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SurlyFest - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

351 Reviews
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Reviews: 351
Hads: 807
Avg: 4.04
pDev: 16.34%
Wants: 232
Gots: 66 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Märzen / Oktoberfest |  6.00% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: feloniousmonk on 09-03-2006

Brewed with three different types of Rye and a single variety of American Hops. Malted Rye, Flaked Rye, and Crystal Rye impart a distinctive biscuit flavor to the lush Vienna Malt body, and dry-hopping with Sterling Hops adds bright, floral hop aromas.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 351 | Hads: 807
Photo of shadetree67
4.15/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - Light Amber and almost clear. After a strong pour there was about a quarter inch of head which didn't last for long.

Smell - Caramel Malts, rye spice, and a faint hop aroma.

Taste - The rye is present but not overwhelming. A good balance of malts with a touch of hops. This is very drinkable and a nice variation on the Oktoberfest style.

Mouthfeel - Medium body with a decent amount of carbonation.

Overall - I always look forward to drinking this beer in the fall. One of my favorite Oktoberfest beers and the rye makes it stand out from the herd

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Photo of jegross2
3.99/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewing the SurlyFest from Surly Brewing Company, out of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. This beer, one of the few Surly beers that I have not previously gotten around too, is a dry hopped rye lager; Surly's take on the Oktoberfest style.

Score: 89

September 2013 release. 16 oz can served in a Goose Island Chicago flag snifter and enjoyed on 10/03/13. Thank you for the can Brandon!

Appearance: Pours a caramel bourbon color that is clean in appearance, but not quite transparent, with a thin layer of head that quickly settles to a pencil thin ring around the glass. Good lacing, average retention. 3.75/5

Smell: Hops, spice (presumably the rye), caramel malt, grains and distinctive Oktoberfest-like lager yeast. Faint alcohol esters too. 4/5

Taste: For a Surly beer with a hoppy nose, the taste is pretty hop-devoid. Malt sweetness upfront, followed by whole/creamy grain flavor and a light spice character. Clean finish with a little residual malt flavor. There is only a minimal amount of that distinctive "yeah, you're drinking a lager, wanna fight about it?" yeast flavor that you get in other Oktoberfest brews, and it does not layer or linger which I really enjoy about this brew. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Thin bodied, but not watery. Good carbonation level. Very oily. Starts out with a light spice kick, but as the beer layers the rye/spice gains a more life on the front-sides of the tongue. 4/5

Overall: A very solid beer, and nice twist on the Oktoberfest style. I like the rye character here, and although I would have enjoyed more hops in the taste, I do like that the lager flavors I am not personally partial to are dialed down here. Definitely a beer I would drink again, but this is not one I would seek out specially.

Cost: $8.99 for a 4 pack of 16 oz cans.

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Photo of arc3636
3.99/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - golden red color, fair amount of head. Beer is extremely clear

S - faint spicy aroma

T - rye is featured, but there is also a nice spice flavor I can't place

M - full bodied

O - solid and very drinkable, I had 2 pints and could have easily had 2 more. Only complaint is it was tough to find!

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Photo of Ri0
4.1/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

poured 16oz can into Duvel tulip. Dated 8/28/13

A - Golden bronze and clear with an off white 1 finger head. Fair retention and thin patches of lacing.

S - Sweet roasted malt, caramel, lager yeast, and spicy rye. Some faint earthy hops round it out.

T - Sweet with a bit of rye and hop spice on the finish. A good amount of caramel and lager yeast, with earthy, light bitter hops and a touch of spicy rye on the finish.

M - Medium body with acceptable carbonation. There is a hint of bitter and spice that lingers on the tongue.

O - I really enjoyed this offering from Surly. Something different to drink in the sea of Oktoberfests.

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Photo of davey101
4.16/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

09/04/13 can into a tulip glass. Thanks yamar68! Pours a clear dark amber/red body with a finger of tan foam. Aroma is a combination of sweet bubble gum, citrus, caramel malts and spicy rye. Taste is milder with the citrus and fruit working off of the caramel and spiced rye bread perfectly. A little lingering hop bitterness. Mouth feel is full and coating for a lager. This is a really interesting beer. It's really delicious and kind of perfect for the colder weather.

