The Hairy Eyeball | Lagunitas Brewing Company

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The Hairy EyeballThe Hairy Eyeball
Very Good
2,768 Ratings
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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Ratings: 2,768 |  Reviews: 977
Photo of Rumrunner
4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bottle.

Pours a deep dense mahogany color with amber hues. The head is deep and frothy. A deep beige head which leaves drapes of lace down the glass. Scents are caramel, some organic grassy notes but not much from the hops. Scents are thick and fresh.

A sweet candy caramel malt. A bit of brown sugar and some dark fruits. A bit of a bubble gum flavor in the background. The hops provide back up and not much else. A very malty brew. Some alcohol flavors and a good strong bourbon wood flavor hits the spot. Very nice.

A medium bodied sipping ale. Mouthfeel is smooth and caressing. No harshness at all. No bite. Just a smooth jaunt down the pipe. A very easy drinking ale. All in all I recommend a person give this ale a try. I will buy more for sure.

Drinker beware! I don't know what it is about this ale but it made me a bit light headed. It was the only drink I had tonight but the alcohol snuck up on me quite unexpectedly. Cheers!

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Photo of ngandhi
4.21/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Opening this bottle was infanticide, but damn it was worth it.

On the pour, there's an immediate dark fruit smell of prune and berries filling the room, yet there's a hint of some odd spiciness on a closer smell . . . ZOHM go the hops on the palette; I should've known. Wait, don't leave, I just started tasting you . . . oh, yeah, right there, slower -- Hairy Eyeball is a late night fondle on my tongue.

The up-front bitterness -- I was just about to call this an IPA -- transmogrifies into rich, deep, alcohol laden malt. I'm reminded of unoaky cognac -- the grape forward Martell, for example. Drinkers of grocery store brandy will know this taste well. Yet that, too, fades into more resinous hops, sugars, and a drier grainy finish spiced with tarragon.

I had a 1998 Harvey's Elizabethan Ale that was laden with fennel seed and peppermint flavors. Their 1996 was calmed down and you could see, in a vertical tasting, that those flavors were once there. But I never understood how that 98 (so odd) could taste that way. The Hairy Eyeball shows me where those flavors came from in the first place. Don't get me wrong, there's no mintiness in this brew whatsoever. The latent hops mixed with the big, fruit forward malt, however, begins to hint at what later could taste a lot like those glorious Harvey's brews. See if you can put some away for six more years.

Oh, and the name? If you drink this beer, it actually starts to make sense.

Relax, relax.

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Photo of rkhaze
4.53/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured a ruby/amber with a big creamy, condensed tan head. Left great lace. Smells of malt, caramel a bit of fruit and spicy/citrusy hops.
Rich sweet malt flavor with dark brown sugar, fruit, baking spices and hints of nuts and creamy chocolate. Excellent balance with the citrusy/resinous hop profile Kinda reminded me a little of Deschutes Jubelale.
Medium to full bodied with a nice thick, rich and creamy mouthfeel. Great carbonation to lighten it up a little. The great balance and hiding of alcohol make this exceptionally drinkable. This goes down scary easy for an 8.8% brew.

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Photo of RootedFool
4.65/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Purchased a 22 ounce bomber at the North Coast Co-op in Eureka, California.

Pours a tenebrous crimson with an anxious tan head. Tall drapes of lace cling to the glass.

Smell is of lush malts, raisins soaked in bourbon and brown sugar. A hop citrus edge comes through clearer after a few more sniffs.

A scrumptious mouthfeel, almost like cream but the carbonation gives it levity, is what I notice as soon as the beer meets my mouth. A kick you in the gums hop bitterness leads, and then the malts take flight -- a zesty yet smooth sweetness rolls out over the palate, ah! -- and then it's back to a delicious hop sting that lingers long on the tongue. And alcohol is a-buzz in my sinuses and stomach.

What a winter warmer!

Half a pint down and I'm already feeling it.

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Photo of RedDiamond
4.06/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Hairy Eyeball is the color of a weathered piano with a flannel mouthfeel, modest head retention, and spectacular clarity. When I say weathered piano, I allude not only to the harmony, resonance, and balance of notes orchestrated in the body, but also to the polished cerise-cherry colortones that make this winter ale visually intoxicating from the moment it hits the glass. I am absolutely entranced with the color of this beer, which glows with a profound and flawless clarity.

Hairy Eyeball makes for a spirited and well-composed winter seasonal. Worth seeking.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.38/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Clear but very dark ruby black in color with a monstrous head that must be respected (else you will be cleaning up your floor). The head is big, beautiful, and tan, with good retention and some cool lacing.

Smell – Oh, mama, this one is big. The huge, caramel malts are just the start. You’ve got “brown shugga” types of sugars here along with some oaky notes and a light hop balance.

Taste – This is heavy-duty from start to finish but also quite smooth. The huge sweetened malts from the nose come out in the taste like they were aged a few years in American oak barrels. There’s a subtle hint of bourbon as well.

Mouthfeel – Exceptionally smooth and full-bodied, this one will get your lips smacking and your salivary glands watering. My mouth is sticky from tasting this ale. It is big and chewy.

Drinkability – This is an excellent effort at the style from Lagunitas. It is velvety smooth, strong but not excessive, and goes down amazingly well for a nearly 9.0 ABV BW.

