Beer of the Week: Karl Strauss Four Scowling Owls

Celebrating the holidays with a fourth inning Tripel play

Karl Strauss Brewing Company

5985 Santa Fe Street, Pacific Beach

I’m a completionist. If there’s a series of something, I want every single component and usually can’t rest until I have each securely hoarded. Music, books, collectibles…it really doesn’t matter. Make a set of anything that even vaguely interests me and the obsessive-compulsive side of me pounces on it like a zombie on a freshly downed fleshling. Throw in the fact that I am a big fan of Christmas and the holiday beers that come out this time of year, and there’s no way I can resist the Twelve Days of Christmas series brewed up by Karl Strauss Brewing Company.

Since 2010, San Diego’s first post-Prohibition brewing company has put out a special beer each December. The style varies each year, as do the names, which use Southern California-inspired whimsy to alter passages from the song the series is named after. Earlier editions have gone by the monikers Mouette à Trois, Two Tortugas, and Parrot in a Palm Tree. Sure, it’s cute, but aside from the fun thematic, these beers are some of Karl Strauss’ finest. Two Tortugas, a Belgian-style quadrupel, even won a medal at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival and the 2012 World Beer Cup.

Cred like that further heightens anticipation of the company’s annual holiday offering, and this year’s recently hit shelves and cold boxes. The 2013 brew is Karl Strauss Four Scowling Owls, a Belgian-style Tripel brewed with Belgian candy sugar and traditional Westmalle yeast. Built to be loosely similar to sparkling wine, it is effervescent and fruity with a dry finish. Described as “robust,” it comes in at 9% alcohol-by-volume, which is right in line with the high gravity nature of its Twelve Days predecessors. This is by design, as the beers are meant to be cellared until the end of the series, then enjoyed all at once in a grandiose vertical tasting. Cookies and milk are great and all, but I’m thinking Santa’s more likely to respond to the draw of a dozen freshly popped bottles of these brews. See you in 2021, Saint Nick!

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