1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

CynicAle - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,175 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,175
Reviews: 578
rAvg: 4
pDev: 10.25%
Wants: 228
Gots: 116 | FT: 4
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Saison / Farmhouse Ale |  6.70% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: tavernjef on 06-02-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ratings: 1,175 | Reviews: 578 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

3.98/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Derek's can from a trade in WI. Yellow to grapefruit with a good head, lacing. Really easy drinking, 35 IBU but show more. A great summer deck beer. Restrained spiciness including the pepper. Light clover honey mouthfeel, about middling. I repeat, really easy drinking.

Serving type: can

07-04-2008 12:48:52 | More by Sammy
Photo of t0rin0


4/5  rDev 0%

02-26-2013 01:53:17 | More by t0rin0
Photo of UCLABrewN84


3.93/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to UMNbeerhunter for sending me this one!

Pours a clear light orange-yellow with a 1 inch off-white head that fades to a thin cap. Random chunks of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smells of grains, spices, and Belgian yeast. Taste is exactly like the smell with the Belgian yeast taking prominence and the grain and spice flavors coming through on the finish. Reading the can I see that the hops are supposed to impart apricot/peach flavors and I do get them if I search for it. Beer has a good level of carbonation but seems a tiny bit flat. Very smooth in the mouth. Overall, this is a good beer from Surly but not one of my favorite styles. I am glad I got to try this one.

Serving type: can

06-08-2011 01:53:07 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of djrn2

New Jersey

3.5/5  rDev -12.5%

01-12-2012 12:54:38 | More by djrn2
Photo of Thorpe429


4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Bavarian Lodge in Lisle, IL

A: Golden with a nice white head.

S: Some pepper notes and a little bit of other spices thrown in. A little bit of earthiness with some subtle fruit undertones.

T: Much like the nose, with a little bit more earthiness coming through.

M: Plenty of carbonation; light-bodied.

D: A little bit much to be too drinkable, but the complexity brought me back for more.

Serving type: on-tap

10-01-2009 16:23:08 | More by Thorpe429
Photo of BuckeyeNation


4.68/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

"Cynics regard everybody as equally corrupt. Idealists regard everybody as equally corrupt, except themselves."

--Robert Anton Wilson

Softly glowing coppery orange with bold lemon edges. The good-sized crown is the color of a freshly cut pear and has a wonderful firm creaminess about it. A jagged necklace of lace (with more on the way, I'm sure) only adds to the beer's attractiveness.

I'm fully onboard with this whole 'canned beer' thing, but it's still strange to experience a great saison from a metal container. An IPA or a brown ale? Sure. No worries, though. Cynic Ale is the real deal if the nose is any indication. Whatever spice melange was used, and whatever yeast strain, it's fandamntastic! Ripe fruit, white pepper, cardamom... I'm in olfactory heaven.

How the hell does Surly do it? How do they brew such off-center beer that is so different from the usual way of doing things, yet is still identifiable as a beer of the target style, that is so mind-blowingly delicious? Sheer genius.

My expectations were that Cynic would be good, but that it wouldn't be much like a Belgian saison. Wrong again and happily so. The malt is beautifully bready and is as firm as crust. In fact, the entire beer is the equivalent of a freshly-baked loaf of rustic French bread brushed with herb butter and dipped in rosemary and black pepper-infused olive oil.

I'd like to take credit for identifing 'apricot and peach notes', but it says so right there on the can. The fruitiness is easily the equal of the intriguing spiciness. This is a well-balanced beer that still manages to provide an amazing amount of complexity. I originally thought that I would buy Cynic in smaller quantities than Furious and Bender when I make it up to the Twin Cities. Now, I'm not so sure.

Although the mouthfeel doesn't have the buoyant perfection of a world-class Belgian saison, it doesn't miss by much. It's medium to slighty full for the style (great!) and is energetically bubbled. My mouth is ecstatic and so am I. Was that really 16 ounces already?

