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SurlyFest - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

721 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 721
Reviews: 333
rAvg: 4.05
pDev: 10.86%
Wants: 220
Gots: 43 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: feloniousmonk on 09-03-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 721 | Reviews: 333 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Humulus85
4.35/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My first time with Surlyfest, canned on 9/14/11 (and its been in my fridge for three days). Damn I love me less than a week-old beer.

Poured from the 16oz Surly can into my trusty nonic. Produced a dense, two-finger head. Cream, with decent retention and some sticky lace rings. Super vibrant and clear, dark honey color. Just screams drink me. Very nice.

Smells of sweet malt and grain, with a slight sting from the rye. Crisp, but not much hop in the nose at all. Again, it's very inviting.

This is a malt forward beer. Sweet caramel and toffee malt, followed quickly by grain and a nice rye spice. This is all balanced out by a perfectly dry hopped finish. Perfect for a cool, fall day such as this.

Super drinkable for how much flavor it packs. Smooth, with an appropriate level of carbonation. This is a true session brew. Perfect for a party or some fall tailgating.

Overall this is a great seasonal offering from Surly. Different from most of their lineup, but in a good way. I would highly recommend this beer to any BA, regardless of style preference. Lucky are we who can find fresh Surly. Cheers!

Humulus85, Sep 20, 2011
Photo of MattyG85
4.45/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 16 oz. can into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass. Canned on 9-08-11.

Appearance: Deep copper like amber orange with lots of rising bubbles. Solid three fingers of off white head with very good retention. A decent amount of lacing sticks around the glass.

Smell: Aroma of caramel malts and wheat grains with hints of rye spice. Also has a fairly strong smell of sweet orange citrus hops. Smell is overall pretty malt forward but hops are very noticeable.

Taste: Sweet taste of bready malts with caramel and some toffee up front is followed by some spicy rye and wheat grains. A taste of orange citrus comes from a surprisingly sharp hop presence for such a malt forward style. The hops add a mild bitterness towards the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Very rich, creamy, and smooth.

Overall: A very good take on a rye beer. A very nice balance of sweetness, spice, and bitterness. Complex and tasty.

MattyG85, Sep 20, 2011
Photo of bfirkin45
4.15/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from a can into a pint glass... not a stein unfortunately. Lagers are obviously clear, this being a good example. Orange, tan, brown, rust color with a lighter head. Lacing does not last long on the inside of the glass. Very nice smell. Mellow, citrusy, and richness. I tasted the single hop, Sterling, evenly throughout with rich maltiness that has a bite to it (the rye). Leaves a good impression, slightly different from the majority of oktoberfest beers which isn't a bad thing. Thanks for the great one, Todd! (Head Brewmaster @ Surly).

bfirkin45, Sep 17, 2011
Photo of JackieTH
3.83/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Freshly brewed. A nice coppery pour with a finger of rich tawny foam that recedes slowly leaving heavy lacing. Rye grain and mostly citric hop on a rather faint nose. Taste has an initial impression of malt/grain, light sweetness and spicy rye characteristics, which are swept away with a light washing of citric hop that leaves only a trace of malt/grain for mostly clean, dryish, slightly bitter aftertaste. Mouthfeel is medium to heavy and very nicely carbonated for the style, imparting a creamy yet crisp backbone. Overall, a nice hopped-up twist on the Oktoberfest style.

JackieTH, Sep 15, 2011
Photo of zeledonia
3.95/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Canned on date is illegible, but I know it's in the last week, as the first canning run of the year was only 5 days ago. This is my first experience with a rye beer, so I'm not sure what to expect.

Pours a deep clear coppery color, like a new penny, with one finger of off-white head. Head retention is good, lots of lacing. Visible carbonation is minimal.

Smells... interesting. Malty and grainy, with an odor like seeds. A pinch of vegetable and a dash of citrus hops. It has a grainy fullness, but that's topped of by a dark slightly sharper bite.

Taste is quite a bit fuller and more complex than the smell. It starts of malty, then rolls into a spicier flavor that I'd liken to caraway seeds. Very grainy, but with great depth. A little bitterness in the middle, but it's faint.

