Feb 21, 2013

Karl Strauss 24th Anniversary Flanders-Style Ale

I’ve been extremely lucky that I’ve been able to sample several great beers from California’s Karl Strauss Brewing — even more so when a handful of those beers are from their limited anniversary series. It started with a bottle of their 21st Anniversary Ale, a Belgian strong brewed with old vine Zinfandel grape juice. The 22nd Anniversary release was a big stout that had just a touch too much vanilla for my preference and last year’s Old Ale (aged for 12 months in retired bourbon barrels no less) was stellar.

None of them, however, can touch the craftsmanship and balance that’s found in their 24th Anniversary celebration. This 7.5% ABV take on a Flanders Red had been sitting in oak barrels for the past year, was expertly blended with fresh batches of the recipe and released for your enjoyment.

The beer packs just the right amount of sour tartness and oaky goodness within it’s smooth drinking depths. It appears as though the brewery just keeps getting better and better with these celebratory ales, as this is the best of the bunch that I’ve had the opportunity to sample thus far.


The beer pours a copperish amber in color with a tawny cap of foam that dropped noisily.


Sour cherries, hints of vanilla, wood, yeast and a little caramel all come together nicely in a nose that only hints as the flavors to come.


As expected, the beer has a pretty decent level of tartness, but it’s also exceptionally smooth drinking. It starts off with dark cherries, pomegranate, a hint of caramel and a solid sour tartness before transitioning effortlessly to a warming and long lasting finish. The wood and vanilla persist throughout but show through more effectively late in the finish which holds onto the tongue with a residual tartness. The crisp carbonation only proves to accentuate the tart bite and refresh the palate.


This is an excellent brew. It’s definitely tart, but not nearly as aggressive as some sour ales I’ve enjoyed. I’m not sure as to what percentages of aged versus fresh batches were used in the blending process, but it appears as though the brewery nailed the ratio. Its balanced character speaks volumes.

Rating: 4.25/5

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

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