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CynicAle - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

595 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 595
Hads: 1,392
Avg: 4.01
pDev: 15.71%
Wants: 241
Gots: 179 | FT: 7
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.
View: Beers (55) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 595 | Hads: 1,392
Photo of maxcoinage
3.97/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured 16oz can (12/05/13) into tulip - huge fluffy white head took time to settle Color is a medium golden with a slight haze.

Aroma of fruity esters, citrus and floral notes

Taste has some slight malty sweetness / a touch of honey, pepper spicyness, the belgian yeast definitely noticeable.

Mouthfeel - highly carbonated , medium body, crisp

Overall this is an enjoyable saison will def pick some of this up for warmer weather. Binnys had a $2 off coupon so I had to try it

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.16/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

16oz tall boy can. canned on 11/01/2013

poured into Duvel tulip glass.

Appearance: translucent pale yellow bodied beer with 2 fingers of bone white head that slowely drops down to a thin cap. Minimal spotty lacing.

Smell: bready wheat malts. Lots of bright floral and citrus hops. Hint of fruity yeast. White pepper bomb.

Taste: Malty, bready, and peppery are the prominent flavors of this brew. Just the right amount of sweetness from the malt profile. I want to say that I taste some clover honey in this beer as well, but I dont think that it was brewed with any honey. Nice fruity yeast(pears, red delicous apples, white grapes) and white pepper notes in the middle of this beer. The finish mixes the yeast notes with some hops. Mildly bitter hops that are floral and earthy with a slightly spicy peppery finish. I really like all the "subtle complexities" found in this saison!

Mouthfeel: light bodied beer with moderate carbonation levels. Crisp, refreshing, crushable beer.

Overall: This is my first saison in a can! I have drank a beer that tastes exactly like this, but I can not put my finger on what that beer is... This beer is a well made sasion that does not have too much wow factor, but it is a nice straight forward saison thats true to it respective beer style. I would call it effortlessly good. I would consider this my personal lawnmower beer since I dislike "flavor less light beer" aka BMC beers. Bonus points as always for beer packaged in a can!

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Photo of dar482
4.29/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

The beer comes in a dark golden color.

The beer is very much saison, but very clean. There is citrus, grass, floral, spice, some farmhouse character, some yeast character. A light crackery malt in there to balance out the beer. It’s a lively fresh beer.

A surprisingly delicious beer.

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Photo of Axnjxn
4.05/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

can into a FW tulip. 11/14/13

pours a darkish yellow with a inch and half thick head. very crisp aroma...lemon... reminiscent of a pils. the taste is much more like a saison. crisp..farmhouse slight. just super easy drinking. light body honestly. good carbonation.

overall just super easy drinking. ABV absolutely undectable. recommended!

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Photo of Fcolle2
4.37/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours slightly hazy burnt Golden in color with a big two finger fizzy head that has good retention.

Smell is great. Nice peppercorn phenols fade into a mildly sweet malt with fruity and floral hop aromas.

Taste is nicely balanced very light Belgian phenols are forward along with a semi sweet malt and a light orange rind Belgian tang. Floral herbal hops are on the back end and are nicely balanced.

Mouthfeel is great. Crisp but good bodied. Carbonation is spot on for the style. There is a creamy finish from the oats that is really nice.

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Photo of Pahn
3.91/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

16oz can into a tulip. Thanks to BA morningthief for picking this up for me in the windy city of my grad school days.

Appearance: Nice 2 inch fluffy white head, but no lacing. Semi-translucent gold.

Smell: Booming aroma that's flowery, excitingly effervescent, slightly lemony. The hops and the yeast are in full force in the aroma; exceedingly pleasant.

Taste: Very peppery up front--I like it very much. Transitions to a nice white bread undertone, but finishes with too much yeastiness for my taste. A lot cleaner than a cookie cutter American saison, but still wish it were fermented more cleanly. The thick yeastiness tastes almost tinged with peppermint, and the oppressive solidity of the yeast flavor (if that makes sense) clashes with the delicate hops, light body, high carbonation, and beautiful pepperiness they got out of this beer.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium bodied (more light), appropriately high carbonation, reasonably dry finish. I would prefer bone dry, but maybe with the slight IBU presence (unusually noticeable for this kind of beer, but not at all unwelcome) and heavy peppery flavor, more dryness would be a minus (would definitely require you drink the beer with cheese or something, like some BSPAs that just destroy the mouth on their own).

