Tongue Buckler - Imperial Red Ale | Ballast Point Brewing Company

very good
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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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 242 | Ratings: 936
Photo of Sammy
3.89/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from Lueken's Liquors. A smooth mouthfeel, with an initial maltiness followed by a pleasant citrusy hop finish. Well integrated blend of malt and hops, the perfect imperial red beer. Another master craft from this brewery. Above average mouthfeel.

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Photo of kylehay2004
3.76/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: amber with red hues. Lots of lace and single finger head.

S: wet sock odor hops

T: lots of grassy and floral hops with dominant caramel malts. Some citrus notes.

M: Moderate carbonation and medium body.

Overall: The beer was very good. This wet sock hop aroma that I see in some imperial beers and IPAs is a bit of a turn off before the taste. Otherwise a decent beer.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Library Alehouse in Santa Monica, CA.

Pours a clear dark copper with a beige head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Thick chunks of lace form on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, grapefruit, citrus zest, and a slight alcohol kick. Taste is of malt, grapefruit extract, and very bitter citrus zest. The bitterness with each sip is quite assertive and lingers on the palate after each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a somewhat full bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but it is extremely bitter just like the name implies.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.99/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this is crazy beer, super hoppy and not sweet at all, like i often associate red beers as being, or at least ambers, which i expected this to be, you know, heavy with caramel malts and overbalanced. not the case, this one stands as a gnarly big red ipa, super hoppy, a lot of action on this one, resins and pine, grapefruit peel bitterness, and some of the alcohol. its distinct from others in its size but gentle feel, in its refreshment capacity for a strong ale, and in its use of red malt to add character without sweetness. hoppy as can be, but never harsh, just super intense there, and a little hard to drink in mass quantity, but like all beer from ballast point, especially the big strong ones, this is excellent and original beer, worthy at any table.

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Photo of metter98
3.81/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is very dark amber in appearance and has just a few bubbles floating on the surface.
S: A distinct hoppy aroma dominates the smell. There are also some hints of caramel and toffee.
T: The taste very much follows the smell and is of bitter hops, although there is a good amount of balance in the flavors from the underlying caramel malts.
D: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and the finish is somewhat dry.
M: The alcohol content is well masked but this is a beer that tastes like it is strong and definitely needs to be sipped.

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Photo of brentk56
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clear copper color with a sturdy ecru head that leaves a fair amount of lacing

Smell: Pop the cap and the piney citrus wafts out of the bottle; stick your nose in the pint glass and the hops aroma almost burns like a chili pepper

Taste: The hops don't wait for the malt to make an appearance, jumping into the fray from the get go, with a juicy, almost fiery, citrus and pine combination that truly tries to buckle the tongue; after the swallow, the malt leaves a trace with some residual sweetness on the tongue, but the bitterness persists for quite some time afterwards

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation; burning warmth in the gullet after the swallow

Drinkability: Fun to taste for a hop head, but a tough one to consume in any quantity; one of the most aggressive beers I have ever tasted

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Photo of largadeer
4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Draft at Gourmet Haus Staudt, served in a 12 oz snifter.

Cloudy brownish-red with a frothy tan head. Lots of scattered lacing with solid head retention. Very resiny aroma, pine and crystal malt, grapefruit, light alcohol presence. Similar on the palate, not particularly sweet but heavy on crystal malts and sticky, resiny hops. Grapefruit, pine, plenty of lingering bitterness in the finish that balances the heaviness of the malt. Alcohol is fairly well-hidden, though there's a slight sting toward the finish. Very easy to drink for such a big beer.

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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 emerge077
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Assuming this is the recent "robust series" bottling, the original listing should be updated if there's an ABV change. Huge thanks to Jason for dropping this in a recent trade!

Lovely burnt crimson color, fluffy foam, and minor lacing. Dank hop oils in the nose. Sweet fruit and a hint of maltiness buried underneath. Later there's a waft of the alcohol, but it blends in well.

Huge smack of melon/cantaloupe sweetness, dank fruity hops are massive in this one! Lush, sweet almost syrupy body. Reminded me a little of oak-aged Unearthly minus the oak. Drying with moderately bitter finish. Traces of alcohol only seem to come out as it warms. Pretty damn strong, but tasty. The sweetness and booze are integrated well enough that it isn't a distraction. I'm going to miss this bomber when it's gone...