Mouthfeel is very nice. Medium-bodied, smooth, with the texture of water but heavier. Carbonation boils up out of it, filling the mouth with flavor. Finish fades almost completely, but that last little bit lingers on.

I like this beer a lot more than I thought I would. Despite the smell and flavors being dominated by grains, it has layers of depth that really impress me. Surly delivers again!

zeledonia, Sep 15, 2011
Photo of TheDudeRules
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured all 16oz into my Founders snifter.


The look of the beer is fall. Gets me ready for the shennanigans to be had. Outside under a big tent. Lederhosen, sweet green hats, great lookin bar wenches wearing scantily clads and serving giant steins of beer. PROST! Gearing up my moves for the dance floor when the polka outfit plays my jam. Sing it with me "Roll out the barrel. We'll have a barrel of fun." Practicing my steady hand at hammerschlagen. Eating brats, pretzels and mustard. Solving world issues around a table with a 1 liter mug in my hand. Giving that sweet lookin gal a smooch with my handlebar moustached lips. Ahh Oktoberfest. Best time of the year.

TheDudeRules, Sep 15, 2011
Photo of DogfishRyan
4.18/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is from a fresh can the just hit the shelves TODAY! Canned on 09/08/11. "Bier for a stein, from a can".

First of all, love the traditional Surly graphic mixed with the traditional Oktoberfest theme. The beer pours a beautiful orange/amber with a nice frothy head. Definitely some lacing that tapers off as you empty the glass.

Has that lager smell of barley and rye. Potpourri with a very slight smell of citrus. Very pleasing Oktoberfest smelling brew.

I'm not really a fan of Oktoberfest beers but this is great. Very bready, malty, and carbonated so well. Carbonation is what does it for me on this beer as well as quite a few Surly beers. They just have that aspect down to a science. Very fresh tasting rye lager with slight hops and a slight citrus finish.

Mouthfeel I would describe as fresh and pleasant.

Overall I'd rate the beer as excellent in the Oktoberfest category. Again, not the biggest fan of this variety of beer, but, without a doubt a fan of Surly. Well worth a try.


DogfishRyan, Sep 13, 2011
Photo of cosmicevan
4.43/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

big thanks to Shango42 for hooking this up a while ago. was pretty pumped to see the suggested glassware listed as a stange, so i busted out my Liefmans stange that JAHMUR threw my way at an in person trade at the rosso release (thanks!).

a - cracked the can and filled the stange...really nice transparent amber with a darker core and visible carbonation. single finger bubbly white head with sticky lacing.

s - festive. spicy potpourri. some grape and sweetness.

t - great malty sweetness...grape, nutmeg. i'm not getting much hops, but to be fair, this beer is pretty out of season right now. the oktoberfest marzen type of thing is really there...and i dig it.

m - lively carbonation. a touch watery.

o - overall, really really dig this one. i'd like to try it a bit fresher (my bad that i sat on it for such a long time)...but i do really enjoy it with the heavy malt bill and missing hops. the sweetness is great...almost barleywine like crossed with a marzen.

cosmicevan, May 14, 2011
Photo of birchstick
3.38/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - pours a chestnut amber with a pretty large, fluffy head off of an aggressive pour

S - smells of grainy malts with a nice amount of grassy and grapefruity hops

T - starts off with a lot of grain malt that are swept aside by an earthy hop bitterness (light citrus, resinous, pine). The rye makes its entrance just as the beer leaves, leaving a spicy grain flavor. Pretty solid rye beer...I am not really making the Oktoberfest connection that the can advertises, but that's okay. Pretty good beer.

M - goes down with a medium body and a perfect amount of carbonation. Really nice mouthfeel on this one.

D - Pretty solid rye beer here. The hop profile wasn't my favorite of all time and I was hoping for a bit more rye, but that's okay - you can't win them all. Another solid beer from Surly - their praise has started to become validated to my taste buds.

