Karl Strauss — Boardwalk Black Rye — 8%

We’ve had a lot of great beers find their way out of the (far) southland to our humble shack in the north. San Diego has long been a Mecca for craft beer aficionados, and the Karl Strauss Brewing Company has had a big hand in establishing that beachhead. I have to admit that I wasn’t overly impressed with the Tower 10 IPA, or Red Trolley Ale, but I couldn’t get enough of their Full Suit Belgian brown seasonal.

Perhaps Karl Strauss needs to be thinking outside of the box to really shine. Boardwalk Black Rye, the latest in the brewery’s limited “Coastal Reserve” line, pours stout black with excellent head retention and lacing. Upon first sip, it is hard to pin down exactly what style of beer this is. There are a ton of Ahtanum hops balancing out a pretty heavy amount of caramelized rye that ultimately pushes it toward a “Rye PA,” but then there is the rest of the heavy grain bill to contend with. With a healthy bit of black malts adding further luxuriant mouth feel to an already creamy brew boasting 8% alcohol, perhaps this is some kind of Imperial Porter. Whatever it is, it’s tasty.

Hints of dried fruit (prunes, raisins), chocolate, and black coffee all play against a warming Bourbon alcohol note. The hops, however, take the last word with a nice lingering bitter tongue. This beer would make an excellent after-dinner drink.

Grade: A

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