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Hairy Eyeball Ale - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Hairy Eyeball AleHairy Eyeball Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

2,007 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,007
Reviews: 849
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 11.75%
Wants: 41
Gots: 125 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Lagunitas Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Strong Ale |  9.40% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-12-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,007 | Reviews: 849 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of williamherbert
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a quite dark and opaque brew. Has a hint of dark, smoky red glimmering through. A healthy head with minimal lace.

Has a nice, deep, rich malt smell. Smells like a strong ale all right, but with a nice hop accent. Has the ever-so-slight hint of a cherry/berry element.

Contains a bit of that winter ale pungent sweetness. Has a minor cherry flavor, but that is balanced by a solid hop presence. (The hops come out more as it warms up.) Actually has a nice, rich sweet/bitter balance.

Medium bodied, but the flavor gives the feeling of a stronger ale. Coats the tongue in the afterglow. It's a decent, competent brew. The sweetness can be a bit overwhelming, but the bitterness and strength of the brew is a good balance. It is a one-n-done beer, though; can be just a bit much.

williamherbert, Feb 05, 2007
Photo of Georgiabeer
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark ruby with a short head that dissipates somewhat quickly and leaves no lacing. The smell is slightly vegetal up front and with a sweet roll finish and a little dark spice. The taste is somewhat light and subtle. Somewhat surprising for the alcohol here and the profiles of some of their other beers. Soft notes of caramel, raisins, and other dark fruit. A slight tang of bready yeast on the finish. Light mouthfeel, and fairly low carbonation, but very smooth. Eh, not my favorite Lagunitas. Well made, but not all that interesting.

Georgiabeer, Feb 04, 2007
Photo of jcdiflorio
4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

served into a pub glass from a stubby brown bottle with twist-off cap.

Dark ruby red,very creamy tan head,dissapated a bit quick to a thick ring of foam around the glass

Clean smell,vinious aroma,very malty nose,sweet dark fruityness,quite roasty,a slight hint of alcohol,citrus aromas really come through as the beer warms
Very good aroma nice and complex.

Tart dark fruit tastes throughout,lots of sweet carmell flavors,chocolaty,good clean sharp citrusy bitterness. A slight hint of alcohol,very well hidden for the 8.8% The same great tastes blended together throughout the beer,a perfectly balanced beer

Medium mouthfeel feels light with all the creamyness,lots of carbination. very enjoyable beer,easy drinking start to get a bit filling. Could drink all night if it wasn't so filling.

jcdiflorio, Feb 03, 2007
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Candied cranberry with orange slice edges. Once the final few ounces are added, the beer becomes murky caramel. There's a huge amount of yeast in suspension, with the occasional bubble plowing its way up to a great looking head. The cap is equal parts ivory and ecru and sports a finely pitted, finely bubbled surface. Enough lace sticks to keep me enthused about the overall appearance.

The nose is caramel malty, orange and pineapple fruity and spicy in the way that some Belgian beer is spicy. I don't believe an actual Belgian yeast was used, so perhaps the brewers added clove or something similar. It's different and I like it.

Hairy Eyeball Ale tastes like the beer equivalent of fruit salad. It's a veritable cornucopia of orange, lemon, grapefruit and pineapple chunks soaked in melted caramel and brown sugar syrup. I'll thrown tobacco in there as well, even though it doesn't sound very appealing in a fruit salad. While I can appreciate a minor alcohol bite, it's incredibly soft and well-integrated. That tells me the beer is well aged. I'm guessing it's two years old at least.

I'm still picking up a moderate spiciness that might be due to some amount of rye malt, or might be due to the addition of spices themselves. I'll take a wild stab and say ground clove, ginger and cinnamon. I think I read somewhere that Lagunitas considers this beer to be a Christmas ale. I'll go along with that.

The (estimated) two years in the bottle, in addition to taming the alcohol, have melded the individual members of the flavor profile very well. They've also resulted in a mouthfeel that is incredibly smooth and creamy. It needs a bit more chewiness and a few more bubbles before I'll consider bestowing greatness upon it.

