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Smoke - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

280 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 280
Hads: 855
Avg: 4.14
pDev: 11.84%
Wants: 334
Gots: 282 | FT: 20
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: 280 | Hads: 855
Photo of Stir-the-pot-guy
3.99/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A- Dark with a creamy white head(with an agressive pour)....not quite a stout darkness but darn close

S- Smokiness that does not dominate but compliments roasted malts and dark fruit notes of the beer

T- Vegans beware....you might be conviced someone slipped some slow cooked ham or thick cut bacon into your beer...with that and the complimentary dark fruit notes of raisen, fig and prune this beer burst with complexity as is warms

M- silky smooth with no detection of the 8.2 abv. Aftertaste that lets you continue to enjoy the complex flavors of this beer without it leaving you the feeling you need to rinse, spit and then repeat

O- I had a bad experience with a smoked beer from a macro brew so I came in skeptical....but again Surly shows why they're the pride of Minnesota Breweries. A smoke beer that can be completely miss handled and they are able to balance the smokiness with the rich flavors of raisen, fig, licorice, and that slight molasses sweetness.I recommend you let this beer begin to warm before you are really able to enjoy the full flavor experience of this beer.

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Photo of PHBoiler
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Dark brown almost black with a fairly agressive brown head. Roast, dark chocolate, and light smoke on the nose. Really balanced beer. Tastes primarily of roasted espresso and dark chocolate. Smoke level is minimal and actually helps round/sweeten the beer a bit. The base is very well made and has the exact lager mouthfeel that a baltic porter should.

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Photo of JamesMN
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 vintage.

Appearance: Clean black body with a one finger light tan frothy head.

Aroma: Soft dark malt. With a year of age on it the smoke is barely detectable and yet still there.

Taste: Explosion of toasted malt and mild hop bitterness upon the first sip. Great dark malt flavors edging on milk chocolate and iced coffee but without any immense sweetness or harshness to the taste. The smoke is quite tame here compared to drinking it fresh but does a great job of keeping a balance among the flavors. Nice oak flavor in there. The 8.2% ABV is unnoticeable but packs the right amount of robustness. No off-flavors, which is rare to say about a mid-range ABV beer that went unopened for over a year.

Mouthfeel: Just above medium in body and slippery smooth. Very drinkable.

Final Thoughts: Having had both the fresh and aged version of Smoke it's hard to say which one was more enjoyable. The solution would be to buy two bottles every year for further drinking--analysis. Would I drink it again? Yes, I've never understood how this beer does not garner the same reputation as Surly's other seasonal releases.

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Photo of pourmeadrink
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
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.

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

2010 vintage. Thanks Scotchboy!

A: Not-quite-pitch-black pour with a good sized and dense chocolate milk-colored head. Head fades nice and slow, leaving almost completely solid walls of lacing behind. Great retention.

S: Certainly lives up to its name. Smells like a forest fire...in a good way. Decent milk chocolate backs it up, especially when swirled.

T: Lots of sweet milk chocolate up front with some mild smokiness to round it out. Hints of dark fruit floating around. Sweetness runs out in the finish, leaving a more acrid smoke this with a bunch of savory umami. BBQ'd meat basically. Dry, bittersweet chocolate finish.

M: Nice medium and smooth body.

O: Tasty baltic porter for sure. Given the age, the smokiness is not bad at all. Instead of being at the forefront it's more of a complementary flavor, adding a layer of complexity. One of the best "smoked" beers I've ever had and a delicious baltic porter to begin with. Well integrated and balanced flavors leads to a very tasty and drinkable beer.

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Photo of facundoCNB
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.82/5  rDev -7.7%
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.

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Photo of Rutager
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This 2010 bottle came from Steasy66. He's might not be a great guy, or a handsome guy, or a guy that I could look up to, but I can honestly say that he is definitely a guy ...I think.

Appearance. Pours black, but not especially thick looking with a half finger of light tan head.

Smell. Freshly doused campfire, some dark chocolate and black coffee, and a bit of ocean saltiness. Smells pretty good actually and not completely dominated by the smoke, though it is pretty strong.

Taste. Lots of smokey dark malts, a little dark chocolate, slightly salty, again in an ocean-like way. There's also a little molasses and black licorice in the finish.

Mouthfeel. Medium body with low+ carbonation.

Overall. A good smoked porter that didn't go crazy on the smoke like so many smoked beers do. I appreciate that and am enjoying this beer. Thanks Ryan (Okay, he's actually a great guy).

