Mar 1, 2011

Karl Strauss 22nd Anniversary Stout

This is a review of a promotional sample received from the brewery.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to work with Karl Strauss Brewing for the past year or so now and I cannot profess my love for their products enough. Innovative, flavorful and consistently of high quality, each beer that I get from them has been a tasty treat.

The company’s latest anniversary release celebrating their 22nd year in business is an Imperial Stout that comes wax dipped and all. The brewers aged a Russian Imperial Stout in American oak bourbon barrels for three months before combining it with a fresh batch of the same beer. The ratio worked out to be 25% barrel aged to 75% fresh with the smaller, aged portion bringing just enough character from those barrels to make the overall result a distinctive and flavorful stout, though I would have liked a touch more bourbon in the mix.

Karl Strauss 22nd Anniversary Stout


This 9% ABV stout pours a dark cola brown with a slowly fading tan head that settled as loose patches of foam on the surface.


Roasted malt, coffee, a light vanilla presence and subtle chocolate are the predominant features within the nose. I don’t really pick up a tell-tale bourbon note, but there is a woody/oaky component within the aroma that blends nicely with the vanilla.


I’m not a big fan of large amounts of vanilla in my stout, so finding the rather subtle, smoothly incorporated vanilla presence within this beer was a plus for me. It’s not overbearing at all and arrives in just the right amount, combining wonderfully with the oaky character brought on with barrel aging. Overall, this is a pretty well crafted stout that starts off with a decent roast malt character that fades quickly to the vanilla/chocolate combination before finally transitioning to a slightly dry finish with a lingering, low-level hop bitterness. Again, there really wasn’t any bourbon traits that I specifically picked up.

The brew is dangerously drinkable and smooth. There’s not a hint of the higher alcohol presence to be found, even as the beer warms in the glass.


I thoroughly enjoyed this beer. The malts have a good roast on them that, at times, hinted at a light smoke note. The balance between the vanilla and coffee-like nature of the imperial stout is spot on. I really, really, really wanted a more pronounced bourbon footprint — I think this stout would have been out of this world with it.

That all said, I can see laying down a couple bottles and having one tasty brew in a year or three.

Rating: 3.75/5

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