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CynicAle - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,289 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,289
Reviews: 585
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 10.3%
Wants: 234
Gots: 134 | 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: 1,289 | Reviews: 585 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BEERchitect
3.62/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of ZX6Chris
4.5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Hazy, dark golden amber, thick tannish head that settles to a ring around the rim, thin layer of bubbles on top. Nice legs on the side of the glass.

S-That unmistakable Belgian smell, deep dark dank. Spicey pepper, toasted, a hint of sweet malts. Citrus hops. Banana, fruity esters.

T-Citrus hops, malts, something in the end that I don't know the word for. Mushrooms? Bitter in the end. Taste like a sweet fruit but I can't say which one. Is that some tartness? Funk?

M-Light to medium carbonation. Perfect though just enought to let the flavors dance on your tongue. great body(light to medium). Stands up to the flavor.

D-Great smell, taste carbonation and body. I don't get any alcohol. I could do a few cans of these.

Simply amazing that this much complexity came out of a CAN! I CAN't believe it. I never expected anything like this! As much flavor if not more then some of the best Belgians.

Photo of hawks10
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16oz can poured into an imperial pint glass...

Pours a somewhat hazy golden yellow/orange with some amber highlights...three fingers of soft meringue-like white head quickly forms and sticks around for a while, leaving some lacing behind...

Smells of earthy/leafy hops with a decent touch of spice. Peppery with a definite Belgian yeast aroma, a bit of sweet citrus fruit balances things out...

Citrus fruits mixed in with some peppery spice, Belgian yeast, clove and a nice helping of semi-bitter, earthy/floral hops...complex but still simple enough to enjoy this in quantity...

Medium bodied with decent carbonation, somewhat slick on the palette and bitter in the finish...

Overall a pretty good beer, and anything decent from a can is awesome to me! Drinks more like a Belgian pale than what you would expect from a Saison, but still good nonetheless...

Photo of kbeals
4.23/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received this brew from younger35 at DLD, much appreciated and much anticipated!

A- A billowing, creamy white head sits atop a glowing, bright yellow body of beer. Multi-tiered lacing make for an excellent appearance.

S- Hints of fruity esters and an earthy, spicy quality to it. Bananas, cloves with a bit of tropical fruit. Looking at the can I see peach and apricot on the bill.

T- Taste is great. Good mix of spice and fruit with the aforementioned smells all located within the taste. I really can't find much wrong with this one.

M- Light and bubbly just as expected.

D- Pretty drinkable, each sip left me wanting more but 16 oz. was plenty. Very pleased with this beer as I have been with every other Surly beer. Surly is slowly creeping it's way up as my favorite brewery.

Photo of alleykatking
4.33/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Lukafer for sharing this with me. Also, thanks to gratefulbeerhead for giving this one to Lukafer. Review from notes.

A- Pours a semi-hazed golden orange color. One and a half finger cloudy white head takes a short while to come to a cap over the beer. Left some nice ringing lacing on the glass.

S- A lot of the belgian yeast in here mixes with some citrus fruits and light peppery notes. There is some floral hops in here as well along with something else...peaches maybe?

T- Nice beligan yeasty flavor upfront with a dash of citrus fruits. This gives way to light peppery notes and some floral notes. The floral keeps into the ending of the beer. There is a sweet alcohol in the backing which is the only downfall for the beer. Nothing to annoying though.

M- Light mouthfeel. Carbonation is a little higher than I like for the style. Yeasty off-flavors left on the palate with floral notes in the aftertaste. Flavors were bright, crisp, and clean like everything Surly does.

D- Surly makes yet another amazing beer. This seems to be the norm with Surly though. I will be on the lookout for more of this beer. Damn...please for the love of God come to Indiana!

Photo of ufotofuturo
4.04/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had one of these from a can at the Bedlam Theater, and it kind of blew me away. Fantastic drinkability, going hand-in-hand with a sharp, bite-you-in-the-ass kind of flavor. I've only had two beers from Surly, and they've both seemed like "regular" beer, but this one's on the good side of regular. Don't hesitate to pay $5.00 for a can of this guy.

Photo of pmccallum86
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a fizzy golden color, very clear in the body. Massive head results from an aggressive pour and dissipates extremely slowly leaving a beautiful lacing.

