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Red Trolley Ale - Karl Strauss Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Red Trolley AleRed Trolley Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
81
good

412 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 412
Reviews: 121
rAvg: 3.53
pDev: 14.73%
Wants: 16
Gots: 60 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-16-2003)
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 412 | Reviews: 121 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of GarthDanielson
4.03/5  rDev +14.2%
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.

Photo of BeerManDan
4.03/5  rDev +14.2%
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.

Photo of Eriktheipaman
4.6/5  rDev +30.3%
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.

Photo of hoptrip619
3.85/5  rDev +9.1%
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.)

Photo of EagleTalon
3.28/5  rDev -7.1%
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.

Photo of Halcyondays
3.43/5  rDev -2.8%
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.

Photo of treehugginslug
3.73/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

FIRST REVIEW

A - Nice amber color

S - Smell was very attractive. Nice malted caramel, Really liked the smell.

T - Taste was similar to smell, not much on hops.

M - Mouth was very weak. Not a lot of carbonation and flavor had too much caramel, but there was something I really liked about it. Similar to a stout.

D - Drinkability is high.

Whould I buy it again: Yes
Would I recommend it to a friend: Yes
Would I drink it if I was offered at a party: Absolutely
Overall: Very Good

SECOND REVIEW

A - Nice amber color

S - Smell is nice, but similar to package malt extract.

T - Taste was way too sweet. Not enough hops to balance out the malt. Thought there was a little too much acidic taste to it.

M - Weak, not a lot of carbonation.

D - This time I had a 22 oz. and couldn't drink anyomore.

Whould I buy it again: No
Would I recommend it to a friend: Yes, but just to try.
Would I drink it if I was offered at a party: Maybe
Overall: Fair, but not going to be added to my rotation.

Photo of ManuelHerrera
3.43/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I decided to crack one of these brews out of my gifted "Craft Brew 10 Pack" from BevMo and I hoped to god it was decent. And it is!

Appearance - Pours wooden brown with an orange glow in the light. Not too much head on my pour.

Smell- Heavy malt smell, a dark sweet aroma that was a welcome surprise compared to what I was expecting.

Taste - A smooth, burnt carmel taste that gets sweater on the palate with every sip. A bit too sweet at the end though.

Mouthfeel - Lightly carbonated, a bit heavier than I'd hoped, and the sweetness lingers at the finish.

Drinkability- I really didn't know what to expect from this bottle, at worst I dreaded another thin flavorless American brew; but I was surprised by it's thickness. Not too heavy, but I wouldn't have too many of these in a night.

Photo of twiggamortis420
3.48/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle from tjensen3618, gracias! Pours a brilliantly clear light copper color with a loud and fizzy cap of light tan foam. Fades rapidly and leaves a hint of lace.

To say the nose is malty would be an understatement. Caramel, toffee and even some chocolate come through big. Buttered popcorn and peanut butter crackers also make an appearance.

Taste is malty sweet and not a whole lot else...caramel being the most prevalent. Some toast and some more of that mild chocolate/peanut butter is there in the background, kind of like mexican mole sauce. This brew is incredibly easy to drink, but not overly interesting...although I cant deny a quick malt bomb fix is nice every now and again.

Photo of itfitz
3.7/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

With hints of resin, herbs, caramel, cereal, nuts, and roasty undertones, this easily-consumed beer has lively carbonation which gives it a light, pleasant finish.

When poured, it has a great-looking red hue which doesn't really prepare you for the hoppy overnotes.

Served cold and fresh, Red Trolley Ale works well as a session beer.

Photo of Roeters
3.03/5  rDev -14.2%
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.

Photo of glid02
3.65/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at a random bar in Mission Beach, CA.

Pours a slightly hazy dark amber color with a half-finger white head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving light lacing.

Smells of lightly toasted malts with a good dose of caramel malt sweetness. As the beer warms hints of milk chocolate aromas waft out as well.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Grainy caramel malt flavors with hints of toastiness kick things off. Midway through the sip the flavor sweetens a bit, allowing milk chocolate flavors to work their way out. Very mild amounts of leafy hops enter into things before a mildly bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with smooth carbonation.

Drinkability is good. I didn't have any problems finishing my glass and could have another.

Overall I wasn't a huge fan of this beer but it's certainly not a terrible decision if this is your best option. Not worth seeking out but also not worth avoiding.

Photo of donniecuffs
3.23/5  rDev -8.5%
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.

Photo of VWBuggirl
4.25/5  rDev +20.4%
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.

Photo of froghop
3.13/5  rDev -11.3%
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.

Photo of womencantsail
3.1/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: The pour from bottle to pint glass is a clear, amber color with a fluffy off-white foam.

S: Caramel, sweet malt, and a slight bit of roasted malt. Not all that much going on in the nose.

T: This is a very sweet beer. Too sweet for my taste. The flavor is very caramelly, with a fair amount of malt flavor coming through as well. Little to no hops, unfortunately, as this beer could really use it.

M: The beer doesn't feel too terrible on the tongue. A light-medium body and moderate carbonation.

D: The beer itself is not terrible. It is a bit too sweet for me, but other than that, it's not awful. The flavors that are there aren't bad, it's just not necessarily my cup of tea.

Photo of jjh19
4.28/5  rDev +21.2%
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?

Photo of neeld
2.68/5  rDev -24.1%
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.

Photo of HalfFull
3.1/5  rDev -12.2%
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%

Photo of flexabull
3.7/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly hazed amber color with a decent head.

Smells malty, bready, tea like, and a little caramel too.

Taste is clean and crisp. Mostly malts up front, caramel sweetness, crisp nutty breads, and some brewed tea. Finish has that crispness, with some mineral like hops.

Mouthfeel is ok, a touch thin, with decent carbonation.

Drinkability is pretty good. This is a pretty solid amber ale. Definitely malt forward, but that's certainly not a bad thing. After this one, I think I'll have another...

Photo of Trappissed
2.73/5  rDev -22.7%
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.

Photo of TheQuietMan22
3.65/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

Photo of csmiley
3.58/5  rDev +1.4%
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.

Photo of Psilo707
3.8/5  rDev +7.6%
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!

Photo of augustgarage
3.78/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. The color is a ruddy mixture of crimson and copper, similar to rooibos tea. Minimal head formation/retention. Aromatics are rich but fleeting and are not notably different than the flavors on the palate. The caramelized malts come through with a persistent toasty/nutty presence. This is balanced by a unique flavor that is difficult to identify (candy / dates / figs?) but is quite pleasant. Karl Strauss attributes this quality to the warm fermentation process. While not a malt-heavy beer, the yeast seems to be doing more of the balancing work than the hops. A slightly drying finish that leads you back for another sip.

While not as powerful in comparison to other seasonal red ales (e.g. Santa's Private Reserve Ale brewed by Rogue Ales), Red Trolley Ale deserves praise for its drinkability. It almost seems like in a failed attempt at crafting a winter-warmer Karl Strauss lucked on to something with more universal appeal.

Red Trolley Ale from Karl Strauss Brewing Company
81 out of 100 based on 412 ratings.