Thanks to surlytwins fan for the opportunity!

birchstick, Mar 13, 2011
Photo of Rhettroactive
3.6/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

From 16oz can to Bruges hybrid glass on 3/4/11

A big thanks goes out to ncmussell for including this one as an awesome extra in our recent trade. Cheers Nate!

A: Beautiful sunset orange in color. It's slightly cloudy, but wow - it's simply gorgeous. A good pour yields a 1.75 head and moderate lacing.

S: Sweet hops on the nose. Much bigger then I was expecting. Charry malt and signifigant rye comes through at the end.

T: Much more mellow then I was expecting. It's layered well, with the maltiness up front, hops on the mid and bready rye on the finish. I should note that as this one warms, the rye comes out more and more.

M: Low carbonation, which I found surprising. This is an Autumn seasonal, and seeing as it's March, this isn't fresh off the canning line. Regardless, once I got past the lack of carbonation, I found it to be fairly heavy and rich.

O: This was my first Surly brew, and I'm thrilled to finally crack one open. Surly's SurlyFest is certainly a different kind of O'Fest, and I wish more brewers would think outside of the box. Why brew another boring Marzen when you can make a kick-anus rye like this?

Though the carbonation was a slight issue with this one, it's won't be keeping me away, as I can't wait to quaff more of Surly's suds.

Rhettroactive, Mar 05, 2011
Photo of Another6Pack
3.55/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Canned in 9/2010; opened on the date of this review. Thanks to mnbearsfan for sharing this one with me.

Perfectly copper appearance with a finger of dirty tan head. Decent lacing. Smells like a well-hopped lager.

Nice but slight hop presence. I can tell this one would be different when fresh. Hops in this one have faded to the point that I pick up faint organic flavors similar to iced tea. Nice caramel malt flavor provides the foundation for each sip.

Mouthfeel and drinkabilty are good. Will update this review when I get a chance to try another within a month or two of canning.

Another6Pack, Feb 19, 2011
Photo of camp0474
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from 10/10/10

A: Nice orange amber color with an off white head. Slight lacing.

S: Spicy rye bread with some sweet caramel malts. Faint citrus hops.

T: Faintly sweet malt like molasses, rye bread, and a touch of spice, maybe black pepper, from the rye. Detecting some faint hops in the background. Don't have this style to often, but tastes great.

M: Medium body and light carbonation. Perfect for this beer.

D: Quite drinkable. The rye leaves a lingering flavor, and not in a bad way. Good but not an everyday one for me. A great seasonable beer for autumn.

camp0474, Feb 06, 2011
Photo of afksports
4.15/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

No beerface between the SurlyFest and the woman. They tend to get along. I had this back in November courtesy of my very first trade. Thanks Bill! (you always remember your first). This review is from my notes then, which are happily legible.

Out of the can and into a glass, it looks just like an Oktoberfest beer - although by beer style it's classified as Rye Beer. It's malty, sweet, and the rye spice comes through in the taste more than the nose. It's well-composed, with not too much water present. Quite a few I was having at the time - like the Hofbrau - were just womped by water. This one, not so much. Still refreshing though, as the rye notes match the hop notes for a bitter finish that's clean.

There's exceptional carbonation the whole way through, and its light to medium body is an easy drinker. The bitter bite with sweetness that hangs at the end isn't totally my thing, but it definitely is part of the season. Cheers to Surly for making another one they can hang their hat on.

afksports, Jan 27, 2011
Photo of OakedCanuck
3.55/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

16oz can poured into nonic

A - Reddish but mostly brown and clear. Decent off white head. Ok lacing

S - Very bready malt. Distinct grains on the nose

T - You can definitely tell this is a rye beer. The rye is very strong as well as a couple other grains (wheat, barley). There is some caramelly sweetness to it, it just isn't strong enough to get past the rye breadiness of the beer.

M - Thin. Light and crisp

D - For me this was just a mediocre offering from a fantastic brewery. I love all things Surly but this one just didn't live up. Nothing against Surly, this one was just ok.

OakedCanuck, Jan 21, 2011
Photo of Dreadnaught33
3.78/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: reddish brown hue with orange highlights. Ring of head and some lacing.