Smell is ultra zesty, some lemons and citrus, a little peppery notes as well followed by a light bready malt aroma.

Taste is crisp with light bready malts followed by zesty spices. Lemon, citrus, pepper, Belgian yeast. Great beer for a lovely summer day , preferably on the golf course. Very solid saison from a can, for a glass.

Mouthfeel is light and crisp, good, maybe a little high on the carbonation though.

Good drinkability, good saison.

Photo of beertunes
3.78/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

My first beer from a brewery I've heard so much about. Thanks to phreak1983 for sending me this in a recent trade.

The beer poured a pretty golden-orange color with over an inch of fluffy, white head that had good retention and moderate lacing.

The aroma was the fairly typical blend of grain, yeast and spices that represent the style. The flavors followed the same template, grainy, spicy and refreshing.

The body wasn't as full as some of the style I've had, but was still good. Drinkability was very good, smooth and without the sharpness that sometimes shows up in some Saisons.

Overall, a very nice beer, one worth seeking out. I know I'll be getting more.

Photo of axeman9182
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to BDlbrewster for hooking me up with Surly goodness. Poured from a can into my Duvel tulip. Pours a nice burnt orange color, a little bit darker than I usually expect from a saison. A nice sized, slightly off white head forms and lingers for a minute before largely disappearing and leaving behind a disappointing lack of lacing. The smell is a wonderful blend of biscuity malts and yeast goodness. A few sips bring a taste that largely mirrors the nose, with a little bit of a lingering hop bitterness that seems out of place. The mouthfeel is probably the highlight of this beer, there's the normally slightly prickly carbonation I find in a saison, but there's also a creaminess that takes it to another level. I can't say it's my favorite saison (that would be fresh Jack D'or), but CynicAle is a damn good beer.

Photo of ktrillionaire
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to tytoanderso for this generous extra (one of many)

A - Ultra-clear golden hue, fizzy, with a decent white head and so-so retention.

S - Saison in the can? It smells like a Saison; summer-y and farmhouse-y and generally floral and spicy. Some honey, banana and grain are also available.

T - For real, Saison in the can? I doubt even Hercule Poirot could get to the bottom of that one. It is quite good though. Sweetly spicy, and quite dynamic. Begins with sweet notes of pale malt, honey and flower blossoms. Nuances of earthy, bready and grassy elements are asserted, and followed by a tinge of alcohol and a fusing of the hop and malt profiles. Ends with a Bohemian Pils-esque finish, as the leafy and earthy hops linger in the aftertaste. Very nice American Saison, can or not.

M - Thin enough to be very refreshing, full enough to carry some serious flavor, and with just enough effervescence.

D - Surly is awesome; they are easily one of the most underrated brewers in the game. And this brew is definitely worthy of the brand bestowed upon the can.

Photo of evanackerman
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beer pours a nice golden-orange color with sizable beige head out of a 160z can.

Smell, Belgian beer smell, sweet, flowery, alcohol

Taste, interesting mix between Belgian Triple, and German Lager, there is a sweet malt component and also a mild pepper flavor in the finish. Very interesting, not quite like anything I've previously tasted.

Mouthfeel is medium viscosity, moderate carbonation, very appealing.

Overall, very drinkable and interesting brew. Surly is always somewhat unique as they don't seem to be beholden to style constraints, I could see some people really loving the beer, personally, I enjoy it but think it might be a bit overpriced.

Photo of DavoleBomb
3.74/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip. Big thanks to OHLRangers and jyounger30 for this one (both included as extra).

4.0 A: Nearly clear light orange color. Big mix of creamy and frothy head with average retention and spotty lacing.

5.0 S: An exceptional smelling saison for sure. Load of spiciness from the start with pepper, clove, and corriander. Hay-like funkiness with subdued peach and apricot notes

3.0 T: Compared to how good the nose is, the taste is rather flat though still pretty good. Still some spiciness going on, but mainly corriander. A lot of the pepper and clove taste isn't there. Much drier than I expected with a lot of the peachy fruitiness gone. The funky hay is also gone.

4.0 M: Light body with fizzy Belgian carbonation. Soft bitterness on finish.

3.5 D: I heard that there is a lot of variability with this brew. I think I got one of the duller ones. Good, but not great.

