To The 9's
Karl Strauss Brewing Company

To The 9'sTo The 9's
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American Imperial IPA
4.01 | pDev: 7.98%
Karl Strauss Brewing Company
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
To The 9'sTo The 9's
Notes: 2009 Holiday Ale
...and what a year it was. 20 years of beer was celebrated, a new bottling line came to life. In honor of '09, we brewed a beer with English Extra-Pale malts and no less than 9 hop varieties to give it 99 IBUs, 9.9% ABV 9 SRM. This Imperial IPA has a woodsy, floral hoppiness with citrus undertones and a spicy, earthy aroma. Full in body and spirit, it's the perfect beer to take leave of the old year in style and welcome the New Year dressed to the nines.

Alcohol by Volume: 9.9%
Color: 9 SRM
Bitterness: 99 IBU

Availability: Limited Release in December 2009 in kegs and 22oz. Bottles.
View: Beers | Events
Reviews: 24 | Ratings: 28
Photo of Armand
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had a chance to try this at a tour I had of Karl Strauss. The rep was there and she brought out a bottle for us to try.

A- Clear amber color.

S-Spice and hop were present. Had a slight raisin smell.

T- Pine-like, grassy, an earthy & peppery character, with a lot of spice. Grape almost, and fruity.

M/D - Goes down easier than many of the other standard IPA's I've tasted. It's medium/full-bodied and the 10% ABV

Looking forward to trying this one again. Great little beer, and one that I'm glad they (KS) made.
Serving type: bottle

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Photo of RoyalT
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – This is a serious-looking deep brownish-orange in color with a nice tan head that was very thick and lasted well.

Smell – The rich, caramel malts and big, bold hops are nicely balanced.

Taste – The caramel malts step up boldly at the taste. They are burnt sugar meets rich caramel and the stiff, bittering hops just do keep up with the pace.

Mouthfeel – This is a big beer, not quite full-bodied but much bigger than medium, with some nice bitterness mostly offset by the sugars and a very mild carbonation.

Drinkability – This is a big, sipping beer that is true to the style and very bold.

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Photo of Bajasith
4.04/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

- Clear copper/amber glow with some bubbles rising to the top, laces very well from a chunky head.
-Smell of big orange/grapefruit hops with hints resinous/sappy pine after a winter rain... wahh!
-Taste is almost like what I described... thick sappy along with a chunk of citrus peel and mild caramel as the alcohol smoothes the bitternes... gets you like a slap in the face yet, no lingering aftertaste.
-Very well brewed 9 hop DIPA from KS... 9.9% abv could be a factor.

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Photo of crvcac
4.28/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Golden amber with ruby highlights

Aroma: citrus and spice. Hop varietals are definitely characteristic of European hops. Very earthy and opposite of their northwestern counterparts.

Taste: woodsy, spice, grass and earth. Very distinct and difficult to put my finger on one dominant taste.

Body: for 9.9% abv, pretty damn smooth. Earthiness of the hops nicely masks the booziness.

Overall: definitely different, yet surprisingly solid

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Photo of ffejherb
3.11/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22oz. bomber shared amongst other fellow BAs on 5/27/10.

A - Poured a clear amber body with lots of carbonation and a thin white head that reduced to a patchy veil but left behind stringy strands of decorative lacing.

S - Initial aroma combines sweet caramel and bready malts with a fairly pronounced alcohol twang. Hop aroma is subtle, although some citrus notes emerged as the liquid warmed up a bit. Overall, the aroma elicits sweet, sugary rock candy.

T - This kind of tastes like how I'd imagine a carmelized hop would taste. It's as if a whole leaf hop nugget was suspended in a sugary, hard candied fruit coating and I am now sucking on it. While there is an ideal amount of bitterness to this puppy, there is unfortunately not a whole lot of discernable hop character or flavor.

M - Syrupy and oily with a very sticky mouthfeel and moderate alcohol warmth on the palate. Finishes quite dry with an assertive hop bite.

