The New California IPA, housed in a plastic-wrapped 16oz can, lacks a discernible packaging date, a drawback shared with other Karl Strauss products. In a market that prioritizes freshness, this omission is a notable lapse. The beer pours a remarkably clear, pale golden hue, crowned with a voluminous, persistent meringue-like foam. A closer look reveals a barely legible “EJB 10-22-19,” presumably an enjoy-by date, inconspicuously placed on the lower rim of the can. The presentation, though visually appealing, is marred by the oversight in dating transparency.


The aromatic profile is a delightful interplay of sweet pineapple and vanilla soft serve ice cream, reminiscent of a Dole Whip experience. Subtle layers of fresh brioche and angel food cake contribute to a relatively delicate aroma. Despite the presence of Strata, Ekuanot, Amarillo, and Idaho 7 hops, the beer doesn’t immediately exude the anticipated super tropical, dank qualities often associated with modern IPAs.


Contrary to the light golden appearance and delicate pineapple aroma, the flavor profile takes an unexpected turn, prominently showcasing the rye malt character. The beer’s body is dense, chewy, and imbued with a spicy, tannic element from the rye, providing added depth. The firm bitterness, likely enhanced by Pahto hops, nudges the IPA into somewhat assertive territory, though it manages to avoid becoming astringent or overwhelming. The earthy bite from the rye, coupled with the high alpha-acid content of Pahto hops, imparts substantial presence and unexpected density to the mouthfeel. The finish is slightly dry with lingering bitterness, delivering a nuanced and intriguing taste experience.


The mouthfeel of New California IPA is characterized by a dense and chewy body, attributed to the influence of rye malt. The spiciness and tannic quality from the rye, along with the assistance of Pahto hops, contribute to a beer that is both robust and firmly bitter. Despite the potentially aggressive elements, the mouthfeel retains a commendable balance, steering clear of astringency or overwhelming sensations. The beer concludes with a slightly dry finish, leaving behind a lingering bitterness that adds to its overall complexity.


New California IPA, born from the collaboration between Karl Strauss and Russian River, lives up to expectations, delivering a modern and clear IPA with a distinctive character. While the packaging oversight and lack of dating information raise concerns, the beer’s visual appeal, bright aroma, firm bitterness, and exceptional body showcase its merits. The unexpected dominance of the rye malt adds a unique dimension, setting it apart from the standard hop-focused IPAs. Despite the Russian River hype, this beer stands on its own, offering a well-balanced and intriguing drinking experience. A call is made for it to transition from a special release to a more permanent offering in Karl Strauss’ lineup.

Similar Beers

For those seeking similar experiences, beers like Pizza Port Palapa, Sierra Nevada Tropical Torpedo, and Russian River Happy Hops are recommended. Other notable mentions include Beachwood Amalgamator, Karl Strauss Aurora Hoppyalis, and Deschutes Chasin’ Freshies.

In conclusion, critical feedback serves as valuable quality control, and this review aims to provide constructive insights for both producers and consumers. Balancing honesty with respect for the business, the review encourages a nuanced approach to critical evaluation, recognizing its role in fostering improvement and maintaining consumer trust.