I think Lagunitas is one of the most underrated, least appreciated craft breweries in the entire country. Their big beer is top-notch. Olde Gnarlywine, Brown Shugga', Cappuccino Stout and Imperial Red are all fantastic. Hairy Eyeball, as well, has both flavor and power to spare. In fact, it can stand nose to nose with some of the best American strong ales... and not blink.

BuckeyeNation, Feb 01, 2007
Photo of rajendra82
4.18/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another good looking arrival into Georgia from this successful brewer from California, I picked up my Hairy Eyeball in a six pack of 12 oz. bottles. As I poured the first of these into a pint glass, the beer looked rather unassuming. The body was clear, and mahogany brown; the head was small and short lived; and the lacing was sparse at best. The smell was much more enticing than the looks, as I detected honey, orange marmalade, and strawberries. There was also a noticeable spiciness from the hops as well a whiff of alcohol. The taste was even better than I had anticipated from the smell. I was expecting a sweet malt bomb; however this beer was actually quite well attenuated and balanced. There was sweetness there of course, showing up as apricots, toffee, and brown sugar, but the herbal bitter hops were quite bracing, and the overall the taste was more dry than sweet. The mouthfeel was a bit abrasive, but with some age, I think this would round out for the better. It was quite similar to the Brown Shugga, but not quite as hard hitting, which made it a much more approachable beer IMHO.

rajendra82, Feb 01, 2007
Photo of mrasskicktastic
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark reddish brew with shittons of lacing left over from the sizeable which is a little quick to vanish.

S - Grassy hops, some pine in a lesser extent, faint caramel and coffee malts. A bit of weak molasses too.

T - Slightly sweet, slightly hoppy with a bit of grassy and pine hops. The after taste is a coffee with a touch of alcohol. It is very bitter, I'd say mostly a sharp citrus bitterness with some coffee and pine.

M - Smooth, very refreshing and thin.

D - Pretty good. I wouldn't mind having it again. There was something too "rugged" about it. The flavors were complex and there were a lot of them. Even though they meshed well, it seemed to lack some sort of "flavor flow" that other beers might have. I didn't mind it terribly much, but it did strike me as odd how the flavors seemed to stand indivually rather than blend.

mrasskicktastic, Feb 01, 2007
Photo of ArrogantB
3.58/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark brown with a cream-colored head. Taste was very strange, alcohol, sugary, malty, weird. I do not know what to think of this beer. I think I liked the Brown Shugga much better. Oh well, I'll put some in the cellar and see how it does next year.

ArrogantB, Jan 31, 2007
Photo of russpowell
4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours brown/chestnut with 3 fingers+of rocky tan colored head. Pretty good lacing & very good head retention

S: Chocolate & malt

T: Chocolate, toasted grain & nuttyness up front. Breadyness & warming alcohol soon follow. Pralines & toffee soon show up as well. Finishes dry, warming with some pretty piney hops at the back of the throat.

MF: Medium bodied, almost chewy with quite a bit of carbonation, which detracts a little

Drink very easy for the abv, nice take on the style & worth a pint or two

russpowell, Jan 30, 2007
Photo of RedChrome
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A deep ruby red colored body. Half inch high light tan head stood a few minutes before shrinking. Moderate amount of carbonation can be seen slowly rising to the top. Leaves nice lace clumps.

Very sweet and bready initial aroma. This reminds me instantly of a freshly baked raisin bread. A very faint alcohol presenc blends with an equally faint floral hops oil.

Exceptional taste. A very strong plum flavor finishes with a burst of alcohol strength. A second sip shows a strong citrus flavor on the tip of the tongue. A very complex beer with a wide range of flavors.

Nice warming sensation in the back of the throat. Cabronation helps flavors shift on the tongue. Decent viscosity.

A worthy brew. This one is a great after dinner beer by itself. Such a wide range of flavors that this should appeal to anyone. Great winter release to warm the body on a cold night.

RedChrome, Jan 30, 2007
Photo of Mebuzzard
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A dark brown pour, soapy looking tan bubbles diminish to a slight head and nice lacing.
Overall the aromas are a blend of caramel, biscuit and sweet malt. Some raisin and leather seem to poke around the bend.
Caramel and cocao present themselves first in the taste. Hops come in to give it some off-citrus and green pine. This doesn't last long, though. The alcohol kicks in at the finish and leaves a slight burn.
Nice brew. Not sure what I'd call this one, it isn't that strong in flavor, and the abv isn't all that high.

