1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

SurlyFest - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

682 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 682
Reviews: 331
rAvg: 4.05
pDev: 11.11%
Wants: 221
Gots: 42 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 682 | Reviews: 331 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of TurdFurgison
4.72/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got this can from JohnBierman as an extra, very appreciated and I'm so happy to have another Surly beer to try. This is difficult to rate against any given style, a dry-hopped rye helles lager. The beer is copper colored and a little hazy, with a thick rocky 3-finger foam that recedes into a thin wet frothy film. The first smell that hits me is rye spice, followed by bready and malty "helles lager" aromas straight outta Munchen. Exceptional, and the taste is even better if only because helles lagers seem stronger in flavor than aroma (at least to me). Delicious biscuit, malty sweet, with distinctive rye bite and a sharp after-taste that lingers. The body is creamy and filling, this is as drinkable as any beer I've had before. An instant classic, this beer is unique and needs to exist, a near perfect beverage.

TurdFurgison, Jan 18, 2009
Photo of weeare138
3.23/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appears a transparent, light gold with a mild, light white cap that quickly fades into a gentle collar.
Smell is of yeasty, sourdough, and light caramel.
Taste mirrors the aromas with the yeast coming through and a touch of spicy hops found in the flavors.
Mouthfeel is yeasty, medium bodied, and spicy.

weeare138, Jan 14, 2009
Photo of marcpal
4.35/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

16oz can found its way to me courtesy of Maximum12, thanks Corey. Surly is hit or miss, as are rye beers.

Can poured into Dogfish contoured pint glass.
Bottle (Can) graphics: 5/10.

A: Heavy pour shows a non-stop flow of carbonation. Fat shaving cream head on top of a nice orange body. Two seconds later, the head was dead as disco.

S: Caramel malt. Smells like a fest beer more than a rye beer (at first) but there is clearly a fair amount of hops tucked in. Grapefruit pith abounds here and wonderful.

T: I take back my notes on the aroma, this is a rye beer. The fruity hops and caramel malts lie in good balance with doing battle. The caramel still makes you think autumn beer with the mango bitterness and pumpernickel with spice topping off the nice flavors.

Toasted almond bar. The hops and grapefruit aren't as intense as the nose but they sure are still there. The aftertaste is where the rye shines on through.

M: Crisp with some hop resin. Carbonation twinge with a highlighting finish from the malts. Light and airy carbonation.

D: I like it as a rye, carries a lot more taste and character than a normal Oktoberfest seasonal. The hops are a great note and make this quaffable. I would like some more and thats all that really matters. The finishing hops that lead the nose train make this a beer that I can scratch and sniff all night.

Thanks again, this and Furious make me ache that Surly isn't available as wide as Jersey.

marcpal, Jan 14, 2009
Photo of jamie2dope
3.7/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer was included as an extra in a trade with DBhog. Since I did not have a stein on hand, as the label suggested, I just decided to put it in a Duvel glass instead. Color is a hazy dark orange, with a half finger of white head. Aroma has some dry grainy husks, bit of caramel sweetness, traces of fruit here and there, slightly musty as well. Taste brings on more of the same, but more subdued overall. Taste also clues you in that this is a Lager and not an Ale in the way that all of its conponents intermingle. Good carbonation, and a pleasant hoppy bitterness lend itself well to the drinkability of this beer. At the same time, one is good enough for me. A good beer from Surly, and much more refined than their other brews. Again, like all of their other products, I wish I had access to them here. Thanks again to Bill for this one.

jamie2dope, Jan 09, 2009
Photo of Proteus93
2.25/5  rDev -44.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Shared with CrellMoset and dkachur

A: A golden blonde hue. Head is a little short, white. Not a whole lot going on.

S: Not much of a rye scent going on here at all... rather vegetal, a little metallic. This is not starting off very well.

T: I am hoping that there is something wrong with this can, and presuming that it would be the case? It tastes, quite literally, like overcooked greens. Asparagus, brussel sprouts, collard greens. Oh Lord, it's not a very pleasant taste.

M + D: Feel is alright... medium bodies, but the flavour doesn't go over with it very well. I have been fond of the other rye beer I have had, so I'd be willing to give it another go based on that, but I'm not too interested in getting another any time soon.

Proteus93, Jan 06, 2009
Photo of PittBeerGirl
4.15/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Deliriumfest for this one!

A- Body is a light amber/slightly brown hue. Pours with a nice creamy 2 finger or so white frothy head which eventually fades to 1/2 finger and retains well from there. Lacing left all the way down the glass.

