23rd Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Ale
Karl Strauss Brewing Company

23rd Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Ale23rd Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Ale
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From:
Karl Strauss Brewing Company
 
California, United States
Style:
Old Ale
ABV:
12.3%
Score:
91
Avg:
4.07 | pDev: 9.83%
Reviews:
38
Ratings:
54
Status:
Retired
Rated:
Mar 28, 2019
Added:
Feb 03, 2012
Wants:
  47
Gots:
  27
SCORE
91
Outstanding
23rd Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Ale23rd Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Ale
Notes: When we started brewing back in 1989, the closest thing in town to an English-style Old Ale came in a paper bag. Twenty-three years later, we like to think we had something to do with improving the local beer selection in San Diego. Our 23rd Anniversary Old Ale is indeed “old ale,” after spending a full year in American oak bourbon barrels. The result is an unblended and unmistakably complex strong ale with rich layers of toffee, molasses, dried figs, warming bourbon, and toasted oak. Save a bottle. Like us, this one gets better with age.
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Photo of BucannonXC5
Reviewed by BucannonXC5 from California

4.34/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Type: 22-oz. bottle
Glass: Tioga-Sequoia 13-oz. tulip
From: La Mesa Wine & Spirits in La Mesa, Calif.
Price: $19.99
Purchased: March 8, 2019
Consumed: March 8, 2019
Reviewed as: Old Ale
Misc.: No bottled on date, but released in February 2012; Black foil on neck

Basically picked this up after walking into La Mesa Wine & Spirits and asking if they had anything barrel aged. Was told that they had this (and a few Saint Archer (#CraftAdjace) and I instantly picked it up when I saw that it was the 23rd anniversary (2012) and an ale aged in oak bourbon barrels. Disappointing it was warm on the shelves when I picked it up, but I wanted to try it. Untappd description read, “When we started brewing back in 1989, the closest thing in town to an English-style Old Ale came in a paper bag. Twenty-three years later, we like to think we had something to do with improving the local beer selection in San Diego. Our 23rd Anniversary Old Ale is indeed “old ale,” after spending a full year in American oak bourbon barrels. The result is an unblended and unmistakably complex strong ale with rich layers of toffee, molasses, dried figs, warming bourbon, and toasted oak. Save a bottle. Like us, this one gets better with age.” Well let’s see if seven years was too long to age. It’s been awhile since I had an old ale.

Poured a copper semi-clear color with 1-to-2 fingers of khaki fizzy head, which dissipated quickly. Some fast moving bubbles creeping up along the sides of the glass. Bad watery lacing. Poor retention. (Sight - 2.75)

Smelled plum, tobacco, toasted oak, bourbon, vanilla, caramel, toffee, purple grape, dark fruit and brown sugar. (Smell - 4.25)

Tasted even better than the smell. Got leathery tobacco, plum, toasted oak, caramel, toffee, smooth bourbon, brown sugar, dark fruit, vanilla and lightly toasted coconut. Not tasting that 12.2 pct. (Taste - 4.50)

Medium body. Oily texture. Average carbonation. Long, smooth, oaky finish. (Feel - 4.50)

Wow. For seven years later, this was fabulous. World-class old ale for sure. (Overall - 4.50)

4.36 | 96 | A
Mar 28, 2019
 
Rated: 4.4 by DavidHume from Virginia

Dec 28, 2015
 
Rated: 4.09 by wethorseblanket from California

Aug 21, 2015
 
Rated: 3.68 by greg4579 from Pennsylvania

Mar 05, 2015
 
Rated: 4 by zestar from California

Nov 02, 2014
Photo of MasterSki
Reviewed by MasterSki from Canada (ON)

3.94/5  rDev -3.2%
2012 vintage bottle from Shane. Thanks! Served in a snifter.

A - Off-white foam settles to pretty much nothing. Attractive transparent amber body. Could have stood for a bit more head, but not terribly offensive for the style and ABV.

S - Lots of bourbon and oak, bread and toffee malts. Even though the barrel presence is heavy, the beer is surprisingly mellow. Fairly restrained sweetness for the style; a bit more burnt than cloying. Perhaps a touch of marmalade.

T - Taste is a bit more simplistic. Heavy emphasis on oak, with light whiskey and a fairly neutral bready malt backbone. Perhaps a bit simplistic; really needs a bit more sweetness to balance the barrel notes.

M - A bit thin for the ABV, but still decidedly medium. Tannic, dry, with a hint of lingering stickiness. Not much alcohol presence at all. Lower carbonation.

