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SurlyFest - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

334 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 334
Hads: 744
rAvg: 4.05
pDev: 9.88%
Wants: 224
Gots: 45 | FT: 0
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

No notes at this time.
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Reviews: 334 | Hads: 744
Photo of ZAP
4.12/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Deep copper....nice white lacing along the glass as you drink it.

S-Great aroma....Very fresh floral hops with some mild spicy notes (perhaps from the rye)....this really smells fantastic.

T-Surly doesn't brew along styles so I'm not going to get into the big "is this an ofest or not debate"...what I will say to give you an idea of what this tastes like is this reminds me a lot of a tasty beefed up english style pale ale....great floral, grassy, earthy hop impression with a nice backbone of spicy rye malt...

M-Very clean and easy drinking. Thanks to BigHugey for toting 10 of this up to my place...I will need all 10 to satisfy my desire for drinking more of this beer...amazingly clean finish...medium bodied..

D-I know there are mixed opinions on this beer. I am rating it as a beer and not an ofest. As a beer it is outstanding. Its the kind of beer I wouldn't mind packing my fridge with and reaching for every day. I love the hop flavor of this and the spicy maltiness complements it perfectly....I like Furious and that has its place too but I feel this is a better beer overall. I'm extremely impressed. (1,122 characters)

Photo of slyke
4.48/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

SurlyFest pours a beautiful copper color with an ample white head.

The aroma of the beer has some rye, grass, malt and a bit of hop.

The taste has rye followed by malty sweetness and a tinge of the hop that becomes more prominent in the bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is crisp and slightly coating. Excellent.

Drinkability is fan-dang-tastic on this one. It is very smooth, and slides down easily. This is an outstanding beer! Get it if you can. (443 characters)

Photo of WeisGuy
4.17/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Pitmonkey for this brew.

a - pour a deep golden color with a one-finger white head, little retention and lacing, fairly clear

s - not a real intense aroma but fairly complex, citrusy hops and rye dominate, notes of caramel malt and grain

t - sweet maltiness right up front with the hops and rye following in short order, finish is bitter to begin and fades into a graininess with some more rye

m - medium-bodied, lots of carbonation, finish is somewhat dry

d - fairly drinkable though the finish is bitter and drying on the palate, alcohol really isn't noticeable

My favorite Surly offering? No. But this is yet another very solid beer from the guys in Brooklyn Center. I love the incorporation of rye and could care less what style this is supposed to fit into. Well worth seeking a couple cans out. (820 characters)

Photo of seaoflament
4.13/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A great extra provided from Initiave in a recent trade.

SurlyFest pours a caramel color with a good finger or so of thick foam. Great lacing and retention.

Aroma is of hops, a bit earthy yet with a touch of citrus. Some toasted malts and a bit of caramel, also some fruity yeast aromas. Not your typical Oktoberfest beer but like it says on the can “if you want one of those, grab your passport and head over to München.”

Taste is of hop goodness with some toasted malts and some earthy flavors that I think are from the yeast. After sipping this for a while I can definitely taste and feel the rye in the back of my mouth, strange taste to have in an Oktoberfest but I’ve been craving a beer with some rye lately so it hits the spot nicely.

Good carbonation and very easy to drink. (791 characters)

Photo of Dansting
4.47/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Can. Poured a clear copper color with a medium white head. Good lacing. Aroma is excellent, as it is hoppier than you'd imagine for an Oktoberfest (although for Surly, I guess it should be expected). As for that flavor, wow! I'm impressed. As a fan of the style, this is a much bolder flavor. It has the caramel and maltiness to it that I like, but it has a super hoppy finish to it.

I had my doubts from reading other reviews (considering Surly is so highly regarded), but this is very nice, up there along the lines of the other great Surly brews. (551 characters)

Photo of DaPeculierDane
2.09/5  rDev -48.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Many thanks to Mike for the 4-pack.

Great Appearance. Dark orange body with a huge white froth.