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Photo of vette2006c5r
4.02/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

SurlyFest pours a dark copperish color with a small lacing head. There is a mellow sour rye aroma. The taste has a slightly sour, but sharp rye like bite, with a nice hop bite. Very full body, yet very drinkable. Overall its a very solid and well crafted beer.

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Photo of NickSMpls
4.24/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a clear amber into a nonic glass. Canned on 27 Aug and quaffed on 1 Sept on the deck during a warm MN evening. Light head and low carbonation. Out of the can, the rye and barley malts hit the nose first. Well balanced and the dry hopped result produces a lighter and less sweet beer compared to others. A purist would say it's not true to style, but who cares?

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Photo of DaveAnderson
3.42/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

This is one poorly named beer. It reminds me of no Oktoberfest whatsoever. Then again, the can proclaims it a dry-hopped rye lager.

That's pretty much where it lines up. The rye spiciness is front and center, perhaps to excess. I would have liked a fruitier finish to back all of this rye. Still, it's clean-finishing, if a little heavy.

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Photo of AnalogErik
3.17/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

watery this year. no hop presence, lower carb. not thrilled with this, especially given the track record for their previous iterations. I hope they figure it out next year!

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Photo of joemcgrath27
4.17/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - clear bronze, generous head held its own with plenty of sticky lacing
S - caramel, grains, wood, mild citrus and earthiness
T - pleasant mix of earthy, spicy, and light piney hops, big caramel and hearty grain maltiness, finishes with a mild woody flavour
M - slightly heavy, full malty feel with just enough hop bitterness to balance
O - this is a fine brew with a nice mix of spicy rye grain, sweet malts, and a smooth finish, not a traditional 'fest' beer as I know it but big ups for putting a twist on it, this brewery is the real deal

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.01/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

apparently surly makes only interesting and top quality brews. I love this one. its like a Oktoberfest, but is spiked with rye malt, and has a unique vanilla character im not used to in the style. the pour is more bronze than orange, mostly clear, with an inch or so of lasting white head. the nose is german malty, but with that familiar peppery rye kick and a finish of fresh vanilla beans cut open and scraped clean. yum! the flavor is a little less dramatic on the vanilla, and its more toward the front than the finish, but its still there. the malt balances out into a nice german traditional marzen style. this has characteristics of both an ale and a lager, its crispness is remarkable for its complexity, and its super sessionable. strong carbonation lightens up a fuller medium body, and the 6% abv is just right for me in thus style. overall a very strong offering from surly, I really love the vanilla twist here.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.06/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can opened on 3.14.13

A - Pours a clear, dark orange-red with a foamy three inch head that fades slowly.

S - Malty, rye bread, still hoppy.

T - Silky smooth rye and wheat bread with a touch of hops.

D - Gread carbonaton with a light body.

O - Old, but still tasty. Some hops still left. How'd I miss this one? I want a fresh one!

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Photo of Rifugium
3.75/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

First had: can, as a trade extra

I went in expecting a typical marzen, but this was actually quite different: a tasty rye lager. A mostly clear, darker amber pour, with a small, foamy, white head that sank to a collar and left a few streaks of lacing on the glass. Aroma was sweet with malts, bready, toasty, herbal hops. The taste reflected the scent, sweet malts, bready, toasty rye--not too distinctive, but still apparent--light herbal hops. Crisp, clean mouthfeel, medium body, maybe light-medium, quite drinkable overall. A nice and unexpected treat.

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Photo of starrdogg
4.3/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer pours a reddish-brown with a fluffy white head and lots of bubbles. Smell is caramel malt with hints of spicy rye. It essentially smells like your average marzen with a little something extra. The flavor is where this beer really shines, it has that great caramel malt flavor of a marzen but adds in some awesome spicy rye and a bit of hops. It's incredibly full-flavored but has a nice clean finish. Mouthfeel is light-medium bodied with some heavy carbonation. This is a pretty great beer and one of my favorite lagers ever made. I wish it wasn't just a seasonal, as this would be a fantastic beer to drink year-round.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.7/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

475ml aluminum can (by the way, they also claim it's 'one pint' which is quite inaccurate [even in terms of U.S. standards - consult wikipedia]) served into a Dick's Last Resort pilsner glass in me sister's gaff in low altitude Minneapolis, Minnesota. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given the brewery. No best before date.

