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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 UCLABrewN84
3.83/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at The Surly Goat in West Hollywood, CA.

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to a small cap on top of the beer. Foamy swaths of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cinnamon, cocoa, and coffee. Taste is the same with some vanilla and an alcohol kick on the finish. There is a mild roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and somewhat thin mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with a better taste than smell but it's a bit thin for the style.

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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 womencantsail
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The pour is black in color with a tan head. Nice roasted malt, a hint of cocoa, and some good coffee aromas. A hint of vanilla, some burnt sugar and licorice, as well as some molasses. The flavor is a touch sweet with nice licorice, sugar, and molasses notes. Plenty of coffee and roast, good chocolate flavors, and some toffee as it warms. Really nice body to this beer as well.

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Photo of mactrail
4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Rich and warming big stout. Aroma of chocolate and the percolator. Great taste of dark roasted coffee beans. Served in a chilled pint glass, which turns out to be ideal for the un-chilled beer. Nice foam and lacing, but the creamy mouthfeel is outstanding.

This is a powerful, but less syrupy variety of RIS. It has the grainy, dark roast flavor of a good stout, but a velvety mouthfeel to accommodate the higher alcohol. A touch of vanilla.

I'm really pleased to taste a big stout in this restrained and highly drinkable style. I have been impressed that Karl Strauss does such a good job with their cask beers. I think more craft beer enthusiasts should put them on the list of places to visit once in a while.

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Photo of Jason
3.92/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 brown bomber with no freshness date.

LOOK: Black, opaque, sudsy tan froth, sticky lacing

SMELL: Espresso, chicory, cocoa nibs, molasses, burnt raisins, floral alcohol, black toast, licorice root

TASTE: Smooth, creamy, full bodied, sweet, milky, cocoa, burnt sugar, treacle, coffee, Nutella, soft charcoal, burnt drying finish

A lot of fun drinking this bomber, quickly reminded me how much I like coffee / chocolate-ish stouts and big ones at that.

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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 chinchill
3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewpub.

Appearance: dark brown-black color; opaque with a very durable tan head that leaves attractive lacing.

Aroma: appealing mix of coffee and baked dark bread.

Flavor: mildly sweet despite a strong coffee presence. High quality coffee component.

Feel: medium-full body with soft, light carbonation. A bit syrupy.

O: a very tasty coffee stout. Improved with warming. Reommended!

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Photo of Halcyondays
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bomber,

A: Pours black with a medium tan head, solid retention and lace.

S: Coffee beans and roasted malts, nice, smells like I expected it to.

T: Real nice sweet mocha coffee flavour with a lot of dark chocolate and caramel.

M: Full-bodied, soft carbonation, creamy.

O: A real nice big Imperial Stout and not overpriced. Quite enjoyable. A solid beer all around.

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Photo of Zorro
3.96/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very dark brown colored beer, it is basically lightproof. No head formation.

Smells sweet and very well charred. Smells of berry, smoke and medicine. Burned chocolate aroma and a faint whiff of coffee. Alcohol is completely hidden a lot like a Milk Stout in flavor.

Starts out sweet with a strong chocolate flavor and an after taste of wheat toast. Slight berry flavor.

Mouthfeel is good.

Overall this is pretty tasty. Heavy on the malt makes it pretty easy to drink.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.05/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4


Cask at Real Ale.

A: Brown that borders on black with a crimson tinge at the bottom.

S: Bold coffee presence with nuts and earth. Cocoa accompanies a tame roasted presence. Very nice nose.

T: Roasted grains and a firm coffee presence that's earthy and nutty. The roasted profile is smooth and not at all acrid or harsh. Lots of dark chocolate and a mild bitterness. Alcohol is faint.

M: Full body with a silky, sticky, chewy mouthfeel.

Overall: A very nice coffee imperial stout. Highly drinkable. I think I'll pick up a bomber of this. This was very good on cask.

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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 drpimento
4.74/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Whoa, killer brew. Just shy of perfect, and those imperfections are just niggles. Little bit boozy, but hey, it's an imp stout... Looks, smells, tastes, fabulous. Complex, yet just a great classic beer of its style. Faultless finish. Can't wait to return to the brewpub in San Diego.

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Photo of ArrogantB
4.01/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewery. Black color, short tan head. Aroma was quite nice, lots of coffee and chocolate. Big coffee in the flavor, chocolate, alcohol, pretty good. My only complaint was the mouthfeel being a little thin. Best beer I had at Karl Strauss.

