Oct 11, 2010

Karl Strauss Red Trolley Ale

Note: this is a review of a promotional sample I received from the brewery.

2010 has been a big year for Karl Strauss’ Red Trolley Ale — the Irish-style red ale won gold at both the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup. And, while I’ve had a hit-or-miss sort of relationship with the style, I was still excited to try this one out.

Karl Strauss Red Trolley AleKarl Strauss Red Trolley Ale in the basement

Made with half a ton of caramelized malts, Red Trolley Ale carries a rich toffee character that’s nicely balanced out with just the right amount of hops. The smooth drinking brew also comes in at 5.8% ABV making it a very drinkable, though not quite sessionable, beer that would be spot on any time of year.


Red Trolley Ale pours a copperish amber in color with a one finger, light tan head that faded slowly to patchy lacing.


Bready, toffee driven malts fill the nose with a slight dark fruit sweetness. There’s a touch of hops in the there as well, but at only 17 IBU, don’t expect much from them other than to provide some balance to the good sized helping of malts.


This beer is packed with caramel malts through and through that’s tempered with a welcome touch of hop bitterness in the finish. It’s got the right amount of sweetness for the style that accompanies the malts nicely. It’s a bit fuller in mouth than I expected and went down smooth.


There have only been a handful of red ales that I have really enjoyed (Lagunitas Lucky 13 comes to mind), but I might have to add Red Trolley somewhere on that list. It probably won’t cause me to empty out the fridge and fill it with reds any time soon, but I can see myself enjoying a bottle or two of it in the future.

Rating: 3.5/5

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