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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!
View: Beers (55) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 282 | Hads: 869
Photo of caskstrength
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at several Mpls locations.

Tough job for the Smoke here. Had a bunch of Darkness a few days before trying it. Was hard not to compare the two. And Darkness is a tough competitor for any beer.

Pours dark. Nice head. Smells more bitter than Darkness, more of a typical stout feel. (even though it's technically a Baltic Porter) Taste is good, some smoke/bacon, bitter roasted character, good mouthfeel, a little dark sweetness keeping it interesting. Even better as it warms up.

A good beer.

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Photo of pwoods
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
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.

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Photo of mnstorm99
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First off I am not a huge fan of Smoked beers, so this review is really my own.
Nice black pour, with a huge light tan head that stays forever. Lacing is as good as it gets.
Aroma is malty, chocolate and caramel sweetness. And of course there is a touch of smoke in there, but not too much to turn me off.
Taste is a nice malt sweetness coming from the caramel, with a touch of toffee and chocolate. Again, like the aroma, there is some smoke it there, but it is nicely subtle, as well as some roasted malts also. And just a nice little touch of spicy hops.
Mouthfeel is nice and full, with a great smoothness to it, and I could drink a few of these easily.

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Photo of Fatduck
4.77/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I drank this beer at Darkness Day, and wrote down all my opinions and took a while a get it here. I was a volenteer, pouring beer off the brite tanks(where the beer is carbonated).

I poured this beer into my darkness goblet. We sold more of this beer than any other, 85% of the beers we poured were smoke.

It pours a dark brown/black color, with a little bubbly head, not a lot but, sticky. It smells like roasted coffee and smoked malts, lots and lots of smoke. It tastes like liquid smoke was added, or lots of peat smoked malt was used. Its smooth and drinkable, I had probably 6-8 of them during my time pouring them
It was overall a GREAT beer, one of the best I have ever had, maybe it was just the freshness of the beer, or the fact that I was drinking it at the brewery, but it was sooo good.

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Photo of KeefD
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had this on tap at D-Day. Poured a dark brown color, nice tan foam. Smoke in the nose mixed some sweet malts, and light hop bitterness. Nice smoke flavor, some chocolate, and green hoppiness. I find it hard to believe that the ABV was 9.5% on that brew. It was easily drinkable, but the smoke flavor is only good for one beer at a time. Nice and interesting offering from Surly. D-Day was great, and was glad I had the opportunity to try this one.

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Photo of mynie
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 batch, sampled at Darkness Day.

Baltic porter, eh? Not quite. Not quite a smoked beer or a rauchbier, either. Surly don't like coloring inside the lines, I guess.

Pours very dark and black, nearly opaque with mild ruby hues, and a big retentive brown head.

Smells lightly like smoke, unlike your run of the mill smokes, which often smell overpoweringly like smoke. This is blended with rough porter malt, medium, dry hops, and some unusual (but very nice) nodes of citrus.

Tastes like a whole bunch all at once. Starts off with the porter grain, bittersweet, and then the smoke rushes in and lightly dusts every other flavor that comes afterward. There's a sweet phase, marked by hoppy citrus and brown-aleish sweet malt. This is followed up quickly by a darker, meatier phase that's more common in smoke beers. And I mean "meatier" in the literal sense. This tastes a bit like a Swiss Colony gift set, and in a very nice way.

Neat. I usually think of rauchbiers and smokes as occasional treats, brews you might finish the night with but you would never consider pounding at length. This is easily the most drinkable, session-ready smoke beer I've ever come across. It certainly didn't taste like it was 9.5% ABV, and frankly I'd be surprised if that listing wasn't in error, but if it's anywhere close to correct that holy mother this is one dangerous beer.

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Photo of travloh
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Darkness Day, 2008. Poured into brand new Surly Goblet. Straight outta the big steel beer-makin' tanks inside the Surly brewery.

Yummy dark dark brown appearance, glimmers of scarlet on the edges break out in the October sun. Head is resilient and oh so yummy looking.

Taste and smell are of course smokey, but in a smooth, fine cigar kinda way. The aftertaste actually reminds me of the taste of a very good cigar. There is something else present, as well. I have heard it called burnt bacon, but I don't quite get that. I get more of a maybe, slowcooked bbq type of essence. Not bbq sauce, but the smokiness.

So far this review makes it sound like something out of a bonfire, but I am just glazing over the moniker. There is actually so much more present. Slight twinges of sweetness, spice and bitterness thrown in right where it needs to be. Back it up with some alcohol burn and you are in business.

After the glass is gone there is sticky spider webs of lacing left over the whole inside of the glass.

I could have had about 3 more of these, highlighting the drinkability. Its good stuff.

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.52/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Found at the Blue Nile. (reviewed from notes)

This beer pours a dark black with raisin highlights and a creamy ring of irregular cola-like head.

