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CynicAle - Surly Brewing Company

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very good

1,283 Ratings
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(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,283
Reviews: 584
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 10.3%
Wants: 233
Gots: 133 | FT: 5
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:
Beer added by: tavernjef on 06-02-2006

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,283 | Reviews: 584 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of shadow1961
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Surly Cynic Ale pours a massive loose head over a slightly
cloudy deep yellow brew. Carbonation is slow but steady, and
the nose is that nice clovey, peppery, fruity, Belgian yeast funk.
The flavor is light malts, clove, a bit of some undefinable fruit
all up against a surprisingly assertive peppery, herbal hop off
the back. The can says the hops are from Slovenia (where my
folks are from), which means it's probably some form of Saatz.
Very nice, by the way- it's more peppery than herbal which really
goes well with the Belgian yeast esters. This is pretty light bodied
and easy to drink, but at 6.5% alcohol by volume, it's a little too
boozy for sessions. This is a Saison, and stylistically it's pretty
spot on- a great summer quencher, but just a little assertive.

Photo of LittleBreeze
3.46/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Cans purchased in MN.

As a style, Saison/Farmhouse, is hit or miss for me. A few have been outstanding when paired with the right savory dish. But overall, I haven't developed full appreciation for the style. If you enjoy the style you will enjoy this beer. This is every bit a saison. The coloring. The aromas...citrus, grassy, yeasty, fruit and that funk ick smell. Surly hop smell is there.

The taste grew on me a bit. The taste is complex enough and lacked an overwhelming funk. When paired with some spicy deli meats, peppers, cheese, crusty bread and oil....this was a good beer.

Mouthfeel is light...creamy. I love the feel.

This beer is refreshing. I think the hops made it a bit more drinkable.

I'm thinking about using some in a bread recipe.

Photo of GbVDave
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a pint glass at Paramount Room 7/13/08. Thanks to Heidi Morris for the assist!

A: Served a nice looking straw yellow color with a small, creamy, white head on top. Small amount of lace left behind in the glass.

S: Aromas of citrus, toasted grain, pepper, grassy hops, and a bit of funk.

T: Lemon, spices, and toasty wheat along with orange zest, pepper, spicy hops, and some funk. A little more hops and a little less funk than I expected.

M: Very nice levels of tangy citrus, oily hops, and a dry spiciness that I found compelling.

D: Easy to drink and very refreshing. I really liked the slightly amped up hoppiness.

Photo of DrDogbeer
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Tytoanderso for the MN goody! Poured from the can into a sam perfect pint. Light orange color with a small white head. Dissaptes quikly with no loacing. Smells of some fruit- peach, orange- a good saison aroma. Taste is fairly full- lots of the fruit and a bit of bite- maybe the pepper they say. A bit oily for me, not enough crispness or carbonation. Pretty drinkable, though. Good flavor for a summer type session beer!

Photo of ncvbc
4.02/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Golden amber in color, nice white head caps it off and leaves spots of lacing down the glass. Smell is very nice. Earthy, somewhat funky. Sharp fruit scents. Some grassy, floral hops. Taste is pretty nice. Definite Belgian yeast. Some peach is present and hints of other fruit. Tangerine and apricot. Reminds me of a Witbier crossed with a Belgian IPA for some reason...This brew is solid but not one that I could see myself enjoying on a regular basis.

Thanks to Scoobydank for this one in a mixed Surly 4-pack.

Photo of timbro81
3.32/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to dfried for the opportunity. Pours a soft copper/orange with little to no head. Carbonation is weak. Smells is equally as weak, maybe some fruity esters, pepper/soft spicey hops, MAYBE. Taste is balanced, as it should be, but isn't hitting in all the right places. Some maltiness with minimal sweetness, a nice spicey hop finish. Not a very dry finish. Maybe some oranginess to it as it warms. Good but could be better.

Photo of ghostwalker
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Received in a LIF, of sorts, from cburian. Thanks!

Dark golden body with thick, fluffy off-white head. A vision coming from a can.

Nose is spicy and sweet. A real treat.

Sweet with a very big spice component. Coriander with a citrus and clove finish. Really interesting and complex.

Mouthfeel is creamy and fluffy. Light on the tongue. It's something else.

Very tasty and drinkable. I would love to try it out in a can koozie on the beach for a true summer drinkability test, but I only have one...

Photo of Sammy
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

Photo of Dotcubed
4.73/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I have had the pleasure of this one for some time. I think of it as one of my top 5 beers, for any place and time. It pours a nice light head only a few millimeters with a pungent yeasty smell. Clearly Belgian influenced, with a nice apricot and citrus flavor. I wish I could get this all year round. It has a nice lingering orange peel bitterness that sticks to my pallet. I like the fruitiness too. I disagree with what the can says, it's not Black pepper as much as it is pink peppercorns or maybe a little szechuan pepper. Bitter, sweet, and smooth with a lasting orange flavor. I thinlk improving the aroma with some dry hopping and it's five stars in my book. Maybe the brewers will read this and make a special growler batch that I can come by and pick up. Hopefully the do, e-mail me, and make my dreams come true. I will really miss this one if I move out of minnesota.