Mebuzzard, Jan 29, 2007
Photo of goochpunch
2.3/5  rDev -39.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours out a rosey purple brown body with a 1/4" head that fizzles down to a thin layer of foam. Some head clings to the glass in scant patterns. First smell I get is a bit like rotting oranges. What follows is straight up sweet, darker malts, alcohol and a bit of citrus hops. When I taste this, i basically get a barrage of sweet malt body, piney hops, bitterness (quite bitter for a 50-something IBU beer), and a finish that is medicinal in the amount of alcohol. I can pick out some flavor as the aftertaste lingers, which is a blend of chewy dried fruit and pine resin. Mouthfeel is full bodied and a bit slick. Mild carbonation. Yeah, I don't really want to drink this all that much. I remember liking this a couple years back. Kind of nauseating now.

goochpunch, Jan 27, 2007
Photo of BeerManDan
4.7/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The color was a nice dark brown with a little tan foam and very little lace. When pouring, you could see it poured thick. The smell of roasted malts was very pleasant, along with a sweet fruity aroma. The taste was of roasted malts, caramel and coffee with a hint of fruit. Not overpowering on the alcohol. This strong ale was very very pleasant. Couldn't believe that a american strong ale like this was so tasty with out the tartness or bit of alcohol. Yum, I need more!

BeerManDan, Jan 27, 2007
Photo of BeerSox
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber into snifter. No date on the bottle that I can find.

Dark ruby red hue, so dark it's almost opaque. An aggressive pour yields a one finger tan head that holds decently. Some stringy and spotty lacing coats the glass.

Light grainy malt barely makes it past the dark fruit aroma. Along with it, there are some floral hops that combine with the warming alcohol.

Sharp malts start off the beer, leading into a very complex mix of flavors. The burnt cracker like flavor is met with some spice and bitter hops. A unique characteristic about this mix is that the hops are met with a fruity flavor, similar to that in Belgian Dark Ales. A little bit of a black coffee flavor makes its way in as well. Medium bodied with good carbonation, giving the feel in the mouth a light twang. The finish contains some of the bitter hops and the grainy dark coffee taste. For a beer this high in alcohol, it's well hidden.

This is an extremely complex beer. You have some malts that stand out, along with some hops, and then come along the fruit flavors. Watch out for the alcohol, it may catch you by surprise. Recommended.

BeerSox, Jan 25, 2007
Photo of WVbeergeek
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Always down for sampling a new Lagunitas beer...appears a dark ruby cola hue with a large tan head leves fine lacing all around my chalice very nice looking brewski. Aromatics come on strong with a great malty profile full of raisins and dark chocolate with some mild herbal pine hoppiness evident also noted was a minimal tart character that I was getting. Flavor is strong and assertive just like an American Strong Ale should be, some malty bready caramel malts with more fruit soaked ripe alcohol notes but finishes with a solid bittering pine hop flavor...definitely comes off much more hoppier in flavor than the smell was letting go, this is probably due to less finishing hops. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied somewhat mild syrupy texture even carbonation carries it well so that it doesn't stay coated on the palate. Drinkability from a fan of the brewery and uniqueness of all their beers, this one just adds to their likability solid American Strong Ale that I will definitely have again in the future.

WVbeergeek, Jan 22, 2007
Photo of rayjay
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served as the guest tap at the Blue Frog Brewery in Fairfield, CA. Deep, robust shade of dark copper, full of lively carbonation. Almost as dark as the stout I just had. Lots of big bubbles. Foamy head like the brush at the carwash, stained a light shade of brown from the beer. Big time carmel and chocolate malt body; no residual sweetness, just lots of malts that finish dry. Hops provide a good kick, but not the regular C-hops; I'm having trouble picking the varieties out but they're delicious, maybe one high-alpha and lots of aromatics in there. Deep and rich, and also very refreshing and satisfying. Alcohol is well hidden, but that big body is a clue. Great of draft so get it if you can find it. Cheers!

rayjay, Jan 21, 2007
Photo of jjayjaye
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle image needs to be updated.