Update – I originally rated this with an ’03 vintage so thought it would be interesting to review it again with an ’04 (drank in Jan ’05). This really is an easy-drinker, and the big sugary malts make it dead-on for the style. Well done, Lagunitas!

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Photo of HiroProtagonist
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
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.

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Photo of Reidrover
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ok another "find" at my local organic food store.."Perihelial Release" less!!
Comes in the usual Laguntas bomber..same ole dog on the label..this time with a weird eye LOL.
What a beautiful looking ale when poured into my pint mug a dark red almost garnet..with a large light brown head ..great laceing.
Good fresh malty/alcohol aroma pervades ..getting a hint of some dark berries and plums.
Nice taste to mostly malts followed by a liquorice/ strong dark coffee bitterness..alcohol is very noticable.
Nice feel on the tongue..good aftertaste.
Nice drinkable ale on a cold winters evening.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.67/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle cellared one year... A dark mahogany body reveals orange and ruby highlights when held to the light; and it's creamy light tan head slowly erodes to a wide collar without leaving behind much more than spotty lace. The nose is rich with caramel, molasses, piney hops, light spice and wood. It's quite refreshing, and reminiscent of a crisp fall evening under the stars. It's medium-bordering-on-full bodied and just slightly zesty in the mouth before warming to become creamy and smooth as its very fine carbonation "pillows up". Caramelized brown sugar and light spice dominate the rich, malty flavor before a splash of alcohol becomes apparent. Some softer notes of caramel and nuttiness follow in the finish. Resinous, piney hop flavors are present the whole way through, but shine in the aftertaste. Exceptionally well-balanced and highly drinkable despite its strength. A most wonderful holiday meal beer or nightcap!

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Photo of beerguy101
3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Dark amber color, medium head. Full bodied "Christmas" Ale. Deeply roasted malts, chocolaty. Fairly hoppy. Good balance. Full flavor, somewhat spicy. No alcohol bite despite a 8.8%. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is chocolaty and slightly bitter. Interesting beer.

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Photo of TXHops
2.81/5  rDev -26.8%
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 Morris729
4.5/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Story on the side of the bottle reads as follows:
“Laying there, starring 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, flat, redolent, Hairy Eyeball on the nightstand. Yes – there is a God.”

Pours a very dark copper color with a thick and creamy tan colored head that fades into a heavy and sticky lace. Nose is sweet caramel and molasses with some milder notes of pine and fresh citrus. Medium to heavy in body with many layers of flavor. Taste is sweet roasted malts at first quickly followed by other sweet notes of gingerbread cookies, dark caramel, spice, and a touch of fruit. More bitter flavors of pine resins and grapefruit rind then begin to take over setting up a bitter finish of raw hop leaf and a hint of citrus. The hop oils create a slick feel in the mouth throughout, and the alcohol begins to become more apparent as the beer warms. A great beer with a great name!

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Photo of beerluvr
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours with a fine tan head that leaves nicely clinging Brussels lace down the sides of the glass. Clear amber/brown liquid. Brown sugar/molasses and malt in the nose. Taste is earthy hoppiness mixed with roasted grain and bitter chocolate, quite tasty! The hops return after swallowing, along with a nice warming alcohol sensation. Finishes long and dry and roasty...a great sipping brew for a cold, cold night here in N.J.

Thanks again to xlperro for "Beering It Forward"!

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Photo of Gusler
4.32/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours an intense ruby red with the head pretentious in its size, the texture frothy, and the lace a thick sheet to occult the glass. The bouquet of toasted grain, sweet caramel, light brandy tone also present, seems more like a "Barley Wine" than an "American Strong Ale". Front is malt, somewhat sweet; the top is medium in feel, mildly acidic with the hops perky in their spicy bite, aftertaste quite dry and long lasting a real "Belly Warmer".

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Photo of sinistersteve
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Well,with a name like 'Hairy Eyeball' and from a brewer like Lagunitas I knew I would be in for a wondeful treat. Nice, dark amber color but not much head from the pour though . I loved the well balanced flavor. Not overly hopped for those who are scared of such things I'll take this one anytime.

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Photo of RBorsato
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Auburn with Ruby highlights / Creamy Tan Head leaves sticky lace. Malty (caramel-like) Aroma and slight hop aroma. Intense Maltiness along the lines of a Barley Wine. Definite Alcohol presence. Full bodied, slick, viscous, smooth and creamy!

I would have put in the American Barley Wine category but it prob fits both styles fairly close.

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

I've got to give this one style points just for the name . . . Seriously, though, I agree with the first reviewer that this beer is reminiscent of Stone Brewing's Arrogant Bastard. It looks similar, and the same smells and flavors are there, but they're just a little more subtle (perhaps except for the hops). Pretty reddish-amber color, good tan head that retains well. Maybe a little less balanced than AB, more towards the citrusy hop side than the malt side. A very good beer with a great name (for what that's worth).

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Photo of Jordan
4.97/5  rDev +29.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Copper and red hues. Fabulous aromas of prunes, brown sugar, and rich malts. Complex and 'juicey' mouthfeel. Full bodied, slight abrasive hop coarseness. A one of a kind. Delicious, delightful, a delicacy in beerdom.

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The Hairy Eyeball from Lagunitas Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.84 out of 5 with 2,768 ratings