D - Misses the mark a bit due to its sweetness. While the bitterness was definitely there, I would have liked to see more of a well-rounded hop character and a less obtrusive alcohol presence. Not sure of the age of this bottle, but I would definitely be interested in sampling this again.

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Photo of akorsak
3.7/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Ffejherb for sharing this bottle at the Brass Rail.

A: The ale is a coppery orange color, effervescent but generating little head. What does bubble up though laces as it recedes. The Coppery color remains clear throughout.

S: The sweet, spicy aromas reminded me of Fruity Pebbles, a melange of sweetness masking a sinister hoppy bitterness.

T: The DIPA has retained its strength admirably since the Christmas season, although the start is much maltier. Caramel and pale breadiness, mildy sweet, start things off before ceding to the hops. Mid-sip, a blast of non-descript bitterness, citrusy but vague, takes control. It is assertive with a strong staying power, leaving a sharp, tingly taste behind. I'd love to have some of the Fruity Pebble fruit flavors come through.

M: The mouthfeel is oily and bitter, plenty of hops to go around with enough spicy heat to keep me interested.

D: Drinking it, I had no idea it weighed in around 10%. A hoppy ale that has enough spice to wring in a holiday season.

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Photo of armock
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured a light copper color with an off white head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is of lots of fruity citrus hops

T - Very bitter just a lot of hops upfront then a touch of malt comes out but very unbalanced

M - This beer has a medium body with medium carbonation to it

D - This is a hop bomb with little to no balanced to it so I'm not really enjoying this one fully but if thats your sort of thing check it out glad I only picked up one bottle

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Photo of mfaulk
4.45/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The other reviews have been accurate, so there's not much too add. The alcohol came on hot at first, even for a 9.9%, but you "warm up" to that. Hop presence is strong but well-balanced. It was light work finishing a 22oz bottle. I wish I had bought more while in San Diego...

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Photo of Kegatron
4.25/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Pours a slightly hazed orange copper, with 2+ big fingers of eggshell white froth. This peters down into thin, yet still creamy, layer that leaves a robust cascade of rich spotty lacing all down the sides of the glass. The aroma is mostly all hops, being floral, piney, and earthy, with a deep balancing tang of fruit and lightly smokey toasted malts. There's a bit of a stiff layer of warmth making it's presence known as well. Just enough to let you know that there's some power going on with this.

The hops stick to the tongue in the taste with an earthy, resinous, and very spicy bite to it. Sweetness from the tropical fruit character and those toasty feeling malts give this a smooth backing balance. Resins and spice really hangs in the finish. Speaking of the spices, I'm picking up a more festive feel to it (much more so than in the aroma), with cinnamon and even a little bit of mint coming through. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a nice firm creaminess to the carbonation up front that then gets a lot softer feeling as you swallow. A smooth oily texture intertwines into the body, allowing this to drink much easier than 10% ABV, with only some gentle warmth showing itself from the alcohol.

This was really good and a pleasant hoppy fix for the winter season. With it's festive spicy profile, I wouldn't surprised if they didn't take a cue from Alesmith's Winter Yulesmith with this. Nothing wrong with that! After having both the Big Barrel and now this, I really like where Karl Strauss is going with these big IPAs.

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Photo of Jason
4.27/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz brown bomber with a 2009 vintage date on the label.

Clear amber glow shows some bubbles rising to the top, lacing clings to the glass very well from a chunky head that does not want to go away. Big orangey hop nose with hints of mint, pineapple, evergreen and taffy. Exceptionally smooth with a crisp back-end, semi-creamy medium body hold together quite well. Hops are bold and in your face or should I say slapping my taste buds around. Bitterness throws the hammer down and leaves a thick almost oily blanket of pungent flavor. Alcohol shows warmth, fruitiness and a peppery sting. Cinnamon? Yeah, there is some malt within but it takes a while for the taste buds to adjust to the dominant bitterness to find the caramel and bready undertones. Big hoppy finish.