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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 superspak
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into tulip glass, best before 4/17/2014. Pours lightly cloudy ruby red color with a 2 finger dense light khaki head with great retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with some moderate streaming carbonation. Aromas of big grapefruit, tangerine, pineapple, orange zest, lemon zest, caramel, toast, floral, grass, pine, and floral earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of bright citrus hops and moderate caramel malt sweetness; with good strength. Taste of big grapefruit, tangerine, orange zest, lemon zest, pineapple, caramel, toast, floral, grass, pine, and floral earthiness. Moderate amount of floral/pine bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of citrus, citrus zest, pineapple, caramel, toast, floral, grass, pine, and floral earthiness on the finish for a while. Fantastic complexity and balance of bright citrus/pineapple hops and light-moderate caramel/bready malts; with balanced and crisp malt/bitterness and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a lightly creamy, crisp, and moderately sticky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is a highly excellent imperial red ale! All around great complexity and balance of bright hops and moderate malt flavors; and very smooth and crisp to sip on for the big ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of oberon
3.86/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

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

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Photo of jlindros
3.83/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tap at Armsby Abbey

Huge fluffy head forces a 5 min pour with lots of messy lacing as well, mostly clear ruby dark mahogany colored beer.

Nose has some light earthy and citrus hops, a bit fruity, some crystal and reddish toasty malts, caramel, semi sweet malts, slight biscuity.

Taste is quite bitter, earthy and slight herbal hops and a bit spicy, chewy almost vegetative hops, earthy chewy malts, plenty of dark crystal malts, bit of darker roasted malts, a slight astringent taste and salty like malty taste, light caramel, slight biscuity reddish malts, little sweet and syrupy. Finishes fairly bitter still, chewy and spicy hops that make it seem like chewing on hop pellets, bit if warming spicy booze, semi sweet and sticky syrupy reddish malts.

Mouth is med to slightly heavier bodied, decent carb.

Overall not bad, very bitter and hoppy but earthy grassy chewy hops, plenty of darker crystal malts, little syrupy though and finish is a bit too harsh.

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Photo of Kegatron
3.73/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap @ O'Briens (San Diego, CA) on 3/22/10. Served in a pint glass.

Pours a clear amber in the glass (this has a nice coppery sheen to it) with about a ½ finger of smooth off-white head. This retains with a fairly thin but still creamy look to it, which leaves a good bit of spotty and foamy lacing behind. The aroma is thick and very tangy upon first whiff, with a good bit of pine resins and tropical fruit character being propped up by a sticky backing of toasted bread and caramel malts. MAN, this is sweet and sticky feeling in the nose. Maybe a bit too so...

The taste is pretty much the same, with plenty of hoppy resins, bitter rinds, and spice present, as well as a sweet background of fruity citrus flavor, toffee, and even some light cocoa notes, which all just dominates the flavor profile at times. Much like the aroma, tangy sweetness mostly controls this but the hops do return in the finish, providing plenty of pine and spicy dryness. The mouthfeel is fuller bodied, with a nice easy smoothness to the carbonation. Things feel a lot heavier and stickier underneath with some definite alcohol presence but luckily none of the taste is coming through.

This was a bit of a letdown from Ballast Point, coming off just way too sweet in it's profiles at times. I would have liked for those West Coast hops to shine just a wee bit more. That being said, this still had a very impressive mouthfeel for a 10% beer. This was overall decent but I expected just a little more here.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.07/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a mug glass.

A: The beer is a murky reddish amber color, with a large dense off-white head that fades very slowly and leaves a very thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains rich caramelized malts, floral hops and fruity citrus.

T: The taste starts out sweet with barleywine-like flavors of caramel, brown sugar and fruit that are quickly followed by a hearty malt character and a strong but not-overpowering hops presence. There’s a touch of an alcohol sting and a decent balance. The after-taste is slightly sticky and slightly hoppy.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down dangerously easy, not too filling, strong kick, good representation of style, this is a solid flavorful stronger beer to drink for a as long as you can handle it.

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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 dbrauneis
3.58/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap at Mugs Alehouse in Brooklyn, NY

A: Pours a slightly hazy golden orange to amber in color with a finger tall beige head. The head reduces to a ring at the edges of the glass and some patches of bubbles. Moderate lacing is observed.

S: Lots and lots of hops - pineapple, pine, and grapefruit are all present with pine being the most dominant.

T: Pine hops with some pineapple and grapefruit notes. There is a real lingering bitterness after each sip of this beer. The flavor of the beer is very sharp and the finish is almost resin like.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation. Slightly chewy.

O: Very nice for the hop head in all of us but not an easy drinker - the hops are really intense and the name of the beer is appropriate. Probably would be amazing with the correct food pairing but on it's own it is a little difficult to consume much of.