Photo of Parrotbeak
4.04/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Golden straw color with a thin, white head that fades quickly.
Smell is earthy malts, with some Belgian yeast. Cloves, faint cinnamon, and some light fruits.
Taste is cloves and cinnamon on the front, with some light fruits, and a peppery finish, all over a decent malt backbone.
Mouthfeel is smooth and slightly crisp, with a nice, dry finish. Medium light body.
Very good drinkability. Alcohol well hidden.

Photo of womencantsail
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of Halcyondays
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Out of 16 oz. can, excited to try this thanks Andrew,

A: Pours a vibrant real orange with a nice white creamy head.

S: Orange blossoms, some yeast, fruity.

T: Sweet orange, peach and apricot jam, some honey in there as well. Stone fruit heavy. Some nice malt character too, a tasty brew.

M: Very smooth and easy on the palate. Light carbonation. Elegant.

D: I've always wanted to try a regular Surly beer and this one did not disappoint. A stand out effort.

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

Thanks to SuperColter for this one!!!

16oz can into a pint glass.

A- Golden yellow with a thinner 2 finger white head that doesn't last too long.

S- Sweet malts with a variety of fruits going on here. Sweet honey and black pepper come out but don't overpower the overall hopiness of this brew.

T- Definitely the most interesting brew I've come across. Sweet bready maltiness hits you up front along with a solid strange honey black pepper taste. A good amount of fruitiness comes out, apples, apricot, peaches, and some good citrusy fruits as well. Also a strong yeasty flavor that complements the flavor and the mouthfeel.

M- Solid medium bodied beer with low carbonation and literaly no bitterness. This beer is insanely drinkable. The moderate ABV and smoothness makes this brew pretty dangerous, and a great session brew.

Overall this is a must try. Great freakin brew.


Photo of jrallen34
3.94/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I drank this from a 16oz can into my Orval glass. Thanks to cosmohophead for a great extra.

The beer pours a glowing medium orange, a very eye appealing color. The head is white rising about a finger but fades quickly to form only a rim. The lacing is light.

The aroma is pretty light, with some sweet orange tones.

The taste is decent, its pretty sweet for a saison, not a lot of the earthy floral tones I was expecting. At the end a small sour bite. There is a pretty sweet finish/aftertaste.

The feel is rather light, but there is a very tannic feeling that sticks to your tongue for a while.

This is very drinkable.

Overall, not your typical saison to me but it was a nice change of pace that was funto drink.

Photo of KickbacksSteve
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16 ounce can poured into a Unibroue tulip. Never thought in my life I would be pouring a saison out of a can. Totally strange. Thank you kindly to kbutler1, for trekking some Surly cans across the country for me. 1 inch of pillowy white head lingers on a blonde/golden body leaving some soapy lacing. Aroma is spicy, fruity, hoppy and refreshing. Taste is of apples, apricots, sunshine and a touch of funk. Actually leans more towards a Belgian saison versus and American one. Really, really hard to believe that these flavors are coming out of an American CAN. Wow.

Photo of Kegatron
3.85/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16 oz can into a tulip glass.

Pours a clear coppery gold, with 2-3 firm fingers of foamy brite-white head. Retains with a thin layer of foamy retention that leaves some light spotty froth down the sides of the glass. The aroma has a pronounced tang to it from a combo of toasted biscuits and fruity character (apples and some ripe banana are coming out the most). I'm also getting a good bit of sharp peppery yeast notes, as well as some earth and bitter citrus rind.

The is similar to the aroma but a bit more mellow. Toasted grainy malts and fruity citrus flavors definitely give this a bit of a sweet tangy feel on the palate. Touch of earthy bitterness offers up some balance. Spice and yeast flood the back of the throat, giving this a dry finish that gives way to a bit of leftover tang. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a fair amount of crispness to the carbonation but overall stays very smooth in the mouth. Maybe a touch of warm to the feel but that ABV is mostly hid.

Not the strongest effort from Surly here but this still possessed enough flavor and smooth drinkibility to keep me entertained during the duration of this can. This would be a good one to crack when the weather gets a little warmer.

Photo of camp0474
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into Nonic Pint Glass

A: Creamy off-white head dies off quickly. Yellow-Gold color, which is a bit hazy.

S: Initial notes of citrus, honey and black pepper. Also the smell of fresh bread baking.

