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Hairy Eyeball Ale | Lagunitas Brewing Company

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Hairy Eyeball AleHairy Eyeball Ale

Brewed by:
Lagunitas Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.40%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-12-2002

For Trade:
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Reviews: 957 | Ratings: 2,651
Photo of donnebaby
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Looks are dark brown with slightly clear, ruby tints. White, cream foam top. Nothing wildly impressive..

Nose is toasted coffee, but light, with touches of caramel and pungent molassas.

Taste revolts going-bad molassas in pungentness, of slimy toasted malt, molassas, and caramel. Resin. There's something of light hops in the toastiness which creates nice complexity in the mouth and after. Fairly drinkable.

Not that great. And I usually hope for more taste and complexity in a barleywine.

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Photo of allengarvin
3.96/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Lovely clear mahogany color, with a tan head.

Aroma: Low toffee-like malt aroma with a slight nose of citrus hops.

Flavor: Creamy and rich malt flavor, reminiscent of brownies, with a strongly bitter hop presence. Hop flavor is rooty, earthy, and somewhat spicy. Caramel notes are somewhat evident at the end, despite the drying of the hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body, actually quite light considering the strength. Full, but not heavy, in otherwords.

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Photo of Dmann
4.68/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Top notch stuff here people. When I poured this beer it was a very dark amber red with a great head that left large ammounts of lacing around the glass. The smell was unique with a mix of carmel malts, various spices and a touch of cedar. This beers flavor was unique as well with a good dose of carmel malt sweetness which opens up into a nice subtle hop bitterness and spice flavors. The mouthfeel is nice and airy and complements the beer very nicely. This is another good beer from lagunitas.

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Photo of BrewMaster
3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I tasted this beer because I like a lot of Lagunitas beers, but moreso because of the ingenious name. It pours a dark red with very little head development. Swirling the glass brings more of the foam out, but it dissipates quikly. The aroma is full of caramel flavors along with a non-descript hop scent and a bit of a cinnamon roll scent. The flavor is very malty with a light hop bitterness at the end. It feels and tastes a bit sandy on the palate with nores of cotton candy and sweet fruits and banana. Overall it's a decent barley wine but it really didn't spark any great desire to have it again. Being an English Barley Wine it is not surprising that the hops are a bit more mellow than an American Barley Wine.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12 ounce brown glass bottle with a dark metallic blue twist off crown cap. Cartridge paper quality main label like that in the BA avatar. Listed as O.G. 1.090, Alc 9% by Vol (interestingly the Lagunitas website listed this at 8.8%!!) and I.B.U. 56.7. There is a printed number on the sloping bottle neck but it’s smudged beyond legibility.

Appearance: Dark ruby red with a light haze and some burnished aged copper traits. Decent tan head forms readily from the pour at least 1” deep and thick. Large bubbled surface soon smoothes out as it rescinds. Average carbonation levels.

Nose: Toasted caramel, toffee marshmallows and a grainy whisky odor fill the mouth of my Glass. Whiffs of high alcohols with a somewhat clinical dimension when chilled, which rounds nicely as it warms. Sharp hop aromas.

Taste: Toasted malts, caramel and some brown sugar sweetness at first. Dry alcohol soaked fruit cake middle, with a bitter hop character in the finish. The alcohol rises in the end and reminds you that it’s 9%, or 8.8% depending if you believe the Lagunitas Bottle Label or Website. Either way the spicy finish is warming and tasty, as well as having a lingering sunset hop bite.

Mouthfeel: Nice chewy feel as it warms with some malty caramel toasty bits in the death. Solid, feels like a Barleywine but belies the 8.8-9% alcohol.

Drinkability: Much better and smoother when it reaches room temperature. Solid warming brew that drinks well and makes a great nightcap brew.

Overall: Here’s Lookin’ Atcha’! Beer Speaks. People Mumble.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.23/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12/24/04- Taken from notes in October of this year. Poured on tap at the Toronado in San Francisco, CA

Presentation- Random pint glass pour.

Appearance- Opaque brown pour with a nice creamy head and very nice lacing.

Smell- Brings to mind the smell of a belgiun. Some dark fruits such as raisins, plums, figs, dates and caramel. A bit to much alcohol in the scent for me.

Taste- Very malty with a sweet chocolate mixed in. Lots of those dark fruits also. Mainly a raisin taste. The hops come into play also. Along with the alcohol which is definitely present.

Mouthfeel- Damn, I feel full after this one beer. I'm going to have another though soon. Pretty lightly carbonated, which is a plus for this type of beer in my book.

