- Travel/Hot Spots
- World News
Here we are, awaiting Firkin Fest this weekend, so I decided it’s about time to bring out the article I’ve been sitting on for a year and a half: the Surly feature. Surly is my favorite brewery, and while not all of their beers are A+, they all offer something wonderful to explore. What I really like about them is that they don’t brew to traditional style; rather they brew what they think will taste good with a nod to a certain style. For example, Furious is usually described as a double IPA, but it contains too much malt for the style. The brewers at Surly just brew what they would like to drink and they have gained a rabid following because of it.
Surly Hell. 5.1%ABV. Very limited offering, available for about a month 1x a year.
Pours a clear golden-orange. It is unfiltered, but I don’t detect floaties. The head is bone white and dissipates quickly, even in my Duvel glass.
Smell is very sweet, light malt with a clean touch of dried apricot. Just barely there is a hint of white pepper.
Very smooth mouthfeel; goes down like buttery white bread. Carbonation is just right, not too much, almost feels like a cask beer.
The taste is super clean and the unfiltered nature of it gives it just enough breadiness to give it plenty of depth for the beer that is Surly’s tamest offering. This would hold up to all kinds of food pairings because it has a clean flavor, but it is so deep that even bleu cheese would pair nicely. After drinking it a bit, the hops come out a bit more and you can taste the faint bitterness. Treading water in there is fresh, lightly popped popcorn. Alcohol is faintly detected on the exhale.
Surly Furious. 6.2% ABV. Offered year round.
Furious is my desert island beer. When I wake up in the morning, I can remember I had some the night before because I’m still tasting hops as I brush my teeth. One of the great things about this beer is that to the seasoned Furious drinker, you can pick out variations in the batches from time to time. Rather than a distraction, this really lets me ponder the beer I am drinking and when I get an especially great batch it really blows me away. Sometimes I find floaties in it, sometimes I don’t. Usually the floaties clue me in that it’s going to be especially good but that’s not always the case. Another great thing about Furious is that the malt used in it is that same malt used for making The Macallan, a world-class whisky (and one of my favorites).
Pours a hazy red amber. Thick head that leaves lots of lacing down the sides of the glass.
Smell: lots of grapefruit with richly roasted malt. A hint of grassiness creeps up toward the end. Just the slightest hint of nougat.
Toasted malt and citrus blast away. The hops impart a pungent herbal and catty punch in the face. Slight alcohol warmth is present. Mouthfeel is medium light. Malty sweetness burrows through at the end along with orange peel dipped in molasses.
16 Grit. 9%ABV. Brewed once.
At the end of 2008, Surly brewed too much beer for the state of Minnesota to allow them to continue to sell growlers (a refillable 64oz. bottle) at the brewery site. As a thank you to the people who were loyal growler customers, they brewed a one-time beer where you could bring your empty growlers for a farewell fill on the four final days of the year. On the first day it was available I picked up the four empties I had sitting around the house and took a long lunch break to stand two and a half hours in line. The next day, I took my two empties and aching head to the brewery, but they had already run out. I talked to Omar, the owner, and he said they miscalculated the volume a bit – they used such a huge volume of hops in the dry hop process (where you dump hops straight into the tank while it is fermenting) that the hops had soaked up a major portion of the beer. I was about half an hour late for the last pour. The beer has since become legendary among beer geeks.
Pours a dirty Amber brown with a generous head if poured aggressively.
Smell has orange peel, lemon zest, fresh grass that has been dried out for a day, spicy white pepper.
In the taste there is a huge citrus presence with bitter orange peel and sweetened lemon. Light caramel in the body. Popcorn kernels roasted to the point of almost burnt. Green grass. Something is alive in here. Bitterness sits on the back of the tongue and hangs out, calls some friends over for dinner.
Thoroughly, utterly enjoyable. My wife calls this Mrs. Furious. Just as hoppy, but seductively sweet.
As it warms, some marshmallow is present and then in the middle, hiding amongst all the bitterness and citrus is a line of pure sugar sweetness, which balances everything with precision. Very faint alcohol presence, which is mind blowing considering the 9% ABV.
Had you been at the Watchmen meet-up, you would probably have been served this out of the trunk of my car.
Smell: very bright banana, dried apricot, coriander. A lively yeast smell is detected.
A mellow yeast with coriander comes through initially. White pepper is found along with a faint grassy hop flavor. A hint of dried banana comes through. At the finish is toasted malt. Deceptively drinkable for the high alcohol content.
This is the beer that converted a colleague of mine from Miller Lite. Now he has two bottles of Darkness in his fridge.
Smell contains faint chalk, light molasses, brown sugar, and a hint of banana bread.
Deeply roasted coffee flavors. At first, a touch of burnt popcorn, chocolate and honey. Hops leave a dry grassy flavor with a hint of dry biscuit. Honey becomes more prominent as it warms.
This is a dangerously drinkable beer.
Smell initially contains fresh coffee, then gives way to the distinct roasted malt of Bender. The coffee comes back again with the same smell you get from the residue of a freshly emptied coffee bean bag.
First taste is deep coffee, heavily roasted, and then more coffee. The taste that comes out would be like if you had been given a naked Sumatra bean that had been in the middle of a bag of chocolate covered beans. There is a bitterness here that regular Bender does not have; slightly orange rind with white pepper. Just the right amount of alcohol heat is felt on the exhale, giving this a very warm and comforting feeling. Mouthfeel is not too thick, something like 1% milk.
This is highly drinkable and the addition of caffeine makes it a good warm up to an evening of drinking fine beer.
Bright and crackery on the tongue, medium light mouthfeel. A very dry and refreshing bitterness jumps in immediately afterward. The carbonation is just thick enough to give it a casklike quality, and it immediately forms into a thick foam when it is swished around in the mouth.
The best way I can describe the taste would be almost like a dry biscuit or cracker made with a good amount of butter and sprinkled with dry sun-baked summer grass. Alcohol is imperceptible on the exhale. This is a great session beer to watch football with and drink all day.
Well, that’s it on my Surly notes. If you want to drink more Surly vicariously through me, check out the Darkness Day write up I did late last year or the SurlyFest tasting in the Oktoberfest article.