Overall: This is a really good beer. Not world class, not even "great," but it illustrates greatness; you don't make this beer without a lot of brewing talent. Absolutely an example of a beer held back from 4.5~5.0 territory by outright flaws amidst other elements that were nailed spot on. It doesn't help matters for me that the flaw is this heavyhanded yeastiness, a real pale beer pet peeve of mine these days, but the better elements are so good that I'm enjoying it thoroughly, regardless.

Another really impressive beer from Surly. Their brewing is a lot more sophisticated than the average well respected American brewery's. Furious, Abrasive, Darkness, all these beers are in big, bold, popular American styles, but they are all very multifaceted and subtly crafted. CynicAle is no exception to the trend of fine work from Surly.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.07/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-Pours a lightly hazy orange color. The pour yields a frothy, bleached head that maintains its heights. It leaves long clouds of lace.

S-Peppery aroma with some Belgian yeast. Euro-hops. A bit of clover spice with some fruitiness. The pepper is a playful element to the aroma. Maybe a little banana.

T-Flavor is fresh and lively. Floral and grassy European hops. A moderately zesty yeastiness. Some fruity flavors as well. A very nicely put together Saison. Lingering, light peppery flavor. As it warms, the apricot and peach notes come out (as stated on the label) more.

M-Shocked at the ABV, would have pegged it at around 4.5%. Dry and refreshingly crisp. Really bubbly. Light, inviting feel.

O/D-A supremely drinkable, refreshing Saison. Nothing too inventive or crazy here, just a fun can of beer.

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Photo of FondueVoodoo
3.91/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Huge thanks to papat444 for this beer in a great in person trade.

A: Pours an exceptionally clear gold with 1 finger of off-white head. Small amounts of lacing cover the sides of the glass.

S: Belgian yeasts with notes of spices, pepper and cloves, together with over-ripe bananas.

T: Follows the scent with yeasty bread, light spices of pepper and cloves, and sweet malts of over ripe bananas together with hints of citrus fruit.

M: Medium bodied and dry with noticeable carbonation.

O: An easy drinking saison that will pair with any meal or on its own.

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Photo of beagle75
3.74/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16 oz. can into a tulip pint glass.

A: Slightly hazy, pale golden color with over one finger of white foam head. Moderate lacing remains on the glass.

S: Belgian aromatic malt is restrained in the presence of complementary yeast esters. These qualities combine to produce an effect of mild mixed fruit, although with a sharp metallic edge.

T: Begins dry, with pale malt that is very yeast-affected. Qualities of light tree fruits, particularly white nectarine and pear, tend to dominate early. The transition to the middle is easy, where some clove and pepper phenolics are detected. The finish retains the pepper quality late on the palate, and although bitterness is minimal it is tinted with an authentic thread of stale hops.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, balanced and substantial on the palate, with low carbonation.

D/O: A satisfying and approachable saison; this beer has just the right amount of Belgian yeast influence, not to mention the other detectable continental ingredients. Surly's Cynic is something of a black sheep for that brewery, and probably worth a try even by those that do not favor ales such as Furious or Bender.

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Photo of chanokokoro
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16 oz. can into an unbranded tulip glass

Pours a pale gold topped by a pure white two finger head. Above average retention, significant lacing. Peaches, farmhouse yeast, lemon zest, light citrus, and a hint of spiciness. Opens with apricot, floral notes, hay, and light citrus notes. Earthy yeast and lemon zest join in midpalate. Finishes dry with continued yeastiness and citrus joined by white pepper. Light bodied, pleasant lively carbonation, smooth mouthfeel. A nice saison brewed with American hops. Recommended.

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Photo of Maninthearena
4.08/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance- Orange-gold, some fizz dances with the bits of yeast sediment.

Nose-Belgian yeast, some citrus as well as orchard fruits...apricot?

Taste- Big yeasty toasted bread malt. Yep, some apricots, "saisony" with some kettle hop tones. Peppery finish rounds off a nice sip.

