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22nd Anniversary Vanilla Imperial Stout | Karl Strauss Brewing Company

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very good
63 Reviews
22nd Anniversary Vanilla Imperial Stout22nd Anniversary Vanilla Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Karl Strauss Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by HopHead84 on 02-03-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 63 | Ratings: 102
Photo of BrewTasting
4.77/5  rDev +26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Opened on 10/17/12 WOW, this is what I have been waiting for!

Open it up and enjoy! I've had this beer a couple times now, once last Christmas, and just shared this bottle at my local beer store.

Like you, I was scared to open it... afterall it's been about 2 years. Last Christrmas was good, but right now, whoa.. so perfect.

-Poured a very smooth black, with a khaki head

-The nose brings you in immediately, the vanilla is tremendous now! SO glad I waited.

-The flavor is spot on now, just the perfect ammount of oak, with loads of vanilla. Little bit of chocolate. It is poetic, I hate you Strauss, ha ha. We tasted Bourbon Boris, Lady in the Woods, and Pelican Tsunami tonight... All great beers... 22nd Strauss won our vote.

-Overall - Fantastic beer. I've rested it on its side for a good year, and also stood it for a year.. It's flawless right now. Enjoy!

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Photo of tjfinkle
4.52/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Karl Strauss has been impressing my lately with their special releases, so I was cautiously optimistic when opening this wax dipped bomber. My first though on this beer was what kind of wax are they using on these bottles? This was the thickest and toughest wax I have attempted to get through to enjoy a beer, but I digress...

The beer poured a very dark brown with quite a significant (2-3 fingers) of tan head that settled down to a very nice half finger or so which remained. I found this quite surprising for an imperial stout of this style, but overall a very good sign that this would not be a flat beer like many other imperial stouts I have had in the past.

On the nose, the first thing I noticed was how mellow the malts smelled. I noticed very soft malts with a hint of the vanilla and oak, but I was not overpowered by any of these aspects. Many beers of this style are overpowering of coffee, however the coffee notes I picked up on this were much less noticeable. The label of the bottle describes it as chocolate and espresso which I think is right on the mark.

The taste of this beer is initially vanilla; however on subsequent sips it is not as noticeable. The chocolate definitely comes through on the aftertaste with just enough hops to keep it balanced. All the flavors in this beer are just enough to add flavor without enough to be overpowering. The best word I can use to describe this beer is balance. The vanilla complements the soft malts very well and the carbonation is just about right. Many other imperial stouts, while still delicious are overpowering or one flavor, whether it be bourbon or coffee, while this one has a great balance of flavors.

This is a very drinkable stout, especially to for 9%, and I would definitely recommend it to others. I am looking forward to see how it ages.

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Photo of hickmancase
4.35/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from Total Wine poured into my Ommegang Chalice.

A: Thick and dark but not impenetrable by light. One finger on top.

S: I smell the vanilla! Roasty.

T: I taste the vanilla! This is really nice. I'm sure I enjoyed this more than I might have if it hadn't been such a long time since my last Imperial Stout. Chocolate and vanilla roasted.

M: Thick, but not overly so. I love overly thick but, my tastes aside, this was just right.

D: Great one to kick back with at the end of the night or with dessert. That said, I enjoyed this one this time, but there are other imperial stouts that I would prefer. Also, I should mention that I wasn't expecting this good from Karl Strauss. I don't typically enjoy their beers this much.


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Photo of KevinBrewer
4.35/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Black in the center with reddish brown hues around the edges. Thick brown head that lasts, leaving sticky lacing down the glass.

N- Soft vanilla, cocoa, and oak sit atop smooth roasted malt. The oak smells especially delicious.

T- Roasted malt base with a nice oakiness and a subtle vanilla accent. A slight booziness shows up in the middle that melds well with the oak. The oakiness is showcased again at the finish when the beer dries out slightly. Bitter roasted husk and a moderate leafy hop bitterness also come in for the finish and linger into the aftertaste.

M- Medium mouthfeel with moderate carbonation and a semidry finish.

D- Overall, a very tasty brew. I would definitely like to age a few bottles to enjoy when the edginess has rounded out a bit. I'm afraid the vanilla will disappear though.

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Photo of crvcac
4.32/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- dark brownish black. Not quite opaque however
Smell- smooth kentucky bourbon up front, vanilla bean, hints of oak, raw sugar
Taste: definite bourbon presence. Vanilla is nicely balanced amongst the other flavors and plays nicely off the bourbon. Hints of oak and raw sugar. Slight roast with appropriate tannin in the finish
Mouthfeel- surprisingly smooth for 9.0%. a wonderful blend of flavors and touch of alcoholic warmth makes this highly quaffable
Drinkability: another please!