Photo of Derek
4.47/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

At first I was a little taken aback by the hop aroma & flavour for the style. It's sort of boarding on a Belgian IPA. I grew to really like.

A: Orange with a slight haze, very little retention or lace.

S: Big orange & peppery spice, tropical fruit & a wheat-like tartness.

T: Orange, steelie grass, spice, rind, light tartness.

M: Moderate body & carbonation, smooth, slight acidity.

D: Very drinkable.

Thanks for the trade DaPeculiarDane!

Photo of SrMonkey
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a can to a pint glass. Light orange/yellow, with a scant white head (2 mm) that persisted. Aroma dominated by peach with some pollen, but no funk. Flavor also has peach upfront, finishing with some pepper and bitterness. Fairly dry throughout. Clean taste througout with no nasty aftertaste. I could easily make this a session beer.

Pretty good, although I'd take Hennepin over it as an American Saison. Serve this one somewhat-chilled.

Photo of mwilbur
3.87/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from pint can into snifter.
A: Clear golden with high carbonation producing thick white head.
S: Floral, spice, and nectarine/apricot notes. Hops too.
T: Similar to aroma but with a fairly strong hop bite (which actually settles down after the first few sips). Honestly, a little watery (especially in comparison to Surly's other offerings I have tried--Furious and Bender). Wish there was more body (malt?).
M: Light body. Bright and refreshing on the tongue. Fairly average.
D: Very refreshing and a nice summer brew. Not the best saison I've had, but a decent offering. And even a decent beer from Surly is still worth while trying!

4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

When I first opened the can I didnt think there would be much carbonation. A three finger head quickly prves me wrong with fat light tan bubbles with nice staying power. Scattered lace is left. Body is a glowing honey color. Nose is very fresh and clean with some spicey crisp fruit notes, mellon, honey, vanilla and fresh cut corn stalk. Enters the mouth very mellow and smooth as the flavors slowly develop. Crisp creamy citrus notes, woodsy hops with bitter bite, all rounded out with a even malt profile to balance this brew. Flowery smoothness is all over the body. This is a very smooth and pleasant mouthfeel on the beer. Exceptionally drinkable, I could see this beer at many a cookout and family get together.

Photo of KeefD
3.62/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a burnt orange, out of can into a snifter, developing a finger's worth of bone-white foam that recedes awfully quick and leaving some nice lacing down the glass. Yeasty funkiness hits the nose first followed by some hints of orange and lemon peel. Slight malt character in the nose with the typical sour funk of a saison. Flavor is light, lots of sweet malts that turns awfully dry on the finish, some hints of apple cider in the background, bitter rind, and lemon that makes a quick appearance and then disappears. Definitely spicey, with some noticeable black pepper flavors mixed with some clove. Alcohol is present but not overpowering. Somewhat light on the body, medium carbonation and pretty easy to drink, although this style is not one of my favorites. A good representation of the style, but I've enjoyed Surly's other offerings to a much higher extent.

Photo of Larrytown
3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It pours a deep orange-gold with no head and very little lacing. There's some spice on the nose, but not much else.

The taste doesn't seem quite like any saisons I've had in the past. If anything, I'd compare it to a lighter maibock. It has that combination of some darker flavors offset by a lighter body. Nicely done. The mouthfeel was much flatter and duller than I would have liked. Kick that up and we'd have a really solid beer here. As it is, I'd pick it up again, but probably not seek it out. Certainly more interesting than most beers you'll find in a can.

EDIT: The original review was from a tap, but after having it from the can, I'm adjusting this upward. I don't know if I had a bad keg or what, but from a can the mouthfeel was much stronger and the taste cleaner. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that the keg was near the end (or something).

Photo of thickerfreakness
4.06/5  rDev +2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Many thanks to esch for being patient with me and waiting for this one to come out to ship our trade. Cheers Ryan!

This one pours a hazy yellowish orange with a white head that just will not go away. Leaves some beautiful thick lacing on the glass. Looks great overall.

Smells of pepper, yeast, doughiness, lemon, fresh grain and some clove. Really pleasant.

Tastes mostly of pepper and spicy belgian yeast then some grassy hops, clove, lemon zest and lots of fresh grain in the taste with a dry peppery finish.

Really carbonated and a nice smooth medium mouthfeel.

This beer is really refreshing and a great summer session beer but the ABV may come back and bite after a few.

Photo of aforbes10
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

on tap at stub n herbs in minneapolis. orange colored, wispy not-head. nice lacing though. smells of old orange rinds, noble hops, coriander. Flavor is spicy, citrusy, with a nice strong bitterness to follow. Nicely balanced between the crisp malt, citrusy saison character, and the bitterness on the finish. a good interpretation of the early summer saison style. refreshing and quaffable.

Photo of maximum12
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

CynicAle is back! Bought a four-pack at Zipp's.

