It's *at least* 10%. Wow!

But for the price ($10.52 for the 22 oz. at Spec's in Houston), it's not worth it for me. Ballast Point makes some good stuff -- Sculpin might be my favorite IPA. Tongue Buckler is a one-off for me; I shant be walking down this plank again.

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Photo of Big-Frog
3.29/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

I had a clean palate when I tried this beer. It wasn't nearly as bitter as it's "off the scale," IBU label description declares. However it's 10% ABV content is hidden well. It's probably the smoothest 10% beer I've ever had. It tastes like a normal 5% Lager. That's where this swash-buckling pirate draws first blood. Deceptively strong is the best way to explain this beer.

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Photo of VincentFrey
3.72/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 2 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

First off, it’s not all that red. It’s more of a amber, even verging on brown without sunlight directly on the glass. The head is also somewhat odd, very, very vigorous with odd juts and edges forming. Not the prettiest beer I’ve ever seen.

Smells like a nice red IPA though. The imperial aspect isn’t hinted at it in the nose. Nice caramel and high crystal, along with earthy hops with a touch of citrus. A very good aroma.

Tastes incredibly drinkable. Like, unbelievably drinkable. The first sip took out about 1/3 of the pint glass. It’s very light in the mouth, with only the hops and the alcohol lingering. The alcohol burn is nicely warming, encouraging you to appreciate what you’ve just drank rather than immediately go back for another sip. It’s very well-played in a somewhat hard to hide heat style.

Overall, I think I paid $7 for this, and it’s pretty delicious. Not a pretty beer by any means, but a very good beer.

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Photo of Brenden
4.36/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

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

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Photo of Fcolle2
3.85/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours amber in color with deep hues of mahogany, and a fluffy 2 finger off white head.

Smell has spicy earthy piney hops forward. Smells like there is a fair amount of bitterness. There is also a heafty amout of toasted malt present.

Hoppy bitterness is forward and has more notes of earthy pine. The malt follows with a rich husky maltiness. Lots of residual Bitterness last well into the swallow and exhale.

Mouthfeel is good, medium bodied with high carbonation keeps this drinkable through the bold flavors and bitterness.

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

Smooth, rich flavor. Aftertaste has a touch of bite consistent with imperial. I am glad that they didn't go overboard on the "imperial" that maintains drinkability. Note: Any imperial should have a slight drop in drinkability due to the concentration of flavors.

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Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead
4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

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

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Photo of oberon
3.86/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

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

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Photo of barnzy78
3.64/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle, best by 4/17/2014, pours red-copper topped with a creamy beige head that holds great retention. Aromas are toasty grain, caramel, earthy, piny, citric hop. Tastes include a sharp bite of bitter hops up-front, piny, pungent, grapefruit, burnt caramel, brown sugar, bread crust, earth, prickly booze. Creamy yet resiny mouth-feel, medium-full body, moderate carbonation. Overall, nice Imperial Red, but there are some better ones out there, in particular one lucky one that is half the price...

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Photo of BarrytheBear
4.18/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bottle courtesy of Binny's Scumburg. Bottle dating is illegible. Harumphhh...

Pours a smattered crimson with plenty of residual splatter.

Smells a touch solvent-y with a healthy serving of brown sugar. Hops in the form of pine and vague citrus linger along the periphery along with baked rye bread.

What an aggressive bitch this is and quite a surprise given the semi limp dicked hand shake at the front door. Tinny malts that are all to common within the style are assisted by brown sugar in an bold attempt to thwart the onslaught of hops. Mean and rugged, the abrasive hops tumble along the tongue and grab spastically at my tasting places. It's rather a kitchen sink feel approach: limes, cat piss, oranges, baby aspirin...it's all here. The finish is scraping bitterness that rakes along the tongue leaving a ruinous affect and a drying barren wasteland in its wake.

This is quite good and I'm happy to have had this available semi-locally as a welcomed impromptu pick up. I enjoyed this much more than any bottle of Sculpin I've enjoyed and hazarded to guess at its relative freshness. A nice big boisterous bomb of Imperial redsiness.

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Photo of GallowsThief
3.8/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Out of a bottle into a standard pint glass.

A – Poured out a cloudy, golden honey brown with about a finger of off white creamy head that settles down and stayed around a bit. Nice strong lacing.

S – Solid punch of hops with a twinge of caramel sweetness in the nose.

T – Big flavor start with the caramel sweetness and brown sugar. Hops follow along with the piney taste we all know and love. It is not overwhelming ( I expected bigger bitterness) but instead is balanced off nicely with the sweetness. Has some of the citrus flavors as well. Nice slow burn from the ABV rolls along after a few seconds. Nice.

M – Creamy, smooth with good carbonation. Medium to full bodied.

O – I was expecting much more of a hop bomb here but it is not that. It is a well balanced flavorful brew. Nice balanced taste. I enjoyed this one. Goes down easy..maybe too easy at 10%!

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