The Hairy Eyeball
Lagunitas Brewing Company

The Hairy EyeballThe Hairy Eyeball
Rate It
Beer Geek Stats | Print Shelf Talker
Strong Ale - American
Ranked #178
Ranked #20,487
3.86 | pDev: 11.14%
Lagunitas Brewing Company
California, United States
Very Good
The Hairy EyeballThe Hairy Eyeball
Reviews: 982 | Ratings: 2,789 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by JohnnyK:
Photo of JohnnyK
JohnnyK from North Carolina

3.5/5  rDev -9.3%

Dec 20, 2013
More User Reviews:
Photo of mvanaskie13
mvanaskie13 from Pennsylvania

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.

Jan 11, 2015
Photo of djchrismac
djchrismac from Ohio

4.6/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Jan 21, 2015
Photo of schoolboy
schoolboy from Ohio

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.

Jan 09, 2015
Photo of LADaveBN
LADaveBN from California

4.41/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 and 2009 side-by-side at Churchkey in DC. The '09 drinks like a barleywine. The '13 still has a subtle hop presence. Both are excellent. Although boozy. Served near room temp.

Jun 14, 2015
Photo of superspak
superspak from Ohio

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

22 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 11/7/2013. Pours fairly crystal clear deep reddish brown color with a 1-2 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big caramel, brown sugar, molasses, toffee, toast, brown bread, nuttiness, raisin, plum, fig, light chocolate, herbal, and roast/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt, dark fruit, and light-moderate earthy hop notes; with good strength. Taste of big caramel, brown sugar, molasses, toffee, toast, brown bread, nuttiness, raisin, plum, fig, light chocolate, herbal, and roast/toasted earthiness. Fair amount of earthy hop/roast bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, brown sugar, molasses, toffee, toast, brown bread, nuttiness, raisin, plum, fig, light chocolate, and herbal/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malt, dark fruits, and light-moderate earthy hop flavors; with a great malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a smooth, moderately creamy, and lightly slick/sticky mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is an awesome American strong ale style! All around great robustness, complexity, and balance of dark/bready malts, dark fruits, and light-moderate earthy hop flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

Dec 13, 2014
Photo of HiroProtagonist
HiroProtagonist from Maryland

4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Duvel Tulip. Head was small and rough. Had a very beautiful red-brown hue! Aromas... some maltiness, subdued spicyness, nice hop aroma. Taste...I would describe this as a fusion between an imperial IPA (though nice quite as hoppy) and a milder Belgian Triple. This sounds like it wouldn't work, but it does in this case. Very good, and very drinkable, and original! Try it if you can find it.

Bottle says Perihelial release. 8.8% by volume. Appears to be a New Years relase judging from a story on the side label.

Dec 22, 2003
Photo of Auraan
Auraan from Arizona

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.

Feb 01, 2015
Photo of spoony
spoony from Colorado

3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

From a 650 ml bottle to a tulip.

A-A normal pour produces about a finger of light-tan head. The head drops quickly to a cap and leaves a stray bit of lace on the glass. The beer is dark amber in color and nearly clear.

S-The aroma is heavy on the malt with suggestions of barley grain and toffee. Alcohol makes a strong showing and is lightly spicy, especially as it warms up. Not much in the way of hops here, just a vague, earthy, leafy note.

T-The taste tracks the smell pretty closely, i.e., lots of malts with barley, toffee, and cocoa powder notes. Some vague bitter, leafy hops on the finish, and a good kick of spicy alcohol provide a little balance to the sweetness of the malt.

M-The body is medium in heft with a persistent, prickly carbonation that breaks up the sweetness of the beer nicely.

O-This beer is OK, but nothing I would search out again. It reminds me of a strong Scotch ale or wee heavy. Not a bad beer on a chilly December evening, but nothing terribly unique or memorable is happening here.

Dec 03, 2015
Photo of woodychandler
woodychandler from Pennsylvania

3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I am continuing with my bottle purge and when a friend said that he wanted to come over and say goodbye before heading off to graduate school at U of FL, I decided to break out something big and hairy.

