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As we age, we start to pay more attention to time…or at least the passage of it. Such is the case with San Diego’s oldest operative brewing company, Karl Strauss. Twenty-four years in, they’ve established an artful, interesting way to celebrate each passing year in the beer biz. Every year, when their anniversary (February 2) arrives, they siphon out beer that’s been aging in barrels for 12 months, then funnel fresh product into a new set of barrels for 12 months of maturation.

Previous barrel-aged anniversary brews from Karl’s crew have included an old ale, vanilla porter, and a Belgian-style strong ale made using zinfandel grapes; quite adventurous for a company that made a name for itself off traditional Germanic offerings. This year’s anniversary beer is perhaps the most exciting yet—a sour red ale with stylistic origins hailing from Belgium’s Flanders region.

Karl Strauss brewmaster Paul Segura’s first commercial foray into sours came in 2010 with the debut of Flan-diddly-anders, an acidic brew named after a reference from the TV show "The Simpsons." In crafting this anniversary beer, Segura brewed a higher alcohol version of Flan-diddly-anders so it would hold up to aging and the flavor derived from the oak vessels. The result is a brew with big notes of brown sugar and balsamic vinegar in the nose, and flavors of skin-on Granny Smith apple, black cherry, vanilla, and lightly-charred oak on the palate.

Other popular interpretations on the Flanders standard include The Lost Abbey’s Red Poppy Ale and Green Flash’s Flanders Drive. Both are of high quality. Uncle Karl’s new limited edition version fits in well with that group and has me looking forward to tasting next year’s quarter-century commemorative, a barrel-aged dopplebock. Look for year 24’s anniversary ale in 22-ounce bombers and at Karl Strauss’ brewery restaurants.

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