Karl Strauss Brewing Company

Karl Strauss Brewing CompanyKarl Strauss Brewing Company
Karl Strauss Brewing CompanyKarl Strauss Brewing Company
Brewery, Bar, Eatery

901A South Coast Dr
Costa Mesa, California, 92626
United States

(714) 546-2739 | map

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Ratings by HopfenUndMalz2015:
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Reviewed by HopfenUndMalz2015 from California

4.58/5  rDev +17.7%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5
This is nearby to me, and I end up here often. They have always been very friendly, and knowledgeable, their food is great !! I especially love their mac and cheese, and their Wednesday meatloaf. Great pairings with their specialty brews.
Feb 12, 2016
More User Ratings:
Rated: 3.75 by 2beerdogs from California

May 31, 2016
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Reviewed by flexabull from California

3.63/5  rDev -6.7%
vibe: 3.25 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.25
Got off the plane at John Wayne, wanted a beer and grub, this was the closest place I saw so we checked it out.

Vibe... well... trying really hard to be SoCal but kind failing in my mind. Had a valet parking out front that seemed like a total joke. We pulled in, saw it, and drove about a hundred yards away and parked in the garage instead. The place itself felt like a chain brewery, with the only plus being a nice outdoor seating area.

Quality was good. Karl Strauss sometime gets a bad rap, but I've found them to be better than a lot of big breweries, and the Māori beer I had was pretty tasty.

Service was OK. The girl that served us was pleasant, but not all that fast, and messed up our order. But still, it was pretty good service overall, because she actually corrected her error quickly.

Selection was basic. Pretty much the standard lineup, two seasonals, and about 10 beers in total.

Food was a pleasant surprise. We all commented about how good our meals were.

Overall? Not bad, worth a stop if in the area and craving food and a decent beer.
Feb 15, 2016
Rated: 3.58 by Gobzilla from California

Oct 08, 2015
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Reviewed by PhillyStyle from Georgia

3.35/5  rDev -13.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.25
Visited June 2015:

I can't really add much more color than the previous review. He nailed the look of the place. We sat outside and watched an NBA game, so we may not have gotten the full vibe of the place. I tried two beers while there: Windansea Wheat, which was really good, maybe one of the best American-made Hefe's that I have had; and the Red Trolley Ale, a red ale that was really not worth what I paid for it. The food was a step up from your typical pub grub, but I would probably not go back from the food...just to try other beers. The service was forgettable and our waitress took forever to bring the check...and she knew nothing about the beer that the place was serving. The place did have growlers...so it has that going for it. As I said, I would go back to try the other beers, but there is better food in the area.
Jul 02, 2015
Rated: 3.89 by BeerOps from Illinois

Mar 02, 2015
Rated: 3.64 by HippieDave56 from California

Nov 14, 2014
Rated: 4 by AlexM from California

Sep 10, 2014
Rated: 4.25 by TaylorIPA19 from California

Aug 27, 2014
Rated: 2 by TNeedles from California

Aug 21, 2014
Rated: 4 by aoampm from Hawaii

Jul 31, 2014
Rated: 3 by Rollzroyce21 from California

Jun 11, 2014
Rated: 3.75 by DotBier from California

Apr 05, 2014
Rated: 3.5 by jeff1973 from California

Apr 04, 2014
Rated: 4 by ejimhof from Pennsylvania

Dec 25, 2013
Rated: 3.75 by g_jenkins from California

Dec 03, 2013
Rated: 3.75 by acurtis from New Jersey

Oct 28, 2013
Rated: 4.25 by Opie1knoche from California

Oct 28, 2013
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Reviewed by slander from New York

4/5  rDev +2.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4
Took the rental out again ‘cause I could and should. Not really sure where I’ve gotten off to; could be Irvine, wait, I think it’s Costa Mesa, yes, it is. And found it stand alone off the corner of points mall shortly after opening; the valet thing kind of threw me off, as did the overly enthusiastic smiling upbeat happy girl on greeting, and the server of the same right behind her. Too chipper, too early, for my east coast cynical sensibilities, so please knock it off…

Beige walls & ceilings save that rose colored section over the bar. Panel wood floorings with tilings around the bar, slab beyond, and even some carpeted areas. Flatscreens everywhere, drop single spots & recessed others, an expansive snowflake looking piece over the bar, and growlers & six packs displayed about. Bar is a marble topped horseshoe with black strips along the way, cool & colorful, and a slate tiling base and a foot rail for where feet go. Seating for 2 dozen+ on leather stools, I survey the surroundings from there. The ends of the bar meet at a wall thru piece. Slight pieces shelved to both sides; 22’s, jarred things, and ‘Karl’ growlers above, with flatscreens & stemware dangling the undersides. Openish kitchen behind the back there to the rear.

