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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

101 Ratings
THE BROS
88
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 101
Reviews: 63
rAvg: 3.81
pDev: 12.07%
Wants: 16
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: 101 | Reviews: 63 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of hickmancase
4.35/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

9/10

Photo of KevinBrewer
4.35/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of bs870621345
3.74/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

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.

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 BdubleEdubleRUN
3.83/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Decided to pour this tonight while listening to the FM94.9 Rock'n'Roll Happy Hour. Poured into a Tulip.

A - The beer has a very appealing look, pouring a dark brown almost black, brown and amber hugh when held to the light. Good head the hangs around awhile before fading to a lasting ring. Some slight lacing and residual head sticking to the glass.

S - The smell is very rich. Vanilla comes off strong and first, then chocolate and roasted smell.

T - Taste closely resembles the smell, rich vanilla with a creamy chocolate note. A hint of alcohol but well hidden in the background.

M - Not quite what I expected from the apperance. It was a light to moderate mouthfeel. I expected a little thicker from the looks of it. Good balance of carbonation.

Overall this is a very solid offering from Karl Strauss. If this was a part of the regular line up from them I would defenitly revisit it often. Good enough I will by at least one more before they are all gone.

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 MCorrea
3.35/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A- As expected for a big stout, this pours dark dark black. Surprisingly, the head is nearly white, not tan or brown like you see in most other imperial stouts. The head consists of large fizzy bubbles and is not really all that dense.

S- Typical roasty type smells for a stout, with the addition of vanilla. Smells OK, but nothing too great.

T- Well, it taste is probably the best part of this beer. It is nice and sweet and the vanilla definitely shines though. Not much bitterness at all. A nice balance of flavors throughout.

M- This is my least favorite aspect to this beer. Mouthfeel is thin, especially for an imperial stout. The carbonation feels fizzy and thin in the mouth. As Mr. Horse used to say: "hmmmm... No sir, I didn't like it."

O- A decent stout, especially if you appreciate vanilla flavors in your beer. It seems that although this beer has middling smell, appearance, and feel, the flavor profile is quite nice and nice sweet sipper that leans heavily on the vanilla.

Photo of femmebiere
4.08/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a smooth stout that I thoroughly enjoyed. The pour was a semi see-through stout with a malty head. The smell didn't have too much to note - just an earthy sweet smell. The taste was my favorite part (specifically the aftertaste that made the beer have a high rating in my opinion). I may be partial because I like vanilla, but it was a delicious aftertaste for a stout that never became overpowering.

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 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 broken22
3.96/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I saw this beer at the store and had no idea this was even out. I am happy that this brewery seems to be getting reinvigorated in exploring their brewing capabilities. I really enjoyed their Parrot in a Palm tree from 2010. So I'm hoping this is just as good or even better.

After completing the sacred ritual of worthyness of careful wax cutting to get at this beer I feel that I am ready to enjoy this brew. I pour this beer into a tulip glass because I'm expecting to have nice wafts of the bourbon and vanilla. The beer that flows from the bottle is dark and a decent head forms. The waiting furthers the test of worthyness by trying your patients a little longer. The smell is not as bold as I was hoping it would be and I'm a little worried. I get a little bit of a hoppy snap with a hint of chocolate. After being so patient I think I am ready to finally taste this thing. OK so smell is not this beer strong feature because the taste is great. The vanilla comes though really well and works well the the alcoholic notes brought by the bourbon barrels. The finish is bitter with a light chocolate flavor. At the very end after the beer has been swallowed I can still taste a little of the vanilla. The mouth feel of this beer is very full bodied with a decent amount of a carbon bubble bite at the beginning of the sip.

Overall I like this brew. I think all the flavors are very well balanced and working in harmony with each other. I am definitely going to buy another one of these to age it. It just seems to want to be aged. For the price I don't think you can go wrong. I would totally expect a beer that has such expensive ingredients to be priced much higher that it was currently being sold for. That price is $6.99 for a 22oz. Its funny because earlier in the day I paid $8 for a glass of Karl Strauss at the Hotel Del Coronado. If you can get one of these pick it up its a great buy and a good beer.

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 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 comfortablynumb1
3.73/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a Ballast Point pint glass...

A - Pours dark brown with a two finger tan head on a fairly passive pour. Head retention is decent at best, but there is a good amount of lacing to be had here...

S - Pretty mild. Don't pick up any alcohol at all. What I do get is chocolate, roasted malts, and a hint of vanilla...

T - Not as much vanilla as I was expecting. There is definitely a vanilla presence, but it is not the focal point here. Starts with hints of vanilla chocolate, and coffee. Ends on a slight smokey note with some hop presence in the after taste. Was hoping for a more pronounced vanilla taste...

M - Medium bodied with a moderate amount carbonation. A little light for a Double/Impy Stout...

D - Decent price for a decent brew. Glad I tried this one, but not something that was overly impressive. Would definitely drink one if it was offered to me, but wouldn't go out of my way to pick another one up...