Smells of sweet, rich rauch smoke with a nice and subtle ham. There's some dark fruits and a dry dark chocolate, but it's sweetness holds back.

Tastes thick and creamy like chocolate milk with a sour snap of smokey grain. This is oddly reminiscent of a garden salad. There's a sour sting or tingle to this too of pungent rye bread.

Feels big, slick and frothy, but far from sticky. Nice.

It's really easy to forget this one's 9.5%. Watch out!

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Photo of dfried
3.98/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Quite dark with a little brown at the edges and a tan head. The aroma is of charred malt, anise, and quite a bit of smokiness, peaty but not obtuse or obnoxious. Some sweet chocolate as well. The taste comes in quite a few layers with each sip. Right away you can tell its a big, chocolatey porter, but then quickly the peaty, smokiness shows up, reminiscent of smoked bacon and other meats, but that unfolds rather quickly to chocolaty-ness again, tannins and vanilla notes from the oak aging, along with some anise and fruity plums and raisins. Rather full bodied and there is some quite noticeable alcohol, but with all of the flavors going on its really quite unoffensive.

Overall: I am not the biggest smoked beer fan, so I am not gangbusters over this beer. But you have to respect the quality or this beer, and all the flavor juxtaposition going on. The smokiness was toned back enough that I could really enjoy it, especially when having one with a meal, rather than as session ale.

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Photo of RockyTopHeel
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
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.

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Photo of kajerm
3.77/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On tap at Map Room. Pours murky brown with a slight reddish cast and a thin tan head.

The aroma is dominated by malts, with scents of dark chocolate and some residual sugar. A faint suggestion of salty smokiness is present in the background.

The flavor opens up similarly, chocolate flavors predominant, with a smokiness that grows quickly and overtakes but does not completely wash out the malt flavors. Some black patent bitterness appears in the finish (along with the slightest hint of hops), but smoked sausage is at the forefront. Alcohol is detectable only as warmth.

The beer is medium to full-bodied with low carbonation and some stouty viscosity.

Drinkability is all right for such a big, smoky beer, but I really couldn't handle more than a full glass of this.

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Photo of emerge077
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a 12 oz. tulip.

Color was the darkest shade of brown, nearly black. A ring of crimson highlight was visible at the very edge, once the foam had settled. Tight, compact head of khaki foam that left spotty lacing.

Slight sweetness in the nose, some yeast esters producing a vague cloviness, without much smokiness.

Flavors of smoked malt, some chocolate, fairly subdued. It has a slight lactic feel to it, but not especially creamy, just enough to make it medium-bodied. Clean feeling with a residual taste of hop bitterness and char.

Overall good, easy to drink, could use more smoke aroma and flavor.

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Photo of GbVDave
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip glass at Map Room 1/13/08. Thanks to HeatherAnn for the assist!

A: Pitch black. Tar black. Black as the pits of hell! Capping this glass of evil is a tight and dark-khaki head that left interesting looking lines of wavy lace in the glass.

S: Huge aromas of smoked malt, campfire, dark fruit, dark chocolate, espresso, and applewood smoked bacon.

T: See above with a healthy dose of hops. One of the flavors reminded me of dark chocolate covered bacon.

M: Quite peppery and bitter, true to the style. The bitter mouthfeel backed off a little as it warmed and turned decidedly creamy.

D: Proper serving temp is the key with this. This drank like a porter with half the abv. Excellent.

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Photo of edbeered
4.31/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a tulip glass at Stub&Herbs, this pours a beautiful opaque black color, with a minimal white head and scant white lacing on the glass. The smell is faint. I detect an alcoholic, brandy-like smell. The taste is wonderfully complex, with a cherry brandy flavor, along with a smoky toasty chocolate malt presence, as well as a slight taste of vanilla. There is just enough hop presence to balance the other flavors. This is a terrific tasting beer, with rich and lingering flavors. The high alcohol content is the only thing marring the drinkability. This is another exceptional beer from Surly.

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Photo of rudylaw
3.98/5  rDev -3.9%
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.

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Photo of DavidEddie
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap @ Chef Paul’s

Appearance - Black as night. Minimal tan head.

Smell - Slightly roasty and burnt brownies.

Taste - Burnt chocolate, black old coffee, and smoked meat. As it warmed, a hint of vanilla came out as well.

Mouth feel - Creamy and slightly thick.

Drinkability - Damn Good! ABV is hidden well. The smoke flavor was there, but was not overpowering. Recommended!

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Photo of jjfancybeers
4.67/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

draught @Firkin (Libertyville, IL)



Lingering, tan head. Opaque. Yep...grillsmoke and roasted malt in the nose. Creamy chocolate/+/hops upfront. Subtle smoke in an otherwise warm finish. Strong. Tasty. Want to pair it with ...smoked venison summer sausage.

