Old Hands – New IPA’s

The Mid-Majors of the California brewing world are aware of the trends big and little but they all seem to give the trends a shot.  Just in different ways….

Matt Brynildson from Firestone Walker approached a Hazy IPA via the Weizenbock making their Mind Haze with 40% wheat and oats in the bill and by precise hop additions.

Karl Strauss head brewer Sean Albrecht used their Small Batch program along with a trip to the East Coast as inspiration for their nautical themed Boat Shoes Hazy IPA.

Lastly, Figueroa Mountain used a trip to Yakima Chief to create a new IPA that they named after California geography with Point Conception IPA.

Sean Suggests for December 2018

The suggestions this month are appropriately Christmas themed and come from close to home and from far away.

Deschutes / Jubelale 6.70% ABV
“A dark, malty celebration ale with layered flavors and beautifully balanced hopping. Jubelale pours deep garnet in color, medium bodied, with notes of chicory, earth, spice and fruit. To beer lovers, it’s like Yule fire and family.”

Karl Strauss / Nine Bonfires Blazing 7.50% ABV
“It’s golden hour. Time to reflect on the day, dust the sand off your blankets, and surround yourself with good friends. The night hasn’t turned dark yet, so why should your beer? Introducing 9 Bonfires Blazing, the 9th installment in our “Twelve Days” holiday series. Just like sweater weather in San Diego, this winter warmer is quite the oxymoron. Brewed with coffee, vanilla beans, and rolled oats (but without roasted barley!), it is blonde in color but has all the aromas and flavors of a bold, American stout. Pop open a beach chair and join us – ’tis the season for sharing stories and stouts around the fire.”

St. Bernardus / Christmas Ale 10.0% ABV
“St. Bernardus Christmas Ale is the youngest descendant in the illustrious family of delicious Abbey Ales by Brewery St. Bernardus. This specialty beer is characterized by its deep dark colour, with a creamy, thick head and a full, almost velvety taste with a fruity nose. It’s a seasonal ale, brewed annually for the holiday season. The long winter nights are perfect moments to savour this ale with or without friends and to enjoy its unique, complex taste and after-taste.”

All of these beers can be found at Sunset Beer Co. (unless they got bought up real quick)

Karl is Distributing

Karl Strauss has decided to add another wrinkle to their company. Distributing. They are starting slow with two San Diego breweries, Benchmark and Black Plague for now though if it works they might add a brewery that starts with the letter C.

You can read more about it over at the West Coaster SD.


Many out of town companies are planning DTLA locales but Karl Strauss Brewing is planting a flag first with a satellite brewery and brewpub at the corner of Wilshire and South Grand Avenue.

The facility will serve as an R&D facility and will have a 7-barrel brewhouse, two 14-barrel fermenters to scratch the creative brewers itch and have plenty of fresh beer on tap.

The brewpub opened a few days ago and is the second in Los Angeles, the other being the somewhat inacesssible Universal City spot that has been around forever.

Review – Peanut Butter Cup Porter from Karl Strauss

Brewed with cocoa nibs and peanut flavoring by Karl Strauss, I heard about this beer from L.A. beer writer, John Verive. With that recommendation, I bought the bomber the first time I saw it.


Unfortunately, this beer did not coalesce for me. The initial aroma is sweet and almost floral. Only as it warms up did the true aroma hit me. Sickeningly sweet milk chocolate. On the plus side, the beer had sparkle to it. I thought the peanut would end a flattening viscous effect which did not happen. And yes, there is a strong peanut taste here which works to great effect.

This beer is a case study in not tasting like the name on the bottle. The one ingredient standing out as a discordant note makes me think not of a peanut butter cup but more peanut butter and a sweetened chocolate milk.

I gave a sample to my resident aroma expert and she said it reminded her of a cherry cordial. And if I had been given this beer and asked to 50-50 between peanut butter cup or cordial. I would be on the fence. And that is not a good sign.


Holiday Beer # 19 – Four Scowling Owls from Karl Strauss

Karl Strauss Four-Scowling-Owls-logo

Karl Strauss Four Scowling Owls Belgian Tripel / California

“Don’t upset these angry birds: share a bottle of this year’s Holiday Tripel. Four Scowling Owls – the next release from our “Twelve Days” holiday series – is a robust Belgian style strong ale with orange citrus flavors and a spicy aroma. Amarillo and Mount Rainier hops balance out the Vienna malt character. The finish is dry and warm, perfect for those “chilly” San Diego winters. Birds of a feather drink together.”

Imperialized Strauss

Karl Strauss has doubled down on some of their most popular beers and a new series of beers were born. Off the Rails was the first and now it is joined by two friends.

Off The Rails
“A spin on the company’s Gold Medal winning Red Trolley Ale, Off the Rails takes Red Trolley to the next level with a robust toffee malt character, balanced by an earthy Willamette hop flavor. This Imperial Irish Red Ale will age well, but we won’t tell if you drink it now.”

Tower 20 Double IPA
“We first brewed this beer last year at the Karl Strauss Wall St. Brewdown and the feedback was unanimous—Tower 20 IIPA had to be bottled. Our brewers packed a huge amount of Centennial, Cascade, and Crystal hops into each barrel of this deceptively smooth double IPA and then dry-hopped with Crystals for an intense, citrus aroma. Resist the urge to stockpile and drink this one fresh.”

Wreck Alley Imperial Stout
“Our brewer’s work is equally fueled by beer and coffee, so it made sense to combine the two into one tasty beverage. The result is Wreck Alley Imperial Stout. This opaque, black beer is brewed with a slightly fruity variety of Ethiopian coffee and then “dry-hopped” with cacao nibs for a rich chocolate flavor in the finished beer. Wreck Alley’s ready to drink now, but will only improve with time.”

Karl’s Imperial Collection will be available year-round across California in select retail stores beginning April 2012. For more information, visit .

23 Years is Old

Wow. Karl Strauss has been around for 23 years. That is amazing. And breweries do well with anniversaries. A lot of great beers are made for the yearly celebration. Like this one….

“The 23rd Anniversary Old Ale was aged for 12 months in American oak barrels and is the first Karl Strauss barrel-aged beer to be offered unblended. It’s loaded with complex layers of toffee, molasses, dried figs, and toasted oak. A pronounced warming bourbon flavor contributes to the beer’s 12.2% alcohol content—making this strong ale an ideal after dinner sipper or accompaniment to desserts like bread pudding. The company only bottled 413 cases of this beer, encouraging fans to enjoy one now and lay another down several years. “This beer is only going to get better with age,” says brewer Segura. “As time passes, the bourbon character will mellow and more of the dried fruit and vanilla flavors will come out.”

The 23rd Anniversary Old Ale will be available on tap at all six Karl Strauss Brewery Restaurants and select beer bars across Southern California, beginning February 2, 2012

Off the Rails

The special releases keep coming from Karl Strauss. This one might be interesting to try side-by-side with the original and see how pronounced the differences are.

“After brewing the award-winning Red Trolley Ale for more than two decades, Karl Strauss Brewing Company is ready to unveil the beer’s turbo charged cousin—Off the Rails. Off the Rails is a double version of Red Trolley Ale with more malt, more hops, and more alcohol. This West Coast Imperial Red Ale is full of dark fruit flavors, toffee, and a smooth warming finish.

Small batches of Off the Rails have been brewed over the past two years for draft only…”