Hairy Eyeball is a seasonal Strong Ale released each November, marketed as a hangover cure “especially formulated for when you wake up feelin’ like you need to shave your eyeballs to see the new day.” On the nose, sweet caramel malts, almond macaroons, cantaloupe, orange, apple cider, and pine needles.
The palate opens up like a fruit salad filled with orange, grapefruit, plum, and pineapple. Bready sweet malts lay it all out thick up front with plenty of caramel, brown, sugar, and molasses. A light roast gently builds over flavors of cake with traces of chocolate. Hops soon shine through with grapefruit highlights, followed quickly by an herbal (pine) influence from below. Spicy complexities soon come to mind, suggesting cinnamon, clove, and ginger spice. The alcohol surfaces with a vinous character, leaving a tart note flavored like sherry or cherries behind in its wake, departing with faint phenolic spice. The mouthfeel is nearly full-bodied, creamy with a gentle shift from wet into dry.
I think this is a decadent beer best suited best for those with a sweet tooth. I’m not that impressed with this, because I think it lacks the sort of balance I desire, being a little too sweet for my preference in a Strong Ale. The malts are on the sweet side, and the hops fail to compete, so it comes off tasting much more like a Barleywine. It’s not necessarily one I’d like to revisit, but I’m glad I tried it. There are plenty of awesome Strong Ales out there, so unfortunately I can’t recommend it.