Brewed By: Karl Strauss Brewing Company
Brewed In: San Diego, California
Type: Belgian-Style Brown Ale
What They Say: "Fullsuit is brewed with the changing seasons in mind. Firm toasted malt and roasted nut flavors are underpinned by a hint of vanilla that comes from aging the beer on French oak. Belgian ale yeast adds a peppery, fruity character to the beer’s slightly dry and warming finish, making it perfect for the (kind of) cold Southern California winter."
Website: At this risk of running afoul of any web-designing beer elitists out there, I freaking love the Karl Strauss site. Yes, the home page is a little blocky, but it's clean and easy to read. The "Brews" page not only shows the full assortment of beers by their names/types, but it also offers up a visual of what's inside the bottle. I know it's not the same as seeing a pour in front of you, but it's still a nice touch. The "Eats" tab takes you to maps and menus of their six Southern California restaurants (get the beer-brined pork chops and thank me later). And, the obligatory "Who We Are" and "Beer Gear" areas aren't at all intrusive.
Why I Picked It: The first time I had Karl Strauss (Amber Lager) was during my last semester of college at San Diego State. Two friends and I finished two pitchers in our on-campus pub, right before our "Marketing 471" midterm. In the pantheon of bad academic ideas, this isn't as high on my personal list as you might think. I got a "C" on the exam and, like steroids and baseball, no one really knows the true impact of BAC and test-taking. Anyways, I fell in love with the Karl Strauss brand back then. While I don't drink it much anymore, I'll always find time for one of their seasonal releases.
Presentation (5): Isn't it standard operating procedure for "winter seasonal" offerings to at least hint at winter on their label? I get that the average high in San Diego this time of year is 66 degrees, but the drab all-brown look didn't work for the local baseball team in the 1980s and it's hard to get behind it now. 2
Originality (5): Even the most conservative accounts estimate that brown ale was being brewed in England as early as the 19th century. Some go as far back as the 1600s. Anything this old and brown is usually honored with a cardboard cutout stapled to the wall inside a second-grade classroom during Black History Month. That doesn't make it original. Sorry, Harriet Tubman. 1
Body (10): A rust-colored pour with minimal head and lacing, Fullsuit doesn't hold up better or worse than any other brown ale out there. That's not an insult -- it's aesthetically pleasing in a pint glass, but with an ale's thinness and level of carbonation. 6
Taste (10): There's a toasted spiciness here that hits the tongue immediately. That gives way to slightly bittersweet vanilla notes which never really take over the taste, but should've been stronger and/or stuck around longer. If Karl Strauss could've combined this flavor tweak with a more substantive mouthfeel, I'd have gone higher with my score. 7
Efficiency (10): It's hard to imagine someone doing epic damage to a six-pack. It's plenty smooth and goes down just fine, but the bitterness -- while not at all pronounced -- really lingers. Fullsuit is one of those beers that you'd start your night with, but not spend an entire evening. 6
Versatility (10): It'll take about half a bottle for the extremely casual beer drinker to appreciate Fullsuit. I'm not trying to paint an overly-complex picture of a relatively simple brew, but no one will ever confuse this with $2.00 Bud Lights during your league's bowling night. Karl Strauss is arguably the most recognizable brewery name in San Diego, so a little reliance on the locals' brand awareness could get this beer into a
Grade: 28 (out of 50) -- Good Beer
The above format has been lifted with permission from That Beer Snob Guy.