2 double table booths behind me on the near wall; the sills lined with growlers and cool mosaic tilings above. Front corner room forward there holding booths on 3 walls and tables down the center, a dozen mix & match in all. Wood paneled walls, blinded windows with prints in between, and drop martini glass lamps. There’s a smallish party room off it with a bunch of suits doing a ‘lunch meeting’. I can see the ‘operations’ slide up on the big screen; operating a sampler, me thinks, and are you hiring? Loooong bar counter table on the other side of the bar seating a dozen or more, and another pair of double table booths beyond. Seating area behind that sectioned holding 6 booths, 3 shortys, and 3 party sized tables. A row of 4 hightops up front adjacent to the front corner brewroom behind glass, and an outside seating space runs the length of the place, holding just shy of 3 dozen tables.

Tower of 10 taps on the bend, another on the other end, and a handpump mid way, pouring nothing today (‘cause they only do cask night Thursdays, and that ain’t today). I got tasters of a few things, did a sampler of 4 of my choice, and then did another sampler of 4 to get at a few others, not that I have to explain shit to you. 10 beers on tap (Endless Summer Light, crisp & easy drinking; Woodie Gold, Noble & Saaz, spritzy, crisp, not bad, but I was hoping for a better Pils; Windansea Wheat, good cloveyness, a solid Hefe; Karl Strauss Amber, crisp, Cascade hop, toasty malt; Red Trolley Ale, a deeper red, caramel, but somewhat misses the malt for an Irish Red; Pintail Pale Ale, Cascade & Motueka from new Zealand, not too shabby; Flan-Diddly-Anders Red, um, it’s something sour, meh; Tower 10 IPA, 7%, Chinook & Cascade, pleasant; Off The Rails, 7.5%, a Double Trolley strong ale, way too boozy for me; Boardwalk Black Rye, 7%, oh fuck yeah, roasty, black IPAness, very nice). Endless Summer Light, Windansea Wheat (Hefe), Tower 10 IPA, & Boardwalk Black Rye were the best of the lot. They’ve also got the Wreck Alley Imperial Stout in 22’s only (9.5%).

Fooded with something called Piri Piri wings; done in a west African piri piri chili sauce (oh, so that’s why there’s heat), over arugula (it’s a veg-e-ta-ble), and shaved fennel (one of earth’s greatest resources). They, boneless, arrived as a mountain, stacked, which I promptly took down. It was a good easy bite and enough that I didn’t need to explore the Ahi Poke.

Server guy was helpful, knew his game, had his likes. A couple of good beers and the food was on. Comfortable enough on a I have no idea what today is, somethingday, maybe, and tunes, tunes, tunes. Cool place in a chain of events.
Oct 09, 2012
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Reviewed by FosterJM from California

3.8/5  rDev -2.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5
Came to this KS for a friends 40th on April, 21st, 2012

Atm- A nice well designed well lit place. Lots of seating to accomodate large/small parties. In the corner is the smallish brewing room with glass windows for people to see. Also the bar is very large with ample TV viewing. More dark woods and industrial feel. TV's outside on the patio as well.

Quality- A pretty good overall effort on their beers. Most are brewed to accomadate the masses with lighter flavors and some base ingredients.

Service- Our server was nice enough but a little slow in his britches, took a good 5 plus minutes to get a beer and the bar was not that crowded. I ordered the Flanders and he actually asked if I knew what I was ordering. So nice to see someone keep a customer in mind.

Selection- Besides the flanders nothing really exciting on tap. Had the boardwalk Rye and their new Pintale pale, but the others were all super light or non flavor offerings. Ran out of the Wreck alley stout earlier.

Food- The party we attending was full of all the appetizers on the menu. Really flavorful and well presented. Next time I might just order them all again and call it a night.

