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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: 98 | 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: 470
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 oggg
3.32/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Part of a 6 beer sampler

Seemingly yet another amber ale. Same amber color. Minimal head due to sample size. Nice spicy and fruity aroma, quite surprising. Taste was mostly hop bitterness with some spiciness and generic fruit. Not too impressive. Low on malt character. Medium body. Tasted against the Del Marzen lager, you can clearly tell this is an ale that isn't perfectly clean, but has some character to it.

---
2/3/05 at Outback
I'll stick with my previous rating. This beer has a good amount of biscuity malt, so this is a big big step up from macroswill. Hop bite is mild, and there's a decent amount of fruitiness between the hops and esters -- sweet raisins.... (680 characters)

Photo of Douglas14
3.12/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Has a deep tawny/copper color with a nice beige head. The aroma is heavily of roasted malt, toffee, and caramel. The taste is of caramel and some dark fruits...like raisins or dates. Pretty sweet...wish it were hoppier. It has a medium body and finishes pretty smooth and sweet. (278 characters)

Photo of JayTheFinn
4.38/5  rDev +26.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Was lucky enough to have this one at the Santa Barbara beer festival.

A - Slightly reddish brown body.
S - Light roasty malt scent.
T - Perfect hop/malt balance. Starts with a little sharpness that smooths out quickly into rich malts. It has a slightly sweet flavor that I just love.
M - Full mouthfeel. It rolls around the tongue hitting all the right tastebuds.
D - Completely and absolutely drinkable. To me, this is a session beer of dream-like proportions. (469 characters)

Photo of Tupperwolf
1.78/5  rDev -48.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Red, dark-brown 22oz Brewer's Pint of Red Trolley Ale on draft; Almost no head, left a few tiny dabs of lacing.

Saccharine, brown-sugar, sugar, sweet-n-low.. this thing defied the boundaries of sweetness. Like sniffing a bowl of sugar.

Sickly, sickly, disgustingly sweet. I could only drink 1/4 of a glass. It got worse as it warmed up. No hop balance, no toasty flavors, nothing - just heavy, mouth-filling, gut-churning sweetness. I hated every second of my 1/4 pint.

Yuck. (484 characters)

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. (1,748 characters)

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. (757 characters)

Photo of SensorySupernova
4.35/5  rDev +25.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Clear amber with an off-white head.

Smell: Caramel, a bit fruity.

Taste: Moderately sweet caramel malt up front. Has a strong dark fruity hop aroma - like grapes or plumbs. Not very bitter. Leaves a clean hoppy aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium thickness, well carbonated.

Overall: I really like this. It’s not over the top, but plenty flavorful in an easy to appreciate kind of way. I imagine this would be a good choice to introduce someone to beer. (465 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 DM1293
4/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Award winning huh? I'll put that to the test.

Bottle, clear cup.

Appearance - ...its a light red coloration. Interesting, seeing as the other reds I've tried have been a darker shade of red. The head foams up a little but dissipates after a couple minutes.

Smell - Light, unimposing; caramelly sweet notes. Gives way just enough for a bit of maltiness to shine through.

Taste - Interesting. It tastes like a red, no doubt. A slightly sweet, malty taste. Nothing too imposing, not too sweet or bitter (and what it is doesn't go over the top), not too bold or weak. I can see why its got an award on it. Its very well-balanced, doing everything it should but being exactly what a basic red ale should be. I could almost call this a benchmark for what a red should be.

Mouthfeel - Bold but dissipates quick. A light thickness that dissipates fast.

Overall - ...Pretty much iconic of what a red should be while making nothing too stand-out. Karl Strauss, I may have been unimpressed by your wheat (circumstances may have caused that), but your red is nothing to scoff at in my opinion. A great drink with the right meal. (1,122 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 Foxtrot
3.21/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into pint glass.

Poured a nice dark amber hue with a small ivory head and decent lacing.

Not a whole lot going on in the nose. Just faintly picked up some malts with a touch of sweetness. Nothing really pronounced at all with the aroma.

Taste was decent at best. Definitely big on the malts but no hop bitterness to balance it out. I found this particular beer to be slightly too sweet for me. Just a bit much on the caramel and toffee flavors.

The mouthfeel was good. It seemed a little light to me.

Drinkability is certainly good, but the flavor and lack of hop presence makes this beer less desirable. (630 characters)

Photo of OleJohnnieAle
3.88/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Kansas City BBQ in San Diego

A: Nice rich amber red color, minimal head that left thin lacing behind.

S: Malts with a biscuit note, nice sweet caramel notes.

T: Nice malts up front with some sweetness coming through from the caramel and toffee.

M: Medium body, minimal carbonation. Well balanced.

O: Nice red, well balanced, nothing too special but a drinkable good showing of a irish red. (409 characters)

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

A: Pours a lovely reddish-brown with a frothy tannish head that leaves a small layer of film, and some lacing on the glass.

