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Red Trolley Ale - Karl Strauss Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Red Trolley AleRed Trolley Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

131 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 131
Hads: 474
Avg: 3.47
pDev: 28.82%
Wants: 21
Gots: 101 | 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.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 131 | Hads: 474
Photo of BucannonXC5
3.11/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a tap into a 20-oz. pilsner glass at the San Diego Tap Room in the airport. Color was reddish brown. Had about ¾-inches of head. Slight lacing in the beginning, but more throughout.

Smelled malty with hints of caramel, but nothing too special.

Good first taste. Malty, red, somewhat nutty. Aftertaste was a bit more bitter.

It never really got better or even stayed as good as it started. Tastes wore out. Average carbonation.

Taste got old quicker than I hoped, but will give the benefit of the doubt for 24 ounces and the plastic cup. Mid-to-high carbonation.

I’m sure this would have been much better out of a pint glass or bottle, but sometimes you have to go with what you have. Will give it another try and check the ratings then.

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Photo of Bendurgin
3.95/5  rDev +13.8%
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 kflorence
3.33/5  rDev -4%
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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Photo of Klym
2.74/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a Stone nonic.

A: Pours a dark amber with a plentiful white head that leaves porous but otherwise killer lacing. Not bad lookin'.

S: Malt bomb with grain and wheat notes. Smells like a mediocre lager.

T: The nose. Grain, malts, wheat, mediocrity.

M: Despite the head there's very little carbonation in the body. Pretty watery. Not pleasant but I've had worse.

O: Karl Strauss somehow has the place in my mind of a brewery that makes macro beers but holds the self-image of a microbrewery. They've been digging me out of this perception with some beers, such as Parrot In a Palm Tree which was actually a very superior brew, or their most recent anniversary stout which had some flare. With their classic selections like Red Trolley Ale, though, there's just not much room for anything other than boredom and disappointment. I'm not sure I've ever had an Irisih Red Ale so I can't make much of an in-style comparison but I can tell you I'd probably take some generic lagers over this. Unless you're new to craft beer and want to make baby steps from coors light, I'd avoid this.

As a final note, I hope the people at Karl Strauss keep taking risks as they have been trying to recently. They've been creative before, they just have to keep trying. I look forward to future efforts from them but I won't bother trying their classic selection anymore.

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Photo of Armand
3.4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Good reddish color. Some carbination.
S: A little too dampness. May have been from the glass that it was served it. Glass was too chilled, but that flavor came out in the end.
T: Too flat. Tart, and mild.
M: Light bodied beer.
O: Karl used to be on my top favorite beers, but have gone on to bolder beers. I won't knock 'em down for what they do. It's just my opinion, but I hope they continue to make different ones for us to try.

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Photo of Cavery
2.63/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Shared with SundaySour on a Sunday afternoon

750ml split into two Stone Nonics.

A: Beer poured a strong three fingers atop a ruby red body. The foam is slightly off white with modest lacing. Shots of light give the beer a more promising mahogany look.

S: Sea salt on carmel, a really strong toffee richness. The smell isn't that deep, and the sweetness of bready malts almost goes into mold. It's just a sweet and sour nose that just doesn't quite seem right. It's not so unpleasant, I just struggle to find sources for the overt sweetness, and it's odd mold-like finish. The bottle is most certainly suspect.

T: A very mild taste of semi-sweet malts, and not much else. The middle goes into a funky sawdust that seems to linger like memories of wood-shop class in highschool. Someone took a power sander to the malt. The malt needed solid roasting in order to make this work, and really the malt has this slightly mushy/warm flavor, like they were microwaved instead. Another point in favor of this bottle not being right.

M: The mouth really is very weak. I think this is my least favorite aspect of the beer. The flatness is so unwarranted, and I can't help but believe it contributes to that very base (as in anti-acidic) mold flavor. just a poor mouth. I would have a hard time believing this is as intended.

O: I think that there is a strong case for poor handling on part of the seller. For that reason I can't really rule out that this isn't the intended state of this beer. I will reserve my final say of this beer until I can confirm/debunk the authenticity of this tasting. Karl Strauss has consistently made decent beers, and I wouldn't be shocked if revisiting this beer would provide a completely different tasting experience.

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Photo of SundaySour
2.87/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Shared with Cavery.

A: A misty reddish-orange beer with a massive cream colored head. Like a nuclear sunset.

S: There's something rotten in Denmark. I smell...dare I say, bile. There are other smells, maybe a bit of burnt caramel. But it's like someone ate something delicious before ralphing all over the place.

T: Fearing the worst after sniffing my way into a panic attack, this beer is surprisingly light. Truly, it is the Miller Light of red ales. I get a light flavor of sourdough bread, but mostly just water. If this were clear and in a Perrier bottle, I'd shrug and chug.

M: Fizzy, but not fizzy enough. Leaves a vague stale bread taste in the mouth.

O: This is like a very hunky man with rippling muscles and a fabulous car turning out to be a big yawn fest. I loved the appearance, but the flavor is nothing to cheer about. It's the kind of beer you wash something down with, not enjoy on it's own.

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Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.58/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap in the San Diego airport at 6:45 am.

Red and clear with a nice head and decent lacing.

Caramel and bready malts dominate both the aroma and taste. There's a hint of hops, but not much. Still, it's quite tasty on tap, and damn fine early in the morning before a long flight.

Relatively light bodied, ample carbonation, leaving a nice sweet malty aftertaste.

Truly a pleasant and likeable offering. I'd be happy to try more from this brewery.

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Photo of NickRivers
3.61/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A&S - Pours a clear red with two fingers of dirty white, foamy head. Very sweet and bready on the nose with lots of caramel and spices but no hop presence.