Love a beer that fills up my Avery pint glass (with the motto "Hope Freaks Unite!" on the side). Beer is one of the palest yellows I've seen, with almost no head quickly vanishing even with a hard pour. Smells sickly sweet.

Taste is sweet as well. An overarching fruity flavor (apricots?). A touch of hops in the background with lemon. Nice & light, makes me want to down the whole thing quickly. Which I suppose speaks very well to its drinkability.

Ahhh, this is nice. I think I had one last year, but don't really recall. A fine summer beer from Surly.

Photo of Buebie
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased just minutes ago at Heritage Liquore in St. Paul. 2008 release

Poured from a 16 oz can into a 20oz tulip. Head is white and frothy. The beer is an off amber, deep gold. Medium laceing with some head retention.
Smell is of apricots, honey, ginger, sweet doughy bread, mild spicieness in a cracked pepercorn kinda way, mild grassy hops.

The taste on this is a little more mild then I remember last years batch being. Now That could be due to the rumored recipie change. Or, my pallete has changed in a year, which I wouldnt doubt. As I have really become more obsessed with full flavored beer over the last year. Maybe what I thought was stronge then is now normal?

Anyway, I taste sweet apricots up front, then a bitter hoppy pepercorn spicieness hits me, with some lemon. Then it turns sweet again just bofore the swallow. After the swallow I get more apricotty fruit notes, very dry finish with some hop linger and a bit of lemon linger as well.
Mouthfeel is a bit creamy, with a thin quality and medium to moderate carbonation.

I really enjoy this beer. I'm proud as a Minnesotan that we have such a fine craft brewery such as Surly. Great Beer, highly recommend.
I remember this being much more gingery. It is very well balanced.

Photo of HopDerek
4.42/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 release enjoyed on tap at Cafe Twenty Eight

Poured a slightly hazy golden yellow with a light amber center. One finger of frothy off-white head has good retention and leave lovely lacing. Smells of an assortment of fruits like pineapple, apricot, apple, as well as wheat, floral hops, and a touch of honey. Tastes of pear, pineapple, melon and apples up front with wheat and spice following as well as a hint of bubble gum. Finishes dry with floral hops. Medium in body with good fizzy carbonation. Refreshing and fruity, a perfect summertime brew that hides its ABV great.

Photo of brdc
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to stoutsnipas for this one.

It is just a bit hazy, clear if compared to what I remember from the on-tap version, golden in color, with a nice white head and good retention.
Pleasant aroma, hoppy but not as obvious as on-tap, with a more obvious fruitiness, some earthiness and perhaps honey.
Very light on the palate, with pleasant fruity notes, mostly lemons and oranges, with some hoppiness but not as pronounced as on-tap, likely because this is not nearly as fresh. There are some spices, and a mild earthiness and malty sweetness. Well balanced and refreshing, but could use a somewhat lower ABV.

Photo of brewgetter
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hazy Pale orange with a white head and lace. Smells of orange zest and lemon w/ a grain background. Malt is a little more pronounced than I remember it from previous tastings, could be because the can is about 6 months old. I love the hops in this beer, they play so nicely with the lighter malt, and the yeast used. That yeast is also one of the highlights of this beer, enough so that there is no doubt that it's a Belgian style, but not enough to overpower the other flavors. A very well balanced beer. It leaves you wanting more and more. Mouthfeel is very good. This is one of my favorite summertime beers cause it's light but extremely tasty.

Photo of Greggy
4.52/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance- A very nice 1 finger head with some nice yeast suspended. A great farm house representation.

Smell- Pineapple, Apple, Pear, Light hopiness. Great!

Taste- A little more malty and sweet than I thought it would be, but still very nice. The pineapple and pears really come through here, with some nice hopiness. It's almost like a light barleywine. I would love to see how this ages.

Mouthfeel- Medium carbonation that is really nice for the style.

Drinkability- @6.7%, I wouldn't call it sessionable, but I can definitely see having this in the future.

Photo of johnnnniee
4.26/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A careful pour left me with a crystal clear medium amber brew with a thin white head that left quickly. Lots and lots of lace on the way down the glass. Aroma contains some dried fruits and spicy hops. Tastes of bready malt, spicy, peppery, earthy, barnyard funky, quite complex tastes coming through. Great crisp carbonation, medium body, leaves a spicy taste in your mouth. Overall I was surprised by this one. This is not my favorite style of beer, but I rather enjoyed this tasting tonight.

Photo of jjayjaye
4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Pitmonkey for the opportunity to sample this one.

Pours a slightly hazy pale golden color with with a big foamy white head that fades slowly. Visibly effervescent surface pools struggle to keep the head alive. A good amount of Belgian lacing left behind. The smell is earthy yeast, light and floral with a touch of orchard fruit. Towards the bottom it picks up a spicier character. Nicely carbonated, the mouth feel is medium bodied and refreshing. Full flavored, the spicy orchard fruit taste and earthy yeast follow the nose and linger appropriately. A real nice drinker.

CynicAle from Surly Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 1,283 ratings.