Smoke - Surly Brewing Company

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839 Ratings
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Ratings: 839
Reviews: 284
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.01%
Wants: 329
Gots: 271 | FT: 15
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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Ratings: 839 | Reviews: 284
Reviews by facundoCNB:
Photo of facundoCNB
4.12/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a deep brown almost black pour with a perfect 2 fingers of tan head which diminished to 1/2" for the majority of the session. nice amounts of lacing left behind by head. a chocolate aroma takes most of the credit in this one, notes of licorice, dark roast, smokey. sweet chocolate flavor up front and BOOM you get hit by the smoked flavors which seem to battle with the sweet malt for a bit, and then the smoke lingers until the next sip. a medium body creamy beer with medium carbonation.

i wasn't sure what to expect from SMOKE.. after having a few smoked beers from jester king lately, i thought it would be something like that (a light colored beer).. i'd compare it to stone's smoked porter in style, but it's nothing like that either.. think of it as a smoked stout almost, just my two cents.

More User Reviews:
Photo of blackearth
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on tap at Acadia Cafe in Minneapolis, MN. Poured into a stemmed tulip glass this beer shows an extremely dark brown body with a thin ring of off-white foam. Aroma is raisins, peat, burnt sugar and a hint of smokiness. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with a low to medium carbonation level. Flavors are of caramelized sugar, dried grass and level smokiness. Hop bitterness shows for a moment in the finish and is quickly replaced by a dry malt sweetness. I was expecting much more smoke flavors, but this is still a solid baltic porter.

Photo of warnerry
4.23/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Batch into a snifter

A - Pours very deep brown/black with two fingers of light brown head. Head has decent retention, leaving some lacing behind.

S - Wow. Smoke is right. Very smoky aroma with a nice oak presence. Hard to get much more than smoked malt and peat. Faint bacon aroma.

T - While the smell was good, the taste is much more complex and enjoyable. Yes, smoke and wood still play a large part, but there is much more here, including chocolate, raisin and faint plum, even a small amount of sweetness. Finish is quite smoky.

M - Mouthfeel is wonderfully creamy, with the smoke/char and a nice earthy dryness on the finish.

O - I'm always a little leery of smoked beers, and the smell had me a bit concerned that this would be one dimensional, but the flavors here are wonderful and balanced. Excellent brew.

Photo of bsp77
4.27/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Extremely dark brown without much head and very spotty lacing.

Smell: Smoked malts, oak, molasses, raisins, vanilla and licorice. Impressive for a lager, which tend to be mild in the scent department.

Taste: Oak and smoke is very predominant, with nice rounded semi-sweet malts of molasses, plum, licorice and figs. Ends with a touch of spicy and bitter hops, which co-mingle nicely with the smoke.

Feel: Low carbonation, smooth and creamy lager body that is somewhat full bodied.

Drinkability: Overall, very nice balance between a Baltic Porter, Rauchbier and Oak-Aged beer. Delicious and very easy to drink, belaying its 8.2% abv.

Photo of dogfishandi
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 Vintage. 750ml waxed and capped bottle at fridge temp poured into a darkness snifter.

pours out opaque black. a little less than one fingers worth or creamy mocha colored head off the pour. fades to a thick creamy ring that stayed to the finish. some lacing off of a swirl that is fairly quick to fall back into the beer.

some very nice smokiness while still allowing the porter to come through. the rauch malt comes off as smoked meats, bacon, and ashy campfire while being balanced by some cocoa, a bit of dark fruits and almost a milky, creamy milk stout like chocolate. just slight hints of alcohol as it warms. the aroma seems to kind of come and go, maybe my palate just adjusted while drinking the whole bottle?

an awesome smokey taste, even a little more so than the aroma led me to believe. smoked meats, bacon, campfire, but still a nice base baltic porter as well. lots of cocoa, roasted malts, a bit of dark dried fruits and dark chocolate. a subtle bitterness on the finish with some lingering smoke as well as a little bit of bitter cocoa.

slightly heavy side of medium bodied. just a touch on the thin side and just the slightest bit too much carbonation. no booze or alcohol, but definatly comes off bigger than your average porter.

definatly one of my favorite baltic porters and quite possibly my favorite smoked beer as of now. lots of in your face smoke, which i really enjoy, while still staying somewhat in balance. gotta give it to surly, they dont know how to make a bad beer.

