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Wreck Alley Imperial Stout - Karl Strauss Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Wreck Alley Imperial StoutWreck Alley Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

42 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 42
Hads: 210
Avg: 3.85
pDev: 12.47%
Wants: 6
Gots: 38 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Karl Strauss Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  9.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: mactrail on 04-01-2012

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (88) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 42 | Hads: 210
Photo of ehammond1
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On Tap

Churchill's Pub & Grille
San Marcos, CA

Very dark brown in color, though clearly not black, with dark ruby highlights near the edges and a thing dark brown head. This leaves regular lines of lace down the glass.

Earthy aroma with ground coffee accompaniment. There's roast and a hint of vanilla as well.

The flavor is similar, with ground coffee flavors dominating, along with a hint of alcohol, roast, a little bit of vanilla, and something, unfortunately, metallic.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation and a hint of a metallic mouthfeel.

Good enough, though I was hoping for more.

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Photo of MRGonzalo
3.75/5  rDev -2.6%

Unexpectedly quickly vanishing head. Nice aroma (and aggresive body) of coffee and seasalt. Much more acidic taste than anticipated, with a dark roasted bean aftertaste.

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Photo of Beerswag
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Not too much head lingering around. Smells of dark chocolate and coffee. Taste is chocolate, some dried fruit in there, and finishing a little harsh on the palate, with spice and bitterness lingering.

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Photo of brentk56
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a fudge brown color with a modest tan head; spots of lace linger

Smell: Chocolate with hints of caramel, coffee and licorice

Taste: Chocolate, with a fudgy character developing by mid-palate, adding some caramel, coffee and licorice into the mix; there is a subtle hint of heat as well as a plastic flavor that develops in the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Overall: Very enjoyable; lots of chocolate and a bit of coffee, the finish is a bit all over the map but only a minor distraction

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Photo of rawfish
3.62/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours 2 shades above pitch black with a dark mocha head. One finger high foam cap that has average retention and leaves no lacing.

Chocolate with a fair amount of roasted aroma. Licorice, dates and some cinnamon spice here adds depth.

Fudge brownies and light roast with some cinnamon, ginger bread, dark fruit and licorice root. Very interesting and assorted. Hop character comes in very vegetative and herbal, knocks the flavor back and it starts becoming messy towards the end of the bomber.

Alcohol is mildly hidden but still there. Sticky finish and a medium body for a stout.

Flavor profile and aroma are on point with a great variety and perfect sweetness but the drink and after taste are rather sloppy. Good value for the price.

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Photo of Ryanbenjamin
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- dark and rich. A rather small head that seemed a little thin

S- beautiful. Rich chocolate with a hint of coffee. Boozy smell toward the end

T- definitely taste the chocolate and coffee. Toasted malts give it a perfect degree of smokiness. Alcohol is very present towards the end; could definitely benefit from an extended vacation in the cellar.

O- excellent. Very good at the brewery for dessert after a big meal. Bought 4 bombers when I left and can't wait to see how they have aged after a year or two.

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Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne
3.51/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours out pitch black with about an inch of tan head. All this is great, but the head disappears very fast and leaves zero lace behind.

Chocolate, toffee and a hint of brown sugar make up the smell.

Chocolate and dark fruit start off the taste, though they are both pretty light. Vanilla and earth come in a bit in the middle. Chocolate dominates the finish. No booze from what I can taste. Very light bodied and high in carbonation for an imperial anything.

There isn't anything offensive, or not good about this imperial stout. It's just a bit bland and uncreative. It would be a nice, easy introductory beer for anyone new to the style, but not great for someone looking for an interesting stout.

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Photo of CommanderOfAwesome
3.51/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

2012 bottle poured into a snifter

A: Pours black/deep dark brown with nice 2 finger khaki brown head. slight lacing on the glass.

S: Some chocolatey and big coffee notes. Sweetness about it along with a hint of some charcoal.

T: Roasty, coffee notes, and chocolate sweetness. slight vanilla and a bit of alcohol warming effect.

M: On thin side for an imperial stout. Not creamy which I would normally expect. Not as thin as say Drakonic, but closer to that than a thick creamy stout. Carbonation is noticable on the palate and bit harsh. Slight bit of booze after taste.

O: Alright offering, found the mouthfeel to be disappointing and carbonation levels off. Not as pathetic of an offering as drakonic, but not one I will buy multiple of. I'd be curious to try the BA version, should note for the price ~$8 its not a terrible deal.