S: Interesting mix of some dry hops, candied malts, passion fruit, ripened fruit, dry straw, some hints of ginger/cinnamon like a Xmas ale.

T: A little different than the smell. Nice german malt character, crisp dry hop, some lemon zest at back of the palate, some of the ginger/cinnamon notes, and a little sugar covering it all.

M: Nice silky feel not too much carbonation- could be more.

D: Good beer.

Dreadnaught33, Jan 13, 2011
Photo of dbossman
4.33/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark caramel hue with a huge fairly quickly dissipating but frothy white head; lacing is okay

S: Grainy malty sweetness with a touch of caramel; lots of rye bread and just a touch of floral/tea leaf hops

T: Lots of rye bread bitterness with a touch of pepper spice; a bit of a sweet caramel maltiness and just a splash of citrus--lemon rind and tea leaves; but man oh man is this bready

F: It's pretty good though still crisp and slightly thin

D: An interesting, complex, and bready brew; really good but quite different

dbossman, Jan 02, 2011
Photo of sugit
3.2/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Deep orange amber color. A good one finger of off white head, which disapeared quickly leaving a bif a cap. Leaves some lacing behind.

S: Pine and citrus hops. Some nice caramel malts. Given the sytle, I thought the hops were too aggresive. Almost like a IPA with a good malt backbone.

T: I haven't had many Rye's so I did a bit of research on what I should be tasting from this style. I pick up a little of of the sour and spicy taste associated with a Rye beer, but not as much as I would have though.

Much like the smell, I taste citrus hops with a malty backbone, with the spice and sour very faint. As it warms I get a bit more of the spice, but still not as much as I was expecting.

Not bad tasting, but not what I was expecting.
M: Low to mid carbonation and body.

D: I could put quite a few of these away given the low ABV. Not something I will crave more of though.

This is a tough one for me to grade. For the style, I don't think it hits the mark. Too much like a malty IPA. Not sure if that was what they were trying to do with a Rye, but it didn't work.

sugit, Dec 31, 2010
Photo of orangesol
3.75/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this in a recent BIF package. 16oz can poured into a standard pint.

A - Pours deep amber with a strong one finger off white head, dissipating to a light film, leaving a web of lacing down the glass.

S - Crisp citric hop aroma with plenty of breadiness from the chewy malt. Some spiciness from the rye is an unexpected twist but goes very well with the other aroma's. Good balance of spice, hops, and yeast.

T - This one is quite hoppy for being a bavarian type lager. Hops are citrusy and powerful but never really take over the beer. Plenty of breadiness from the cereal malt and some lingering spice from the rye help round this one into one crazy lager. Quite complex yet tasty to say the least.

M - Medium body and flavor with moderate carbonation. An almost creamy feel with a strong bready finish. The huge amounts of chewy malt become overpowering over the period of the can.

D - Decently high. I liked this one but the over the top chewiness got to me over the course of time. It was still very nice. I can't wait to try some of the other surly beers.

orangesol, Dec 31, 2010
Photo of HosP
4.08/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured clear auburn color. Thin white head that leaves very quickly.

S - Interesting nose to it, with bready malts aroma. Some slight caramel smell as well.

T - Caramel malts come to the front with some bready flavors. A little hop taste in the middle that follows with rye flavors that give good flavor.

M - Medium body with ok carbonation.

D - Easy to drink beer for sure. Nothing crazy but just solid!

HosP, Dec 29, 2010
Photo of corby112
3.93/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From notes:

Pours a slightly hazy golden orange/amber color with a 1.5 finger frothy, pillowy yellowish head that has great retention, only slowly fading to a lasting cap. Sporadic sloches of soapy lacing left behind.

Citrus hop aroma with hints of pine and citrus fuit balanced out by some sweet caramel malt.

Very hoppy for the style with a bitter piney hop blast up front which is balanced by a nice caramel malt backbone. I'm also picking up slight hints of rye. The hops give off hints f pineapple, grapefruit and lemon peel. There is a slight lactic creaminess that alng with the malt prfile make this beer extremely smoky and quaffable.

corby112, Dec 20, 2010
Photo of TMoney2591
3.75/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Surly shaker pint glass.

