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23rd Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Ale - Karl Strauss Brewing Company

Not Rated.
23rd Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Ale23rd Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

89 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 89
Reviews: 37
rAvg: 4.06
pDev: 10.1%
Wants: 48
Gots: 27 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Karl Strauss Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  12.30% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: HopHead84 on 02-03-2012

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (69) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 89 | Reviews: 37
Reviews by charlzm:
Photo of charlzm
3.94/5  rDev -3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Consumed February 10, 2012 at Karl Strauss, Universal City.

Beer is a murky caramel brown with no head at all (the waitress filled my 12 ounce snifter to the very brim).

Aroma is sweet with caramel, vanilla and bourbon notes.

Flavor follows nose, with the addition of modest alcohol heat and a white-cake pastry sort of component. Maybe some fleeting toffee and maple, but maybe not. Not terribly complex, but delicious.

Thicker than water? Enough to notice, but not much more. Beer has almost zero carbonation, but it is a little dry on the finish and that goes a long way towards cutting that sweetness at the end of each sip.

Overall, not the best old ale I have ever had, but deadly drinkable and unexpectedly good for a Karl Strauss brew.

More User Reviews:
Photo of zaphodchak
4.41/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reddish amber body, no head or lace.

Nose is rich with oak, vanilla and light coconut. Not a thick nose, but a very good one.

Taste is impressive-- bourbon character, but without the heft of a stout. Nutty a bit, with ample oak and a trace of burn. This is unique in that it provides all the characteristics of a bourbon barrel beer but is neither overbearing nor overstated. Nice and dry, but not bitter-- toasty.

Relatively light, almost frothy, not bright, but it really breaks up the taste in a good way.

Doesn't taste like an 'old ale' in my opinion, but fantastic beer-- basically what an Innis and Gunn or a Barrel-Aged Human Blockhead *should* be.

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.79/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Deep amber. Not much of a head. A few chunks around the edges.

Smell - Simple nose. Bourbon, oak, vanilla, and caramel.

Taste - Again, it's simple, but nice. Bourbon, vanilla, toffee and brown sugar. Dries out quickly with an oaky finish.

Mouthfeel - Astringent and boozy. Oaky in the finish. Medium body.

Overall - It certainly isn't a complex beer. Lots of barrel and some caramel malts to back it up.

Photo of Kegatron
3.31/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Thanks to Stakem for the share. 22oz bottle into a few glasses. Deep copper with thin off-white head. Rich spotty lace. Straight up vanilla in the nose with additional oak and candied sugars. Hot smelling alcohol as well. The taste is caramelized sugars, oak, vanilla and not much else besides some blinding fusel alcohol flavors. Super sweet with burnt finish. Full bodied, sharp on top and chewier underneath. ABV is in your face. Glad others had luck with this beer. Just too much booze and sweetness for me.

Photo of claaark13
4.03/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks Kevin. Poured at cellar temp into a Hill Farmstead tulip. I really need to start using one of my other glasses for tasting. Nah.

A - Comes out as a dark orange with a touch of brown/red. Bubbly white head turns into lacing. Looks a little light for the style, but otherwise nice.

S - Lighter malts, candied fruit, oak presence.

T - Caramel and barrel take over almost immediately. Some candied fruits, malts, and some woodiness. Finishes a tad dry with noticeable heat, but nothing unpleasant. I'm not sure about the base on this one, but the barrel really takes hold of the beer. Favorable barrel notes are present from start to finish. Remarkable that it isn't hotter. There is almost a creaminess to it.

M - Medium body with some prickly carbonation.

O - Really a good beer. Not sure if aging will improve this beyond toning the heat down a bit and possibly merging the barrel more with the malts.

Photo of jegross2
4.11/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Reviewing the 23rd Anniversary Old Ale from Karl Strauss Brewing Company out of San Diego, California.

Score: 92

February 2012 vintage bottle served in a tulip taster glass and enjoyed on 03/01/13 from a bottle I brought to the Beer Temple to share with the store's customers. Review is from iPhone notes

Appearance: Bourbon caramel color. Virtually no head off the pour, and what little head there is quickly and totally settles. Minimal lacing, but the brew leaves oily streaks on the side of the glass. 3.5/5

Smell: Very smooth, no booziness. Vanilla, caramel, stale hops, and smooth/sweet bourbon notes. Some oakiness too. 3.5/5

Taste: Taste is much better than the nose. This brew practically smacks you over the head with delicious vanilla flavor with notes of caramel, cocoa and smooth bourbon. Less sweet than the nose led me to believe, but it's still a "sweet" (but not cloying) malty brew. I love the bold vanilla/caramel flavor of this brew! 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, viscous, with minimal carbonation. Nice maltiness and a little stickiness. 4.25/5

Overall: The aroma and appearance were not anything particularly special, but the taste was divine. While not the most complex barrel aged beer, I loved how bold the vanilla and caramel flavors were. I think this is drinking about as perfect as it will get (in act, the nose was a little stale from the faded hops), and I do not see this benefiting from further aging. It tastes like how 100% Cuir is currently drinking with less complexity. Open your bottles now!