Aroma: Huge citrus hops aroma. Touches of rye. No toast. No caramel. I know that this is a Surly hi-bred rypafest but honestly I’m not impressed. This smells nothing like an Oktoberfest.

Taste: Hops, Grapefruit. Virtually no malt. No toast. No caramel. No toffee. Rye? Maybe, but that’s a bit of a stretch.

Mouthfeel: Blistering. Unbalanced, overwhelming bitterness. Medium to light bodied. Aggressively carbonated. Not creamy or smooth as an Ofest ought to be.

Drinkability: Null. Hop heads will love this but I had a very hard time consuming half a can let alone a whole pint.

This beer really disturbs me. (716 characters)

Photo of CBorg
4.43/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very nice dark copper color with a finely grained head. It may look like a typical Oktoberfest, but it's anything but. The nose clean and hoppy with plenty of citrus, but with a nice malty body in the background to balance the hops. This beer is exceptionally drinkable and downright delicious; And the mouthfeel is pure velvet. Awesome! (345 characters)

Photo of wardough
4.18/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bwatson is going to be pissed, as he left this at my house so we could drink it later. Sorry man. It was damn good. Poured it into an OB Lager ceramic Stein.

A: Pours a nice amber into the stein. The head is nice (about 3 fingers high) and fizzs out to a nice halo.

S: A light smell of rye bread. Moves into hops later.

T: Goes down easy. The taste of rye is first, followed by the hops. Very, very complex. The German yeast doesn't really jump out at me.

M: Like 2% milk. Goes down great and feels perfect.

D: It's very easy to drink this.

Overall, a very clean tasting lager with an intesting twist. (612 characters)

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.72/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Acquired via trade from Scoobydank, so a big “Thank you” goes out to him. Poured from a 16oz can into a mug glass.

A: The beer is a dark orange color with a very thin white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is pretty hoppy for an O-fest. There are also plenty of caramelized malts and spices in the smell as well.

T: Just like the smell, the most notable thing about the taste is the strong burst of floral hops up front. It almost makes you wonder whether you’re drinking an Oktoberfest or an IPA. There are flavors of caramel, spices and nuts to provide a good balance to the strong hops bitterness. At the risk of overstating it, this is by far the hoppiest O-fest I’ve ever had and I like it a lot. Hell, it’s hoppier than most IPA’s that I’ve had.

M: Smooth and very crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean and dry.

D: Very tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, good kick, decent representation of style while taking the style to the next level. This is definitely one of those beers that I could drink several of throughout a whole evening and not have the urge to drink anything else. I know that the fact that I like this beer more than any other O-fest I’ve had simply because of the hoppiness means I’m a Hophead, but I’m calling like I taste it. This is an excellent beer. (1,374 characters)

Photo of dogger6253
4.52/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A very inviting look to this beer - dark ruby/amber hybrid color. It kind of looks like the last moments of a sunset, minus the purple. The head is a nice tan color about 1/4 inch thick. If dissolves into a film across the top of the beer, continuing to hang on the glass too.

The aroma is very thick with citrus hops, sort of a grapefruit mostly. The beer seems to smell fruitier as it warms, more citrus coming out, orange and the tiniest hint of lemon. Cherry is strongly present too and what I'm going to call pear, though there's something slightly different about it. The smells are very fresh and juicy while maintaining a strong floral balance to it all. Great aroma.

The taste is practically awesome. I've been flying through these the past week, simply because they taste so good. There is major hop character going on underneath all of the sweetness, a great balance. There is a caramel malt base holding in the citrus and cherry flavors. There's is a bread-like quality going on here too, especially in the aftertaste.

The mouthfeel is pretty good, light carbonation, medium body. The drinkability is high on this one. I can't get enough of it. It's too bad all my local stores are out of it, I was hoping to snag at least another pack. The flavors are in great balance and everything about the beer screams "drink me." (1,335 characters)

Photo of ianrca19
4.33/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

These guys just can't stop cranking out amazing beers.

SurlyFest LOOKS like an Oktoberfest- it pours a deep, red-orange, with a thick but shallow light-tan head- but don't expect it to taste like one.