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Photo of ghetto90007
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bomber into a nice, bulbous snifter.

Pours dark brown/black, nearly opaque. Fluffy light tan head about two fingers or so thick. Looks carbonated well.

Smells of roasted malt, cocoa, sweet vanilla, some fruitiness (slight), along with slight spiciness and hint of herbs.

Luscious flavor. Vanilla ice cream, coffee notes, mild hop bitterness. Just delicious. Warming alcohol.

Phenomenally smooth and gentle mouthfeel. Soft for the carbonation level.

An enjoyable offering - wish I had another bottle or two of this one and would definitely pick up again if they decided to make another batch.

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4.12/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pint Glass: Pours a dark reddish brown with 1inch head.

S: Subtle coffee and vanilla scent. I get a nice cotton candy smell, reminds me of being at a carnival.

T: Smooth coffee bitterness with notes of vanilla.

M: Light carbonation, not very thick.

A nice change from all the other type of stouts (chocolate, coconut, oatmeal etc...)

Drink up! This is worth a taste, definitely!

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Photo of womencantsail
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The pour is a very dark brown color with some reddish/amber notes to it and a finger of khaki head.

S: Big time vanilla to the nose along with quite a bit of creamy chocolate. I get both milk and dark chocolate out of this one and a mild roastiness. There is a touch of oak to the aroma as well, not really any bourbon, though.

T: Tons and tons of vanilla, from both the bourbon/barrels and the added vanilla. The flavor is very heavy on the chocolate as well. Some mild to moderate bitterness which prevents the beer from being far too sweet.

M: The body is medium with a smooth carbonation.

O: Quite smooth and creamy and just really very pleasant. This is a solid beer, indeed.

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Photo of djaeon
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a very dark brown, with a moderate bubbly head. Decent retention, no lacing.

S: Coffee, dark chocolate and a light earthiness, possibly from the barrel aged portion.

T: The coffee carries through in the flavor, along with a light vanilla. One sip reminded me of a cigarette, but that went away.

M: Feels velvety smooth and leaves a light stickiness on the lips.

D: Very drinkable. Despite the 9% ABV, I could easily go through a couple bombers.

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Photo of femmebiere
4.08/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a smooth stout that I thoroughly enjoyed. The pour was a semi see-through stout with a malty head. The smell didn't have too much to note - just an earthy sweet smell. The taste was my favorite part (specifically the aftertaste that made the beer have a high rating in my opinion). I may be partial because I like vanilla, but it was a delicious aftertaste for a stout that never became overpowering.

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Photo of gregshead
4.07/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

tasted on 3/24/11. Review from notes:

A: pours black w/ a nice finger of light tan colored head.

S: I smell oak dancing with some extra vanilla. Some light bourbon with good roasted grains peeps in their as well.

T: Lots of smooth/sweet vanilla up front. Some oak taste. Trails with roasted grain.

M: Light carbonation. Lighter feel for an imp stout. not that much ligher just a tad.

O: Very good but not quite the outstanding. A little on the light side for a partially -bal aged stout.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4


Incidentally, this is review #900. I find it comical that they're filling 64oz growlers of this for $12. On tap at Karl Strauss in Sorrento Valley with 10000 people who just got off work in the business park. I think I'm sitting in a private section of the bar reserved by a company because everyone seems to know each other, they all appear to be drinking Woody Gold, and there are platters of food on tables. Well, perhaps everyone is just really friendly, they all enjoy Woody Gold, and Karl Strauss gives away free food on Wednesday nights. 

Described as "A bold Russian Imperial Stout brewed with vanilla beans and aged three months in American oak bourbon barrels."

A: Deep brown in the tulip glass, bordering on black. I'd reckon 80 SRM if you put a gun to my head. Yes, it says that on the menu but I wasn't looking. The head is light brown and creamy. The pour was subpar so there wasn't much longevity in that department. Lacing is minimal. A pretty alright looking beer. No complaints. I just noticed a deep crimson tinge when I hold the glass to the light of the coy pond. Such magical fish.

S: Bold vanilla profile accompanied by dark chocolate, caramel, oak, and bourbon. Smells good, though the vanilla could stand to be less overpowering. Roasted malt comes out when the beer warms past 33 degrees. 

T: The flavor is quite good and better than I expected. It displays extraordinary balance between roasted malt, vanilla bean, coffee, dark chocolate, and bourbon. I'd love to see more bourbon flavor, but for only 3 months the barrels imparted a good deal of character. On second thought, the vanilla is really strong, it's not balanced. The 9% is well hidden by the bold flavors. Sweetness is at a moderate level, being tempered by a low hop bitterness, coffee, and the roasted malt. There's a dash or caramel in there. The finish is sticky with a dash of astringency, some oak, and notable alcohol warming. The beer has a bit of a vanilla flourish in the terminus. Caramel becomes more pronounced as the beer warms.

