Feb 14, 2014

Karl Strauss 25th Anniversary Doppelbock

Twenty five years is a long time. It really doesn’t make a difference what sort of business you’re in — to survive for 25 years is a testament to you as a company and your fan base. Karl Strauss Brewing will be celebrating their own quarter-century anniversary with another big brew that’s been aged in barrels.

This time around the company has take a style of beer not typically thought of when it comes to barrel aging beer. This 9.5% ABV doppelbock that’s been snoozing in retired bourbon barrels for the past twelve months. The result is a complex, yet smooth beer that brings layers of flavors and a warming embrace to your palate.

After slowly enjoying this beer other night, I can safely say that of the five celebratory releases from the company that I have been lucky to have, this is my favorite — narrowly edging out last year’s Flanders Style Ale. For those interested, you can read up on the other beers in this series here: 23, 22, and 21.


I was initially worried about this one as it gushed pretty solidly after prying off the bottle’s cap, but there were no further issues. The brew pours a deep, mahogany in color with a garnet edge and a short-lived cap of tan foam.

Karl Strauss 25th Anniversary Doppelbock photo


Big vanilla bean notes, wood, light bourbon, caramel, soft sweetness and distant chocolate notes combine for a decadent aroma. Despite being in a barrel for the last 12 months, the beer isn’t overly bourbony.


The bourbon shows through more here than in the aroma (especially as the beer warms), but it’s certainly not at a level that begins to distract from th overall experience. A good amount of caramel and toffee fill the mouth with vanilla and wood. It’s tough to pick out your typical doppelbock characteristics, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The beer is lightly boozy in flavor, but soothingly warming as the alcohol lingers softly in the lasting finish. There’s a good amount of sweetness to the beer, but again, it’s at just the right level.


Karl Strauss’ 25th Anniversary Doppelbock is a decadent and rich beer with a great flavor. It reminds me slightly Dogfish Head’s Palo Santo Marron with a touch of maybe Bells Brewery Batch 10,000. Knowing that I would never see this beer again, I savored every drop as a reward for shoveling out the cars from under 14 inches of snow that fell earlier in the day.

This is a beer that also shows Karl Strauss is hitting their stride with their barrel-aging programs. I can’t wait to taste their 26th anniversary Belgian Strong Dark Ale that just went into bourbon barrels and won’t be heard from again for twelve months..

Rating: 4.25/5

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

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