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Smoke - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

282 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 282
Hads: 869
Avg: 4.14
pDev: 20.77%
Wants: 332
Gots: 284 | FT: 19
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Baltic Porter |  8.20% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 12-05-2007

Ebony-hued, Smoke wafts out of the bottle and into your senses, borne on the wings of European traditions, wrapped in American innovation. Lager-brewed, like any true Baltic Porter, with smoked malts from Bamberg, Germany, the home of Rauchbiers, then mellowed by oak-aging. Black malt flavors mesh with notes of raisins, plums, figs and licorice with the subtle smoke on the side, for a complex and luxurious, yet silky smooth drinking experience. It's a sipper at Alc. 8.2% by VOL., but everyone knows you can't have Smoke without fire!
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Reviews: 282 | Hads: 869
Photo of Czequershuus
3.17/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This beer pours brownish black with a small but resilient head. The aromas of hickory smoke, figs, and prunes waft slowly off the beer. The flavor leads with a faint chocolate taste, followed by a fair amount of smoke - though not deep, rich smoke, more a faint, whispy, end of a campfire smoke - and hints of fig other dried fruit. The mouthfeel is surprisingly thin. Maybe it is not my style, but I cannot shake the feeling that this beer lacks in richnes - the smoke feels thin, the texture is thin, the non-smoke flavors seem muted. It is a decent beer, but not my favorite.

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Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.48/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – The ale was brownish black in appearance with a dark mocha colored head. Little in the way of inconsistencies could be detected in the body.

Smell – Smoked meat was the dominant note. I think it leans a little toward bacon.

Taste – I could only think of liquid smoked meats. The smoke is well balanced in this porter, and does not overwhelm. There was noted or burnt sugar and perhaps a little coffee as well. The smoke lingers in the finish with a certain sweetness.

Mouthfeel – The mouthfeel is almost stout-like, but certainly does not reach motor oil quality. It leaves a nice impression.

Overall – Surly hits a homerun here. This is one of my favorite smoke beers.

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Photo of maedhros09
4.34/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look: nearly opaque black with a finger or two of dense tan head and great lacing
Smell: roasty, smoky
Taste: Pretty sweet molasses maltiness, roasty with a pleasant campfire smokey finish and little bitterness. Alcohol definitely comes through.
Feel: Full bodied and thick, nicely smooth carbonation.

Overall: A densely flavorful baltic porter - drinks a lot like an imperial stout with a bit of smoke, which is nicely balanced with the other flavors. A bit on the sweet side, perhaps, but very enjoyable overall.

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours brilliant mahogany under a 2” tan foam collar with a very fine bead. S: Smells like a smoked pork chop with a light coffee rub. T: Rich Baltic Porter flavors with smoke throughout with caramel and toffee notes and hints of chocolate. The smoke muted the impact of the oak but there is slight vanilla and a mild mellowing. F: Very smooth and creamy, medium carbonation O: A nicely done smoked beer.

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Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into snifter, 2015 vintage bottling. Pours nearly opaque dark brown/black color with a 1-2 finger dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Aromas of big chocolate, cocoa, coffee, wood smoke, toasted oak, caramel, brown sugar, light licorice, raisin, plum, fig, light char, light herbal, and roast/smokey earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt, smoke, and oak barrel notes; with good strength. Taste of big chocolate, cocoa, coffee, wood smoke, caramel, brown sugar, toasted oak, light licorice, raisin, plum, fig, light char, light herbal, and roast/smokey earthiness. Light herbal/roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, cocoa, wood smoke, toasted oak, caramel, brown sugar, and herbal/roasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Fantastic complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roasted malt, smoke, and oak barrel flavors; with a great roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Very clean on lager flavors with zero estery yeast notes present. Light-medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a very smooth, moderately creamy/silky, and slightly sticky/chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warmth lingering after the finish. Overall this is an awesome smoked Baltic porter style. All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roasted malt, smoke, and oak barrel flavors; and very smooth and easy to sip on for the ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Deep brown body, tan/grayish head. Kickass bottle art, good solid wax top.

S: Toasted malt/dark chocolate, good smoke, but as the namesake of the beer, I could use a lot more. A faint metallic aroma pops in, which I would consider a (tiny) flaw.

T: The taste is much improved from the nose, plenty of smoke throughout taking center stage, with all the caramel-dark chocolate-malt-husk flavors to support. No metallic flavor here, but an unexpected sweetly fruit-resembling flavor on the front, like plum/strawberry. Straight dark chocolate and smoke comprises the finish, with a good burn in the throat (either from the smoke or the alcohol, probably the former) to accompany it.

F: Light-medium body, not even moderately carbonated but not still either.

