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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 UCLABrewN84
3.05/5  rDev -19.5%

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.

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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 BuckeyeNation
3.46/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

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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 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 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 sweemzander
3.44/5  rDev -9.2%
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.

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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 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 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 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 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 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 srandycarter
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Murky amber, not much head, little ring left and some spotty lace.

S - A little malt, not much else for me. Boozy malt.

T - Malt wrapped in velvet grapes notes finished with some heat. Interesting.

M - Medium to full, good carb, very coating. Overall, kind of 'flat' experience on my palate. Not sure I really like the overall feel.

D - Would not be my choice for a session beer. Fun to try, though.

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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 Overlord
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown with some ruddiness to it.

Smells like ... whoa, grape juice? With some malty maltiness.

Tastes like grapejuice mixed with some caramel-y, sweet, sugary malt along with some more sweetness and some more grapes and a tad bit of graininess.

Strange brew all around. Not awful, not great, kind of interesting. Pleased to get the chance to try it.

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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 armock
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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

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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 SpdKilz
3.48/5  rDev -8.2%
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.

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Photo of jmarsh123
2.84/5  rDev -25.1%
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.

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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 beagle75
3.42/5  rDev -9.8%
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.

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Photo of mithrascruor
2.68/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

22 oz. bottle poured into a chalice.

Appearance: Pours a dark and slightly hazy reddish-amber color. Big off-white head quickly turns to a heavy film and leaves nice lacing.

Smell: Though not too strong, has a deep malty aroma with some sugars, fruits (plum & grape), and a hint of spice.

Taste: Some malts, a bit of sugar, and a good amount of yeast hits first. Then the yeast gives way to a bitter, spoiled/sour wine flavor. Some spices (cinnamon, etc.?) come out in the finish, and then the aftertate is sort of a mixture of everything, with a hint of alcohol added.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with barely any discernible carbonation. Relatively smooth.

Drinkability: The strong ABV is fairly well masked, but the taste doesn't help.

Seriously tastes like a blend of 2/3 Chimay Blue + 1/3 Zinfandel that's been left out in the sun for a few days. Hey Karl, I was really loving To The 9's, Full Suit, and a couple new ones on tap in Sorrento Valley... why this?! Talk about a killjoy - keep making beer-like beers, not these off-the-wall things (or at least put that new red ale in bottles!).

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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.