Friday, March 9, 2012

Karl Strauss in Costa Mesa

The Taste of Brews’ crew dropped by Karl Strauss in Costa Mesa to sample beer and burgers in advance of St. Patrick’s Day.  Located near South Coast Plaza, Karl has been a big supporter of our events and is among the craft breweries attending our inaugural event in Riverside this summer.

You can never go wrong with any selection at Karl Strauss, but we opted to try the seasonal offerings on tap: Pintail Pale Ale (5.3% ABV), Off the Rails (8.5% ABV), Oatmeal Stout (5.5% ABV) and a Russian Imperial Stout (see top photo).  The Oatmeal was freshly brewed just in time for St. Patty’s and featured a hint of coffee and dark chocolate flavors.  The Russian Stout was outstanding as well, but seemed a bit heavy while having lunch outside on a spectacular spring-like day in Southern California.  Ultimately the choice came down to the Pintail (pictured on the left “Karl” coaster) and the Off the Rails (pictured on the right).

Pintail surfboards are used almost exclusively on big wave gun surfboards, where control is the most important element.  Pintails are not so maneuverable, but when you’re speeding down the face of a 20′ Waimea bomb it is more important that the board go straight and not suddenly start snaking all over the place.  In the Pintail Pale Ale, dynamic citrus and pine flavors from Newport and Cascade hops give this beer direction, while fine pale malts provide balance.  The remarkable floral aroma from dry hopping with Amarillo hops makes this beer as enjoyable as cruising down to the beach, board in tow.  The beer definitely went with the flow today and was a great way to cap an awesome meal.

The first things you feel when you lean into a turn on a surfboard are your rails. Their shape will determine whether your turning leverage is crisp and directional or spongy and sluggish.  After brewing their award-winning Red Trolley Ale for more than two decades, Karl decided to raise the stakes. Why mess with a good thing you ask? Karl answered because it’s that kind of dangerous thinking that leads to the next great beer. Off the Rails is no slouch, a hopped up cousin to Red Trolley, this Imperial Red Ale is brewed with tons of caramel malts and Willamette hops for rich toffee flavors, undertones of dried fruit, and a warming finish.  If this is your first time off the rails, hang on with both hands.

Both styles were excellent and highly recommended.  We’re looking forward to our next trip to Costa Mesa.  And if you’re in the Inland Empire on June 2, stop by White Park for Taste of Brews.  Karl Strauss has promised to surprise us with something really special!

No comments:

Post a Comment