1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Smoke - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

745 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 745
Reviews: 267
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 12.47%
Wants: 327
Gots: 231 | FT: 11
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Baltic Porter |  8.20% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
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!

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 12-05-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 745 | Reviews: 267 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SourNotes
5/5  rDev +22.2%

SourNotes, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of Kaydogg
5/5  rDev +22.2%

Kaydogg, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of millelacsmark
4/5  rDev -2.2%

millelacsmark, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of hu5om
5/5  rDev +22.2%

hu5om, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of djschnabel
5/5  rDev +22.2%

djschnabel, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of Sender
5/5  rDev +22.2%

Sender, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of tbeq00
4/5  rDev -2.2%

tbeq00, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.33/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to shrek086 for sending me this one!

Pours an almost opaque super dark crimson-brown with a 1/2 inch foamy dark khaki head that settles to a film on the top of the beer. Thin foamy rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smell is of smoked malt and maybe some caramel and cocoa notes. Taste is of smoked malt up front with some dark fruits and cocoa powder on the finish. A smoky, roasted bitterness lingers on the palate after each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp and smooth mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good smoked baltic porter from Surly. The smoke aroma is somewhat dominant but the smoke flavors compliment the other tastes in the beer very well.

UCLABrewN84, Oct 22, 2011
Photo of stakem
4.13/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to CaptinRedBeard for hosting the Oktoberfest party and having this available for us to try. I've got to try this brew a couple of times care of Corey and this is the first time I've scratched down a few notes.

The brew appears dark brown in color that is nearing black. When held to the light, lighter brown coloration and a bit of clarity is noted. A creamy tan head appears a finger strong. As the cap slowly fades, a spotty webbing of lacing coats the entire wall of the glass.

The smell of this new is pleasantly smoky with a touch of caramel and chocolate malt sweetness. Some herbal hops are present that gives an earthy element to the nose. At times the smoked quality seems Pete'd but it isn't over-done. The light tinge of minerals mixed with chocolate is the only indication of the underlying base Baltic porter.

The taste of the brew is pleasantly smoked overtop of a chocolate grain base. A fair amount of bitterness comes from the roast of the grain coupled with herbal and earthy hop inclusion. There is a light touch of fruity alcohol that is the first indication of the 8+% abv. The alcohol gets a little spicy and warming as the brew comes up to temperature.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest level of carbonation. Very easy drinking with a well rounded base of flavoring. The alcohol is perfectly integrated in this brew which makes it dangerously drinkable. The finish is fairly crisp with a lingering smoked and chocolate aspect. A very fine example that is quite enjoyable. I wouldn't mind having a couple bottles of this.

stakem, Oct 18, 2011
Photo of BarrytheBear
4.33/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of JP and shared with the boys while watching the final preposterous minutes of the Notre Dame-Michigan game. Watching two teams you mildly despise completely poop the bed against each other provided a solid backdrop.

Dark brown verging into black with a tan/khaki head that settles and laces unevenly.

Smells faintly of smoke and grows livelier with cheese, bacon, and some roast. A pleasant layer of fruity lager yeast permeates as well.

Taste really opens up on the nose. Not overly smoke driven which I appreciate, but enough so to put some charred campfire wood, sultry cheese, and fried bacon along the palate. Slight purple grapes from the malts tag onto the dried, fruity yeast finish.

Body is a touch too thin, but it allows for an easy drinking experience. Carbonation allows the flavors to prickle on the tongue.

I dig this beer and am thankful for the opportunity. A beer that's been shared on multiple occasions and often with non beer geeks and always ends up a crowd favorite. Not an easy task Surly, so well played.

BarrytheBear, Sep 14, 2011
Photo of Jwale73
4.45/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Procured in a trade, but can't remember from who. 750ml capped bottle coated with silver wax. Served in my Allagash chalice. Pours the color and clarity of cola with a half inch, khaki-colored head embedded with tiny ringlets that eventually dissipates into a soapy skim. Exceptional nose on this brew - smoky, dark fruits (figs and dates) as well as an earthy quality and grape and bubblegum notes. Taste follows nose; however, much more smokey than suggested by the nose. Chocolate and roast are also revealed in the flavor profile. Mouthfeel is medium-light in consistency, perhaps a little thin for the style, with a lively carbonation and a slightly oily texture. This is definitely one of my favorite Baltic Porters. Not only is it delicious, but there is great complexity to this brew. Another top notch offering from Surly.