It's better.

There's a bit of a grapefruit scent wafting into your nose as you take your first sip, and then you get a rich, sweet grapefruity-maltiness that props up the signature huge-hop Surly taste. You then notice strong hints of peach and melon, before the finish sets in and you're left with a wonderful sweet graininess with those hops still sparkling on your tongue.

This is Surly's best all-around beer. (618 characters)

Photo of grub
4.15/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

my lovely wife brought this back from a recent trip to minnesota. thanks jenn!

16oz can.

pours crystal clear orangey amber colour with a small off-white head. the head drops fairly slowly and leaves spotty lace.

aroma is good. lightly toasted bread and biscuits. fresh and slightly floral hops. just a tiny hint of dms, but not unpleasant. hints of apricot. light alcohol. touch of grain.

taste is good. great toasty bread malt. just a hint of caramel sweetness. light apricot citrus. medium-low bitterness level. hint of alcohol.

mouthfeel is great. medium-low carbonation level works well. medium-light body.

drinkabilty is great. this is a darn fine octoberfest beer. well balanced, tasty, and highly enjoyable. glad i have another can! (745 characters)

Photo of DarkerTheBetter
3.68/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Jess, you rock! Thanks again.

First off, I’m really not sure what to make of this beer. I’ve never had anything like it before that considers itself an Octoberfest. I liked it, but by the style, I’m a little confused. WWJnTD? I suppose I should throw style to the wind, as did the boys at Surly, and review it on its own merits.

This beer is a light copper color that fades to straw near the edges as it sits in my 0,25 L mug, much like on the label of the can. The head is just a faint collar.

Smells huge and hoppy with (sterling hops I hear) a dry pine bite that smoothly drops off into mushroom gravy with black pepper and a touch of pear.

The taste starts with a similar sting of hops that starts out with pure dryness but then fades to a bit of saltine and a light pineapple husk. The dry hoppy finish leaves my tongue numb.

Feels light, dry and easy with a distant but notable mild carbonation.

I still don’t know where I stand on this one. Its good, but for an Octoberfest? (993 characters)

Photo of mcallister
4.34/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a damn fine example of a marzen/o-fest. Dark copper colored with garnet throughout. A thick dense off white head hovers around and plays games. Leaving a fine thick lacing down the glass. Such a thick creamy head.

Absolutely amazing nose. Thick with toasty bready, and cereal grains. Floral and spicey. Maybe even some nutmeg, allspice notes. Really can't get enough of these aromas. Thick with caramel and again spicey in your face hops with a nutty character.

What to say. Just like the others of the Surly line I've sampled an overall solid, impeccably drinkable beer that satisfies. Not immensly complex but it is a lager after all. Thick with caramel and toasty cereal grain. The allspice I thought was in the nose is no longer prevelant. Creamy with complimentary carbonation. Good hop flavor and bitterness. And again nice and spicey with a nougat type finish yet dry. Maybe this is more complex than I notice. All I can say is another top notch beer from a top notch brewery. (993 characters)

Photo of YonderWanderer
3.92/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a nice clear copper with a thick head of foam.

S: Hops... which is a bit odd for the style, but I love it. A bit of toasted biscuit and caramel sweetness lies below, but the nose is dominated by the hops.

T: More hops! Up front, you're hit with a nice blend of citrus and earthy hops, some pine and resin as well. The malt forms a nice backbone, with some biscuit and sweetness to balance out the hoppy bitterness. Pretty tasty overall.

M: Crisp, and pretty dry. Nice finish though.