KS does the DIPA style right here ... with each sip I become more fond of it.

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Photo of brentk56
4.02/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clear light amber (9 SRM) color with a thick head that leaves some patches of lace

Smell: It's got that west coast floral citrus aroma, for sure; very bright

Taste: Rather sweet, up front, with the pithy citrus struggling, and failing, to overwhelm by mid-palate; after the swallow, the bitterness ultimately prevails, but there is just a smidge too much sugary, pineappley malt in here to merit a higher score

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation and some alcoholic warmth

Drinkability: I really wanted to like this one more but, over time, the sweetness got to me; kudos to Karl Strauss, however, for moving in this direction and I look forward to additional beers in this series

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bomber,

A: Pours orange with a finger of white head, good retention, nice lace per the style.

S: White grapefruit, cantaloupe rind, green and bitter.

T: Bitter melon, citrus/lots of grapefruit is the hop character. Light notes of herbal pine and cedar. Real light malt, West Coast for sure.

M: Thick with resiny, with a tingly carbonation. Medium/full body.

D: A real nice DIPA. This can hold it's own in San Diego. Nice label to, I like the 9s theme. Not overly expensive is a plus. Granted it costs more than Yulesmith did three years ago, but hey it's 2010, the $9 bomber of DIPA is here to stay, this is only $6.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.3/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Split this one with my brother in law the other night, we were both more then impressed with the results. Served cold and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 02/17/2010.

The pour was dark amber, rich looking with a nice copper hue to it. Really nice head of about two inches peaks up from the top of the glass and settles down into a thin, wispy, pillow like layer that proceeds to hang on until the last drop. Sharp hops cut through the air, biting citrus, pine, orange, just a wonderful mix of aromas. Warming brings out a hint o light spice, a touch of thin buttery malts. First sip reveals a medium to full feel with a large body of carbonation behind it. Enormous drying takes place as the grapefruit and pine tear through the tongue and leaves no prisoners, takes me a good few sips to gain my bearing and the biscuit like mid palate then falls forward. Soothing, warming alcohol then comes across, just the right touch of it before a quick hit of light spice and a nice and smooth drying.

Overall a very big ale, this was nothing to mess around with, in fact it whopped up good. I would love to see this come back again next year, a winner for sure.

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Photo of jjh19
4.33/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Beautiful amber leaning towards a touch of golden in color. The head was bright and full. I liked that it stuck around for a while too.

Smell: I get a lot of the citrus in the nose.

Taste: To The 9's is labeled as an Imperial IPA. Because of this I was thinking I might be hit over the head with hops. Instead I get a real solid balance. I got some pine upfront but then there's a unique underlying sweetness to the taste. That balance is one of my favorite things about To The 9's.

Mouthfeel: This beer has a nice medium body to it. Not thin, but definitely not heavy. Thus, I'm going with "medium."

Drinkability: Oh yeah. Very drinkable. Each sip is interesting with the way the flavors work through from the hops to the malts. Sign me up for "To The 10's."

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Photo of mjl21
3.65/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 ounce bottle poured into a tulip. No bottling date is given. Comes in at 9.9% and 99 IBUs.

A-Pours a crystal clear glowing amber. A hard pour results in a really big two finger off white head. The head has a nice level of retention and rests at a 3/4 finger level. A small amount of bubbles can be seen rising from the bottom.

S-It smells of sugary fresh citrus and orange rind. There is also pine hops coming through. The English extra pale malt is evident. The aroma gets breadier as it warms.

T-It starts out with a blend of sweetness combined with orange citrus and earthy pine flavors. The toasted pale malt gives it a hefty background. The sweetness swings back at the end and results in a beer that I found to be a little too sweet.

M-A full doubled DIPA and the carbonation was adequate.

D-A little too sweet for a WC DIPA. A proper description would be balanced.

Another not great, not bad DIPA. Too balanced for me. I could see a lot of people thoroughly enjoying this one.

