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CynicAle - Surly Brewing Company


Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,111 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1111
Reviews: 574
rAvg: 4
pDev: 10.25%

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
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Ratings: 1,111 | Reviews: 574 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Westsidethreat


3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to JeffKrenner for this beer.

A: Cloudy apricot colored brew is poured, with a thinness to it. A conglomeration of fairly large bubbles have nestled at the bottom of the glass. Overall, the carbonation is on the low side as the head died quickly leaving a fine film and a really small ring of off white bubbles around the glass. For the most part, the body is quite still except for the occasion large bubble dislodging from the bottom of the glass. Ultimately the cloudiness dies down and clarity ensues.

S: Rose water, peach, banana, kiwi, spices and some strawberry.

T: Starts off with a soft blend of pear and banana, really on the basic side and not sweet or sour. Little bit of vanilla, jasmine and honey are some of the underfoot flavors that flirt behind the scenes. Interesting peppery sensation that is then followed by a wallowing bitterness which ads much needed extra dimension. Next came the traditional sort of saison flavors encompassing dried hay, grass clippings and floral/pollen like flavors. Finishes hard waterlike…with limestone and other mineral flavors.

M: Thin mouthfeel with a hard water

D: There just wasn’t enough flavor in this one for me. Seems sort of watery. Although I’d imagine this would make a great session brew while grilling.

Serving type: can

06-22-2007 05:16:25 | More by Westsidethreat
Photo of Bighuge


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

Slightly hazed deep golden hue. Thin and bubbly dirty white head. Carbonation is active in the body of the beer. Very nice aroma. Big lemon notes. Some honey. Some other fruits in the background. (Apricot?) Fresh yeastiness. Intriguing... Very unique taste. Peppery spicy. Mango like fruitiness. Dried apricots. Slight hop bitterness. Leathery finish. But also dry, hoppy and as quick as the crack of a whip. Nicely carbonated and refreshing feel. Light-medium body. I could see kicking back of a few of these tall boys on the golf course. Or with some grilled salmon steaks.

Serving type: can

06-19-2007 02:41:46 | More by Bighuge
Photo of Gueuzedude


3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

What a total transformation (see my review from a couple days ago below). This time the beer was my first of the day & I had not yet had dinner. The aroma is considerably dried out compared to my first go at this beer. This plays up the earthy, spicy phenolic aromas, but all of the components I first noticed are still there (even the orange zest note, still plays a noticeable role). This includes the sweet malt aromatics, but they now play a background role that you have to dig for.

The flavor is also quite dry compared to my first experience with this beer. It still has a medium heft to it, but without the omnipresent sweetness it is much more subdued. This is a really interesting experience, I would almost say that these were two completely different brews; this just goes to show the drastic change ones palate can undergo over short periods of time. The light sweetness that I now experience really drives the spice character to new levels. All the spice components are here, they are just a bit more pronounced (except for the citrus notes, which I find are usually amplified by sweetness); the beer has a much more present pepper note as well as a sharply herbal & ginger character. The finish is noticeably phenolic, though not too the point of off-plastic notes, instead it just adds some cutting sharpness to the flavor profile. The more noticeable phenolics make me think of an earthy, green, coriander flavor that I did not get last time. The dry malt notes of toasted grain, and biscuit-like flavors is also a bit more present.

I could still wish that this finished a bit drier (my preference is usually for a bone dry Saison), but I feel this is well within the well-made-commercial level. The thing that this really brings home (something that I already knew, but hadn't experienced so drastically in the recent past), was how much ones palate can change in a short period of time.

Serving type: can

06-19-2007 00:58:30 | More by Gueuzedude
Photo of supercolter


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

Wow Surly, really you are slowly becoming my favorite brewery... When I feel like a beer is outmanning me, its good beer.
Appearance is the least strong factor, don't get me wrong it was good but the rest was great. Between this and Ommegang Hennepin I am also growing quite fond of the smell and flavor of saisons.
Smell and taste are packed with tons of spice, loads of hops and a good malt balance.
Mouthfeel is medium in body.

Serving type: on-tap

06-18-2007 04:12:13 | More by supercolter
Photo of mnstorm99


4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I have not tried many Saison style beers. But, I will drink anything that says Surly on the package (or tap handle for that matter). I will be trying more Saison's in the future after this one.

