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21st Anniversary Belgian Strong Ale Aged With Old Vine Zin Grapes - Karl Strauss Brewing Company

Not Rated.
21st Anniversary Belgian Strong Ale Aged With Old Vine Zin Grapes21st Anniversary Belgian Strong Ale Aged With Old Vine Zin Grapes

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
85
very good

46 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 46
Reviews: 37
rAvg: 3.81
pDev: 13.12%
Wants: 5
Gots: 4 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Karl Strauss Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  10.40% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: gthornton on 02-01-2010)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 46 | Reviews: 37 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.05/5  rDev -19.9%

Thanks to GRG1313 for sharing this one at drewone's tasting.

Pours a clear honey orange-brown with a foamy tan head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, honey, cardboard, and dark fruit aromas. Taste is much the same with brown sugar, dark fruit, and cardboard flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of earth bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is an average beer that is past its prime and showing some oxidation, but it is still fairly decent.

Serving type: bottle.

UCLABrewN84, Aug 24, 2014
Photo of drewone
3.7/5  rDev -2.9%

drewone, Aug 24, 2014
Photo of Rado
3.95/5  rDev +3.7%

Rado, Aug 24, 2014
Photo of GRG1313
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%

GRG1313, Aug 24, 2014
Photo of beagle75
3.44/5  rDev -9.7%

Poured from a bomber into a tulip glass.

A: Clear, medium amber color with an incomplete peripheral ring of loose parchment-tinted bubbles. Light lacing remains on the glass.

S: Fermented grain with some residual caramelized sugars present. Fruit is nuanced and difficult to tease apart from the relatively tame Belgian yeast that appears to be of Abbey origin. No alcohol is detected.

T: Begins off-dry, with refined aromatic malt and assertive dark fruit that is more estery than vinous. The middle is supple and earthy, with oxidation evident in the form of an additional musty layer that does not seem out of place. Sweetness becomes elevated slightly during the second half of the flavor profile. Dark crystal malt, treacly and a bit roasted, is soft and wholesome in the finish where earth and lesser dark fruit are retained. No alcohol is detected.

M: Medium viscosity, soft and slightly syrupy on the palate, with low carbonation.

D/O: This high gravity ale exhibits a passing resemblance to quadrupel-style Belgian beers, while also integrating grapes effectively into the sensory profile. It demonstrates that a beer brewed with grapes is destined to taste less like wine in the final judgment than a beer aged in a wine barrel. While the characteristics imparted by the grapes are not unwelcome, they may lead one to question whether grapes make for the best adjunct; their taste and smell is rather generic. Still, this beer is inoffensive and easy to consume for its strength, with no sharp edges to fatigue the palate.

beagle75, Feb 23, 2014
Photo of Photekut
3.25/5  rDev -14.7%

Photekut, May 19, 2013
Photo of t0rin0
3.25/5  rDev -14.7%

t0rin0, Oct 17, 2012
Photo of tjfinkle
4/5  rDev +5%

tjfinkle, Apr 10, 2012
Photo of ygtbsm94
3/5  rDev -21.3%

ygtbsm94, Feb 11, 2012
Photo of djaeon
5/5  rDev +31.2%

djaeon, Jan 22, 2012
Photo of jmarsh123
2.83/5  rDev -25.7%

Pours a murky reddish brown with a wispy white head.

Smells of some sweet malts and vanilla along with some dry white wine. Really wish the grapes were more prominent.

Wood, sweet malts and vanilla again dominate the flavor. As it warms the grape juice flavor comes in more, but it doesn't mix well at all. It's just odd. Alcohol is present as well as it finishes a bit boozy.

Thick and chewy. Outstanding mouthfeel with medium-low carb level.