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Photo of russpowell
3.81/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours an effervescent orange/scarlet with o finger of cream colored head. Good lacing & average head retention

S: Toasty, piney& catty

T: Toastyness, pineyness & a little caramel up front, woody hops as well. Slight astringency with slight brown sugar sweetness & with faint grapefruit , & stronger piney & woodiness as this warms. Finishes dry with a little caramel sweetness & piney & woody bitterness

MF: Medium body, slight carbonation, slews hoppy & bitter

Drinks fairly easy, I could've stood more alt backbone t balance it out, but well worth a go if you like them hoppy

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this one as an extra in a recent trade. I had actually almost gone out and bought some so I was glad to see it hit my doorstep. Served chilled and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 05/18/2009.
The pour was very big. Lots of dark orange colors swirling about and a good sized head of white reaching up and over the top to around two inches before settling back down again. Really nice layered look to the sides of the glass as it was thoroughly coated all the way down, really good retention here I have to say. Lots of malt in the nose right off. Caramel, sweet notes mixing with a very big hop note, especially as it warms. Piney with a sweet orange rind like citrus touch as it comes close to room temperature. Very thick feel, sticky and full with nice carbonation, definite enough to get it done. Initially you get the piney hop bite as you take the first sip, but it became very well balanced mid palate as the rich, almost scotch ale like buttery notes start to come through and really give it quite a smooth flavor. A bit hot still and a definite big one, it hurts the session ability of it a touch, and by the end you are really pushing it with this one.
Overall not bad, actually very, very good. Straddles the line of several styles, but I would call it a strong ale as a catch all. A bit strong and young still, this would serve up great after 6 months I am sure.

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Photo of smcolw
3.97/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark amber with a touch of chill haze. Impressive head that settles very slowly. Lots of small spots for the lace.

Darker malt start to the nose. Floral hop thereafter. A bit of I cleaned beer line but I did kick the keg.

Lot of alcohol and caramel to start. This is almost like a bitter cocktail. This is from the initial sweetness, which becomes completely dominated by the peppery hop bitterness. Long bitter alcohol aftertaste.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at 38 Degrees

A: The pour is amber though it leans more toward red than anything else. The head has a slightly tan hue and leaves some nice lacing.

S: A blast of dank, juicy grapefruit is the first thing to hit the nose. The intense citrus and pine hop aroma lasts throughout the sniffing process, and is mixed with some brown sugar and caramel.

T: The hop flavors, particularly the grapefruit, are not quite as bitter as I would have expected. There is a definite sweetness to the beer, provided by some caramel malts and a brown sugar taste. There is some decent bitterness on the finish, however.

M: A medium to full bodied beer (for the style, anyway) with a crisp carbonation and bitter finish.

D: The alcohol doesn't necessarily show itself in the course of the smelling or tasting of the beer, but it does make itself known (and not surprising at 10%). Still a nice beer, but it can sneak up on you.

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Photo of mdfb79
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 07/16/12 notes. Big thanks to Nugganooch for sending me this, never had it. 22 oz. bottle into my Bell's tulip.

a - Pours a murky, deep reddish brown color with one finger of fluffy off white head and moderate carbonation evident. Light frothy lacing left on the glass.

s - Smells of citrus hops, caramel malts, toasted malts, fruity malts, dark fruits, sweet bready malts. Pretty nice; a lot of red ale characteristics infused with some citrus hops up front, though they aren't overwhelming.

t - Tastes of more citrus hops, caramel malts, fruity malts, sweet dark fruits, toasted malts, burnt malts. Taste has more hops and some light to medium bitterness.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation, with some moderate bitterness.

o - Overall I think this was a pretty good hoppy red ale. Nice citrus hops up front in the nose and more in the taste. Light bitterness but not too bad; would like to have it again.

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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 WVbeergeek
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Flowing at Smokin' Joe's in the Southside pours a copper hue with a light off shade of white head, big chunks of lacing. Aroma has big abrasive pine/caramel blended with some dank smelling herbaceous goodness, quite a nose with a some booze edging in this good just as easily be a barleywine in most beer cultures. Flavor again earthy herbaceous and citrus peel accented hops bring a strong bitterness full big booze and big caramel malts with a bit of dirt/mineral quality going on. Alcohol is soothing and fits within the massive arrangement of this beer, never seen bottles in the Burgh but definitely scattered on a limited basis on tap. Mouthfeel was big a bit harsh with bitterness and alcohol but I new what I was getting into when I ordered this one. Overall a high quality big aggressive West Coast Tongue Buckler, meaning it pretty much assaults your palate with intense flavor.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.63/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass.

A real big three finger light caramel tan head, slightly not too uniform, sitting on a real nice deep amber copper red body, crystal clear, no rising carbonation. Huge retention on the head.

Nose a nice mix of toasty malts, sweet smelling a little, with a mild hop angle that mixes between floral and dirt, quite earthy it seems. Seems a little alcohol like sugary though.

A very thick body, with a nice density, but it borders on a lot of syrup. Malt toasty action hits briefly on first sip, but really falls off in a bit of an alcohol almost fusel rush. Finish has that earthy hop angle to it hinted with floral action, but then a bit of boozy wafering comes out.

Still it's overall not too bad, there is some masking of the large abv on this but not totally. I don't think I'd have this again.

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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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