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SurlyFest - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

355 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 355
Hads: 833
Avg: 4.04
pDev: 16.58%
Wants: 228
Gots: 70 | 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.
View: Beers (55) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 355 | Hads: 833
Photo of ncvbc
4.45/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A beautiful amber in color with good carbonation and thick lacing down the glass. Smell is super fresh hops mixed with a sweet malt and spicy rye. Taste is much of the same. Definitely overly hopped for the style but I love it as a hop head. Somewhat of a floral hop character and the rye is definitely adding some spice to the mix. Somewhat of a bready sweet malt flavor in the middle. Slightly dry to finish off...like I said, hoppy. Mouthfeel is nice with a slight tingle from the carbonation. Some bitterness and a little oily texture on the tongue. I could drink this all day. In fact, I regret only having this one. Might have to seek it out again before it's too late...

Thanks, tayner!

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Photo of ryantupy
4.85/5  rDev +20%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16oz can. "beer in a can for a stein"
Pours a nice hazy amber color with a nice tan frothy head. Smells of hops with notes of citrus and a nice sweet malty backdrop. Its tastes great! Nice a hoppy with a great citrus sweet malt character. This is a great medium bodied beer that has a ncie carbonation level to balance out the flavors. Great beer

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Photo of kenito799
4.15/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can poured into a pilsener glass. Thanks to tizzod for the midwest beer fest Thankgiving 2007!

Pours a lovely clear medium amber, small head raised and recedes to a ring.

Wonderful citrus and pine hop aromas waft forth, immediately this brew declares itself as not your usual Oktoberfest. Crisp and highly carbonated, tangy and delicious. The tart and complex hop flavors really dominate here, to delicious although style-clashing effect. The malt definitely keeps to the background--or rather, the dry and tangy rye malt is th emajor player. The effect is a delicious, highly drinkable, crisp, dry ale with a long bitter, flavorful finish. I love it, whatever it is.

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.22/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I received Surly Fest in a trade with tavernjef
16oz can, served in a pint glass.

A - hazy, orange/amber color with a tan head that flattened out to a layer, leaving a lot of tiny bubble lace.

S - citrus hop, rye, and sweet malt aromas.

T - sweet malt and rye taste upfront, hop bitterness with a dry finish.

M - medium bodied with good carbonation.

D - very different, very drinkable.

Final Note: I've never had a marzen with this much hop flavor. Good beer for a Hophead Fest.

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Photo of Bierguy5
3.83/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16 oz. can. Pours a slightly hazy copper color. Thick foamy off white head. Great head retention, and a good deal of sticky lace clinging to the glass.

Floral, spicy aroma, some rye thrown in for the senses. A bit toasty and caramel in the nose as well.

Bready malt flavor, with a good deal of spicy rye, without being overwhelming. Floral bitterness. A bit on the hoppy side. Finishes dry.

Nice full mouthfeel, with just enough carbonation. Certainly a different version of a marzen, but enjoyable.

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

16 ounce can also received from Faro in a trade as an extra, thank you giving me the chance to try this seasonal beer from the brewing geniuses at Surly

Poured into my huge Bell's tankard withn amber color that had a dark orange tint, it had a two inch white head that was lumpy and did not settle for about five minutes, left average lacing during the forty-five minutes I was drinking this

Smell was dominated by rye, wow, this was one of the strongest smelling beers in that respect I have ever encountered, got even stronger later on, also some toffee and caramel but could barely tell because the rye was so strong

Taste was dryer when it was cold and got progressively sweeter as the beer warmed, could taste the rye more at the beginning, later on I got a lot of roasted malt and sweetness, could definitely tell this one was dry hopped and it was surprising to know that only one variety was used, the dry finish made this one break out of the typical mold of marzen brews, nicely balanced throughout and offered a somewhat bitter aftertaste, mostly liked how this one had the dry rye flavor

Lots of carbonation and a decent body, taste did not last as long as I had hoped

Could drink another few cans of this, very smooth and goes down easy, not heavy and it has a relatively low ABV, could drink these while they are colder a lot easier interestingly, I recommend this during your next Octoberfest celebration

This one rounded out my tasting of the Surly beers that are available in cans, this one was probably my least favorite of the four, but still better than a lot of beer out there, they are slowly becoming one of my favorite brweries

Now, can somebody just hook me up with a bottle of Darkness when the 15th rolls around next month, please?