Value- With the party being above 8 people tip was included. With that being said 3 beers and 1 snifter(23rd Anny Old Ale glass) total was $25. Not bad.
Apr 23, 2012
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Reviewed by cdkrenz from Wisconsin

4.05/5  rDev +4.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5
Location is in a bit of an akward spot but I got there. Walking in opens you up to the bar area, which was completely packed on this Thursday night with the exception of one stool off to my right. There were three bartenders working this Cask Night. They were friendly and entertaining in their speeding around behind the tighly fit bar. The food was good but a bit on the pricey side. I had an appetizer that was being featured that month. I think it was around $10, which overall was one of the cheaper food items on the menu. The beers I enjoyed were a Black IPA poured from cask. The other was a Belgian Brown Ale. Both were certainly worth drinking. The selections were adequate and the styles didn't overlap one another. Next time I'm back in Southern CaliforniaI'll do my best to get back to the Karl Strauss Brewery Restaurant.
Jan 29, 2011
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Reviewed by deleted_user_357747

4.5/5  rDev +15.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 5
Came here for rehearsal dinner for a wedding. Place was PACKED, rarely have I seen a restaurant so freakin crammed with folks. We hung around for a few minutes while the staff accommodated ou reservation. Our party of at least thirty or forty was all seated with beers in hand in a about fifteen minutes..pretty goddamn impressive. The waitstaff was extremely laid back, knowledgeable about the beer and food, pairings and what not. Open beer bar all night, so got to sample most of their brews. Their year round beers were mediocre, the red was malty and decent and I think the other was an IPA, I would suppose it was largely forgettable as I can't remember it. I did have a chance to try their double bock, which was huge and malty and good.

While the beer was okay,the food was outstanding. I had the chops, seasoned and grilled perfectly, with hand mashed garlic potatoes and perfectly steamed vegetables that were just crisp enough and seasoned nicely. Fantastic meal, amazing food. Everyone in attendance was blown away by the level of quality of the food.

We were lucky enough to have a deck for the evening that looked out over a koi pond and Asian themed landscaping. Smoking area near by and constant attention from waitstaff. They were more than happy to let you two fist free beer.

I have no idea what the prices were, but I know the bill was well over a grand. But everyone seemed to think it was a great choice and did not have any complaints about the restaurant.
May 20, 2010
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Reviewed by gabeerfan from Georgia

4.18/5  rDev +7.5%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4
I used to be semi-regular at the KS in downtown San Diego when we lived in that area, but would visit this one when splitting the distance between SD and the in-laws in Ventura Co.
Somewhat typical sports-bar/suburban restaurant feel. Lots of booths, tables and outdoor seating. We sat at the U-shaped bar to get tastings and a snack.
The standard taster is their 6 year-round beers and more can be added on request. Our gracious bartender even gave us a bonus tasting when we asked for the other more specialty beers and didn't charge us for any of the extra tastings we asked for and gave good flavor descriptions of the beers.
The selection is good with 6 beers (Amber Lager, Red Trolley, Hefe, Tower 10 IPA, etc) on all the time with 3-4 specialty/seasonals available most of the time.
We had the Firecracker boneless chicken wings for our snack. They were good and a decent value. Fairly typical bar type food with burgers, sandwiches, salads and pastas. All good and seemingly fresh, if a bit "corporate kitchen."
Karl Strauss doesn't get a lot of respect outside of SoCal, but their beers are very solid and to style. Definitely recommended either this location or any that you come across.
Aug 31, 2009
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Reviewed by DoubleJ from Wisconsin

4.3/5  rDev +10.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4
After raiding a corner liquor store for a couple quick brews, it was north on Bear Street to Karl Strauss. I really want a beer right now, so I'll do this in bullet point format to make this go quicker:

- As you enter, you approach a U-shaped bar. Plenty of TV's at one side of the restaurant. Interior is crisp and comfortable.

- 10 beers on-tap, all house beer. Some include staples like their Amber Lager and Woodie Golden, others are "rotational" beers like their oatmeal stout, altbier, and Rye IPA. Beers come in 3 types of glassware: shaker pint, slender wiezen glass, and tulip. The oatmeal stout was good, their albier was surprisingly delicious.

- My bartender knew his stuff, and he called me by my first name. I still feel fuzzy from that.

- Happy Hour from 4-6:30, M-F. $3.50 beers, and discounts on selected food items.

- They operate a cask, but is usually emptied a day or two after it is filled. The cask is refilled on Thursdays.

- No proper way to gauge the value given I was there during happy hour. Call it "reasonable" for now.

- OVERALL: great beer, great service, great happy hour. I will have to do this again....and maybe try some food as well.
Jun 30, 2009
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Reviewed by npslaugh from Texas

3.93/5  rDev +1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 2.5
Well I went to Karl Strauss brewpub after finding it listed in the Beer Advocate directory. Overall I liked it, but there were a few things about it that I disliked.

