Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball Ale: Why So Skeptical?

I don’t really understand why Lagunitas decided to name their excellent ale the “Hairy Eyeball.”  See the phrase giving someone the Hairy Eyeball is used to indicate skepticism, or disapproval.  Well this beer was very good, and was so from the first sniff to the last drink, and everywhere in between.  So why the name?  Perusing the Lagunitas web site, gave no clues, and only served to confuse me.  There is a tab called stories, and there is an eyeball trilogy on there, but it was some crazy story of an eyeball and a hairball on a bar in Cincinatti.  It made absolutely no sense, I figured someone must have written them while drunk and they thought it was funny to post it on their site.

So I’m not really sure why this brew is called Hairy Eyeball, but it definitely needs a better name…

The pour on this ale was a rich brown color with a creamy tan head and amber highlights in the glass.  The head never got really huge, but it was always there and left a lot of lacing on the glass as I drank it.

The nose on this brew was promising.  It had a lot of malty sweetness, but was balanced out nicely with a pungent hop bite.  There wasn’t much else here, a pretty straight forward beer.

The flavor is where this brew shines.  It started out with a sharp bite to the tongue with a very bitter quality but then turns to a big malty sweetness, all the while with an incredible creamy mouthfeel.  The overall flavor was actually a little complex with the creamy mouthfeel, the change in flavors and a surprising dry and clean finish that waited until I was almost finished with the brew until there was any residual flavor on my palate.

I just want to go on record here that I really appreciate the fact that I could enjoy this brew cold.  It seems like lately with all the stouts and porters I have been drinking that you need to let them warm up to enjoy the full flavor and mouthfeel of the brew.  This had it straight out of the fridge, and coming into the warmer months I appreciate a beer that drinks well cold with a great mouthfeel and big flavors below 40 degrees.

So to recap, I don’t get the name, this is a great beer with a great mouthfeel, and has lots of flavor cold!  I think this is a winner for me.  I’m buying it again.  That is two for two from this west coast brewery.  I’m looking forward to my next Lagunitas brew.


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13 Comments on “Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball Ale: Why So Skeptical?”

  1. March 17, 2010 at 12:07 pm #

    This is one of the best beers I’ve had in the past few months (and I’ve had alot). My local beer store has been keeping me happy by reordering it so I keep buying. The name confuses me as well but I get a kick out of it nonetheless.

    • Don
      March 17, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

      Hey Billy, I think that it is actually a seasonal, so I really don’t understand that. I think this could be a great daily drinker.

  2. March 17, 2010 at 12:18 pm #

    Hairy Eyeball was pretty good stuff. I loved the uniqueness of the flavor, but I was admittedly spoiled by having it follow a month of tasty IPA’s. My review of it –

    Do they sell this outside of the brewery? I haven’t seen bottles anywhere else.

    • Don
      March 17, 2010 at 12:20 pm #

      They do sell out of the brewery. I bought my bottle at Brewforia in Boise, and I know the Coop has it as well, so the answer is yes. I’ll check out your review.

  3. @BeerPoet
    March 17, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    Liked Hairy Eyeball Myself. The name does indicate that it’s going to be a much different beer than it is. Lots of flavor but balanced and smooth. I was expecting something much more in your face. Pleasantly surprised.

    • Don
      March 17, 2010 at 2:35 pm #

      It was very balanced, and smooth and drinkable. I found that to be the most impressive part based on the fact that it is also 8.83 % ABV, which might indicate a more in your face type approach, but it is a well crafted brew.

      • March 17, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

        With a sneaky-smooth ABV over 8, you could wake with hairy eyeballs.

        • Don
          March 17, 2010 at 3:09 pm #

          Or for sure crusty ones!

  4. March 17, 2010 at 3:24 pm #

    This brew was just so so for me…the more I drank it, the more it grew on me though. My opinion of Lagunitas has grown over the past year. They have been putting out affordable, decent seasonals. I actually contacted the brewery today to try and get some info.

    • Don
      March 17, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

      I know that Mike thinks a lot of their brews aren’t very good, but I have to say that they are two for two with me. I’m thinking I need to try Wilco Tango Foxtrot next. WE’ll see I just picked up the Southern Tier Cherry Saison, Goose Island’s Matilda, a Left Handed Milk Stout, and Ommegang’s Hennepin yesterday and it kind of blew the budget for this pay period. But like you say the Lagunitas is pretty affordable so I might pick one up anyway.

  5. March 18, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    Saw a 6 pack of this at the beer store last night. Probably should have picked it up…

    • Don
      March 18, 2010 at 10:09 am #

      Yeah, probably would have been a good idea. Maybe if you read the blog every once in a while?…Just sayin’

  6. February 13, 2011 at 3:16 am #

    Your review of Laginitas Hairy Eyeball Ale was featured as the Random Review at <a href=""

    Thanks a lot. You guys do good work.


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