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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: 6
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:
Reviews by trappistlover:
Photo of trappistlover
3.3/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

(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
More User Reviews:
Photo of Jason
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz brown bomber.

Dark and inviting with a trimmed lace that leaves some rings on the glass. Vinous nose shows some tartness, bready deep with in with lots of ripe fruit and some herbal phenols in the mix ... estery as well. Slightly crisp with a creamy slick full-ish body. Malt sweetness does well with the grape character tagging along, peppery alcohol and some phenols are there to balance and add some complexity. Warming with some brown sugar and ripe fruit in the back. Finishes a bit estery and sweet with that same lingering alcoholic warmth.

Super tasty, especially when it warms up a little. A little goat cheese and ripe figs on crostinis paired well with this beer.

Jason, May 17, 2010
Photo of Erselius
4.43/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was hesitant to try this "wine beer" but after tasting it I was quite impressed. It was served in a tulip glass which I thought fit it well. The beer itself wasn't revolutionary but it was unique enough that I bought a few bottles and will enjoy seeing how they age. When I find myself in the masses of South Coast Plaza Karl Strauss is always a good safe haven.

Erselius, Apr 01, 2010
Photo of glid02
3.95/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Brodie - thanks!

Pours a clear dark amber color with a one-finger off-white head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of sweet dark malts with hints of toastiness and solid amounts of white grape aromas.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Smooth dark malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by good amounts of dark fruit flavors - plums and raisins. Midway through the sip some light white grape flavors make an appearance before fading out to a crisp ending.

Mouthfeel is OK. It's a bit on the thin side with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is good. I finished my glass with no problems and could have another.

Overall I thought the addition of white grape flavors was welcome in a beer like this, something I initially wasn't all that sure about. Worth a shot.

glid02, Jul 27, 2010
Photo of Photekut
3.25/5  rDev -14.7%

Photekut, May 19, 2013
Photo of PeprSprYoFace
3.38/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Got a bottle of this because it looked interesting.

Pours a brownish red with a decent head that dissapated to a film. Nice lacing.

Aroma is strange. Kinda belgiany but with a wine aroma and some sort of spice I can't put my finger on.

Taste is ok. Very Belgian dubbel with a wine character. There is a sting metalic flavor though that I don't like. I may end up dumping half this bomber.

Mouthfeel is dry like a Belgian should be. Needs a little more carb for a Belgian though.

Overall an ok beer. No need to seek this out but it's not bad if you try it. It's different for sure. I don't know if I will be able to handle a whole bottle to myself though.

PeprSprYoFace, May 14, 2010
Photo of HalfFull
3.78/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Stumbled upon a bottle of this after sampling on tap a couple times. Poured into a large wine glass from a 22 oz. bomber. Shows a clear brownish red with rich crimson highlights on the pour and sports half an inch of soapy off white foam. Moderate retention settles to and maintains a light film and leaves some artsy lacing. Somewhat light in color but surely a unique approach.

Light oak footprint gives the nose a dry smoky sense and works fairly well with the vinous qualities to give the beer an intriguing nose. Belgian yeast notes are quite thin however, revealing themselves a bit with warming but always playing second fiddle to the oak and grape. A good swirl briefly yields some peaty hops.

Quite vinous in flavor initially as the zinfandel dominates but can't quite replicate the depth of the cherry flavors found in more traditional BSDA's. I think a bit more dark malt may have helped bridge the gap. Pleasant and clean nonetheless.

Feel is good though a bit thin for the style, yet this brew doesn't truly fit any style very well. Again the vinous qualities are quite distinct from the body one would expect from a more traditional malt profile. The rather robust ABV is well hidden without offering a cloying sweetness even given the light body. An interesting beer that opens nicely with some exposure, whereby the grape notes become more subtle and balanced and the yeast gets a chance to shine.

HalfFull, Apr 20, 2010
Photo of GRG1313
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%

GRG1313, Aug 24, 2014
Photo of SpdKilz
3.48/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance - Pours into my SA Perfect Pint with a dark mahogany color. About a finger of quickly dissipating head is achieved which leaves little lacing.

Smell - Big malt flavor, caramel, zin grapes, light floral notes and hops.

Taste - Similar taste as the nose. Dark malts, grapes, vanilla, hazelnut, and other spices. Taste is Belgian in character.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, light carbonation (may need a bit more), leaves an odd film coating after.

Drinkability - A decent beer overall but a bit much. Not what I was really expecting to be honest. A 12oz version of this would have been more than enough.

SpdKilz, May 27, 2010
Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.83/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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 jmarsh123
2.83/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

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 twiggamortis420
4.45/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22 oz bomber courtesy of tjensen3618, thanks for this beauty! Pours a clear amber color with a thin, light tan foam. Not a whole lot of retention or lacing.

Nose is caramely malt with a smooth toffee and light toast aspect. A little bit of grape vines and weedy oak and vanilla come through.

Malt driven with an oaky and tannic flavor deep in the soul of the beer and is complimented by some nice vanilla cream coffee additions. Nutty, pecan encrusted creamsickle. Full bodied and rich. Only a mild grape wine flavor, but enough to make an appearance. Nice, I really dig this one...job super well done. Unbelievably easy to drink, especially considering the high ABV.

twiggamortis420, Jun 24, 2010
Photo of gthornton
4.5/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

21st Anniversary Belgian strong ale brewed with old vine zin & aged on French oak:

A: Dark ruby red/brown/hint of purple, quite beautiful. Thin head, little lacing... good for style, keep in mind.

S: Fresh malts, caramel, toffee, raisin, plum, mild red wine scent opens up over time, and is a unique experience for the beer drinker

T: A heavy malty foundation with the Zinfandel pressing forward on the tip of the tongue, especially as the beer warms. Also some great vanilla and hazelnut overtones.

M: Typical heavily malted feel on the tongue combines greatly with the qualities of a good (red) Zinfandel: tannins pull gently on the tongue, and adds a nice zing on the tip and sides of the palate.

D: A higher ABV, of course, but very delicious. The novelty of the Zin grapes makes you want a lot more, since there is no telling how long this will be around.

When you can, buy several in the bottle (hopefully they do so, sure they will), and cellar a few of these.

gthornton, Feb 01, 2010
Photo of ygtbsm94
3/5  rDev -21.3%

ygtbsm94, Feb 11, 2012
Photo of rand
4.25/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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 allforbetterbeer
4.05/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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 sweemzander
3.4/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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 drewone
3.7/5  rDev -2.9%

drewone, Aug 24, 2014
Photo of tjfinkle
4/5  rDev +5%

tjfinkle, Apr 10, 2012
Photo of itsfreeasinbeer
4.47/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

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
Photo of FosterJM
4.1/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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 djaeon
5/5  rDev +31.2%

djaeon, Jan 22, 2012
Photo of beagle75
3.44/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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 ReDave
3.68/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Very interesting!

Dark blackish with red and purple highlights.

Thin fizzy head that fades somewhat

poured in wine glasses

Interesting aromas, not super strong but some aroma there.

Great with ribs and BBQ brisket!

I'd get this again.

thanks to brother-in-law Steve! don't know if this was expensive or not..

ReDave, Apr 13, 2010
Photo of mactrail
4.33/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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
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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.