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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 froghop
3.08/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

pours a clear copper with a small light beige head, and good lacing.

smell is of sweet malt, some hops in back, and some caramel.

taste is of malt, caramel, a little sweetness, and a touch of spice.

overall drinkable if you are having only one, after that it becomes bland and tasteless.

 290 characters

Photo of EagleTalon
3.24/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours to a moderate beige head and moderate lacing. Color is brilliant red-amber. Aroma is a disappointingly weak caramel malt. Flavors consist of a mild mix of graininess, crystal malts, pale malt and a balancing hop bitterness and weak hop flavor. Mouthfeel is thin and a bit too flat Pepsi-like. Overall it is a decent, predictable drinking experience.

 355 characters

Photo of Seanibus
3/5  rDev -14%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours, well, red. Mostly red. Not much head, with a smooth, malty aroma, with some caramel. The flavor enhances that caramel vibe, with a sweet, smooth malt and a little indefinable hop edge. It finished with some cherry and smoke, though just a little. The mouthfeel is thick and a little creamy, though dead flat from a carbonation perspective.

Not bad. Not great. A perfectly competent Irish Red.

 400 characters

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.

 308 characters

Photo of magictacosinus
3.14/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured out of a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Color is a slightly hearty reddish-amber, filled with mild carbonation and ascending bubbles that coat it with a decent 1-finger large head. This head descends down to next to nothing, leaving slight whitish streams of foam at the top after everything settles down. Eventually, not even a ring lasts, even with aggressive swirling. Looks a little murky overall, which is bizarre, as this relatively unfiltered in appearance.

The nose encounters huge cereal grainy notes at the front, followed by slight roasted rye aromas and lightly spiced malts. It smells like fresh, pure barley, which is undeniably soothing yet perhaps a bit distracting as it covers up everything else that should be going on this beer, such as any potential zestiness from the hops, or fruitiness from the yeast. No alcohol on the nose, yet no sweetness for that matter. Toasty, but limited.

The flavor is shock loaded with malted roasted barley flavors, followed with a hint of caramel notes and dried out hop zest. While not bad, it's not too complex and definitely the excessive graininess makes it out to be a tad too one-dimensional. Very, very biscuit-y in nature here. The body is slightly syrupy and sweet, and carbonated enough, but I couldn't imagine waiting for this to warm up, as it would probably get progressively thinned and the malty notes perhaps too oppressive in the long run.

I admit I had no idea this was supposed to be in an Irish red ale style - it definitely tasted like a less bittered up English bitter to me. For a SD beer, this is pretty mild on the hop side, but I unfortunately cannot vouch whether or not it's authentic to style, as I have little experience with Irish beer in general. This is definitely one of those for casual beer drinkers, and for the rest of us, there are definitely other amber ales that are more worthwhile to revisit.

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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.

 603 characters

Photo of IBUnit63
3.62/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a diluted root beer with no head

Slight malt scent-very mellow

Roasted malt character - rather clean actually with a little faint coffee and cinnamon note

Light for a darker mini-macro with solid malt backbone

Drinks well for chain restaurant offering

 261 characters

Photo of SmashPants
3.35/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: decent 355mL brown bottle. Nicely styled label - kind of old-school cute.

Appearance: quite a nice dark mahogany colour. Unfortunately the head never really comes to more than a half-finger, and dissolves to a thin film with no lacing.

Aroma: a fair amount of sweetness from caramel and toffee malts - not a lot of hops coming through.

Taste: the caramel and toffee malts are accompanied by some nut flavours, and a pinch of berries or underripe fruits. An odd - and to be honest, quite awkward - doughy quality on the undertone does nothing for this ale.

Aftertaste: fortunately the awkwardness disappears, to be replaced solely by the lovely caramel and fruits flavours.

Mouth feel: medium body, and a fairly low carbonation. I would say it is quite sessional other than that awful doughy quality that makes you almost have to pinch your nose if you want to down it.

Overall: really not a brilliant beer. If you want a good caramel-malt-and-nut-based beer, try James Squire's Amber Ale. Much better built, and cheaper by the case.

 1,046 characters

Photo of mithrascruor
2.38/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle poured into a mug.

Appearance: Pours a clear, somewhat dark red color. Head has a nice light reddish-tan hue, and is fairly creamy/foamy, and about 1/2 in.

