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Red Trolley Ale - Karl Strauss Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Red Trolley AleRed Trolley Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

132 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 132
Hads: 482
Avg: 3.49
pDev: 28.65%
Wants: 21
Gots: 106 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Karl Strauss Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Irish Red Ale |  5.80% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-16-2003

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (95) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 132 | Hads: 482
Photo of Billolick
3.78/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap in the hotel in S.D., reviewed on the lobby wireless hook up, ah technology...
A - Pours a rich shade of medium mahogony, clear, with an eggshell head, show retentive powers and leaving nice ringed and scattered lacing.
S - malty goodness.
T - This is tasty, malty brew, light on the hops, but some are preent in the rear and the finish, notes of honey, caramel, wafer cookies
M - Smooth , medium bodied, easy and pleasant on the tastebuds.
D - This is not my favorite style, kind of dull, especially after a week of seeking out and consuming SD style 2xIPA hop bombs, this is a pleasant, drinkable brew, nothing more, nothing else.

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Photo of readbaron
3.78/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a clear burnt red/orange with plentiful off white head that fades into a tiny ring. No lacing.

Smells strongly of malts - biscuits/cereal, with a ton of caramel sweetness and some faint hops and decent spice (cloves?)

Tastes a lot like it smells - tons of strong malty flavors, lots of sweetness and a bit of hops and spice on the finish. Pleasant aftertaste.

Feel is thin and prickly.

Overall - very good. Not sure it tastes like an ale, but I'm a fan of this one.

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Photo of T100Mark
3.79/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A 12 ounce bottle poured into a shaker pint glass.

Appearance - Nice copper color. Amazing clarity. Big tan hear that fades quickly. Minimal stickage. A fine looking brew.

Smell - Faint malt nose. Sweet. Slight hint of burnt toast. Not overwhelming.

Taste - Malty. Sweet. Slight hint of burnt toast. Walnuts? The hops are almost nonexistent.

Mouth - Syrupy.

Overall - A malty, sweet, smooth amber ale with just a touch of nuttiness. Simple and honest. I appreciate the fact that this beer is a a true amber ale (so many California amber ales are loaded with hops). Your Coors Light chugging buddies might be able to appreciate this beer.

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Photo of Psilo707
3.8/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I was excited to review Red Trolley officially since it has been one of my favorite and most consistent San Diego brews since I have moved here.

It pours a deep crimson color into the mug and leaves an intricate lacing along the sides as it dissipates down. The scent is one of cocoa and butter, and doesn't let up on the nose even minutes after taking a whiff. The taste is extremely chocolately for a red ale and the aftertaste of piney nuts and almonds shines through.

Mouthfeel is creamy but the prolonged taste when sitting in the mouth leaves a bit to be desired. Drinkability is high and is possibly one of the highest ratings of any Red Ale i've ever had.

Overall, Red Trolley is a fine example of what the microbreweries of San Diego have to offer!

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Photo of HopfenUndMalz2015
3.81/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Good solid Irish Red Ale. Nothing in this beer is going to blow your mind, but, sometimes a nice carmel and malty Red Ale is perfect with dinner at the brewery.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.85/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Having tried a couple of Karl Strauss special release brews in California, I thought I'd check out some of their regular range that are now making their way to Australia. Purchased from Dan Murphy's in Alexandria.

Pours a lovely deep, slightly bronzed red colour, which matches the colour on the label rather nicely. Head forms a solid fine crest of beige, and settles out to a decent persistent ring. Carbonation is fine, and there's some weight behind the body. It's nice.

Nose is quite grainy, with a thin toffee sweetness backing it up. Some leafy-sweet and slightly earthy hops behind it, especially when the beer is swirled, and a marmalade sweet-citrus note. I'm actually liking it more as it goes along, and it makes a pleasant departure from the hopped up red I was expecting.

Taste is similarly less hoppy than expected, with more grainy notes and a light body. But there's subtle complexities here. The grain has a wholesome character to it, digestive biscuits and whole grains, mingling with some marzipan, a little honeyed sweetness and some pleasantly biting ester characters on the back: it might just be the hint of extra booze, but it provides a bit of a cut on the finish which is nice.

Feel is light, but solid enough.

Overall, this is pretty drinkable stuff. Once I got over the lack of hops, and realised that this was a very determined choice, it was clear that this was a pretty well-crafted brew. Though the flavours might be subtle, they're there to be explored. I enjoyed it.

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Photo of hoptrip619
3.85/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I first started drinking Red Trolley in college and at the time viewed it as a solid alternative to the MGD's and Coors Lights. Today it's not one of my favorites but it was definitely a solid gateway beer into more interesting craft styles. I saw over the weekend that it won a gold at GABF and then heard it also took at gold at the WBC earlier this year- for that, I figured it was time to give it another try and write a review.

A: Dark copper/rust with good clarity and decent head

S: Big caramel, burnt sugar, and toffee malt aroma with undertones of dark fruity esters.

