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SurlyFest - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

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731 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 731
Reviews: 333
rAvg: 4.04
pDev: 10.89%
Wants: 222
Gots: 41 | 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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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 731 | Reviews: 333 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of dbossman
4.3/5  rDev +6.4%
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

Photo of sugit
3.21/5  rDev -20.5%
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.

Photo of orangesol
3.77/5  rDev -6.7%
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.

Photo of HosP
4.02/5  rDev -0.5%
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!

Photo of corby112
3.89/5  rDev -3.7%
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.

Photo of TMoney2591
3.77/5  rDev -6.7%
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...

Photo of Vdubb86
4.22/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

Photo of Chaney
4.12/5  rDev +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.

Photo of woosterbill
4.37/5  rDev +8.2%
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.


Photo of Ineedabeerhere
3.65/5  rDev -9.7%
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!

Photo of nrbw23
4.12/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a some what hazy amber color with a cream colored head. Head lingers for a minute before receding to a small bubbles and leaves some nice layered lacing.

S- Smells of bread, very malty, a tiny bit of yeast and rye. Just a bit of citrus hops coming through.

T- Again very malty and bready. Some rye spiciness. A very tasty brew.

M- Medium in both body and carbonation.

D- This is a very good beer. Very easy to drink as I sit here on a cool Saturday watching football.

Photo of ToAzwethinkweizm
4.52/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed on 18 November 2010. Much thanks to Lenny1203 for this extra in our trade.

This is my first canned review. Poured a pint (can) of this between two 10oz snifters, tasting with a family member. Pours a deep cloudy amber, 1-finger head that settles into a beautiful permanent layer of foam. The lacing is a little runny but the bubbles are much smaller than other beers. The aroma presents some hops that are light and stale (but not bad), and the most dominant aroma is bread. Just very fresh bread. Some light fruits characteristics are present but unidentifiable. Swirling again: aroma is even heavier with pale malts, while roasted almond makes itself known.

I don't usually enjoy lagers. Tasting this beer is dry, yet smooth. Sweet sugary yeasty bread, pale malts and well-balanced bittering hops make this an amazing beer combo for eating finger foods, watching movies, or just relaxing outside in a lawnchair. The body is thin, the carbonation is light and smooth, and this beer does NOT destroy the palate at all, so perfect score for mouthfeel. At the end of the glass, nutmeg comes out of nowhere in the aroma, making this beer wonderful down to the last taste.

Photo of jeffthecheff
3.69/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a dark amber color with noticeable haze. Head is off white with just a light formation.

Aroma is uniquely malty with a spicy, bread like character. Hops are full in strength and have a noticeable tea flavor to them. Sulphuric lager notes are very noticeable upon cracking the can, but fade behind the rest of the beer once its poured into a glass.

Flavor has a rye-like, spicy malt flavor. Very little toast/caramel for an Oktoberfest inspired beer. Hop flavors are back with a strong, tea-like flavor. There is a slight tea-like slickness on the mouthfeel, possibly from some diacetyl. This is a unique beer with some interesting aspects to it, but it doesn't have the drinkability of a fest beer, yet isn't exciting enough as an odball beer.

Photo of mdfb79
3.58/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 16 oz. can into my Duvel tulip. Received as an extra in a trade with GoldenJet; thanks Corey! Love Surly and haven't had a chance to try this one yet.

a - Pours a murky dark amber mahogany color with one finger of off white head and light carbonation evident. Head lasts for two to three minutes and leaves a little bit of lacing on the glass. Looks pretty nice.

s - Smells of caramel malts, bready malts, rye, and light fruity malts. A little bit of light spice too as it warms up. Decent smell, but nothing great stood out in it.

t - Tastes of caramel malts, bready malts, light fruity malts, rye, and light spice. A small step down from the smell in my opinion.

m - Light to medium body and low to moderate carbonation. Pretty smooth and easy to drink.

d - A decent rye beer but nothing really jumped out at me in the smell or taste. While not a bad beer, it's probably the worst beer I've had from Surly so far. An easy to drink beer but I would not seek it out again in a trade; I'd much prefer their other offerings.

Photo of SamuelJackson45
4.2/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Light Amber in color with a white head thion lace.

S- Smell of German hops and barley and malts.