Smell: Mostly notice a lot of roasted malts. Fairly sweet with a bit of caramel, and maybe a hint of hops beneath.

Taste: Very (i.e. too) sweet. Lots of caramel and malts, but then it has this flavor of hops and some grains beneath. Seems very skewed, but I can't tell in which direction or how. It's like pouring sugar in a very hoppy beer. Hideous.

Mouthfeel: Fairly light-bodied and smooth, very little carbonation. On occasion has as a somewhat cold and clammy feel, even if it's not too cold.

Drinkability: As long as you can handle the odd flavor, it's quite a drinkable beer. Otherwise, ... ugh. Alcohol, though at 5.6%, is not very noticable.

While it looks nice, after drinking it for just a short while you realize that it's no good. The taste is the main problem -- there's a horribly sweet taste and a somewhat bitter taste all at once, and it turns out less than good. In fact, it tastes quite bad. I might be willing to try this on tap (there's a Karl Strauss across from my office), but I certainly won't get this again at the store.

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Photo of scottoale
2.9/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Had a pint at Chili's with brunch. No head whatsoever and next to no lacing as I drank. Red-mahogany in color and very little carbonation.

Smell is of sweet sugary malts with maybe a hint of hops, it's kinda hard to smell through the malt sweetness. Tastes much like it smells with a faint hop trying, but failing to balance the sweetness. Couldn't detect the alcohol as the roast-sweet malt flavor dominates this brew. Fairly light body, sweet kind of slick mouthfeel.

One was plenty...not impressed.

 507 characters

Photo of hopfacebrew
3/5  rDev -14%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Picked up a pint at the San Diego airport before flying home. Beer served in a standard pint glass. Pours a pale light clear red with a thin white head. Not much to report in aroma, very average hop and malt aroma. Similar taste: some caramel sweetness with some malty biscuity character, mild hoppiness. Overall, this beer was about as average as you can go. Glad to have tried it, would not drink it again.

 408 characters

Photo of BucBasil
3.15/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured from the 22oz bomber into a large mug.

A: The beer is a brownish red amber/caramel sort of color - expected out of an Irish Red. Head is 2 fingers offwhite to very light tan and has ok retention.

S: Caramel and toffee notes dominating. Light toasted character with fruity twinges underneath. Buttery note in there as well, which gets in the way a bit.

T: Very much a malt bomb - this seems much more like a doppelbock or something to me. Butterscotch and toffee up front. Toasted bread throughout as well as a touch of brown sugar. Some berry notes hidden way underneath. Not much hop character here. Super sweet and gets a bit cloying at times. On the plus side, very smooth.

This is a good beer in smaller doses, but is very sweet. Not too bad overall, but I don't think I'll pick this one up again.

 812 characters

Photo of donniecuffs
3.25/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured amber/copper into a 5oz sampling glass, with a finger of white head, and decent carbonation. Smelled overwhelmingly of malt, with some caramel, biscuit, and a tiny hint of chocolate. The taste however was very one-dimensionally geared toward maltiness, from start to finish, with a little bit of caramel sprinkled in. Full-bodied and nicely carbonated, but not a session beer for me.

 390 characters

Photo of jcalabre
2.48/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Originally sampled on 18 February 2002. I am writing this review form my notes. Boring. There is nothing outstanding or bad about this beer. Like all Karl Strauss offerings, in my opinion, it is sufficiently benign not to offend the mass market. There are many better beers available

 283 characters

Photo of TheQuietMan22
3.69/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I tried this last week at the Dodgers game and wanted to try it in a real glass (not a plastic cup). I didn't trust my taste buds or nose at the stadium; it was a lot more chocolately than your average amber.

Appearance: Poured a clear, beautiful deep copper with a tint of orange. A half finger of head developed on my first glass due to drinker's error, but my second glass produced a finger and a half of tan foam that reduced to a spotted lacing and ring around the edge.

Smell: My first impression was of chocolate. Maybe my review at the stadium wasn't so bad after all. It's a little surprising from an amber. There is also a very deep and rich caramel aroma. Reminds me of a caramel filled piece of chocolate from a heart shaped box. As it warms a scent of plumbs and bread dough enters.

Taste: The chocolate is subdued and overtaken by hops, which are well-balanced with the malts. There is a plumb quality that blends perfectly with the caramel notes. There is a slight citrus flavor of sour grapefruit, but it is very subtle.

