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Hairy Eyeball Ale - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Hairy Eyeball AleHairy Eyeball Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

945 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 945
Hads: 2,590
Avg: 3.86
pDev: 18.91%
Wants: 76
Gots: 424 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Lagunitas Brewing Company
California, United States | website

Style | ABV
American Strong Ale | 9.40% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-12-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 945 | Hads: 2,590
Photo of kraytb
4.73/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

Beautiful Taste, Wasn't sure what to expect when cracking open this beauty. Smooth and Flavorful, Low key Soy Sauceish taste but I love it. Can't wait to purchase it again!

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Photo of HoneyLamb
4.19/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had this Hairy Eyeball at Coach's Bar in Stevensville, Michigan on 3/5/15. Wow! Delicious on tap. Was pleasantly surprised at how smooth and flavorful it was! The 16 oz glass was $5.50. Great price in my book.
UPDATE: Got a 22 ounce bomber from Lambrecht's in Stevensville, Michigan for $4.99. Still very good. Probably about a 4.00, but not as good as on tap.

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Photo of BeerWithMike
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampling right now on 2/26/15. Comes in a single 22 ounce bottle with a nice painted on label, as all of their brew have. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured in to a 20 ounce French Jelly handled-glass stein.

Pours a pretty mahogany brown in color with about a 1-finger foamy beige head. A good amount of sticky lacing is seen when sipped that sticks to the glass. The aroma is of burnt brown sugar for the most part. The taste is pretty much the same actually with some roasted malts also with some spice. You really don't taste the alcohol in it. It will hit you after awhile though. Goes down pretty easy but is more of a sipper kind of brew then say, a chugging for sure. Not really much of a bitter or harsh aftertaste, or is the brew talking? ;) Medium-bodied with perfect carbonation. You aren't drinking more than one of these at a sitting at all Overall, I liked it.

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Photo of vette2006c5r
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Hairy Eyeball pours a dark amber color with a large lacing head. There is a sweet, marshmellow like aroma. The taste is also sweet, nice malty backbone with sweet dry fruit flavors. Great body great flavors. Overall a great drinkable complex beer.

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Photo of hreb
4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle served in pub glass. Beer is crimson in color with a moderate tan head, and pours very syrupy. Bold malt aroma. Flavor is rich, simultaneously sweet and bitter on opposite ends of my palate. This is obviously a strong ale (this year's label says 9.1%), but there's no ethanol burn, just strong flavors. And it's not afraid to put some IBUs in there too. American barleywine, perhaps?

I'm really enjoying the balance of this and I have to say I think it's seriously underrated.

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Photo of RickS95
4.5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The pour is a relatively clearish burgundy brown color. The color of a red wine, but on the clear side. The head slowly forms and when it does, it's a glorious sight of foamy peaks. Off white in color, this thing retains for quite a while. On the sides, a lovely sticky lace.

A malt bomb. Lots of dark malts that present an almost fruity scent as it warms. A hint of brown sugar in the nose. Not much in the way of hops and despite the load of malts and high ABV, there's not much alcohol scent.

This thing packs a flavor punch. All the malts come together and provide a boatload of earthy, grainy flavors. Kind of a toast, bready flavor with a splash of dark ripe fruit and an earthy taste from the hops.

It was still a little on the cold side when I had this, but it's got a nice balance between sweet up front and bitter in the finish. Again, the alcohol is never a bully, only making a cameo in warming, lingering finish. Despite the clearish complexion, it's full bodied and a bit on the creamy side.

Overall, this is top notch. For something so high in ABV, it's exceptionally easy to drink and goes down a bit too easy giving how strong it is. I bought bombers of this for $6 a piece. I stole them.

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Photo of jcruelty
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Aight. It IS boozy though. Label says "perihelial release"-- not sure what that means.

perihelial: noun, plural perihelia [per-uh-hee-lee-uh, -heel-yuh]. Astronomy
1. the point in the orbit of a planet or comet at which it is nearest to the sun.