M: Lower full body with upper low carbonation. Mouthfeel is silky and sticky with a drying oak sensation on the palate.

Overall: A smooth and easy drinking -bal aged RIS. It's a bit heavy on the vanilla for my taste, but that might be a beloved quality to others. Recommended.

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Photo of liamt07
4.02/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle thanks to Steve, shared with Sammy and Steve. 22oz into a tulip.

Pours black with a beige head, dark mahogany highlights in the body. Thin layer of retention, some bubbles form the collar. Nose is full of vanilla, milk chocolate and coconut. Sweet yet not overwhelmingly so. Taste has oak, vanilla, dark fruits, coconut, roasted notes and more lingering oak in the finish. An 'imperial sweet stout' I'd call it. Mouthfeel is pretty full and sweet in the finish. A nice stout overall. Thanks again Steve.

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Photo of Eriktheipaman
4.02/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a solid black with little khaki head.

The smell is very sweet with mostly vanilla.

The taste is about the same with almost all vanilla and very faint coffee. I didnt pick up on any barrel in the smell or taste which was a little disapointing.

I didnt pick up on any alcohol which was impressive and it went down super easy.

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Photo of RBassSFHOPit2ME
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Very black, decent head retention, not much lacing to speak of but good overall here

S - Chocolate, Vanilla - Chocolate chip cookie, some roast if you look for it.

T - See nose, vanilla is in check but still dominates. Becomes overly sweet towards the end but I was impressed nevertheless - felt this a better version of Victory at Sea from Ballast Point. Yeah...I said it. And Yes, I understand one is a Porter and One is a Stout beeeitchez.

M - Velvety, slick and smooth. Already feels like it has a year of age on it. This needs to be revisited in a year!!

O - Again, call it blastphemy but this is a much better done Victory at Sea. Very good beer here.

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Photo of ocelot2500
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown, almost black with a tight, mocha head that leaves a solid ring of lacing.

Smells of big vanilla and chocolate notes.

Tastes of a big dose of vanilla followed by more standard stout characteristics. Vanilla is definitely the focus with a gigantic wave of it right up front. Some brown sugar sweetness, chocolate and light coffee notes back it up. Has a bit of an adult milk chocolate feel to it. Not much bitterness to speak of, but sweetness is pleasant.

Mouthfeel is medium-fulll with a smooth amount of carbonation.

Overall, nothing groundbreaking, but if you want to try a good vanilla aged stout, this is worth a shot.

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Photo of Armand
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Have had this couple times. The first it was bland and flat. Not too much going on. It is Karl, so I can expect something like this from them. I think the best thing since their Oatmeal Stout.
A: Dark brown with red light that shines through.
S: Small, very little hint of vanillal
T: Kind sweet, with a little dampness to it
M: Not too much. Very light-medim bodied.
O: The first time I've had this it wasn't mature yet. Few months lagter it had some boldness too it. Not much, but again...cheers.

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Photo of brentk56
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a fudge brown color with ruby highlights; the head builds to an inch or so and leaves a few shards of lace

Smell: Roasty chocolate, but somewhat sweet, with a discernible woody vanilla presence

Taste: Sweetened chocolate, up front, with a vanilla/cherry flavor that develops by mid-palate; though there is enough hop bitterness to balance out the sweeter elements after the swallow, this is a rather sweet beer overall, with just a hint of Bourbon in the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Rather enjoyable, though it pales in power next to many other examples of the Imperial Stout style; it almost tastes like the beer equivalent of a Cherry Ripe (if any of you have tasted this Australian candy bar)

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Photo of Dlish
3.99/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Hey they need take down the wax on this bottle. Or come on give something to open this. I sat with a steak knife for about 5 minute figuring out how to open this.

A- pours black, light tan head, with little lacing.

S- Sweet malts, bit of cherry, toffee, Good amount of oak. There is a little bit of vanilla.

M- Mocha tasting, tastes pretty simular to the smell. Lots of oak and hints of vanilla at the end. Not bad, I like it, not as strong as a imperial stout but still packs the whole flavor.

M- Deff like the mouth feel, lighter than an imperial and it allows the flavor to expand more without being dragged down by the heavy chocolate malts.

O- I don't drink a lot of Karl Strauss, in fact I often never buy it. My image of them have always been.. well boring nothing experimental. This has deff change my opinion, I'll buying more if I get a chance.

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Photo of ChanChan
3.97/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a palm sized snifter.
Appearance: Ruby red looks a lot like a Dr. Pepper nice one inch head disappears quite fast. Lacing is modest.