The good: food is decent in quality, good selection on the menu. Beer: As mentioned by others, the sampler is not only a great sample of the beers available but it is also cost effective ($6.95 for it all). You get 6 3-4 oz pours (you really don't want more than 24 oz of beer at once) which includes 5 standard brews and one seasonal. Each beer had its ups and downs, and I've certainly had better beers, but I will say the IPA was good and the Pilsner was easy to drink. The amber was horrible (tasted like water), but they have a darker higher alcohol amber made with more caramel malt that was tasty.

The bad: A beer is $5.50. $5.50! That's a lot, and that doesn't include tax and gratuity. A typical beer should cost $4.25, taking into account the recent spike in beer prices. My Pastrami sandwich was $12.95! For a sandwich! And it didn't even have veggies on it. But hey I guess you get what you pay for at a brewpub... you gotta pay up if you want good beer and good atmosphere.
Mar 23, 2009
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Reviewed by opwog from Minnesota

4.35/5  rDev +11.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5
OK, since the recent restructuring of their beer prices and serving sizes, I have to admit that this has changed things a lot in regards to the value that KS use to provide. Maybe we were greedy enjoying 20 ounce glasses of Imperial Stout at happy hour for $4, but for fans of higher octane beers, the prices increased while the quantities on all servings went down (over 6% is now in a goblet). I understand this pricing when I go to places like Beachwood where everything is a guest beer, but I have a harder time swallowing this dramatic of a change from an actual brew pub.

But aside form the pricing, I have to say that this KS has some of the best staff that I have found anywhere. The waitresses are given a generic blurb to say about each beer, but that is still better than many brew pubs. The bartenders are the best in the business. Friendly and right on top of everybody's needs. The food is also several steps above most brew pubs, but again it can get pricey for a brew pub.

A big plus to this brew pub, that many bars are catching on to, is the free wireless internet. It has been many a late afternoon where I have been able to leave the office and belly up for happy hour and finish my work from the bar. Also, this is right at the base of a movie complex, so it makes the perfect stop for food and beers before or after a movie.

If you stop by check out Steve-o behind the bar. He has been at this KS since it opened and is a staple in the area, having worked many years before at the now closed Birra Porrettis that was just down the road. This guy could write the book on bartending. One cool guy.
Aug 09, 2008
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Reviewed by Halcyondays from California

3.95/5  rDev +1.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5
Visited the Karl Strauss locale in Costa Mesa on 8/7/08 at about 4:50 during their monthly cask night. Located just northeast of the Fairview exit off the 405, it is very easy to find off South Coast drive. Parking is free, parked in the lot, much like an exagerrated strip mall. Had 2 pints of the Stargazer IPA on cask and a pint of the Black Lager on-tap, both solid brewpub offerings. For food I had the calamari, tasty, but nothing to blow your mind, just a good appetizer. Service was great, the bartender was attentive, engaging and on the ball with my order. 3 pints, 2 on cask and food only cost me $20, granted it was during happy hour, but it was a great deal. Will definitely go back to this locale.
Aug 08, 2008
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Reviewed by Floydster from California

4.41/5  rDev +13.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5
Located in outdoor mall off the 405 Freeway, take the Bristol Street exit, near a Nordstrom Rack, movie theater, and Barnes and Noble bookstore

Stopped here this morning and they let me in fifteen minutes before they even opened, really nice staff and I was the only customer in there along with my parents the whole time

Told me I could try as many tasters as I wanted free of charge, that seemed quite generous but they must not have known how much I could have potentially tasted

Picked up of a half gallon growler of their specialty release, wheat wine for twelve dollars, the lady told me it would only cost eight dollars per refill of any beer now that I own the glass which is a great price

Enjoyed a pint of Balboa's Vintage Barleywine for around four dollars while I was there, but it was too early to try any other beers at that point

Did not try any of their food, but the menu looked good and also reasonably priced, especially the different steaks and chicken dishes, and I would definitely go back to see what all that was about,

They had ten taps in all, four seasonals which was nice to see, they included: Padre Porter, Russian Imperial Stout, and the two beers mentioned above

The other six beers conisted of Red Trolley, Stargazer IPA, Amber Lager, Woodie Gold, Windansea Wheat, and Endless Summer Light, most of these are available in six packs locally as well

Prices were good on pints, in between four and five dollars, like I said before the food prices looked fair, I like to see the specialty beers not costing a significant amount more than the others, always a plus