Cost: $12 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle.

Photo of largadeer
3.73/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks, Shane.

Pours a dark brownish-amber capped by a finger of head that settles to a collar pretty quickly. Nose is fairly good, fruity, grainy and sweet with a good amount of barrel coming through that lends a bit of heat and nicer notes of caramel and vanilla. Palate is also solid if unremarkable. Big caramel and dark fruit flavors, some boozy astringency, a touch of vanilla. Body is medium, perhaps a bit thin for the style and ABV. Solid stuff overall, a fine offering for a good price.

Photo of aasher
4.07/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a medium bodied, somewhat cloudy dull amber in color with a one finger off white head. The nose is nice and bourbon forward, without being boozy. There is initially red fruits up front with a moderate amount of oak, vanilla, and caramel. I really like the nose. The flavors too are bourbon forward. The barrel shows itself off, showcasing plenty of vanilla, toffee, oak and bourbon. I dig it. It drinks like a lighter bodied barrel aged barley wine. The lighter body increases drinkability and appeal in my opinion. I could see how that would also turn some people off. Overall this is a really nice beer. It's enough to satisfy the barley wine fanatics that's for sure.

Photo of Thorpe429
3.38/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to ygtbsm94 for sharing this one. Served in a mini snifter. Pours a moderate brown color with a short head. The nose carries a good dose of bourbon along with some oak, vanilla, and a big of fruit. Flavor hits toffee and caramel notes alongside bourbon and an underlying oaky vanilla character. Moderate sweetness and fruit character. Medium body without the amount of booze that the ABV would indicate. Worth a try.

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.45/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

huge thanks to egrace84 from bring this beer to a tasting! Thanks elliot!

reviewed from notes taken on 5/23/12.

Appearance: brilliant and clear copper orange bodied beer with 1 finger of white head that drops to a ring.

Smell: Big caramel and toffee notes with a splash of bourbon mixed into the beer.

Taste: Caramel, toffee, butterscotch. Oak, vanilla, and bourbon notes.

Mouthfeel: medium to full bodied beer with low carbonation. The beer is slick and sticky. Its a warming and spicy booze thats fairely mellow.

Overall: This beer is what Founders Better Half should have been! A really nice BA Old Ale that also has some overlap in the BA English Barleywine style. I really enjoyed this beer alot!

Photo of womencantsail
3.9/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Amber in color with a thin khaki colored head. Smells of bourbon, vanilla, wood, and dark fruits. Plenty of caramel, toffee, and brown sugar to go along with it. Perhaps a hint of molasses along with some light oxidation. The beer tastes great. Caramel, toffee, brown sugar, and bourbon are the primary flavors with vanilla, oak, and dark fruits such as plums and raisins playing a role as well. The only knock I have on this beer is the body, which is quite thin.

Photo of CuriousMonk
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The 23rd Anniversary Old Ale was aged for 12 months in American oak barrels and is the first Karl Strauss barrel-aged beer to be offered unblended. The company only bottled 413 cases of this beer, encouraging fans to enjoy one now and lay another down several years. Poured from bomber into tulip glass. Pours burnt amber along with a thin off-white head. The aroma of this beer is an epitome of an old ale – oak, toffee, and dried figs. Taste of light bourbon, oak, and molasses. Thin mouthfeel. I am only sorry that I did not lay this down for another year or two to see if the beer improves.

Photo of FosterJM
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1135th Review on BA
Bottle to Snifter
22 oz

2012 release
Purchased for 8.99 @ Bevmo's Chino Hills

App- About the color of orange juice and fresh caramel out of the pot, with a one finger khaki colored head. Left zero cling and had a bit of a swirl on the top.

Smell- I really got nothing from this that was wowing. Wasnt overly aromatic even when it warmed it was minimal. Notes included, bourbon, oak, vanilla and citrus. Very light.

Taste- So the taste makes up for the app and the nose. It was very smooth without being burning and a bourbon bomb. Well layered with some notes of bourbon, oak and citrus. The citrus flavors layered with a matched malt backbone to create a well drinking beer.

