The Hairy Eyeball | Lagunitas Brewing Company

very good
971 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 971 | Ratings: 2,750
Photo of EnojysAnyBeer
4.53/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Very dark, yet transparent. Garnet-red when held up to the light. Light brown at a glance. The head retains in a splotchy pattern and leaves bubbly sheets of lacing

S- Sweet, mellow bourbon essence created by vanilla and caramel fumes. Savory aromas of sweet potatoes and pumpernickel rye bread

T- The flavor is a masterpiece. It brings out the greatest aspects of beer and leaves all the rest lurking in the shadows. Too much for words. See for yourself with a sip. Would be a 5, but could use a darker roast profile.

M- Smooth and sticky with a slick, refreshing quality

D- I don't know what this beer is, but it works fine as a nightcap

 646 characters

Photo of greentam2
4.53/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A great darker, but not too dark ale, with a very clean taste, and notes of chocolate and cloves in the aftertaste. Fresh, but with some profound depth to the mid-taste, this beer is clearly crafted to be enjoyed by beer connoisseur. Would drink this anytime!

 259 characters

Photo of Scott4_
4.52/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I wish this wast not a seasonal beer! I really like this beer! I think it is barrel age
or bootle conditioned, it is very smooth. I am really picky about beer. I live in Europe and
enjoy dark beer. I have to wait til next year to buy some more. classic winter beer.

 266 characters

Photo of scottoale
4.52/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Hairy EYEBALL Ale label reads: Hear's Lookin' Atcha' ! LOL....and has the O.G.1.090 and an I.B.U. 56.7 as well as Alc 9% by Vol. Crack open and pour a DARK copper mahogany ale with hues of burgundy and a creamy tan colored, frothy two finger head that has incredible lacing...Yum!

The smell is even better with a malty caramel nose at first wiff. Deep rich, sweet smelling caramel malt with virtually no scent of detectable hops, kind of strange but it smells delicious.

The taste is even more so than the smell, it's got a balanced flavor of complexity, It starts sweet and malty just tantilizing your taste buds then just pans out with a warm smooth tasty (not bitter or sweet) finish. Gotta have more, I really, really like this stuff and normally I crave hops. The hops here are subtle, but they are definetly doing what they are supposed to do. With an I.B.U. of 56.7, you'ld expect a bit of hop bite, but not so.

It has a full body that fills the mouth and tingles a bit on the tongue. It's smooth, creamy and delicious and warming down to your tummy.

Being a stong ale drinker I find this to be a much too drinkable beer. This beer suits it's style to a "T", I don't think it gets much better than this...honestly. Drink with care, and ENJOY!

 1,265 characters

Photo of creepinjeeper
4.52/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber from 11/14 poured into a Solemn Oath snifter.

Look - deep rich dark red with fluffy white head. Head settles quickly into lacing.
Smell - big boozy alcohol, raisins,plums. A bit of toasted caramel.
Taste - sweet plums, raisins, some alcohol, more stone fruit. A tartness at the finish.
Feel - minimal carbonation tickle. Sticky slick body.
Overall - This beer makes me look forward to fall/winter. A really nice, tasty warmer/strong ale to take the chill out of any evening.

 489 characters

Photo of pjwilson
4.52/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

appearance: bright amber red color, very deep dark. Nice head

smell: smooth gingerbread malty smell, nice caramel. yeah, smells like cookies, for real.

taste: great, great beer. There is little to no hop flavor, but huge hop bitterness, in a good way. Most of the actual flavor comes from chocolatly tasting malts, more smooth malts with a puckering bitterness. Yet, down in a straight forward easy to comprehed way. I was gonna cellar this but why? I got the last 6 in sac so they told me and it won't last long...
edit: yeah, taste's like plums, figs, candy. Just a fantastic beer, unique and can't get enough of this stuff

mouthfeel: unbeatable quality for a beer of this strength, great mix of thick and thin. fuckin' great sipping beer, you know it's 9 percent because the bottle says so, but you don't care, it's so good you just keep rockin'.

drinkability: for a beer of this strength, completely in check. This isn't like Bigfoot, where or two bottles tops feels like the limit. This stuff is highly drinkable, only the bitterness hold you back....but it's so balanced it just works right.

