Tongue Buckler - Imperial Red Ale | Ballast Point Brewing Company

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Tongue Buckler - Imperial Red AleTongue Buckler - Imperial Red Ale

Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by xlperro on 11-25-2002

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Reviews: 242 | Ratings: 936
Photo of anteater
1.31/5  rDev -66.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.25 | overall: 1

I must have gotten an off batch because it tasted like someone poured a shot of vodka into a red ale. Taste was completely overwhelmed by fusel alcohol, basically undrinkable.

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Photo of biglite351
2.09/5  rDev -46.5%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

A - honey-brown and quite clear. Very tall tight head rant leaves a lot of lacing.

S - very hoppy with some grapefruit smell.

T - very not me brew. Hop heavy with some caramel in the depth.

M - a bit thin with a tingle in the back of the throat.

D - I could see why people would like this but it is not my bag.

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Photo of sa93
2.27/5  rDev -41.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 1.75

This has the distinction of being the least enjoyable beer I have had this year. Despite being just 10% ABV, it tasted like pure booze. I could hardly even taste the hops and malts anymore. More boozy than any barleywine, quad, or imperial stout I've had. No balance at all. This beer pretty much turned me off on anything Ballast Point.

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Photo of PDXHops
2.43/5  rDev -37.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

On tap in a shaker pint. Slightly hazy reddish amber with a smallish but stubborn head. Scattered streaks of lacing.

Huge citric and caramel aromas, but they're overwhelmed by an even more powerful alcohol presence. The taste is similarly frustrating, surprisingly even more boozy than it smells. Kind of a weird doughy tanginess as well. A great citrusy hop profile and scorching bitterness battle for attention, but this battle creates anything but a smooth drinking experience. Something seems to have gone amiss here.

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Photo of Not_John_Wayne
2.5/5  rDev -36.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Nice coloration. Sriracha brings out the sweetness quite a bit. Good head if all you care about is presentation and bouquet.
Flavor is maltier than I want in any Imperial Amber. I'm eating a biscuit that has absorbed all my hops.

I would never drink this beer again unless someone bought it for me.

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Photo of mothman
2.51/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured into snifter.

Pours 1/2 finger of beige head. Color is a dark orange amber. Decent retention with some lace rings.

Aroma: Dank weeds, floral hops, grapefruit citrus, caramel malts, and bready malts.

Taste: Bitter hops - floral and grassy. Pretty malty. Biscuits, caramel, and bready malts all show. Has some citrus fruits.

Mouthfeel: Dry and bitter. Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends dry and sticky.

Overall, the age shows a bit as it is malty. However, the hops really showed and that surprised me. Very bitter.

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Photo of mactrail
2.63/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Starts out with a kiss of barley wine, ends with a serious dog bite. After a brief honeymoon with the big malt it turns into a shrewish storm of hop overdose.

I can't find what hops these are, but they do a good job of bittering. This tastes like they took a batch of Sculpin and dosed it with quinine. The color is a nice orange mahogany with really good lacing in the tulip glass. Aroma of roast malt. I'm not sure what the point of this exercise is. Anything for research, but after a few sips I'm grateful I don't have to finish it.

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Photo of TMoney2591
2.77/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Served in a Lagunitas mason jar.

Kinda reminds me of the War of Jenkins's Ear, only with a tongue. Yeah. This stuff pours a clear midnight garnet-copper topped by a finger of dirty cream foam. The nose comprises sweet caramel, light leek, pine resin, and light spicy greens. The taste brings in more of the same, with less leek and a light menthol character in the finish. Unfortunately, what is present--in abundance--is the clash between the caramel and the resin, which are apparently acting out a centuries-old feud right on my tongue. Buckle, my ass, it's a fucking raze job! The body is a light-leaning medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a drying finish. Overall, this just didn't work for me, as the hops and the malts just clash far too much for any enjoyment to result.

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Photo of Murrhey
2.83/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured in a taster at Ballast Point in San Diego, Calif. Reviewed from notes.

A- Finger width tan head. Long retention, fluffy lacing. Reddish brown color, nice clarity.

S- Caramel malts and spicy hops. More subdued than I thought it would be.

T- Some bitter hops, but balanced out with sweet malts. Not terribly impressed.

M- Medium bodied and fairly wet.

O- I wasn't really impressed with this beer.

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Photo of mentor
2.84/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

Bottle was a 2006 GABF left-over that was given to me as a reward for my volunteer efforts. Thanks a million to GABF and to Ballast Point Brewing for the opportunity. Entered into judging as an Imperial Red.

Pours a two finger frothy tan-yellow head over a crystal clear red-amber liquid. Head settles to a very sticky layer that left stellar lacing. Smells piney and clean grapefruit hoppy. rough grassy coho with a hint of American Barley Wine alcohol and sugar character. Dash of cardboard for good measure. Also, oddly, I get starwberries. Soft ester sweet.