S- Caramel malt, citrusy hops, and a touch of rye.

T- Upfront is a pretty big citrus hop flavor with a rich O-fest nutty, caramely malt backbone. The finish is a bit bitter with the rye and hops coming through a bit more but the bitterness fades quickly and leaves behind highlights of the wonderful initial flavor.

M-Wonderful, smooth, light, slightly oily body with medium to high carbonation.

D- This is a great collaboration of rye, hoppy, and o-fest. Great flavors and lager quaffability. Reminds me a little bit of great lakes Elliot Ness. Well done overall and something I would like to trade for next time it comes around.

PittBeerGirl, Dec 31, 2008
Photo of RblWthACoz
4.13/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a barely foggy and slightly orange hued amber. Nose is mild citrus tones and mild hop characteristics as well. Flavor has that rye bite, but it seems like it's blended with a fairly intense citrus and pine hop edge. Nice marriage. Feel has a fairly obvious carbonation that's full in the mouth. This is easy to drink, yes. But it still carries the bite you expect from a rye.

RblWthACoz, Dec 27, 2008
Photo of mikereaser
4.38/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - pours a nice clear copper color with a 1/4 inch of foam that just left a layer of fine bubbles and plenty of lacing.

S - aroma is earthy and bready with just a hint of spices

T - nice maltiness with a bit of rye taste along with a nice bit of hops

M/D - Very nice balance of all of the above to make a very drinkable enjoyable brew. I'd love to get more of this.

mikereaser, Dec 25, 2008
Photo of lackenhauser
3.98/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice orange, somewhat golden color. very clean looking. Tight creamy head on top. Very hoppy aroma for the style. Nice malty sweetness to it. A heavy blast of hops. Good balance between the 2 with a pleasant lingering bitterness. Very silky and creamy mouthfeel. All around a great drinking experience. My first from Surly and it lives up to the hype for sure.

lackenhauser, Dec 24, 2008
Photo of paulthebeerguru
3.98/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: imperial pint. pours a vibrant bright orange copper color that is very clear. mild head, off white in color. medium retention.

S: some baked apples and pears, wonderful crystal malt aroma.

T: very sweet oktoberfest. hoppier than most, which provides a better balanced brew than most fest beers. tastes dry-hopped almost, with some nice rye malts.

M: nice dry hopped mouthfeel. very balanced beer. smooth and rather creamy.

D: very nice fest beer with an American twist. solid brew. well worth getting. very creative by dry hopping an oktoberfest.

paulthebeerguru, Dec 22, 2008
Photo of seanpachefddfa
4.58/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

thanks to Mikegroove for this one

appearance- poured an amber/orange with a thin off white head.
smell- getting lemon and orange citrus with some pine and malts also.
taste- getting all the taste from the nose above but also getting some nice spice also.
mouthfeel- medium body with good carbonation. very smooth and crisp
drindability- i enjoyed this one very much it goes down way to easy. I could put down 4 or 5 of these.

seanpachefddfa, Dec 18, 2008
Photo of Wetpaperbag
4.22/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm a bit confused with this beer. The style for this beer is a rye beer, however, its brewed with a lager yeast, which wouldn't that make it a lager? Or in this case a Rye Lager?

A- This looks tasty for a fest inspired beer. The head was never really there and left quickly. The beer itself is a dark amber color, by the looks of things I'm guessing the hop character will be on the stronger side of things.

S- I'm getting a good amount of malts, and that rye smell is just right there in the mix of things, its not too bad.

T- This is unique in taste. The malts are strong and has a great typical lager taste. But the rye is adding a huge twist to this, along with the strong hop taste that is going on with this. I can't remember ever having a hoppy lager. This is quite unique. The malts are great and bready like malts should be.

M- Feels good in the mouth, just the perfect feel.

D- Very drinkable, for those who like more malts with their hops this is the one for you.

Wetpaperbag, Dec 12, 2008
Photo of drpimento
3/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

ahhhh, I don't know.... Right now the overall score here is really good, but I can't go with it. I really like Surly stuff, but this isn't one a their best imho. So so head. no lace. Slightly hazy orangish amber color. Hoppy nose. Flavor picks up malt, a bit of roastiness. Helps make it more drinkable. Sort of an Oktoberfest. I guess. Finish is ok. I could drink a few more of these, but don't know if I'd go out of my way to do so.

drpimento, Dec 02, 2008
Photo of TexIndy
4.35/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got in a trade with pitmonkey - many thanks! Poured from a 12oz can (no dating info but seasonal so know it's fresh) into a pint glass. It was a hazy orange amber with good carbonation and lacing. It had a massive cream colored head that slowly settled into a thick foam and collar. Looks very appetizing.