Cynic Ale will turn even the most jaded cynic into a true believer. On the strength of four amazing beers, Surly has vaulted into a permanent place in my top-10 breweries of all-time. Believe the hype.

Serving type: can

08-14-2007 13:10:27 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of metter98

New York

4.08/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is hazy golden yellow in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high white head that died down quickly but left some delicate lacing on the surface.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of apricots and other fruits in the nose along with some hints of lemons, spices and floral and grassy hops.
T: Similar to the smell, there are flavors of apricots in the overall taste along with notes of peaches and a slight amount of initial sweetness. The flavors of spices are not really evident until the finish.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. Not much dryness is noticeable.
O: This beer is goes down very easily due to the lack of dryness and strong spicy flavors. I would have no problem having more than one of these on a hot summer day; the beer actually seems to be somewhat thirst quenching.

Serving type: can

08-03-2011 23:46:44 | More by metter98
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

4.47/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy honey color with a surprisingly modest head that does splash a bunch of lacing around

Smell: Spicy farmhouse yeast aroma, somewhat cheesy and peppery

Taste: Opens with a bready flavor (with hints of honey) and a yeasty farmhouse character that turns in a hoppy bitter direction by mid-palate; after the swallow, the peppery, coriander elements join a fruity peach flavor along with honeyed undertones

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate, but prickly carbonation

Drinkability: Saison in a can - who knew?

Serving type: can

09-24-2008 22:18:42 | More by brentk56
Photo of mikesgroove

South Carolina

4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Andy for throwing me this one as an extra, that is one hell of an extra to open up I have got to say! Sixteen ounce can was served cold, right out of the fridge and poured into a tall pilsner glass to allow it to warm up a bit. Consumed on 09/30/2008.

The pour was rather nice, with a rich and very hazy, bright golden yellow color coming out of the can into the glass. Nice carbonation could be seen throughout the glass and it coalesced into a three inch head of white, towering foam that then dropped to a thin film that covered the top and settled down with enough force to create some nice side glass lacing.

The aroma was a nice mix of light apple and peach like fruit aromas and a light and grainy spiciness that kicked in a bit more towards the end. Not much in the way of a funkiness here, though a touch of vinous hops creeping in towards the end. The flavor was more of the same, rich grain profile leading the charge and morphing into some light touches of apples and peaches. Interesting mid palate explored touches of pepper and almost cinnamon before falling back on the yeast for one final showing. Nice medium bodied feel was well carbonated and really very smooth with a n easy drinkability that never did get tiring.

Overall not bad here at all. The style is one that I have become a tad bit bored with lately, but this one really came through quite nicely. I would have no issue with trying this again any day. About as solid as they come.

Serving type: can

10-02-2008 10:53:17 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of nmann08

District of Columbia

4/5  rDev 0%

11-25-2011 03:10:25 | More by nmann08
Photo of Phyl21ca

Quebec (Canada)

3.78/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can courtesy of Stine: Poured a medium amber color ale with a big foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of light pepper, medium sweet malt and some ester and yeasty notes. Sharp note of pepper are noticeable as well as some medium toffee sweet malt and a nice yeasty finish. Body is quite full with some medium filtration and some good carbonation. This beer was well done and I am getting to be more and more impress by the quality of the beers brewed by this brewer.

Serving type: can

06-26-2007 00:28:07 | More by Phyl21ca
Photo of BEERchitect


3.6/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I always get a kick out of these wonderful beers decanted from a can. CynicAle definately qualifies as a wonderful Saison.

The beer falls clumsily from the can because of the unusual lip of the aluminum. But afterwards, a short but creamy head forms from a stark white foam. Light lacing and significant haze are both evident. A nice look but not as creamy or billowing as I need from great Saisons.

Sharp and spicy phenolics and pepper strike first, but with a quick follow-up of pears and appricot esters. An earthy (nearly musty) note blends into the sweeter and breadier malt base. All weave together with attention given to each scent with each visit to the glass.