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.94/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Purchased from France44.

A pitch black pour with about a 2 finger head of foam.

It smells very roasty with some smoke, malty.

It taste of roasted malt, lots more smoke here than in the smell, solid semi sweet malt presence. Very dry finish. Delicious.

Medium bodied, same for the carbonation, very good mouthfeel.

A pretty strong brew though right for the style....the alcohol, imho, is hidden pretty well. A very good beer.

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Photo of bigfnjoe
3.81/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bomber into a Victory tulip

A- pours black with a one finger tan head that quickly fades to nothingness. Eh.

S- very smoky aroma. Very...bacon-esque. About what I expected, considering the damn name of the beer

T- decent bit of smoke, lots of chocolate....tasty

M- medium bodied, actually on the lighter side...strange considering how strong the flavors are

O- not bad, not bad at all...just not a very mainstream style

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Photo of cvm4
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours a sort of thin looking dark brown. Tiny one finger head & no lacing.

S - Very woodsy & smokey. Reminds me of the scent of a real smokey scotch.

T - Somewhat sweet & very smokey that leads to a good malt profile, kinda chocolatey and a touch of dark fruits.

M - Lighter body, medium carbonation. An easy drinker.

O - Purely awesome if you love smoked beer &/or scotch.

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Photo of WillCarrera
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bomber, 2012 vintage with silver wax, poured into a tulip glass.

A- Pours black with an inch of creamy, thick dark tan head, has very nice retention and leaves thick sheets of lacing.

S- Smoky wood, burnt grain and coffee, light notes of chocolate and fruit.

T- Very nice mix of smoked grain and roasted coffee flavors as well as sweeter notes of chocolate, figs, dates, and licorice. The smokiness leans more toward dry, woody smoke rather than some of the meat/bacon flavors you can sometimes get.

M- Medium to full bodied, moderate carbonation with a smooth, creamy feel.

O- A really nice beer, balances the smoky and sweet flavors, which are tasty and complex, the smoke can become a bit strong though so this is probably a beer to be split with friends.

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Photo of Weli
4.78/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A- Dark chocolate colored pint with thin off white lacing, ok head retention

S-Campfire! Nice smokey aroma reminiscent of cooking over a wood fire in the fall, hints of toasted malt and cacao

T-Wow doesn't disappoint! Sweet and smokey like cherry wood smoked bacon, big malty flavor of chocolate and dark Munich malt

M-Full bodied, mild carbonation, lingering smokiness

O-Excellent smoked beer, very complex and a delight to taste, yet altogether very drinkable and balanced,would gladly have another. Don't know how true this beer is to the Baltic porter style, I think its really in its own category or should be in some specialty hybrid category of smoked beers.

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Photo of King_KongDCO93
3.86/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 bottle.

A: dark motor oil with an off white head.

S: lots of smoked aroma

T: has a nice dark roasted malt and smoke flavor. also has a good balance of coffee/cocoa. This beer taste more like a imperial stout but actually a lager. wow. The smoke flavor really comes on as you continue drinking....growing more potent.

M: wet and moist with some bitterness

O: good take on a Baltic Porter wow

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Photo of DovaliHops
4.02/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown...almost black (amber when held up to light)... almost clear. Large tan head that goes down quickly. Scent is VERY smokey. Nice chocolate aroma with some mellow charcoal and burnt malt. Nice smoked meat aroma. Taste is coffee at first, then the smoke comes in. This beer tastes like a more rich, chocolatey Schlenkerla. VERY tasty. Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with a great finish. Drinkability is VERY high, especially for 8.20%! Overall, one of the best smoked beers I've ever had.

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Photo of jimmah120
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle, no date, served in a mason jar

look is s dark brown/amber, finger of head fades to a frothy tan film. smell is charred beef jerky(not strong), dark fruit, robust dark malts. taste is all char and meat up front, finishes sweet and fruity. the medium feel is sublime: milky, smooth, lingers on the tongue.

very interesting and deep flavor. boozy, and feels it. I hold surly to a high standard and this didn't disappoint

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Photo of Gushue3
3.8/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A Dark brown/black in color that is somewhat transparent. Medium sized head with moderate retention and not much lacing.

S As advertised. Tons of smoke with a roast and subtle chocolate as well but the smoke dominates.

T Follows the nose. Smoke is there from front to back along with with some roasty coffee and bakers chocolate. Slightly acrid roast/smoke which was too much for me.

