Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine and get 12 issues / year of fresh beer content delivered to your door each month.

Already subscribe? to manage your subscription.

Red Trolley Ale - Karl Strauss Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Red Trolley AleRed Trolley Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
79
okay

131 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 131
Hads: 470
rAvg: 3.47
pDev: 14.7%
Wants: 21
Gots: 97 | 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 (88) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 131 | Hads: 470
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. (757 characters)

Photo of HalfFull
3.09/5  rDev -11%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Red Trolley pours a clear light copper amber with a thin and hard fought head of less than half an inch. Retention is virtually nonexistent, resulting in a flat beverage with no visible carbonation in short order.

Light caramel malts on the nose share the stage with some roasted notes. Rather sweet but not very complex on the nose and with just a hint of hops. More candied after a swirl, and showing muddled woody hops.

Sweet caramel malts dominate the flavor of the beer but aren't supported by any carbonation, yielding a rather viscous feel. Some toffee and dried fruit on the swallow are pleasant but short lived, improving later and adding some winter spice notes. Feel and finish of an Oktoberfest beer yet still suffering from carbonation issues. The beer improved in texture and complexity after letting it warm and allowing for some swirling action. Better carbonation would likely bump this beer a full letter grade.

5.8% (937 characters)

Photo of froghop
3.08/5  rDev -11.2%
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 Stevedore
3.08/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle. Dated 1774. Too lazy to do the Julian conversion right now. But clearly halfway through the year. Poured into a stemless glass 12/15/14.

A- Dark, slightly hazy, caramel-red body, half finger white head that retains decently well. No lacing. Thin collar persists throughout.

S- This beer is very malty, but in a decent way. Straight up toffee and tapioca, kind of like a hoppy tootsie roll. A bit of earth and floral hop notes. Really not my thing, but certainly there are no off-flavours here.

F- Lots of toffee and tapioca, more of the tapioca here. Mild earthy bitterness on the finish. Not complex or interesting, but again, nothing that is "bad" about it.

M- Medium bodied, crisp and leaves a earthy sting to the palate on the finish. Decent beer, drinkable.

O- Nothing special about this beer; it's constructed well enough but it tastes quite malty and to be honest, it's quite boring.

Final score: 3.08 (927 characters)

Photo of ctdfalconer
3.06/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Karl Strauss is a decent organization that I think suffers from trying to please too many people. Being a brewpub, they aim at appealing to beer nuts, but at the same time, they position themselves as a kind of beer-themed family restaurant. This is a tricky balance to acheive, and there is some overlap in those two schemes, but beer-wise, it guides them to aim for the middle. This beer (along with most of their lineup) exemplifies that. The beer is clean and crisp and easy to drink, but largely unremarkable. It has some pleasant malty-toffee notes with a hint of toastyness, but given a decent hoppy zing, it would have been considerably more interesting. I'm not saying they should remake Arrogant Bastard, I'm just saying that I would like this beer more if it had a little hoppy dryness in the finish and just a frisson of hop perfume in the nose. Aiming for accessibility is one thing, and this beer is quite accessible, but even so, when I was in the K.S. in Universal Citywalk, the people at the next table displayed their preconceptions when they picked out the "Endless Summer Light Lager" as their fave, saying of the red, "We don't like those dark beers". The problem is, you can't please everybody. It looks like they are pleasing enough to stay in business, at any rate. (1,289 characters)

Photo of Floydster
3.04/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pint from Chili's Restaraunt in Manhattan Beach

Poured was a golden brown with an inch thick white head

Smell was lots of yeast

Taste was crisp and smooth, full of hops

More like an APA than an amber to me

This brewery's beer all has the same hoppy aftertaste to it, cannot figure it out

Could drink good amount of this brew (330 characters)

Photo of Roeters
3.03/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Poured from bottle in to a pint glass, reddish copper color with a finger and half of off white foam
S: Quite malty, little caramel slight breadiness
T: All malt, no real bitterness present, mostly just sweetness
M: lighter body, little too thin/watery
D: very easy drinking, personally I think it needs more bitterness to offset the malty base of this beer. (362 characters)

Photo of arfenhouse
3.02/5  rDev -13%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Dark amber with white head. Almost no lacing.

S: Smells like toasted bread and caramel.

T: Has a slight caramel-like sweetness and nuttiness to it. Hop flavor seems to be a bit muddled and undefined but present. Finishes off with a very slight bitterness.