D - About what I expected; a solid barrel-aged old ale that has a few shortcomings. Still, it's easy to drink and one of the stronger offerings I've had from this brewery.
Aug 26, 2014
Photo of Alieniloquium
Reviewed by Alieniloquium from Florida

3.79/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5
650 mL bottle poured into a snifter. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Deep amber. Not much of a head. A few chunks around the edges.

Smell - Simple nose. Bourbon, oak, vanilla, and caramel.

Taste - Again, it's simple, but nice. Bourbon, vanilla, toffee and brown sugar. Dries out quickly with an oaky finish.

Mouthfeel - Astringent and boozy. Oaky in the finish. Medium body.

Overall - It certainly isn't a complex beer. Lots of barrel and some caramel malts to back it up.
Jun 15, 2014
 
Rated: 4 by madtowndmb1 from Wisconsin

Jan 04, 2014
 
Rated: 3.75 by BarrytheBear from Wisconsin

Jan 04, 2014
 
Rated: 3.75 by mendvicdog from Maryland

Dec 17, 2013
 
Rated: 4.25 by AirborneBeer from Maryland

Nov 24, 2013
Photo of beagle75
Reviewed by beagle75 from Iowa

3.89/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
Poured from a bomber into a half-pint chalice.

A: Slightly hazy, medium amber color with a fine peripheral ring of off-white bubbles. Scant lacing remains on the glass.

S: Rich treacle laced with candied orange peel and heady spirituous vanilla.

T: Begins off-dry, with caramel and mild dark cherry fruit. Bourbon is featured in the middle, only slightly oak-influenced, but so is an assertive breadiness that seems entirely driven by English malt rather than yeast. The finish is booze-soaked, showing some fruitcake that seems ester-driven in the high alcohol presence.

M: Medium viscosity, syrupy and slightly acidic on the palate, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: A fine (and rare) old ale by a West Coast brewery, it generates an interesting mix of traditional malt-derived qualities as well as a fair amount of barrel influence.
Aug 02, 2013
 
Rated: 3.75 by robwestcott from Indiana

Jul 22, 2013
 
Rated: 4.5 by Kelrel9 from Maryland

Jul 10, 2013
Photo of jegross2
Reviewed by jegross2 from Illinois

4.11/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Reviewing the 23rd Anniversary Old Ale from Karl Strauss Brewing Company out of San Diego, California.

Score: 92

February 2012 vintage bottle served in a tulip taster glass and enjoyed on 03/01/13 from a bottle I brought to the Beer Temple to share with the store's customers. Review is from iPhone notes

Appearance: Bourbon caramel color. Virtually no head off the pour, and what little head there is quickly and totally settles. Minimal lacing, but the brew leaves oily streaks on the side of the glass. 3.5/5

Smell: Very smooth, no booziness. Vanilla, caramel, stale hops, and smooth/sweet bourbon notes. Some oakiness too. 3.5/5

Taste: Taste is much better than the nose. This brew practically smacks you over the head with delicious vanilla flavor with notes of caramel, cocoa and smooth bourbon. Less sweet than the nose led me to believe, but it's still a "sweet" (but not cloying) malty brew. I love the bold vanilla/caramel flavor of this brew! 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, viscous, with minimal carbonation. Nice maltiness and a little stickiness. 4.25/5

Overall: The aroma and appearance were not anything particularly special, but the taste was divine. While not the most complex barrel aged beer, I loved how bold the vanilla and caramel flavors were. I think this is drinking about as perfect as it will get (in act, the nose was a little stale from the faded hops), and I do not see this benefiting from further aging. It tastes like how 100% Cuir is currently drinking with less complexity. Open your bottles now!

Cost: $12 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle.
Jul 06, 2013
 
Rated: 4 by SanDiegoBeerLove from California

Jun 07, 2013
 
Rated: 4.25 by HaveUSeenMyCellar from California

May 26, 2013
 
Rated: 4.25 by SocalKicks from California

May 26, 2013
 
Rated: 4.25 by SDStoneEnthusiast from California

May 25, 2013
Photo of maximum12
Reviewed by maximum12 from Minnesota

3.73/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5
Had a couple ounces of this at a tasting a few months back & it zoomed towards the top of my most-wanted posters. Then while engaged in trade discussions with the generous Kyle2k10, he noted my interest & offered to throw it in in exchange for two green socks. 22 oz. bottle opened up with my lovely, lovely wife.

