22nd Anniversary Vanilla Imperial Stout - Karl Strauss Brewing Company

Not Rated.
22nd Anniversary Vanilla Imperial Stout22nd Anniversary Vanilla Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

102 Ratings
THE BROS
88
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 102
Reviews: 63
rAvg: 3.81
pDev: 12.07%
Wants: 15
Gots: 28 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Karl Strauss Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: HopHead84 on 02-03-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 102 | Reviews: 63
Photo of Sammy
3.8/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A smooth drinking beer with good mouthfeel. Coconut and vanilla, the latter strong in the finish. Good looks, black with white bubbly head and inviting aromas of vanilla and roasted chocolate malt.
Stephen Rich brought this back from the Brewers' conference.

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.85/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I think that the Karl Strauss Brewing Company is on to something big. The amount of wax they used on the bottle is a control measure. You see, if you refrigerate this beer, by the time you actually get the damn bottle open by battling the insane amount of wax, the beer is at a great temperature for tasting.

Pours an almost opaque crimson red/dark brown with a nice khaki 2 inch head that fades to a small cap. Good rings and lattices of lacing on the drink down. Smells of bittersweet chocolate, roasted coffee, and vanilla. Vanilla hits you in the mouth up front, followed by espresso, cocoa powder, and some slight wood from the oak. A bourbon alcohol taste is present on the finish. Mouthfeel is a bit thin for the style and from what I was expecting. Overall, a good beer as it is drinking right now, but I think that this will really benefit from more age. I can only expect it will just get better.

Photo of GRG1313
3.05/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours black with a short off white head.

Lightly assertive sweet chocolate, plummy nose. No vanilla to speak of, certainly no more than most barrel aged brews.

Medium full mouth and body with nice balance.

Flavors are all simple medium to full bitter coffee and espresso. Pleasant flavors although it really tastes like cold, carbonated espresso with little more.

Finish is medium full bitter coffee.

Not bad; just nothing special. Vanilla character noticeably absent.

Photo of Thorpe429
3.28/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle opened by banning. Served in a Jackie O's snifter.

Pours near black with a thin off white head and a thin collars afterward. Not entirely opaque, which immediately indicates that it is not going to be as viscous as it should be. The nose brings vanilla plus a bit of light chocolate. There is a very slight roast presence. Flavor is pretty one dimensional. There is a strong amount of vanilla and not really much else. Light chocolate and roast in the background, but it could really use some hops or more oak, or potentially some more roast. Now, it's just too sweet and has lots of vanilla with nothing backing it up. Medium body that could be more viscous. Okay, but a bit of a disappointment.

Photo of brentk56
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a fudge brown color with ruby highlights; the head builds to an inch or so and leaves a few shards of lace

Smell: Roasty chocolate, but somewhat sweet, with a discernible woody vanilla presence

Taste: Sweetened chocolate, up front, with a vanilla/cherry flavor that develops by mid-palate; though there is enough hop bitterness to balance out the sweeter elements after the swallow, this is a rather sweet beer overall, with just a hint of Bourbon in the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Rather enjoyable, though it pales in power next to many other examples of the Imperial Stout style; it almost tastes like the beer equivalent of a Cherry Ripe (if any of you have tasted this Australian candy bar)

Photo of womencantsail
4.1/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The pour is a very dark brown color with some reddish/amber notes to it and a finger of khaki head.

S: Big time vanilla to the nose along with quite a bit of creamy chocolate. I get both milk and dark chocolate out of this one and a mild roastiness. There is a touch of oak to the aroma as well, not really any bourbon, though.

T: Tons and tons of vanilla, from both the bourbon/barrels and the added vanilla. The flavor is very heavy on the chocolate as well. Some mild to moderate bitterness which prevents the beer from being far too sweet.

M: The body is medium with a smooth carbonation.

O: Quite smooth and creamy and just really very pleasant. This is a solid beer, indeed.

Photo of Jason
3.93/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz brown bomber with a vintage date on the label.

LOOK: Big head, stout black.