Dark golden brown color with a white head that lasted to the end of the glass. Aroma was a hint of belgian hops but toasty malts were the star. The taste at first gave me the same toasted malts (bread like) with a touch of apricot at the end. This beer will be in my fridge all summer long right next to the Furious and Bender (my Surly triple play) extremely good, extremely drinkable. Another home run for Omar, Todd and the rest of the Surly crew.

Serving type: can

06-15-2007 13:49:50 | More by mnstorm99
Photo of umustdrink


4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served straight from a 34° fridge into a tulip.

A - Lovely opaque dark orange color. Rocky, bright white head fades to thick patches. Lots of lacing, in thin sheets.

S - Sweet, spicy bubblegum yeast. Fragrant lemon aroma, more like earthy lemon zest than sour lemon juice. Bready, spicy malts.

T - Starts spicy and sweet, leads into a sugary yeast flavor. Finish is very lemony and again spicy.

M - Medium to light consistency and medium carbonation.

D - Very nice drinking brew, enjoyed this one more than Hennepin. I'm very glad Surly decided to can this one and I hope they do it with more of their beers. Surly rules!

Serving type: bottle

06-12-2007 02:26:59 | More by umustdrink
Photo of ballenc


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

While I've also had the pleasure of tasting the Cynic on tap, I prefer it from the can. The spiciness of the Belgian yeast seems to come forward more in the canned version - not sure why. But either way, it's another fine beer from Omar, Todd and the good folks at Surly.

A - Crystal clear and golden in color with a tinge of orange. Small head initially that disappears shortly with no retention.

S - Swirling brings forth a pleasant Belgian spice aroma with some yeast undertones. Also a complex mix of citrus (lemon/lime?) and pepper along with a breadiness from the malt.

T - Mirrors the aroma with a lighter, crisper spiciness of black pepper and coriander. Very noticeable Belgian yeast on the front end, mellowing into a mid-level maltiness. No citrus taste on the fruit level - more apricot or even kiwi.

M - Lighter than what I expected from the smell and taste. I'd consider it a mid-to-light bodied saison with a decent level of carbonation. I'd prefer a notch up on the body.

D - Very easy drinking beer. A Belgian saison with a Surly twist - interesting and refreshing. Definitely worth drinking a couple in one sitting. Not overpowering but more sublime. I'm happy that they've added this to their canned beers - I can see myself drinking many of these in the upcoming hot summer months.

Serving type: can

06-10-2007 22:20:41 | More by ballenc
Photo of mcallister


3.4/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Happy to be trying another Surly brew as the Bender and Furious are ggggrrreat.

Pours a dull copper/gold in color, honey orange hues, and slightly cloudy. Head is pure white thin, yet full. Good retention with a thin lace left around the glass.

White pepper aromas with other spicey qualities and an obvious belgian yeasty ester. Very floral bouquet and semi sweet hop gatherings. Dripping honey over a lemon cough drop. Peach and nectarine with a hint of alcohol.

Hmm seems a little thin on flavor and one dimensional. Nice hoppy backbone melds well with the chewy malt mid palate. Dominated by belgian yeasty quality, white pepper, honey suckle, and other spicey, herbacious qualities, some fruit backing of lemon and peach but not much else. Mouth is thin and bitter on the finish. A little dissapointed in this brew as the others I've tried have been top notch.

Serving type: can

06-10-2007 16:53:59 | More by mcallister
Photo of IntriqKen


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

A Saison in a can?
No...can't be.
Poured a medium golden orange with a nice half finger white head that melts quickly to a ring of white bubbles in the glass.
Aroma is spicy grains and bready yeast...some bright fresh oranges in the background too.
Taste is lots of bready yeast and citrus hops...funky oranges and lemon peel.
Very dry on the tongue and easy drinking with nice carbonation.

Serving type: can

06-09-2007 21:35:07 | More by IntriqKen
Photo of garymuchow


4.43/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

So happy Surly does cans. Many thanks to Omar and crew for such foresight. I also like that the can tells me to "keep it cool". Okay...I will.