Curtain up: the pour is a dark, clay-court red with minimal carbonation. Nose is a bit hard to pick out, but there's bourbon, carmelized sugar, heavy dose of sweets.

Karl Strauss 23rd Anniversary an alcohol spike to the forebrain. Hot, sweet booze oozes out into the mouth & lays tracks down the centers of reasoning & coordination. Plenty of 12.3% caramel & toffee, along with the beginnings of oxidation. Bourbon presents itself as more vanilla & heat than straight hard alcohol. Nice butterscotch, too. Lack of carbonation limits the drinkability, that & Earth's gravity.

Not the category-killer I remember from our first brief encounter, but nonetheless a very good beer.
Apr 27, 2013
 
Rated: 4 by imyourhero21 from California

Mar 27, 2013
Photo of Sarlacc83
Reviewed by Sarlacc83 from Oregon

3.86/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
22 oz bottle from Shane. Thanks!

A: Caramel coloration with a creme head that's content to rest around the edges. Surprisingly light on its legs.

N: Caramel, vanilla, brown sugar, toffee, and malts. Honey at the edges, and plenty of deep oak.

T: Tasty bourbon mixed with ample vanilla and honey. Caramel and toffee make for a sugary treat. Still balanced, I get some bitterness of hops and a hint of dried pineapple.

M: Rather light for an Old Ale. It doesn't ruin the beer, but it could use some further heft and stickiness. However, it does drink far too easily for a 12.2% beer since the alcohol is shockingly absent.

O: A well-rounded beer. Balanced and enjoyable; Drink it soon, I think.
Mar 23, 2013
 
Rated: 4 by spycow from Illinois

Mar 10, 2013
 
Rated: 4 by dbone_has_biers from California

Mar 05, 2013
 
Rated: 4.5 by atone315 from Wisconsin

Jan 30, 2013
Photo of Kegatron
Reviewed by Kegatron from Pennsylvania

3.31/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25
Thanks to Stakem for the share. 22oz bottle into a few glasses. Deep copper with thin off-white head. Rich spotty lace. Straight up vanilla in the nose with additional oak and candied sugars. Hot smelling alcohol as well. The taste is caramelized sugars, oak, vanilla and not much else besides some blinding fusel alcohol flavors. Super sweet with burnt finish. Full bodied, sharp on top and chewier underneath. ABV is in your face. Glad others had luck with this beer. Just too much booze and sweetness for me.
Jan 22, 2013
 
Rated: 3.25 by westcoastbeerlvr from California

Jan 08, 2013
Photo of Thorpe429
Reviewed by Thorpe429 from Illinois

3.38/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5
Big thanks to ygtbsm94 for sharing this one. Served in a mini snifter. Pours a moderate brown color with a short head. The nose carries a good dose of bourbon along with some oak, vanilla, and a big of fruit. Flavor hits toffee and caramel notes alongside bourbon and an underlying oaky vanilla character. Moderate sweetness and fruit character. Medium body without the amount of booze that the ABV would indicate. Worth a try.
Dec 15, 2012
 
Rated: 3.75 by ezperkins2 from California

Dec 15, 2012
Photo of AWolfAtTheDoor
Reviewed by AWolfAtTheDoor from Washington

4.25/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5
Need some room in the fridge, decided to crack open this guy open. Had I known it was a 90 point beer, I may have saved it for more special of an occasion.

Pours a nice dark tree sap amber color into my tumbler. Crystal clear. White rocky head from a semi-vigorous pour. It recedes fairly quickly. Line of foam around the beer with very little lacing.

Vanilla and oak bombard the nose. Nice sting of alcohol rounds out the scent.

Smooth oak and vanilla on the palate as well. Hint of diacetyl? This beer is incredibly smooth. Alcohol is present, but is pleasant and not solvent-like. Would not have guessed in a million years that this is a 12% ABV beer.

Is there such thing as too smooth? This beer is it. Carbonation is moderate to low, which aids in the smoothness of the beer. I would rate the body as just a bit past medium. Doesn't quite have the body that I'd expect from a 12% ABV beer.

Overall this is a pretty incredible beer. I think it's a little too well attenuated and smooth for its own good. I'm kind of left wanting a little something else.
Dec 02, 2012
 
Rated: 4.25 by t0rin0 from California

Oct 17, 2012
Photo of Chaney
Reviewed by Chaney from District of Columbia

4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4
I've had this one in the cellar for a year. It is time...