T: Chewy caramel malts flavors with a very sweet fruity character. Minimal and I mean MINIMAL hop character - no noticeable off flavors.

M: Medium-full on body, lots of residual sugars that boarder on cloying. Still, very drinkable.

D: Red Trolley is and always has been what it is. A malty red ale with lots of flavor. While I prefer a dryer and hoppier beer, RT is solid for the style and definitely a favorite for those that don't like bitter beers. ( i.e most broads.)

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Photo of Decko
3.87/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice deep copper clear colour in the glass. Head disappeared pretty quickly and then no lacing. Good carbonation and slightly sweet and caramel like in the mouth. Very drinkable with a palatable level of sweetness and I found a slight drying finish like iced tea. No strong flavours but I found this to be a good ale that went down very easily and left me wanting another one straight away. I'd buy this one again but will probably buy a couple of other red ales to do a comparison.

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Photo of OleJohnnieAle
3.88/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Kansas City BBQ in San Diego

A: Nice rich amber red color, minimal head that left thin lacing behind.

S: Malts with a biscuit note, nice sweet caramel notes.

T: Nice malts up front with some sweetness coming through from the caramel and toffee.

M: Medium body, minimal carbonation. Well balanced.

O: Nice red, well balanced, nothing too special but a drinkable good showing of a irish red.

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Photo of Bendurgin
3.95/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from Randy. Thanks! Poured into a pint glass. Pours a clear dark amber with a biege head with a finger of bubbly head. A little bit of soapy lace.

Very malty on the aroma. Brown sugar comes to mind with a little bit of toffee and rich dark fruit. Smells pretty good. This is a malt bomb. Huge grainy malts on the pallet with a little bit of brown sugar and a bit of a caramel flavor. Ends with a little bit of a bitter flavor.

Medium to full body but the carbonation is a little bit coarse. Pretty good brew here. Malt bombs like this don't tend to be my thing but I'm really enjoying this one.

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Photo of BMMillsy
3.95/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Bad a bottle at our hotel in San Diego. Pours a bright deep red, clear, with very small white head. Aroma of cherries, caramel, sweet sugars, plums, some other fruits. Flavor follows with big sweet cherries and fruits, sweet sweet caramel. Body is medium, with low medium carbonation, and extremely smooth going down. Nice sweet finish lingers on the palate. Thought this was a really good beer and went down incredibly easy. On the sweet side for the style but very pleasant.

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Photo of WallyBoag
3.95/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled at Disneylnad's California park this was a very attractive looking beer with a darker color and a smallish head. Laced pretty well. Smell was a very enjoyable sweet and tangy blend. Easy to drink. The taste could have used a little bit of improvement. It didn't taste bad, but at the same time there really wasn't too much to remember it buy. If only it tasted as good as it looked and smelled, this would be a truly great beer!

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Photo of HopHead84
4/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


On tap at Karl Strauss

A: Reddish amber with a small beige head.

S: Aromatic toffee and caramel with a firm and insistent bready malt presence. I get some earth and a little prune.

T: Rich caramel malt accompanies baked bread and biscuit. The beer brings raisin to mind and maybe a touch of prune. Bitterness is low.

M: Upper medium body with moderate carbonation.

Overall: A pretty nice Irish Red Ale.

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Photo of BeerManDan
4/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The color was an amber when poured. The aromoa was of a mild roasted malts and hop's, with a hint of sweet spices and candy. The taste of lightly roasted malts and hops along with a hint of caramel was evident on the palate. Nicely balanced and a pleasant surprise. Not tart, but, a nice long pleaant finish.

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Photo of DM1293
4/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Award winning huh? I'll put that to the test.

Bottle, clear cup.

Appearance - ...its a light red coloration. Interesting, seeing as the other reds I've tried have been a darker shade of red. The head foams up a little but dissipates after a couple minutes.

Smell - Light, unimposing; caramelly sweet notes. Gives way just enough for a bit of maltiness to shine through.

Taste - Interesting. It tastes like a red, no doubt. A slightly sweet, malty taste. Nothing too imposing, not too sweet or bitter (and what it is doesn't go over the top), not too bold or weak. I can see why its got an award on it. Its very well-balanced, doing everything it should but being exactly what a basic red ale should be. I could almost call this a benchmark for what a red should be.

Mouthfeel - Bold but dissipates quick. A light thickness that dissipates fast.

Overall - ...Pretty much iconic of what a red should be while making nothing too stand-out. Karl Strauss, I may have been unimpressed by your wheat (circumstances may have caused that), but your red is nothing to scoff at in my opinion. A great drink with the right meal.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.03/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured on-tap in downtown San Diego at the Columbia Street brewpub. The beer was poured into a pint glass, presenting with a deep amber-red color and a good, thick white head. There is a spicy-malt nose to the beer. The beer has a good, full-bodied flavor that is well balanced malt and toffee, with fruity undertones. The beer is very full and robust in mouth, with a smooth, malty finish. Very easy to drink.