SMELL: Vanilla, charcoal, ripe dark fruit, faint oak, burnt sugar, alcohol.

TASTE: Silky smooth, roasted grain, soft charcoal, mellow vanilla, hint of oak, modest hopping, burnt bread.

9% where art thou? Yeah, it is there but super mellow. Beer is playful with some interested flavors thrown at the palate. Perhaps the earth does not shake but the palate wants another sip. Great job guys!

Photo of MasterSki
3.83/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Shane (HopHead84) for sending this one my way - finally got around to opening it. Served in a Bruery tulip. This one is about 6 months old.

A - Big tan foam settles to a thin cap, leaving patches of spotty lace behind. Dark brown body with some reddish transparency to it when held to the light.

S - Lots of vanilla, mild oak, cocoa, milled lightly roasted grains, touch of spirit alcohol and oxidation present.

T - Tons of vanilla, a bit of chocolate, light oak and roasted malt character, touch of caramel and brown sugar, and moderate bitterness in the finish. Alcohol could stand to be a bit better hidden.

M - Roasty, dry, medium body, with pleasant carbonation. Seems undersized for 9% - would be quite nice for a 5-7% American Stout. Since only a portion was -bal aged I'm guessing the base beer is to blame, and not the barrel-aging process.

D - A solid beer with some small flaws. Easy to drink even with the intense vanilla sweetness. I'd have it again, but I don't think this will benefit from additional aging and suspect it could decline rapdily.

Photo of Halcyondays
3.73/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bomber,

A: Pours black with a full 3 finger tan head, good retention leaving impressive lacing.

S: Not really getting vanilla, there's a hint of it, mostly a smell of cocoa powder with hint of dark fruit (fig).

T: There is an attractive vanilla undercurrent throughout the beer which I really liked and I thought should more of a focal point. Good dark chocolate flavours, cocoa and carob, tasty but nothing to go crazy for.

M: Medium to full-bodied, very smooth, creamy, soft carbonation and elegant.

D: I love vanilla and I wanted to be wowed ala Creme Brulee Stout. I got a solid, quaffable big stout, but nothing out of the ordinary. Try it on tap though, it's worth a buy.

Photo of HopHead84
4.05/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2/2/2011

Incidentally, this is review #900. I find it comical that they're filling 64oz growlers of this for $12. On tap at Karl Strauss in Sorrento Valley with 10000 people who just got off work in the business park. I think I'm sitting in a private section of the bar reserved by a company because everyone seems to know each other, they all appear to be drinking Woody Gold, and there are platters of food on tables. Well, perhaps everyone is just really friendly, they all enjoy Woody Gold, and Karl Strauss gives away free food on Wednesday nights. 

Described as "A bold Russian Imperial Stout brewed with vanilla beans and aged three months in American oak bourbon barrels."

A: Deep brown in the tulip glass, bordering on black. I'd reckon 80 SRM if you put a gun to my head. Yes, it says that on the menu but I wasn't looking. The head is light brown and creamy. The pour was subpar so there wasn't much longevity in that department. Lacing is minimal. A pretty alright looking beer. No complaints. I just noticed a deep crimson tinge when I hold the glass to the light of the coy pond. Such magical fish.

S: Bold vanilla profile accompanied by dark chocolate, caramel, oak, and bourbon. Smells good, though the vanilla could stand to be less overpowering. Roasted malt comes out when the beer warms past 33 degrees. 

T: The flavor is quite good and better than I expected. It displays extraordinary balance between roasted malt, vanilla bean, coffee, dark chocolate, and bourbon. I'd love to see more bourbon flavor, but for only 3 months the barrels imparted a good deal of character. On second thought, the vanilla is really strong, it's not balanced. The 9% is well hidden by the bold flavors. Sweetness is at a moderate level, being tempered by a low hop bitterness, coffee, and the roasted malt. There's a dash or caramel in there. The finish is sticky with a dash of astringency, some oak, and notable alcohol warming. The beer has a bit of a vanilla flourish in the terminus. Caramel becomes more pronounced as the beer warms.