Served in a Duck Rabbit snifter. That's good karma already.

A: It actually poured out a bit lighter in color than I was expecting, but still, it was a beautiful, caramel color that was uniformly murky and inviting. Not much head, but that's not what this is about anyway.

S: Buttery, coconuty, bourbon flair that was just the right strength to my mind. Lots of dark fruit as well: figs, raisons, and dates... all wrapped up in toffee.

T: First of all, I was awe-stricken with how smooth this one was. The coconut hit the palate first, then the molasses, and dark fruit, with none of this really sticking out of the pack.

M: Not even a trace of booze on this and it was utter perfection in that regard. Actually, I would have preferred a bit more heat, but that is just personal preference and a minor quibble. The carbonation was fine and this wasn't syrupy or sticky in any way.

O: 12.2% ABV? Really? REALLY? This was my first Karl Strauss brew and I'm already a fan.
Oct 05, 2012
Photo of stakem
Reviewed by stakem from Pennsylvania

3.58/5  rDev -12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3
Bomber split with friends and poured into a snifter. The brew appears a burnt copper color that is lighter to mahogany with a bit of an orange hue. A tan cap about a finger strong sits atop and leaves some stringy lace on the glass. A swirl revives a yellowish tan froth back to the surface.

The smell is solid with caramelized sugars. Hints of vanilla, oak, orange marmalde and an overall sugary candy quality fills the nose. As it warms up, there is a faint floral to citrus component mixing with minerals but overall the aromatics are all about the sugary quality of this brew.

The taste is caramel to toffee sweetness. Vanilla is present from the barrel aging mixing with fruity and floral elements. Big sticky sweet aspect to this brew with a bourbon burn trying to cut through. Oak and booziness persiste into the aftertaste with a mild orange zest aspect.

This is a medium to fuller bodied brew with a modest amount of carbonation. It is a big and boozy sipper with a cloying amount of sweetness and not enough alcohol or hops to cut it. Quite unbalanced and was a chore to try and get through my glass. As an after diner sticky sweet dessert, this might be more fitting. Not something I would care to have again though.
Oct 04, 2012
 
Rated: 4 by BeerHunter76 from Texas

Sep 12, 2012
 
Rated: 3.75 by kjkinsey from Texas

Sep 12, 2012
 
Rated: 4.5 by Texasfan549 from Texas

Sep 12, 2012
 
Rated: 4.5 by wagenvolks from Texas

Aug 11, 2012
Photo of Huhzubendah
Reviewed by Huhzubendah from District of Columbia

4.2/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4
Bottle donated by Thorpe429. Thanks Mike!

The beer is copper hued with a thin, light tan head. Upon tilting the snifter, a nice sheet of lacing coats the sides of the glass.

The aroma offers oak, vanilla, bourbon. Smells strong and bold. nicely done.

A bit sweet, though certainly not lacking in flavor. Loads of bourbon, oak, and vanilla. A bit of heat in the finish. A nice beer to sip and savor. Best in small quantities, or enjoyed over a prolonged period of time. Recommended.
Aug 10, 2012
Photo of brokensail
Reviewed by brokensail from California

3.9/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4
Amber in color with a thin khaki colored head. Smells of bourbon, vanilla, wood, and dark fruits. Plenty of caramel, toffee, and brown sugar to go along with it. Perhaps a hint of molasses along with some light oxidation. The beer tastes great. Caramel, toffee, brown sugar, and bourbon are the primary flavors with vanilla, oak, and dark fruits such as plums and raisins playing a role as well. The only knock I have on this beer is the body, which is quite thin.
Aug 05, 2012
Photo of aasher
Reviewed by aasher from Indiana

4.07/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
This beer pours a medium bodied, somewhat cloudy dull amber in color with a one finger off white head. The nose is nice and bourbon forward, without being boozy. There is initially red fruits up front with a moderate amount of oak, vanilla, and caramel. I really like the nose. The flavors too are bourbon forward. The barrel shows itself off, showcasing plenty of vanilla, toffee, oak and bourbon. I dig it. It drinks like a lighter bodied barrel aged barley wine. The lighter body increases drinkability and appeal in my opinion. I could see how that would also turn some people off. Overall this is a really nice beer. It's enough to satisfy the barley wine fanatics that's for sure.
Jul 09, 2012
23rd Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Ale from Karl Strauss Brewing Company
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 92 ratings