The Hairy Eyeball | Lagunitas Brewing Company

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The Hairy EyeballThe Hairy Eyeball

Brewed by:
Lagunitas Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.10%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-12-2002

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Reviews: 971 | Ratings: 2,750
Photo of miramanmike
1.56/5  rDev -59.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

I did try this beer and I hate it. I will drink anything and everything. This beer was just not my thing. I would suggest that you do try it because Laginitas dose a great job at brewing and I find no real flaws with this beer (other than I don't Like its taste). I read the reveiw prior and I think this guy did like it and describe it correctly. I'll post his quote now "caramel, burnt sugar, golden raisins, with a slowly drying lightly bitter finish. Uninspiring..." and I would add very slightly if any bitter finish. OUT of BALANCE. raisen bomb. poop! but I'm an IPA lover so go figure. You decide!

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Photo of DOCRW
2.11/5  rDev -45.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.75

The is the most overly malty ale I have ever had and I'm a fan of Lagunitas. It's way off in balance and I've tried it 3 times thinking I got an older bottle, it's under carbonated and just to dang sweet. It's just not a good beer for them and others are rating it because it's Lagunitas and not what it should be rated at. Sorry it's just not that good.

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Photo of mbo34
2.23/5  rDev -42.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Wasn't quite sure what type of beer this was, as the label simply called it an ale. The only hint was 9% abv. I picked up a bottle of this out of curiosity.
Overall, this beer seemed a bit of a mess. Malty and strong are about all I can say about it. The flavor was pretty uninteresting and became even more so as I finished my glass.

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Photo of bubseymour
2.25/5  rDev -41.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Appearance - Unique, nice looking clear, dark mahogony color with minimal head presense despite aggressive poor (no head within 30 seconds)

Smell - sweet and malty

Taste - Very Sweet and very heavy. Hoppy aspirin like bitter finish. Not sure I like this one at all. Tastes like a combination of Robitusin with groundup aspirin in it.

Mouthfeel - Syrup like.

Overall - I don't understand the hype for this beer. Its quite difficult to drink and the flavors just don't work for my pallet at all. Beers over 8% are very hit or miss for me. A few A+'s and a several D's and even an F. This one is a big D (only because it looks and smells ok). I will not be able to finish this one.

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Photo of nrpellegrini
2.25/5  rDev -41.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Bottle boured to serving sample.

A: deep dark brown/ black, somewhat clear, very thin head
S: very hoppy, earthy
T: cough syrup, very hoppy, coffee/ caramel, smokey
M: very heavy/ thick, hoppy bite, awful aftertaste
D: tough

Im glad I didn't have more than the serving sample.
I felt like I was sick and my mom was forcing me to take the cough syrup

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Photo of goochpunch
2.34/5  rDev -39.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours out a rosey purple brown body with a 1/4" head that fizzles down to a thin layer of foam. Some head clings to the glass in scant patterns. First smell I get is a bit like rotting oranges. What follows is straight up sweet, darker malts, alcohol and a bit of citrus hops. When I taste this, i basically get a barrage of sweet malt body, piney hops, bitterness (quite bitter for a 50-something IBU beer), and a finish that is medicinal in the amount of alcohol. I can pick out some flavor as the aftertaste lingers, which is a blend of chewy dried fruit and pine resin. Mouthfeel is full bodied and a bit slick. Mild carbonation. Yeah, I don't really want to drink this all that much. I remember liking this a couple years back. Kind of nauseating now.

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Photo of steve8robin
2.38/5  rDev -38.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Got this one at the local beer store because of the interesting name...

A: Deep beautiful red. Tiny white head that quickly fades. Good.

S: Hard to get a strong scent. Once you do you kind of get a barleywine and tripel mixed scented beer. Eh, ok.

T: Bitter hops with almost a slight V8 type flavor. A little too weird. Bitter hops in the middle. Ick.

M: Goes down a little too thick for the style.

D: Ok, nothing good.

All in all, this brew is not very good. Avoid!