Aroma: Lots of coffee notes, roasty and malty there is only a faint hint of vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Thin to medium bodied.

Taste: A coffee boozy feel to it. Drinkability: This stout is quite bitter but I like that. The alcohol is present but at 9.0 ABV this beer is not overly heavy.

Overall: The vanilla does not present itself well. This beer is a vanilla imperial stout and I expected to get a bit more vanilla. Nothing special but this beer falls at around six dollars for a 22OZ bomber, that and the decent taste make this a worthy stout!! Waxed dipped bottles are well over 10 dollars but it's the stuff inside that counts and I have faith that this beer could taste like a 12$ bottle in two to three years and since its not so special now I'm more than willing to age my second bottle!!

Update: 9/13/2012

I was right, this beer is now an awesome brew!!! The vanilla is still present and it has smoothed out very nicely!!

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Photo of Siggy125
3.97/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A little surprised at the appearance. Slightly mirky coffee color. Not the color I expected

The nose came thru like a porter with sturdy vanilla presence. A little sourness. My first impression was a little disappointing.

Very nice sweet vanilla on the front end followed by caramel malt, then fades to a weak instant coffee tartness.

Not a bad beer, but nothing like what I was preparing for. Decent drinker but a bit thin for a stout. It's called an Imperial Stout, but lacking for me to fit that style.

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Photo of broken22
3.96/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I saw this beer at the store and had no idea this was even out. I am happy that this brewery seems to be getting reinvigorated in exploring their brewing capabilities. I really enjoyed their Parrot in a Palm tree from 2010. So I'm hoping this is just as good or even better.

After completing the sacred ritual of worthyness of careful wax cutting to get at this beer I feel that I am ready to enjoy this brew. I pour this beer into a tulip glass because I'm expecting to have nice wafts of the bourbon and vanilla. The beer that flows from the bottle is dark and a decent head forms. The waiting furthers the test of worthyness by trying your patients a little longer. The smell is not as bold as I was hoping it would be and I'm a little worried. I get a little bit of a hoppy snap with a hint of chocolate. After being so patient I think I am ready to finally taste this thing. OK so smell is not this beer strong feature because the taste is great. The vanilla comes though really well and works well the the alcoholic notes brought by the bourbon barrels. The finish is bitter with a light chocolate flavor. At the very end after the beer has been swallowed I can still taste a little of the vanilla. The mouth feel of this beer is very full bodied with a decent amount of a carbon bubble bite at the beginning of the sip.

Overall I like this brew. I think all the flavors are very well balanced and working in harmony with each other. I am definitely going to buy another one of these to age it. It just seems to want to be aged. For the price I don't think you can go wrong. I would totally expect a beer that has such expensive ingredients to be priced much higher that it was currently being sold for. That price is $6.99 for a 22oz. Its funny because earlier in the day I paid $8 for a glass of Karl Strauss at the Hotel Del Coronado. If you can get one of these pick it up its a great buy and a good beer.

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Photo of Jason
3.93/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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

LOOK: Big head, stout black.

SMELL: Vanilla, charcoal, ripe dark fruit, faint oak, burnt sugar, alcohol.

TASTE: Silky smooth, roasted grain, soft charcoal, mellow vanilla, hint of oak, modest hopping, burnt bread.

9% where art thou? Yeah, it is there but super mellow. Beer is playful with some interested flavors thrown at the palate. Perhaps the earth does not shake but the palate wants another sip. Great job guys!

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Photo of psiweaver
3.92/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

grabbed this on my recent trip down to San Diego. Normally i'm not a Karl Strauss guy but I liked their san diego holiday beer series so i figured i'd give this a try.

Poured into my Duvel Tulip

A: it pours a deep black with a small dark brown head that quickly dissipates.

S: lots of chocolate, vanilla, toasted oak with a bunch of sweetness. A rich complex smell that gets better as the beer warms up.

T: I was really pleasantly surprised by this one. it has a lot of chocolate and vanilla and is very sweet but it doesn't have much of the roasty bitterness that I would normally associate with this size of beer. I really enjoyed it.

M: kind of a thin mouthfeel but a nice beer to go with dessert that's smooth easy to drink and flavorful.

I really enjoyed this beer and found it to be very good overall. I am actively searching out more as I'm interested to see what it does with a bit of age on it.

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Photo of trappistlover
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

(22oz bottle shared at Dak's final four tasting). Pours a cola color with khaki head. Aroma has plenty of spice, vanilla, caramel, and some booze. Taste is sweet with lots of vanilla. Medium bodied with an oily texture. This is a pretty good beer that is big on vanilla.

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22nd Anniversary Vanilla Imperial Stout from Karl Strauss Brewing Company
3.78 out of 5 based on 102 ratings.
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