1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

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

86 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 86
Reviews: 36
rAvg: 4.07
pDev: 10.07%
Wants: 48
Gots: 29 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: HopHead84 on 02-03-2012)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 86 | Reviews: 36 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Chaney
Chaney

District of Columbia

4.18/5  rDev +2.7%

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.

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

Pennsylvania

3.55/5  rDev -12.8%

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.

10-04-2012 17:43:13 | More by stakem
Photo of BeerHunter76
BeerHunter76

Texas

4/5  rDev -1.7%

09-12-2012 21:23:00 | More by BeerHunter76
Photo of kjkinsey
kjkinsey

Texas

3.75/5  rDev -7.9%

09-12-2012 00:05:41 | More by kjkinsey
Photo of Texasfan549
Texasfan549

Texas

4.5/5  rDev +10.6%

09-12-2012 00:01:47 | More by Texasfan549
Photo of wagenvolks
wagenvolks

Texas

4.5/5  rDev +10.6%

08-11-2012 02:22:50 | More by wagenvolks
Photo of Huhzubendah
Huhzubendah

District of Columbia

4.18/5  rDev +2.7%

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.

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

California

3.9/5  rDev -4.2%

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.

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

Indiana

4.08/5  rDev +0.2%

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.

07-09-2012 22:49:53 | More by aasher
Photo of drewskie1123
drewskie1123


4.75/5  rDev +16.7%

06-16-2012 00:43:11 | More by drewskie1123
Photo of claaark13
claaark13

Indiana

4.08/5  rDev +0.2%

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.

06-08-2012 22:04:55 | More by claaark13
Photo of nmann08
nmann08

District of Columbia

4/5  rDev -1.7%

06-04-2012 14:18:23 | More by nmann08
Photo of ygtbsm94
ygtbsm94

Virginia

3.5/5  rDev -14%

06-03-2012 23:50:00 | More by ygtbsm94
Photo of brentk56
brentk56

North Carolina

4.33/5  rDev +6.4%

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

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

Illinois

4.45/5  rDev +9.3%

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!

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

California

4.25/5  rDev +4.4%

05-27-2012 09:49:02 | More by CelticAleMan
Photo of Exiled
Exiled

Texas

4.25/5  rDev +4.4%

05-24-2012 11:09:17 | More by Exiled
Photo of Duff27
Duff27

Illinois

4/5  rDev -1.7%

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.

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

Maryland

3.68/5  rDev -9.6%

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.

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

New Jersey

3/5  rDev -26.3%

05-17-2012 19:34:17 | More by beenitty
Photo of furthurgone
furthurgone

California

4.25/5  rDev +4.4%

05-16-2012 19:10:18 | More by furthurgone
Photo of drewone
drewone

California

3/5  rDev -26.3%

05-08-2012 03:09:31 | More by drewone
Photo of scubahood
scubahood

Massachusetts

4/5  rDev -1.7%

05-04-2012 18:06:54 | More by scubahood
Photo of CheapBeerBuzz
CheapBeerBuzz

California

4.25/5  rDev +4.4%

05-02-2012 18:53:25 | More by CheapBeerBuzz
Photo of CuriousMonk
CuriousMonk

Virginia

4.23/5  rDev +3.9%

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.

05-02-2012 17:27:57 | More by CuriousMonk
23rd Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Ale from Karl Strauss Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 86 ratings.