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Photo of beerjunky413
2.39/5  rDev -38.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

Poured into tulip. Pours dark copper with a reddish hue. Thin off white head reduces to an extremely thin lacing quickly. Aroma is solventy/ heavy alcohol with hints of dark fruits. Flavor is heavy on the alcohol to the point that you would think it's higher than 9.6%. Mouthfeel is a bit thin. Under the booze theres lots of sweetness with a slight plum, fig and molasses aftertaste. Described as a euro strong ale but tastes a whole lot like a barleywine that's not ready yet. If you have this or buy this in 2014 do yourself a favor and throw it in the cellar for a year or two.

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Photo of 3sheets2wind
2.45/5  rDev -36.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.25

This is a very malty beer. Sweet, not much in the hops department. If I was given this blind I would say it was a one-note take on an abbey dubbel. It is a pretty beer. Garnet color with thick off-white head, but that is easily the strongest aspect of the beer. Unfortunately, appearance is also the least important aspect of beer enjoyment. Rare failure from lagunitas.

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Photo of jujubeast6000
2.46/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Reviewed 1/25/2007 (22oz bottle):

Pours a dark brown black color, almost no head, quickly diminishing. Tan in color. Strong dark fruit aroma, grape, some hops, some alcohol. Taste of alcohol, hoppy flavor, some of that dark fruit taste again. Letting warm up a bit, hopefully the alcohol taste will be mellowed. Not much mellower.

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Photo of BeerBelcher
2.48/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I can definitely sympathize with those who offering a contrary opinion on this beer, as I was not a fan either. It had a significant liquor presence that I did not care for that came off very medicine-y. I finished it, and it wasn't terrible, but it definitely is not an experience I will be seeking out again.

My bottle poured a copper color with minimal head. Color was nice, beer was admirably clear, and brilliantly bright. Aroma was a combination of cereal/grain with some diacetyl and and a liquorice/medicine smell. Flavor and was caramel-y and harsh. It had a real cereal/grainy element combined with a lot of liquor/medicine flavor, but not in a good way. For some reason, it felt like there was some grain in the beer other than barley, like maybe oatmeal. Mouthfeel was unremarkable.

I can't say I'll be seeking out this beer again, nor recommending it to others.

I bought this bottle as a 12oz single at 3 Cellars in Franklin, WI.

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Photo of imagese
2.49/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A- Nice clear ruby with a one finger tan head that faded fast. Soapy lacing the whole way

S- this is where I started to worry... Super strong roasted caramel, bitter apple, cherry, and faint earthy hops. A burst of alcohol warmness pulls up the rear

T- a muddled mess of all the smells, followed by an unpleasant bitter grapefruit rind hop flavor with a boozy warmth

M- great body. Full feeling, smooth, and moderate carbonation. But then BAM!!! The bitterness comes in and ruins it all

D- I surprisingly finished the 12oz bottle easily. I love big beers, so I was able to muscle thru it, but I will not grab another

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Photo of timmy2b
2.5/5  rDev -35.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

22oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Nice Dark Copper/Amber color with a very small amount of head. A little bit lingered around the edges of the glass as I drank.
Very malty/boozy scent from the glass
Malty, Boozy flavor with a lot of boozy bitterness in the aftertaste.
Left a flavor in my mouth that was not bitter, but not a good bitter. The boozy flavor stays long after each sip.
Overall I personally am not a fan of this one and will not be seeking another for some time.

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Photo of cmoney311
2.51/5  rDev -35%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

A: pours a deep amber with a thin cream colored head.

S: has a sweet barleywine type scent to it, a hint of dark berries.

t: lacks in anything special, perhaps a dark berry aftertaste. a strong alcohol burn basically dominated every taste aspect to me.

d: i usually consider Lagunitas my favorite brewery and usually love every beer of theirs that i come across, but this is the first one i don't care too much for. good to drink one or two at a time - a few more than that if you are looking for a good sunday afternoon acoustic jam session buzz...

i did save one for aging purposes and will compare it to next year's batch.