M: Lower full body with upper low carbonation. Mouthfeel is silky and sticky with a drying oak sensation on the palate.

Overall: A smooth and easy drinking -bal aged RIS. It's a bit heavy on the vanilla for my taste, but that might be a beloved quality to others. Recommended.

Photo of liamt07
4.02/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle thanks to Steve, shared with Sammy and Steve. 22oz into a tulip.

Pours black with a beige head, dark mahogany highlights in the body. Thin layer of retention, some bubbles form the collar. Nose is full of vanilla, milk chocolate and coconut. Sweet yet not overwhelmingly so. Taste has oak, vanilla, dark fruits, coconut, roasted notes and more lingering oak in the finish. An 'imperial sweet stout' I'd call it. Mouthfeel is pretty full and sweet in the finish. A nice stout overall. Thanks again Steve.

Photo of Gobzilla
3.6/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: poured a very dark brown just about black in color with maroonish highlights and had a tight half finger of brown head, good retention leaving a little lacing sticking to the glass.

S: noticeable coffee upfront with some roastiness, oat grains, hints of chocolate and faint vanilla. the bourbon to me was pretty muted but thought it had very little cherry notes to it.

T: the roastiness, mild bourbon, and vanilla were more apparent on the taste alongside some oat grains but had slight hop character. it did have chocolate accents and a touch booze.

M: the brew was medium in body with a good amount of carbonation which had a sweet, bourbon, mild hoppy, and silky finish.

D: it was just a decent imperial stout that was pretty good all around and to me would have liked more bourbon character; oh well.

Photo of xnicknj
3.55/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle poured into tulip - thanks pat

Pours a viscous, opaque blacked out color with a layering of tanned head. Slowly fades into a coating of filmy retention with some spotty lacing left behind on the glass.

A nice marriage of chocolate and vanilla in the nose, followed by undertones of oak, bourbon and warmth. Roasted malts, leather and sweetness with cocoa.

Plenty of vanilla right up front, matched with dark chocolate and cocoa. Sweet, but not cloying, riding a wave of roasted malts with a hint of roasted coffee beans. Continuing layers of dark malt with vanilla, oak and soft bourbon notes. Finishes a bit sweet and warm.

Fuller body, slightly lower carbonation, creamy and slick on the tongue. Drinks pretty nice considering the age, and the 25% barrel aged portion of the blend adds a decent depth of flavor.

Photo of FosterJM
3.86/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

280th review on BA
bottle to NB Globe

App- A nice dark brown pour with a very impressive two finger head. The lacing was very impressive.

Smell- Faint malts with some chocolate and whisps of vanilla and bourbon.

Taste- It's a good tasting beer. A bit under what I thought it would be with the % of Vanilla beans.

Mouth- Medium bodied with a medium carb level. A bit creamy with a nice roasty and bitter after taste.

Drink- Not too bad. A little underwhelming with the amount of vanilla I was expecting. I think from the label 3 months in the barrels wasnt enough. I need to grab a 2nd bottle to age longer.

Photo of notchucknorris
3.18/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Looks good. Black body with a pretty good sized mocha colored head and good retention.

S: Strange smell. Earthy and warm smelling. I don't think I've ever smelled anything like this one.

T: I don't know about this one. It has some coffee going on, but other than that, it tastes exactly like flat vanilla coke. If the mouthfeel was thicker or the carbonation was higher, this could work, but as is, not so great. Maybe with some aging it would be better.

Photo of srandycarter
3.9/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - First of all, a little overboard on the wax. Took me some time to get it off. Pitch black, thin tan head, lots of lace at the edges and cascading bubbles. Looks inviting.

S - Chocolate chip cookies, brownies, vanilla. Food. Nice.

T - Pretty close to the mark on smell. Bitters at end nicely. Alcohol somewhat noticeable.

M - Medium to heavy body, med good carb, nice balance for something that could potentially be so sweet.

D - Big flavors and big ABV. Not a session beer.