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Photo of mikedashg
4.05/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From what I've seen of Karl Strauss, I usually just "pass" for bigger and better beers. But this one, it's about time they joined the big beer game in SoCal. KS spearheaded the beer game in SoCal, but definitely didn't catch on to big beer high hops until this one here in 2009, along with their Tower 10 IPA, and Big Barrel Double IPA. A few years too late, but glad they finally decided to join the party.

9.9% ALC, 99 IBUs, 9 SRM, brewed in 2009 = "To the 9's" as in dressed, brewed to the 9's. Kinda of a novelty brew, but it didn't disappoint...

A - Poured from a 22oz bottle into a pint glass. Pours a very transparent orangy yellow with a nice frothy/fluffy white head. Not too big, not too small. just right. Good amount of lacing on the glass.

S - Big hop profile, still also malty, biscut/cracker like qualities

T - As you'd expect, pretty darn bitter with the hops up front, a bit piney, but also has a nice pale malt malty goodness backing. Not balanced persay, as it should be, but it's nice to actually taste some malt in a double IPA :D. A hint of citrus, apricot caramel goodness too.

M - Moderate to moderately high carbonation, crisp and clean on the tounge.

D - Really good example of style and very drinkable. Nice to see that Karl Strauss finally "Grew a pair" and brewed something out of the "Average" every day normal beer. Way to go guys, way to go.

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Photo of mithrascruor
4.33/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a rather hazy copper color. Slightly off-white head turns into a pretty thick film, with bigger foam on the edges.

Smell: Nice hoppy aroma, rather big but not over the top.

Taste: Great flavor of hops, a bit piney and a bit hoppy. Not super bitter, it is offset a bit with a mild buttery caramel flavor. The flavor continues into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth, medium-bodied with minimal carbonation.

Drinkability: Despite the high ABV, the alcohol taste really isn't present. It has a decent kick, but is quite drinkable.

By far the best offering I've ever tried from Karl Strauss. I'm glad they decided to bottle this, as it is a really deserving beer. Definitely a strong hop content, but not an overt hop-bomb like some other Double IPAs. A bit on the pricey side, but worth trying. I'll surely get a couple more bottles of this.

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Photo of srandycarter
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Light honey, sparce head, some bubbly lace.

S - Light smell of equal parts deep malt and hop.

T - Medium caramel center, nice hops surround.

M - Medium body, good carb, ok balance.

D - Easy enough to drink.

Just tried the big barrel and it was terrific. This seemed similar in style, but not as big.

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Photo of mbunje
3.98/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz Bomber (from Whole Foods) paid $7.99 Poured into a snifter glass.

A - Very clear. Copper color with bone white head. Nice head retention. Lacing could be better for a Double IPA. (might be the dishwasher washed glass)

S - For as much as the hops are touted on the label, the smell is not as pungent as one might expect. I do smell some deep skunky hops in there, but it doesn't hit you in the face.

T - Really nice, well balanced with just the right amount of astringency and bitterness in the finish. This is the best aspect of the beer. Starts out a citric-apricot flavor. As it warms, it is growing on me and the earthy, woody hop profile comes out. I am biased toward this pine-earthy type of hop (cascade?)

MF - Thick, chewy. Nice hop oils are evident. Very smooth with medium to light carbonation. Well done.

D - 9% Abv is hidden well in the drink. There is a bit of booze to it, but well balanced. At $7.99 per 22oz it is a bit pricey for the experience. So drinkability takes a hit due to the price per oz. Otherwise, very drinkable.

Overall, this is the best Karl Strauss beer I have ever tasted and I have tasted quite a few. I would like to see this be the standard double IPA year round at take $2 off the price.

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Photo of Schmaltzy
3.97/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nine Hop Varieties, 99IBU, 9.9% alcohol.
Poured into large Pilsner glass.

A- Clear amber/copper color with a nice 2 fingers of very sticky white head. Very nice head retention to go with mild lacing.

S- Pine, citrus/grapefruit/lemon/lime, some nice mellow earth components to the back end.