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Photo of PatrickSwayze
3.51/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a nice black with a head that stays lingering thin around the edges.  

S: The huge nose on this is a majority of coffee and chocolate with a struggle of roast on the side

T: A deep grainy wheat bread characteristic that is quite thin up front and mid tongue, and tries to amp up the flavor as it rolls down the tongue revealing a very subtle coco characteristic with low level if heat. Nothing really jumping out at you

M: Pretty thin for an imperial stout. Little too dry IMO for the style.

O: It's a decent I Stout, not mind blowing like i had hoped it would be. But still a decent offering

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Photo of cbutova
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Back in SD, 22oz bomber purchased at a deli in Point Loma. Live review, already have notes for 8 more.

A- Pitch black pour to two small taster glasses. No light makes it through the beer and a small light mocha head forms to a finger. Decent cap retention as it falls to a small creamy white ring. Lacing deposits are spotty on the glass.

S- Coffee off the top, not super dark roast but still the beans nonetheless. Cocoa also comes in rich with some roast grain, nutty, caramel and raisins.

T- Coffee and dark yeasty fruit notes are big here and lead in the flavor. Roast grains and cocoa come next and compliment the aforementioned things. Nutty, toffee, caramel, toasted, apple, malty and some sweetness, like lactose somehow.

MF- Moderately thick bodied with a somewhat silky texture but not as thick as most great Imperials. Carbonation on the medium high side which helps support the dark big flavors. Finishes roasty bitter.

Enjoyable big stout with a hefty yeast and coffee forward profile complimented by cocoa and roast grains. Body could be a bit bigger but overall it's enjoyable.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.47/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1 pint 6 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap acquired at a SoCal beer store for $6.99 and served into a New Belgium stem-goblet in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are average; I've never been big on this brewery but I do like well executed versions of the style.

Served straight from the refrigerator and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Not paired with food; consumed on a full stomach (lentils).

A: Pours a one finger khaki colour head of nice cream and thickness, and above average retention (~2.5 minutes) for the high ABV. Body colour is a very dark brown-black; not quite a jet black. Nontransparent and opaque. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Generally appealing and typical for the style, but it lacks the rich tan colour or jet black body of a great example of the style.

Sm: Chocolate malt, some light roast, pleasant coffee/java notes, cream, milk, and cacao. The coffee is very enjoyable and fresh; it doesn't come off cold-pressed or stale. A well balanced, inviting aroma. No yeast character or alcohol is detectable.

T: Love the cream. A splash of pleasant coffee with hints of roasted java in the body. Light chocolate malt fuses well with the other assorted dark malts, but sadly it lacks sufficient roasted barley character to really give it presence. I get a bit of toffee on the climax when I look for it. Maybe a fleeting creeping hint of creme brulee/muted vanilla just after the climax, but it's buried. Sweetness is near ideal, but goes a bit overboard as you near the finish. Not a horribly complex imperial stout, but decently balanced until the third act. No yeast or alcohol comes through, which is favorable here. A bit of bitterness in the third act; maybe some floral hop notes coming through in addition to the coffee. I get more cacao as it warms, but the chocolate itself is clearly malt-derived rather than evocative of actual chocolate. The creaminess is its best attribute, and one I'd like to see in more imperial stouts - though it does hold it back from attaining a rich malty roasty backbone. Overall, it's surpassed my expectations.

Mf: Delightfully creamy. Smooth and wet throughout. Good if overdone carbonation. Adequate thickness and body. Pretty good palate presence.

Dr: Admittedly, I doubted Karl Strauss but they delivered a very drinkable imperial stout at a decent price. The ABV is well hidden. I like the direction they took this, but it does need more complexity and subtlety to really shine. In the world of imperial stouts, you have to bring more to the table than this to stand out. As a result, I won't be having this again - but I will be giving Karl Strauss more attention when I see their products on shelves. Maybe they're not as forgettable as I thought after all.

High B-

A goblet was actually an inferior choice for this beer. I'd recommend a snifter or even highball.

An okay choice for aging. I imagine the coffee will fade, but the cream should remain.

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Photo of funjack5150
3.39/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

I first smelled this stout and I got nothing but chocolate. And then I took my first sip and not a lot of chocolate. Then after that all I got was raisins and dates and dark fruits. To me this stout is ok...... I won't be running out to get more anytime soon.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.37/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

22oz bomber purchased from BevMo in Menlo Park, CA. Shared with Rich in Sydney.