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Photo of happygnome
4.48/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a: pours a dark orangish color with about an inch anda half of white head that doesnt dissapear too fast but when it does it leaves a lot of lacing around the edge of the glass
s: citrus hops, grapefruity and orangy, nice. hints of the sweet malts but plent of hops
t: starts witha bready maly flavor quickly followed by sour and bitter lemon and orange hop flavors, the sweet malts are deffinatly dominated by the bitter hops
m: medium bodied beer with average amount of carbonation

overall, i really enjoyed this, surly never really follows the style specs, always tending to be much more aggressively hopped

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

Light amber/orangeish. Huge off white head that lasted for most of the pint. Mouthfeel is surprisingly thick (a theme with Surly, apparently), and this is quite drinkable.

Taste is remarkably complex for an oktoberfest beer. Tangerine, floral hop notes, orange, and ... papaya/mango? Smell is a bit more simple, with floral hops dominating.

Very good.

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Photo of Viggo
4.37/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Big thanks to Jenn for lugging cans of this back from Minnesota for us.

Pours a clear golden/amber, thick white head forms, settles to a thin layer, leaves a ton of lacing. Smell is great, nice bready malts, grain, toast, floral/apricot, light citrus hops, different take on a marzen but I like it. Taste is similar, nice and malty, toasted bread, grain, caramel, wheat, some floral and citrus hops, touch of tangerine, very clean balanced finish, solid bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation, super refreshing, very smooth and easy to drink. Different kind of marzen but shows up anything from Germany in my mind. I could certainly drink many steins of this. Thanks Jenn!!!

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Photo of bennetj17
4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy copper, thin foam with decent retention creating a hint of lace. Mild carbonation. Grassy hop aroma with light citrus twang. Light sweetness from the malt, fairly enticing smell overall.

Tangy malt flavor accentuated by the citrus hops, it comes out pretty bitter in the finish. There is also a nice toasty dryness giving it a well-rounded balance. Light body but strong enough carbonation for some light foam/creaminess on the palate.

This is a much more hopped up version of this style which was quite enjoyable considering most of of the time you get the same old thing from an Oktoberfest. Non-traditional but recommended to those who like hop flavor...

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Photo of younger35
4.43/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Received a can of this from a trade with mnstorm99. Loved Bender and Furious quite a bit so I’m pretty excited to try this puppy. Says “Bier For A Stein, From A Can”, so obviously I have to drink it out of my Czechvar Czech Lager stein. Classy!

Appearance- Pours a hazy dark yellowish orange with a nice big one finger foamy white head. Leaves a nice cap and collar along with plenty of lacing.
Smell- Very crisp and clean with a lot of super fresh American citrus hops. Slightly grapefruity with hints of orange zest. A bit of raw bready grain (rye?) and slight sugar sweetness.
Taste- Starts with a nice grainy, malt profile (I’m assuming is rye) that gives way to an aggressive hop. More than you’d expect from a Märzen. There is a not a lot of sweetness as the bitterness is clearly the winner in the battle of malt and hop. A very mellowed orange is present with a slight lemon zest aftertaste. This all may sound kind of awkward together, but trust me, it’s awesome!
Mouthfeel- Fairly thin with a bit of slick oiliness and a fairly aggressive carbonation.
Drinkability- I’m not sure how to say it but this is about as drinkable as they come. It’s so crisp and clean and goes down so easy. The alcohol isn’t staggering high so it would make a great session brew for those long Oktoberfest nights. Thanks again to mnstorm99 for the opportunity!

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Photo of ZAP
4.12/5  rDev +2%
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.

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Photo of slyke
4.48/5  rDev +10.9%
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.

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Photo of WeisGuy
4.17/5  rDev +3.2%
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.

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Photo of seaoflament
4.13/5  rDev +2.2%
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.

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Photo of Dansting
4.47/5  rDev +10.6%
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.

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Photo of DaPeculierDane
2.09/5  rDev -48.3%
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.

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Photo of CBorg
4.43/5  rDev +9.7%
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!

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Photo of wardough
4.18/5  rDev +3.5%
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.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.72/5  rDev +16.8%
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.

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Photo of dogger6253
4.52/5  rDev +11.9%
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."

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Photo of ianrca19
4.33/5  rDev +7.2%
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.

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Photo of grub
4.15/5  rDev +2.7%
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!

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
3.68/5  rDev -8.9%
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?

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Photo of mcallister
4.34/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

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SurlyFest from Surly Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 355 ratings.