Drinkability- Quite and interesting beer with lots of good qualities. The alcohol is very pronounced though. I only had one this trip, but should have had another because it really was a good and interesting beer.

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Photo of beerceller99
4.63/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle from late 2003. Has a copper color as I decant the contents. Nice two finger head which sticks around leaving a beautiful lace. Malty sweet smells along with floral hops.Taste is caramel sweetness balanced by perfumy floral hops with a alcohol bite in the background. Full bodied, the mouthfeel is rich and creamy.
This brew already tastes like a well aged barley wine. Excellent.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep ruby color topped by a creamy tan head. In the aroma I get notes of crystal malt, and a hint of citrusy hops at the end. Aroma has notes of toasted/ biscuit malt as well. Wow, a smooth creamy body greets my tongue as I take the firs sip of this beer. It is lightly sweet up front and finishes with a fruitiness that reminds me of raisins. There is a slight bit of bitterness in the finish, just enough to provide a foil to the maltiness that is the center-point of this beer. This beer is a very nice, well balanced beer. It is so smooth and well integrated. If you like malt accented strong ales witha bit of balancing hops, then this beer is for you

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured crystal clear deep amber brown. The head was off white and fell quickly to the edges of the surface, but laced the glass.

The aroma was malty and sweet with dark fruits as the predominate aroma. In the background is caramel and perhaps a slight bit of chocolate.

The flavor was well balanced with malt and hops. The hopping keeps the malt from becoming cloying, and dark malts like chocolate definitely make up the grist.

The finish was dry and hop bitter, but well done. The body was full.

22 ounce bottle. Very nice to drink and pleasant flavors reside. Not very complex, but that does not detract from a very nice beer.

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Photo of Zorro
4.38/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear but very dark brown brew.

Smell is very malty with hints of a floral hop scent.

Taste is sweet with an earthy oak flavor to this on first taste. Bitter hops assert themselves after the first taste. Flavor mellows after that in to a very strong English style ale. The malt flavors never quite go away. A good compromise choice between Malt lovers and hop heads. Alcohol content is completely hidden.

Mouthfeel is very full.

Very drinkable brew, only negative to it might be its strength of flavor and alcohol. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

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Photo of BierReise
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz Bomber, No Date Poured a deep amber with a thick head. Raisins in the aroma along with yeast, doughy malt and caramel. Full body that is smooth and soft. This one's got alot of malt in the flavor. The hops are bittering it quite a bit but not pronounced in flavor. Not a bad thing though, flavor is solid. Malty and a slight fruitiness with lots of hop bittering. Lagunitas is a major league player. One of the best out west in my opinion.

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Photo of kbub6f
4.38/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Noisy, dark yellowish tan, crusty head. Dark, dark red-brown beer. Deep fruity, hoppy, tangy, caramel/toffee nose. Huge hoppy, alcoholic, buttery, grainsy front. Chewy, chewy, malty middle. Some chocolate, not too sweet. Roasty, grainsy, bitter finish. Alcohol warming. Man, I like this beer a lot. It's a nice, big malt (but not too sweet), big hop badboy.

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Photo of BeerAngel
4.57/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful clear yet dark mahogany color with a massive tan head that lingers for quite some time. The blended scent of a light fruit, butter, roasted chocolate malt, and hops are combined superbly! The taste is a well balanced complex mix of roasted chocolate malt, light raison sweetness, just the right amout of hops. This is a medium bodied brew that finishes lightly sweet. This is a VERY good beer! The only thing that sort of slows me down drinking this one is it's richness. Almost like eating extremely rich fudge...it's delicious, but not too much.

Notes: So far this is by far my favorite brew from Lagunitas. It's smooth rich complex character is like a meal in a bottle. I will definitely have this brew again.

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Photo of francisweizen
4.13/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber bottle. A lovely rusty mahogony colour with a nice white/off white head of thick white foam. The aromas are a bit subdued, but very malty in nature. The hops are in there as well, but they are in the background a bit. This smells sweet and boozy, with some lovely roasted malt notes as well. Nice. The taste is very full. Malty and sweet up front with a distinct roastiness as well. The mouthfeel is thick and almost syrupy/chewy and the drinkability is damn excellent. Man, is this a good brewery or what?

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Photo of Rumrunner
4.13/5  rDev +7%
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 +9.1%
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 +17.4%
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 +20.5%
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 +5.2%
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 +13.5%
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 +12.2%
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.

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Photo of Reidrover
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ok another "find" at my local organic food store.."Perihelial Release"..no 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%
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 -4.1%
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 -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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Hairy Eyeball Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 2,651 ratings.
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