Its not just beer, seriously!
While visiting Universal Studios, Hollywood, myself and my lovely girlfriend decided to try some local eateries. While Karl Strauss was not necessarily the best, it was memorable. The beer was delicious and varied! The food had options ranging from a hearty steak and egg sandwich to ahi tuna salad, with most entrees and even desserts having elements of the beer within them. Another plus: the beer sampler (pictured above) comes in various sizes and you can pick your own!
To begin with, the beer. I was a little nervous, unsure how Karl Strauss ran: was it bitter? Was it all going to taste the same? This, folks, is where I have to congratulate the brand...they really know their beer. On the sampler I chose four of their popular brews: Red Trolley Ale, Woodie Gold, Windansea Wheat Hefeweizen, and 22nd Anniversary Stout. The Red Trolley was very drinkable, and easy to see why it was included in so many recipes for the food. The Woodie Gold was a dry and delicious little Pilsner. The Hefe had a very strong banana taste, reminded me a bit of Leffe Blonde (one of my fave beers ever), that I really enjoyed but if that's not your thing I would steer clear. The 22nd Anniversary Stout was a Russian Imperial infused with vanilla...and wow! This thing was crazy! It was strong but very smooth, all and all tasting like vanilla and finishing with dark chocolate. I do not like stouts by any measure of the imagination, but this was a good one. For my final beer, I chose the seasonal Parrot in a Palm Tree: this crazy little baltic porter had the same banana notes as the Hefe, and yet was chocolaty. It was amazing with dessert!
For an entree, I chose their trademark "Mac on Tap", going with the Piggy Bank, which just as it sounds is full of pork: ham, bacon, a sausage. First off, this is definately for the starving. The portion was massive, Cheesecake Factory massive. The pasta itself was simple and tasty, with most of the zing coming from the pork. The bread crumbs were crisp, and with a enough food to feed a whole family of four, the price was reasonable. It's dense, and if you're like me and don't eat junk everyday this one may sit in your stomach like a rock!
For dessert, we decided to share the "Chocolate on Tap". This four brownie plate is topped with vanilla ice cream, dark chocolate sauce, and Red Trolley Ale caramel sauce. It was good, but it was (again) comparable to Cheesecake factory. It didn't blow my mind, and it was huge for two people! But with the Parrot in a Palm Tree, it was amazing.
Come for the beer, have an appetizer, but be wary of the portion sizes: even the salads are gigantic! But I suppose this is because they are located in the tourist trap that is Universal City Walk. On Thursdays they have a small cask sampling of new and experimental beers, which if I lived there would be awesome to try! Karl Strauss had a wonderful atmosphere and the wait staff were friendly and very knowledgeable. It was a nice experience overall, but I'm going back for the beer, not the food.