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Red Trolley Ale | Karl Strauss Brewing Company

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Red Trolley AleRed Trolley Ale

Brewed by:
Karl Strauss Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Irish Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.80%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-16-2003

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Reviews: 139 | Ratings: 525
Photo of Psilo707
3.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I was excited to review Red Trolley officially since it has been one of my favorite and most consistent San Diego brews since I have moved here.

It pours a deep crimson color into the mug and leaves an intricate lacing along the sides as it dissipates down. The scent is one of cocoa and butter, and doesn't let up on the nose even minutes after taking a whiff. The taste is extremely chocolately for a red ale and the aftertaste of piney nuts and almonds shines through.

Mouthfeel is creamy but the prolonged taste when sitting in the mouth leaves a bit to be desired. Drinkability is high and is possibly one of the highest ratings of any Red Ale i've ever had.

Overall, Red Trolley is a fine example of what the microbreweries of San Diego have to offer!

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Photo of augustgarage
3.75/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. The color is a ruddy mixture of crimson and copper, similar to rooibos tea. Minimal head formation/retention. Aromatics are rich but fleeting and are not notably different than the flavors on the palate. The caramelized malts come through with a persistent toasty/nutty presence. This is balanced by a unique flavor that is difficult to identify (candy / dates / figs?) but is quite pleasant. Karl Strauss attributes this quality to the warm fermentation process. While not a malt-heavy beer, the yeast seems to be doing more of the balancing work than the hops. A slightly drying finish that leads you back for another sip.

While not as powerful in comparison to other seasonal red ales (e.g. Santa's Private Reserve Ale brewed by Rogue Ales), Red Trolley Ale deserves praise for its drinkability. It almost seems like in a failed attempt at crafting a winter-warmer Karl Strauss lucked on to something with more universal appeal.

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Photo of Bricelyn
4.04/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass from a 12 oz bottle. This beer is beautiful, a wonderfull combination of red and amber gold.
The first thing I smell is Tomato soup (call me crazy). The taste is slightly malty with a warm finish that sticks to the pallet. Perfectly carbonated. I would session this beer. Trying to drink all the local San Diego beers and this is one of the best.

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Photo of RunDWP
3.36/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I salute the San Diego airport, which of all the airports I've been to in America, has the best selection in the terminals. For instance, before catching a flight in SAN yesterday, I had a couple pints of Red Trolley Ale. Nice reddish brown color with a thin white head and some decent lace work on the glass. Not much in the aroma department, but maybe mine was a little too cold to generate much aroma. Slight caramel malt aroma. Nice rich combination of caramel malt with a little roastiness, maybe a little nuttiness, and a slight grassy hops finish. Doesn't blow me away, but nice blend of flavors for a solid ale. A little high in the carbonation, which I've noticed in other Karl Stauss brews. Nice, smooth, mellow finish and a very solid session beer.

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Photo of surfer4life
3.56/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Pint glass from a 12oz bottle

A - Holds true to the red/amber color, perfect hue with a small 1/4 inch head that recedes to small film in a few minutes.

S - Smells of hops, cherry and strawberry candy. Perhaps a bit of syrup smell that make the beer almost smell like a soda.

T - Very sweet, but not syrup like the smell would incline. Hops can be detected although not to strong. Raisins, caramel and some hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. Tasty.

M - Medium carbonation, seems to go dull very quickly though, so all the good taste is in the front.

D - I think I could drink this for a session beer. It certainly beats the bud/coors/miller available at the corner store.

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Photo of Foxtrot
3.21/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into pint glass.

Poured a nice dark amber hue with a small ivory head and decent lacing.

Not a whole lot going on in the nose. Just faintly picked up some malts with a touch of sweetness. Nothing really pronounced at all with the aroma.

Taste was decent at best. Definitely big on the malts but no hop bitterness to balance it out. I found this particular beer to be slightly too sweet for me. Just a bit much on the caramel and toffee flavors.

The mouthfeel was good. It seemed a little light to me.

Drinkability is certainly good, but the flavor and lack of hop presence makes this beer less desirable.

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Photo of Brewsmith
3.39/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Chili's in Torrance, CA. Aroma has a hint of malt, not much hops in there. Amber red with a small tan beige head. Smooth malt flavor with a slight hint of chocolate in there. Caramely and a little sweet. Easy drinking and dry in the finish. Well made and no real flaws. Could be a little more assertive.

