1. Don't miss our 7th annual American Craft Beer Fest featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers this May 30 & 31 in Boston, MA! Buy your tickets now!
  2. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

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

23rd Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Ale23rd Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

85 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 85
Reviews: 35
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 10.05%


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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: HopHead84 on 02-03-2012)
View: Beers (48) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | next › last »
Ratings: 85 | Reviews: 35 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Thorpe429
Thorpe429

Illinois

3.35/5  rDev -17.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2012 19:03:08 | More by Thorpe429
Photo of AWolfAtTheDoor
AWolfAtTheDoor

California

4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-02-2012 07:59:54 | More by AWolfAtTheDoor
Photo of Chaney
Chaney

District of Columbia

4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've had this one in the cellar for a year. It is time...

Served in a Duck Rabbit snifter. That's good karma already.

A: It actually poured out a bit lighter in color than I was expecting, but still, it was a beautiful, caramel color that was uniformly murky and inviting. Not much head, but that's not what this is about anyway.

S: Buttery, coconuty, bourbon flair that was just the right strength to my mind. Lots of dark fruit as well: figs, raisons, and dates... all wrapped up in toffee.

T: First of all, I was awe-stricken with how smooth this one was. The coconut hit the palate first, then the molasses, and dark fruit, with none of this really sticking out of the pack.

M: Not even a trace of booze on this and it was utter perfection in that regard. Actually, I would have preferred a bit more heat, but that is just personal preference and a minor quibble. The carbonation was fine and this wasn't syrupy or sticky in any way.

O: 12.2% ABV? Really? REALLY? This was my first Karl Strauss brew and I'm already a fan.

Serving type: bottle

10-04-2012 23:25:55 | More by Chaney
Photo of stakem
stakem

Pennsylvania

3.55/5  rDev -13%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-04-2012 17:43:13 | More by stakem
Photo of Huhzubendah
Huhzubendah

District of Columbia

4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle donated by Thorpe429. Thanks Mike!

The beer is copper hued with a thin, light tan head. Upon tilting the snifter, a nice sheet of lacing coats the sides of the glass.

The aroma offers oak, vanilla, bourbon. Smells strong and bold. nicely done.

A bit sweet, though certainly not lacking in flavor. Loads of bourbon, oak, and vanilla. A bit of heat in the finish. A nice beer to sip and savor. Best in small quantities, or enjoyed over a prolonged period of time. Recommended.

Serving type: bottle

08-10-2012 02:19:47 | More by Huhzubendah
Photo of womencantsail
womencantsail

California

3.9/5  rDev -4.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

08-05-2012 02:27:41 | More by womencantsail
Photo of aasher
aasher

Indiana

4.08/5  rDev 0%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-09-2012 22:49:53 | More by aasher
Photo of claaark13
claaark13

Indiana

4.08/5  rDev 0%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-08-2012 22:04:55 | More by claaark13
Photo of brentk56
brentk56

North Carolina

4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
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

Serving type: bottle

06-03-2012 22:22:40 | More by brentk56
Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4DAloveofSTOUT

Illinois

4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
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!

Serving type: bottle

05-28-2012 04:24:09 | More by 4DAloveofSTOUT
Photo of Duff27
Duff27

Illinois

4/5  rDev -2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-24-2012 01:47:35 | More by Duff27
Photo of drabmuh
drabmuh

Maryland

3.68/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

At the time of this review, this is #12 on the "Top Beers - Old Ale" list served in a snifter. Beer is dark yellow / light amber with a mild haze, a little white head, decent retention, no lacing, low to moderate carbonation.

Aroma is strong, boozy, a little overwhelming.

Beer is medium in body, thin on the front with the booze and alcohol, sweet, lacking that classic old ale character of depth. This is a good beer, a little hot, pretty strong but not overwhelmingly good. I don't think I'd have it again.

Serving type: bottle

05-23-2012 15:13:05 | More by drabmuh
Photo of CuriousMonk
CuriousMonk

Virginia

4.23/5  rDev +3.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-02-2012 17:27:57 | More by CuriousMonk
Photo of largadeer
largadeer

California

3.75/5  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.

Serving type: bottle

04-19-2012 23:35:29 | More by largadeer
Photo of russwbeck
russwbeck

Virginia

4.23/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Hazy brown pour that hints towards orange at the very edge. As the beer settles, the haze disappears and the color focuses more towards red. Really much lighter a pour than I expected from such a big beer. Initially a few fingers of off-white head builds up beautifully, but it doesn't stick around for too long. Spotty lacing shows up down the sides of my New Belgium Globe.

S: The aroma on this is no where near as harsh as I expected after smelling the pour right out of the bottle. A sweet, but balanced blend of aromas greets my nostrils. Very focused on the barrel, which is right up my alley as I'm not a huge fan of Old Ales. Bourbon, sure, but mostly vanilla and oak with undertones of Old Ale and booze.

T: The taste is a tad light, but oh so decadent. Mellowed bourbon, vanilla, dark fruits, and oak are the forefront. I do wish the old ale played a larger role, and that the overall taste was a bit stronger, but the taste that was there was phenomenal. It has a faint malt base, but it's completely focused on the barrel.

MF: The mouthfeel is very thin with a lower than average carbonation. The drinkability, however, is very high. The ABV isn't noted at the level I expected and the taste is wonderful I can't stop taking sips.