Photo of ehammond1
3.97/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle (2011)

Acquired via trade
Thanks, stig!

Dark brown with a small dark brown head which leaves irregular cling down the glass.

Aroma of smoke, slight meat character, mild roast, and some vanilla sweetness combine nicely.

The flavor is well-balanced, especially for a smoked beer. Often, I feel the smoke is far to dominant in beers like this, but this has enough roast, malt, and sweetness present to balance everything out. Smoke-forward, without dominating.

Medium bodied with moderate-high carbonation.

A very nice beer that made Elaine's home-made pulled pork sandwiches even better!

Photo of MattyG85
4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22 oz. bottle into a snifter glass. 2010 bottle.

Appearance: Very dark and black with only a slight amount of color shining through the bottom. Decent one finger tan head quickly fades into a patchy layer. Small amount of lacing.

Smell: Big aroma of smoke with lots of dark roasted malts. Has a strong hint of dark chocolate along with some hints of dark fruits. Has a woody character.

Taste: Lots of dark roasted malts up front with a smokyness that lingers well throughout but is not as overbearing as the aroma suggests. Has some hints of plum, raisin, and other dark fruits along with hints of dark chocolate and vanilla. Bitterness is low but felt somewhat in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a medium level of carbonation. Very creamy and smooth.

Overall: A very good porter that is complex and very tasty. The smoke is tame enough to notice the many flavors going on here. Another great Surly brew.

Photo of rudylaw
3.98/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap @ Chef Paul's

I thought this would be a good way to venture out into the world of smoked beers. When my chalice arrived, it looked like 12 oz of night was put down in front of me... the head has dissipated by the time it arrived.

It smelt of burnt leaves and overdone corners of chocolate cake. The taste was a little off-putting at first (it was if I was standing over a pile of burning leaves while drinking) but it's high drinkability factor and creamy mouthfeel made this a winner.

I'm not sure if I like smoked beer or not but I could tell there was a lot at work here and I would love to try this again if given the opportunity.

Photo of OStrungT
4.44/5  rDev +8.8%
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!

Photo of pwoods
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had wanted to try this for a long ass time... I was stoked when I saw they had it at D-Day.

Pours very dark, nearly pitch black. Good brown head that holds and leaves lots of lacing. Very sweet and very smoky. Loads of smoke but not really abrasive, which is impressive. The hops come out much more in the drink, some citrus and loads of resins. Deep cola tastes with grapy notes and loads of dark sweetness. The smoke balances throughout the drink and seems to be in all the tastes. Body is nearly full and very smooth. ABV is big and this was my last review of the day, lol.

Photo of mdaschaf
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to mnbearsfan for this one! Been looking forward to trying it for a while.

A: Pours dark with a small bubbly head, decent retention eventually reducing to a ring of foamy bubbles on top. Sporadic lacing.

S: Some chocolate and roasted malt, a nice amount of dark fruit - plum and some cherry. The smoky aroma is faint coming through as a hint of bacon.

T: A little bit of sweet roasty malt upfront mixed in some chocolate and a little bit of oak. Some more of the plum and raisins come out as it warms with a touch of licorice. The smoke is very complimentary, not overpowering at all like it is in many smoke beers.

M: A little bigger than medium bodied, moderate carbonation. Great level of smoke.

O: Very impressed. Very drinkable, no sign of the abv at all. Perfect level of smoke.

Photo of nkersten
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a very dark brown, near black with little to no head. A small tan ring sits around the edge of the glass.
S- Dark roasty oak aroma with some oak. A bit of alcohol is present in the smell as well.
T- Charred oak, smokey malt and some slight alcohol in the aftertaste. A slight hint of hop bitterness to balance things out a little.
M- A very light body for such a dark beer. Little carbonation and a clean finish, dry, not a lot of sweetness.
D- For such a strong beer this is quite drinkable. I have become a fan of baltic porters recently, and while there are others that I like more, I would definitley get this one again if I saw it around.

Photo of RockyTopHeel
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tasted at The Map Room.