Flavors of the bready, doughy, biscuity, confectionary malts give a very bold flavor to the beer- kinda odd for a Saison. But those peppery/phenolic and fruity esters are quite the quentessential flavors expected. Pears, apples, appricots, and lemons quickly become the leading flavors of the beer. Light soapy notes give a strange flavor but bounce off of the musty and acidic tastes.

While the beer starts off creamy and relatively full, the dryness never really comes into play. Even as the carbonation regresses, the beer remains sweeter and more bready than do classic Saisons, leaving the beer fuller and richer- keeping it from the evaporative and digestable qualities that keep me reaching for another. While the oats are a great bennefit to the creaminess early, the slickness on the tongue late only add to the full/fatty texture in the finish.

A very nice and smooth beer, but the long lasting sweetness and weight hurt the beer's body in the end. Thanks Chicksdighops!

Serving type: bottle

06-02-2010 02:41:21 | More by BEERchitect
Photo of womencantsail


4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks again to Alicia for sending me this can. Shared with some friends at the Bruery.

A: The pour is a very nice looking light golden-orange color with a touch of haze and a nice fluffy white head.

S: A lot of citrus and spice aromas going on in the nose. The typical pepper notes are there, along with some floral and spicy hops.

T: The citrus and the pepper work well on the palate and the floral quality really comes through as well, exhibiting some honey notes. A little sweeter than usual for a Saison, and perhaps fruitier as well.

M: The body is on the lighter end of medium with a moderate and refreshing level of carbonation.

D: Who would have thought, a Saison in a can? A nice beer, perhaps a bit sweet for me, but still a pretty good (American) example of the style.

Serving type: can

03-21-2010 06:31:55 | More by womencantsail
Photo of acurtis

New Jersey

3/5  rDev -25%

01-15-2012 15:50:20 | More by acurtis
Photo of ChainGangGuy


4.38/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy, light sunny-hued yellow body with a moderately-sized, fluffed, white head.

Smell: Soft malts scented of round table bread dressed up with hints of ground spice and sweetish honeysuckle and notably fragrant notes of both fresh-picked orchard and citrus fruits.

Taste: Delicately malted bready barley with a gentle taste of honey-coated morningtime cereal followed by a juicy, fruity melange of white peaches, Honeycrisp apples, lemon, and maybe even a bit of ruby red grapefruit. Pinch of spicy coriander powder. Light trace of floral hoppiness with a modest bitterness to it. Finishes semi-dry with last touches of honey and fruit.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium-plus carbonation.

Drinkability: Recommended. Perhaps a skosh fruitier and sweeter than most, but overall a rather tasty beer and a very enjoyable saison from Surly. Darkness is a fine treat now and again, but, I think I'd prefer to have this one on a regular basis.

Serving type: can

11-22-2010 16:16:20 | More by ChainGangGuy
Photo of kjkinsey


4/5  rDev 0%

12-20-2012 00:55:37 | More by kjkinsey
Photo of spycow


4/5  rDev 0%

01-12-2013 00:10:30 | More by spycow
Photo of Texasfan549


4.25/5  rDev +6.3%

12-20-2012 00:54:18 | More by Texasfan549
Photo of ygtbsm94


3.5/5  rDev -12.5%

01-13-2012 03:25:21 | More by ygtbsm94
Photo of Knapp85


3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This poured out as a slightly hazy golden color. It had a nice looking white head on top with a good retention and a touch of lacing on the glass. The smell of the beer has some subtle fruit and spice notes to it, there is an aroma of fresh grain as well with a mellow sweetness. The taste of the beer is light, refreshing and doesn't really show it's true colors till the aftertaste. The settling flavors of the earthy hops and the black pepper notes shine bright. The mouthfeel is crisp, smooth and clean feeling, leaving behind some stickiness in the mouth afterward. Overall I didn't know it was supposed to be a Saison but I could definitely make that assumption from the first sip to the last.