S: Sweet and syrupy with a hint of roasted malt.

T: Sweet beginning with some bitterness coming out after the initial burst. Fairly mild flavor overall.

MF: Not too heavy, some warming, surprising considering the relatively low alcohol content. Maybe a little too bubbly for this style, but goes down smooth.

O: This beer is almost a nut-brown/mild on steroids. Fairly mild and well balanced flavor, and it has a nice little hop kick. A drinkable beer, but the flavor is pretty basic. Good, not great. (631 characters)

Photo of RunDWP
3.36/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I salute the San Diego airport, which of all the airports I've been to in America, has the best selection in the terminals. For instance, before catching a flight in SAN yesterday, I had a couple pints of Red Trolley Ale. Nice reddish brown color with a thin white head and some decent lace work on the glass. Not much in the aroma department, but maybe mine was a little too cold to generate much aroma. Slight caramel malt aroma. Nice rich combination of caramel malt with a little roastiness, maybe a little nuttiness, and a slight grassy hops finish. Doesn't blow me away, but nice blend of flavors for a solid ale. A little high in the carbonation, which I've noticed in other Karl Stauss brews. Nice, smooth, mellow finish and a very solid session beer. (759 characters)

Photo of dutesanch
4.29/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Super smooth and refreshing malt forward with a slightly sweet finish. A great tasting beer for any occasion that I feel even novice drinkers would enjoy. Good from the bottles but I enjoy these the most from my Sam Adams perfect pint glasses. (243 characters)

Photo of Psilo707
3.8/5  rDev +9.5%
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! (761 characters)

Photo of T100Mark
3.79/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A 12 ounce bottle poured into a shaker pint glass.

Appearance - Nice copper color. Amazing clarity. Big tan hear that fades quickly. Minimal stickage. A fine looking brew.

Smell - Faint malt nose. Sweet. Slight hint of burnt toast. Not overwhelming.

Taste - Malty. Sweet. Slight hint of burnt toast. Walnuts? The hops are almost nonexistent.

Mouth - Syrupy.

Overall - A malty, sweet, smooth amber ale with just a touch of nuttiness. Simple and honest. I appreciate the fact that this beer is a a true amber ale (so many California amber ales are loaded with hops). Your Coors Light chugging buddies might be able to appreciate this beer. (645 characters)

Photo of coolandy007
4.92/5  rDev +41.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This is an interesting example of Irish Red because there are hidden notes of citrus from American hop that actually work quite well for the style. Pours a gorgeous amber with small head and is strong on the caramel and malt flavors. Barely noticeable hops on the nose, instead heavy malt sweetness, caramel and tiny hints of dark fruit. (337 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 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. (378 characters)

Photo of Aiptasia
3.7/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer is getting panned a lot as a "meh" beer, but when I was at a convention last week at the SD convention center, it was a welcome alternative to BMC beers. I didn't pour it into glass, but it appeared to be clean inside of the bottle with a nice neck head. It smelled of citrus hops, biscuit malt and nuttiness. Similar taste, with a great malt nutty backbone and finished dry. Average carbonation and drinkability, makes a great summer beer when you're looking for just a little depth in your beer.

Overall, it's a solid beer. It's inexpensive and worth drinking. (573 characters)

Photo of swid
3.52/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Red Trolley Ale pours a slighly opaque and a dead-on amber color into my pilsner glass. A 1/8", white head forms and disappears nearly instantly. Low carbonation. No lacing. The aroma is quite malty, with a noticeable caramel smell present. A faint floral aroma is also present.

Tastewise, this beer can best be described as "Fat Tire, but sweeter and not as biscuity". Red Trolley Ale shares a base malty sweetness with the other two Karl Strauss beers I've tried; a noticeable caramel flavor is apparent, along with a faint biscuit flavor, and only a trace of bitterness. The syrupy mouthfeel apparently is another KS hallmark; it works pretty well here. Red Trolley goes down with a sweet caramel flavor, and finishes with a pleasant, slightly bitter aftertaste.

Overall, this is a decent, if mostly average, amber ale. If I lived near the San Diego area, I'd probably drink this every once in a while. Finally...thanks, Mom, for bringing back a mixed six-pack from California for your favorite beer geek! :-) (1,018 characters)

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. (753 characters)

Photo of surfer4life
3.56/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Pint glass from a 12oz bottle

A - Holds true to the red/amber color, perfect hue with a small 1/4 inch head that recedes to small film in a few minutes.

S - Smells of hops, cherry and strawberry candy. Perhaps a bit of syrup smell that make the beer almost smell like a soda.

T - Very sweet, but not syrup like the smell would incline. Hops can be detected although not to strong. Raisins, caramel and some hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. Tasty.

M - Medium carbonation, seems to go dull very quickly though, so all the good taste is in the front.

D - I think I could drink this for a session beer. It certainly beats the bud/coors/miller available at the corner store. (689 characters)

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