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22nd Anniversary Vanilla Imperial Stout - Karl Strauss Brewing Company

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

97 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 97
Reviews: 63
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 11.75%
Wants: 16
Gots: 29 | 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:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: HopHead84 on 02-03-2011)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 97 | Reviews: 63 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Cavery
3.35/5  rDev -12.5%

Shared with Klym, a night cap to a solid Friday Night; 750 ml into Oversized Wine Glasses.

A: the amount of light that gets through makes me question it's "stoutyness". If I was to take a glance at the glass, I would immediately cry porter. Even then, I would say light porter. I remember being able to look from under my glass into the base of the head. a finger to 1/2 finger head featured lighter bubbles than would be expected. So far nothing alarming, but not exciting either.

S: Strong vanilla in the nose. Really quite a dominating vanilla. It sits above every other smell like a cruel overlord. Any other smells that come up are quickly whipped down by the emotionless vanilla. Bourbon tries to escape its vanilla master, but to no avail.

T: Vanilla with some oaked woodiness. Mellow and vanilla makes for a whip cream/creamy top on a sundae. However, you keep expecting your spoon to break through something other than the cream. It honestly never seems to, and you get repeat spoonfuls of vanilla infused whip cream.

M: Yeah, the theme continues. A very average mouth with some pg-13 carbonation. Nothing really exciting here, it just is.

O: All things considered, the vanilla did a lot to save this beer from being lost in mediocrity. All the flavor seemed to be juxtaposed rather than integrated. First cream then vanilla. This beer wasn't bad, but it suffered from the fear of being great. This brew was rot with anxiety. Come out of your shell Strauss, and you might say something surprising. Next time take some risks, and I'll make a nicer review.

Cavery, Jun 18, 2011
Photo of ExplosivoSR
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%

First review! Poured from bomber into snifter.

Pours a deep brown that is almost black. A one finger head gives way (rather quickly) to almost no lacing. Smell is a combination of licorice, vanilla from the oak barrels and slight chocolate with just a hint of bourbon in there as well. Taste is a bit sweeter than normal, with a nice touch of vanilla that kind of rounds everything out. The taste sticks around for a bit, but not as long as I'd like.

Overall a pretty tasty Imperial Stout. I'll definitely be buying another bottle of this to age for a few years. It's nice to see Karl Strauss starting to take risks, even though not all of them may be risks worth taking (i.e. Flan-Diddly-Anders)

ExplosivoSR, Jun 01, 2011
Photo of ManuelHerrera
3.8/5  rDev -0.8%

Karl Strauss sticks out in my mind as a consistent "B" level beer, so it's interesting to mee to see them go for broke on an imperial stout. But hey, sometimes you have to swing for the fences to hit a triple.

Pours a root beer barrel brown with quite a bit of bubble-ation, watery lacing. The smell is syrupy with a hint of zinc and metallic notes. Malt's abound!

This brew is SWEET with malt smoothness mixed with notes of oak and vanilla bean. The aftertaste lingers with maple syrup, but the flavor isn't overwhelming rich. The carbonation cuts the malt as to not make this draining and heavy.

Overall a worthy effort, not on part with some more accomplished imperial stouts, but sure is tasty.

ManuelHerrera, May 28, 2011
Photo of ghetto90007
4.28/5  rDev +11.7%

Poured from the bomber into a nice, bulbous snifter.

Pours dark brown/black, nearly opaque. Fluffy light tan head about two fingers or so thick. Looks carbonated well.

Smells of roasted malt, cocoa, sweet vanilla, some fruitiness (slight), along with slight spiciness and hint of herbs.

Luscious flavor. Vanilla ice cream, coffee notes, mild hop bitterness. Just delicious. Warming alcohol.

Phenomenally smooth and gentle mouthfeel. Soft for the carbonation level.

An enjoyable offering - wish I had another bottle or two of this one and would definitely pick up again if they decided to make another batch.

ghetto90007, May 24, 2011
Photo of srandycarter
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%

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.

srandycarter, May 14, 2011
Photo of ratedz
3.58/5  rDev -6.5%

Received this bottle from MrTopher. Thanks Chris!

Karl Strauss evidently LOVES dipping bottles in wax. They love it so much that they put about 5 coatings on. It literally took me 10-15 minutes to get through the wax to the cap.

A - Dark brown, with a slightly red tint when held up to light. Looks fairly thin for an imperial stout. About a finger of light tan colored head that fades relatively quickly.

S - Sweet malts, some dark cherries, a little oakiness, and a small hint of vanilla. For a beer named Vanilla Imperial Stout, I was expecting more vanilla in the nose. A bit of a disappointment, but still smells good.

T - Starts off with a hint of vanilla and dark malts before some dark fruits take over. Some oak comes into play before a little more sweet vanilla reappears for the finish.