Dark, dark brown in color -- nearly black but not quite -- with a thin brown head. Aroma is almost all smoke, with some bitter chocolate and espresso notes.

The taste follows the nose, with a lot of smoke (but not too much) accented with dark chocolate and espresso touches. Nicely drinkable and creamy in the mouth.

Very good quaff.

Photo of ChopperSmith
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The 2011 Surly 'Smoke' served on tap at the Red Stag Supper Club in Minneapolis for the 2011 Smoke release party. Served in a clear tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep and opaque brown, almost black, , with a two finger tan foam head. Fades slowly and leaves nice lacing.

Smell: Smoky and charred wood up front, with a slight malty sweetness underneath.

Taste: Like it smells, smoky and malty with a charred malt flavor. A nice full and sweet malt flavor mellows out all that smoke. Also a good burnt caramel and toffee flavor. Very little hops presence.

Mouth feel: Medium-full bodied and smooth, A slight charred bitterness on the tongue for the finish.

Overall: A good winter beer. If you like smoky beers with a big smoke flavor, this is the beer for you. A sipping beer for sure, but a ton of smoke and malt to bring big flavor with every sip. I appreciate this beer for what it is, and would drink it again if it was available and I was in the mood for a 'smoke'.

Photo of Sammy
4.02/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Extremely smooth and creamy mouthfeel, with a signficant and controlled smokey taste, with the porter complexty behind it.Great smoked, although not as bold tasting a baltic porter as I would expect. The beer is really a cross between the two. Smoke aroma.

Photo of rossracing
3/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

just not my style of beer

Photo of brewerburgundy
4.47/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

25.4oz bottle, Boulevard tulip, 2010 vintage. Thank you very much for that awesome trade, Craig.

The pour is a sticky dark brown with vague red highlights. Quite a nice latte froth like head bubbled up and an attractive flotilla of foam covers the majority of the top.

What I smell coming from the glass is all that is good in a dark smoke beer; brown sugar, roast, and BBQ or campfire smoke with a bite that is very deep but not overwhelming. There's a cured Kalamata olive scent that is slightly salty, like a sea breeze, intriguing.

Smoke contains a good bit of smoke, but the flavors extend further that just this. Brown sugar again, complemented by what must be oak vanilla. A bit of dark fruit, raisins, flows through the middle and the finish is a lovely contrastingly sweet nougat, caramel.

While the carbonation level is not low, this is a remarkably smooth beer. In the mouth it feels like smoke looks; languid, slippery, smooth.

This beer was well worth the wait and I am so glad that I have another bottle. Smoked Porters are quickly becoming one of my favorite styles. Please, Surly, keep doing what you do. This beer is smokey but not overboard, with some wonderful complexities beneath the plume of smoke.

Photo of zaphodchak
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thin light brown head. Opaque dark brown body.

Deep, smoky nose with a bit of soy sauce. Kinda gouda-ish, a bit Swiss.

Woody and a tad bitter with the same soy from the nose, rich, and some of the dry cheese (is that a thing?) character.

Thinnish mouthfeel but not bad.

Nice smokey baltic porter, big flavor and powerful body.

Photo of spacecake9
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I really like everything about this beer. Nice and smoky. Just wish I had a big chunk of gouda to nibble on as I drink it.

Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.82/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2012 vintage. Thanks to Jeff for this one. 750ml waxed bottle into a Founders snifter. Shared with schen9303.

Pours a 1 finger coarse cream colored head with moderate retention. Beer is an opaque pitch black. Lacing is patchy, layered and thick. Thin legs. A real nice looking beer.

The nose lives up to the name. Molasses, brown sugar, roasted malt, cocoa powder, and loads and loads and loads of smoke. Some bitter chocolate too. Weird but decent for the style... which I'm defining as a smoked beer.

Opens sweet molasses, roasted malt, chocolate, booze, and smoke. Like smoky maple bacon. More smoke and roast in the middle with fudge and chocolate sweetness to balance things out. Some dark fruit emerges right at the end. Finishes accented chocolate and cocoa. Aftertaste of maple, molasses and more smokiness. Like the nose, weird but I kinda like it.

