I poured a 12oz bottle into a nonic pint glass. There was no freshness date on the bottle. I got this at #BBC13.
Appearance: Beautiful red/dark copper color. Clear body with some
carbonation visible. Forms a small, tan, sudsy head which mostly
dissipates and doesn’t lace the glass.
Smell: Malty for sure, but slightly astringent. Almost like it were stale.
Taste: According to their website, Karl Strauss Red Trolley Ale was
originally brewed as a Christmas beer, but they decided to make it year
round. That’s odd considering this is an Irish Red at the core. I have
mixed feelings on the style, but I know what I like and this one,
unfortunately, isn’t it.
The palette begins with general caramel malt flavor. It’s not especially
sweet, though it’s pleasing enough I suppose. Faint hints of raisin as
well. At the crest of the swig comes a dry bitterness, which seems much
stronger than the advertised 17 IBUs. The finish is a strange sensation
of off-flavors. Slightly oily, mostly nondescript astringency. This is
disappointing because the beer started off well, but each swig became
less and less enjoyable. Perhaps it’s an old bottle, but it’s probably
just the recipe - one I just can’t dig.
Drinkability: While I wasn’t too crazy about the taste, I’ll admit that
Karl Strauss Red Trolley Ale was no trouble getting down. The mouthfeel
is rather thin and light for its weight. It goes down smooth, but does
leave a slightly cloying aftertaste of dark fruit and dry bitterness. At
5.8% ABV there should be more flavor than there is.