D: This is a very interesting and unique take on an Oktoberfest, and one I would certainly love to come back to if they sold it in MA. You could easily throw down a few of these in a session. Nicely done Surly. (709 characters)

Photo of garymuchow
4.13/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bleeeet. Bleeeet.
Nice piney, resin hop aroma. Sure don't smell like a Marzen.
Now, as for appearance. Not so far off, for an American version. Orange amber with some reds. Pretty darn clear. Nice thick creamy dark white head with really good stability. Really nice lacing and marking of the glass.
Interesting flavor. That much hops sure isn't right for style, but the finish holds the richness (yet less instense) that leads to a dryness often characteristic of Marzen (although these seems more due to hops than malt). Some sweetness up front and a malty richness on the sides. Just a touch of rye flavor towards the end. Hops flavors that are close to the aroma.
Not as rich as many Marzens (which is fine by me) thereby presenting with a lighter body too. Carbonation is as I like it, non-interfering. However, that doesn't mean it isn't present, as it lends softness up front and fullness upon drinking.
This is a nice drinking beer. Goes down very easily. Sterling hops sure don't suck.
An Oktoberfest? Probably not, but who gives a rats butt.
Baaaa.Baaa. (1,062 characters)

Photo of tempest
4.1/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Okay, so my first thought is that this could be like Stoudts Smooth Hoperator. But no, this has more balls than nearly any hoppy lager (a few imperial pilsners may have more IBUs) and better balance - damn. The aroma is a citrus, resin-y hops juice. The flavor builds with a little white pepper and citrus rind on grapefruit. The malt comes through after the first wave of hops with a mild toasted caramel and biscuit that cuts the hops for a second, before they come back in the aftertaste. Yummy.

I wouldn't call it an O'fest, but what else could it be? I guess if it needs a style... (587 characters)

Photo of genog
4.48/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful, rich dark brown amber color that makes me think of great German beer. A rocky, yet creamy, bubbling off white head sits on top of this beauty, only to die down very slowly and leave plenty of evidence of its existence along the side of my stein. Smell is hoppy, and hoppy so delicious, I can wait to dive in. Heavy herbs and grass are in the nose as well as strong pine scents. Taste is sweet initially then followed by the bitter presence, but then lingers on the tongue with more sweetness. Some fruit tastes remain long after the beer is sipped. Oily texture in the mouthfeeling with soft carbonation.

Not your average Oktoberfest beer, but I loved it! Keep it up Surly, hope to see you outside of Minnesota soon! (737 characters)

Photo of KarlHungus
4.72/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Stuttgarter Hofbrau stein as per the instructions on the can. This brew pours a clear copper color. The head is massive, firm, and recedes slowly into thick lacing. The aroma is explosive. Spice rye, and noble hops, a hint of green apple and pear, with a soft biscuity undertone. The taste is more malty than the aroma. Biscuits appear then quicky fade as a hint of caramel comes through, then that fades and a nice lively spiciness shines, then some firm bitterness arrives in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with perfect carbonation, and a creamy texture. Overall, this is one of my favorite Surly beers. It seems to walk the line between being an extreme beer and being a tradintional beer. Whatever it was intended to be it is wonderful. (770 characters)

Photo of franksnbeans
4.62/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep burned orange with 2 fingers of soapy white head that dies slowly. I know this is a marzen but I know its a Surly marzen which makes alll the difference. Smells of piney hops, citrus, rye and malty. Ooooh yeah. Tastes of juicy, piney hops, malty balance and delicious rye. This is the brilliant nectar named Furious but tamed down with more flavors. If I could make a perfect octoberfest beer to suit my hophead tastes, it would be almost as good as this. Medium in the mouth with the perfect tickle of carbonation. Drinkability? If I had a case of this I would drink non stop and end up in a hospital and it would be so worth it. (643 characters)

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

Appearance: Clear amber, nice head, some particles in suspension.

Smell: Very herbal, grassy, piney.

Taste: Dry, salty, rye bread is quite noticeable, piney hop flavors. Seems quite different than other Octoberfests--not as sweet, but Surly cares not for style distinctions.

Drinkability: Easy to drink in front of a football game.