From the bottle: "Perihelial Release"; "Here's Lookin' Atcha!"; "Lagunitas Brewing Company wish you and yours all the best as together we enter the new year. Thanks for your trust and support and we'll keep an eye out for you!"; "91,400,000 miles"; "Laying there, starting up at the ceiling, head pounding last night was a dim recollection. How did he get home? Was he alone? Looking to the left and right, the answer was yes, maybe. His head was full of 'rag water, bitters and blue ruin'. His teeth felt like he'd been chewing aluminum and his breath smelled like a burning tractor tire. There was a wrenching knot somewhere between his liver and east St. Louis and he couldn't be sure whether or not he'd wet himself. A yellow sine wave rang in his ears so loud it made his teeth itch and he was sure that if he touched his skin anywhere it would induce a rhythmic retching jag. Even in the face of all that, he found himself smiling at the realization that today represented the fresh breast of a new year - an undiscovered country - and also that there was still one warm, half-full, half-flat redolent Hairy Eyeball on the nightstand. Yes - there is a God. Call us sometime! 1.707.769.4495. Cheers!"

My pour produced a brief finger of light-tan head that quickly fell to wisps. Nose was kind of boozy with a strong dried dark fruitiness, like prunes, raisins and dates. Color was a Coppery-Brown (SRM = > 17, < 22) with NE-quality clarity. Mouthfeel was medium. The first thing that I noticed after taking a sip was the intense fusel alcohol heat. The second thing was the extreme fruitiness and maltiness that came right behind it, reminiscent of a holiday fruitcake. Finish was warm, not outright hot, and incredibly fruity.

Aug 11, 2014
Photo of RexBanner
RexBanner from New York

4.65/5  rDev +20.5%

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a pint glass.
Appearance: Dark crimson in color. Clear, no sediments. Pillowy cream colored head which lasted throughout the session. Nice lacing.

Aroma: Malty, fruity, hoppy. It almost smells like those cans of mixed fruit saturated in a bottle of Malta.

Taste: Malt sweetness up front followed by a pleasant bitterness that prevents this from being just another run of the mill malt bomb. Faint fruit taste is present. Hard to make out though, maybe peach? Caramel and molasses or maybe maple syrup is present also. A boozy heat permeates the mouth with every sip, especially when the beer reaches room temperature. The bitter aftertaste is really pleasant for this beer.

Mouthfeel: Light, not heavy at all. Slight carbonation in the beginning but it fades very quick. Goes down easy, especially for an 8+ brew.

This is a good winter warmer. Not the best but for a 22 oz bottle it'll surely get the job done. It has a good balance of sweetness and bitterness. It's almost like a cross between a dunkel and a bitter IPA.

Aug 31, 2014
Photo of nate_nate_nate
nate_nate_nate from Illinois

4.69/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Had no expectations and was blown away. It's a fraction crisper than the best scotch ale out there (Bellhaven Wee Heavy). Taste is malty, caramel sublime.

Mar 07, 2015
Photo of Apellonious
Apellonious from North Carolina

4.04/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle, day 328, 14, poured into a tulip glass.

A - Dark ruby, half finger head, decent lace retention.

S - Dark fruit, booze, candied sugar, cellar

T - Some faint hop bite, mainly brown sugar, carmel malts, dark fruit and booze.

M - Dense. Carbonation starts off medium high, fades to alnost nothing, gets sticky.

O - Went to a Japanese steakhouse, had some Sakie sprayed in my eye, so I figured...Hairy Eyeball for dessert.

Apr 25, 2015
Photo of richj1970
richj1970 from Alabama

4.02/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22 oz bomber into snifter. Very faint date on neck suggests it was bottled Nov 2014.

A: Deep brown with reddish tint. Two to three finger light tan head with nice retention and plenty of sticky lacing.

S: Caramel, butterscotch, and brown sugar. Some dark fruits - plum and raisin. Some hints of earthy hops.

T: Rich sweet malts and dark fruits with a small hint of hops lingering in the back. Reminds me a bit of a Scotch Ale.

M: Full bodied but not thick. Finish is a little sweet.

O: Tatsty brew. An easy drinking sipper at an excellent price point.

Apr 01, 2015
Photo of pat61
pat61 from Minnesota

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.

Jan 09, 2015
Photo of dmgeng
dmgeng from Indiana

4.56/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I love Lagunitas and I've been on a Strong Ale kick so this was a win-win for me.

A - Ruby, brown color that is quite striking. Clear with a coarse white head and nice lacing.

S - A very rich character with malt, toffee, some hops, and some dark fruit present. This is a very complex aroma with some alcohol and caramel in the background. It has a traditional ESB, fruity yeast character but to the next level.

T - Matching the smells, the flavor is even more complex with tons of depth. I sense an american brown but with more hops, no chocolate character, and a strong toasted sugar flavor. The fruity yeast and hops are more predominant on the tongue with the malty, grainy, and toffee flavors mixing well together. There is a bitterness but it is in no way dominant and only lends a compliment to the rich malt character.

