May 21, 2014

Karl Strauss Mosaic Session Ale

In their Mosaic Session Ale, San Diego’s Karl Strauss has managed to successfully combine two current trends in the brewing world — one of which I am increasingly growing tired and the other I wholeheartedly relish.

Let’s get the negative out of the way first. At 5.5% ABV and served in a 22 oz bottle, there is no way that this IPA should be considered “sessionable.” It’s too high in alcohol and there’s no way that I (even at a gym-rat fueled 240lbs) am going to be able to sit down with more than a bottle (and maybe a half) of this brew. On draft, I can see having a pint or two over a period of time, but even then, this shouldn’t be considered more than an great tasting IPA — albeit with slightly less alcohol than most of the style.

Now, and more importantly, the good. Mosaic Session Ale, part of the company’s Coastal Reserve Series, is an outstanding beer. It embodies all that I love about single-hopped brews. With a focus on the Mosaic variety, this beer packs a tremendous amount of tropical fruit flavor into a beer that, at 45 IBU, goes down incredible smooth — we can probably thank the white wheat that the company uses in the recipe for that.

The aroma on this beer leads you to believe one thing (earth, pine) while the flavor goes a slightly different direction, focusing on the fruitier aspect of this hop. The result is one of those beers that I wish was delivered to the Virginia area. I have little doubt that it would be in constant rotation in my beer fridge.

Karl Strauss Mosaic Session Ale photo


Mosaic pours a slightly hazy, golden straw in color with a rocky stack of frothy, white foam. As the head dropped, it left behind decent lace work.


This beer has a wonderfully clean hop character. Pine, grapefruit, lemon zest and a touch of honey combine for a relatively earthy aroma. There’s a good bit of cattiness to the whole thing that adds to its appeal.

Karl Strauss Mosaic Session Ale photo


While the nose was piney and earthy, the flavors that hit the tongue are packed with juicy tropical fruits. Pineapple, grapefruit, tangerine and a light, lemony character wash over the palate smoothly while hints of honey and a subtle sweetness linger. The beer drinks smoothly and is fairly even tempered for an IPA — it packs in the flavor without destroying your tastebuds with bitterness.


Karl Strauss has made some solid beers through the years, many of which I’ve been lucky enough to review for this site. Mosaic Session Ale, despite it’s missteps in naming, may very well be the best of the bunch in terms of overall flavor and “drinkability.” It’s not the most dynamic beer or fullest flavored beer they produce, but in terms of overall appeal, it’s well-rounded hop character and smooth drinking nature make it ideal for more than just a celebratory anniversary — it’s a beer you can enjoy just about any time of year, or day for that matter.

Rating: 4.5/5

This is a review of a promotional sample.

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