Really fresh, sweet (both as in flavor and "sweeeet"), spicy, malty, fruity. Complex but not over-whelming. Spices win out in the end, not too much. The appealing aroma remains throughout, never losing the fruity quality.
Darker orange. Water clear. Big full fluffy head that recedes to a more dense layer. Drippy lacing. Attractive and on target.
Flavors are nice with fruitiness standing out initially and dryness remaining quite tastefully in the end. In between the spices unfold moving to malt and and brief tartness and sourness. A remarkable noticeable bitterness that battles the tart and dryness in an appealing manner, however these are so strong that in time it prevents the softer fruity flavors from being as evident.
Mild alcohol in flavor, but more apparent in the slight warmth the drink presents. Unusual mix of a seeming flatness surrounded by sharp carbonation (which softens in time) that isn't effervescent. Somehow lacks the refreshing drink quality, but I'll have to give some consideration (over another drink or two) to figure that out. (Upon further consideration it's the dryness in combination with the more than moderate bitterness that prevents it from being refreshing. I'm not complaining, just noting it).
Kudos to the brewer. So far they are incapable of selling anything other than truly wonderful and outstanding beers. Tasty, flavorful and interesting (and not in the traditional MN definition). I'm sure glad they are here.
I know people are begging for Darkness in a can, but I'd be equally pleased with One in a can.
Many thanks Surlyman!

Serving type: can

06-06-2007 04:03:11 | More by garymuchow
Photo of objectivemonkey


4.7/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Into a pint glass, pours a clear copper verging on amber, a small light white head with delicate spotty lacing. The aroma is sweet, yeasty, spices about in ground pepper, nutmeg, probably some coriander, an orange-y citrus from a light hopping, very rich and enticing, but also a pretty cohesive whole, not fragmented.

The taste is exactly what I'd expect from Surly: take a style, make it their own. Its a lot like a farmhouse saison, but something very much their own. Again there is a lot of spices, pepper coming in with more strength, coriander also praying a key role, citric hops also coming out more in orange tones and just a splash of lemon/lime perhaps. The sweet, bready malt fades into the background, if at all. And all in the meanwhile the mouth is rich in carbonation and dry to the touch, savory and somehow manages to be refreshing (I've never found drying beers to be all that refreshing, ya know?) In all, its a beautifully choreographed dance of perfectly fitting elements, a marvelous brew for the summer, or anytime. Just smashing.

Its funny how I've started to rate things from Surly. I try to be objective, and therefor start by giving them lower scores. But as I keep drinking, I just keep loving their beers more, and give them the high scores they deserve. Another fantastic brew from Minnesota's favorite brewers.

Serving type: can

06-04-2007 22:14:53 | More by objectivemonkey
Photo of Mdog


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

Appearance: Deep gold, nice carbonation and head.

Smell: Yeasty, spicy.

Taste: Starts out with a bready sweetness before moving to a somewhat herbal note in the middle before finishing with a peppery/spicy kick.

Drinkability: Good stuff, my glass was empty quite quickly.

Yes! Another can from Surly! Since I prefer to do my drinking at home it's great that Surly is canning another of their great beers. This one is another great offering, a little more substantial than a wit bier but still easy to drink. Good stuff.

Serving type: can

06-02-2007 21:34:46 | More by Mdog
Photo of dfried


4.55/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Orangish yellow in color, 2cm foamy white head that lasted well through the beer. The aroma is full of a lot of peach and apricot, some light spicy notes of coriander and pepper, Belgian yeast, and a silky, syrupy malt body. Some perfumy notes from the hops as well.

A lot of the same flavors in the taste. I love the silky/creamy/syrupy feel that oats give the malt of lighter colored beers, and Surly uses them masterfully in this beer. Some spicy zing is noticeable, but keeps from being over whelming. Yeasty notes. The hops in this beer are spectacular too, perfumy with apricot and peaches all over the place, but also with a slight lemony citrus character. Sweet, medium bodied creamy honey-like malt. Some under lying wheaty and musty farmhouse favors as well.

Overall: I only had like 2 or 3 pints of this beer when it was out last year, so I decided to review it again. The more I drink of this beer the more I love it. This beer is made using premium ingredients and it shows with its premium complexity. The flavors meld so well, I have nothing to say but really good things about this beer.