Serving type: can

10-11-2012 22:40:57 | More by Knapp85
Photo of GRG1313


4/5  rDev 0%

07-21-2012 01:06:54 | More by GRG1313
Photo of zeff80


4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a crystal clear, orange/gold color with a thick, off-white head of foam. It left wispy trails of lace on the sides of the glass.

S - It smelled peppery and spicy with some fruity characteristics. There were spicy and funky notes, too.

T - It tasted quite spicy with a peppery kick. There was a sweet caramel malt taste with some fruity flavors, too.

M - It was crisp and sharp with a dry finish. A light bodied ale with a good kick.

D - This is a great beer. Amazing to find a great saison in a can.

Serving type: can

01-05-2010 03:04:34 | More by zeff80
Photo of largadeer


4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pale amber in color, hazy but fairly clear. Not a lot of head on this one, which is somewhat unusual for the style.

Smell: Peppery and floral, semi-sweet, lots of estery fruit character (honeydew melon, banana).

Taste & mouthfeel: This one opens with a mix of esters and spice, white pepper being particularly prominent. A bit of melon-like sweetness appears mid-sip, followed by a strong resurgence of spice. The finish is long and peppery with a firm bitterness. Body is medium-light, right on target for the style, though carbonation is a bit low.

Notes: Very good stuff, definitely up to Surly's standard of excellence. Doesn't quite compare to a lot of authentic Belgian saisons, but great nonetheless (plus I love the idea of a saison in a can).

Serving type: can

08-09-2008 00:35:55 | More by largadeer
Photo of TheManiacalOne

Rhode Island

4.53/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Acquired via trade from feloniousmonk, so a big “Thank you” goes out to him. Poured from a 16oz. can into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a bright gold color, with a thin white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of bananas, spices, light malts and Belgian yeast.

T: The taste is pretty refreshing and has a lot going on. There are flavors of peppery spices, fruits like bananas & apricots, and Belgian yeast up front, but it’s not too sweet. There’s a decent hops presence that comes in and provides a nice balance. The malt character is light but still gives a good backbone. The after-taste is slightly bready with a little sweetness.

M: Crisp and very smooth, light-to-medium body, medium carbonation, finish is very clean.

D: Very tasty, goes down quite easily, not too filling, good kick, very good representation of style, I found this to be a very enjoyable beer. I could definitely keep drinking this beer for a very long time.

Serving type: can

12-30-2007 01:43:12 | More by TheManiacalOne
Photo of MasterSki


4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Grabbed a few of these on my St. Paul trip - this is the last one so it's time for a review. Served in a pint glass.

A - Golden apricot color with creamy two-fingered head that dissipates quickly to a nice even lace. Darker than I'd expect from a Saison, but otherwise very handsome.

S - Farmhouse yeast balanced with sweet fruit (apricot, peach, pear) and honey. It's sweeter than Belgian saisons and has some of the trademark Surly candied sugar smell.

T - More funk than I expected. It doesn't taste much like the smell, but instead starts with a yeasty bread flavor followed by a touch of hoppy bitterness. There's also some peppery spice. I'm kind of disappointed here after the rich aroma.

M - Very light and refreshing (as a Saison should be). Just the right amount of carbonation too - gives you a nice little tingle. Usually I want beers to be creamier, but with this style I actually prefer it more watery (in the chuggable sense, not the as in "tastes like water").

D - Easy to drink, alcohol isn't perceptible. Great summer seasonal - wish I could get this in the Wrigley bleachers...

I remember being underwhelmed when I had this on tap at the Long Room. I'm glad I gave this another chance, although I wish there was a little more sweetness in the taste and not just the smell. One of the better American Saisons in any case.

Serving type: can

11-30-2008 19:55:13 | More by MasterSki
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
CynicAle from Surly Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 1,175 ratings.