O: I was hoping all my clothing and the room I drank this in would smell like a campfire for a week after drinking this, but sadly, the smoke was really well balanced. This beer still blew me away with the range, clarity, and balance of all the flavors, the perfect not-too-heavy feel, and all-around enjoyability.

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Photo of Cannibalgasm
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a Surly pint glass.

A: Pours a rich black with an off-tan head. Fades to a thin layer of bubbles that linger on the top of the brew. Little lacing is present.

S: Roasted malts, oak, smoke, tobacco, molasses, and some dark fruit.

T: Roasted malts, chocolate, oak, tobacco, plum, raisin, and then the smoke comes through without overpowering the other flavors.

M: Medium bodied, moderate carbonation, thick on the back end with a slight pleasant burn.

O: A very well done smoked porter. Unlike a lot of smoked beers out there, the smoke actually takes somewhat of a backseat. Instead of overpowering it serves as the backbone of this brew. I tip my hat to Surly for this enjoyable brew.

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Photo of stortore
3.77/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750 ml 2015 bottle, half into a snifter, half into a pilsner glass.

Dark, thick looking pour with a medium head, not much residual lacing. Smells mostly of malt, then smoke, some chocolate. Hint of black pepper at pour. Taste follows the nose on the strong malt and the smoke. A little more chocolate in the taste, some oak and vanilla. Smooth, but thin for the style and ABV. Leaves a bit of a salty aftertaste that I've not noticed in other smoked- type beers.

This is ok, but it's not as good as I was expecting. Didn't make a strong case as a Baltic Porter or as a smoked beer. Price point is a little high for what you get, in my opinion.

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Photo of StinkyFishBoys
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.75

Thanks for inviting me to a campfire with sweaty men and fresh caught fish. I felt sort of at home sipping this brew while cleaning the gillis. Probably the smoky-est beer I've ever had in my life, so that's cool. It's kind of like the number 5 at burger twins.

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Photo of OStrungT
4.44/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a very dark brown with a ruby mahogany tint when held up to the light. It is nearly black. The brown head fades quickly, leaving minimal lace.

This beer has a smoky aroma. Go figure with the name "Smoke" I also detect some coffee aroma. Sweet caramel as well.

The beer tastes great. Smokey flavor mixes in with some tobacco, molasses, and coffee.

This beer is carbonated nicely, and goes down surprisingly smooth, leaving a smokey aftertaste.

This beer wouldn't be the best session beer since it is a little high on alcohol, and the smokey flavor may become cloying after a time.

Overall, this beer is really good. Hands down one of the best smoked beers I have ever had. Thanks to Sarah for hooking me up!

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Photo of ARoman
4.02/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap, poured into an english tulip pint glass. The beer is dark and oily dark woth a rich cola hue and a light tan colored soap head that has a moderate retention and very light lace. The aroma is a smokey, charred note with roasted coffee beans, and a cookie dough hint with late developing aromas of vanilla and raisin. The taste is a medium high roasted sweet with a complimentary medium slick bitter. The beer is syrupy smooth with a soft fuzz carbonation and a medium full body with flavors of coffee and smokey grilled meats with some undertones of chocolate. It finishes sticky with mostly a spicy clove and coffee that carries to the aftertaste that's mostly clean with a smokey charred quality.

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Photo of Hookstrat
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Surprisingly subtle beer. Aroma opens up into clean smoke as it warms, alcohol present throughout. The flavor is the winner here. Dry, clean, well-balanced with a moderately bitter, smokey finish. I wish they could pull this off at 6-7 %ABV, but I'll take it!

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.82/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Black, but a little transparent. Small khaki head.

Smell - Nice smokey aroma. Sweet chocolate. Kinda nutty.

Taste - Mirrors the nose. A little less smoke and more sweet chocolate. Sweet caramel in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium heavy. Medium low carbonation.

Overall - I really like this. Very nice smoke and chocolate combination.

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Photo of CraigP83
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

BLACK brew, solid tan head. Smells of smoky malts not unlike a campfire. More liquid smoke flavor. Good lager base is not overly objectionable. Mellower than other smoky beers

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Photo of Phocion
4.31/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2010 vintage bottle poured into a tulip. Black with just the slightest mahogany hues when held up to a light. Finger of short-lived foamy khaki head and minimal lacing.

Aroma is a good balance. Traditional beechwood-smoked malts are assertive but mellowed by a soft oaky flavor. Wood and smoke join big, robust, black malts. Anise, coffee, molasses, dark fruits, and dark chocolate are all trying to make themselves known.

The flavor is primarily mellow roasted malts. The smoked malts actually take a backseat to a bittersweet chocolate flavor. Soft barrel flavors and raisin, plum, and fig (malty, not estery) are all more powerful than the smoke, which works as a wonderful accent rather than overpowering. Clean yeast flavors and a dry finish. Alcohol very well-hidden.

