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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: 476
Avg: 3.47
pDev: 29.11%
Wants: 21
Gots: 102 | 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: 476
Photo of hopdog
2.58/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pint on tap inside Disneyland.

Poured a deeper amber color with a small sized off white head. I had this side x side with a pint of their Oktoberfest, and honestly, other than this being a little deeper in color, I would have a hard time telling the difference. Some caramel, toastiness, and some light citrus.

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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 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 ehammond1
3.68/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On Tap

Karl Strauss Brewing Company
Carlsbad, CA

Dark red and amber with a thin khaki colored head. Lines of lacing left down the glass.

Very bready aroma with some significant caramel sweetness as well. Simple, pleasant enough, and very bready.

This tastes like toasted bread with a bit of caramel and toffee sweetness. Moderate bitterness. Simple, though very drinkable.

Medium bodied with ample carbonation.

An extremely bready red ale, and flavorful enough per the style.

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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 flexabull
3.72/5  rDev +7.2%
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...

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Photo of sulldaddy
3.27/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I sampled this brew on draft at kilt lifter bar near Petco Park.
Arrived in a 20 oz pint glass. The beer is a rich mahogany hue with some garnet highlights. No head whatsoever.
Aroma is all malt with caramel, toffee and some grainy malt. I don't get any hops and I find the nose to be just a bit too sweet.
First sip reveals an average body with gentle rolling carboantion. Texture is a bit sticky and leaves some residue on my lips.
Flavor is rich malt toffee and some grain again not really any hop profile.

The beer is very straightforward malty brew and easy to drink. Good when out with friends if you'll not really wanting to think too much about your beer. But could be more interesting with a little more hop balance.

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Photo of GbVDave
3.16/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Served in a pilsner glass at the Top of the Hyatt bar in San Diego.

A: Served a reddish light brown with a thin creamy layer of just off-white head on top. Retention was pretty good with small clusters of lace left behind.

S: Really had to strain to get much aroma out of this. It was pretty cold when first served so it began to release a tiny nose after it warmed. Caramel, toasty bread, lemon-y hops. Meh.

T: See above.

M: Enjoyable. Slick with a definite toasty dryness.

O: Really pretty boring. It's saviors are how it looks and how it feels. Pass.

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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

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Photo of beerguy101
3.32/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Medium amber color. 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. Mouthfeel is full. Finish is harsh. Aftertaste is slightly bitter.

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Photo of BigBry
3.49/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Draft pint, while in California, another local offering.
Pours clear amber with a beige head, foam quickly faded to a film, thin lace lines.
Smell is malt, caramel, some fruitiness.
Taste has a good malt base, some fruit like in the smell.
Higher than expected carbonation, thin body.
Overall, a pretty average beer. Nothing too terrible, but nothing memorable either.

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Photo of Overlord
3.48/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I'd like this beer more (not that I'd rate it higher, but I'd subjectively like it more) if it wasn't always priced as a premium.

Nice little red ale that's mostly malty sweetness with some fruit tones, no real hops to speak of, and certainly not a complex beer by any means. I find it goes perfectly with bar food and football. Also works well at California Disney.

Best of the Karl Strauss offerings I've had, though I haven't seen the Stout offered anywhere yet.

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Photo of rawfish
2.56/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours dark amber, rusty colored under the light, mild chill haze. One finger high head of tight off white bubbles. Average retention with many solid lines of lacing. Kinda attractive for a session beer.

Caramel malts with a slight bit of dark berries, very dank and musty hop aroma. Little bit on honey and toasted almond on the finish.

Very raw and grainy malt bill, some mixed nuts and caramel in the flavor. Notes of burnt sugar and subtle fall fruits. Hops don't really push back any as they are small and dank, shriveled up with some pine and lettuce leaves. Husky grains and raw bread dough finish off the drink and really accelerates on the finish.

Well carbonated with an average body. Drying that accentuates the awful grainy taste in the finishing malt.

This beer is everywhere in SD but I don't see how it's gotten so popular or how it deserves a gold medal of any kind. Flavorful malt bill and sessionable but an absolute adjunct and raw mess on the finish, you need to keep quaffing this thing to keep the aftertaste out of your mouth. Karl's seasonal offerings and one shots are so much better, I'll pass on this.

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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 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 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.


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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 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.

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Photo of IntriqKen
3.28/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

"A full bodied copper-colored ale with rich flavors of tofee, subtle hintsof currants an dates, andan incredibly smooth finish."
Yep...a little too sweet....definately a light roasted flavor to the malts....a very full and smooth mouthfeel with a little bit of citrus hops on the end to leave the palette clean and dry.
Beautiful lacing with lots of tiny bubbles coming up from the bottom the entire time I was drinking this pint.

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Photo of granger10
3.58/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Medium amber red color with a medium white head and moderate lacing. Not much aroma here. A bit of fruityness and caramel. Taste is quite sweet but I like it. Lots of toffee with a caramelized strawberry flavor on top. Not much in the hop dept. A bit of a creamy body. Slight sour notes from the yeast. Finish is a bit sticky and this could definitely be cloying after a few. I only had one and it went fast but I am satisfied and want some more hops.

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Photo of augustgarage
3.75/5  rDev +8.1%
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.

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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 dansmcd
3.37/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Nice clear caramel ruby red tone without a head, just a ring with some very short lived lacing.

S - Fruity and sweet, toffee and a hint of booze, quite a British aroma.

T - Raspberry, toffee, grainy malts. Mild and tasty.

M - Moderately carbonated, dry and light in body.

O - Not a bad beer this one. Nice accompaniment to a winter meal.

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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.

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.57/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Deep amber to reddish in color. A light bit of white foam covers a small bit of the top of the beer. Light aroma of caramel and amber malt. There's a taste of amber malt with very little play from the hops. There's not much in the fade. The body is a bit light for my taste.

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