Served relatively cold and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a two finger light khaki colour head of good thickness, nice cream, and good retention. Body colour is a delightfully vibrant amber. One of the better Amber colours I've seen. Transparent. Translucent. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Toasted amber malts, caramelization, a hint of cherry, and some cream. I don't get rye; call me crazy. A delightful aroma. Vibrant evocative malts abound. Some light spicing; even a vague hint of...ginger? Surprisingly fruity. I'm intrigued. A moderate strength, very pleasant aroma.

T: Toasted amber malts comprise the foundation. Hints of cherry. Some cream. Delightfully subtle caramelization. Malty and layered. The fruity notes blend well with the malty backbone, but it's never overly sweet. Again, I do not detect rye - either it's incredibly subtle or it's just a footnote in the grain bill. Evocative, rich, and delightful. I quite fancy it. Subtle, pleasant, and enjoyable.

Mf: Smooth but coarse enough to bring the flavour out. Good carbonation and thickness.

Dr: Quite drinkable and enjoyable. A solid Oktoberfest bier from Surly - even if they don't want to admit it. So you threw in a touch of rye - whoopty doo. This is a Marzen. Not a traditional one, but nevertheless a Marzen. And one of the better ones I've had, at that. I'd get this again. Dareisay sessionable (for those of us who aren't such nancies that we need our session beer to be 4% or less). Another solid offering from Surly.


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Photo of match1112
3.88/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

thanks to cofeeguru for this!

a: clear amber body with an inch of off white head.

s: sweet caramel, citrus hops and bread.

t: had no idea this had rye in it from the smell, luckily the rye spice shines thru on the tongue. balanced out pretty well from the hops and caramel malts.

m: medium body with decent carbonation. some of the rye spice dances on the tongue. clean finish.

o: easy drinkin, smooth taste, really solid beer.

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

A - Pours a nice copper colour, finger of head with some retention and sporadic lacing.

S - Scent is dominated by sweet butter caramel, leafy green and citrus hops, metallic rye and grainy biscuit malts.

T - The grassy and citrus hop flavours dominate, a peppery spice follows with the biscuit and grainy malt notes lingering alongside an earthy bitterness.

M - Lighter bodied, incredibly smooth and finishes with a touch of dryness.

O - Yet another winner from Surly. Incredibly flavourful and delicious. This is a session ale, and everything about it screams easy drinking deliciousness.

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Photo of metter98
3.85/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is relatively clear yellowish amber in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a short beige head that died down but left a large patch of bubbles on the surface and lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of herbs and hops in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell but also has some spiciness from the rye and a light to moderate amount of hop bitterness.
M: It feels medium-bodied and a little smooth on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The dry-hopping and rye helped lighten up the maltiness that is usually found in Oktoberfest beers. I found this to be very enjoyable and easy to drink.

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.55/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16 oz. can poured into a Sam Adams Octoberfest Stein. Awesome looking color. It's a nice dark orange to brown in color. Nice glow when held to the light. Absolutely perfect clarity on this one. Nice orangey creamcicle colored head on it that absolutely erupts after a hard pour. There is good lacing and glass retention on this as well.

Smell is good, but it's not that strong. Not completely traditional for a oktoberfest style here. Plenty of roasted barley, a helping of rye and as the can indicates it's dry hopped. All that combined with a dose of lager yeast to makes it smell a little more traditional. It's all very nice and well blended, one of the better smelling I've had this year for sure, it's just not that strong.

Taste is awesome, it's literally flawless in my opinion. Lots of rye mixed with plenty of roasted barley. Lager yeaste is a little more obvious in the flavor profile than the smell. The hops arn't overpowering by any means (and they shouldn't be in this style) but they are more apparent here than the smell again, which isn't all that common. Basically it has all the great characteristics of the nose just stronger now.

Mouthfeel is also great. Medium bodied with an excellent carbonation level. Smooth, buttery and well balanced with a clean almost crisp finish. Great drinkability on this one, wish I could have been drinking this already all during the fall. Great beer, great representation of the style. Has some unique characteristics while still maintaining the traditional integrity of the style. Well done Surly and thanks to Noah for sending this one out.

