Meet Karl Strauss and their Red Trolley Ale. I stumbled across these guys while at the BevMo Holiday Beer Festival in San Francisco a few weeks ago, and pretty much fell in love with their beer. Producing about 40,000 barrels/year at the moment, Karl Strauss is all over the west coast.
The Brewery’s namesake, Karl Strauss, was a German immigrant who made his life brewing for Pabst in Wisconsin. He remained there for 44 years, and after a brief retirement from the industry, couldn’t sit still. Karl Strauss Brewing Company was born in San Diego. He served as Brewmaster from 1989 until his passing in 2006.
Red Trolley used to be their holiday beer, a role it no doubt fulfilled quite well, but has been replaced with Strauss’ new Fullsuit Belgian-style brown (which I can’t WAIT to try, by the way). The beer pours a beautiful deep amber/red, with a fine, slow-dissipating head that is almost egg nog in color. I picked up notes of roasted malt on the nose, but not a whole lot else.
The beer is incredibly-full bodied – not at all like the standard Killians. Karl Strauss has done an excellent job with this red; it’s important to note that it’s quite easy to overdo the malt in this style. Not so with Red Trolley. This particular one has a strong roasted character – almost smoked, but it works quite well with the substantial malty base and nicely hopped finish.
The hops in this particular beer are subtle – the finishing hop was well chosen. For a red, this is a substantial beer. It hits the full palate without reservations, and finishes very pleasantly. Although heavy in the mouth, this beer does NOT weigh one down – thankfully – because I would like to drink a lot of it.
- Originality within style (19): Awesome Red. Differentiates itself from the pack.
- Nose (15): Caramel malt. That’s about it.
- Mouthfeel (18): Fantastically (is that a word?) full – but won’t sit in your stomach. Hard to beat.
- Character (19): Nicely hopped finish, and balanced roasted quality that keeps me wanting more.
- Overall Quality (19): No lack of ingredients in this one. And beautiful art on the label.
- Total (90): Perhaps my favorite Red Ale to date.
Beer: Karl Strauss Red Trolley Ale
Brewer: Karl Strauss – San Diego, California
Availability: Year-round, West Coast
Reviewed by: Jameson Huckaba (twitter: @jamesonhuckaba)