M: Medium bodied with low carbonation. Wet. Good feel in my opinion.

O: Decent beer, doesn't seem to be a prize-winning beer as stated on the label though. Feels like an improved and slightly more complex version of Newcastle. Probably would be a good candidate to get people into the craft scene. (561 characters)

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a light red, standard clarity, 1/2" head on it, white in color. Aroma was uneventful.

Taste, a little bit of caramel, toffee, sweet and bready. Not really any bitterness or hops to speak of here. Relatively light on the palate. For a second, I thought I should be giving this beer a higher rating, it doesn't do anything poorly, it is true to style, but its just so run of the mill for me, but I realize that's how I feel about most red ales. Just one of those, don't hate it, don't love it.

Its a beer that has a place in the world, but its not exactly teeming with flavor country either. (599 characters)

Photo of Sammy
3/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Local consideration at Pizza Port Solena Beach. Some lace, some yeast noted, and some toasted malt. Not all that bad but this style is fairly commonplace and topped by many. Easy drink and beats a macro, not way out of a place in the incredible California beer landscape. (271 characters)

Photo of ccrida
3/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearence is rich mahogeny with a small off-white collar leaving very light lace.

Smell isvery sweet malt, carmel, some gingerbread.

Taste is also real sweet and malty, but there is a husky bite too it as well, a touch metallic.

Mouthfeel is off dry and sharp.

Drinkability is ok if you like a really sweet, malty ale. I'd not have a 2nd if it wasn't the only craft brew in the san diego airport where I have a painful 4 hour layover. I was really hoping for some good IPA! (482 characters)

Photo of rinhaak
3/5  rDev -13.5%
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 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. (400 characters)

Photo of hopfacebrew
3/5  rDev -13.5%
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 PolarBear3
2.97/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

A - Pours a bronze, red amber colour with an off white head that dissipates quickly leaving no lace.

S - Sweet bready malt, almost toffee/candy apple like with some caramel.

T - Sweet malts and mainly caramel/toffee with a slightly mild bitter finish.

M - Light to medium bodied with very little carbonatio

O - A little sweet for my liking and seemed a little flat. Not recommended (385 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
2.97/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a crystal clear amber with a 1 inch fizzy beige head that fades to a film on the top of the beer. Random dots of lace drip back down into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, fruit, and a slight metallic aroma. Taste is malty, fruity, caramel, and there is a slight metallic flavor just like the smell. The carbonation on this beer is fairly high and paired with a somewhat thin body the mouthfeel is not that impressive. Overall, this is a pretty average beer all around. Nothing too horrible but not something I would probably try again. (573 characters)

Photo of dippy
2.96/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Carmel Color with a tan head that had some lacing clinging to the glass.

Tastes like barley. It is a beer that would go with grape nuts or cheerios.

There wasn't much scent to this brew, maybe a little metallic.

Not any carbonation.
Decent beer, but won't go out of my way in the future. (291 characters)

Photo of scottoale
2.9/5  rDev -16.4%
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 barleywinefiend
2.9/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at an airport bar in LAX. Poured a medium amber color with some red tint. Medium head. Aroma is malty and a touch sweet. A medium bodied amber. Malts are nutty and a touch sweet. Hops are slightly spicy. There is a slightly harsh feel to the taste in this beer. Kind of a typical amber. Drinkable, but typical. Not very complex at all. (346 characters)

Photo of magictrokini
2.88/5  rDev -17%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Everyone says this is the best Karl Strauss has to offer. Its a decent beer. Good color, solid red with an off-white head. A nearly too-sweet caramel nose with straw. Malty sweet taste, to the point it feels like it builds up on your teeth. Lasting finish. Pretty thin, not remarkable. For a lighter beer, I think the Amber Lager is a much better alternative. (359 characters)

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. (916 characters)

Photo of malcontent
2.78/5  rDev -19.9%
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 Trappissed
2.77/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

On-tap at some bar:

Way too sweet. Cloying. Thick mouthfeel for the style as well. Nothing really positive to say, other than the fact that I'm probably being too generous with my ratings on this one. Sorry Mister Strauss, you have yet to impress me. (251 characters)

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. (1,369 characters)

Photo of neeld
2.7/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Not impressed. This beer comes on too sweet and malty for my tastes and IMO for the style. Carbonation is also too low.

If I didn't read the label, I might guess this was an Oktoberfest. In fact, if they upped the carbonation 50% it might make a good one. As is, it's flat on both counts. (289 characters)

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