Mouthfeel- Fairly crisp with medium sized carbonation. Fairly slick with the alcohol content. Nothing special texture-wise, but does the trick. A mead-like sweetness.

Overall- A wonderful American take on the farmhouse ales of Belgium and France...and it comes in a sweet can.

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Photo of BeerLover99
4.21/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: yellow/orange marmalade body, finger off-white head,
stunning web in the glass.

S: lovely fresh Belgian yeast, floral nose, mild pepper

T: lemon peel/grass, yeast, wheat, floral, mild pepper/spice finish

M: med, smooth divine semi-dry mouth

O: Ecstatic that Surly is finally in Chicago area (thanks Binnys)!
Love that Surly proves great beer can come in a can. Simply
amazing beer; may make this regular Summer beer
if it's available.


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Photo of Monkeyknife
4.06/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the can a bright and clear gold with a single finger of beige head. Light lacing left behind.

Sweet aroma of tropical fruit, cloves, banana, and Belgian yeast.

Tasted of sweet tropical fruit, orange, earth, and white pepper along with light biscuit.

Medium bodied and dry with a fairly sharp carbonation.

A very easy to drink and very tasty Saison from Surly.

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Photo of ISmith87
3.83/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Surly Cynical Ale

Appearance – 4.5 – Great looking beer, nice golden color, ½ finger head sticks around forever, can was good looking too (but they took it at the airport kiosk)

Smell – 4.0 – Wheaty, orange, bread, banana, like an amped up Blue Moon

Taste – 3.75 - Decent saison, taste is like the smell.

Mouthfeel – 3.5 – Light-medium, alc covered, aftertaste is a wheaty breadiness

Overall – 3.75 – It does taste a little bit like a standard wheat beer, I was hoping for more funky-ness.

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Photo of vette2006c5r
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

CynicALe pours a hazy golden color with a long lasting lacing head. There is a strong sweet and yeasty aroma, with creamy bread like notes. The taste has a subtle Belgian candy undertone, with a stronger yeasty and beady like flavor rounding it out. Perfect carbonation, and very drinkable. Overall the best saison I have had to date.

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Photo of Treyliff
4.01/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Canned on 5/22/13

A- Pours a lightly hazed golden yellow color with a two-finger foamy and frothy white head, great retention well after the pour

S- sharp phenolic aromas up front with some peppery spiciness. Fruity notes of pear, apricot, apple skin and a touch of lemon zest. Some earthy must closes out the aroma

T- Big doughy and bready malt flavor up front, reminiscent of sourdough. Classic saison phenolic flavors kick in mid-palate, quickly followed by fruity flavors of pear, apple and lemon. Dry finish with some earthy-yeasty must on the finish

M- Medium body with moderate carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel that finishes crisp and refreshing, high drinkability

O- This is a refreshing and easy drinking saison with plenty of flavor to boot. If this was available to me regularly, it would be a staple for me during the summer.

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Photo of Stevedore
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz tallboy canned 3/21/2013, poured into an unlabeled snifter today 8/27/2013. Yes I realize this beer is 5 months old but after drinking some of it, I thought it would still be a good review.

Clear, golden copper body with a thick, and I mean thick! white head that has great retention and leaves all kinds of sticky lacing all over as the beer makes its way into my stomach. Outstanding appearance that fits the style very well.

The nose is relatively non-existent though. Smelling it gives me a nice Belgian yeastiness- cloves and a bit of spice. Not much in way of the malt or hops contribution. Mostly a slight yeast nose. Nothing particularly impressive; I wonder if its because its a 5 month old can.

I really like how the taste comes out in this beer. Tastes like a nice Belgian farmhouse ale with a good bit of complexity.. banana and cloves round out the yeast contribution, with a little bit of peach that I'm assuming is from the hops. A bit of honey and biscuits are to be found here as well. Very smooth and mellow with the flavours being distinguishable but not clashing with each other.

The body is thinner medium bodied, very well carbonated and it is a very refreshing beer with a slightly dry finish of clove spiciness mixed with a little bit of honey. Very easy to drink, refreshing on a hot summer day like this one (90 degrees outside!)