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Photo of TexIndy
2.59/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Poured from a 650ml bottle with no dates into a pint glass. Was bascially black unless held to a light then it was a dark mahogany. Had a decent head to settled to a constant collar with very good lacing. The smell for me was awful. It had a rotting plum smell with a medicinal alcohol smell in the background. The taste was just as bad. I can see where some may like this but this ended up a drain pour for me. Very bitter with a bad aftertaste. Don't recommend unless you are a big fan of the sytle. (2, NA, ML, N)

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Photo of jgap
2.67/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours a deep red with a sizeable cream- color head that fades to a good lace. Smell is a sweet, sugary caramel and... Is that cheese? Taste is immediately sweet malt. LOT of sweet malts. It's syrupy and really sweet. I think it tastes more like a Maibock. Once you muddle through the sugar slush, there is a very light hop that quickly becomes alcohol which fades into the aftertaste. It's really just too sweet for me. Mouthfeel is syrup. Not that drinkable. I love lagunitas but I'm not sure about this one

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Photo of DiabolikDUB
2.71/5  rDev -29.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Poured from Bottle into Pint glass.

Pours a clear, but dense, dark copper color with 2 fingers of rocky, creamy light tan colored head that never fully disappears. The aroma is very malty and heavy with toffee, molasses and a touch of hops. The flavor is sweet malt, some citrus hops and finishes very strong with brown sugar and a very noticeable alcohol presence. Its full to medium bodied that is a touch sticky. I would say this beer is a pretty cross between a scotch ale and a malty barleywine. Overall, I'm just not impressed with it. Alcohol is a little too noticeable.

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Photo of CHSLBrew
2.72/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a snifter.

A-Deep brown-copper beer, pretty clear, but dark so as to seem slightly opaque. Tan head rises up and quickly receds to a collar around the glass.

S-Thick sweet malts, some sticky hoppiness floats in and out of this overall sweet malt and fruity aroma.

T-Slight choco-breadiness coupled with an odd fruitiness. Some earthy, herbal nuances. Bitterness is more than balancing and countered by alcohol-bitter-flavor and feel. Finishes medium-sweet with a residual bready malt.

M-Medium-low carbonation, medium-full body. Feels like a hearty, dry dinner.

D-Not a great one in my book, and seemed to overall lack a sense of balance and what flavors are supposed to be accentuated.

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Photo of CFHMagnet
2.73/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass.
A. A strong pour finds me with a half finger of effervescent beige head in my glass. Body is a red-tinted dark brown, actually a rather pretty color. Head takes a few minutes to die down to a ring and very light frosting on top. Decent lacing.

S. Malt, caramel, dark fruit, and alcohol. In that order.

T. Malt and caramel lead the assault on the tongue. Alcohol pops up and says hi, then a nut flavor takes over that ruins it for me. It's a woody/nutty flavor that combines with a dryness and slight bitterness to just turn me off to this beer. I don't know why, because any of these traits alone would be pleasant, but the way they are combined in this beer does not please my palate.

M. Heavy bodied, with some carbonation, although this seems to almost get lost in the body and flavor. Slightly syrupy.

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Photo of chumba526
2.8/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Appears a dark red color with a very thin white head that quickly vanishes.

Smells strongly of prunes, raisons and other dried dark fruits. There is also a strong brown sugar smell to the beer as well.

Tastes of brown sugar. A dry fruit smell is also apparent. A tad bit of citrus hops though they are barely noticeable. The beer ends with a very slight bitterness.

Carbonation is medium low.

I find this quite difficult to drink because the sweetness is very strong. This beer can use quite a bit more balance. Not a bad beer by any means but just a tad bit too sweet for my tastes.

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Photo of supercolter
2.81/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I will be very honest, I did not really enjoy this beer. Appearance is good, nice deep brown color with a little head and no lacing. Smell is okay with lots of dried dark fruit right up front, a bit of hops and way too much alcohol for 8.80% in my opinion. Taste is more of the same but something doesn't mix well here. It goes sour and not in a good way. Mouthfeel is decent, slightly above medium body. Drinkability is not that good.