Mouth- A lighter medium body with a medium carbonation with a smooth residual bourbon and cream type of flavor.

Drink- I enjoyed this beer better than 22nd Vanilla stout because the vanilla was too small. This beer seemed to be just about right. Well crafted, layered and smooth. Glad I have one to lay down, but then again might need to find more to just drink.

Photo of beagle75
3.89/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bomber into a half-pint chalice.

A: Slightly hazy, medium amber color with a fine peripheral ring of off-white bubbles. Scant lacing remains on the glass.

S: Rich treacle laced with candied orange peel and heady spirituous vanilla.

T: Begins off-dry, with caramel and mild dark cherry fruit. Bourbon is featured in the middle, only slightly oak-influenced, but so is an assertive breadiness that seems entirely driven by English malt rather than yeast. The finish is booze-soaked, showing some fruitcake that seems ester-driven in the high alcohol presence.

M: Medium viscosity, syrupy and slightly acidic on the palate, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: A fine (and rare) old ale by a West Coast brewery, it generates an interesting mix of traditional malt-derived qualities as well as a fair amount of barrel influence.

Photo of DCon
4.59/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Shared a 1 PINT 6 FL.OUNCE. Bottle of this w/ Keir @ the Royale in St. Louis, MO. Poured from the "Fake" Barrel Brand Labeled bottle w/ Black Foil over the cap into a 12oz Shaker Glass. Has no freshness/bottle date to be found.

Aroma- A strong single malt aroma starts this one off. This includes bourbon, oak, and malt. Very beautiful!

Appearance- Poured very aggressively and still no head. What gives? Has a copper colored body with great clarity. Leaves a few suds behind.

Photo of notchucknorris
4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Toronados

A: Dark brown in color with a light tan cap.

S: Lots of caramel, booze, bourbon and coconut. Pretty nice aroma overall.

T: I have to say, I've never been a big fan of Karl Strauss beers. Their 22nd Anniversary was one of the worst beers I've ever had and their year round lineup is nothing I'd go for unless the pickings were epically slim. That said, this is a great beer. The old ale didn't really shine through, but the flavors of this beer were pretty solid. Big notes of coconut and caramel with some vanilla and huge bourbon notes without being overpowering. I'd definitely get this again.

Photo of mactrail
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gigantic and boozy beer with a vast vanilla and woody flavor. Thoroughly fragrant with that vanilla up front. Hops are just moderately bitter. This is not so sweet after the first sip. It tastes more like Scotch liqueur than beer, but it thats not a bad thing. Fairly dry as you sip for a while but full of malt flavors. Seriously powerful and more complex and austere than most barley wines. I don't get the old ale taste so much, but it's quite a mouthful.

On tap at La Jolla location. Definitely will pick up a few of these for savoring in the year to come. So hot with alcohol it should last nicely, and not much residual sugar for the bacteria to nibble.

Photo of stakem
3.58/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bomber split with friends and poured into a snifter. The brew appears a burnt copper color that is lighter to mahogany with a bit of an orange hue. A tan cap about a finger strong sits atop and leaves some stringy lace on the glass. A swirl revives a yellowish tan froth back to the surface.

The smell is solid with caramelized sugars. Hints of vanilla, oak, orange marmalde and an overall sugary candy quality fills the nose. As it warms up, there is a faint floral to citrus component mixing with minerals but overall the aromatics are all about the sugary quality of this brew.

The taste is caramel to toffee sweetness. Vanilla is present from the barrel aging mixing with fruity and floral elements. Big sticky sweet aspect to this brew with a bourbon burn trying to cut through. Oak and booziness persiste into the aftertaste with a mild orange zest aspect.

This is a medium to fuller bodied brew with a modest amount of carbonation. It is a big and boozy sipper with a cloying amount of sweetness and not enough alcohol or hops to cut it. Quite unbalanced and was a chore to try and get through my glass. As an after diner sticky sweet dessert, this might be more fitting. Not something I would care to have again though.

Photo of Drinkerofales
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A brown, barely murky look starts out the beer, which shows some red when held up to the light. A large tan head which is bubbly and lively fills the top of the tulip, and sounds like rice crispies with all the bubbles snapping, crackling, and popping.

Smells huge of the bourbon barrel, so much so the first whiff made me cough. Booze are present and a sweet caramel malt joins the party.

Tastes upfront of the barrel, following the nose pretty closely. Fortunately, not overpowering the rest of the beer. A hint of smoky vanilla with the sweet malt. Dark fruits in the finish/aftertaste.