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Photo of magictrokini
2.88/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Everyone says this is the best Karl Strauss has to offer. Its a decent beer. Good color, solid red with an off-white head. A nearly too-sweet caramel nose with straw. Malty sweet taste, to the point it feels like it builds up on your teeth. Lasting finish. Pretty thin, not remarkable. For a lighter beer, I think the Amber Lager is a much better alternative.

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Photo of hopdog
2.58/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pint on tap inside Disneyland.

Poured a deeper amber color with a small sized off white head. I had this side x side with a pint of their Oktoberfest, and honestly, other than this being a little deeper in color, I would have a hard time telling the difference. Some caramel, toastiness, and some light citrus.

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Photo of dippy
2.96/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Carmel Color with a tan head that had some lacing clinging to the glass.

Tastes like barley. It is a beer that would go with grape nuts or cheerios.

There wasn't much scent to this brew, maybe a little metallic.

Not any carbonation.
Decent beer, but won't go out of my way in the future.

 291 characters

Photo of Durge
3.18/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tried this one on tap at the Fish Market Restaurant in San Diego where it poured nice and cold, a dark brown, thick and hazy color with a fizzy whimpy off-white head that disappears with some minor lacing. The aroma suggests malty brown sugar and grassy wheat. The taste is consistent with the smell. Somewhat thin, with minor sweetness and a pretty forgetable wheat bitterness. Fairly drinkable and well carbonated for a refreshing feel, but not something you really feel compelled to drink many of in my opinion. Not the best of what I have tried from this brewer but not regrettable either.

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Photo of noknife83
3.52/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A good beer, but nothing to write home about. If it were just a little more hoppy I'd like it a lot more. There is practically no aroma that comes of this beer, which is a big disappointment. It has a decent mouthfeel to it, but a slight bit less malt would be my taste.

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Photo of Douglas14
3.12/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Has a deep tawny/copper color with a nice beige head. The aroma is heavily of roasted malt, toffee, and caramel. The taste is of caramel and some dark fruits...like raisins or dates. Pretty sweet...wish it were hoppier. It has a medium body and finishes pretty smooth and sweet.

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Photo of IBUnit63
3.62/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a diluted root beer with no head

Slight malt scent-very mellow

Roasted malt character - rather clean actually with a little faint coffee and cinnamon note

Light for a darker mini-macro with solid malt backbone

Drinks well for chain restaurant offering

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Photo of barleywinefiend
2.9/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at an airport bar in LAX. Poured a medium amber color with some red tint. Medium head. Aroma is malty and a touch sweet. A medium bodied amber. Malts are nutty and a touch sweet. Hops are slightly spicy. There is a slightly harsh feel to the taste in this beer. Kind of a typical amber. Drinkable, but typical. Not very complex at all.

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Photo of DoubleJ
3.15/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Here's a Karl Strauss offering which you can find in a handful of bars here in Southern Califronia. Let's see...widesh distribution = better than their other offerings, right? So we find out. On to the beer:

It pours a medium amber color into my glass with a small head. The smell is sweet and fruity, almost like candied fruit. There's a trickle of malt in the nose too. Well, so far it's off to a good start. But good starts only last for so long. More sugary fruits in the taste without much balance from the hops, and the malt runs around on the palate. The beer is made to be sweet according to the bottle label, but it's a little cloying in my opinion. Worth a try.

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Photo of Zorro
3.51/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A strong head forming beer. A clear red colored beer that is nearing the color of brown. Tall tan colored head that you could almost call light brown.

The smell is sweet and decidedly herbal smelling. A little malty and a little woody smelling there isn't much C type hops in the scent.

The taste starts out malty and bready in the mouth with a buttery aftertaste. A little woody and malty this is very much what you are talking about when you say "middle of the road ale." Mild bitterness in the aftertaste but not very bitter certainly easy to drink.

The mouthfeel is OK.

Super easy on the taste buds ale. Nothing is particularly outstanding here this is simply a mild all purpose ale that just wants to be a beer. Pretty much this would work with just about any meal.

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Photo of rxdrewthejew
3.4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a lovely reddish-brown with a frothy tannish head that leaves a small layer of film, and some lacing on the glass.

