Karl Strauss Brewing Company
from United States (California)
158th highest rated brewery (of 635)
Highest RatedBoardwalk Black Rye (87 / 100) Average score68 / 100 (Solid)
Lowest RatedWreck Alley Imperial Stout (59 / 100) Number Tried12
Aurora Hoppyalis IPA
Reviewed by Jez on 29.03.17 in bottle
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)
22oz brown bomber purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.

Pours a rather pale, but pleasantly hazed yellow colour, with a fine, fairly persistent white head that leaves some mild streaks of lacing. Body is fairly light and fluid, with fast-moving but fine-bubbled carbonation. Looks decent.

Nose is generically pleasant. It's not a strong, in-your-face hop aroma, but there's pleasant leafy notes, that give off some herbal qualities like crushed basil and lemon verbena. Under it is a faintly grassy grain note, possibly from a malt bill that largely consists of pale base malts. It's pretty good though.

Taste is pretty decent as well. It's clean and light for the most part, but it doesn't sacrifice balance. Instead, the hops are also restrained, leaving a subtle frost of bitterness across the mid to back palate, that dissolves as a powdery citrus flavour. Aftertaste is quite smooth, with just a touch of sweetness.

Feel is very light, and the carbonation is low, but it works well enough and again emphasises that sense of being low-key but balanced.

Overall, it's a serviceable, if not terribly exciting IPA. It's well-made, and there are some nice things about it: the lightness, the cleanness helps the drinkability, for instance. You do have to wonder though, even if just a little bit, what yet another IPA is doing in Karl Strauss's range, and in the market in general.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.75
Big Barrel Double IPA
Reviewed by Jez on 27.12.13 in bottle
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
22oz bomber purchased somewhere in Northern California. Brought back to Sydney and shared with @LaitueGonflable.

Pours a deep golden colour with a full weight to the body. Mildly hazed, but mostly pretty clear. Head is pocked, filmy and white, leaving some fairly fine specks of lace. Pretty full. Carbonation is also pretty fine. Looks very good all up.

Nose is pleasant enough. Resiny characters come through above a bright but light barley sugar character. Some soapy lemon comes through, leaving a slight rusty twang in the nostrils. Peppery spice is also noticeable, while the barley sugar character turns a bit doughy as it warms up.

Light and sweet on the front palate, more of that sugar note, before a little greenery comes through the mid-palate, along with a touch of herbs and a faint citrus bite. Clean finish, which is actually something of a shame, because it could really use more bite. Just a slight soda tingle on the back. ABV is well hidden at least.

Overall, this isn't bad. There's certainly things to like in it. It could use a bit more complexity: specifically, some more integrated complexity. Still, this is a solid brew, clearly well-made. I'd love to try it super-fresh as well.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.75
Wreck Alley Imperial Stout
Reviewed by Jez on 05.10.13 in bottle
Overall:
59 / 100
(Decent)
22oz bomber purchased from BevMo in Menlo Park, CA. Shared with Rich in Sydney.

Pours a deepish brown, surprisingly supple and with a clarity at the edges. Body is loose and fine and holds some carbonation in a haphazard sort of manner. Head forms a fine ring of muddy brown that doesn't leave much lacing. Looks decent enough though.

Nose is pleasant, if a little generic for an impy stout: plenty of roast, plenty of malty sweetness, with a stretched grainy quality. Slight sweet-savoury toasty character, with a vague coffee sharpness around the back. There's a bit of booze to it, but it's arrested by the roasty character. Pleasant enough.

Taste is similar. Slight toasty roastiness with a pretty generic sweetness that probes through the front to the back and leaves its mark on everything. Finish is vaguely toasty, with a hint of tobacco smoke.

Feel is smooth enough, but containing that vague lightness that somehow permeates.

Overall, this is a pretty lacklustre imperial stout. It's certainly flavoursome—it would be hard not to be while remaining in the style, but I want something more in such a beer. Indeed, I find it hard to believe this even got to 9.5% ABV: beers of this strength are rarely this insipid.

appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.25
Big Barrel Double IPA
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 20.09.13 in bottle
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a vibrant orange colour. Bit of cloud. Head is off-white, sparse bubbling but nice uneven lace. Pleasant.