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Photo of TXHops
2.81/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

-Original Gravity: 1.090
-Final Gravity: 1.024
-ABV: 8.8%
-ABW: 6.8%
-Attenuation: 72%
-Real Extract: 8.9 P
-Calories/12 oz: 300
-IBU’s: 56.66

From the never–ending line of Lagunitas seasonal beer comes the December through March offering, The Hairy Eyeball. This odd ale pours a deep, deep red with brownish hints and the beautiful finger of tan head was quickly relegated to wispy status by the beer beneath. A more vigorous “topping off” resulted in a head with a little more staying power. It didn’t hurt that the second pour took the head over the top of the bubble in my Nonick Pint glass… The beer gives off a sweet and sour nose, not unlike ubiquitous, run-of-the-mill fried Chinese food in brown sauce. Chinese food tends not to smell vaguely hoppy though. The sweetness, which is obviously malt-driven, though oddly un-malty in aroma is underpinned by an alcoholic thinness.

The flavor is very much as the nose foreshadows. A vinous, non-descript sweetness vaguely resembling some non-existent brown fruit dominates the beer. This flavor, which reminds me of the aftertaste left in my mouth when I eat too many raisins, thins into a sour stickiness in the back of my mouth. Several consecutive sips leaves me with the sensation that I’ve just finished a flat, alcoholic Dr. Pepper. It’s odd, because I really WANT to like this beer, but like Brown Shugga, it just falls short. I tasted it twice because I was so dissapointed with the first one, I wanted to be sure before reviewing it. It’s un-complex, non-malty and kinda sour. It tastes like a beefed up New Belgium 1554 or a high gravity Kostritzer. There’s no roastiness and no toastiness from the obvious use of darker malts. The 56 IBU’s lend neither any hop flavor or aroma, and don’t even really do a very good job of off-setting the sweetness of the non-fermented fermentables. This is a very average strong beer, since it’s very hard to achieve this little flavor with this many raw ingredients…

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Photo of Damian
2.83/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Drank on-tap at Atwood's Tavern, Cambridge, MA
Served in a stemmed glass

Gorgeous appearance. Deep, dark, crimson-mahogany. The translucent liquid was topped by a near two-finger head of beige colored froth. Thick, lasting rings of lacing coated the glass.

The aroma was surprisingly mild. In fact, I could hardly detect anything. Subtle caramel malts possibly. A bit toasty. Somewhat fruity and semi-sweet. A touch of alcohol hid in the background.

Like the nose, the flavor profile was a big letdown. Malty and biscuity up front. Fruity in the center. The finish was moderately hoppy and dry. The hops were somewhat earthy and herbal. There was a slight alcohol warming on the finish as well. Regardless, the 9% was remarkably well buried.

The mouthfeel was super creamy and lush. Medium-full bodied. Pillowy and silky smooth with a slick, moderate effervescence.

Hairy Eyeball Ale was a true oddity. Although the appearance and mouthfeel were exceptional, both the taste and aroma were hugely disappointing. I felt like the life had been sucked from this beer.

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Photo of billshmeinke
2.85/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint.

Finger and a half off white head. Brown with a tinge of amber in color. Good retention. A nice cap of foam on top. Nice lacing.

Powdery cocoa. A hint of caramel. Faint spicy hops.

Toasted malts, powdery cocoa, some citrusy hops.

Medium bodied, nicely carbonated, smooth and creamy. A nice hop bite on the end.

Kind of like an india black ale, but it could be hoppier.

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Photo of largadeer
2.86/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Appearance - Dark brown but not completely opaque. A strong pour provided very little head, but what does appear manages to last for a decent amount of time.

Smell - Toasted malt, caramel, roasted nuts. Faintly noticeable alcohol. The toast aroma really dominates everything here, but it's nice and appropriately wintry.

Taste/mouthfeel - Alcoholic sweetness mixed with toasty, roasty bitterness. Caramel-coated nuts. Full-bodied with fairly low carbonation. Hops come out a bit in the finish, but are rather subdued; they're used to accent the flavor rather than define it.

Notes - A decent beer, but I do have one problem with it: it's entirely too strong for its depth of flavor. If I'm drinking a 9% beer, I want it to be complex; something to savor and sip slowly. The simple, sessionable flavors of this beer don't work with its high ABV. Bigger is not always better, guys.

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The Hairy Eyeball from Lagunitas Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 2,750 ratings.
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