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Photo of Etan
3.7/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

16oz can into a pint glass.

A: Pours a maple-brass color with a nice off-white head.

S: Mild citric hoppiness with some faint notes of rye and bready malt.

T: Like the nose, very mild notes of rye, palpable hop bitterness, some orange, a little nutty in the finish.

M: Light-bodied with moderate carbonation.

O: This tastes fine, but instead of choosing a hoppy beer or a traditional festbier they made a hybrid that seems sort of middling to me.

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Photo of WesM63
3.88/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Red from a 16oz can into a tulip.

A: Pours a murky dark copper amber color with a nice 2finger head. Decent retention and tons of lacing.

S: Caramel and rye a faint smell of pine hides in the ack.

T: Sweet caramel with some spicy rye and minimal pine.

M: Medium body and carbonation.

O: Not bad. Very mild and not overpowering.

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

A: Pours a crystal clear dark amber in color with some very light amounts of visible carbonation. The beer has a finger tall creamy off-white that reduces to medium sized thick patch, a thick film covering the entire surface of the beer, and a thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light aromas of caramel malts and rye spiciness upfront with some moderate aromas of pine hops.

T: The flavors of this beer start out with some light caramel malt sweetness followed by moderate to strong flavors of pine hops with a light amount of rye spiciness in the finish.

M: Medium bodied with slightly heavier than moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly coats the inside of your mouth.

O: I really enjoyed this hoppier take on an Octoberfest with the addition of rye - it is just enough different than others in the style but in a positive fashion. Easy to drink and sessionable.

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Photo of jaasen64
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

16oz can courtesy of Biniek13, poured into a '12 Surlyfest stein also courtesy of Biniek13.

A- Pours a translucent slightly reddish copper with about a finger of head that recedes fairly fast to leave a completely flat top with almost no head. Some slight spotty lacing.

S- First thing that striked me about this beer was the presence of light citrus hops (some light pine, lemon, etc.) which was definitely more then I was expecting. These hops were balanced with rye, barley, and malts to provide for a typical Oktoberfest aroma with a little bit more hoppy presence. Slightly above normal aroma strength.

T- Nice balance of citrus hops, barley, rye, and malts with a typical oktoberfest taste that is slightly more hoppy then typical. Slightly hoppy barley malt finish with a very light bitterness and lingering aftertaste.

M- Smooth, very drinkable, lightly carbonated.

O- This was a very good Oktoberfest beer, definitely better then most that I've tried. The style isn't my favorite, but I definitely enjoyed this beer. This beer definitely makes for a nice autumn beer. I would drink it again and I definitely recommend it if you like the style.

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Photo of mobius387
3.79/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

havent reviewed a beer in awhile, so...

appearance: dark almond gold, inch thick white head with bubbles. i love the look of this oktober. most others look softer and lighter, this one sets the tone for a darker fuller beer

aroma: not much going on, but what O-fest does have big nose?

palate: very hoppy for an O-fest, mild body, bit boozier than other fest beers, a like it

taste: got a nice malty base with some piney hoppy kick, but finishes clean for that classic oktober taste.

overall: not your average oktober, much darker/bigger and hoppier, and i give surly credit for that. its got less of that classic clean, spicy taste and more of a hoppy kick than i expected. most importantly, surly's finger print is all over this one. its got that same finish i get from a furious, cynic, bitter brewer that we've all grown to love. i'd still take a furious or abrasive over this one any day, but a very good oktober from a top notch brewery

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Photo of kawilliams81
4.12/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16 oz can into imperial pint.

A- pours a clear copper with a 2 finger light tan head. Big trails and blotches remain all over the glass.

S- wow! Big citrus aromas, caramel, and spices.

T- sweet caramel and spicy rye, nic amount of citrus and some pine bitterness.

M- medium body and carbonation. Really smooth and creamy.

O- first of all I didn't know this was a rye beer, thought it was just another Oktoberfest beer. Boy was I wrong. Very good rye beer with big citrus notes and nice amount of bitterness.

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SurlyFest from Surly Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 351 ratings.