Ordinarily, I avoid the stouts. Why, you ask? Well it’s not only because they come with ridiculous names like Karl Strauss 22nd Anniversary Vanilla Imperial Stout (you don’t exactly see bock or ambers like that). No, the real reason is that I consider beer a sort of refreshment. And being a refreshment, there should be something inherently refreshing about the beer. Sorry, stouts, you are not exactly refreshing, and it’s not just because some of your subtypes are Oatmeal, Chocolate and Coffee.
But refreshing or not, when I was offered some 22nd Anniversary Vanilla Imperial Stout, I had a hard time turning it down. Why? The vanilla. Like I said earlier, Chocolate Stout is a pretty common stout choice and I have no need for chocolate in my beer or otherwise. But vanilla is a completely different story. I claim Cream Soda as one of my favorite non-alcoholic beverages and the chance to drink that flavor combined with a high ABV percentage was too good to pass up. But first I had to get in the bottle.
You see, this beer was sealed and not just by a bottle cap. Enveloping the top of the bottle was about a whole candle’s worth of wax. And this was just some thin layer you could pop off, it was a thick encapsulation that literally had to be melted off. But once melted, the beer was actually pretty damn good. Again, I don’t love stout, but with a hint of vanilla, it turned into delicious. Plus, after all the work it took to open it, it had better taste good. The only trouble was that this wasn’t exactly your summer type of beer. I would have loved it in the winter, because it did kind of warm me up, but it wasn’t too warming.
So for a 22nd Anniversary, I think Karl Strauss did a damn good job. It took a beer that can sometimes be boring and can also sometimes be too heavy, added vanilla and turned it into something special. Not the best beer I’ve ever had, but maybe one of the best stouts.