Pours a deepish brown, surprisingly supple and with a clarity at the edges. Body is loose and fine and holds some carbonation in a haphazard sort of manner. Head forms a fine ring of muddy brown that doesn't leave much lacing. Looks decent enough though.

Nose is pleasant, if a little generic for an impy stout: plenty of roast, plenty of malty sweetness, with a stretched grainy quality. Slight sweet-savoury toasty character, with a vague coffee sharpness around the back. There's a bit of booze to it, but it's arrested by the roasty character. Pleasant enough.

Taste is similar. Slight toasty roastiness with a pretty generic sweetness that probes through the front to the back and leaves its mark on everything. Finish is vaguely toasty, with a hint of tobacco smoke.

Feel is smooth enough, but containing that vague lightness that somehow permeates.

Overall, this is a pretty lacklustre imperial stout. It's certainly flavoursome—it would be hard not to be while remaining in the style, but I want something more in such a beer. Indeed, I find it hard to believe this even got to 9.5% ABV: beers of this strength are rarely this insipid.

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Photo of flayedandskinned
3.21/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

No bottle date

Poured into a Duvel tulip glass.

Appearance: pours a deep, very dark brown with a finger and a half light tan head that recedes disappointingly fast, leaving no lacing behind.

Aroma: Soft milk chocolate, roasted malts, grassy, herbal hops and some background notes of coffee.

Taste: Creamy baker's chocolate up front, with some herbaceous hops intermingling with some rich, caramel laden roasted malts. There is a nice flourish of robust coffee beans and more chocolate in the lingering, off dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, a quite bit thin for the style with some soft carbonation.

Overall: A decent imperial stout; I definitely wish the mouthfeel was fuller for 9.5% and I wish the coffee notes were more apparent, but the creamy, overt notes of chocolate are quite nice and help the beer seem richer. Karl Strauss hides the 9.5% extraordinarily well. I've allowed this beer to warm up almost to almost room temperature, and still not a single hint of alcohol which is quite impressive. I'd recommend this to someone who wants to try an easy drinking Imperial Stout.

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Photo of beagle75
3.14/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured from a growler into a shaker pint glass.

A: Opaque black color with no foam head. No lacing remains on the glass.

S: Compelling chocolate syrup is featured. Dark fruit peeks from the edges, as does a volatile spirituous quality.

T: Begins off-dry, with cakey chocolate malt in ample supply at first. Acidity is fairly mild into the middle where dark fruit is subdued before flavors become a bit muddied. The finish drops off quickly, leaving a trace of bitter chocolate to linger. No alcohol is detected.

M: Medium viscosity, watery yet sluggish on the palate, with very low carbonation.

D/O: Drinkable for the style, but flawed. While the smell is nearly laser-focused, the flavors spiral out in unnecessary directions. The texture is inconsistent with the style, making the beer as a whole harder to take seriously. Karl Strauss keeps trying to land a real imperial stout, but they can't seem to get everything right.

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Photo of Rob23
3/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I am not going to go overboard with a description.This stout is just OK in my opinion.Most likely will not purchase again.I have had better(Ten Fidy,Stone,Boulevard,Rasputin)and I have had worse(no name to mention)If you do not mind trying new things and have the income to not care then by all means give it a go.Maybe the 2 IPAs I enjoyed before this one ruined the experience for me....but I doubt it.

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Photo of denatured_gin
1.36/5  rDev -64.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

All of the positive reviews I've glanced at over the last few minutes of googling this swill confirm the unfortunate phenomenon I'm seeing everywhere: most folks simply refuse to believe that a sufficiently obscure or cutely named or visually pleasantly labeled 'craft' beer can be truly BAD.

In reality, these are beginning to outnumber the good ones. Most are what I call "mineral beers" in that they are nearly as bland as mineral water. But then there are the "stouts" that rely on the taste of urine steeped overnight in McDonald's dumpster coffee grounds to impart the flavor we associate with the recipe.

Wreck Alley's Imperial Stout takes this approach, but turns its offensiveness to initiated palates well past 11 with what I can only guess to be soy sauce. And not even the good, Japanese soy sauce: I'm talking about that cheap, black Chinese stuff in the packets with one clear side that come with fried rice take out. I couldn't even choke down the whole bottle, and not only because of my soul-crushing disappointment after psyching myself up for the deliciousness that is a true North American "Imperial" stout. It was just too gross. A 24oz King Cobra tall boy would've stood a better chance. Blecchh!

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Wreck Alley Imperial Stout from Karl Strauss Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 42 ratings.