This year’s celebratory offering from Karl Strauss comes in the form of their 22nd Anniversary Ale, a Vanilla Imperial Stout that’s been given a nine-month vacation in bourbon barrels. The resultant concoction is a fusion of rich flavors, carefully crafted to be an 8.5% ABV treat, ideal for rounding off a meal or satisfying your sweet tooth.

Appearance: Dark Elegance with a Creamy Crown

The brew presents itself in a 22 oz. bottle adorned with a wax seal, creating an air of exclusivity. As it’s poured, the liquid unveils a dark brown hue, crowned by a creamy layer of beige froth, enticing the drinker to dive into its depths.

Aroma: A Symphony of Vanilla and Spirits

The olfactory experience is dominated by the pronounced scents of vanilla and bourbon, creating a harmonious dance with dark chocolate notes and a subtle hint of sponge cake. The aromatics set the stage for what promises to be a sensorial journey.

Taste: Vanilla-Laced Bourbon Dance

Taking the first sip reveals a well-balanced interplay of flavors. The vanilla and warm, woody bourbon take center stage, accompanied by the rich essence of dark chocolate. The roasty bittersweet finish adds depth to each sip, providing a satisfying conclusion to the flavor profile.

Mouthfeel: A Tactile Symphony

The beer boasts a medium body, predominantly creamy on the palate. However, the addition of booze introduces a nuanced roughness, contributing to the overall complexity of the drinking experience.

Overall: Tantalizing and Bourbon-Forward

In summary, Karl Strauss’s 22nd Anniversary Ale is undeniably delicious, with surprising bursts of bourbon greatness. While the beer delivers on its promise, there’s room for improvement; a thicker and more substantial body would have elevated the experience. Nevertheless, it stands as a commendable dessert beer, beckoning to those with a penchant for decadent sipping.

Bonus Note: Beware the Wax Seal

On a lighter note, it’s worth mentioning that the wax seal, while adding a touch of sophistication, proves to be a practical challenge. The struggle to remove it seems to be a shared experience, as witnessed at The Bruery, where a fellow enthusiast engaged in a 20-minute battle, eventually requiring the intervention of a trusty Rambo knife from Jay at Naja’s. It appears that sometimes, the pursuit of a great beer comes with its own set of trials, including a stubborn wax seal.*