Smells extremely nutty. Caramel toffee, sweet, earthy, peanut brittle, hazelnut toffee, some citrus zest, salted caramel and marzipan. Sweet more than zesty. Is that a problem? Maybe a slight one.

Taste is a bit cardboardy. Possibly oxidised? Tastes caramel toffee, malty upfront, then gets metallic midway, some slightly old herbs, rocket, some citrus tang. Bitter, bit of freshness but has an empty stale woody flavour as well.

Bit tingly, bit of body to it. OK.

Tastes a bit old, some nice notes but a bit meek. Will attempt to re-try, if possible.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.5
Pintail Pale Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 06.07.13 in bottle
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
355ml bottle purchased from Dan Murphy's in Alexandria. Yeast sediment in the bottle, which I left there.

Pleasant deep orange colour, almost copper in hue, with a very fine, pleasant pale orange-tinged beige head. Lacing is patchy, but solid and streaky where it forms. Body is quite light and fluid, but it holds some decent fine carbonation when tilted. Overall, it looks pretty good.

Pithy pine and lemon nose, hint of barley sugar, some honey and a slight ginger tone. Pleasantly fragrant when swirled, a bit of resin comes forward along with some peppery spice. It's very pleasant.

Taste is lighter and slightly sweeter than expected, although it starts out quite well. Pleasant clean, crisp entry, some leafy hop characters and a mild neutral malt character open it out. Mid palate is where things go slightly awry, with a touch of coconut and a slight buttery character coming in ever so subtly. Under this is still the main thrust of clean mild hops and base malt, but those other characters (while very faint) do detract significantly from the taste overall.

Feel is good—clean and light and crisp, but with enough body to keep it going and to balance the hops.

Overall, this is a very decent brew. It's clean and crisp for the most part and has pleasantly bright flavours which provide interest and drive. Sure, there are those minor flaws, but while they provide a slight splinter in the works, they don't really affect the overall beer, which is pretty tasty.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 3.5
Tower 10 IPA
Reviewed by Jez on 21.04.13 in bottle
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)
330ml brown bottle purchased with two other Karl Strauss beers from Dan Murphy's in Alexandria.

Pours a pleasant light golden colour with a firm and persistent, almost creamy head of vanilla white. Lacing is specked intricately and all about the place. Body is relatively, light, but holds a very nice fine carbonation. Overall, it looks good.

Nose is brash, sharp and direct from the outset: big clean lemon-citrus hops with a leafy undertone to give some breadth. Some sweet sherbet characters give some juicy tones, while there's a slightly flat malt tone that seems to be there only because it was forced to come along by its parents. But no matter, the hops are the life of this beer and they're lively and exciting.

The taste, however, reins in a lot of these big exciting hop characters. Mild entry with a slight peppery bite, before some fleshy malt provides a structure that nothing really seems to want to fill. Wavering to fleeting hop bitterness has a somewhat English flavour to it: some earthy, herbal notes and a tannic flavour. Finish is quite empty and a little flat. It's fine, but it needs more oomph, especially after the nose was so pungent.

Feel is smooth, but is hampered by the lack of really exciting flavour. It doesn't really have anything to do here.

But, overall, this is actually good stuff. If nothing else, I can just breath in the heady aromas. And if the palate is a little flat: well, that just may just make it more approachable, and something I'd be happy to drink more often.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Red Trolley Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 21.04.13 in bottle
Overall:
71 / 100
(Very Good)
Having tried a couple of Karl Strauss special release brews in California, I thought I'd check out some of their regular range that are now making their way to Australia. Purchased from Dan Murphy's in Alexandria.

Pours a lovely deep, slightly bronzed red colour, which matches the colour on the label rather nicely. Head forms a solid fine crest of beige, and settles out to a decent persistent ring. Carbonation is fine, and there's some weight behind the body. It's nice.

Nose is quite grainy, with a thin toffee sweetness backing it up. Some leafy-sweet and slightly earthy hops behind it, especially when the beer is swirled, and a marmalade sweet-citrus note. I'm actually liking it more as it goes along, and it makes a pleasant departure from the hopped up red I was expecting.

