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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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

37 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 37
Hads: 49
Avg: 3.79
pDev: 13.46%
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:
Beer added by: gthornton on 02-01-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (95) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of 21st Anniversary Belgian Strong Ale Aged With Old Vine Zin Grapes Alström Bros
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Reviews: 37 | Hads: 49
Photo of ccrida
4.77/5  rDev +25.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of itsfreeasinbeer
4.47/5  rDev +17.9%
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.

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Photo of gthornton
4.45/5  rDev +17.4%
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.

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Photo of Erselius
4.42/5  rDev +16.6%
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.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
4.42/5  rDev +16.6%
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.

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Photo of mactrail
4.32/5  rDev +14%
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.

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Photo of crvcac
4.32/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tasting conducted with a tulip glass.

Appearance: pored with a beautiful white head. Nice reddish brown color with ruby highlights. Slow dropping head that leaves nice lacing.

Smell: smells wonderful. Hints of oak and spices. Unmistakable vinuous quality.

Taste: tastes reminiscent of it's smell. Red vine grapes, plenty of the spice u expect from Belgian beers and good balance of hops and malt.

Mouthfeel: although the abv is high, believe 10 or so percent, it is nicely masked amongst it's ingredients. Overall, a very interesting take on a classic style. Well done.

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Photo of AnswerInQuestion
4.3/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark Dark Reddish, almost purple brown with light visible carbonation; no lacing.

S: Fresh malt, notes of deep red wine, light floral and date. The scent becomes more profound as the beer level drops in a tulip glass.

T: Malty tast familiar to many Strauss beers. Sweetness of dark berries on the center of the palate from the Zinfandel skins. The Zin comes forward as the beer warms. Vanilla and hazelnut on the finish.

M: Smooth over the tongue, zingy on the palate, almost tannic finish and pleasantly carbonated down the throat.

D: This beer is unique to anything I've tasted. The wine flavor encourages me to savor rather than guzzle, but I would definitely sit with friends and have several glasses, delightfully!

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Photo of rand
4.23/5  rDev +11.6%
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.

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Photo of mcallister
4.17/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

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Photo of brentk56
4.12/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clear mahogany color with a finger of a head that sticks around and leaves some traces of lace

Smell: Graham cracker, vanilla, oak, dark fruit and, as you would expect, red zinfandel wine

Taste: Fruity, at the outset, with the dark fruit and zinfandel grape flavor making a statement; by mid-palate, the graham cracker, vanilla and oak flavors arrive, along with a slightly odd, grassy bitterness; after the swallow, the sweeter flavors predominate, with a rather wine-like finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: I really enjoyed this experimental brew, so much like a wine-influenced dubbel, though I would have preferred a little less sweetness overall; still, I really like some of the things Karl Strauss is doing now

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Photo of FosterJM
4.1/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

338th review on BA
bottle to over sized wine glass

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.

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Photo of allforbetterbeer
4.05/5  rDev +6.9%
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...

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Photo of emmasdad
4.05/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to my wife for bringing me this bottle from San Diego. Pours from the bottle into my Duvel glass a deep reddish brown color, with maybe a hint of purple, and an off-white color head that disappears rather quickly. Aromas of red grapes, vanilla and wood. Nice vinous character, with flavors of grapes, raisins and vanilla. A very nice anniversary beer, from a brewery that has gotten a lot better in recent years.

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Photo of Jason
4.02/5  rDev +6.1%
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.

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Photo of beerwolf77
3.97/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

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Photo of glid02
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
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.

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Photo of tpd975
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Purchased at Holiday Wine Cellars

A: Pours a deep amber with a nice solid off white head. Wonderful retention and a nice smattering of lace all the way down the glass.

S: The grapes can be picked up in the aroma. They are more earthy red than white. The beer is sweet and yeasty. Lots of candy malt and spice as well.

T: The grapes are there in the flavor as well. The grapes add a bit of tartness to a wonderful sweet brew. Sweet bready malt, toffee, and caramel stand out. Subtle spices and Belgian yeast come through as well.

M: On the lighter side of medium, mosty sweet with a bit of dryness in the finish.

D: Did not dig this one when cold, as it wamed it opened up and became pretty enjoyable.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.82/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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Photo of HalfFull
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.76/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Hollingshead's,

A: Pours a dark red brown with a solid off-white.

S: Nose is quite light, with notes of sugar and zin grapes.

T: Big malt flavour/candi sugar, with a ton of raisin taste. Very lightly vinous, but I could tell the difference between this and a regular BSDA. Quite interesting.

M: Full-bodied, well balanced for having so much residual sugar, smooth.

D: This is quite a nice beer. Karl Strauss has certainly been impressing me lately.

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Photo of Gobzilla
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: poured a purplish brown into a tulip that had a white head that dissipated quick fast, but left some good sticky lacing on the glass.

S: the smell is quite intresting consisting of some vanilla, funk, a little grape, and a hint of booze considering that it's a 10% ABU's.

T: there is definitely some vanilla, and the zinfandel grapes come thru at the end. there is some booze for sure but mixes quite well in this beer.

M: the beer is meduim bodied with light carbonation which also has a pleasent dry finish.

D: Couldn't drink a whole one by myself due to the sweetness and the alcohol content. good sipper and pretty decent coming from karl strauss.

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Photo of pastradul
3.7/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had at K&B wine Cellars in San Diego.

Normally not a fan of the majority of Karl beers, but figured I would give it a shot.

Poured in a chimay glass. Very Dark with small amount of head.

Smell is of Karl malt/sweetness. If you have had any number of Karl beer, you now there distinct flavor. The "karl flavor" isn't super upfront, There is a little more dark malt and dark fruit coming through with a hint of grape.

the taste is the same as the nose. An upfront hit of dark fruit followed by the "karl flavor" finished with a light amount of grape finish. The mouthfeel is pretty full and heavy.

One of the better Karl beers that I have had.

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Photo of mjl21
3.66/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22 ounce bottle poured into a tulip. Comes in at 10.2%. No bottling info is given.

A-Nice looking beer. It has a nice reddish hue. It has a one finger tan head that has good retention and leaves some nice lacing.

S-It has a very interesting aroma. I was expecting more yeast and malt aromas. It is dominated by lot of vanilla at the start. Red grape/dark stone fruit also come into play.

T-An unusual beer. Mix of vanilla, yeast, stone fruits, and some booze. It was aged on oak for a month and this really results in a strong vanilla taste. I was expecting a stronger flavor from the Zin grapes.

M-Nice creamy mouthfeel. Comfortable carbonation.

D-The vanilla gets to be too much for me. 10 oz would be plenty.

The oak was a bit too much for me. I think if this beer were spiked with some brett it would be really good.

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Photo of ReDave
3.65/5  rDev -3.7%
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..

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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 37 ratings.