Lagunitas The Hairy Eyeball Ale

Reviewed by on January 20, 2015 in Winter Guide

The Details

  • Brewery: Lagunitas Brewing Company

  • Origin: Petaluma, CA, US

  • Rated On: January 20, 2015

  • Best Before: Bottled November 5, 2014

  • ABV: 9.1%

  • Ideal Temperature: cool to cellar temperature

  • Style: American Strong Ale

  • Rating: GREAT !!

The Review

The Hairy Eyeball is touted as a ‘Perihelial Release’, i.e. at the point in time where the earth’s orbit is closest to the sun, which tends to happen in early January.  A patently counterintuitive concept, being that it’s the dead of winter here in the northern hemisphere, but instead of delving into more explicative science, let’s dive into this thinly veiled New Year’s hangover brew instead, shall we?

This 22oz bottle pours a clear, very dark chestnut brown colour, with orange brick highlights, and three trembling fingers of puffy, silken, and plainly foamy beige head, which leaves a scattered web of curlicue lace around the glass in its drawn-out wake.

It smells of toasty caramel malt, candy sugar, dense dark fruit, mild pine/citrus hops, a tame oily nuttiness, cherry cough medicine, and an edgy metallic alcohol burn. The taste is big caramel, toffee and treacle-flecked malt, vanilla and citrus cream, brown sugar (or should that be shugga’?), muddled black orchard fruit, ethereal (read: weak) mocha notes, wet pine hops, and stoopidly soft warming alcohol. The carbonation is quite understated, and barely supportive, the body just slightly short of full weight, with a nicely rounded smoothness, one that somehow, in the face of every potential pitfall here, plays right into a lilting creaminess. It finishes quite off-dry, the well-established sugary malt persisting, amongst a somewhat lamely tugging and blended hop bitterness, and some middling, but hardly astringent heat.

Seems like I’ve seen this all before from this brewery, but I’m not complaining in the least – not about a solid, strong, and oh-so well-made West Coast ale. Well, maybe the booze isn’t quite as well integrated (y’know, < 100%) as it usually is, but that’s just splitting hairs. I could see hitting maybe the remainder of a sixer of these, if perchance, I wanted to re-up my drink, and yet at the same time enjoy it all the way through.  Oh, and comical side label, as always – all I can say is, no matter where you are, it’s always a long way to East St. Louis.

Brady White



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