Very interesting take on the Farmhouse style. I definitely like this better than Ommegang Hennepin.. which is ironic as Minneapolis is located in Hennepin County. Funny that Ommegang is pricing themselves out here.. Surly makes some great shelf beers here that holds up well, style-wise.

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Photo of jhawth
3.91/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Poured into a pint glass. Pours a clear gold with a fluffy, two-finger head that dissipates but leaves a nice lacing on the glass.

Aroma: Some earthy yeast character, as well as some breadiness. Pepper and a little bit of citrus are also discernible.

Taste: Grainy malt flavors blend into an earthy yeastiness. Some spice character and just a hint of tartness as it finishes.

Mouthfeel: Lively carbonation, creamy smooth head. Very pleasant.

Overall: A solid saison, with a nice subtle earthy and tart character.

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Photo of Ri0
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured 16oz can into Duvel tulip. Thanks goes out to Nick for sending this to me.

A - Hazy marigold with a 1.5 finger white head. Thin ring and nice lacing.

S - Nice peach, apricot, and banana scent, with some Belgian yeast. Light honey sweetness emerges as it warms.

T - Tasty banana, peach, and apricot with Belgian yeast, Hints of sweet honey, minimal spice, and bready malt.

M - Thin with moderate carbonation. Slightly dry on the finish.

O - This is a very easy drinking and tasty Saison. If I had this I would have it often in the summer. Very nice flavor profile.

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Photo of tbeckett
3.47/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Can from kjyost. From notes.

A - Poured with a mild haze on a very light golden yellow body. Strong carbonation with a one finger white head leaving spotty lace and a half finger of retention.

S - Sweet spice, pear, sweet malts.

T - A bit peppery, maybe too much for my tastes. Sweet malt, sweet spice, peach, orange, honey.

M - Strong carbonation, medium body, a little dryness to finish.

O/D - Drinkable but definitely not too intensly interesting. More hopping might improve this a tad. Spice was a bit much, but it was decent.

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Photo of fmccormi
3.83/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Straight pour from a 16oz can to an oversized wineglass (Tired Hands stem—Ryan’s the best!); canning date of May 13, 2013 printed in black ink on the underside of the can (“CANNED ON 05/13/13”). So, seven weeks old exactly, on the date of consumption.

Appearance (3.25): The body is a honey-golden color, and at first nearly clear but eventually perfectly so as it warms. The head is a bone-white foam that reaches maybe a finger before dying down, showing somewhat subpar retention and very little lacing. Great body, but the head, not so much.

Smell (4.0): A very nice bouquet of hay and pale grains, and a warm and modestly spicy aroma of dusty straw, wet grass, damp leaves, light clove, and fresh-baked white bread. Some honeyed biscuits, but not quite any fruitiness.

Taste (3.75): This has an interesting graininess to it, almost like a damp multigrain bread that floats underneath that spiciness in the smell . . . which here is much more herbal and floral, for sure. Some clove, and something almost tannic, with something almost like an anise tang—which, in spite of my undying distaste for anise, is not unpleasant. Slightly phenolic. Lots of grassiness, bitter and herbal but almost juicy and refreshing in its own right. The herbal-grassy component, which bridges hops and phenols, is actually probably the most prominent component in the end, when all is said and done. Though, it smooths out as it warms.

Mouthfeel (4.25): This does have an excellent feel, I’ll give it that: a very easy, soft, but lush carbonation that quickly expands and fills the space with soft foam without ever prickling or tingling too much. The body is on the light side of medium-weight and finishes moderately dry with a lingering, slightly starchy bitterness.

Overall (3.75): This is a pretty good saison. I may have been sliiightly generous on a point here and there, but I give this credit for being a quaffable saison in a great package (4-packs of 16oz cans? C’mon, don’t we all wish we could get saisons as such?) . . . good for them, I say, and I wish other breweries (ahem, Sixpoint) would follow suit. As for the beer, in my opinion it was slightly too phenolic (the herbal qualities were not always flattering), and could use more spice and hops to help balance the malt (not that it was a particularly malty saison in any way, but still). But, undoubtedly, a good saison that performs better slightly warmer, as fits the style. Glad to have tried.

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Photo of WankelEngine
4.06/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16oz can into a snifter
Thanks goes to my brother for bringing this one down from Minnesota for me.