Pours a dark ruby amber and is clear with with a stiff 1+ finger head that lingers.

Strong; nice malt and chocolate with a hint of caramel.

Sweet and creamy; medium body with a nice balanced hop tone to it.

Very drinkable, warm with a slightly chewy ending. This is the one I would have called "Brown Shugga". Careful, it will get you there in a hurry.

This one desires a place on the go-to list.

jjayjaye, Jan 20, 2007
Photo of idResponse
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

oh indeed.
i've had this on tap but am currently imbibing from a 12oz bottle. Open the bottle, and take a quick swig, then pop it in your mouth and turn it upside down, suck a bit down, set it down, then enjoy guzzling the rest of the sixpack.

this thing is classified on here as an american strong ale. i guess that means it is fighting things like the arrogant bastard for my affection. well, i think the eyeball actually wins because it packs a heavier punch and tastes better. it looks barleywine cloudy and kind of reeks of abbey ales gone awry, but the taste, my friends, is where this bugger shines!

you will not want to put it down! and if you think his thing tastes good from a bottle, imagine trying it on tap! somehow they squeezed an extra 0.20% of alcohol into this years model, too, and i wouldn't notice the alcohol at all. very nice very drinkable and very much worth purchasing!

idResponse, Jan 19, 2007
Photo of StonyB
3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

So I'm wandering through the myriad of beers in New Jersey's best beer store, the Oak Tree Buy Rite, when I spot the label. A squat 12 oz brown bottle, The Hairy EYEBALL, from Lagunitas. No freshness date, but info on the ABV (9.0%), Original Gravity (1.090) and International Bittering Units (56.7). Nice. And a pretty cool label overall, IMO...

Appearance - Pours like a Barleywine, low head retention, a thin ring of lacing. Beautiful color, a very dark bronze-red. Inviting.

Smell - Assertive, strong malt aroma. A definite sense of bubblegum. Very little hops. Smells like it could be a liqueur.

Taste - Wow. Malt, bubblegum, tree bark. Alcohol clearly evident but not overwhelming. Sherry-like. Sweet.

Mouthfeel - Low carbonation. Thin, yet chewy. A very wine-like slickness.

Drinkability - Clearly a sipping beer, this monster is great as a digestif or a nightcap, not so good as a 6-pack on a hot summer day. Enjoyable, but in moderation. Puts the "Strong" in Strong Ale.

Recommended, but you may discover why it's called "The Hairy Eyeball" if you have more than one...

StonyB, Jan 18, 2007
Photo of sinstaineddemon
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - this Lagunitas offering pours a dark crimson with a thinnish tan head and very faint carbonation

S - a rich raisiny dark sweetness with caramel/molasses notes alongside some roasted malt characteristics

T - great sweet hoppy blend, a very nice and surprisingly layered beer, shockingly complex, quite nice, exceeded my expectations

M&D - smooth and bittersweet, easy down, a fine ale that wold be easy to have a few of, well done Lagunitas

sinstaineddemon, Jan 14, 2007
Photo of Matthew
3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, Pours a brownish color with some reddish highlights in the light. A good half inch of head sits atop and settles fairly quickly to leave a whispy covering and a ring around the edge.
The first characteristic that I notice in the nose is a woody type smell with a slightly piney and fruity hop presence wrapped around it. As the beer warms there is a more present caramel type aroma with some with some raisin, fig, and a little bit of alcohol.
Sweet malty flavors consisting of light sweet caramel, wood, tiny hints of smoke, and a nice big but fairly balanced hoppiness pull through with a bit of alcohol warming in the end. There are a few flavors that I really cant put my finger on that doesn't make my review as accurate as it could be but maybe I'll decipher them soon enough and add them to this.
Low carbonation, but nice and full for a 9%abv strong ale. This isn't a beer where the higher abv is hidden super well but certainly not overwhelming or too overdone. A nice strong ale from lagunitas.

Matthew, Jan 12, 2007
Photo of 1whiskey
4.47/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What? No story on the label?

12 oz bottle poured into a wine tumbler. Dark mohagony color shows some crimson when held to light. Thick two finger head begins to diminish quickly.

Huge caramel nose with strong fruit notes of pineapple, fig, date, and raisin. Mmmm...