Texture is luxurious. While alcohol is present, it doesn't feel like 12%, until you get near the end of the bottle, and even then, it's only in your head. There is a thick viscosity to the beer, with good carbonation to lighten it up. I like the beer, I will get more.

DOA

Photo of HopHead84
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2/3/2012

On tap at Karl Strauss Sorrento Mesa in front of the majestic coy pond. Old Ale aged in Bourbon barrels for 12 months with no backblending, so 100% barrel aged. Served in a snifter.

A: Dark reddish brown with a slight orange tinge. The head is an inch of white foam.

S: Robust brown sugar, bourbon, and maple notes. To the aforementioned aromatics add a fantastic toffee note and a touch of butterscotch. Fig blends with date and prune. Citrus is faint and redolent of oranges, adding a pleasant twist to the darker fruit. Vanilla meets oak and molasses.

T: Very sweet, with pronounced maple and brown sugar notes. Bourbon presence is strong throughout, accompanied by vanilla, oak, and a firm booze profile which is not harsh or out of place for 12.3%. There's a lot of toffee, and molasses is notable. Fruity esters remind me of prune and dried fig. There's a light sherry-like oxidation accompanied by earth and an upper low to lower medium level of bitterness. The finish is bourbon toffee.

M: Upper medium body with lower medium carbonation. The mouthfeel is sticky, silky, and somewhat viscous. Alcohol warming is pronounced.

Overall: It's big, sweet, and English, with a bold and unapologetic bourbon profile. A stellar Old Ale with excellent barrel characteristics. This is the most complex thing I've had from Karl Strauss. Definitely try this.

Photo of srandycarter
4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - 3.5 Dark raw cider, only thin film of head. Spotty cling lace.

S - 4 BOOZE. Malt. Slight fruity/cidery characteristic.

T - 4.5 Deep caramel and hot. Bourbony booze. Hops cannot contain the sweetness.

M - 4 Heavy body, good carb, balance errs to the sweet. Pretty boozy.

D - 4 Very tasty. You could get hurt with this one.

Photo of Duff27
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a thin head that dies quickly. Collar left. Translucent caramel brown/orange color.

Very sweet smelling beneath the barrel notes.

A mix of sweet caramel and bourbon. Noticeable alcohol burn. Toffee! Would put this right at states ABV.

Average to above average carbonation which adds bite.

High abv but very smooth and drinkable.

First of all let me say, great price point. Nicely integrated old ale with the barrel aging. Thanks egrace84.

Photo of brentk56
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a hazy copper color with a modest head that leaves some splashy lace behind

Smell: A boozy blend of caramel, oak, Bourbon and a hint of vanilla

Taste: Caramel, up front, with the oaky Bourbon elements developing by mid-palate; the boozy Bourbon flavors dominate the finish, with the vanilla lingering in the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation; considerable warmth in the gullet

Overall: Though it lacks some of the complexity I would expect in an Old Ale, this is still a fine beer and very tasty

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly hazy copper brown with a 1 inch foamy khaki head that settles to a thin film on top of the beer. Random thin streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of brown sugar, toffee, toasted coconut, vanilla, wood, bourbon, and alcohol that sort of muddles all the smells. Taste is of brown sugar, toffee, caramel, toasted coconut, vanilla, wood, and big bourbon flavors. There is a definite alcohol kick and warming in the back of the throat after each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a somewhat thick and full bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good barrel aged beer that is an absolute steal at $6.49 a bottle.

Photo of AWolfAtTheDoor
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Need some room in the fridge, decided to crack open this guy open. Had I known it was a 90 point beer, I may have saved it for more special of an occasion.

Pours a nice dark tree sap amber color into my tumbler. Crystal clear. White rocky head from a semi-vigorous pour. It recedes fairly quickly. Line of foam around the beer with very little lacing.

Vanilla and oak bombard the nose. Nice sting of alcohol rounds out the scent.

Smooth oak and vanilla on the palate as well. Hint of diacetyl? This beer is incredibly smooth. Alcohol is present, but is pleasant and not solvent-like. Would not have guessed in a million years that this is a 12% ABV beer.

Is there such thing as too smooth? This beer is it. Carbonation is moderate to low, which aids in the smoothness of the beer. I would rate the body as just a bit past medium. Doesn't quite have the body that I'd expect from a 12% ABV beer.

Overall this is a pretty incredible beer. I think it's a little too well attenuated and smooth for its own good. I'm kind of left wanting a little something else.

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23rd Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Ale from Karl Strauss Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 89 ratings.