Still not entirely sure

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Photo of Phigg1102
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Deep mahogany color with a thin beige. Caramel aroma with hints of apple and cherry (edit for 2015 version: same basic aromas but with much less intensity, this one probably needs to develop for awhile).More caramel and apple in the taste with a deep toasted malt character. Floral hop notes in the taste as well. Medium to full bodied, lemony astringency from the hops. Finishes quite bitter but doesn't last too long.

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Photo of brewskifan55
4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a plastic cup at Mardi Gras.

A: Opaque dark brown with a billowy mocha colored 2 finger head that lasts. Thick lacing.

S: Dark fruits slide in with cherries, caramel and molasses bringing up the rear.

T: Follows nose with a Strong Ale sweetness. Cherries and caramel lead the dance. A terrific sipper. Even better as it warms.

M: Medium to heavy with medium, chewy carbonation.

O: An eyeball opening sweetheart of a beer. Another great (and affordable) treat from Lagunitas.

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Photo of Bone53
4.29/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Clear brown color with a beautiful mahogony hue when put up to the light, along with a two finger light tan head

Smell: Predominantly sweet malts (toffee, caramel, molasses, brown sugar) along with a hint of semi dark fruits

Taste: Again, a ton of those sweet malts upfront; In the middle i get more of that dark fruit, and the hops come out in the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body; Smooth and easy drinking considering the abv. Being from Lagunitas, im not the least bit surprised.

Overall: This is a very solid strong ale/old ale. Its not as rich and complex as my favorites in the style, but its very tasty nonetheless. I dont get much alcohol at all as many on here suggest. Im impressed and think this is underrated, and prefer it to Brown Shugga.

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Photo of dukeandduke
4.08/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2/4- Mo Dailey's (Norwood Park). I like strong beers, and this draft beer was very strong and I enjoyed this offering a lot. The taste was unique and the beer was very smooth. I really enjoyed the flavor.I will seek out this offering and other Lagunitas beers down the road, and I look forward to my next Hairy Eyeball, well maybe not literally but definitely served by Lagunitas. Well done!

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Photo of Auraan
4.27/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a gorgeous clear reddish brown body with a half-finger of off-white head. A very appealing looking rich strong ale. Scents of rich malt, caramel, dark fruit with notes of plum, red cherry, prune and raisin, candied, liquor-soaked fruit and fruitcake. Cherry predominates the fruit aromas with a bready malt aroma also present and hints of brown sugar. Overall impression of aroma is of a sweet, rich, malty beer with a nice rich fruitcake-like aroma lent by the alcohol and the profile of the fruity esters. Quite nice and very appealing as a Winter ale. Flavor begins sweet and malty with notes of caramel, sweet bready malt, fruitcake, cherry, raisin and prune. The middle opens up flavors of alcohol and light chocolate malt flavors. Finish is medium-sweet, with notes of alcohol and dark fruit, with further notes of fruitcake and preserved fruit, but with a light bitterness from roast and toasted malt lending a roasted malt and slightly burnt toast flavor and hints of dark chocolate. Aftertaste is lightly bitter with notes of alcohol, dark chocolate, black coffee and roasted malt. Overall impression of flavor is of a very malt-forward, dark fruit heavy, sweet initial flavor, giving way to a bitter finish that keeps the beer from being cloying. Very nice, warming and pleasant, a good ale for a cold Winter night. Mouthfeel is medium-heavy bodied with medium-light carbonation and a sticky, rich feel. Overall impression of mouthfeel is of a good strong ale, warming, rich and full, but not overwhelming. Overall this is a fantastic strong ale. It has a wonderfully rich and sweet aroma that is a wonderful mix of malt and esters. This carries over into the flavor but is aided by roast malt lending a richer, deeper, darker flavor. The mouthfeel is a nice balance between rich and full, and modest and drinkable. A very fine ale all around and well worth drinking.

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Photo of poriggity
3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Overall, a decent beer, but a little boozy for my liking.. You can really tell there is booze in this thing.. Given the price, it's totally worth it for the little bit of boozy feeling you get from it. I think I paid $5 for a bomber.