Serving type: can

05-31-2007 19:46:45 | More by dfried
Photo of alexgash


4.4/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had several glasses of this at the brewery. Omar said that there were only a few kegs left! Too bad. Lovely hazy candy orange-glazed body with a thick, frothy white head. Looks great! Nose is sweet, almost worty, with prominent yeastiness. Some Belgiany sugar, and spiciness as well. Perhaps a touch too worty. But it tastes better. Sweet, candi-sugarish malt with a full-bodied, coating feel. Nice. Spicy, yeasty kick with rounded, spicy bitterness makes for a refreshing finish. MY kind of summer seasonal, as there's a slightly warming alcohol complexity to this. Give me more!

Serving type: on-tap

08-27-2006 14:25:50 | More by alexgash
Photo of edbeered


4.28/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I don't know how they do it. All the Surly beers I have tasted are an almagamation of styles, yet they taste excellent. This beer is no exception. It pours a pleasing amber color with a small white head and some lacing on the glass. The smell is somewhat fruity. The taste-where to begin? One can taste a fruity peach-apricot flavor, along with hints of a plum brandy-like flavor as well as a tart green apple taste. Somehow all the various flavors blend into an exciting whole. The mouthfeel is rich and tasty.This doesn't taste anything like the Belgian saisons I have tried, but Surly makes that a strength rather than a weakness. A terrific beer, whatever the style!

Serving type: on-tap

07-19-2006 03:53:55 | More by edbeered
Photo of CH3CH2OH

New Jersey

2.78/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is the first Surly I've had, and I really wanted to like this beer, as it is a new local microbrewery. Haaa.

Very little head that went away quickly, but as it was on tap, it may have been under carbonated by the bar. Strong hop aroma with not unpleasant citrus and some malt. The taste is where it really went downhill.

Flavor was overly bitter, without some of the nice volatiles that go alone with proper hopping. Perhaps they relied too much on boiling hops, and not enough on, say, dry hopping?

Missed on almost all counts for a saison. Needs spice or more creative fermentation, and better use of hops.

Serving type: on-tap

07-10-2006 22:24:54 | More by CH3CH2OH
Photo of hanco005


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

I’d had this once before at the Blue Nile and this review comes from a pint I had at Champps in Maple Grove. Served in a pint glass

A—cloudy orange amber, with a just a thin wisp of a sand colored head, if the head was bigger, it settled by the time it got to my table, laces in splotches

S—very strong, citrus and spice and everything nice, some subtle hops peek out as well

T—it’s what I smell, citrus and spice, a touch of pepper, the hops peek out here again, goes down very easily and finishes on the dry side, lots of flavor, it’s very good

M—extremely smooth, lighter bodied, mild carbonation

D—very much so as is the other two Surly brews I’ve had. I hope they get the city of Brooklyn Park to allow them to sell growlers, soon. If they start bottling, I might need to get on a liver donor list…

Serving type: on-tap

07-06-2006 13:20:19 | More by hanco005
Photo of Truh

New Hampshire

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

Alles tu boit au printemps with this one on 6/21/2006. 16-oz. shaker pour at the Linwood Grill, Boston, MA, a stone's throw from Fenway, home of Big Papi, hell yeah!

Very small skim of head with a pretty nice stick; settles but still has nice attenuation. Very light brown, really a good amber hue to the whole thing, and a fair amount of action. White pepper, candy cane, and some heavy metals all mix on the nose. Medium body, slightly peppery, some floral notes, on the mouth – lotus petals; slightly sweet with rock candy.

Solid for style, though would have liked to have let it warm more but had to scoot off for a nearby show.

Serving type: on-tap

06-30-2006 23:23:03 | More by Truh
Photo of TastyTaste


4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On Tap at Bryant Lake Bowl.

Appearance: Copper hazy body, head is ok, maybe 1/2" on top of the beer in the pint glass.

Smell: Belgian yeast and spices, peppery. Hops are noticable and easy to discern from the rest of the beer.

Taste: Dry up front, spiciness follows with some citrus, the more citrus with the hop finish, finishes sweeter than the start.

Drinkability: Easy drinking, a solid interpretation of the style.

Serving type: on-tap

06-25-2006 07:33:03 | More by TastyTaste
Photo of doubleshovels


3.83/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This Saison from Surly is looking good, although a little more amber then I expected. Bright, clean fresh lemon-lime upfront, but seems to be haunted by slightly heavy hops,although this could be interupted as balance. I am curious to see if this will evolve if or when its brewed again.