T- Alittle sweet from the wort but not over the top like other fest beers. Nice bitterness with the hop bite that is well balance.

M- Semi dry alittle chewy from the barley but works well.

D- One my best Oktoberfest this year with taste and overall balance. A must try to all fans.


Photo of womencantsail
2.66/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks for sharing this can, Bobby.

A: The pour is a fairly opaque dark amber/light brown color with fairly minimal head formation.

S: There's a really weird aroma to this beer...some nutshells along with peanut butter. A mild breadiness as well as some misplaced acidity. The one redeeming factor is the touch of earthy hops that comes in toward the back end.

T: Lightly bready with a fruit character (white grapes?) that doesn't really seem to belong. Again, mildly acidic with some faint nuttiness. Really all over the place.

M: The body is medium with the carbonation fitting the same description.

D: A rare miss for Surly and this one is way off the mark. I know they're trying to put a different spin on the Oktoberfest, but this just didn't work at all.

Photo of hopsbreath
4.1/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to checkii for tossing this into a trade we did as an extra. Poured into a pilsner glass, the slightly cloudy body has the appearance of raw honey. A finger of sandstone hued head sits atop. Whispy foam forms a nice cap that sticks to the sides of the glass in a ring. Moderate lacing works down as well.

Sweet peaches, fresh baked croissants, and rollos dominate the nose. Its a little sweet but pretty nice none the less.

Green pine needles, lemon pound cake, tangerine membrane, and honeysuckles make for quite a flavorful oktoberfest. This is hoppier than the style typically allows but its style typical as far as Surly is concerned. I'm not docking it for not being true to style. Its possibly even an improvement. Props Omar.

Soft carbonation makes this glide across the palate easily. Moderate in body, its a little sticky on the lips. The finish is actually pretty clean.

The one pint can disappeared all too quickly. This might be my new favorite o-fest. I'll be looking for this again next year! Fantastic beer.

Photo of Phocion
4.5/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16 ounce can poured into Surlyfest stein. Bright copper color with a finger of sticky and bubbly white foam on top and thick lacing.

Aroma is clearly not that of an Oktoberfest. Predominately toffee/caramel hops and a healthy dose of sour and spice from the rye. Also hints of brown sugar and very bready. The healthy hops nose is more along the lines of an American Pale than anything else.

Flavor is a little spicy with quite a bit of grassy and orangey hops coming through. Very dry, somewhat bitter finish.

This thing feels good inside the mouth... medium bodied and with a healthy level of carbonation and does not feel thin at all.

Overall this is not what I was expecting out of a so-called Oktoberfest beer, but it was a very satisfying surprise.

Photo of woodychandler
4.33/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

CAN you believe how big The CANQuest (TM) has become? I am getting CANned beers from every direction! Now, I am actually awash in Surly! Beautiful.

From the CAN: "Bier for a stein, from a CAN."; "Fresh bier, keep it kalt!"; "A traditional Oktoberfest bier from Surly? Nein! If you want one of those, grab your passport and head over to Munchen (bring us back some pretzels). Our Fest inspired beer is brewed with imported malted barley, rye, and a German lager yeast strain. We hop this beer with a single variety ... and then we dry hop it. A single hop, dry hopped rye lager bier? Ja!"; "Get Surly!"

First the Crack & Glug, then the fireworks! Two foamy fingers' worth of tawny head with moderate retention. Color was a deep orangish-amber with NE-quality clarity. Nose was an interesting admixture of grassy hops and a mild malty sweetness. This was more up my alley, although it was not a traditional O'fest. Mouthfeel was medium with a light sweetness on the tongue accompanied by a grassiness. in the mouth. Dang, I wish that they had not mentioned pretzels because I could really go for one right about now. Finish was initially dry, but then the cool minty blast of rye kicked in and I was reminded of Sopor, the first person to turn me on to rye. Whew! Smoooth! More, please.

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

A: Light copper hue with a slight haze. The head is smalk and fades quickly, leaving no lacing.

S: spices, malt, slightly sweet, rye bread.

T: Decent, but not my favorite rye beer. The spices are ok, but don't enhance the overall flavor as much as I would have expected, given the aroma. The rye presence is magnified as the beer warms, giving the beer a more complex and enjoyable flavor.