Medium bodied with moderate to low carbonation. Smooth and robust in the mouth with a sprinkling of bubbles. Goes down smooth and oily. Finishes pretty clean with a long, lingering, sticky aftertaste. Solid.

I'm not sure why this is categorized as a baltic porter instead of a rauchbier but either way, its a strange but ultimately, pretty pleasant and very interesting offering from Surly. Smokiness is balanced nicely by the chocolate and maple/molasses sweetness. I'm glad I got around to this one. Worth trying.

Photo of pourmeadrink
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The first sniffs out of the glass are heavy with smoke. You get that burning wood aroma, like being around a meat smoker. The color was a dark brown that was moderately translucent. A thin tan head capped this beer off and dissipated quickly.

I have never really found a smoked beer that I am hog-wild over. Mostly, I think they taste like liquid Slim Jim's. I found this bottle at a store on clearance and knew well enough to just buy it without asking. I was pleasantly surprised.

The first taste is filled with that woody smoke from the aroma. As it washes over the pallet, the more complex flavors begin to shine. First was that meaty jerky flavor. Next came a warm boozy wooden taste. As it warmed and I continued to drink, the nuance began to become more noticeable. The bottle claims a fig, raisin and plum taste. They weren't kidding. There was a very earthy date and fig taste with the mild sweetness of raisins, mostly on the finish.

I was happy with this beer, though it is one I only wanted a bit of and not often. I would love to see this in smaller bottles so that I didn't feel like I wasted so much of something that had such a complex tone to it, overall. It was sippable, not drinkable. Smoke was a beer I will keep an eye out for in the future. As for the rest of the bottle? It just got used to make some beef jerky. Yep, I said it. Stay tuned for that post next week. Never let a good beer go to waste.

Photo of tempest
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Blue Nile (How's it going Al?)

I feel like with a Surly, I have to start by being wary of the hype. Sure, everyone will say this beer rocks, but I have to make up my own mind.

I was a little disappointed by the lack of head, but there are more important things. The smell doesn't tell me much of what's to come, I just get faint chocolate-lager aroma like you'd get from a good black beer or a baltic along with a touch of maple syrup.

That said, my first sips were enigmatic. What the heck am I getting here. The fog cleared, however, as my chalice warmed. There's an unmistakable sweet-porkchop and bacon taste backed up by a big smooth roasted cocoa flavor. The dark grains linger long into the aftertaste, making me wonder if I should just sit and enjoy or go for another sip. The lager yeast also makes an appearance with a standard, but balanced doppelbock-like taste of silky black licorice.

This is a thinking (wo)man's beer. Plenty to ponder and more to enjoy. Go find some before it's gone.

Photo of dbossman
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Black with a small but steady head; great lacing for the style

S: Smoked ham dominates; roasted malts and a bit of chocolate but boy does that smoke dominate; sweet and salty

T: Alcohol is subdued; so roasty and chocolaty; a touch of a rustic woodiness; so smooth and smoky (but not overwhelimingly so)

F: Great creamy mouth feel

D: For a rich, smoky beer this is so drinkable

Photo of nickd717
4.32/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber via in-person DLD trade thanks to translucent.

Pours just about black with a small fading off-white head.

Aroma is somewhat smoky along with roast, chocolate, and anise.

Flavor is nice, full, and balanced. Roasted malt, dark chocolate, caramel, and smoke.

Smooth mouthfeel with fairly full body for a lager.

Very solid beer overall. Even better than I expected this would be as a highly rated beer from a brewery I really like.

Photo of kenito799
4.32/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber, Porter tasting.
Brown-black, not much foam, thin ring of white foam.

Subtle smoke on the nose with a cola spice and brandy effect. Coffee and chocolate, too.

This is a remarkable brew in that despite beinga smoky roasted malty beer, the flavor profiles converge to recall a delciously strong and complex wine like a Chateauneuf du Pape...woody smokiness, licorice, cherries,charred smokiness, blackberries and vanilla. Very unusual and very compelling. I keep tasting it and while it is carbonated and therefore doesnt feel like a wine, it is bitter and roasted and that is not like a wine, the flavor keeps tasting like a string, rich, extracted, powerful wine. Very nice.

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Smoke from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 839 ratings.