Jwale73, Sep 13, 2011
Photo of Treebs
3.48/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a tasting cup.

A: Pours a very dark brown, almost black, with a bubbly wood chip colored head that subsides into some nice sticky lace down the glass.

S: I'm picking up some smokey meat rinds and oak. There is roasted malts and a slight coffee.

T: The taste is a lot like the nose, but a lot more smokey. Smells of the embers of a campfire, very woody. Just toasted malts and smoke.

M: Medium bodied with a decent carbonation. Went down pretty smooth and left a light campfire in my mouth.

O: This was a very interesting brew. I wish there were some other flavors that could popped up, but the smokiness really took over and dominated. I guess that's why they call it Smoke.

Treebs, Sep 05, 2011
Photo of FosterJM
3.5/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

765th Review on BA
Bottle to Goblet

@Woodshop Classix
Thanks Shail for sharing!!

App- This was a very dark pour, a lot more so than I was expecting with a porter. A nice ½ in of head that feel to only a ring of bubbles. No cling either or leg.

Smell- Wasn't a whole lot going on my glass expect for huge roasted malts. That was about it, I stuck my nose in there and just couldn't get anything else.

Taste- Taste follows the nose and really leaves it lacking to only have a one sided roasted malt flavor.

Mouth- Medium bodied and medium carbonated. A bit smoky on the finish.

Drink- Not my cup of tea. I can handle a Baltic Porter but this was a bit unbalanced and just too roasted and peat like.

FosterJM, Aug 29, 2011
Photo of gregshead
4.5/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed this one with my birthday BBQ dinner. Thanks to Biglobo for this bottle, reviewed from notes:

A: Pours with a half finger of thin head. Lace leaves a ring behind.

S: Nice subtle smoky smell. Right below bacon smoke/more of an oak smoke.

T: Subtle smoky flavors with some good sweetness that balances it out. Not as overpowering as other smoke beers.

M: Nice light feel with lots of carbon the tongue. Good dry finish.

O: Winner, Winner BBQ diner. Great with BBQ ribs. Another great style by none other than Surly.

gregshead, Aug 27, 2011
Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.58/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22oz bottle with silver wax poured into a Bruery Tulip glass.

A - Pours a deep dark brown with a dark tan head composed of large bubbles.

S - Smokey meat, Smells like a BBQ.

T - Smokey bacon.

D - Mild carbonation, a touch oily in the mouth.

O - Weird, but I kinda like it.

HuskyinPDX, Aug 27, 2011
Photo of EgadBananas
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very dark, black pour. Khaki colored finger of head.

Aroma is smoky, but it's not hugely in your face. It's bold, but not dominating. There's some roasted notes, slight dark fruits, and lot's of chocolate.

Taste is slightly less smoky, more chocolate and roasted malts with a touch of alcohol.

Feel is lighter in body, right there with a lager as should be. Creamy though with low carbonation.

Nice Baltic and smoked beer alike.

EgadBananas, Aug 21, 2011
Photo of Rhettroactive
3.73/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 22oz bomber to Boulevard tasting glass on 5/7/11 at the first NoVA BA Tasting Event
*From notes

-- I'm psyched to have unearthed my notes for this one, as I've had it twice and am thrilled to finally lay down a proper review --

A: Really solid grayish-brown-black. It looks like either a light stout or a massively heavy porter (which it is). A standard pour yields .75 finger head and little to no lacing.

S: Maltier then expected. I had this in line at the Sexy Chocolate release in January, and I distinctly remember the epic amount of natural smoke on the nose. It was like stepping into a Kansas City smoker. In the months since, this has fallen off dramatically, and to be honest, is more balanced now. It's got the smoke, sure, but it's now offering hints of hearty malt and that a touch of that lagered sweetness.