M - As noted in the appearance, the mouth feel is rather thin. Carbonation is slightly below average, which is ideal for an imperial stout.

O - Overall, an enjoyable stout at a reasonable price. I wish it was a little thicker and had a little more vanilla to it. When I first heard about it, I was very interested in it because I enjoy a good stout brewed with vanilla beans, but the lack of a solid vanilla flavor caused this one to fall short of expectations.

ratedz, May 14, 2011
Photo of Siggy125
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%

A little surprised at the appearance. Slightly mirky coffee color. Not the color I expected

The nose came thru like a porter with sturdy vanilla presence. A little sourness. My first impression was a little disappointing.

Very nice sweet vanilla on the front end followed by caramel malt, then fades to a weak instant coffee tartness.

Not a bad beer, but nothing like what I was preparing for. Decent drinker but a bit thin for a stout. It's called an Imperial Stout, but lacking for me to fit that style.

Siggy125, May 08, 2011
Photo of emmasdad
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%

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.

emmasdad, May 05, 2011
Photo of Dlish
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Hey they need take down the wax on this bottle. Or come on give something to open this. I sat with a steak knife for about 5 minute figuring out how to open this.

A- pours black, light tan head, with little lacing.

S- Sweet malts, bit of cherry, toffee, Good amount of oak. There is a little bit of vanilla.

M- Mocha tasting, tastes pretty simular to the smell. Lots of oak and hints of vanilla at the end. Not bad, I like it, not as strong as a imperial stout but still packs the whole flavor.

M- Deff like the mouth feel, lighter than an imperial and it allows the flavor to expand more without being dragged down by the heavy chocolate malts.

O- I don't drink a lot of Karl Strauss, in fact I often never buy it. My image of them have always been.. well boring nothing experimental. This has deff change my opinion, I'll buying more if I get a chance.

Dlish, Apr 29, 2011
Photo of gregshead
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%

tasted on 3/24/11. Review from notes:

A: pours black w/ a nice finger of light tan colored head.

S: I smell oak dancing with some extra vanilla. Some light bourbon with good roasted grains peeps in their as well.

T: Lots of smooth/sweet vanilla up front. Some oak taste. Trails with roasted grain.

M: Light carbonation. Lighter feel for an imp stout. not that much ligher just a tad.

O: Very good but not quite the outstanding. A little on the light side for a partially -bal aged stout.

gregshead, Apr 24, 2011
Photo of psiweaver
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%

grabbed this on my recent trip down to San Diego. Normally i'm not a Karl Strauss guy but I liked their san diego holiday beer series so i figured i'd give this a try.

Poured into my Duvel Tulip

A: it pours a deep black with a small dark brown head that quickly dissipates.

S: lots of chocolate, vanilla, toasted oak with a bunch of sweetness. A rich complex smell that gets better as the beer warms up.

T: I was really pleasantly surprised by this one. it has a lot of chocolate and vanilla and is very sweet but it doesn't have much of the roasty bitterness that I would normally associate with this size of beer. I really enjoyed it.

M: kind of a thin mouthfeel but a nice beer to go with dessert that's smooth easy to drink and flavorful.

I really enjoyed this beer and found it to be very good overall. I am actively searching out more as I'm interested to see what it does with a bit of age on it.

psiweaver, Apr 16, 2011
Photo of MbpBugeye
2.58/5  rDev -32.6%

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

MbpBugeye, Apr 15, 2011
4.1/5  rDev +7%

Pint Glass: Pours a dark reddish brown with 1inch head.

S: Subtle coffee and vanilla scent. I get a nice cotton candy smell, reminds me of being at a carnival.

T: Smooth coffee bitterness with notes of vanilla.

M: Light carbonation, not very thick.

A nice change from all the other type of stouts (chocolate, coconut, oatmeal etc...)

Drink up! This is worth a taste, definitely!

SQUIDPORT, Apr 14, 2011
Photo of liamt07
4/5  rDev +4.4%

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.

liamt07, Apr 10, 2011
Photo of Sammy
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%

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.

Sammy, Apr 08, 2011
Photo of ChanChan
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%

Poured into a palm sized snifter.
Appearance: Ruby red looks a lot like a Dr. Pepper nice one inch head disappears quite fast. Lacing is modest.

Aroma: Lots of coffee notes, roasty and malty there is only a faint hint of vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Thin to medium bodied.

Taste: A coffee boozy feel to it. Drinkability: This stout is quite bitter but I like that. The alcohol is present but at 9.0 ABV this beer is not overly heavy.

Overall: The vanilla does not present itself well. This beer is a vanilla imperial stout and I expected to get a bit more vanilla. Nothing special but this beer falls at around six dollars for a 22OZ bomber, that and the decent taste make this a worthy stout!! Waxed dipped bottles are well over 10 dollars but it's the stuff inside that counts and I have faith that this beer could taste like a 12$ bottle in two to three years and since its not so special now I'm more than willing to age my second bottle!!

