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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

917 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 917
Hads: 2,476
Avg: 3.86
pDev: 18.91%
Wants: 68
Gots: 361 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Lagunitas Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

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: 917 | Hads: 2,476
Photo of jjayjaye
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
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.

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Photo of idResponse
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
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!

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Photo of StonyB
3.81/5  rDev -1.3%
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...

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Photo of sinstaineddemon
3.9/5  rDev +1%
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

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Photo of Matthew
3.82/5  rDev -1%
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.

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Photo of 1whiskey
4.47/5  rDev +15.8%
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.

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Photo of skotster13
4.61/5  rDev +19.4%
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!!!!

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Photo of mrmanning
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
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!

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Photo of weeare138
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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Photo of Bighuge
3.47/5  rDev -10.1%
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.

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Photo of crwills
4.22/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had a bottle of this at Volo after my less than satisfying cask-conditioned Sgt Major, and liked it a lot!

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tall pint glass. Not sure if it was really the appropriate glassware, but oh well. Dark mahogany brown, with a light tan head that sticks around a bit.

Aroma is bready malt and dark fruits (big raisins).

Taste is roasted malt, and almost a bit smoky. Some good hops to back it up. Notes of raisins, prunes, and even some overripe strawberries. Aftertaste is a pleasantly bitter contrast. Also, this beer has a surprisingly big body that made it really satisfying.

Good stuff (although a bit pricey at $9 for the bottle... but what can you do).

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Photo of ReDave
3.64/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz stubby bottle. I think it's about 7 months old. Pours a caramel brown, thin off white head. Not much aroma [too old???], maybe a slight malty smell. Some lacing. Seems to have mellowed since last tasting. In the past I've preferred the Brown Shugga version, but this is tasting pretty good. Nice hop aftertaste.
My bottle says 9% [rounding up?]
Wish now I'd saved a couple of more of these for cellaring.

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Photo of RedHaze
4.25/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark mahogany, with quarter inch head that quickly recedes to a thin swirling cap leaving behind a fine webbing of lace.

Smell; nice piney hops right up front, followed by brown sugar and caramel, with some figs and maybe dates.

Taste; as with the smell, those pine tree hops hit you at first. The malts have a nice solid presence with caramel, brown sugar and with some hints of toffee. This also has a nice, alcohol soaked, dark fruity presence underneath the hops and malts, with dates, figs and just some hints of cherries. Mouthfeel is thick and a bit syrupy, with low carbonation. Drinkability would have been even higher if not for the high abv.

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Photo of Skidz
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out bright copper brown and sits a dim mohagany in the glass with a large, beige head, fading to a light skim with decent lacings.

Smells of brown sugary malts, rich and toasty with raisins and dates protruding through the background. Spicy hops push through a layer of alcohol, with cinnamon lining the fringe.

Tastes solidly malty up front, mild-moderate sweetness, lots of caramel and toasty grains. Assertive hops bitterness showboats for awhile, delivering zesty citrus, pine and sharp, biting grassy flavors. Settles out into an entaglement of malts and hops, well-balanced finish.

Smooth and creamy core with up-front, crisp, light carbonation and a full body.

An easy drinking strong ale, despite higher hops bitterness, it still pans out well.

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Photo of cubedbee
4.18/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber brown with two fingers of beige head that takes its time to subside. Pretty nice lacing on the glass. Nose is full of dark malt, figs, raisins, a hint of molasses, and a slight tinge of alcohol--smells decadent. Taste starts off with a sweet molasses malt, followed rum-soaked fruitiness, raisin and cherry really coming through, with a nice piney and bitter hop balance towards the end. Very nice tasting, complex enough to be interesting, nicely balanced. Medium bodied and fairly creamy, this isn't as full as expected. This is a pretty easy drinking strong ale, I could drink two or three if getting drunk isn't an issue.

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Photo of kgotcher
4.12/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark with light amber tint with a bit of a tan head that goes away pretty quick. Aroma is malty with dark fruit, raisin, prune, and rich molasses syrup. Full mouthfeel with smooth aftertaste, a bit salty. Taste is buiscut with some dark roasted malt, earthy piney hops oak, and prunes. There is some serious depth to this beer, reminds me of some dipa's and also some imp stouts. Very complicated. Definately a sipper beer with some alchohol warmth. This is one of those beers that does not fit into a nice neat catagory but is very enjoyable anyway.

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Photo of IntriqKen
4.49/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a black-amber with a nice white 2 one finger head that melts quickly to a beautiful lace which stays with the drink all of the way.
Aroma is sweet raisins...very much raisins with a little bit of chocolate.
Taste is as it smells but oh, so much more so. Definately raisins...definately chocolate....alcohol taste....nice bitterness follows. Really a nice balance for such a strong brew.
Mouthfeel is creamy but a little thin...I think because of the strong presence of alcohol.
Aftertaste of bitter chocolate, toasted malts, and alcohol.
This is really a very flavorful strong American ale.
Once a night is enough, but every night would be wonderful. ;-)
I have revisited this brew many times since my first review. It is now a year later and I love it more than ever.
Nothing has changed from my review with the exception of I might be discovering more and appreciating more.
Good stuff.

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Photo of apintofknowledge
4.6/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep dark ruby-brown with a thin tan head. The aroma is very rich... with raisins and chocolate coming through... come to think of it, it smells like rasinettes, only with more fruit, and a little spice too. (OK, a year ago I would have called someone insane for saying their beer smelled like a raisinette... guess I'm now insane!)

The taste immediately strikes me as rich, big, bold and complex... it's almost overwhelming. There's this big plump raisin and cherry sweetness that goes into a chocolatey middle, finishing with an earthy charred and roasted finish that's initially a bit too bitter but mellows completely as the beer warms in my goblet. There's a port-like quality to this beer, and it's truly ment to be sipped, savored and enjoyed like a port.