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Photo of Beer-Revelry
4.02/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Duvel snifter glass.

A - 5 - Pours a beautiful, dark ruby and mahogany brown. The red hues within the brown remind me of Founder's Backwoods Bastard. Forms about a finger of light tan, decently dense head. Low head potential, medium head retention. Spotty lacing left on the walls of the glass.
S - 3.50 - Not complex, but bold. Strong malts, blackstrap molasses and perhaps a slight hint of caramel. Strong and simple.
T - 3.75 - Quite complex and hard to pin down. Lots of malt and molasses, touches of scotch ale, touches of bock style, light caramel sweetness. Reminds me a lot of Founder's Curmudgeon if you've had it.
F - 4.75 - Really nice, oily and creamy, decently thick mouthfeel.
O - 4.50 - A good brew. This seems more like a food pairing brew to me than a standalone experience. Would work wonderfully with smoked and braised meats. I recommend giving this one a shot.

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Photo of SomethingClever
3.99/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into snifter

A: light head brownish Caramel color good clarity for the color of the beer

S: lots of dark fruits raisins, figs, dates and some burnt brown sugar smell

T: follows the nose quite closely nice sweetness to it very sugary fruity taste to it

M: medium to lighter it doesn't quite cling but might linger a little

O: If you like big fruity sweet malty beers you will enjoy this reminds me a lot of fresh Old Stock Ale. Old Stock Ale ages like a champ takes on nice notes of toffee and vanilla this beer intrigues me it may do the same.

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Photo of mchegash
4.04/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured into DFH signature glass

Appearance - 4.25/5
A deep, red-brown, moderately hazy, about 1-2 fingers of tan head. Carbonation can be seen flowing upward at a slightly above average rate. Fairly nice lacing

Smell - 4/5
Smell is similar to an Expedition Stout or a Backwoods Bastard. Don't quite know how to define that smell which is why I define via comparison rather than description. It's a fairly alcoholic, slightly fruity, slightly strange--reminds me of nail polish and olives.

Taste - 4/5
Tastes quite different from the smell. Dark, slightly sour malts, still some of that olive flavor, slightly fruity, a little bit of alcohol. The taste is hard to pin down. Definitely an interesting taste. I wouldn't define it as good or bad, more of in its own category.

Mouthfeel - 4.25/5
Medium bodied, smooth, medium-light carbonation. Definitely a good feel.

Overall - 4/5
Despite this beer being a little hard-to-pin down style-wise, and overall fairly idiosyncratic, I think is quite a good brew. If anything, the mystery aspect adds points in my books. I haven't tasted anything quite like it. It's very complex. Also, it seems to be a great value. Got a bomber for only $4.79.

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Photo of TBoneJones
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep, clear mahogany into my pint. Very nice color, moderate visible carbonation, and this off-white head is foamy and thick, receding a bit to leave caked-on lacing.
Smells faintly of bread, and even more faintly of hops. Nothing much here though.
Tastes of rich, sweet malts and hops together, mildly roasted, caramel, some pepper, and quite balanced. Mellow grapefruit citrus comes through in the hops department now, and mixed with the aforementioned, this is turning out to be a tasty ale.
Medium-thick, smooth and creamy, slick but not so sticky.
I don't visit the strong ale variety much, but this beer tastes fine. From Lagunitas, I'm not too surprised.

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Photo of Mcwill51
3.94/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1 pint, 6 oz bottle poured into a snifter. Pours a deep amber that reflects almost red if held to the light. Head is dark brown and small. It recedes quickly with no lacing. Smell is a bit muted but I get bread, caramel, toffee, and maple, maybe a hint of vanilla. Reminds me of a old ale a bit as it warms. Taste is malty and toasted with some rich caramel and maple coming through again. Some sweet dark fruit in there that reminds me of raisins. There are some bitter hops on the end but just enough to clean up the sweetness that presents in the middle. Finish is dry and slightly bitter from the hops. Mouthfeel is rich and creamy and sticky but doesn't linger. Dangerously sippable given a 9.1% ABV. Overall it doesn't blow me away but I can't come up with any glaring flaws either other than maybe the nose could be more prominent. A very nice American Strong Ale worth a look.