Photo of emmasdad
3.68/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked a bomber of this one up while on vacation in San Diego a month or so back. Poured a dark reddish brown color with a small light brown head. Aromas of vanilla, milk chocolate, coffee and a little roasted malt. On the palate this one was medium bodied with flavors of vanilla, mocha and roasted malt.

Photo of djaeon
4.1/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a very dark brown, with a moderate bubbly head. Decent retention, no lacing.

S: Coffee, dark chocolate and a light earthiness, possibly from the barrel aged portion.

T: The coffee carries through in the flavor, along with a light vanilla. One sip reminded me of a cigarette, but that went away.

M: Feels velvety smooth and leaves a light stickiness on the lips.

D: Very drinkable. Despite the 9% ABV, I could easily go through a couple bombers.

Photo of HalfFull
3.82/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap at Carlsbad location. Pours a deep and dark brown with ruby highlights. A thin cap of tan foam settles to a light ring after a few minutes, leaving light watery lacing.

Nose of chocolate, vanilla and some roasted malts and earthen hops. Hints of oak and bourbon in the background are light initially, expanding a bit with warming. Smoked malt and some cherry accompanying the chocolate notes throughout. Not overly rich yet with a nice balance.

Tastes of vanilla chocolate and roasted malts, again with a light smack of bourbon and oak. Vanilla doesn't overpower the flavor for me but it is present from start to finish and in fact softens the sweetness of the delivery a bit. Feel is smooth and unobtrusive with no alcohol sense to speak of and accompanied with a pleasing carbonation. Body and texture are relatively light but balanced for delivery overall. Smooth drink, moderate across the board. Bottled version will likely be more robust though I don't sense much benefit to putting some age on it.

Photo of pmarlowe
3.65/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tulip glass.

So... this beer is hard to open. Too much wax. It's like that old Bear Bryant saying about endzone celebrations, "Act like you've been there before."

A: Pours dark copper brown/black with two fingers of whispy cream colored head. Some lacing and good retention.

S: Vanilla and cream layered over roasted malt, some oak and spice, but also cheap bourbon. Smells slightly oxidized. Plum and dark chocolate as it warms.

T: Creamy vanilla ice cream and some alcohol, dose of espresso, finishing slightly bitter. On the boozy side.

M: Medium carbonation and medium-full body. Not particularly smooth.

O: This is a pretty good effort, and definitely a step in the right direction for Karl Strauss. There are some nice elements here and some not so nice. Lots of flavors but not that well integrated.

Photo of jmarsh123
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Waaay too much wax. I thought I was going to sever a finger trying to get it off. I understand it's special and everything, but consumers actually need to be able to access the product inside.

Pours a deep brown almost black with a big 3 finger off-white head fading into a ring after a minute or so. Spotty lacing down the glass.

Smells of sweet malts with a heavy dose of vanilla obviously and some bourbon characteristics but they are muted. Chocolate and cream also. This one smells sweet.

Flavor starts out with a rich chocolate creaminess. Vanilla is present, but not overpowering. A little bit of roasted malt, but then a touch of bourbon pulls at the back end with just a subtle hint of booze.

Fairly creamy mouthfeel although it is a bit too carbonated for the style.

I have a lot of issues with this beer. Taste is absolutely not one of them though. I really dig the flavors and thought the bourbon was well done. Had it not been for the slight overcarbonation, this one would've probably been a 4.5. Very drinkable and enjoyable.

Photo of draheim
3.72/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle into a snifter. Pours a pretty thin cola brown w/ a fizzy mocha head that settles to a thin film.

Aroma is very faint - and this beer is not cold. Subtle hints of vanilla and bourbon, but even that is almost a guess. Let it warm & give it a swirl - a nice earthiness emerges, but overall aroma is still less powerful than expected or desired.

Taste is roasty and sweet - again though, both bourbon and vanilla are weak. Some cocoa too.

Mouthfeel is smooth and light. A little thin.

Overall, everything is there - just less of it than I was expecting or hoping for. Almost feel like this was watered down.

Photo of MbpBugeye
2.58/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A cool little extra tossed in by Callmecoon.

