Dec 15, 2014

Karl Strauss Five Wee Heavy Bells

Five Wee Heavy Bells is Karl Strauss’ fifth installment of their “12 Days” (previous releases here, here, here and here) holiday series.

This year, the company has decided to take a Scotch ale and age it on American oak chips that were soaked in scotch for a period of time. The scotch influence is present within the beer, but doesn’t really come out until this 9.5% ABV brew has had an opportunity to settle in the glass for a bit.

Rich and malty Five Wee Heavy Bells is a beer that is good now, but should develop into something special with a little more time under its belt. I think the flavors still have some melding to do before the brew fully comes into its own. As of this weekend when I enjoyed it, however, it’s still a pretty darn tasty ale.


A dense, creamy cap of tan foam drops quickly to a thin ring around the surface of the garnet colored liquid.

Karl Strauss Five Wee Heavy Bells photo


Caramel and malt lead the way as a light peppery character tingles the nose. Distant woody notes and vanilla peak out from behind the rich malt profile.


That rich caramel and bready malt combination fills the mouth smoothly. Light vanilla persists throughout as a hint of toffee and wood relax in the background. Initially, I couldn’t say that for sure that I picked up much of a scotch-like influence, but it comes out a bit more as the beer warms in the glass. The medium bodied brew is moderately sweet, warming and dangerously drinkable on a cold afternoon.

Karl Strauss Five Wee Heavy Bells photo


I served Five Wee Heavy Bells at cellar temperature (roughly 53°), but it still took some time for that scotch-soaked oak to really shine. The more the beer warmed in the glass, the more apparent it became. I thoroughly enjoyed this rich, smooth brew this past weekend, but feel that it could do with a little more time in the cellar. It’s darn good now and I can only imagine it getting better with a little maturation.

Rating: 4/5

This is a review of a promotional sample.

More: , ,