T: Like the nose, the smoke bomb effect has worn off a bit, but it's still got a heavy char to it. The rich layers of flavor have been slightly compressed here, and it now drinks more like a standard Baltic Porter with a moderately heavy dose of liquid smoke.

M: This one is dense. Creamy and slightly undercarbed, this one is thick for a porter, and it helps to cover for the fading smoke profile.

O: Surly's Smoke is a shell of it's former self, yet it's still a damn fine beer. I'm not typically one for smoke/rauchbiers, but this is balanced in ways that many within the same flavor realm are not.

Drink 'em if you got 'em, it's going fast.

Rhettroactive, Aug 20, 2011
Photo of titosupertramp
3.93/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A big thanks goes to thecaptain073 for including this as an extra in a very generous box.

A: Pours a cola brown with slight red highlights and thick tan head. Leaves a decent film and some lacing.

S: Smokey wood, dark fruits, chocolate, roasted malts and hints of coffee.

T: Pretty much follows the nose. Smoke, chocolate, raisins, coffee like finish. For me, Smoke has some kind of cola like quality to it. Not bad.

M: It's a little on the thin side here, but far from watery.

O: From what I've heard, this is better fresh so I'm a little bummed that I've sat on this for so long. Oh well, Smoke is still a pretty enjoyable beer at this point.

titosupertramp, Aug 08, 2011
Photo of fsvan
4.05/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle into Dogfish Head signature glass. Big thanks to Titosupertramp for opening this guy with me. Review from notes.

A- Black. White head. Completely black. Like the Darkness we opened before it, no hint of anything but black.

S- Big woody smoke. Malty porter smell in the background.

T- Follows the smell. Very big woody smoke dominates the porter base.

M- A little light. This is one spot this beer could seemingly be improved upon.

O- Very good. Smoke dominates, which it should. I do wish the porter base would have stood out a bit more though.

fsvan, Aug 07, 2011
Photo of MBrausen
5/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A. This bear pours a beautiful pitch black color, with a light caramel head about 1 finger thick. It faded to a nice thin ring, with a little lily pad making it's way around the center.

S. Smells of light caramel, strong bacon and of course, smoke. The bacon smell is really dominate. Almost the same as when you first set a piece into a hot pan. I can almost hear the crackle when I smell this beer :)

S. A noticeable hickory comes out first, that holds through even after your done drinking. A a smoked, almost burnt toffee taste comes through extremely smoothly. It isn't at all overbearing. The malts are noticeable, but not a dominate trait.

M. Very smooth flavor, that is not at all hard to drink. The flavor is thick and bold, but it still feels light on the tongue. Just a hint of dryness on the finish.

O. Overall this is a complex beer, that is extremely smooth and very easy to drink. I could see spending many hours at a bar not trying anything else if this was on-tap. It delivers everything you expect from Surly. Unlike a lot of their beers that tend to take a style to it's extreme, I think this hits spot on for what I would expect to see in a quality baltic porter.

This is by far one of the top beers I have ever had! It is amazingly smooth and easy to drink. The flavors are bold, but also complex. It's not a one sided smoke flavor like often what happens with Porters. The tastes changes and matures in your mouth. I look forward to having this beer again and again.

MBrausen, Jul 31, 2011
Photo of SummitVA
4.43/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark brown pour that lightens to a deep ruby around the edges of the glass. Soft carbonation and 1/2" head that falls away quickly.

S - Smoke of course foremost, although this is hardly overbearing. More bacon than the medicinal character that can come over a hugely smoked beer. Some fruitiness there beneath, along with oak.

T - Smoke washes over the palate and then opens to dark fruit character (plum, dates), light roast along with a trace of bitter dark chocolate and vanilla. Barrel character (a rougher woodiness in addition to vanillin) is present, but not overpowering. Smoke lingers beautifully in the finish, giving a nice crispness to the beer.

M - Medium bodied. Goes down extraordinarily smooth. The mouthfeel of Surly's bigger brews is invariably perfect. This is no exception.