T: Sweet apricot and honey balanced with black pepper. Maybe a little lemon flavor as well. Pepper bitterness as it first hits the tongue which quickly rebounds to a sweet clean smooth flavor. Traces of light floral and citrus hops.

M: Medium-Light Body. Tingle on the tongue from carbonation and peppery flavor. Clean sweet finish, not dry.

D: Overall well balanced. Sweet and bitter. Clean smooth finish makes this one easy to put down. Could definitely have a few more.

Haven't had many other Saison style beers to compare this to, but well balanced and enjoyable. A good exploit of yeast characters. Would definitely enjoy this beer again.

Photo of kbutler1
4.25/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

So Surly says: "CynicAle melds Old World ingredients in a new school style." and I would have to agree seeing as it comes in a kick@$$ can and all.
Pours a nice orange/yellow with a nice 1 inch head that settles down quite nicely. Aroma is of belgian yeast, lightly roasted malts, subtle spice & fruit. The flavor is very smmoth for a Surly, no in your face hops, but a nice smooth beer that is very easy to drink. Nicely done. The mouthfeel is light/medium. Very drinkable. For me, it's a great summer time beer as well as I nice break from the heavier RIS I have been drinking lately.

Photo of herman77
3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark golden/carmel color. Pretty hazy. White cream color head that dissolved into a film after a minute or so. No lacing at all.

S: Sweet bread. Malt... apple?

T: Peppery/spice to start. Some sweet fruit, reminds me of apricots. Somewhat dry finish and again some spice at the end. A little apple at the end as well. Pretty complex taste.

M: Awesome mouthfeel. Very smooth coating feel. A little light on the carbonation. Medium body.

D: Goes down really well. I could have a few pints in a row for sure.

Don't think I have had a Saison before. Very interesting. The taste is not quite my thing, but still very good. Everything else is great in this beer.

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

Review is from notes taken on 2/16/2010 and poured from the can to a tulip.

Appearance: Pour is a medium to light coppery color and starts with a one finger creamy white head that fades almost immediately to a thin and uneven skim (I'm much more accustomed to big billowy heads with more retention with these beers); body is pretty clear and shows moderate carbonation; fair spots and washes of lacing are left trailing down the sides of the glass.

Smell: Some sweet and mildly tart green fruits (like apples, pears or grapes); a slightly biscuity yeasty bread presence and a fraint malt backing.

Taste: Really matches to the smell to a "T" -- the sweet and mildly tart green fruits, the biscuity/yeasty breadiness and the faint maltiness.. I do wish the the flavors were just a little bit more robust as I sip through it, but overall it's very solid; there's also a nice light spiciness to it as well.

Mouthfeel: Pretty light and crisp; carbonation is lively but not sharp and keeps the light flavors bubbling throughout; a mildly dry stickiness is left on the palate.

Drinkability: Solid enough with nice flavors -- I think if it came out of a bottle the the head may have had a different appearance that would be a little closer to style, but beyond that, it's spot on. I would gladly stock up on this if it was local.

Photo of kjyost
4.39/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Puchased at Zipps Liquor in Minneapolis and brought home. My first Surly, after hearing everyone in the Twin Cities talk it up I am looking forward to trying it.

Poured into a pint glass which yielded a quarter inch of head that was not long lasting. The beer itself is a rich Brownish Orange, indicating this isn't just a normal american beer (which up North is an insult).

There is a very nice aroma about the beer, where I can clearly smell the hops, but can't really pull anything else discernible off of it, although there definitely is something else there.

There is a nice light hoppy taste with a lingering bitterness. A nice little bite in the background of some sort of spiciness I cannot describe. Very, very good.

Photo of WYVYRN527
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy golden to orange in color, with a white head that quickly settles. Lacing is very nice as well.

Aromas consist of peppery spice, along with marmalade and honey. There is a slight grassy floral note in the backround. On the palate, honey, peppercorn, dried fruit, and rock candy accompany the trademark Belgian yeast attributes. Hops take a backseat, but still show their presence with hints of spicy herbs, grass, and a bit of jasmine.

CynicAle is light to medium-bodied, but full-flavored. The finish is silky and long-lasting as well. It's a great American twist on the style. Complex, but very easy to drink.

CynicAle from Surly Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 1,289 ratings.