Full body and low-moderate carbonation. Thick, chewy mouthfeel and very dry but little bitterness. The alcohol flavor is fairly well-hidden, but it still definitely feels very hot (even after a hair over four years).

I haven't had Smoke in several years, but this is far better than I remember. Maybe age has toned it down or maybe my memory is hazy. Either way, this is an excellently balanced beer. Still hot, but not overly smoky like a number of similar beers out there. Excellent base Baltic Porter. Worth a try.

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Photo of Nugganooch
3.93/5  rDev -5.1%

750ml wax capped bottle – split into a couple tumblers
Notes taken on 07/26/2014 – Big thanks to Allen once again!

A: Dark brown coffee bean color that settles closer to black in the glass. Thick creamy taupe colored suds forms over top and holds for a few good moments. Some light sticky cling remains to the glass after each sip.

S: The nose is very chocolaty with dark roast malts in abundance. I get some dark caramel sweetness with a mild dark fruit presence and a touch of earthiness too. Finishes out with a faint but easily distinguishable smoked malt character. Gives off a light campfire aroma. Nice but strangely this is not nearly as smoky as I was anticipating.

T: Dark roasted malt with dark caramel, coffee, and chocolate notes meld into an earthy green hop bitterness midway. The finish delivers a few whispers of beach wood smoke however it is fairly tame with no harsh charcoal or ashy presence. This is a really nice Black Lager but I am kind of missing the Smoke here. Not really complaining since the balance and flavor is great. Alcohol is well incorporated into the other flavors as well. Just not the aggressive smoke bomb I was expecting this to be at all.

M: Moderate heft in body with great frothy cream like texture and a nice drying lift at the finish. Touch of hop bitterness however void of any harsh astringency which is nice.

D: I found this to be a very tasty Dark Lager and would definitely have again. Extremely subtle use of the smoked malts here however. Actually had me wanting for more intensity. I mean why else would you wax the bottle. For those who may have shied away from this one should not fear the Smoke.

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Photo of vette2006c5r
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Smoke pours a black color with a nice lacing tan head. There is a strong smokey aroma; much like a smoked meat. The taste has a nice mellow, but pronounced smokey flavor, very meaty flavors. The body feels a little watery, but a nice warmth. Overall its a nice easy drinking smoking beer.

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Photo of reebtaerG
4.36/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had on draft 4oz pour into snifter at churchkey on 5/8/14

A-Pours a dark brownish black with tan head.

S-Aromas of smoke, tobacco,and chocolate. Feels like you are at a campfire.

T-Tasting notes of smoke, roast, malts, tobacco, light chocolate.

M-Mouthfeel gives a medium-full body with a dry finish. Decent carbonation

O-Overall quite surprised loved the smoke aroma and flavor.

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Photo of Carb-Overlord
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This is a very well made smoked porter. The smell is simply wonderful; soaked hickory on your hot coals smell! Sort of makes me hungry when I get a whiff. The smell is appetizing, but the smoke flavor is subtle and in no way overpowers the porter, what I feel is a big danger in smoked beers.

A: A rich dark black with an initial tan head that foams down to a crisp thin line.

S: Like my grill when I throw a handful of soaked hickory chips on those hot coals with a splash of yeasty chocolate in the back of the sinus.

T: Very interesting progression of flavors; initial bitterness (interesting for a porter) but it quickly mellows into a more chocolate smoothness and finishes with a smoky after taste. Again, when you breath deeply from your glass there is such a rich smoky scent, but the flavor itself doesn't overshadow the rich flavors comprising the base of a very good porter. Well done Surly.

M: I personally like my porters a little more smooth, the carbonation was a little too in my face to make this aspect outstanding.

O: Great smoked porter. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys the pleasure of smoke flavor in their food or drink. Quite enjoyable.

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Photo of Chasmill70
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

a- Thick, tan head persists well. Black color.

s - Smoke and dark fruit. Malty sweetness. Really nice aroma that starts by overpowering smoke but moves to the Baltic porter character.

t - Taste is similar to smell...on first sip I thought it was WAY too smoke forward. But each sip after seemed more and more balanced. The smoke perfectly compliments the dark fruit, roast, and malt.

m - The highlight of the beer. It's rich and velvety.

o - This is a darn good Raucbier! It really hides the 8% alcohol, which could be dangerous in a bomber. I'm glad I gave it a chance beyond the first sip...each sip has been better than the last!