O: This was a really nice beer, but it just fell short of top notch. If the overall characteristics were stronger I would think this was all 5s. It's delicious, but not quite there. I paid a decent price for this in Washington DC, and I'm glad I did, but I probably wouldn't get it again.

Serving type: bottle

03-30-2012 23:59:40 | More by russwbeck
Photo of DCon
DCon

Missouri

4.58/5  rDev +12.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-19-2012 17:59:03 | More by DCon
Photo of zaphodchak
zaphodchak

Virginia

4.43/5  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.

Serving type: bottle

03-17-2012 02:59:09 | More by zaphodchak
Photo of Dlish
Dlish

California

4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A- Very dark ruby color in the pour, I was surprised how light color this beer was. Final pour you get a glowing brown and red, little head retention.

S- Smell is very nice, get the solid Bourbon barrel smell. Lots of oak, and layers of vanilla in the background. I get some cheery from the bourbon aging. Despite the lighter color, you still get that solid imperial stout/barley-wine smell.

T- Get a lot lots of charred oak up front, some very sweet malt. There is a lot of wisky and scotch, I feel like i'm drinking a rich smoky islay scotch. I also get some caramel and charred brown sugar. A little to sweet for my taste on the malt profile, I wish the bourbon barrel would mellow out some of the sweetness.

M- A little more carbonation then I would want. The mouth feel is velvety. There is defiantly burn down the way on the throat.

T- Overall good anniversary beer, I wish Karl Strauss would do more big beers, to bad they can only do it once a year to get away with it.

Serving type: bottle

03-13-2012 03:27:17 | More by Dlish
Photo of FosterJM
FosterJM

California

4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-12-2012 15:18:48 | More by FosterJM
Photo of DovaliHops
DovaliHops

California

4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly hazy, amber color with a nice red hue. Small off-white head. Scent is heavy with dark fruits...a bit of toffee as well. Great aroma on this beer. Lovely bourbon with nice oak and sweet figs/dates. Some vanilla as well. Taste is...wow, more well-balanced than I was expecting. I've never been a fan of Karl Strauss, but this beer is outstanding. Immediately I get sweet, burnt sugar cube flavors. Immediately followed by amazing date/fig flavors. Awesome bourbon flavor...very smooth. Tons of toffee with hints of coconut and vanilla. Great balance of malt/dark fruit/bourbon/oak. Alcohol is noticeable and slightly warming, but not nearly as hot as I was expecting. Mouthfeel is somewhat odd...very creamy, yet fizzy at the same time. Medium-full bodied. Drinkability is high. Overall, if KS continues to make beers this good, I will forget that I ever dislike them. Awesome beer!

Serving type: bottle

03-12-2012 06:37:21 | More by DovaliHops
Photo of GhettoFabulous
GhettoFabulous

California

4.93/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark golden brown with some lively froth on top. First whiff of this is vanilla coconut with warm oaky bourbon. Sipping this, the palette is immersed in again, vanilla and coconut, and a surprisingly strong dose of bourbon. Besides the coconut flavor, and some figs and brown sugar, the bourbon really sings here. Not sure what barrels were used, but the bourbon taste is distinct and you can really suss out its flavor, which is very good. Halfway through my glass I am just swooning in vanilla and coconut. This beer so outstanding, you find yourself puzzling over how a brewery of such low regard can produce something so delicious. This is a truly phenomenal beer that would be one of those ridiculously sought after whales if it was produced by goose island or bells or founders, etc. Seek this out, but don't expect any of my help. I went around and gobbled up all the bottles I could after trying this and really, this beer is too damn delicious to trade. If this isn't my favorite beer of 2012 then I can't wait to taste whatever gem supplants it.

Serving type: bottle

03-11-2012 22:50:52 | More by GhettoFabulous
Photo of rawfish
rawfish

California

4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark amber red hue with flashes of sunset orange. Forms a pale beige head of a finger and a half at the apex with poor retention. Spotty lacing but shows some good stick.

Brown sugar, toffee, oak and red fruit. Huge amounts of bourbon along with a distinct alcohol aroma on the end, quite sharp. Bourbon barrel is huge on this beer.

Sweet malts of caramel, molasses coupled with dates and a bourbon and oak wood complex that smooths this out on a long sip. Releases nicely with vanilla and bourbon at the tail end, touch of herbal bitterness.

Plenty of sticky malts are lightened up with a thin body with average carbonation. Releases pleasantly with less harsh booze than on the nose.

I think the brewers achieved exactly what they were setting out to accomplish on this one. Highlights big bourbon and barrel character accompanied by a wonderful malt escort. Not very complex but tremendous value and a slow sipper.

Serving type: bottle

02-29-2012 03:22:12 | More by rawfish
Photo of srandycarter
srandycarter

California

4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-29-2012 01:19:14 | More by srandycarter
Photo of Drinkerofales
Drinkerofales

California

4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
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

Serving type: bottle

02-26-2012 18:58:34 | More by Drinkerofales
Photo of UCLABrewN84
UCLABrewN84

California

4.28/5  rDev +4.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-22-2012 04:38:11 | More by UCLABrewN84
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | next › last »
23rd Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Ale from Karl Strauss Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 85 ratings.