Disappointed in this one. It wasn't at all what I expected. Too sweet and the grape presence contrasted completely with the other flavors going on.

jmarsh123, Nov 20, 2011
Photo of ineva
4/5  rDev +5%

ineva, Nov 18, 2011
Photo of mactrail
4.33/5  rDev +13.6%

Rich and grapey, but a medium mouthfeel. Alcohol keeps it from being too sweet. Hot but mellow. Crazy stuff, but it's a good example of why we keep reaching for flavored beers. Nice nose of vanilla and sweet vermouth. Lovely copper color with strong lacing in the snifter. Fruity yet crisp, candy but a clean, refreshing flavor. Long warm aftertaste of butterscotch with just enough yeasty Belgian rough stuff.

I think if the CBS and KBS fanatics tasted this, KS would get more respect. Big barrel-aged flavors without going totally for the booze.

mactrail, Oct 28, 2011
Photo of rand
4.25/5  rDev +11.5%

From 22 oz bomber to tulip glass

A: Pours a dark ruby-red in color, clear, with a cavernous 1-inch head that recedes fairly quickly. Scant lacing remains after a gentle twirl, surprising for a frothy head.

S: Expecting vinous grape notes up front, the bouquet is surprisingly dominated by sweet bread, wood, and vanilla. Touches of candied and ripened fruit linger, as plenty of alcohol volatiles propel the bouquet.

T: Again, the woody, vanilla tones are noted first. These blend nicely the boozy, bready complexion. Given that wood and vanilla are fairly neutral flavors, plenty of depth and nuance can be perceived. The grapes are there, but just. Dates and figs as well. Cinnamon and orange zest play a part. The boozy character adds plenty of body and flavor, but I would have never guessed this was 10%. Finishes sweet but surprisingly clean.

M: Unexpectedly chewy. I was expecting something a little more diluted in body, given the added grapes (think Victoria or Victor by Allagash), but not here.

Probably the best beer I've had from Karl Strauss so far. Wow, they've really stepped up their game - after moving to San Diego and sampling some of their lesser offerings, I dismissed them for years. Looking forward to more surprises from this brewery.

rand, Aug 16, 2011
Photo of trappistlover
3.3/5  rDev -13.4%

(22oz bottle). Pours a mahogany color with off-white head and decent lacing. Small carbonation bubbles. Smells wine-y with vanilla and raisins. Definitely getting the alcohol in there. Taste is sweet-almost port-like with some sourness. Hops are barely noticeable. Not quite full bodied, but almost. Thisis a slick, sticky beer with soft carbonation. Finish is quite long as far as wine/raisin/port flavors go. Alcohol is already warming the throat and chest.

trappistlover, Jun 30, 2011
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.48/5  rDev -8.7%

Muddy pumpkin with a slight reddish glow when backlit with the rising sun outside my front window. Three full fingers of golden khaki colored foam were created on the pour and don't look to be in a hurry to depart. More lace than expected (in ragged rings) is a nice touch.

The nose is shockingly weak. Belgian yeast esters and Zinfandel grape juice are nowhere to be found. This big brew smells more like a brown ale than a BSDA or an American strong ale. Here's hoping warming improves things a little. Note: it doesn't.

Better on the palate, but not amazingly so. My relatively high hopes for this anniversary ale were because Big Barrel DIPA was such a pleasant surprise. We aren't talking bad beer here, but the depth and complexity that this style typically delivers has not been achieved.

On a positive note, the 10.4% ABV is hidden remarkably well and the beer should age relatively gracefully for at least another year. With respect to the flavor profile, think Imperial brown ale with slightly more fruitiness (fig jam) and a smattering of Belgian yeastiness. Still not getting the red grape vinousness that was promised.

Mouthfeel, along with appearance, is this offering's finest feature. It's medium-full without being heavy or sticky, and has beautifully buried bubbles that keep things inflated for as long as beer remains in mouth.

Karl Strauss 21st Anniversary Ale Brewed With Zinfandel Grape Juice did not meet my (perhaps unfairly high) expectations. It's still a worthwhile purchase, even now, but there's no need for the brewery to consider year-round or seasonal release for this particular recipe.

BuckeyeNation, Apr 12, 2011
Photo of FosterJM
4.1/5  rDev +7.6%

338th review on BA
bottle to over sized wine glass
22oz

App- The app of a small red wine when held to the light. One finger quick receding head. Scattered lacing.