Drinkability: This is a very drinkable brew, even at a baseball game in a plastic cup.

 1,127 characters

Photo of malcontent
2.78/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear, bright amber body with a decent finger of head. Retention is OK and the resulting lacing is competent.

Musty, almost mealy aroma. Hints of sweetness peek through occasionally.

Ugh. Flavors are all over the place. Plastic-like aftertaste surfaces after a rather flat malt body.

A tad slick on the finish although the body is thick enough to be passable. Reading other reviews of this beer I'm wondering if my bottle wasn't a bit off. Still, in a beer landscape with a glut of amber ales I'd like to see brewers a) do something more interesting with the style or b) refrain from including it in their roster altogether.

Thanks to HoppyBen for the bottle.

 673 characters

Photo of csmiley
3.56/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a crystal clear amber with a thin tan head. Looks like this is going to refreshing. Head fades after a few minutes leaving behind a moderate dosing of lace.

S - The nose is mild overall. Caramel is mostly what comes through. Some raw bread dough quickly follows. Alcohol is barely noticeable at the end.

T - The flavor doesn't quite follow the aroma which is somewhat of a relief. Starts out with some sweet bread followed by a cracker flavor. Caramel comes and goes throughout but stays mild overall. Alcohol is very hard to pick up.

M - Light bodied with just enough carbonation to pull it through. Finish is sweet and doesn't hang on for very long. Very smooth.

D - Drinkability is good. The smoothness really helps out alot. This one comes across as a run of the mill amber for the most part. Not bad but not too remarkable either.

 850 characters

Photo of MadCat
3.5/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from notes.

Appearance: Beautiful amber red color, very clear, good white head

Smell: Caramel and fruit on the nose

Taste: Caramel, fruit, biscuity malts Good flavor for the style

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body, good carbonation

Overall: A good example of the style, and good mainstay at Karl Strauss, but not the most exciting beer. Still, no complaints

 367 characters

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.

 502 characters

Photo of Drinkerofales
3.7/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours clear copper with golden highlights. A medium sized tan head settled quickly to a ring that barely leaves some lacing.

Smells of toasted malts, a note of burnt sugar, musty.

Taste is a big bigger, toasted malts, a hint of chocolate and hint of vanilla sweet on the finish.

Smooth and drinkable, but thin, with a medium dry finish.

It's ok, but needs a little more hop to balance it out.


 401 characters

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.

 477 characters

Photo of Dmann
3.53/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a decent offering from Karl Strauss and will definantly appeal to the MaltHeads out there. The beer poures a deep amber/red color with a nice frothy white head that left nice lace down my glass. The smell was interesting and made up of a very light doppelbock type scent. The taste was nothing as intriguing as the scent, but quite plesent. The beer had a nice malt flavor to it and was quite sweet with a definant caramel aftertaste. Like I said, lovers of malt will go for this beer but the taste is a little too one dimentonal for me.

 545 characters

Photo of SteveO1231
3.32/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This one was ok.

Got one on tap, served too cold.

Looked pretty good.
Poured a deep red color, no head, moderate carbonation.

This one was rather smooth but uneventfull on the old palate. Nothing to rave about here. If your at a Karl Strauss resteraunt check it out. One of Karl's better beers.

Drinkable, pretty smooth, a little too sweet.


 364 characters

Photo of rinhaak
3/5  rDev -14%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at LAX.

Pours a slightly pale red copper. A good-sized head that left behind a mild lace.

Not a very interesting nose, with aromas of mild rust, copper, and bubblegum.

Very light in body, though a tad syrupy.

Mild flavors, the beer has a fruity character with a hints of the rustiness I expect in an Irish Red. No finish to speak of, nearly no bitterness, it's pretty simple and one-dimensional.

Overall, I was quite disappointed. I've had both their Tower 10 IPA and Full Suit Brown, and was very impressed with both. This really wasn't up to that standard and was really rather ordinary. Not worth having.

 620 characters

Photo of kflorence
3.33/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Imported from my ratebeer.com profile - JUN 14, 2007

While it doesn’t blow me away, it is highly drinkable, has a great red-like amber color and smells of toasty hops with a tiny hint of vanilla/caramel. I think it’s one of the better Strauss beers, but it’s not exceptional.

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