Tatses rough grassy. Md-heavy hop bitternes and way coho for the bitterness. Dry and lacking in malt sweet. Aftertaste has a touch of alcohol sting. As the beer warms, hop bitterness become piercing. Brutal because it's so dry and lacking any malt sweet.

Swirls thick, but comes across as thin in the mouth because it's so dry nothing hangs in the mouth. Not very drinkable...I dumped it.

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Photo of antott0523
2.9/5  rDev -25.8%
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 zizouandyuki
3.01/5  rDev -23%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bomber poured into a tall glass.

Deep amber color with very good clarity. Very little lacing. Smell gives me a headache. Taste is extremely dry and masks some of the better tastes. Has a medium body with moderate carbonation.

I can see how hop heads may like this, but I won't be purchasing this again. Far too bitter for my liking -- The label even warned me.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.04/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Chilled bottle into a glass. Shared by chswimmer. Thanks Craig!

Seems like it was $12 at City Beer... Ouch.

A: Pours a reddish, orange-toned amber body with fluffy off-white head. Initially the cap is about 1", but over a minute or so it becomes a scattered cap. Some lacing down the sides during sips.

S: Wow, very hoppy. Pine-forward like a Douglas fir, this one, with a supplementary floral and cinnamon character. It reminds me of Nugget Nectar. And Nugget Nectar reminds me of... well, you can read my review of that one for the association. Caramel and light booze.

T: I pick up more malts here than I could in the aroma, but this is basically a lightly-ambered DIPA. Caramel, toffee, even a hint of chocolate. Pine flavors are aggressive and sharp, even dominant (maybe too much) at times. Perfumey floral hops are always around, but not quite as strong. Cinnamon contributes toward a drying finish.

M: Medium bodied with medium-plus carbonation. A little prickly on the palate, but otherwise enjoyable. A hint of booze in the aroma and a small burn on the taste.

D: Imperial reds are a funny beast; not too many people make them (that I'm aware of), especially in this area. I love the Lagunitas take on the style, and Nugget Nectar is good but falls short due to certain smell associations that this beer also shares. However, what kills the interest in this one for me is the $12 / bomber price. It's a good beer for the style, but when there's a beer I enjoy more that costs less, I'm not going to spend much time on this one.

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Photo of Premo88
3.09/5  rDev -21%
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 jjh19
3.1/5  rDev -20.7%
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 MONKandTUCK
3.11/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- A nice red hue. Some foam on top, but it gives way too quickly.

A- like punch. Lots of fruit and sweet caramel.

T- Kinda hard to place them, but the hops are apparent. The malt bill is a little more complex than an IPA, but not what I'd call interesting. There's a lot going on here, I just can't place it. The craftsmanship is undeniable, but the inspiration seems lost. The alcohol is warming, but doesn't burn. The finish is dry, but it's still a big beer. Nothing about it stands out as unique or extraordinary. Just what the hell am I supposed to be drinking? I like that the bitterness is smooth, even muted, but I'm desperate to taste something that sets this beer apart.

M- It's heavy. The beer never becomes sappy or even chewy, but there's a hefty grist bill here. Due to lack of direction in the flavor department, this massive beer becomes a chore to drink.

O- Big Red. It's a great selling-point, but I can't think of a reason to finish this, let alone try it again. The beer is enjoyable for a little while, and makes "lesser" beers seem wimpy. Beyond that, this beer just becomes flabby, and an apparent product of indecisiveness.

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Photo of bendern
3.12/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

22oz bottle into a tulip.

Bottle stated best by 08/16/13, had on 4/21/13.

Appearance - Very hazy, opaque dark copper. Around two and a half fingers of beige head with a gentle pour. Head dissipated fairly quickly, but left a lasting layer throughout the rest of the glass. Minor lacing.

Aroma - Malts, caramel, pine hops, biscuit and other bready smells.

Taste - Pine hops, sweet malts, caramel. Definitely taste more of the malt than the hops. The alcohol is not hidden well, especially in the finish. Alcohol warmth throughout. Drinks like a barley wine, which is a style I don't care for.

Mouthfeel - Full bodied. High carbonation.

Overall - Not a bad beer by any means, but nothing I'd particularly care to pick up again. Tastes more like a barley wine than a red ale. Good to try once. Not terribly impressed, especially considering the typical quality that Ballast Point puts out.

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Photo of travolta
3.17/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Appearance: Minimal head retention, a nice ring of lacing. Red and golden tinge of apricot. Not very attractive.

Nose: Apricot, pine, sweet grains, a little licorice and medicinal at the end. A bit of citrus in the middle as well.

Taste: Crispy carbonation with a bold and heavy mouthfeel. Syrupy just long enough to be taken over my hop bitterness. Alcohol hotness forms at the end. Bitterness, malty sweetness, carbonation, and alcohol all get a chance to show you their stuff during each sip. It is a heavy beer with lots of medicinal and metallic qualities coming through. The dryness s pronounced and plays with the bitterness. Very medicinal at the end.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.18/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

22 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a Uinta brewing pilsner glass in me gaff in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are average; I had this on-draught at the brewery and didn't think too highly of it.

