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Beer Review: A tongue lashing from Tongue Buckler

Review of: Tongue Buckler
Brewed By::
Ballast Point Brewing Company

Reviewed by:
On January 29, 2013
Last modified:January 29, 2013


This big imperial red boasts tons of thick malt and a heavy dose of earthy hops to create a strong red ale to warm your gut. Best paired with cold weather and a hearty meal.


It’s been a while since I completed a formal beer review, but the bottle I cracked open tonight inspired me to share my tasting journey. I picked up a bomber of Ballast Point’s big imperial red, Tongue Buckler. I’ve really been digging imperial red beers as of late so I was excited to see this on the shelf during a recent trip to Hyde Park Wine and Spirits. In addition to the style being intriguing Ballast Point is one of my favorite San Diego breweries (yeah, I gush about Sculpin and Victory at Sea all the time). Enough of the small talk – on to the beer!

First off, let me say this didn’t turn out how I expected. I guess I was thinking it would be something more along the lines of the more hop-forward Alesmith’s Yulesmith winter imperial red. However, this was a much more robust and hearty beer as evident from the moment I started to pour. It came out a thick, cloudy deep copper color. I could tell this brew had some heft to it. It left a near-perfect creamy tan head a couple of fingers big. The aroma was a little subdued but chock full of malt and earthy hops. This was certainly a preview of the flavor.

Again, different from what I was expecting as it was a big thick malt blast up front that then lead into a deep hop bitterness and finally a warm alcohol finish. This clocks in at 10% ABV which is noticeable as you drink through it. To be clear, it didn’t fit my preconceived notion but that doesn’t mean it was bad. It was pretty tasty in fact. As I worked my way through the bottle it really reminded my of a hoppy English Barleywine with the heavy hop bitterness on top of a chewy, thick malt bill. The cara-malts give just a hint of a residual sweetness one would expect in a red. While the bottle suggested it be enjoyed by 5/9/2013, I would be willing to risk a Hamilton on aging a bottle. I think this could mellow and get a little more complex over time.

Definitely worth a try on a cool day but don’t plan to pound one after cutting the grass.

P.S. – A shout out to Bell’s This One Goes to 11 as a favorite big red.

Mike Stuart

Craft beer enthusiast and hombrew dabbler. Part-time writer, sometimes funny.

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