Dismiss Notice
Microbrew Invitational
Join us June 3 + 4 in Boston and help us drink 300+ beers, ciders, kombuchas, meads, sakes and more!

TICKETS: beeradvocate.com/micro/

CynicAle | Surly Brewing Company

600 Reviews
no score
Send samples
For Trade:

Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States | website

Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.70%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by tavernjef on 06-02-2006

View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 600 | Ratings: 1,423
Photo of Nugganooch
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

16oz can provided by Allen - Cheers friend!
Into my FW Imperial Nonic glass

Notes from 05/02/14

A: Goldenrod colored body with a hazy glow in appearance. Thin layer of ivory fizz sets across the top with too much activity to hold together for very long. Light dotted stick on the glass.

S: Smells mostly of Belgo yeast with some dried banana peel and light bubblegum. I get a bit of stale bread and malted barley coming through. Finishes out with a good amount of peppery spice. Not bad at all and more on the subtle side.

T: Tastes very much the same with mellow yeast notes taking form in banana, lemon peel, pepper, and clove. Has a light bready malt action with a modest amount of earthy bitterness. A decent bite for sure that brings in a touch of garden herbs as well. Definitely more than your standard Belgian fare which I am cool with. There is no alcohol found here and the beer finishes out with more peppery spice and fruity bubblegum. Overall this is a fairly understated brew. Light, crisp, and refreshingly easy to drink.

M: Lighter body with a nice frothy feel from the carbonation. Moderate upper bitterness on the palate. Touch of drying crisp in the finish. Nice balance between wet and dry.

D: Probably my first Belgian style from a can and a tasty one at that. Flavors are rather restrained making this good but not particularly great IMO. Perfect for warmer weather affairs. Light and refreshing with a nice crispness. Surly doesn’t make a bad brew. Would have again.

 1,497 characters

Photo of paladinjoe
4.66/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This beer hits the spot! Cynic Ale is often referred to as something you'd want on a hot day in the summer, while that is very true, I do think this one is worthy of it's year round availability, and I'm glad for that!

This a very unique very enjoyable Saison, I like this style of beer, and wow... this stuff is good. As for why it's good, it's refreshing, but not boring at all, the black pepper flavors are flat awesome, I've never tasted that in a beer before. Apricots, pears, and some other light fruits are present in this one, but what's great about this beer is that it's NOT sweet, it's kinda peppery! Just so cool, so good, so refreshing, a very underrated beer, even at the 90-Outstanding rating you see above, in my humble opinion.

 745 characters

Photo of KFBR392
4.02/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Canned 11/29/13

Appearance: Pours with a finger of bubbly light head. Straw yellow with some darker orange accents. Light random lacing. Very low active carbonation, especially for a saison.

Smell: orange peel and lemon grass jump out on the front. A slight, peppery yeast backbone with solid bready undertones. Easy, fruit forward aroma.

Taste: Spices and pepper are surprisingly present on the front. Rustic, earthy tones continue into the body. Lemony zest with some brighter fruit tones as well pick up on the back end. Finish is dry but refreshing.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation is dialed back, yet still has the feel of a saison. Bright fruits mix well with spice tones.

Overall: No surprise Surly brings another high quality brew. Really enjoyed the carbonation in this brew which really made it an easy drinking saison. Excellent balance of fruits and spice.

 867 characters

Photo of Jparker37
4.34/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured into an oversized tulip. Canned on 11/1/13.

A - Nice haze to the golden beer. Fizzy white head holds up strong. Plenty of lacing.

S - Mild bubblegum phenols. Powdery yeast. Unique citrusy hop character (tangerine).

T - Complex base maltiness. MIld acidity. Has a little bit of sweetness but dries up. Big herbal/grassy hop flavor. Here's where the pepper hides, toward the back. Finishes almost like sucking a orange rind, perhaps sharpness from the yeast.

M - Medium body, medium-high carbonation, semi-dry.

O - Tons of unique flavors that are not found in any other style. This is a great rendition.

Recommendation - A must try for belgian drinkers.

 667 characters

Photo of magictacosinus
3.48/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to amerak for sending me this alongside other awesome Surly offerings. Poured into a tulip glass out of a 16oz can. At the time of consumption (late December), this was about 2 months old.

Orange amber in color, in the same similar vein as other saisons, but when held against the light, this produces a golden hue that reminds me of Belgian pale ales, as well as slightly more generic ones that are produced around the country (as well as in Belgium). Contains a frothy white head that dissipates rapidly over the course of consumption, and leaves behind minimal stickiness. This is a pretty modest effort overall from a brewery that's known for pretty oily, concentrated beers. Something tells me that this will be pretty light on the hops, for whatever reason.

By golly, I was right - most Surly beers are pretty hoppy and dank in their own special way, but this is among those that are not. This isn't to its detriment, however - the beer produces a lot of nice crisp, grassy, and spicy yeasty notes that good saisons are known for: pears, apples, and white grapes. At the same time, it also embodies lots of aromas that many generic saisons made in this country showcase: bananas, clove, and candy sugar. Finishes quite grainy, with minor notes of toffee. Not a chore at all to wade through, and it's good to see them tone things down a bit. It smells refreshing and down to earth, but it's extraordinarily underwhelming given what I've seen this brewery churn out.

The flavor is far more mild than anticipated, however, and I suppose I should have seen that coming given the simple, nearly anemic profile in the aroma, as far as saisons go. Tastes a lot like a run-of-the-mill Belgian pale ale, with crisp toasted cereal grains, apples, pears, and some raisin notes at the finish. Brief pepper, vanilla, and toffee (as well as candy sugar) finish it off, with a light grassy hopped element that cleanses the palate. Medium bodied, although it does get progressively thinner as time goes on. Definitely really easy drinking, but doesn't embody any of the dry, pungent, or spicy yeasty aromas that I tend to drink saisons for. Still, as far as the style goes, it's really unique to see a canned saison, and see it work out.

I really think that Surly decided to make a pretty easy going Belgian-style pale ale when they made this, and rebranded it as a saison due to the grassy hoppy profile, as well as the spice and funk in the yeast. Don't expect anything super complex, however - this drinks far more like a Belgian pale ale or a lowly pilsner, at the end of the day. It definitely wouldn't be a bad option for me if I had it at a bar or something, but with so many far more complex and intriguing saisons out there, as well as those that are equally refreshing, this does feel a bit lost out at sea overall.

 2,826 characters

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

 482 characters

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!

 1,478 characters

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.

 289 characters

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!

 340 characters

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.

 544 characters

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.

 2,115 characters

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.

 807 characters

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.

 560 characters

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.

 1,158 characters

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.

 534 characters

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.

 558 characters

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.


 462 characters

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.

 375 characters

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.

 515 characters

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.

 334 characters

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.

 849 characters

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.

 1,653 characters

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.

 528 characters

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.

 577 characters

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.

 535 characters

CynicAle from Surly Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 600 ratings.