T- Light caramel flavors right away followed by some overpowering citrus and earth notes. Alot of nice piney grapefruit flavors develop nicely throughout, earth notes are nice almost wood taste that dries out your mouth asking for more.

M- Nice carbonation, nice head and lace retention, hides the 10% very nicely under some very heavy pine/citrus flavors.

D- Very much a West Coast Imperial IPA with 99Ibu and 10% alcohol this one packs a punch. Would definately recommend to try this one

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Photo of magictrokini
3.55/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sadly, this is closer to what I expect from Karl with their DIPAs. Poured a lighter orange-gold with a promising white head and good lacing. The nose indicated a hearty, hoppy beer with strong resin. Grapefruit, mango, and even some passion fruit. The taste did not deliver. There was a very grainy flavor throughout and the 9.9% was very obvious. Drank more like a bitter barleywine. Some lemon and orange peel, and what I'd describe as an unripe grapefruit. Earthy, wooden bite. I have no idea why Karl struggles to make a great DIPA.

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Photo of HalfFull
3.51/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap in a tulip glass at the Carlsbad location. This brew pours a golden orange in color with good head retention and offers reasonably strong lacing.

Smell is light to start with, warming to offer some orange citrus notes. A bit reaching in the hops department, yet rather welcoming when finally reached. Earthy citrus oils dominate then disappear.

Taste follows the nose with sweet and clean citrus notes. A perky and spicy carbonation carries through to the finish. Quite drinkable for its strength given a decent and well balanced malt profile. Yet the Nine hops never come to the forefront in this brew. Hmmm..

Nonetheless, a decent brew and the most interesting I've had from Karl..

Value: D (bottle)

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Photo of hoptrip619
4.23/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First and foremost, I totally dig the concept and the packaging. With that being said, they've definitely purchased a rather large pair of shoes to fill. With 9 different hop varieties, I was excited to see what flavors came out in the finished beer.

A- Poured into a San Diego Padres shaker pint; this bad boy has a beautifully clear pale amber color with a sticky 1.5' head.

S- Yeah, they sure used a lot of hops in this sucker. Immediately, I got a whiff of incredibly resinous/sappy pine and a really spicy noble hop aroma that is accentuated by the ethanolic punch of the high alcohol content.

T- Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! This sonuvabitch has encapsulated 3/4 of the hop flavors I've experienced. Pine-like, grassy, an earthy & peppery character, with a subdued citrus quality that is more of an afterthought.

M/D - For such a flavorful and unique IIPA, this one goes down easier than many of the other standard IPA's I've tasted. It's medium/full-bodied and the 10% ABV is masked nicely by an excellent balance.

This is the second KS bomber I've picked up recently and I'm definitely looking forward to round 3!

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Photo of scottoale
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It's all about the nines, in a 22oz. bomber...brewed in '09 with nine hop varieties, 9.9% ABV, 99 IBU's and 9 SRM. Whatever.

It pours out amberish copper with a rather lofty two-fingers of off-white head. A rather handsome brew with decent head retention and patchy lace. Pristene clarity with ample carbonation in the form of micro bubbles welling up from the bottom of my chalice.

The nose is loaded with sappy pine and grapefruity citrus. It's safe to say the hops are dominating this ale so far and they're not backing down anytime soon.

As for the flavor, it's definetly a hop driven concoction that starts with a nice malt sweetness to the intro. A fairly short lived sweetness as the hops kick in quickly with an assertive bitterness and astringency that lingers on well after the swallow. Still sappy resinous pine and crisp citrus rind let you know who's running the show here and it's a pretty solid show indeed. Right down to the last drop or nine.

A very easy to drink hop beverage that tucks the alcohol away nicely for a brew of nearly 10% ABV and should please most avid hopheads around the world. A nice addition to the hop mecca that instills San Diego as Americas Finest City...Cheers!

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To The 9's from Karl Strauss Brewing Company
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 28 ratings