Poured into a Mikkeller wine glass (I hope I don't break this spindly little stem! [Thanks for the sick glass Beeruser!]).

75% stout, 25% stout aged in oak barrels with vanilla beans added. The side of the label does mention that these barrels are indeed bourbon barrels. You'd think they would want to blare the word Bourbon right across the front of the label.

Appearance
The pour has me a bit iffy right off the bat. This stuff is thin and light. Very light for an Imperial Stout. The stream pouring from the bottle wasn't even as dark as root beer, its well into cream soda territory. It collects in the glass alright, and these thinner stouts are always the ones to sport large heads and throw pretty trails of lace. This is no exception to my stereotype.

Aroma
The smell takes me to Cleveland. Specifically the couple blocks surrounding Great Lakes Brewing Co. That area always smells like wet, steeped grains with an even toasting to them. Personally I think its kinda stinky. This beer has the same smell of Great Lakes Brewing, perhaps on a day that they are brewing a batch of Blackout Stout that adds a little bit of extra roastiness to the air. Delving deeper into a hearty swirl (which this new glass is perfect for, Zack) I start to pull out nips of vanilla and oak. If you've been to GLBC this section of my review will be much more meaningful. If you haven't been to GLBC chances are you aren't reading my review any way, so all's well.

Taste
That steeped grain element is brought out in the flavor but much less so than the aroma, which is almost dominated by it. The taste is pretty sweet, but one should expect thing going into a beer called Vanilla Imperial Stout and one talking about bourbon and oak. Milk chocolate flavors teams up with the vanilla to create a sort of Starbucks overly sweet cocoa-mocha-vanilla-cappuccino-double-tall-iced-frappe-drink flavor. Roastiness is all but buried, it only peeks out just before the finish at about the same time the base stout's inherent dark fruitiness tries to have a go at your taste buds. The finish leaves you with a sturdy, raw and powerful flavor of oak. Bourbon is very minimal, its mostly all oak.

Mouthfeel
Appropriately low carbonation but the body isn't impressing me much. It finishes dry. Where's the thick creaminess I was hoping for? There is some stickiness, which I'm not surprised by given the sweetness of this stout.

Overall
Its plenty drinkable but not impressive. After drinking this and RR Salvation tonight I feel that its imperative that I check my blood sugar.

Photo of beagle75
3.83/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Draft service into a half-pint snifter at the brewpub in Costa Mesa.

A: Clear, dark garnet-brown with one finger of diminishing light beige foam head. Scant lacing remains on the glass.

S: Abundant dark roasted malt spiked with obvious vanilla notes. The obvious aside, there is complexity present--tree bark, vinous fruit, and faint licorice all make appearances. No alcohol is present in the smell.

T: Begins sweet, with strong volatile vanilla early, followed by pleasantly coffee-infused roasted grain. Acidity is consistently restrained, while flavors dry out somewhat into the dark, earthy middle. Fruit is absent, but a whiff of spirituous barrel is detected. The finish is moderately bitter, featuring charcoal and lingering milk chocolate. While some of the flavors invoke the presence of a tasty bourbon cocktail, the distinct flavor of alcohol is minimized.

M: Medium viscosity, slightly sticky but a little too insubstantial on the palate, with low carbonation.

D: This is a pleasant enough tasting beer in a package whose appearance can only generate skepticism. It shows far too much clarity--literally clear dark red when held to the light--for the style. Appearances aside, roasted malt, barrel notes, and vanilla are well-assimilated into one of the more friendly and approachable imperial stouts I've seen. For a brewery whose track record with porter-based styles has been zero in years past, this makes two relative successes in a row--Parrot in a Palm Tree being the other.

Photo of Eriktheipaman
4.02/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a solid black with little khaki head.

The smell is very sweet with mostly vanilla.

The taste is about the same with almost all vanilla and very faint coffee. I didnt pick up on any barrel in the smell or taste which was a little disapointing.

I didnt pick up on any alcohol which was impressive and it went down super easy.

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22nd Anniversary Vanilla Imperial Stout from Karl Strauss Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 102 ratings.