I had this once last year on tap, this year's version seems to have much more rye flavor than last year's, which I seem to recall as more grassy and pilsner-like. This is still a good beer and it's great to have another Surly in cans. (570 characters)

Photo of morimech
4.55/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

It pours a rich, deep, golden color with a small head that settles around the edge of the glass. Leaves good lacing. The smell is of a grassy field. Some maltiness and citrus comes through as well. This is a different Oktoberfest as is stated on the can. A satisfying hop bitterness to begin with a then a mild smooth malt flavor to finish. Light to medium body. It is mildly carbonated but more so than the other Surly beers in the can. Surlyfest finishes clean with no aftertaste and drinking several of these would be no problem at all. I love what Surly is doing. The best Oktoberfest I have had.

Kudos to the Bavarian colors of the can. (642 characters)

Photo of tavernjef
4.55/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I drank a ton of this stuff on tap last year and never got around to reviewing. Now that it's canned, I may consume it within the comforts of home and the computer.
Brilliant orange color, very shiny with a halo of yellow nearer the bottom and edges. Firmly stacked foam of spongy looking consistancy lathers up to a decent height of nearly two inches. Dwindles down slowly to let loose a pattern of thin inky strings across the glass as its consumed.

Aroma is much like other O-fests with a nice firm realm of maltyness creating a sweet soft doughyness and a puff of dark grassyness and whole grains can be easily detected within. Very well-balanced aroma and well placed on the nose with good strength.

Taste is a broadly detailed malt brigade of heavy toasted malty sweetness, doughy, crisp with a spectacular grassy grab at the midway point which then goes all hoppy and drys off the palate with a subtle ease and tone that is incredibly delightful and inviting with grass, toast, and whole grain nuttyness. Quite complexingly subtle and straight up damn yummy.

Feel is about medium with a certain crispness to its malty body. For surely clean and easy. Has a creamy stained under carraige but stays mostly toasted and drys into the finish with a lushfully charming and soothing softness and cleanness with a willingness to venture more.

Drinkable and then some. Enough said. Damn solid O-fest by Surly! Grab your lederhosen, a big Ol' mug, pour a bunch of this in, and sing yourself a song until you fall asleep and do it again. (1,537 characters)

Photo of surlyseth
4.6/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Expectations run high for this ten dollar four pack.

A: Looks kind of like a Furious. Deep orange-red in the light. Foamy head.

S: Hops! The first thing I notice from this O-Fest martzen/lager. Some malt, a little rye, tiny little citric notes.

T: Sweet and spicy, then malty, then actually lager-like for a second, and very bitter (and a little sour) at the end. The residual aftertaste is like a delicious bowl of breakfast cereal.

M: Gigantic for a martzen/lager. IPA-like. Hops linger forever.

D: Oh man! this is so seshable. Too easy for a hophead like yours truly.

Another home run for Master Omar and the wily fellows at $urly. (640 characters)

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.45/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

"Bier for a stein, from a can"...so bring on the Surly steins, Omar!

Clear coppery color, active 1/2" of off-white, eggshell foam floating above.

Clean, malty nose...and then the dry, spicy beauty of the crystal rye shines in...very mellow, but fully flavored. Really resembles a traditional Festbier, but what awaits once it hits the mouth?

Lovely malt, clean, tasty, bright, malty, and then, again, beyond just being a German marzen, or Oktoberfest bier, the extra hops, of the American Summit variety, combined with the rye malt, and everthing else Surly about it, makes a very unique brew. It's sweet, for a time, then it's dry. It's gone, then the flavor lingers and urges more.

Gritty, earthy mouthfeel...maybe more from the dry-hopping than from the malt. Yep, it's the hops. Damn, not too hoppy, but making a bigger hop profile than any other marzen you'll find, therefore improving the style, shall we say? Yes, we shall.

Somehow, in the can it tastes more like a Oktoberfest-style than I remember from the tap last year. Or maybe my memory is rusty. Maybe I should to a compare and contrast, and bring a can to the bar, try one on tap, then one in the can...
Whatever, it's delicious.

You can drink a few of these. Probably more than a few, if you don't watch out.

Love the can design, too.

But the bier,...yum! (1,342 characters)

SurlyFest from Surly Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 334 ratings.