Update: 9/13/2012

I was right, this beer is now an awesome brew!!! The vanilla is still present and it has smoothed out very nicely!!

ChanChan, Apr 05, 2011
Photo of trappistlover
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%

(22oz bottle shared at Dak's final four tasting). Pours a cola color with khaki head. Aroma has plenty of spice, vanilla, caramel, and some booze. Taste is sweet with lots of vanilla. Medium bodied with an oily texture. This is a pretty good beer that is big on vanilla.

trappistlover, Apr 04, 2011
Photo of brentk56
4/5  rDev +4.4%

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)

brentk56, Apr 03, 2011
Photo of Thorpe429
3.25/5  rDev -15.1%

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.

Thorpe429, Apr 02, 2011
Photo of ocelot2500
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Pours a deep brown, almost black with a tight, mocha head that leaves a solid ring of lacing.

Smells of big vanilla and chocolate notes.

Tastes of a big dose of vanilla followed by more standard stout characteristics. Vanilla is definitely the focus with a gigantic wave of it right up front. Some brown sugar sweetness, chocolate and light coffee notes back it up. Has a bit of an adult milk chocolate feel to it. Not much bitterness to speak of, but sweetness is pleasant.

Mouthfeel is medium-fulll with a smooth amount of carbonation.

Overall, nothing groundbreaking, but if you want to try a good vanilla aged stout, this is worth a shot.

ocelot2500, Apr 02, 2011
Photo of MrTopher
3.4/5  rDev -11.2%

Served in a tulip glass served from a waxed 22oz bottle.

A: Was expecting something a little darker when pouring this beer. Its quiet light in the spectrum when it comes to an Imperial Stout. Zero to no head also, just a little dark foam on the top.

S: A little coffee and a little vanilla, and a little roast, that is about it. Again was expecting a lot more from this beer.

T: The taste is the best reviewed part of this beer, but not great by any means. There is some coffee but more so chocolate, some sweet, and some vanilla, also oak is mixed into the flavor, but its light.

M: Thin, this is quiet a let down, I was expecting something a little thicker with the % and being partially barrel aged.

O: I think KS needs to go back to the drawing board on this one, I'm happy I didn't spend a lot on this beer because it wasn't very enjoyable.

MrTopher, Mar 28, 2011
Photo of hickmancase
4.38/5  rDev +14.4%

Bottle from Total Wine poured into my Ommegang Chalice.

A: Thick and dark but not impenetrable by light. One finger on top.

S: I smell the vanilla! Roasty.

T: I taste the vanilla! This is really nice. I'm sure I enjoyed this more than I might have if it hadn't been such a long time since my last Imperial Stout. Chocolate and vanilla roasted.

M: Thick, but not overly so. I love overly thick but, my tastes aside, this was just right.

D: Great one to kick back with at the end of the night or with dessert. That said, I enjoyed this one this time, but there are other imperial stouts that I would prefer. Also, I should mention that I wasn't expecting this good from Karl Strauss. I don't typically enjoy their beers this much.


hickmancase, Mar 28, 2011
Photo of KevinBrewer
4.35/5  rDev +13.6%

A- Black in the center with reddish brown hues around the edges. Thick brown head that lasts, leaving sticky lacing down the glass.

N- Soft vanilla, cocoa, and oak sit atop smooth roasted malt. The oak smells especially delicious.

T- Roasted malt base with a nice oakiness and a subtle vanilla accent. A slight booziness shows up in the middle that melds well with the oak. The oakiness is showcased again at the finish when the beer dries out slightly. Bitter roasted husk and a moderate leafy hop bitterness also come in for the finish and linger into the aftertaste.

M- Medium mouthfeel with moderate carbonation and a semidry finish.

D- Overall, a very tasty brew. I would definitely like to age a few bottles to enjoy when the edginess has rounded out a bit. I'm afraid the vanilla will disappear though.

KevinBrewer, Mar 28, 2011
Photo of bs870621345
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%

Big thanks to DankTheTank for this in a recent trade.

Pours a ruby amber color with almost no head and no lacing.

Smells of vanilla, oak, booze, and a tiny bit of caramel and burnt sugar bitterness.

Taste is heavy on the vanilla with chocolate holding it up, oak, and heavy on the booze aftertaste. Almost tastes of a hint of licorice in there too.

Mouthfeel is moderate with a lot of carbonation.

Overall, its a good beer. I'd like to age another to see what happens- definitely needs some age.

bs870621345, Mar 28, 2011
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%

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.

UCLABrewN84, Mar 26, 2011
22nd Anniversary Vanilla Imperial Stout from Karl Strauss Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 97 ratings.