A low carbonation goes just perfect with the syrupy thickness. As I drink, I notice a slight diacetyl (butterscotch) flavor, but in this case it melds very well with the rest of the flavors in this beer.

The label says "Beer Speaks. People Mumble." and this beer certainly speaks to me. Truly a unique, complex and wonderful beer well worth seeking out!

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Photo of jakester
4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got this as a single at Union Jack's on the Manatawny. I drank it in a goblet. Some indecipherable code is ink jetted on the neck of the bottle. Just gimme the friggin' date!

Pours a very dark, clear garnet/brown with a 1/2 finger head of tan foam. Carbonation appears moderate. The head falls to a nice coating, with minimal lacing.

Aroma is dark malts and fruits like plums and raisins, dark brown sugar, maybe a hint of vanilla, and a touch of alcohol at the end. Smells good!

First flavor is dark brown sugar followed quickly by rum soaked dark raisins, plums, and dark cherries. Hop bitterness is there for balance, and hop flavor is pretty low. I swear there is a slight smokiness going on in there as well. Very tasty brew. Alcohol comes through as it warms, which IMO adds a nice touch. Aftertaste is sweet and heat.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, smooth and creamy. Carbonation is medium. Lips are sticky from residual sugar. Back of the throat is warm from alcohol. Finish is warm and sticky. (Reach down and pull your mind out of the gutter, dammit!)

This is a very tasty beverage, full of flavor. Richly malty, nice ABV, with just enough hops to balance it nicely. Lagunitas is a good brewery, with a great imagination. Keep it coming, guys!

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Photo of briman
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from bottle in standard pint glass.

Pours a hazy reddish brown, mahogany. Very thin slightly tan head dissipated quickly.

Smell is very malty, no obvious trace of hops in the aroma.

Taste is sweet and malty from start to finish, hops are evident primarily in a slight lingering bitterness in the finish.

Medium to full bodied, smooth and very well balanced. Strong on both malt flavors and hop presence, but nothing overwhelms. Warming effect very evident. Probably a beer I could have one or two of in a sitting.

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Photo of bennetj17
3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Deep brown with reddish hues, slim tan foam that leaves a nice swirly top throughout the experience. Good lacing to boot. Aroma of slight alcohol eminates, with notes of raisin, caramel and and a firm hop smell. Taste is strong, high on the hops and malt, with a chocolatey flavor that is very sweet, blending into a bitter finish. The alcohol is quite noticible in the finish also. Semi-thick feel on the palate, coats well, with good carbonation. The flavors are nice, but perhaps too intense for some, as with the alcohol. This lowers the drinkablilty, but overall a nice one to try. Being a strong ale it doesn't really have an identity, just expect massive flavor from this brew...

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

Rich dark brown color with ruby highlights. Ivory head of about 3/4 inch that dissipates rapidly but leaves nice lace behind.

Mild aroma of caramel, burnt raisins and malt.

Rich flavor with layers of thick malt, toffee, caramel, burnt sugar and nice hop edge for balance. Reminds me a lot of Bigfoot.

Very drinkable sipping beer. Really close to American Barley Wine in style.

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Photo of Foxman
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It came to me a clear mahogany, highlighted by ruby flashes and carbonation. A finger of reddish-tinged, off-white head dwindled eventually to frothy patches, and lacing clung readily to the glass.

The aroma was rather simplistic, with caramel malt and a faint citrus hop bouquet lapping a more subdued alcohol trend.

Upon sipping, a wash of caramel and soft chocolate sweetness sloshed in, along with hints of plum and currants. The hops asserted a bit stronger here, with a more distinctly citrus character playing out, followed soon by a sherry-esque twist of alcohol, both serving to keep in check any chance of a runaway sweetfest. The finish came gradually, and was a wonderful balance of bitter and sweet, never cancelling each other, but rather co-existing nicely. It was a treat from the first sip to the last.

Heavy bodied, the syrupy mouthfell was almost silken, and the ending glow was a fine touch.

I had one, and had I not had my son in tow, I likely would have had another. It was that much fun to sip and savor. It's big, no question, but it flows willingly over the palate, behaving entirely too drinkable for a beer with such a hefty ABV. This one could gt you in trouble, but common sense would likely prevail, at least for most of us. It's the rare Hairy Eyeball that delivers comfort instead of unrest.

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Photo of orfeu
3.65/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle. Bronze with golden highlights and a yellowed parchment colored head. Brown sugar encrusted hazelnuts soaking in armangac aroma. Nutty sweet start, cherries floating in bourbon middle, alcoholic flame-out finish, bitter mineral aftertaste. Burps reveal a bit of hop character. Thick and chewy mouthfeel. An impressive creation, but this one just shows too much booze. Maybe I'm getting jaded, but it seems like these gargantuan high abv malt bombs are getting pretty hard to tell apart. I really wanted to like this one more, but... Strong ale, for sure. Stand out ale? Not so sure.

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Photo of germaniac
3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours hazy brown, shot thru with ruby highlights. Head builds up initially, but doesn't stick around too long after everything gets settled around in my glass.

Fruity smelling, caramel malt layered upon a citrus bite, topped off with faintest whiff of alcohol.

Chewy, rich malted goodness. Caramel sweetness that darkens into roasted notes. Hop flavors shine thru briefly, only to blend seamlessly into the background, contributing another brick to this brew's wall of flavor.

To me, Lagunitas has a definite knack for crafting some beers that can really only be enjoyed not as everyday drinkers, but tasty occasional treats. Hairy Eyeball is one of those, I think. I wonder what effect a little time in a cool, dark place would have...

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Hairy Eyeball Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 917 ratings.