Dec 26, 2013

Karl Strauss Four Scowling Owls

For the past few years, Karl Strauss Brewing has been releasing a holiday series of beers called “12 Days of Christmas.” It all started with Parrot in a Palm Tree, a port barrel-aged baltic porter. Then came the stellar (and GABF award winning) quadruple, Two Tortugas before arriving with last year’s Mouette à Trois.

For 2013, the brewery has crafted a Belgian-style tripel entitled Four Scowling Owls. This 9% ABV beer brings an earthy character to a style that I love. A peppery yeast and spicy hop addition make this big beer not only refreshingly tasty, but also sneaky with regard to its drinkability. It’s a big beer that goes down dangerously smooth.

The combination of the zesty hop character and the beer’s bready nature (thanks to Vienna malts) makes for a beer that is well balanced, but still complex enough to intrigue the tastebuds. This brew went down superbly a couple of nights ago while the wife and I finished up some last minute gift wrapping.


Four Scowling Owls pours a golden amber in color with a small cap of light beige foam that fell softly to patchy surface cover.

Karl Strauss Four Scowling Owls photo


A peppery tingle, yeast, biscuity malt, grass, grain, distant citrus and the lightest hint of alcohol combine for a welcoming aroma.


The flavor of this big beer follows the nose almost perfectly as bready malt arrives first with a balancing component of spicy, peppery hops. The hop character brings a moderate amount of bitterness that lasts through the drying and slightly warming finish. Hints of citrus and grain persist throughout the life of the beer. It’s not as big/warming, nor as sweet, as many other American-made tripels. I chalk that up as a good thing.


Four Scowling Owls reminds me of a slightly dryer and hoppier Gouden Carolous Tripel. It’s not overly sweet or potent, but still packs all that I like in this style of beer — just with the added zing of Mt. Rainier hops. Well balanced and easy drinking, this is a beer that nicely continues the tradition that the brewery set four years ago.

Rating: 4/5

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

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