T&M - Light and crisp caramel turns to a thick sticky bready alcohol flavor with a small hop bite, maybe even a nibble of hops, nothing too big. Mouthfeel is nice and pleasant, very well balanced beer.

O - Overall an excellent beer, most Brewery/Restaurants beers can't compare to this.

Nice beer with a lot of malt flavor, something you don't see to much in California flagships. Not much to say on this one, its nice and drinkable but nothing stands out. For those who love that heavy, bready, alcohol flavor, go out and pick it up. Can't wait to try KS' other brews. Stay thirsty my friends.

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Photo of Seanibus
3/5  rDev -13.5%
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.

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Photo of mactrail
3.45/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Chestnut brown beer without much head in the pint glass.

Malty with a hint of caramel. Hops are enough to give it a zing. Not a favorite hop for me, it's the hint of the ashtray aftertaste along with what starts as a pleasant bitterness. Each new sip reminds me how sweet this is. Not much mouthfeel except a syrupy touch. Carbonation essentially evaporates as it sits.

Maybe this fills a need in the marketing scheme, since I like most of the other Strauss beers much better than this. But the other choice was Dos Equis at Guadalajara in Old Town, San Diego.

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Photo of readbaron
3.78/5  rDev +8.9%
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 notchucknorris
3.43/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: More of an amber color than red with a tan head that holds up pretty well.

S: Some caramel malts and a slight hint of faded hops.

T: Similar to the smell. A little caramel malt sweetness followed by a faded hop flavor. As the beer warms, the malts stand out a bit more and take on a more bready character. It's one of the better Karl Strauss beers I've had, but still not great.

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Photo of Offa
3.12/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Lightly hazy red amber with medium Tan head soon thinning to ring and no lace.

Aroma is nice toasty whole wheat bread, barley with some fruity-piney floweriness and a clear butterscotch element.

Taste is sweet-spicy, definite toasty character, very light pepper-spicy bitterness with hint of citrus, and a faint hint of earth near the finish. It’s a bit boozy/alcoholic in character for the ABV and what appears to be intended as an easy going, session beer. All is a bit vague and somewhat flat in character, so, although decent with some character, it ends up being neither interesting nor particularly drinkable, being rather bland, flat and heavy for what it is. For my own reference, it’s slightly better than Napa Smith amber, but not much, being somewhat flatter and weaker in character but also being cleaner and less off-putting in aroma or the like.

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Photo of srandycarter
3.23/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Fairly clear brownish red, close to white, small head, leaves to ring fast. Some cling lace.

S - Not much there. Best I get get is earthy, dusty. Very light malt undercurrent.

T - Simple light red. Nice enough.

M - Good carb, light to med body, balance ok.

D- Nice sessionability. Easy enough to drink.

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Photo of Jemonster
3.72/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Caramel red color with large bubble carbonation. No head.

S: Root beer barrel candy, malt, and butter.

T: Root beer candy and malt dominate. There is some vanilla also. Almost too sweet.

M: A little too carbonated for me. The sweetness makes it almost slimy.

D: Not bad overall, I like it and it goes well with food. A not too challenging, smooth, and easy drinking beer.

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Photo of BucBasil
3.15/5  rDev -9.2%
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.

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Photo of harrymel
3.12/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to jbtice0315 for the extra.
Poured to SA sig glass.

A: single finger peanut head falls quickly and reveals a red ale. Very standard look. No visual evidence of carbonation.

S: Malts, biscuits, slight creamy dryness I like in ESB's in there. Light, earthy hop characters.

T: This tastes like a Irish Red. Good example. malty, with earthy hops.

M: Medium body, nearly flat. Just as I would expect.

D: Drinkable, simple. Not the best, but standard.

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Photo of jminsc76
4.5/5  rDev +29.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

Into a pint glass, forms a red-meets-beige head atop a rich and vibrant amber body.

Aromas of biscuit-y malts and caramel as well as sweet and floral hops. So much going on here, though medium in intensity.

Flavors are similar to the aromas, with an excellent balance between the malts and hops. I've had this beer before repeatedly, and the flavor profile always varies, something I admire. The biscuit-y caramel malts are always present (yay!), but something just a little different comes through per each serving.

Mouthfeel is thin and light.

Overall, barring the mouthfeel, Red Trolley is pretty much perfect. So much complexity, balance, and flavors while being perfectly fit for a session beer, it's small wonder it's won the accolades it has.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.03/5  rDev +16.1%
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 BeerManDan
4/5  rDev +15.3%
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 Eriktheipaman
4.55/5  rDev +31.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a red/ amber color but only about half a finger head. I think partially because it wasnt that aggresive of a pour and the beer was very cold.

Smells of chocolate, carmel, and raisins.

The taste is very light going in, slight carmel in the middle, and an amazingggg fresh warm toffee on the finish.

I've always loved this beer and am suprised to see it only have a B. It is the perfect winter beer in my eyes.

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Photo of hoptrip619
3.85/5  rDev +11%
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 EagleTalon
3.24/5  rDev -6.6%
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.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.45/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle at Petco,

A: Pours a dark red with a finger of creamy off-white head, good retention and lacing.

S: Heavy caramel, distinct sugary brewpub red smell.

T: Again heavy on the biscuity crystal malt, sugary, light hopping.

M: Can get to be so sugary it's cloying, smooth, medium-bodied overall.

D: A solid red ale, but the almost over the top malt character stops it from being really drinkable, needs a bit more balance.

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Red Trolley Ale from Karl Strauss Brewing Company
79 out of 100 based on 131 ratings.