Karl Strauss Seven Sharks A-Circling Imperial Smoked Porter

Karl Strauss Brewing Company - Seven Sharks A-Circling Holiday Imperial Smoked Porter

Brewed by: Karl Strauss Brewing Company

Beer Classification and Specs

  • Style: Porter
  • Variation: Imperial (Double), Smoked
  • Seasonal: Winter
  • ABV: 9%
  • IBU: 35

Notes: A member of Karl Strauss’ “Twelve Days” holiday series.

Brewer’s Notes and Ingredients

Each year, leopard sharks flock to the warm waters of San Diego. But these little guys aren’t out for blood; they much prefer the taste of the newest local brew (yep, leopard sharks love craft beer. It’s science). Introducing Seven Sharks A-Circling, the 7th installment in our “Twelve Days” holiday series. This Imperial Smoked Porter is brewed with a blend of caramel and smoked malts for bold flavors of chocolate, coffee, and a subtle beach bonfire-like smokiness. It finishes sweet and smooth. You’re gonna need a bigger glass.

Hops: Warrior, Willamette

Malts: Pale, Carapils, Caramel 60, Caramel 80, Caramel 120, Carafa II, Skagit Maple Smoked Malt

More Seven Sharks A-Circling Images

First Impressions

Artwork: Seven Leopard sharks are circling around in the water. One is wearing a Santa hat.

Color: Dark brown, almost black.

Aroma: Sweet bread, with light roast coffee.

The Tasting

Arrived in: 22oz. Bottle

Served in: Short Tulip

Karl Strauss is now on its 7th year of their 12 Days of Christmas series of holiday ales, and we had always planned on reviewing one of them at some point. When we saw Seven Sharks A-Circling, a smoked porter sounded mighty enticing, and this beer did not spoil our holidays in the least bit!

Seven Sharks A-Circling poured at the dark end of the color spectrum, with a finely whipped tan capper. Its body wasn’t quite jet black, but as dark brown as you could get. The head was several fingers thick with great retention at first, and eventually melted down into a frothy ring after a few sips.

With “smoked” printed on the label, of course we were looking for smoky notes in the aroma. At first Seven Sharks A-Circling actually offered sweet bready malt notes, paired with a mild coffee roast. Once the beer warmed, that smokiness we were looking for came through in gentle wafts.

Up front Seven Sharks A-Circling was also sweet on the palate. Not cloying, but how a chewier beer can get when it’s loaded with caramel malts. After the initial dose of caramel sweetness, its darker powerhouse flavors came to life. This porter’s perfect amount of coffee roast transitioned right into the smokiness, with a mildly bitter finish.

We were very impressed with how a smokey and roasty imperial ale of this nature could effortlessly evaporate right off the palate in the finish. Seven Sharks A-Circling was a smooth and creamy warming “big beer”, without being too filling.

If we had it to do all over again, we would have let this beer rest for 30 minutes before serving. The smoke intensified as it warmed — not to campfire levels, but moderately smoked to perfection.

Final Score: 4/5

4 Stars

Seven Sharks A-Circling Imperial Smoked Porter subtly crossed the delineation between the roastiness dark ales can offer, into actual smoke that didn’t impede the overall flavors of the beer. A dark holiday ale should never shy away from the ABV, and its 9% delivered the goods while managing to stay very drinkable.

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