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Photo of jbaker67
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep, dark cola brown pour with khaki head. Nose is a nice mix of salty smoke and sweet cherry-type smoke along with refined roast malt, cocoa powder, and faint fruit esters. Flavor is a gentle salty/sweet smoke mix, bittersweet chocolate, soft roasted malt, and some mild dark fruit. Lingering bittersweet chocolate, and to a lesser extent, charcoal.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
3.1/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

A-Pours a very dark brown. Head bubbles up and fades. The head was also quite dark. Lighter lacing.

S-Obvious smokiness. Campfire. Rauchbier. Salty, cured meat. Struggling to acquire much else behind the smoke...I know there's a Porter there somewhere.

T-Flavor is exceedingly smoky, of course. More of the Porter elements come out here. A bit peaty as well. Pretty one dimensional.

M-Surprisingly light in body. Alcohol hidden well. The smoke coats the tongue a bit.

O/D-I wasn't enamored with this beer. Over the top smokiness. I was expecting a bit more diversity in the flavor profile.

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Photo of falloutsnow
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

From: France44 dot com
Date: 2012 edition (available in 2013)
Glass: Founders snifter

Surly's Smoke was a good baltic porter, definitely taking the smoke-caramel-raisin flavors as the main inspiration and dropping most of the roasted malt and cocoa elements in some other versions of the style. While I enjoyed the beer and certainly would not hesitate to have another, I don't think I'd go out of my way to purchase this fairly expensive ($14) 750ml bottle again, as I can find nearly the same flavors in the darker Aecht Schlenkerla offerings.

Pours a 1cm tall head of grey-beige-colored foam, made up of small and large-sized bubbles. Retention is average, the foam lasting about one minute in decline to a thin ring around the perimeter of the glass and a small island of filmm drifting atop the beer. Lacing is minor, with a few small dots and lines clinging to the glass' walls. Body is a dark brown to black color, with light bringing out slight burnt orange hues around the perimeter of the beer. Carbonation visible along the sides of the glass as the body is opaque, fairly low in number and activity.

Aroma of smoke that is substantially mellowed by oak aging, with attendant scents of raisins, dark caramel-like sweetness, and faint charred toast and cocoa.

Front of palate experiences dark caramel sweetness with notable smoke and a bit of charred toast. Mid-palate of smoke atop a heavy and dark caramel sweetness, raisins, prunes, and modest cocoa. Back of palate tastes diminished smoke, increased charred toast and cocoa, raisins, prunes, and a bit of anise and ethanol. Aftertaste of dark caramel-like sweetness, charred toast, lingering light smokiness, raisins, and ethanol.

Beer is medium to medium-heavy in body with carbonation of medium-low to low intensity, resulting in a smooth (4/5), somewhat foamy (1/5) mouthfeel that makes it easy to sip this fairly substantial beer, as it should be. Ethanol can be felt as a light burn on the back of the throat and a little heat in the nostrils, a bit disappointing for an 8% lager beer. Closes dry, with medium to medium-light stickiness clinging to the palate.

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Photo of Vonerichs
4.26/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Dark cola, almost black color. Minimal head with a persistent surface coating.

Light smoked malt, black licorice, cocoa, sugar plum aromas.

The sweet and smoke meld well. Cocoa and black licorice play with earthy tobacco and dark fruit.

Phenomenal mouthfeel. Smooth and creamy, mild carbonation. Soft.

A great smoked beer. The smoke doesn't dominate and gives all the other layers a chance to shine.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle, with 2013 vintage date. Bottle #8834 it appears. Snagged this guy from the local beer store about a month or so ago and have been holding it down for a little while. My first big bottle from Surly, and I'm excited to have it.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter.

A - Pours a dark cola color; opaque black in the glass with three big fluffy fingers of tan head. Hardly any lacing aside from a few streaks. Looks pretty nice.

S - Smell is of chocolate malt, some dark roast, cream, subtle smoke / char / bacon fat aroma, hint of woodiness, some lager yeast / mustiness, and some underlying dark fruitiness on the finish reminiscent of dates or black currants. Pretty pleasant aroma.

T - Tastes very nice, also. I have to admit I was expecting a ridiculous smoke bomb based on the name, but the smoked malt / char notes take the backseat. Smooth creamy chocolate malt, some dark bitter roast, hints of vanilla, subtle smoke / char, and some mild alcohol warmth on the finish.

M - Feel is smooth and creamy. Medium bodied with good carbonation. Not too thick, heavy, or bloating. Finishes with light stickiness and dryness. Very good drinkability.

Overall, I thought it was very nicely done. I haven't been a big fan of the smoked beers I've had in the past, but this one was nicely done. The smoke was well integrated with the rest of the flavors and wasn't overpowering or distracting. Good drinkability, and even on the lighter side of things, especially for a dark beer for an 8.20% abv. Recommended.

Surly Smoke Lager ---4/5.

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Smoke from Surly Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 282 ratings.