I highly recomend this beer, I;m sure it would be good in a different way with some cellaring, but I don't think I need to wait because it's so good already.

 1,273 characters

Photo of pat61
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.

 649 characters

Photo of JohnLasher92
4.51/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served from 20 or so oz. bottle into large beer glass which was frozen. Pours a great head, medium lacing. Appearance is very dark (the darker the better).. The first sip packs a wallop - strong alcohol content paired with a rich, creamy taste that keeps you sipping. There is a subtle hoppy background. Delicious to the last bubbly drop. So far this is my favorite beer of the few I've had. I would drink it over and over again. Very well done from Lagunitas. Overall, I would highly recommend this brew to anyone who enjoys the darker variety.

 545 characters

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a tulip glass)

A- This beer pours a dense but clear deep brown body with a slightly red hint in the light. There is a gentle carbonation of tiny bubbles that glide to the spongy tan head. After a moment the head sags to a thick meniscus but last for most of the beer.

S- This beer has a smooth full malty nose with a slightly dry light caramel note and a faint coffee malt hint.

T- The taste of sweet lightly toasted malt has some caramel qualities and lightly roasted notes for support. There is a brown sugar note that fades to a soft pine note in the finish.

M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with a creamy texture and no real alcohol heat.

D- This beer has a nice big malt profile that is not too sweet and the alcohol is very well hidden. This makes a great sipper but it really catches up to you with the 8% ABV.

 844 characters

Photo of RickS95
4.5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The pour is a relatively clearish burgundy brown color. The color of a red wine, but on the clear side. The head slowly forms and when it does, it's a glorious sight of foamy peaks. Off white in color, this thing retains for quite a while. On the sides, a lovely sticky lace.

A malt bomb. Lots of dark malts that present an almost fruity scent as it warms. A hint of brown sugar in the nose. Not much in the way of hops and despite the load of malts and high ABV, there's not much alcohol scent.

This thing packs a flavor punch. All the malts come together and provide a boatload of earthy, grainy flavors. Kind of a toast, bready flavor with a splash of dark ripe fruit and an earthy taste from the hops.

It was still a little on the cold side when I had this, but it's got a nice balance between sweet up front and bitter in the finish. Again, the alcohol is never a bully, only making a cameo in warming, lingering finish. Despite the clearish complexion, it's full bodied and a bit on the creamy side.

Overall, this is top notch. For something so high in ABV, it's exceptionally easy to drink and goes down a bit too easy giving how strong it is. I bought bombers of this for $6 a piece. I stole them.

 1,225 characters

Photo of kencarman
4.5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is incredibly good. However, "American Strong?" Of course no such BJCP category, but even if elsewhere I would assume this would at least be more aggressive hop-wise. No: this is your good old Strong Scotch Ale with caramelization, Maris Otter and Munich-like goodness. Sweet malt dominates with complex profile malt wise and a slight bitter in the background.

No peated malt, but that that's NOT necessary for Scotch Ale.

Luxurious deep sweet malt flows over the palate seeking a home and leaving the mouth wanting more.

The alcohol is obvious, but only strong support as it licks the roof of the mouth reminding you, eh, "strong?"

 645 characters

Photo of Heavenisbeer
4.5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Lagunitas mason jar. Bought at the brewery.

A: Murky plum-hued root beer. Pours a finger head, which settles to 3 cm, but what spectacular looks, lacing, and staying power do those 3 centimeters have! The frothy goodness just stays and stays and stays, smothering the sides of the glass at the same time.

S: Wow, complex. Dark cherries, grape Juicy Juice (yep, that wondrous childhood drink from a can!), vanilla, prunes, and some veggie notes as it warms. Malty and boozy. No detectable hops.

T: This is sublime. Dark fruits lead the way (cherries and grape skin), then I get a jab of bitter chocolate (no where in the nose), some buttery flashes, and then some light wet hops. The alcohol blends amazingly well and adds a lot to the flavor profile. A bittersweet malt finish.