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Photo of jhutch31
4.03/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Tried this beer while watching the Niners Game last Sunday. Poured into a 16 oz pint glass.

Appearance: My favorite quality of this beer was the appearance. Absolutely polished. Poured with a perfect 2 finger head with some lacing left in the glass. Carbonation was perfect and head retention was delightful.

Smell: This beer did not have a lot of aroma as I would think an irish red shouldn't. Hop character is low so you really smell more of the malts that were used than you do the hops.

Taste: The taste was good. Typical irish red flavor. It's my personal preference that I don't like irish reds to be really sweet, but have a slight amount of malt sweetness and focus more on the body and slightly doughy/biscuity character of the malts used. This beer was a little too sweet for me and after a few drinks, I started to enjoy it less and less. However, thats my personal preference and it is still a great beer. You can definately taste the caramel and toffee notes of what I presume to be the victory and munich malts that are used in the grain bill.

Mouthfeel: Mouthfeel was good. Smooth, well balanced and easy drinking.

Overall: I would say this is a good irish red, just not my style. If you are an irish red drinker, I would recommend you try this beer as it's won some very prestigous awards for its example of the style.

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Photo of BrewerB
4.03/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pouring into a small Firestone Walker nonic pint glass. Clear copper body with a large off-white foam that collapsed down thin. Excellent retention.

Sweet caramel maltiness, wintergreen mint. Milk chocolate. Orange marmalade.

Medium-toasted malts up front. Earthy/herbal. Touch of caramel sweetness. Medium bitter. Finishing medium malty sweet.

Medium-light in body with a soft carbonation.

Easy-drinking beer with a malt-focused flavor. Light caramel sweetness and hints of mint and chocolate.

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Photo of Bricelyn
4.04/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass from a 12 oz bottle. This beer is beautiful, a wonderfull combination of red and amber gold.
The first thing I smell is Tomato soup (call me crazy). The taste is slightly malty with a warm finish that sticks to the pallet. Perfectly carbonated. I would session this beer. Trying to drink all the local San Diego beers and this is one of the best.

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Photo of dojobrewco
4.22/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My recent fascination with Red Ales probably gives this brew more credit than it deserves but overall I thought it was very good. A little too much on the sweet side but finishes nice and smooth. The aroma is perfect for the style and the mouthfeel is very light. I chose this particular brew over the sampler because I had just recenlty brewed my own batch of red Ale and I gotta say the Red Trolley Ale was definately better than mine.

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Photo of VWBuggirl
4.23/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

At first glance this is a darker beer. It has a deep reddish color to it. The scent is fairly sweet, and you can smell caramel strongly with a hint of chocolate undertones.

It tastes as it smells, with caramel being the first taste and chocolate second. This is definitely a dessert drink for me.

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Photo of jjh19
4.24/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Poured from the bottle a nice, rich red with a little amber-ness and clear. Impressive foamy head. This is what I like a beer to look like.

Smell: I got a slight sweetness in the nose.

Taste: Sweet and malty. Perhaps my favorite thing about this beer is the caramel notes I get later in the taste. There's a lot going on here.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, this is a rich ale.

Drinkability: As the temperature cools down, I find it's an even better time to enjoy a warming Red Trolley. It just works really well enjoying one or two while watching the Chargers. I tend to drink this beer slower than a lot of other beers, making the most of the malts. This is a beer I've enjoyed over the years, and I think it gets a little bit better each time I have it. Or maybe I appreciate it a little more each time?

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Photo of dutesanch
4.29/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Super smooth and refreshing malt forward with a slightly sweet finish. A great tasting beer for any occasion that I feel even novice drinkers would enjoy. Good from the bottles but I enjoy these the most from my Sam Adams perfect pint glasses.

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Photo of SensorySupernova
4.35/5  rDev +24.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Clear amber with an off-white head.

Smell: Caramel, a bit fruity.

Taste: Moderately sweet caramel malt up front. Has a strong dark fruity hop aroma - like grapes or plumbs. Not very bitter. Leaves a clean hoppy aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium thickness, well carbonated.

Overall: I really like this. It’s not over the top, but plenty flavorful in an easy to appreciate kind of way. I imagine this would be a good choice to introduce someone to beer.

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Photo of JayTheFinn
4.38/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Was lucky enough to have this one at the Santa Barbara beer festival.

A - Slightly reddish brown body.
S - Light roasty malt scent.
T - Perfect hop/malt balance. Starts with a little sharpness that smooths out quickly into rich malts. It has a slightly sweet flavor that I just love.
M - Full mouthfeel. It rolls around the tongue hitting all the right tastebuds.
D - Completely and absolutely drinkable. To me, this is a session beer of dream-like proportions.

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Red Trolley Ale from Karl Strauss Brewing Company
80 out of 100 based on 132 ratings.