S: Sweet and syrupy with a hint of roasted malt.

T: Sweet beginning with some bitterness coming out after the initial burst. Fairly mild flavor overall.

MF: Not too heavy, some warming, surprising considering the relatively low alcohol content. Maybe a little too bubbly for this style, but goes down smooth.

O: This beer is almost a nut-brown/mild on steroids. Fairly mild and well balanced flavor, and it has a nice little hop kick. A drinkable beer, but the flavor is pretty basic. Good, not great.

 631 characters

Photo of Floydster
3.04/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pint from Chili's Restaraunt in Manhattan Beach

Poured was a golden brown with an inch thick white head

Smell was lots of yeast

Taste was crisp and smooth, full of hops

More like an APA than an amber to me

This brewery's beer all has the same hoppy aftertaste to it, cannot figure it out

Could drink good amount of this brew

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Photo of Overlord
3.48/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I'd like this beer more (not that I'd rate it higher, but I'd subjectively like it more) if it wasn't always priced as a premium.

Nice little red ale that's mostly malty sweetness with some fruit tones, no real hops to speak of, and certainly not a complex beer by any means. I find it goes perfectly with bar food and football. Also works well at California Disney.

Best of the Karl Strauss offerings I've had, though I haven't seen the Stout offered anywhere yet.

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Photo of ctdfalconer
3.06/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Karl Strauss is a decent organization that I think suffers from trying to please too many people. Being a brewpub, they aim at appealing to beer nuts, but at the same time, they position themselves as a kind of beer-themed family restaurant. This is a tricky balance to acheive, and there is some overlap in those two schemes, but beer-wise, it guides them to aim for the middle. This beer (along with most of their lineup) exemplifies that. The beer is clean and crisp and easy to drink, but largely unremarkable. It has some pleasant malty-toffee notes with a hint of toastyness, but given a decent hoppy zing, it would have been considerably more interesting. I'm not saying they should remake Arrogant Bastard, I'm just saying that I would like this beer more if it had a little hoppy dryness in the finish and just a frisson of hop perfume in the nose. Aiming for accessibility is one thing, and this beer is quite accessible, but even so, when I was in the K.S. in Universal Citywalk, the people at the next table displayed their preconceptions when they picked out the "Endless Summer Light Lager" as their fave, saying of the red, "We don't like those dark beers". The problem is, you can't please everybody. It looks like they are pleasing enough to stay in business, at any rate.

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Photo of malcontent
2.78/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear, bright amber body with a decent finger of head. Retention is OK and the resulting lacing is competent.

Musty, almost mealy aroma. Hints of sweetness peek through occasionally.

Ugh. Flavors are all over the place. Plastic-like aftertaste surfaces after a rather flat malt body.

A tad slick on the finish although the body is thick enough to be passable. Reading other reviews of this beer I'm wondering if my bottle wasn't a bit off. Still, in a beer landscape with a glut of amber ales I'd like to see brewers a) do something more interesting with the style or b) refrain from including it in their roster altogether.

Thanks to HoppyBen for the bottle.

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Photo of dojobrewco
4.22/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My recent fascination with Red Ales probably gives this brew more credit than it deserves but overall I thought it was very good. A little too much on the sweet side but finishes nice and smooth. The aroma is perfect for the style and the mouthfeel is very light. I chose this particular brew over the sampler because I had just recenlty brewed my own batch of red Ale and I gotta say the Red Trolley Ale was definately better than mine.

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Photo of Sammy
3/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Local consideration at Pizza Port Solena Beach. Some lace, some yeast noted, and some toasted malt. Not all that bad but this style is fairly commonplace and topped by many. Easy drink and beats a macro, not way out of a place in the incredible California beer landscape.

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Photo of IntriqKen
3.28/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

"A full bodied copper-colored ale with rich flavors of tofee, subtle hintsof currants an dates, andan incredibly smooth finish."
Yep...a little too sweet....definately a light roasted flavor to the malts....a very full and smooth mouthfeel with a little bit of citrus hops on the end to leave the palette clean and dry.
Beautiful lacing with lots of tiny bubbles coming up from the bottom the entire time I was drinking this pint.

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Red Trolley Ale from Karl Strauss Brewing Company
3.5 out of 5 based on 525 ratings.
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