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Photo of Mlkluther
3.86/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown with red highlights. Tan head that leaves a ring and some lacing.

Nose has some dried fruit, malt, some booziness.

Taste reminds me a little of a Belgian ale. Malt up front with some sweet fruit. No booze in the taste. Very smooth.

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Photo of arvidkoval
4.01/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Looks deep amber, but not quite red. Smells chocolatey? What the fuck? Some sweet malt. Not at all what I was expecting. The taste is caramel, some more of that chocolate, maybe a faint resemblance of hops on the aftertaste. Nice creamy mouthfeel, Yum!

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Photo of mvanaskie13
4.36/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a chalice, color is darker amber to brown, head is tan, dense, thick, small bubbles, some nice lacing and a lingering 1/8 inch.

Smell is smoooooth malt, light toast, light toffee, light bread, wonderful; hops are present, but subtle, light grass flavor.

Taste is also smooth, no booziness, flavors are malt, but not overly sweet. Main flavors are toffee, bread, toast; hops are more amplified in the mouth, but still clean, grassy, not overpowering. this is an amazing taste quality at 9+% abv.

Mouthfeel is exceptional, very balanced, not lingering sweetness that is cloying, solid clean bitterness to cap of the tasting.

Overall, an exceptionally smooth, full flavored ale that is deceiving in its strength. Great pick for the coldest day of the year.

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Photo of pat61
4.51/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Dark sugar nose, light fruit, molasses with some spice. Pours clear dark amber with a 1” very finely bubbled, lightly tan tinted white foam cap that leaves rich lace. The beer is clean with no particles or sediment floating in the body. A big malty palate with a malt spiciness that suggests cola and anise and yeast driven fruit flavors, primarily plum or other dark red fruit. A big bitter finish answers a malty sweet beginning. In the end, malt, yeast, hops, and alcohol come into balance. A pleasant alcohol warming on the finish hints at the amount of alcohol in the beer. The beer is big and chewy, almost oily, with a moderate carbonation.

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Photo of schoolboy
4.19/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I know I gave the hairy eyeball to this one years ago. It's a huge beer, full of wonderful character and loads of alcohol.

It is a thing to behold in the glass. Reddish with loads of head and lace. The aroma is a strong mish-mash of malts. hops and a dirty yeast. Complex.

The taste is thick. Malty for sure, but with loads of hops to balance that and make it work. It is a busy taste. The malt will get you if you drink it too fast, like I am. All that taste almost buries the alcohol, but if you don't know that a malty, thick ale like this is full of booze you are in for a surprise.

There were some interesting comments in other reviews. No, ageing this would not make it mellow. It would get too sweet. The comment that it is like a fully realized ESB is right on. Americanized. As usual with Lagunitas, this is very worthwhile. Get it while you can.

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Photo of Tilly
4.13/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep, deep blood orange colour with a khaki foam which fades quickly and leaves lace on thee side.
Aromas of toffee and cherry.
Tastes of malt, chocolate and cherry.
Creamy mouth feel with low carbonation. Good bitterness, real good!
Great beer from Lagunitas.

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Photo of OrestesMethuon
3.76/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Strong, sweet, deep, ruddy-reddish brown, and smoothly bitter, this perihelial release is big and rich, but also only a bit syrupy and largely fairly restrained. Compared to a lot of Strong Ales, this actually pretty light: certainly not buoyant, but thinner than many, and less dark in its malt-profile and color. Somehow "Hairy Eyeball" seems apt—but I'm not entirely sure I can articulate how. Mostly, however, it's just very drinkable for a big-abv, malt-sugary ale; and—while it's definitely the stuff of chill winter-eve drinking—it hits its marks and does its job.

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Hairy Eyeball Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 945 ratings.