Cheers...

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.

Photo of badboyrsl84
3.32/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Look - jet black with a white head

Smell - vanilla with really nothing else

Taste - some chocolate and tons of vanilla beans. Light finish of vanilla. Too much carbonation for my liking.

Overall - good beer not a great imperial stout, no hint of alcohol at all. I still think the 21st is my favorite from Karl

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

A - Black body fading into a red/brown hue, with a moderate-thin chocolatey head. Mediocre retention is outdone by the relatively robust lacing.

S - Soft breezes of vanilla and coffee - simple and mild.

T - Roasted malts feature distinct espresso and cocoa nib notes, while the caramel and vanilla expressions form a fitting backdrop. The Hops povide a sharp cleansing spine, and faint wisps of cinnamon and spice work well with the sweetness of the bourbon and contrasting charred expressions of oak. Despite a good level of complexity, the flavors are somewhat disenfranchised, and a disappointing void of wateriness prematurely interrupts each aspect of the profile before it can fully flourish.

M - The perceived dilution on the palate translates in the mouthfeel to a thinness that is unexpected for an IS, and the carbonation is reasonable, if not a little on the high side. On the finish the malts manage to produce a mildly cloying residue, and an alcohol burn reminiscent of the previous tenant of this brew's barrels is no shrinking violet.

O - Definitely worth a try, and fairly priced. Good complexity, poor integration, and a little wobbly in its overall balance. I would like to think that the 22nd anniversary vIS might drastically benefit from being cellared until KS' 23rd anniversary, but I think that's probably being a little optimistic. Happy Birthday all the same.

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 imagese
2.48/5  rDev -34.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

On tap @ The Factory

A- cola colored with a slight head that faded fast and left spotty lacing

S- sweet chocolate, vanilla, faint coffee, and I slight bourbon sweetness. Overall, very sweet

T- a whole lot of sweetness. Can't pull much out. Reminds me of vanilla flavored liquor.

M- thin with low carbonation. Makes me feel like I'm drinking something other than beer, let alone an Imperial Stout

D- got thru the 1/2 pint poured into the glass made for the beer easily. Not much alcohol kick, but not much else either. Verging on too much fake sweetness

Photo of tjfinkle
4.52/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Karl Strauss has been impressing my lately with their special releases, so I was cautiously optimistic when opening this wax dipped bomber. My first though on this beer was what kind of wax are they using on these bottles? This was the thickest and toughest wax I have attempted to get through to enjoy a beer, but I digress...

The beer poured a very dark brown with quite a significant (2-3 fingers) of tan head that settled down to a very nice half finger or so which remained. I found this quite surprising for an imperial stout of this style, but overall a very good sign that this would not be a flat beer like many other imperial stouts I have had in the past.

On the nose, the first thing I noticed was how mellow the malts smelled. I noticed very soft malts with a hint of the vanilla and oak, but I was not overpowered by any of these aspects. Many beers of this style are overpowering of coffee, however the coffee notes I picked up on this were much less noticeable. The label of the bottle describes it as chocolate and espresso which I think is right on the mark.

The taste of this beer is initially vanilla; however on subsequent sips it is not as noticeable. The chocolate definitely comes through on the aftertaste with just enough hops to keep it balanced. All the flavors in this beer are just enough to add flavor without enough to be overpowering. The best word I can use to describe this beer is balance. The vanilla complements the soft malts very well and the carbonation is just about right. Many other imperial stouts, while still delicious are overpowering or one flavor, whether it be bourbon or coffee, while this one has a great balance of flavors.

This is a very drinkable stout, especially to for 9%, and I would definitely recommend it to others. I am looking forward to see how it ages.

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 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 crvcac
4.32/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- dark brownish black. Not quite opaque however
Smell- smooth kentucky bourbon up front, vanilla bean, hints of oak, raw sugar
Taste: definite bourbon presence. Vanilla is nicely balanced amongst the other flavors and plays nicely off the bourbon. Hints of oak and raw sugar. Slight roast with appropriate tannin in the finish
Mouthfeel- surprisingly smooth for 9.0%. a wonderful blend of flavors and touch of alcoholic warmth makes this highly quaffable
Drinkability: another please!

Photo of harsley
3.77/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I tried this recently in La Jolla. I'm not huge fan of vanilla in beers but they seemed to get it to work well here. It was there and in the fore front but somehow not over done.

It poured a dark brown, not quite blackish. Probably lighter than usual for the style. Nice and clear though and looked good. The smell and taste had lots of vanilla. In the taste, it was in the beginning and in the finish mainly. In the middle you could pick up the roastyness (not overly roasty though) and lots of malt and caramel flavors. You can tell alcohol is there but it was nicely controlled and certainly did not dominate.

I could have used a little more roastyness present in this beer but overall I enjoyed it. My sample was big enough though because I only can take so much vanilla. If you like vanilla beers though, this is extremely drinkable.

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.

22nd Anniversary Vanilla Imperial Stout from Karl Strauss Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 101 ratings.