M Medium feel with medium to lighter carbonation.

O Not a bad porter. I'm assuming drinking it fresh would be much more enjoyable for me. Smoke was over the top for my taste.

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Photo of kawilliams81
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a 8 oz snifter.

A- pours black with a 1 finger tan head. Minimal lacing.

S- big smoke aroma (big surprise!), roast, slight coffee

T- big burnt coffee and smoke, chocolate, has some tannic notes as well and bitter pine.

M- medium body and carbonation. Fairly light and easy drinking.

O- good smoke beer. Fairly one dimension but you do get some roast, chocolate, etc from the porter as well.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.95/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Acquired from brewerburgundy courtesy of BA Secret Santa 2011. Poured from a 750ml bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a thin light brown head that fades slowly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains smoked malts, chocolate, some dark fruit, some coffee and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out bitter-sweet flavors of dark chocolate and black coffee that are quickly followed by a hearty roasted malt character and a good amount of smokiness. There’s also some background flavor of dark fruit. The hops presence is mild but complementary and provides a good balance. The after-taste is smoky and bitter-sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is dry and slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, this is a very good smoked beer to drink for a long time.

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Photo of brewskifan55
3.92/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter; Thanks, Cliff!

A: Blackish brown with a light head that dissipates quickly. Modest lacing.

S: Chocolate, smoky, anise, coffee.

T: A nice lager/smoke blend. Robust. Chocolate and coffee come through in equal proportion. Slight bitter finish.

M: Medium with medium carbonation. Semi-chewy.

O: An interesting combo of lager and stout. An all-day sipper.

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Photo of Duff27
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thin short lasting head on a dark brown body. Minimal lacing.

Strong smoke/peaty aromas.

Highly drinkable for such strong smoke flavor.

Medium mouthfeel, good carbonation.

Pairs well with ghost pepper cheese, I think. If they sold this in 4 pack cans...that would be awesome!!! Thanks Elliott.

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Photo of ehammond1
3.97/5  rDev -4.1%
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!

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Photo of zeledonia
3.86/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2011 vintage, bottled in the fall of 2011. Tasted 9 September 2012, reviewed from notes.

Pours very dark brown, almost black. As it's pouring, it looks thinner than I'd expect. About one finger of deep mocha-tan head.

Smell is like a campfire after it's burned out. Charred wood, light wispy wood-smoke. Yes, it's nice smoke, but I really can't smell anything else in it.

Taste is a lot fuller than the smell, with more coming through than just the smoke. More porter richness, and that porter is complemented well by the smoke. Feels more like partially-burned wood, rather than just the char leftovers. Here, the smoke is integrated well, rather than being the only element.

Mouthfeel is medium-heavy. Moderate carbonation.

It's called Smoke, so I expected that, but I was hoping for more, especially from the smell. A woody smoke, not meaty or salty. Want more porter, though. More richness, or more sweetness, or more of something other than smoke. An interesting beer, but not one I'll feel compelled to drink all that often.

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Photo of Goblinmunkey7
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Very dark brown. Almost black. Tiny light tan collar. Almost no head to speak of even after a rather vigorous pour.

Smell: Huge smoked malts. Almost borders on bacon levels of smoke. Some char and burnt malts as well. Deeply roasted. Some coffee and chocolate notes. Sweet and roasty. Smoked like whoa.

Taste: Smoked. Bacon bits. Mild earthy hops. Some coffee and chocolate. Cocoa powder. Dry maltiness. Incredible smokiness. Burnt, charred. Roasty sweet. As it warms the flavors begin to meld. Smokiness plays well with the sweeter malt base. Minimal hopping. So meaty. It's confusing my brain.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with a slightly below average carbonation.

Overall: I don't remember this being so smoky. Regardless, it's tasty. Surly crafts some aggressive, yet drinkable stuff.

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Photo of yamar68
3.91/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 750 to Surly coffee mug, 2011 vintage:

Pours a near pitch black with two fingers of light brown head that lasts a few minutes before receding to a collar that produces some average lacing.

Still a shit load of smoke on the nose. Not nearly is faded as I'd imagined. A bit of dark fruit and woody character as well.

While the nose is still pretty beefy, the smoke has faded considerably on the tongue which is what I was hoping for. various brown ale qualities have surfaced to balance out the aggressive barbecue profile.

Overall, an extremely unique beer. Not my favorite beer from Surly but it definitely showcases their creative potential.

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Smoke from Surly Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 280 ratings.