M: The Eyeball has one of the best feels I've ever experienced. I wish every beer had such an interesting and balanced MF. Thick and coating and creamy and warm, yet highly drinkable, with a perfect amount of muted carbonation.

 1,026 characters

Photo of rob99er
4.5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I loved this strong ale. Not a tongue buckler like Bastard, but that was fine by me. I was in the mood for a lighter strong ale. Very tasty and I'm going to get another bottle. Highly recommend.

 198 characters

Photo of Morris729
4.5/5  rDev +16.6%
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!

 1,669 characters

Photo of IntriqKen
4.49/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a black-amber with a nice white 2 one finger head that melts quickly to a beautiful lace which stays with the drink all of the way.
Aroma is sweet raisins...very much raisins with a little bit of chocolate.
Taste is as it smells but oh, so much more so. Definately raisins...definately chocolate....alcohol taste....nice bitterness follows. Really a nice balance for such a strong brew.
Mouthfeel is creamy but a little thin...I think because of the strong presence of alcohol.
Aftertaste of bitter chocolate, toasted malts, and alcohol.
This is really a very flavorful strong American ale.
Once a night is enough, but every night would be wonderful. ;-)
I have revisited this brew many times since my first review. It is now a year later and I love it more than ever.
Nothing has changed from my review with the exception of I might be discovering more and appreciating more.
Good stuff.

 909 characters

Photo of Kuaff
4.49/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

The Hairy Eyeball... in my snifter, cellar temperature.

This one has a two-finger off-white head and a clear, beautiful burgundy body.

It smells like tart dark fruits. Prunes and cherries, maybe. Also a subtle mango or pineapple thing going on. There might be a bit of slightly citric, earthy hops buried in the aroma, and it smells just a little like brandy. A hint of molasses? It's kind of hard for me to describe in full, but... it smells good. That's what matters.

The taste is quite fruity. The dark fruits - those same prunes and cherries - hit first. I get this earthy, hoppy breadiness moving toward the finish, but the aftertaste eventually turns to a dry, moderately bitter hoppiness with accents of brighter fruits. It makes me think of orange peel and... cranberries, believe it or not. It's that kind of bright, zesty, but drying fruitiness.

This stuff has a great feel to it. It's thick and syrupy! And the understated carbonation feels perfect for it.

While on the surface this beer seems to be malt-forward, it has an unmistakable Lagunitas-style hoppiness that all the brewery's beers seem to be endowed with. This is a complex, unique, and delicious amalgamation of hoppiness and maltiness. It's like some twisted cross between a Belgian strong dark ale, an American barleywine, and a double ipa. Outstanding.

 1,333 characters

Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.47/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball purchased from Boo's in Columbus, Ga.
Poured into a DFH shaped pint.
appearance - Dark brownish-orange with a full beige head.
smell - Fruity, and sweet with a hint of spice.
taste - Oh yeah! A creamy, malty, fruity spicy, near perfect mix.

 265 characters

Photo of 1whiskey
4.47/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What? No story on the label?

12 oz bottle poured into a wine tumbler. Dark mohagony color shows some crimson when held to light. Thick two finger head begins to diminish quickly.

Huge caramel nose with strong fruit notes of pineapple, fig, date, and raisin. Mmmm...

What a complex cornucopia in my mouth. Much more hop bitterness than the nose would reveal, this is actually fairly balanced. Clearly multiple hop varieties are being used, but fuggles(tea-like bitterness), or some sort of noble British variety, seem to stand out. Fruity, aromatic varieties evident in the nose are present as well. The balancing malt base is equally complex, toasted grain and sweet dates playing against mild spices, coffee, and brown sugar. Alcohol is not hidden, but somehow it works for this crazy beer. I'm not even sure what I'm tasting, I just know I like it. A lot.

Can something be chewy but only have a medium body? This does. Highly carbonated.

How drinkable is this? Despite the huge alcohol warming and prominant alcohol flavor, finishing one of these just makes me want another. Simply amazing.

Wow! An interesting and tough to categorize brew, no wonder it was put in with the catch-all "strong ale" category. It's like the bastard child of an English Brown and a Triple Eisbock, married to a winter warmer and secretly sleeping with a barleywine. The closest thing I can compare this to is Hair Of The Dog's Adam, and it's not really that close. Only Lagunitas could come up with this.

