Karl Strauss. A name that will likely ring a bell for many beer lovers, young and old. OK, mostly old. Regardless, if you are unaware of the Karl Strauss Brewery and the man it was named after fear no more. Founded in 1989 as the first brewpub in San Diego Karl Strauss Brewing was started byÂ Chris Cramer and Matt Rattner and was built with the wisdom and vast brewing knowledge of Karl, Chris’ uncle and a legendary brewer who has received the three highest honors in the brewing industry including the “Distinguished Life Service Award” from the Master Brewers Association of the Americas. You can read more about Karl and the breweries 21 year history on their respective wiki pages. Big Barrel Double IPA is the first in their new line of Karl’s Coastal Reserve series of big hoppy beers. The label notes that they wanted to start of the series “big” by using imported Nelson Sauvin Hops from New Zealand, Â as well as Warrior & Ahtanum Hops. The bottle I have here is actually the 3rd release of this beer which was available late 2010 in select markets. With 90 IBU and 9% ABV this brew is sure to be a great introduction to a historic brewery.
Pours a brilliantly translucent copper hue with three fingers of bright white head quickly forming and hanging around for many minutes leaving a modest amount of lacing behind and a fewÂ millimetersÂ of residual carbonation. SmellsÂ magnificentlyÂ fruity with bright citrus balanced by wonderfully smooth malt esters and enjoyable bitterness. Flavor starts with smooth fruity hops, a variety of citrus esters, clean sweet malts complimented by assertive, but not over the top bitterness. The 9% ABV of this beer is completely hidden by the smooth hops and vibrant bitterness in this brew. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is almost silky. The myriad of citrus and fruit esters in this brew areÂ deliciousÂ and amazingly smooth. Everything from peach to pineapple is present. Though it is full of plenty of flavors this brew is not overly complex butÂ fantasticallyÂ clean and palatable. A really delicious Imperial IPA that has obviouslyÂ benefitedÂ from its barrel aging.Â DefinitelyÂ the smoothest Double IPA I have ever tasted. Truly a delicious brew that I wish I had more of and wouldÂ definitelyÂ pick up if it were available in the Minnesota market. Proper words allude me, but there is something amazing about the way the clean flavors in this brew are truly complex but yet remain simple and soft. Give it a shot and ride your bike.