A: Pours a lightly hazy golden-straw color with a foamy white head with a few larger bubbles that quickly dissipates to a thin, oily cap.

S: Some grassy funk and hay is met by some toffee notes which lend an overall sweetness to the aroma. A little bit of yeasty dough as well. It may have been a little cold at first; as it warms a nice banana phenol joins the aroma.

T: The bready yeast and banana flavors play a prominent role here, however the banana is more subdued than in many of the classic Belgian beers. The midpalate is mostly caramel with just a hint of alcohol flavor to temper the sweetness. Some hay funk frames a moderately dry finish.

M: Fairly thin but almost a little creamy. Carbonation is at a medium-low but pleasantly foamy, which lends the beers to easy drinking.

O: A great farmhouse style beer. I wouldn't quite call it mild, but the flavors are all well-balanced which leads to a great, easy drinking beer.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.47/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

16 oz. can poured into an Allagash chalice.

Appearance - Clear golden body with a nice fluffy white head. Never quite settles. Sticky lacing all down the glass.

Smell - Phenolic esters that remind me of a tripel in some respects. Mustiness to the nose brings it back to the farmhouse genre. Fruity, between apples and apricots.

Taste - More malt forward. Sweet caramel malt. Grainy biscuit malt. Slick with that fruit flavor lingering on the back end. Less complex than the nose by quite a bit, but a clean tasting saison.

Mouthfeel - Strange dichotomy to it. Initially slick and sweet, but quickly drops off. Never quite achieves a dryness, but the body deteriorates quickly.

Overall - Only touches on the components that would make a it a really good saison, but there aren't any flaws or off-flavors. Surly always makes a good product.

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Photo of Sarlacc83
3.53/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

16oz can courtesy of kevin's order. Thanks!

A: Brilliant gold color, mostly clear, with a 1/4" hhead. Bubbles rise through the body like there's a geyser at the bottom.

N: Yeast, banana, clove. A little peach in here. Flaky oats. Black pepper and salt. Clean nose, if overwhelmed by the esters.

T: Very peppery. Floral hops, apricote notes, lots of yeasty esters again. Has a distinct oatmeal quality. Some green apple tartness. Can be a little too sharp, as there are too many hops to maintain balance.

M: Has a loose, light mouthfeel. Feels like there's a low amount of carbonation, somewhat surprisingly.

O: Decent, but not something I'd seek out too often. The mash-up of styles doesn't work well for me.

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Photo of falloutsnow
3.97/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From: France 44
Date: Canned on 12/06/2012
Glass: Tulip

Pours a tall, 3cm head of marginally off-white bubbles that begin as small, then move to medium-sized as the head coalesces and begins to collapse. The result would be a time-lapse shot of bubbles congealing, growing in size, then becoming too large and infiltrated by air and popping, leaving a cavernous void where the head used to be. Thus, retention is above average and declines with cataclysmic intensity, though it reduces to a fairly standard ring around the perimeter of the glass. Lacing is present, though not particularly substantial, a few spots and washes of lines scattered across the glass. The body is a copper orange color, somewhat hazy, with light bringing out red and orange hues. Carbonation is visible, streaming from the center and sides of the glass.

Aroma is simultaneously grainy, Belgian saison-yeasty, slight funk, and peaches. In general, this is appetizing and intriguing, spurring the act of drinking.

The primary flavors are grain-like with white pepper, Belgian saison yeast, and mild apricot and peach. Front of palate picks up grainy, slightly cracker-like malts with hints of peach ester sweetness and slight hop bitterness. Mid-palate finds an explosion of peach complexity melded to white pepper, Belgian saison yeast with mild funk, subdued graininess, and relaxed bitterness. Back of palate experiences increased Belgian saison yeast presence with subdued peach, grain, and white pepper. Aftertaste of peach and grain flavors, remaining appetizing and never cloying.

The beer is medium-light to medium in body, with carbonation of medium intensity, resulting in a beer that foams up nicely as it moves across the palate, traveling fairly smoothly and without harsh fizz. Closes out semi-dry and with little stickiness lingering across the palate.

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CynicAle from Surly Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 595 ratings.