Smell- This was unique and quite aromatic. Grapes, yeast, vinious (redundant?) and tart.

Taste- Much smaller than I thought. It's got a certain grape juice sweetness quality that masks the ABV. The oaky vanilla comes very faintly. The taste is very tannin like without the wine sting. Quite delicious after saying all that.

Mouth- Medium bodied with a medium carb level and a bit dry and leaves a grape after taste.

Drink- Overall I could put a few of these back. The ABV is well hidden and just drinks really well. It was dry, sweet and crisp with a nice fruit quality.

FosterJM, Mar 25, 2011
Photo of allforbetterbeer
4.05/5  rDev +6.3%

Poured into a snifter. Thanks to AndrewNations for this trade, I would have never been able to taste this otherwise.

Pours perfectly clear deep crimson under a finger of nearly white compact head that diminishes to a thin layer in a couple of minutes. I suspect that this beer is so clear partly due to the fact that it has been cellaring for months unmoved. This brew laces a bit.

Smells of surprisingly light caramelized sugars and malts, paired with a wine-like tartness that reminds me of a sour-style beer. I suppose that this character I am smelling is the grapes, but I didn't expect them to manifest in this way. Interesting. Smells inviting and dry.

This taste took me completely off guard, and it is very very good. Distinct caramel is evident from the beginning, and it is nice and malty. Instead of forming the backbone, I feel this malt flavor rides on top of the grapes, which are subtle and much broader in flavor than I expected them to be. Hops are not present. The grapes are deep and buried, but pervade the entire taste. Wonderful and highly intriguing. I don't taste the oak but I can feel that this was aged. Very sweet and almost sugary.

This beer is perhaps one of the smoothest I have ever found. I was expecting distinctly sharp carbonation, or at least a lively prickle. None of that is the case however, and what is here is amazingly smooth, the carbonation being very compact and mellow. This could be a cask ale if I didn't know better. Body is on the lighter side of medium.

Drinkability is very good as well, with well hidden alcohol. Good job at over 10% ABV.

Conclusion: This lived up to my expectations, and will live on in my memory as an interesting and expressive brew. I hoped it would blow me away and it hasn't, but it is very good. The grape in the flavor is ceaselessly interesting. I would love to have tried this when it was the very freshest, however age hasn't hurt it I don't think, and I am curious to see what another year would do to it. Maybe the grapes have faded but I will never know, because in the unlikely event of my tasting this beer again it will only have more age on it than this sample does now. I would love to taste a sour version of this beer...

allforbetterbeer, Dec 24, 2010
Photo of ccrida
4.78/5  rDev +25.5%

Bomber poured into my Delirium snifter, Karl Strauss's 21st Anniversary is auburn tinged ruby with a light tan head leaving lots of scattered chunks of foamy lace.

Smell is pretty big oaky coconut and very fruity. Not a lot of complexity, but awesome, and the wine comes out more and more.

Taste is absolutely delicious - from the first sip, it was a 'wow' beer. The main components are the coconut from the barrels and the fruity Belgian yeast. There a tart, vinous note, but it's not strongly wine like, just a hint of sweet maltiness. It's super smooth and very well integrated in spite of the ABV and fairly young age of only 9-10 months IIRC. Some complexity develops as it opens up, some sweet nuttiness, almost almond liquer like, a little more of the zin juice as well.

Mouthfeel is very smooth, a nice viscosity but not too heavy at all, just a touch stickier then your average Belgian, but with a dry, tannic edge.

Drinkability is very good, really awesome beer, even more so because my expectations were pretty low for some reason. Really wish I bought more then one of these when I got it in California last spring, oh well. Assuming I'll never see get to have another though, I can't give it a perfect 5.

ccrida, Dec 15, 2010
Photo of beerwolf77
3.98/5  rDev +4.5%

Thanks to BeerFMAndy for sharing this one one with the tickerazzi. Poured from a bottle into a tulip.

A: Rusty brown with red edges. Modest off white head touch of lace no cap.