Taste is similarly less hoppy than expected, with more grainy notes and a light body. But there's subtle complexities here. The grain has a wholesome character to it, digestive biscuits and whole grains, mingling with some marzipan, a little honeyed sweetness and some pleasantly biting ester characters on the back: it might just be the hint of extra booze, but it provides a bit of a cut on the finish which is nice.

Feel is light, but solid enough.

Overall, this is pretty drinkable stuff. Once I got over the lack of hops, and realised that this was a very determined choice, it was clear that this was a pretty well-crafted brew. Though the flavours might be subtle, they're there to be explored. I enjoyed it.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Boardwalk Black Rye
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 06.11.11 in bottle
Overall:
75 / 100
(Excellent)
Pours a very dark brown with mahogany edge up to the light. Head is nice and generous at first, dissipates to a sparse film but lovely lace left behind. Sensing a good body here, but yeah, looks nice.

Smells very boozey, but it's a nice character. Lots of coconut, sweet vanilla and marzipan nuttiness. Touch of honey, and a hint of bourbon at the back. Yeah, very pleasant though; nutty and sweet. Good use of rye.

Taste is also very nutty. A bit dry, really, with lots of slightly sour notes of roasted peanuts, macadamias and dark chocolate on the back. Plenty of nutty notes from the rye turns it almost savoury with a slight saltiness, marzipan and hint of brown sugar. Not as big or as boozey as I'd expected but a nice blend of lighter and darker grains for an interesting sweet palate.

Full, smooth, slightly hot from the booze but pretty nice anyway.

Nice beer with good characters. Quite intriguing, could use a little less booziness on the nose and feel.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Whistler Imperial Pils
Reviewed by Jez on 13.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
62 / 100
(Decent)
Fizzes quite heavily on the pour, leaving a rather flat looking brew, deep golden in colour, with a lot of weight to the body and a lot of haze. Really looks disappointingly flat when held to critical appraisal, but the colour looks fine and the heft is appropriate; it looks chewy enough, but still flows smoothly.

Nose is deep and slightly sweet, with more heft and more booze than I expected. In some senses, it gets this slightly sweet-acidic orange note, which reminds me of an IPA, but the thickness and sweetness suggests something more like a dessert wine. There's certainly minimal crispness, which I'd like to see in an pilsener, even an imperial one.

Taste taste has a little more bitterness, but again, lacks crispness. Instead, the big body gives it a slick, gooey sweetness that only subsides when the onrush of boozy heat comes through on the back. This, in its way, is a type of crispness, in that it startles the palate in to wakefulness, but it's still not ideal.

I'll admit I've still never found an Imperial Pilsener that matches up with what I think the style should be like, and unfortunately, this follows the trend. I'd love more crispness, more directness, and sharper, brighter palate, but still bursting with enormous flavours

Some day....

appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Boardwalk Black Rye
Reviewed by Jez on 08.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
87 / 100
(Exceptional)
Pours a dark, devilish black colour, with a fine, slightly filmy, but solid enough head of yellowish mocha coloured foam. Lacing is intricate and fine. Body is actually quite light, and the beer is strangely translucent at the edges. Otherwise, a fine looking beer.

Nose is extremely pleasant, with a lovely blend of fresh citric hop characters and spicy dark rye notes. Together, it gives this nuanced, deep and complex hoppy aroma, that is layered and sophisticated. You can sense the darkness as well, but the rye is the main contributor other than the hops. And boy it's pleasant.

Taste is also excellent, with a smoothness from the malt skittering off course with the biting, citric fresh hop characters and the earthy, aromatic and slightly tart rye character. It gives this lovely conglomerate of flavours, at once fresh and lively and grounded and earthy.

The feel is excellent: smooth, but surprisingly light for the volume and the level of flavour. It allows the characters to come through fully, but never feels like it's not supporting them enough.

What a great beer. Rye is a marvellous addition here, giving an extra layer of complexity on top of an already layered and complex beer. The style calls for jarring dichotomies, and this beer has them, but also drags everything together into a coherent whole.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5