Serving type: on-tap

06-22-2006 03:59:57 | More by doubleshovels
Photo of feloniousmonk


4.8/5  rDev +20%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Freshly tapped at the Blue Nile.

appearance: hazed amber in the glass, clearer near the foot, under a good, staying 1/2" cover of beige-toned foam. A duskier look than other saisons I've sampled, but what's wrong with that.

Aroma: nice spices, and sleek citrus. Very fine. Tickles the nose with ethereal pleasures. Lively hop play. Gorgeous.

Taste: a phenomenal blast on the palate, that sits and lingers deliciousness in the mouth. Hops, yeast, and spicy malt combine to deploy just the right amount of spicy notes and light fruit. (Lemon and lime with a side order of orange.) Dries near instantly, and demonstrates perfect balance, almost never showing sweet, not too hoppy, not too hot, nor too spicy, just spreading this ingenious, beautiful, utterly satisfying flavor.

Light bodied, like any saison should be, but so substantial in flavor, so sophisticated...tea-like, at times, broken up by hop happiness, and a malt character that takes turns at juicy and peppery. Exquisitely drinkable, massively enjoyable.
Also, I find myself admiring a certain sublimity I don't often encounter in other saisons, Belgian-brewed or otherwise.
Lordy, it's lovely!

One of the best beer names conceivable, and one of the least apt, in this case. I can't imagine any cause for skepticism, Surly has done it again!

Serving type: on-tap

06-12-2006 06:11:09 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of tempest


4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Champps in Maple Grove

Orangish body with a short white head. A complex beer in aroma and taste. Smells of belgian yeast, orange citrus, malts and hops. Flavor begins with corriander and spicey belgian yeast flavor. Moves to a nice firm and sweet malt base and then ends with a bitter hops kick. Its not as light or delicate as the best saisons, but this one's a different breed. Definately not your traditional saison. Surly is a very appropriate name.

Serving type: on-tap

06-08-2006 18:32:46 | More by tempest
Photo of MeLikeBeer


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

Appears an orange-copper color in the glass with an inch-thick shimmering white foam head. Looks tasty.
Smells good; fruity-orange aromas, mixed with peaches. Strong smell of yeast as well.
Tastes....spicy, from the orange and also semi-sweet. Wonderful malt flavor and some hops even make a brief appearance on my taste buds.
Goes down smooth, very smooth...also reminds me of a hefeweizen.
Hopefully this appears in more places because people will (and should) be searching for it.

Serving type: on-tap

06-04-2006 16:12:49 | More by MeLikeBeer
Photo of tavernjef


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

On-tap at the Happy Gnome: Pale orangy gold with a slimming off-white top of semi crunchy foam. Lace is minimal in a few spots.

Aroma is of orangy sweetness and zesty spicyness. Kinda pale in its sweetness, definately orange in tone, but its fairly big and present with a spicy little zest of orange peel, corriander, and yeasty dryness found in most other Saisons'.

Taste is fat and happy with nicely rounded areas of orangey sweetness and semi tangy, perhaps paled, sweetness. Spice is there, mostly of orange zest, a tint of lime, ghostly white pepper, and corriander. Thicker on the buds then a hefe; kinda like a double hefe, much like a Saison should be. Well-rounded malt profile allowing the orange flavors and zesty/peppery, hoppy things to do their part as it cruises into the finish with a bit more complexity and length with a very mild, but eager finish of balanced spice.

Feel is medium over thick with a super fun and easy goin' soothing smoothness thats silky and bold. Finish is just right, not overpowering in the least; spicy, citrusy, zesty, and peppy. The thickness proceeds its overall cleanness as it tends to have a cloying little backing of malt base. Nice!

Gone in no time. Given its thick, smoother frame, its tamed spice, and moderate to bold, heavy, uncomplicated flavors, it goes down quicker then it ought to. An amazing summer brew from the fellas at Surly!

I may add to this review as I have more of this in the future, as I know between this and Bender, I will be enjoying a alot more of these while it lasts.

Serving type: on-tap

06-02-2006 01:22:53 | More by tavernjef
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CynicAle from Surly Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 1,111 ratings.