 1,504 characters

Photo of oelergud
4.47/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Short stubby brown 12oz glass bottle with a twist-off cap. Classic Lagunitas label which claims 9% ABV.
Beautiful mahogany ruby clear body with good carbonation. Creamy tan head with small bubbles. Good retention and lace.
Caramel and citrusy smell. Dark ripe cherries, banana and prunes, almonds with grassy hops and a touch of hay.
Sweet malty flavor with a spiked hop lining. Almonds, prunes, some cherry, vanilla and faint alcohol. The aftertaste is a stronger hop character, still spiked and more alcoholic..
Full body and some coating with a slick note. Slightly dry finish.
Very enjoyable and drinkable.


 622 characters

Photo of horshack7
4.47/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Very dark mahogany almost brown. A touch over a finger of head of which the head rentention is decent. As the head thins out a good ring of lacing remains.

Aroma: Up front is a solid amount of malty, bready sweetness with a touch of brown sugar. Towards the end is a wisp of fig and prunes grape skin way in the back.

Taste: Malts are certainly front and center in this one. Dark breadiness, ripe fruits prunes, figs and brown sugar showing up again. Mouthfeel is smooth but it does have a light bite even a little bit sticky and chewy.

Notes: This has quite the malty backbone a dam good cold weather beer. Cheers.

 630 characters

Photo of Lauthaha
4.47/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a dinner glass.

Appearance: Pours with the color of strongly brewed iced tea, with some very prominent ruby tones included in the color palette. Head is of moderate body, and sizzles down to a uniform paper-thin froth on top of the beer with a creamy white color.

Smell: An almost perfectly roasted caramel malt scent lays the foundation for some gentle fruity tones and a great combination of floral and bitter hops.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Beer has a very nice consistency with moderate foaminess. The alcohol is the first taste to emerge, but it's not overpowering by any means (which is a feat). Soon afterwards, the bitterness from the hops shines through, and it transitions very smoothly into malt sweetness/breadiness. Aftertaste is a great 75/25 mix of sweetness and bitterness.

Overall: A great beer! And deceptively high in alcohol by volume...I would never guess it was 9%...maybe 7% at the highest. Once again, Lagunitas has it under control!

 987 characters

Photo of ricke49
4.47/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

excellent offering from Lagunitas. "Strong Ale" just about sums it up. The balance between a barleywine style sweetness and a more hoppy offering is near-perfect. Great sipper. Lagunitas strikes again with a budget priced high ABV quality offering.

 252 characters

Photo of JamesBondGA
4.46/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice dark caramel color with over an inch head that leaves with a nice lacing on the glass. Nice Caramel and brown sugar notes. Smooth to drink.

 153 characters

Photo of twiggamortis420
4.45/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, very dark crimson color with a medium sized tan head that has great retention and decent lacing. I must say though, I like the old label better with the dog's 1 bulging eye.

This is bubblegum maximus with a hefty load of light apples, muscadine grapes and cantaloupe. I have never smelled as much bubblegum as there is in this beer. It's like one of those blue baby gum cigars when freshly opened. Crazy smelling beer.

Taste is not quite as gummy as the nose, but it is still there. Residual sugar sweetness is actually a good thing in this beer, as it helps keep the high alcohol and (what seem to be) high AA hops in check. Body is full, almost syrupy...but oh so easy to drink. This one is a beer geek's wet dream. Definitely recommended.

 773 characters

Photo of fropones
4.45/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - pours a nice dark coppery red with about half a finger of khaki head on top and leaving beautiful lacing.

S - Smells of pineapples and mixed berries. Some malt in there as well. Very inviting.

T - More berries and pineapple, some citrus fruit in there as well. Some figs towards the back. Some brown sugar as well. Pretty sweet and very delicious.

M - Med-full body and nice creamy. Very silky with a nice bit of dryness in the end from the alcohol.

D - Extremely drinkable and extremely delicious. Alcohol barely noticeable, was surprised to see 8.8%. Only bought a single bottle, will seek out more.

 609 characters

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

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.