Served straight from the refrigerator. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Paired with goldfish. I enjoy a salty treat with my hop monsters.

Opened clean, with a crisp pop of the cap.

A: Pours a four finger beige-khaki colour head of nice cream and thickness, and good retention - especially considering the high ABV. Colour is a dark caramel-copper. Nontransparent; nonopaque. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Looks pretty standard for the style, but I'm impressed by the retention - it's at least five minutes. Lacing is standard.

Sm: Hops - mostly floral. Toasted clean malts. Toffee. A pleasant aroma, but not horribly complex. A mild to moderate strength aroma.

T: Toasted clean malts provide the foundation for a pleasantly floral hoppy build. Hop bitterness is decently masked, but the balance is slightly off. Some cream comes through in the third act, which is a nice touch but out of place in the structure. I do get some alcohol heat, but it's well handled and mainly warms the stomach more than anything else. It certainly feels like it's less alcoholic than it is. Not a subtle or complex flavour, but a pleasant and drinkable one. I do think there's more going on that comes to surface, but that sort of faux-subtlety isn't enough to make it a great tasting beer. No yeast comes through.

Mf: Too smooth. Too thick. A bit heavy on the palate. Somewhat chewy. Nicely wet.

Dr: It drinks quite easily for the 10.00% alcohol. Could be dangerous. There's some heat from the ABV, but it isn't anything that impacts the drinkability all that much. I like it for what it is, but it's far from unique or special. Ballast Point does hoppy brews far better than this (Sculpin, anyone?). I wouldn't get it again, but I'm glad I tried it.


One of the better Imperial Reds I've had. But I haven't had many.

A poor candidate for aging.

Would pair well with simple hearty bread. The outback steakhouse's brown bread comes to mind for some reason. Am I rambling?

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Photo of RandyV
3.21/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

To the point, not a huge hit with me. Too boozy; I've had higher abv brews that masked it well in the flavor profile. Big hops and malt tend to overwhelm the palate instead of complimenting each other. I've had Imperial Reds that were much more nicely balanced.

I love Ballast Point. Took a tour of their brewery in San Diego and sampled some tasty brews. However, this ale is a miss for me.

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Photo of maximum12
3.23/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I don't know why this beer was so bloody hard to find, but it was on my wants list forever until martin123012 took pity & traded me a bottle. All this build-up? Kind of like Indiana Jones IV? God, I hope not. 22 oz. bottle split with my wife. Best by date of 6/13 (?) on the neck.

Pour is certainly red. The dull, mucky variety. Taking in several liters of air through my nose, I manage to tease out some sweet malt & earthy hops, but that's it. Down low.

Tongue Buckler is like malt-on-malt porn. Malts spill over one another in an amazing amount of positions. Sweet bread, caramel, grain, booze, light toast. The hops aren't as aggressive as advertised, but they pack a wallop that's mostly bitter & faintly citrus. I don't know how to describe it, but the malts & hops seem at odds - the effect is almost oxidized, though not quite. The mouthfeel is heavy as a malt-soaked anvil...I shouldn't have eaten dinner. This could be a meal in itself. Doesn't exactly invite slugging.

Especially given my love of Ballast Point's hoppy beer, this is a touch of a letdown. The heaviness & ingredients that appear to be sparring with one another means this one only lands in the pretty good airfield.

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Photo of Floydster
3.26/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

5 ounce taster from Ballast Point's 11th Anniversary Celebration this afternoon

Color was a dark red with a brown tint and had a soapy head that stuck through for a little while

Smell was dominated by hops, some grapefruit but mainly just strong dry accents

Taste was very syrupy to me, just like the Dorado Double IPA in that respect, only double amber out there I have ever heard of, they might even bottle this soon from what I have heard, a little too hoppy for this kind brew to me, do not get me wrong I love hops and my favorite beers are the most bitter IPAs, but this just did not mix that well here and was very overpowering, needs to be some good amounts of malt to balance out an amber, but this was still interesting and I am glad I tried it

Could not drink too many of these even though the alcohol content is not too high, but it is very bitter and not in the best way, still worth checking out if they ever have this at O'Briens or Liar's Club

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Photo of barleybadger64
3.27/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Color was amber, aroma was a nice hop (western?) but missed some maltiness. Taste was skewed too far toward bitterness. I'd like to see more balance from the malt. I probably had my expectations too high. I will give second chance at later date.

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Photo of Big-Frog
3.29/5  rDev -15.9%
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 far333
3.31/5  rDev -15.3%
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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Tongue Buckler - Imperial Red Ale from Ballast Point Brewing Company
3.91 out of 5 based on 936 ratings.
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