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SurlyFest - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

628 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 628
Reviews: 327
rAvg: 4.07
pDev: 11.06%
Wants: 220
Gots: 35 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: feloniousmonk on 09-03-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 628 | Reviews: 327 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BeerTruth
4.4/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another amazing beer courtesy of tpd975, thanks for hookin' me up!

16 oz. can poured perfectly into a nonic.

Pours a somewhat foggy rich copper hue with a generous two finger off-white head that has no intentions of leaving. Beautiful lacing left behind on the sides of the glass. Smell is of crisp rye up front with a subtle fresh citric hop scent. Nice caramel malt with a bit of a metallic aroma as well. Some dirty earth hops find their way in the nose too. Wow, what a perfect blend of hops and malt on the tongue. Sweet grapefruit hops balance with a creamy caramel malt. The crisp rye gives a fresh zing in the mouth. A spicy pepper sting finds it's way in the mouth as well. Aftertaste is an interesting combination of toasted nut and pine hops, niiice. Fluffy light to medium body with a full carbonation. This doesn't exactly fit into the "traditional" fest beers, but that's why I like it. Definitely a nice change of pace during the Oktoberfest season, especially for hop lovers. Line 'em up, I'll put 'em down...scary good drinkability. What a great beer experience. I would take this beer over Furious anyday.

BeerTruth, Jan 15, 2008
Photo of timbro81
4.33/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big props must go out to PitMonkey on this one. Pours a glorious deep amber orange that has almost perfect clarity. Head is of the standard varity, one finger, fluffy, fades in a few minutes. The rye grains dominate the nose with the hops coming in at a close second. Good dose of dry hopping. Its hard to tell if I'm picking up a metallic smell or if it is the rye grains that I am not used to, either way it doesn't distract from the overall sensation. The taste has a great complexity. Again with the rye and the hops and a clean smooth mouthfeel. A superb interpratation of a hop heads Oktoberfest. Drink this beer.

timbro81, Jan 11, 2008
Photo of Lothore
4.18/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a deep orange hue with a small but sustainable eggshell head.

S- Smells of fragrant hops, malty sweetness.

T- Taste is incredible. Spicy, malty, nutty, typical oktoberfest beer on steroids.

M- Medium viscosity, light on the carbonation.

D- This is extremely drinkable. I could easily drink these until I passed out from the alcohol and deliciousness.

Lothore, Jan 03, 2008
Photo of alexgash
4.4/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful blue and white checkered, 16-oz. can. Deep gold-edged copper body with a clingy, tight, centimeter of light khaki head. Fresh, fragrant, floral and resinous hop nose with a solid malt backing (spice cake, caramel, and bread). Toasted malt and noble hop bitterness festively greet the tongue. Flash of caramel and spicy (rye?) cookie dough with cooked veggie undertones. Herbal, noble, resinous hop bitterness comes on strong in the finish and lasts a delicious while. Tastes like a rye-infused, hoppy Ofest to me! Medium body with lively, even carbonation. Another great Surly brew.

alexgash, Dec 31, 2007
Photo of Gueuzedude
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Despite being around for a couple years, I still can't quite help getting a kick out of it every time I pop the tab of a canned craft-brew. The beer pours with a lightly hazy, reddish amber color and is topped by a frothy, initially two-finger thick, light tan colored, textured head that is creamy enough to leave a layered lacing pattern on the sides of my glass as I slowly consume the beer. Spicy notes of grain and hop mix wonderfully in the aroma; slightly grassy, definite earthy rye spice aromatics as well as an herbal, candied lemon zest & currant hop character. Toasty malt notes and a touch of caramelized grain sugars enter in towards the finished spurring the imagination towards thoughts of brown sugar crusted, marmalade coated, toasted, organic, artisinal bread that has been crushed into an aromatic powder. Quite an interesting aroma; very enticing, entirely engaging and hearty enough to be a harvest time tipple.

Well carbonated, which combines with a sharp hop character that is both herb focused and lemon zest like. Grassy hop notes combine with a soft, yet gripping, bitterness in the finish. The rye does not add a whole lot to the flavor, but does seem to contribute a grassy slightly spicy note that lingers long after a sip has past down my throat. The rye does seem to contribute to the body of the brew as this has a definite viscous heft to it without being cloying. Grassy flavors, touches of currants and a certain menthol like note all seem to be part of the hop profile.

The grassy hop character seems to grow a bit as the beer warms up a bit, coupled with a sort of pine / menthol note (but not in the typical American hop way), this becomes the dominant, though not quite defining, characteristic of this brew. If you hadn't guessed this really is quite hoppy, definitely a hop dominated brew; sort of like a cross between an IPA and a malty Oktoberfest. Quite tasty, a really enjoyable brew and I am glad they did not brew another typical Oktoberfest (while I do enjoy a well crafted traditional one, truly great ones are few and far between). Perhaps my only complaint is that the hops get in the way of really noticing the rye character.