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

I had this on tap at Cafe Twenty Eight. This beer is an opaque black color. The head was small when the beer arrived, but a nice cap of lacing lasted until the beer was gone. The aroma is immense. Smoke bacon, maple syrup, burnt caramel, and bitter chocolate. The taste is as large as the aroma. The smoked flavors are prevalent, but are well balanced with the beers other attributes. The mouthfeel is full bodied, silky in texture, and has light carbonation. Overall, this is a beer to contemplate. I would certainly drink this again.

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Photo of objectivemonkey
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark dark brown, near black, with a generous dark tan head, good staying power, nice lacing, quite lovely. The aroma is a little more mellow than I'd imagined, smoked malts more chill, some nice bacon (yum!), smoked salmon, some chocolate and faintly earthy hop notes. The taste follows the same lines, but better, more complex perhaps, the chocolates and caramels and toffees peeking out. The smoke is still understated, any meaty connotations well balanced. The body is delightful, silky smooth, a little warmth is all the warning you get from this strong brew. In all, I had to keep switching from this to another brew, but I kept coming back, and back, and back, and back...

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Photo of Graham21
4.58/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this one on tap at the Blue Nile and Surly. Went up to Min. for some Darkness, wish I woulda brought back a growler of this bacon grease.

Rustic black in appearance, with a nice creamy brown head that left small lacings. Smells of smoked ham and campfire.

Definitely had characteristics of smoked fish or bacon, but not over the top. Nice malt balance. Bitter chocolate is also mixed in with the flavors.The smoke flavors are light and not abrupt and thats what I like about this beer.
The alcohol is high, but well hidden.

This was a well balanced, medium bodied, well rounded beer.

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Photo of tempest
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
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.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.01/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Inky black. Soft looking creamy brown head. A full sheet of lace is laid down as I drink. The aroma is quite subtle. Smoke is subtle. There are nice roasty and chocolatey malt tones as well. But reserved as a whole. On the palate, there's a bit of that phenolic smokey stuff going on. Bacony in nature. Nice roasted bitterness. The phenolic (slightly medicinal) nature is a little strong for my personal taste. But it adds some character. The beer is medium bodied. Slightly alcoholic. Flaccid feel. Not particularily creamy or velvety. O.K. though. This beer reminds me of my own smoked porter, which garnered 2nd overall at the NHC this year. And as with mine, I feel that this is merely good...not great.

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Photo of hero27
4.8/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On-tap @ the Darkness release..

For a beer titled very blatantly "Smoke" I expected this to taste like a charcoal briquette wrapped in bacon... Needless to say, I was surprised at my first sip to find that this is one very eloquent & well-thought out beer. The smoked malt flavor is subtle and provides lingering notes rather than the punch-in-the-face that most smoked brews offer.

I had no idea of the abv when I was consuming this nectar by the glass...but I assumed it was in the 5-7% range...I find out now it's nearly 10%...amazing. That being said, it's so delicious and easy-to-drink. The soft woody flavors & smoked malts are complex and make this unlike any beer out there. I need another chance to pick apart the flavors a bit more...hopefully this will be widely available to the public soon.

there's just one thing I'd like to say to the folks at Surly...is there anything you can't do??

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Photo of pheggeseth
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled at the Darkness Release Event

A: Opaque black, looks really thick

S: Surprisingly subdued. Faint smell of hickory smoked sausage

T: Hickory smoked sausage, but quite pronounced. Some hop bitterness. The smoke flavor blends terrifically with everything else

M: Smooth, slightly thin perhaps

D: Despite the abv, could also drink it all day, though the distinctive flavor could get a little old after a while.

Another home run from Surly. Try it if you can.

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Photo of Duffman
4.7/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From the Surly Darkness Release Party. Small plastic sample cup.

Appearance: Minimal toffee-brown head. Dark black in color.

Smell: Smoke and coffee overnotes, not overpowering yet formidable all the same. Warm and inviting in its subtlety.

Taste: Extraodinarily smooth and pleasingly sweet. The smoke is prominent, though not as much so as was expected (as with the O'Fallon's Smoked Porter) and along with the coffee notes dominates the flavor. Lubricious maltiness, reminds me of the lingering taste of a quality scotch, Glen Garioch 8 Years Old perhaps with its smooth smokiness, but maltier. Teasing notes of alchohol flavor near the end. The body is smooth and broad.

Drinkability: With its smoothness and surprisingly subdued alcohol taste this is an incredibly drinkable beer. I could drink this all day as inviting as it is. Unfortunately time and a full stomach kept me from fulfilling all of my 5 sample drinks at the surly event.

A phenomenal brew from Surly. Delightfully drinkable and versatile. A departure from the traditional Surly style, though more than welcome. hoppinessI would welcome this beer anytime time of the year.

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