The aroma was hops (Summit) and peppery spice from the rye. It was subtle at first and really didn't present itself till it warmed up some more. I think I opened this one too soon so was still a bit cold (harder to judge in cans than bottles for me). Once it got going, it was rather pleasing. The taste was excellent. Not a hop bomb so it had a nice level hoppy taste from start to finish. Finish is just right and not too bitter. Only my second rye beer but can see this as being a top tier style for me. The mouthfeel was nice and solid with nice finish.

Overall, a really excellent beer, again, from Surly. Very drinkable and would be a good session beer. Get a good amount of hops without shredding your tongue or getting to be too much. Highly recommend. Will definitely seek out again.

TexIndy, Dec 02, 2008
Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.1/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to deliriumfest for hookin this one up.

Pours a nice clear amber/ruby/orange/light brown/burnt color. Big fluffy white head lingers for quite some time and leaves pretty impressive lacing.

Nose is hoppier than i expected. Some earthy malts and a bit of bread and biscuit.

Taste follows with biscuity bready malt, as far as this "lager" is concerned, a big hop presence. Again, relatively speaking for the style. Some slight caramel and bread through the middle. Nowhere near as malty sweet as, say, a marzen, but the malt presence is there. Hop bitterness and a bit of perfume on the finish, bitterness lingering in the aftertaste. A clean, crisp, and quite dry finish.

Mouthfeel is pretty good, maybe a touch thick, but overall quite good. A very sessionable brew. Great carbonation and a good dry finish.

Drinkability is very good. A super slammable rye beer lager thingamajig. Would love to session a few of these in october.

Overall a pretty tasty brew. A rye lager thing is a nice take on a style aside from marzen for the oktoberfest season. A great alternative when marzens get boring. The extra hop presence in here is pretty nice. Certainly one worth picking up. A good one for those seeking just a touch more flavor and body at the autumn barbeque. Good beer.

AKBelgianBeast, Nov 28, 2008
Photo of hopdog
4.05/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

16oz can acquired in trade with mashmaster (thanks!).

Poured a medium and clear golden/orange color with a smaller sized off white head. Aromas of earthiness, wet leaves, toffee, and bready. Tastes of caramel, toffee, some earthiness, and the same rye/breadiness. Lively body that has a dry finish.

hopdog, Nov 26, 2008
Photo of Douglas14
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a brilliant pale golden color with a nice white head that leaves some lace. The aroma has a nice spice to it that goes perfectly with the hoppiness of this beer. I definitely wouldn't think it's a rye lager based on the aroma. The taste is similar, but has a fuller than expected body and more complexity that I imagined. I really appreciate when rye is used well. Both the aroma and the taste have some grass-like characters to them. Great take on this style from Surley.

Thanks again to Deliriumfest for this extra goody.

Douglas14, Nov 23, 2008
Photo of RustyDiamond
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Slightly hazed light-orange pour into a SA beer drinking glass. Fluffy 2 fingers of near-white bubbly froth. Great lacing in the glass. Nutty aroma with a blast of citrus hops. Very bright flavor, orange hops very evident. Nutty, spicy, roasty malt body. Finishes very clean and hoppy. Don't let the German-esque can fool you...this one is a nice refreshing spin on a Marzen.

RustyDiamond, Nov 23, 2008
Photo of IBUnit63
4.18/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The ever-generous hero27 has hooked me up with some fine Surly products once again...many thanks, dude! From the pounder (poundah?) into my Bristol Motor Speedway mug...

Pours like an IPA with butterscotch hazy color and single-finger bread dough head that's pretty tight with good lacing and lots of carbonation.

Hops have some earth in them but a fair amount of grass and citrus grapefruit rind, too. Munichmalt hsa a sweet, spicy presence, too. The rye brings a husky grain taste than complements the earthiness. Not your dad's Oktoberfest.

Solid Fest taste comes home with sweet Munich malt - there's still a fair amount of earth - clean yet hearty finish. Hops are more in the background but nice and grassy. Citrus comes around nicely with warmth.

This is pretty light on the palate but there's more citrus on the feel than in the taste. A bit more earth on the finish. Slight floral bite emerging. This waxes and wanes continuously - rye character is extremely additive on the finish. Good stuff!

Great session beer - I wish I had more of this a couple of months ago. Wait 'til next year isn't just for the Cubs! Drinks extremely well.

IBUnit63, Nov 22, 2008
Photo of pwoods
3.58/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

16oz. can purchased somewhere in Minneapolis, poured into a pint. Review from notes.