M: thin bodied, with average to low carbonation. The beer finishes with notes of rye and a slight bitterness.

D: A decent offering. I am glad for the opportunity to sample this beer. While I enjoyed my serving, I wouldn't seek this out.

Photo of brewerburgundy
4.23/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz can, pilsener glass, no canning date.

Perfect auburn, fall copper beer, clear like a newly washed window and topped with an impressive survivor of an orange head. That foam really does have a uniquely orange tint.

Pumpernickel, rye crackers, and some nobel hops in an understated, clean nose. Green apple hints.

Immediate rye and hop spiciness are quite enticing. Some caramel leaning towards savory or salted proves there is body to this beer while an overall earthiness make the rye's presence obvious throughout. Just enough bitterness keeps it crisp; this is one flavorful lager.

Prickling carbonation enhances the spicy aspects. This is medium bodied and crisp.

This beer presents the spicy and earthy characteristics of rye more than any other beers I've had that include this grain. This packs a lot of flavor and seems very well made all the way around. Darn, I wish I could get Surly at my store.

Photo of mactrail
3.87/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Woodsy, mushroomy aroma is interesting start. Color is dark amber with a hint of brown. Decent head with carbonation lasting in the glass. Body is very light and watery.

A mouthful of flavors but not very malty in the usual sense. A mellow roasted grain taste, like buckwheat dominates. Unidentifiable prickly, spicy hints. Vegetable note, like butternut squash without the sweetness.

Hops become very strong after a few sips and leave an intense aftertaste. Whatever that hop is, it's a killer. A different beer for those who like unusual flavors, and worth a taste. The last half of the pint is the problem.

Photo of pwoody11
3.58/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

As suggested on the can, poured into my Stoudt's stein.

Pours a light orange with a frothy white head.

Aroma is surprisingly pretty citrusy and hoppy. I'm also picking up a scent that reminds me of dust in a saw mill.

At this point I'm already a little confused. Most Rye's I've had are Ale's and this is labeled as a lager. Then it's an Oktoberfest, which I would usually assume is a Marzen. This is neither. Judging by the aroma I think this is going to be hoppier than I am expecting.

My hypothesis was correct. Taste brings forth a spicy bread with a complimentary hop character. I'm diggin this brew. Would go great with a fresh Philly soft pretzel. Not what I expected at all in an Oktoberfest, but in a good way.

Photo of decadance
4.05/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Many thanks to cmurren25 for this unexpected can.

A - Looks of an octoberfest, but a bit darker. A head of about an inch. Dissipates quickly, but it does lace a bit. Tasty looking.

S - Most people rate this down here, but I think its because everyone is IPA crazy. It has not just bread malts, but rye smell through and through. No hops in the nose, to be expected.

T - Doesn't entirely hit me as one note, but it is monotonous. Very little hops, which could be used to balance it out. This beer is not sweet, it is welcomely malted, but a tad bit of hope bitterness would balance it in my opinion.

M - It holds on my mouth wonderfully, it is not thin or watery. It is as thick as the style should be, without being overwelming.

D - No alcohol presence at all, and not palate destroying. This has all the enjoyablity of an adjunct lager, with 10x more taste. Awesome beer, just wish it had more hops in the front.

Photo of errantnight
3.53/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I had really been looking forward to this, and am SLIGHTLY let down. That said, I could drink this by the pint, and how, given a closer locality. Thanks, mothman, for the extra.

Pours a hazy deep orange with a note of amber.

No real head or retention to speak of on this one after a nice initial cap of foam. Surprising, considering the rye in the bil.

Aroma is punchy tangerine and onion with just a hint of grain in the backdrop. Damn you, summit hops!

On the palate this is exceedingly more pleasant, one of the few times that works out. This is mainly punctuated by a superb body. Medium bodied, soft, rounded, with an excellent mid-palate grain complexity and some spice and resiny bitterness towards the finish.

Overall, I find myself able to keep taking nice, full swallows and enjoying them while I do. But the oniony, citrus quality of the summit hop is doing absolutely nothing for this beer. Some herby, earthy noble hops would be infinitely preferable and turn this from something I'd be fine to drink, into something I'd love to drink.

Ah well.

SurlyFest from Surly Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 731 ratings.