What a complex cornucopia in my mouth. Much more hop bitterness than the nose would reveal, this is actually fairly balanced. Clearly multiple hop varieties are being used, but fuggles(tea-like bitterness), or some sort of noble British variety, seem to stand out. Fruity, aromatic varieties evident in the nose are present as well. The balancing malt base is equally complex, toasted grain and sweet dates playing against mild spices, coffee, and brown sugar. Alcohol is not hidden, but somehow it works for this crazy beer. I'm not even sure what I'm tasting, I just know I like it. A lot.

Can something be chewy but only have a medium body? This does. Highly carbonated.

How drinkable is this? Despite the huge alcohol warming and prominant alcohol flavor, finishing one of these just makes me want another. Simply amazing.

Wow! An interesting and tough to categorize brew, no wonder it was put in with the catch-all "strong ale" category. It's like the bastard child of an English Brown and a Triple Eisbock, married to a winter warmer and secretly sleeping with a barleywine. The closest thing I can compare this to is Hair Of The Dog's Adam, and it's not really that close. Only Lagunitas could come up with this.

1whiskey, Jan 11, 2007
Photo of skotster13
4.65/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hopefully I am one of the first to sample the 2007 release. Got an insider friend to hook me up with two cases today...one day before it hits the shelves. This year's release is toned down, so it seems...though it has all the trademarks of great vintages past.
Serv. type: Bottle (6-pk)~~~
It appears lighter than in years past, but retains its darkest day of winter look in the mug. A beautiful near-opaqueness...light is visible somewhere in the distance...reminds me of a North Coast Old Stock, if you will...though more resistant to light
It is reminiscent of a barley-wine, though retaining characteristics all its own, frolicky, hinting of deeply roasted malts that stop short of being aggressive...hops may be involved, but I don't recognize them.
The taste this year is a bit lighter on the pallate, though just as lovely. All the character is there, yet not quite as aggressive as in two years past. This release is the most quaffable by far...evidence being the 8 12oz btls I have quaffed thus far tonight.
It goes down like cumulo-nimbus clouds...comparatively light in body, but with a solid alcohol punch...the most balanced of all offerings thus far.
Ridiculously drinkable!!! Offer this to your lager drinkers\ as an alternative to being complacent and true beer lovers will stand up and be noticed!!!
A true testament to Petaluma's best...once again a feat to be reckoned with!!!!

skotster13, Jan 04, 2007
Photo of mrmanning
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle at cafe volo- Body is rouge in colour....thin head with an off white colour. Aroma is malty, nutty, bready. Lots of hops in the nose too. Taste is raisins, suragy prunes, hops bitterness. Alcohol not noticable....a very nice winter warmer! Even in the summer!

mrmanning, Nov 19, 2006
Photo of weeare138
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appears a dark mahogany/chestnut color with a 2 finger tan head that slowly fades out into a tiny cap. Lots of lacing clings to the side of the glass.
Smell is of sweet malt, toffee, brown sugar, caramel, molasses, piney hops, and toasted marshmellows.
Taste is of the same sugary aromas with a sweet blend of a mild rum soaked raisin flavor emerging.
Mouthfeel is sweet, chewy, full bodied, bitter, with a gentle sourness that flushes along the sides of the tongue.
ABV is evident in this one. It's not too bad but it seems much more like a sipper than a session brew.

weeare138, Aug 28, 2006
Photo of Bighuge
3.4/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Murky pour. Dirty looking burgandy. Not a lot of light gets through. Thin, lifeless head that leaves little lace. Looks like Old Crusty. Real juicy malt aroma. Caramel and toffee wrapped around fig and spices. A little apple too. The taste is not quite as juicy. Contains a dulled toffee base with a little wet cardboard. Some light acidic/green apple/sour/tart like tones that don't mesh very well. Some fruitiness surfaces too with grape skin and green apple being the predominant ones. Mouthfeel is akin to Old Crusty as well. Light on the carbonation and a bit syrupy. Decent enough, but I could do without the sourness in this beer.

Thanks for the EYEBALL Mr. LBB.

Bighuge, Jul 21, 2006
Hairy Eyeball Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 2,007 ratings.