M - Full mouth-feel with light carbonation. It's lightly syrupy but isn't cloying with some residual bitterness and you can feel that it's alcohol level and attenuation are spot on to make this beer a winner.

Overall, a really delicious beer and definitely the best non-oaked strong ale I've had. This beer is a perfect winter warmer without too much palate punching but enough flavor to keep me admiring the glass. If you find this beer and like a robust strong ale this is a must try.

Glass- Imperial Pint

Jan 03, 2015
Photo of biegaman
biegaman from Canada (ON)

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

"Life is uncertain. Don't sip." - Words of advice from Lagunitas

A thin patch of sand-looking head formed from the pour. Its presence wasn't expected to stay long and before I could even finish typing these first few sentences, it did indeed evaporate leaving behind only a loose soapy trim and a small ensemble of bubbles. The colour is a lucid cranberry with, if it weren't for the deep tone, perfect clarity.

With its bouquet of sappy pine, rich caramel, sweet molasses, sugary confections and array of dark fruits (and I'm sure I'm missing plenty) I'd say this resembles a blend of 60% English old ale and 40% American barleywine. It is ultra rich, ultra strong and ultra delectable. This is the kind of potency and nuance that most brewers have to resort to barrel aging to find.

Lagunitas does not mess around. The beer itself tastes great which is no wonder because each of the individuals flavours that comprise it would taste great on their own anyhow: brandy-centered chocolates, chewy toffee, port soaked blackberries, candied cherries and plenty of rich caramel coated biscuits. The profile is undeniably beer but it draws on similarities to red wine and strongly steeped black teas.

Sweetness is the king of this jungle. Bitterness makes a good grab at power but ultimately it's this long boiled malts, fortified wine-like sweetness that prevails. With it comes a great deal of fruitiness and caramelization as well as a hefty kick of alcohol. Every time I've had the Hairy Eyeball I've remarked on how easy it is to drink; it's never misleading about the 8.8% but it sure is easy going about it.

California is without doubt the most competitive of American states as far as craft breweries go. Of all its many great micros I have no reservations about calling Lagunitas one of my favourites. They not only have a charming attitude towards work and life, as illustrated in their hilarious write ups and company mentality, but a kick-ass lineup of beer to boot. Lagunitas: don't stop what you're doing because I don't ever want to stop drinking it.

May 01, 2009
Photo of kornkid8600
kornkid8600 from California

2.75/5  rDev -28.8%

Dec 08, 2011
Photo of MadScientist
MadScientist from New York

3.79/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: A dark copper ale with good clarity. The head is long lasting but thin made of tan, creamy and soapy bubbles that leave a fine lacing on the glass.

A: There is a medium malt aroma with some cherries and a spicy note. There is a caramel aroma that reminds me of kettle caramelization that is found in Scotch Ales. A slight phenolic kind of spicy note.

T: There is a lot of malt and toffee flavors with a restrained, medium amount of malt sweetness. Not much in the way of hops flavor but a medium hops bitterness baking for a balance that is tilted towards the sweet side of the scale. The finish is off-sweet with a quick citrus hops flavor and a little hops bitterness but mostly a malty, caramel sweetness aftertaste.

M: A medium full bodied beer with a medium-low level of carbonation.

O: It's sort of an American version of an old ale with a prominent malt presence but a firm hops bitterness.

Dec 24, 2013
Photo of Skabiski
Skabiski from Maryland

3.75/5  rDev -2.8%

Feb 05, 2014
Photo of standardcherry
standardcherry from Massachusetts

2.5/5  rDev -35.2%

May 25, 2012
Photo of ScaryEd
ScaryEd from New Hampshire

3.5/5  rDev -9.3%

Dec 17, 2013
Photo of HereforBeer
HereforBeer from Washington

3.5/5  rDev -9.3%

Apr 06, 2014
Photo of HopGrazer
HopGrazer from New York

3.75/5  rDev -2.8%

Feb 12, 2014
Photo of Thomahs
Thomahs from New York

3.63/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Really nice strong ale from Lagunitas. The price point for a bomber is lowww, in the $5 range. That said, it is a really smooth, strong, beer. Perfect for a cold night.

Aroma - hmm. Malty, toffee, caramel, grains grains grains.

Taste - Sweet, molasses, brown sugar, bready, sweeet again.

Mouthfeel - well carbonated, sticky, thick, but not overly so.

Again, a high quality beer, nothing to sniff at, and for the price, at the top of it's range. Bravo.

Mar 13, 2014
The Hairy Eyeball from Lagunitas Brewing Company
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 2789 ratings