This was the first Karl Strauss location I have visited and it was a great experience, I plan on going to others in the future, great service, nice people, good prices, great beer, and an all around fun experience
Dec 31, 2007
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Reviewed by IntriqKen from California

4.63/5  rDev +19%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5
I had a wonderful experience here.
Drove up to the front and had valet parking for the price of a pint.
Service was extrodenary...waiter has been working there for 4 years and was very knowledgeable about the beers offered.
Food was wonderful and the atmosphere was comfortably upper class.
Enjoying three hours there in a t-shirt and blue jeans with a friend was just as comfortable as if I had been in a suit.
I'll review the beers seperately, only to say the sampler consists of your choice of 6 five oz. samples from their menu. Big enough so that you can honestly make a determination on the beers. Growlers are only $9.95 with $6.95 refills and they even offer a full gallon growler (didn't check on the price).
I loved the afternoon and will make it a point to go back often...starting with the 3rd thursday of each month when they hold a fricken party...tapping a tradional small keg.
Oct 29, 2006
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Reviewed by PhiloPsych from California

3.9/5  rDev +0.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4
The Costa Mesa Karl Strauss is located across the street from South Coast Plaza, so it is in a shopping area with a lot of glitz and with a pretty snooty clientelle. The atmosphere in the restaurant is a nice break from that. The people and attitude were down to earth and casual. I ordered a six beer sampler and the "taster" size beers were much bigger than any samplers I have had anywhere else. I didn't ask, but I bet they were six ounces or more; those at most other places are 3 or 4 ounces. It was nice to be able to choose six beers as well rather than getting a standard set of six. (At other breweries I've paid about $5 for six three ouncers, here it was about $9 for six six ouncers, which is a better deal.) I had the Windansea Hefeweizen, the Amber Lager, the Trolley Red, The DAD Brown, the Barleywine, and the Oatmeal Stout. I usually like Hefeweizen, but didn't like this one. It was stonger than most, both in flavor and alcohol. The Amber was better but not great. The Red was better than the Amber, but still not great. The Barleywine was strong and sharp, but not as good as the last barleywine I had (at Pizza Port in Carlsbad).

The bartender was great (and his assistant bartender was beautiful!). There was some kind of keg tapping party going on when I got there. Apparently they made a special dry hopped keg of their IPA where they put a bunch of hops directly into the keg. The bartender brought me a taster of this creation for free (and re-filled it later--for free again). I don't usually like IPAs all that much, but this was very flavorful, very, very hoppy, darker than most IPAs and probably the best, most interesting beer I had all night. With the two extra tasters I wasn't even able to finish my brown ale and my oatmeal stout. Neither of them was fantastic, though, so I didn't mind.

I had the BBQ pork sandwich and liked it a lot. I have to say I was a bit disappointed in the beers. Several of them had a kind of dirty aftertaste that I didn't like. I'll try it again in a year or so and see how I like it then.
Sep 08, 2006
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Reviewed by SwillinBrew from California

4/5  rDev +2.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4
I went to dinner here the other day and thought i'd do a review since i forgot how much i do like this place. Some folks dont care for Karl Straus because it's too corporate per se, but this place good.

When you walk in the bar area is right in front greeting you like a big horseshoe with dining areas to both sides. The bar always seems to be busy with a good vibe and always seems to be pretty gals around. I certainly dont mind. The waitresses are nice and actually somewhat knowledgeable of the brew. The beer selection is that they have about one of every style. Everytime i've been here they always have one of their brewers selection on tap, whether it be the barelywine, special stout or whatever and that's what i drink. I havent been let down yet... maybe i'd better review the brew next time. The food is good and the portions are adequate with the price not being cheap but reasonable. Good place to have a pint before you go see a movie next door... or bring a date here. She'll like it and you can have a good brew.
Nov 11, 2005
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Reviewed by rowew from Colorado

3.9/5  rDev +0.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5
Located in an outdoor mall area, so it can be a bit hectic finding parking, etc. Modern decor with a nice large patio area. Bartenders were very friendly and attentive. Decent happy hour specials, but the sampler was a bit pricey. All of the beers were quite tasty - even the golden had a bit of hop flavor to it. All in all a decent spot to grab a beer. The food menu looked outstanding, but we didn't actually try it. If you are dragged to the shopping area, you definitely should stop by. Modern feel is a bit stand-offish, but the quality of the beer and the friendly staff make up for this.
Feb 10, 2005
Karl Strauss Brewing Company in Costa Mesa, CA
Brewery rating: 3.56 out of 5 with 36 ratings