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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 FosterJM
3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1609th Review on BA
Bottle to Snifter

Purchased from Holiday Wine Cellar, Escondido, CA

App- It was a dark brown pour with a semi dark center and then just a little bit of a mocha looking 1/2" head formed. It faded quickly and left only a couple dots of cling down the side. Wasnt the deepest color for an RIS, but looked okay.

Smell- It was a nice stout. Good aromatics of a little bit of everything you would expect from a full bodied stout. A good thick malt aroma, paired with some vanilla and chocolate. It was a bit lush on the nose and you did get a bit of the booze.

Taste- On the first sip this is a bit of a dark chocolate and a touch of anise to me. Not sure it was intended but does have a lot of vanilla and some dark roast coffee behind it. It was fairly smooth and a bit creamy and at other times a bit grainy.

Mouth- A fuller medium body with a medium carbonation level. The residual flavors are of dark chocolate and some roasted malts.

Drink- I think since I was too excited for this one, I did overpay a little bit. Its good but not for the price I paid in SD. Ive seen it a bit cheaper in the Inland Empire of CA, and would probably grab another one if I were inclined to.

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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 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 portia99
3.96/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a Brooklyn snifter.

A - Pours a touch thin in appearance, but of a near black color with deep brown touches around the edges. A small and somewhat fizzy off white head dies quickly and leaves only a thin collar.

S - Lots of chocolate up front with some licorice to spice things up. Black coffee, brown sugar, traces of vanilla. Nice and roasty with some mild sweetness...gives a really smooth and creamy impression.

T - Lots of roast up front, quite black coffee-ish. A fair amount of alcohol presence is noticable. Chocolate, cocoa, some vanilla...almost has a bit of a bourbony flavor to it with the booze and the vanilla even though this wasn't barrelled. A little bit of brown sugary sweetness really smoothes this out towards the finish. Faint citrusy/fruity hops noticeable more into the aftertaste.

M - Body is a touch thin for the style and falls short of medium bodied overall. Carbonation is mid-level and lively. A bit boozy but smoothes out nicely on the finish with the mix of milky chocolate and creamy vanilla sweetness. Wish there was a bit more body to this...would really add something to this.

O - This was a pleasant surprise. I've had mixed experiences with Karl Strauss beers...this one falls on the positive side of the spectrum. Fairly complex, nicely blended and integrated flavors. Super smooth overall...starts a bit boozy but evens out and ends silky and creamy on the finish. Quite enjoyable.

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Photo of dertyd
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured from a 22 oz bomber to a 562 pint glass

A:dark almoast black with red hues looks like an dark iced coffee.verry thin kahaki head that settles to a ring around the glass almoast no lace

S:dark roast coffee,chocolate malts and vanilla

T: just like smell coffe,chocolate and vanilla verry smooth

M:smooth rich,verry wet

O:verry good imperial stout not to much coffee but just enough verry smooth

Live life drink beer!!!:-)

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Photo of BucannonXC5
4.46/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Type: 22-oz. bomber
Glass: Oversized wine glass
From: VONS in Normal Heights (San Diego), Calif.
Price: $11.49
Purchased: July 20, 2013
Consumed: Aug. 16, 2013
Misc.: N/A

Poured an almost pitch black color with two fingers of bubbly tan head. Average spots of sporadic lacing on the sides of the glass. Good amount of lacing all the way down.

Smelled pretty much black coffee, fudge and dark chocolate. Also cocoa, espresso, toffee and caramel. I’ve never had coffee, but this is it.

Tasted not quite as strong as the smell, but still similar. Got coffee, coffee beans, espresso, dark chocolate, smoky fire, dark chocolate fudge, toffee, cocoa and dark caramel. Very smooth.

Medium body. Surprisingly thinner texture. Average carbonation. Long, smooth finish.

Just a fantastic beer. Everything was just so good. Can’t wait to try it again.

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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 Furlinator
4.01/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours opaque black with a thin khaki head that quickly disappears completely and leaves very faint spots of lace.

Smell is a delicious balance of sweet chocolate, bitter black coffee and dark malt.

Taste is black coffee, dark chocolate and roasted malt.

Texture is on the heavy side of medium bodied with low carbonation.

A solid imperial stout with strong coffee and cocoa flavors.

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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 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 jeffjeff1
4.29/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I tried this at the Winter Brews Fest in Concord but couldn't really write notes on it then. I got a few bottles of it later and took some notes.

Appearance- black color, thin tan head, decent lacing

Smell- coffee, chocolate

Taste- coffee, chocolate, very nice!

Mouthfeel- full bodied

Drinkability- I thought this was a very good stout. I really enjoyed it a lot!

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