Thanks to VDubb86 for sharing this BIFed can!

At least I'm having this in some partially appropriate glassware. It pours a hazy sunset amber topped by a finger of dirty white foam. The nose comprises mandarin oranges, peach, light cinnamon, wheat, and black pepper. The taste holds notes of light toffee, mint, black pepper, sourdough, and light pine. The body is a straight medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a sorta dry finish. Overall, a nice brew, though I think the rye goes somewhat overlooked/underused. Beyond that, I could see enjoying this on a regular basis in the fall. You lucky Minnesotans...

TMoney2591, Dec 12, 2010
Photo of Vdubb86
4.2/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Surly shaker pint glass

Thanks to Lenny1203 from the N00B BIF 2 for this one

This beer pours a nice amber color with an off-white finger of foam on the surface. The smell is surprisingly nice on the hop aromatics. There is a malt backer in the aroma along with some sourness from the rye itself. The taste is a slightly bitter sour rye flavor along with some spice that would be associated with it as well. It isn't overwhelming in those regards, there is also flavors of some nice earthy hops. I'm never really a fan of any bitterness, but this beer isn't bad at all. It's perhaps one of the most drinkable rye beers that I've ever had. I could drink this all day.

Vdubb86, Dec 12, 2010
Photo of Chaney
4.1/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz. can courtesy of biglobo8971 in an awesome monster box trade. Thanks for the 4-pack of this stuff Brandon!

A: Poured a mildly cloudy, yet bright orange color, with tons of carbonation and a massive 7-8 finger head that stayed foamy throughout the session. Dark stuff!

S: Wow, what an awesome display of sour rye-ness! It also had an cool flair of barley and the German yeast adds to the "fresh" (almost clean linen air freshener) quality on the nose.

T: Very crisp indeed, with everything I got on the nose. The best way to describe this: liquified, fresh baked sour dough rye bread.

M: Tingly carbonation for sure, with a tinge of alcohol tingle, and like most baked breads, the sweetness is only an after thought.

D: I guess this is in the Marzen style, even though BA catalogues it as a rye beer. Very solid brew.

Chaney, Dec 09, 2010
Photo of woosterbill
4.35/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

16oz bottle courtesy of HopStoopid120 into a Duvel tulip.

A: Clear orange body with an inch of creamy, persistent off-white head. Good retention and lots of lace. Excellent.

S: Holy rye, Batman! Smooth, rich, warm, spicy, almost sour rye malt really takes center stage. Citrus hops are less prominent, but hugely helpful in tying the package together. I can't get over this aroma - I've never smelled anything quite like it, and it's absolutely amazing. Definitely not a traditional O-fest, but the text on the can prepared me for that. Wow.

T: The sour, peppery, sweet rye malt jumps out right away, followed by powerful grapefruit hops and a finish that's clearly helped by the clean lager yeast. The aftertaste is the only thing about this beer that resembles a Märzen, and that's ok with me. The malt backbone of this one is ridiculous, and delicious.

M: Fairly full, mouth-filling body, but only a low amount of prickly carbonation; it gets a little overbearing, especially for a lager.

D: Super flavorful for 6%, and a little sweeter than I'd like. Still, it's so tasty that I can't stop drinking it.

Notes: I've never been a huge fan of rye beers in the past, but I had a feeling if I'd ever love one it would be from Surly. They really can do no wrong. Thanks, Tony, for providing me with this gem.


woosterbill, Dec 04, 2010
Photo of Ineedabeerhere
3.65/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks Doug! From notes.

Pours a slightly hazed burnt orange. Small head with some good lacing.

The most interesting and notable aroma here for me is this leafy tea character. It's not quite herbal but has a certain leafiness to it. Breadiness here as well. This tea flavor carries through to the taste, with some dried leaves, malty, herbal combination. Though the finish. Low-medium bodied, low carbonation. Very drinkable. Thanks!

Ineedabeerhere, Dec 04, 2010
SurlyFest from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 721 ratings.