Gueuzedude, Dec 28, 2007
Photo of Imstillthegman
4.45/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I am enjoying this can courtesy of Leftmindedrighty. He brought it to my house for a recent tasting and we never got to it. But now I did. ;-)

Pours a slightly cloudy amber color with a nice off-white head. Loads of lacing on the glass. Just how I like it.

The aroma is a nice blend of hops and rye. A little sweet, a little grassy, a little roasty.

The flavor is heads above pretty much any rye beer I have ever had. Sweet roasted rye, citric hops, caramel, a bit nutty. Very tasty. I never would have made it home if my local Oktoberfest had this one.

Solid feel to it. Medium body. Extremely drinkable. Goes down easy....and fast. I truly believe Surly needs to have an East Coast brewery contract brew for them. Dogfish Head, perhaps? Man, that would be freakin' awesome. Another fabulous beer from Surly.

Imstillthegman, Dec 28, 2007
Photo of Graham21
3.55/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice bubbly frothy tan head 2 mm thick. Amber in appearance with sediment lingereing. Smells very hoppy, small amounts of bready yeast. Pretty hoppy for an Oktoberfest, grapefruit comes through slightly. SurlyFest is better than average but not amazing. Body is dry and lacking.

Graham21, Dec 20, 2007
Photo of tpd975
4.58/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Let me get ahead of myself here. Best damn Octoberfest brew in the world. Period...Point Blank.

Moving On!

A: Pours a beautiful amber color with a big puffy head. Lots of carbonation and beautiful layers of lacing.

S: Big and bold malty sweetness. Tons of caramel, hazelnut toffee, and hops. Holy shit I smell hops. Is this really an Oktoberfest brew? Citrus, check, Pine, check. Oh god I can't wait to taste.

T: Yep. Surly rules. This beer alone is reason enough for BA to name them brewery of the year. This is your typical Oktoberfest brew on steroids. The malty sweetness is there right from the start. Tons of nutty caramel sweetness that alone would be the makings of a great brew. But wait! This is Surly, and we all know that they don't settle for great. They hopped the hell out of this one to put it on the next level. Pine and grapefruit can both be noted. I have never loved Oktoberfest soooo much.

M: Nice and medium bodied. Soo drinkable. I loved this brew.

D: Can after can I could pound this one.

Overall: Ever since objectivemonkey sent over the Surly brews I have been getting Surly. I have to admit that I saved this one for last as I tend to lean toward the hoppy brews. Being a fest beer I expected pure malt. I have never been so wrong in my life. They have taken an Oktoberfest brew and made it sooo much more. Hops and malts are both noted in pure balance. I profess there is not a greater fest brew in the world. Surly could hang their hat on this one. Yet there are sooo many others. Furious, Bender, Cynic, and dare I say DARKNESS. I see why BA voted them best. Break out the parkas honey I want to move to Minnesota!

tpd975, Dec 07, 2007
Photo of ncvbc
4.45/5  rDev +9.3%
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!

ncvbc, Dec 06, 2007
Photo of ryantupy
4.85/5  rDev +19.2%
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

ryantupy, Dec 04, 2007
Photo of kenito799
4.15/5  rDev +2%
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.

kenito799, Dec 04, 2007
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.2/5  rDev +3.2%
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.

JoeyBeerBelly, Dec 02, 2007
Photo of Bierguy5
3.8/5  rDev -6.6%
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.

Bierguy5, Dec 02, 2007
Photo of Floydster
3.93/5  rDev -3.4%
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?

Floydster, Dec 01, 2007
Photo of happygnome
4.47/5  rDev +9.8%
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

happygnome, Nov 24, 2007
Photo of Overlord
4/5  rDev -1.7%
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.

Overlord, Nov 23, 2007
Photo of Viggo
4.35/5  rDev +6.9%
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!!!

Viggo, Nov 21, 2007
Photo of bennetj17
4/5  rDev -1.7%
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...

bennetj17, Nov 20, 2007
Photo of younger35
4.45/5  rDev +9.3%
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!

younger35, Nov 19, 2007
Photo of ZAP
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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

ZAP, Nov 14, 2007
Photo of slyke
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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

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

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

Mouthfeel is crisp and slightly coating. Excellent.

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

slyke, Nov 11, 2007
Photo of WeisGuy
4.2/5  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.

WeisGuy, Nov 06, 2007
Photo of seaoflament
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
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.

seaoflament, Nov 05, 2007
Photo of Dansting
4.47/5  rDev +9.8%
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.

Dansting, Nov 03, 2007
Photo of DaPeculierDane
2.05/5  rDev -49.6%
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.

DaPeculierDane, Nov 01, 2007
SurlyFest from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 628 ratings.