S: Tart white grapes are the first thing that grab me. Solid caramel malt backbone. Mild sweetness with bits of tanic wood and wet leather. Just a hint of booziness.

T: Very malt forward. The white grapes can be picked up within a fairly pronounced wet wood profile. Leather and caramel round things out. I pick up zero alcohol. Which surprised me considering the ABV.

M: Medium to fullish body. Light carbonation with a bone dry finish.

D: A rather easy drinking beer overall. None of flavors are too overpowering. I would have trouble classifying this one as a BSDA.

beerwolf77, Nov 30, 2010
Photo of sweemzander
3.4/5  rDev -10.8%

22oz. bottle poured into a tulip. Thanks to BeerFMAndy for sharing this one!

(A)- Pours a deep reddish mahogany color that produced a quickly dissipating off-white head. Some lacing.

(S)- Earthy, with some raisin and fig and hints of vanilla. Lightly dry.

(T)- Rich, with some minor/subtle belgain influences. Some dark fruits in there. Light spicy oak nuances.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. Lightly sweet with a rich core of dark fruits and oak.

(D)- An interesting and engaging take on the style. Not much in the realm of a belgain style, but it is pretty good. I wish more of the Zindfandel grapes were more prominent.

sweemzander, Nov 22, 2010
Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.83/5  rDev +0.5%

22 oz bottle split and poured into a Meantime tulip. 10.2% ABV, no date.

Shared with the tickerazzi during a big tasting.

A - Brilliant clarity allows the bronzed amber color to shine nicely. A good loose off-white head rises, falls, and leaves little in it's wake. Awesome color, but where's the Belgian lace?

S - Robust red grape aroma with a unique fig and dark cherry fruity undertone. Hints of milk chocolate break it up a little while adding awesome character. Awesome Belgian yeast component in the finish. Full and inviting.

T - Toasted amber malts and a pinch of coffee are different. A little earthy wood comes through. Dusty cocoa finish with a pinch of grape and Belgian yeast esters. Some warm alcohol on the finish. Mild earthy hops.

M - Smooth and medium-bodied, it finishes a bit warm with alcohol and dry as well. A bite comes out after the swallow. Medium carbonation.

D - This is one bottle to split for sure. Some good nuances but it's lacking some nice Belgian traits. Grapes have fallen away a little bit.

BeerFMAndy, Nov 21, 2010
Photo of mcallister
4.2/5  rDev +10.2%

Clear crimson color with a off white head foamy and good retention. Nice lacing as well.

Nose shows hints of wood, dark fruits, jammy fruits, with hints of a sweet floral ester.

Man what a great tasting beer. Coconut, oak, wood, blackberry jam, more wood, oak tannins, lavender, other floral flavors, earthy on the finish with a showing of alcohol in the chest. Very nice refreshing and oaky.

mcallister, Oct 24, 2010
Photo of armock
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%

A - Poured a copper color with a thin white head and no lacing

S - Is of sweet malt and grapes

T - Just like the smell sweet malt with a grape finish

M - This beer has a fuller body with medium carbonation to it

D - Overall this is a decent beer and I was a little excited to try it from what the bottle said but was let down some their other bottles are better

armock, Aug 29, 2010
Photo of itsfreeasinbeer
4.47/5  rDev +17.3%

Poured into a goblet from a 22 oz.

The beer smell is reminiscent of a wine, and I definitely detect the zinfandel grapes and a hint of alcohol.

The color is a darker brown, almost the same color as the empty brown glass bottle, and with an inch of head .

It is smooth for 10.5 abv, and is decently carbonated.

The taste at first is malty and sweet, with laces of grape flavor. It fades to a bready aftertaste that reminds me of a nutty whole grain. The rich caramel-like taste from the malts is nicely complimented by floral flavoring from the grapes and yeast.

I will definitely drink this one again.

itsfreeasinbeer, Aug 27, 2010
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21st Anniversary Belgian Strong Ale Aged With Old Vine Zin Grapes from Karl Strauss Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 46 ratings.