O - Another fantastic beer from Surly. I've had it a few times on draft and in bottles, and this bottle (from the first 2010 bottling in March) really stood out. Wish I had some more. Cheers to Todd and Omar,

SummitVA, Jul 28, 2011
Photo of dnrobert24
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Surly Smoke is a one-of-a-kind beer. Who else brews a smoked porter with lager yeast? The end result is brilliance! Never have I had a smoked porter with such a smooth mouthfeel. Usually, the smokey malts work with the smoked malts to give a super smokey smoked smorgasboard. Is that too much of a mouthful? Yes! Yet Surly brillianltly uses the subtle workings of lager yeast to mellow out the overwhelming smoked malts. End result is an entirely too-quaffable brew that I wish I had more of. Certainly there is smoke in the nose and on the tongue but good gosh, it is not at all bitter. In fact, there is a light sweetness that plays nicely against the smoke. Kudos to Surly for setting my new standard for smoked beer.

dnrobert24, Jul 25, 2011
Photo of Chriscrundwell12
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a Darkness snifter. Shared with a fellow BA.

A- Dark black color, one finger beige head, dissipates quickly, big bubbles left over, splotchy lacing, well carbonated.
S- Not how I remembered it, really smoky, big bacon aroma, roasted malt, really one dimensional smell.
T- Again really smoky as well, I’ve had this couple of times on tap at separate occasions, I’m a little let down by the bottled version. The two times on tap the beers were so much more complex and I was able to pick out different flavors in the beer, all I’m getting is smoky bacon flavors, slight roasted malts, some roasted coffee, but it’s all in the background.
M- Medium mouth feel, decent carbonation, the smoke flavor really coats the mouth.
O- My expectations were so high from the previous times I had it on tap, which is why I was a little let down when I finally tried this bottle and all that stood out was the smoky roasted bacon flavors, that said this is still a solid quality beer.

Had the 2011 batch fresh and Im really impressed with it. More balanced, love the wood/oak characteristics that come out. Roasted malt, coffee, cocoa. Do not age this beer. Fresh is much better than the previous bottle I had which was aged for a while.

Chriscrundwell12, Jul 23, 2011
Photo of KevSal
4.22/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

first surly i pour out of the bottle. huge thanks to Jefe for sending me this surprise, ive been after it for quite some time. thanks Jeff, your next box will knock your feet off.

great bottle design, vintage not listed. 750ml, after 5 min of cutting the silver wax, poured into a tulip.

A- Sweet, looks great! pours a dark brown. in the glass its not exactly pitch black but you definitely cant see through this sucker. one inch tan brown head.

s- wow,the smokiness fills the room, definitely livin up to its name. roasted malts come through with spades. some dark fruit

t- yes! this guy shines with the taste. the smokiness on the nose is surprisingly not as strong in the taste and better balanced. sweeter than expected. fruity sweetness is present, like dried fruit. gets tastier as it warms, leaves a nice smokey bacon flavor in the mouth

m- this is spot on with the way i like my blatic porters, slight carbonation which suits its flavors, not too thick but still thick enough to coat the mouth.

o- overall this beer is phenomenal and met my expectations. this is my new gold standard for Baltic porters. would love to have it again

KevSal, Jul 15, 2011
Photo of soze47
4.35/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've been sitting on this guy for a few months since my last trip back to the midwest. I love Surly and wish I had a pipeline of the stuff to my house.

Appearance: Very dark, brown with faint ruby highlights. Nice creamy head goes away quickly but collects on the top. Very nice.

Aroma: Smokiness is there for sure, but the smoke malts other flavors stand up well. I nice sweet nuttiness with a bitter cocoa scent is also very present. As it warms, more notes of figs and licorice come through too.

Taste: Great smoke up front and it casts its presence on all other flavors in a good way. Very sweet, dark fruits that quickly get dried out on the linger, leaving an almost red wine dryness with a smokey, woody finish. Very nice things here.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Pretty dry and somewhat bitter linger is not altogether unpleasant, but plenty strong. One glass of this will do the job, although it will trick you into wanting more due to a surprisingly light, drinkable body.

Overall: I liked this beer a lot. Many beers that try to make a smoked beer are afraid of blasting the other flavors out. Surly blasts the smoke, yet also puts out enough other flavors to help compete and get accentuated in good ways by the smoke.

soze47, Jun 28, 2011
Smoke from Surly Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 745 ratings.