Pours a dark coppery amber with a large fluffy white head. Head holds for a bit and leaves good lacing. The aroma is very spicy, loads of rye. Not very typical of an Ofest but interesting.. Very peppery and mildly sweet. Taste is much the same. Lots of peppery, very spicy, loads of rye. Pretty damn dry. Has a very earthy taste and feel. Body is medium to medium light with good carbonation.

pwoods, Nov 21, 2008
Photo of tiger88
3.78/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a medium amber with a fluffy white head. As the head dissipates, light sticky lacing is left behind. The aroma is subtle if nothing else. Smells like a well balanced, slightly bready beer with a note of hops but not too overwhelming. I was expecting a Terrapin Rye Pale type taste and that may have clouded my judgement here. It did resemble Terrapin in the rye factor but the hops are a little more laid down which is totally fine. I was just expecting more of a sharpness to it. Not a bad beer in any sense. Very drinkable and enjoyable. Well done Surly.

tiger88, Nov 18, 2008
Photo of msubulldog25
4.33/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another offering from the Surly folks, 1 pint contained within a blue & white-checkered aluminum shell. 'A single-hopped, dry-hopped, rye lager bier'; a twist on the traditional German Oktoberfestbier. Poured to a pint glass and kindly sent by die Brüder Wagner. Dankeschön meine Freunde!

A: Bright 'new penny' copper-orange, nearly clear, a barely-visible haze rests in harmless suspension, occasional bubbles rise. A gorgeous lofty head - fluffy ivory cresting at two-fingers. Good retention and attractive clinging lace.

S: Bread crust maltiness, lightly toasted. A dusty-powdery grain. Lightly sweet with a notably spicy/piney hopping.

T: First sip, I wasn't sure about this one. Sharp bittering, a slight tang...but read the back of the can, dummkopf, this ISN'T an O-fest in the malty-sweet 'traditional sense'. It's a rye beer...different story. Aha! Rich nutty roast, somewhat acrid and earthy-tasting. Mineral spritz, darkly toasted bitterness, light spice and evergreen hopping, vague lemon zest. Still a caramel sweetness lasts and curls around the tongue. Complex and satisfying.

M: Crisp feel, medium-light body. Coating bittering hanging on the back of the tongue. A sticking graininess ringing thinly at the corners of my mouth.

D: Very easy to drink - flavorful, good-looking, sessionable strength. Disappeared far too quickly. Another fine effort by Surly...is it too early to put in my order for a 4-pack next fall, Nick?

msubulldog25, Nov 18, 2008
Photo of sinstaineddemon
3.6/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - this canned brew pours a dark amber, with half a finger of golden tan head, inside; plenty of carbonation and some sediment floating around

S - a nice subtle but not udnerstated hop/malt balance, some resonant sweetness residing in the background, similar to molasses or raisins

T - hoppy at first, the malts mellow out the bitterness, the bitterness persists through the malt and makes it to the aftertaste, some biscuity breadiness combines with the sweetness for a nice flavor

M&D - a fine brew, a nice sessionable canned beer, nice flavor, would be a nice wind down brew after some sort of manual labor, like a game of baseball or something, easy down and quite refreshing

sinstaineddemon, Nov 12, 2008
Photo of PatronWizard
3.6/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A trade thanks to deliriumfest.

Opaque apricot color. Little head. Lagers.

Unique scent, but one I'm not particulary enjoying.

Taste is weird too. Maybe a clove flavor. Too dry and lingering of an aftertaste. Really thick for a lager. Ever so slight taste of apricot, or my mental projection of the appearance on my taste buds.

I guess after 10 years of pounding lagers, I've turned away from them a little. Don't seem to have what I'm looking for anymore. Nothing personal.

Overall: OK

PatronWizard, Nov 10, 2008
Photo of corey0212
4.43/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Big thanks to mikesgroove for this one!!

Pours a nice coppery/amber color, slight haze, foamy beige head fades quickly into a foamy layer on top of the beer, minimal lacing left behind. Lots of piney hops on the nose of this one, and a candy-like malty sweetness. I was thinking I might not really "get" the rye in this beer (having had precious few rye beers), but it's there in abundance. Really spicy kick, peppery, and nicely balanced with the sweet malt flavor. Medium-bodied, some faint, yet long-lasting lingering bitter flavors. This is excellent, and that ABV makes this very session-worthy. My first Surly beer, very impressive!

corey0212, Nov 09, 2008
SurlyFest from Surly Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 682 ratings.