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Smoke - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

758 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 758
Reviews: 267
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 327
Gots: 234 | 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:
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: 758 | Reviews: 267 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Thorpe429
4.27/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes. Thanks to chewy08rx for this bottle.

Pours a dark amber-brown with a nice off white head. The nose is really quite smoky, although it doesn't go so far that it's overpowering. A bit meat. Roasted malt and some dark fruits and chocolate underneath. Quite complex. Taste is a bit less so, as there is some general chocolate and roast below the heavy smoke character, but the smoke is definitely stealing the show. All the smoke and meaty flavors bring a nice mouthfeel, and this drinks quite well, especially comparing it against similar beers.

Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.55/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Imbibed at Darkness Day 2010.

Appearance -- Pours a rich dark brown with a thin khaki head, quickly dissipating into a dusty halo.

Smell -- Woodsmoke in the forefront with burnt bread crust, chocolate malt, and some faint plum fruitiness.

Taste -- Again, woodsmoke is the dominant element. Along with the rich smoke comes the addition of a slightly meaty flavor. Beyond this is the traditional baltic porter flavor elements: dark chocolate, plum, toffee, and burnt breadcrust.

Mouthfeel -- Medium to full in body, medium-high prickly carbonation. I personally would've liked a bit less carbonation.

Drinkability -- While very rich and complex, It doesn't take long for the deep smoke flavor to become overwhelming. Couldn't see myself have more than a single 12oz pour.

Photo of Jeffo
3.71/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Got this one at the Cracked Kettle in Amsterdam.

From a bomber into a snifter.

APPEARANCE: A dark pour makes a small, medium looking, overly noisy, tan head that quickly dissipates to a fain, splotchy wisp and ring. Black body with ebony hues around the edges, and zero carbonation evident. A slight ring remains but leaves no lacing down the glass. Head is unimpressive, and it looks a little flat by the end.

SMELL: Medium strength nose of dark malts, espresso notes and some pure chocolate. Some smoke in there but not in the forefront, meaning it complements instead of dominates. Touches of caramel and roasted malts as well, and some liquorice notes.

TASTE: A pretty tasty porter all around. Some dark and roasted malts with smoky notes throughout. Some sweet caramel in the middle with notes of liquorice and raisins in there, like advertised, and then touches of espresso and dark chocolate after the swallow. The dark malt, bitter espresso and smoke laden aftertaste is bold and lingering. Enjoyable.

PALATE: A little thinner than hoped, though it thickens somewhat as it stands. Lighter body with medium carbonation. Only semi-creamy on the palate, goes down fine and finishes slightly dry.

OVERALL: A complex and flavourful porter for sure. The appearance was slightly lacking and the palate a little light, but overall this was an enjoyable beer to drink. Glad to have had the chance to try it, but won't be seeking it out again.

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

750ml bottle into a snifter glass

A- Pours a deep dark almost black brown with a 1 finger head that dissipates immediately. Like pouring a flat Coke.

S- Roasted malts, smoke, coffee, licorice.

T- Pretty much like it smells. Real simple. Severely roasted almost burnt malts and coffee with some slight licorice flavors. Alcohol is hidden well, barely noticeable.

M- Medium body with no carbonation and a slight bitter finish but not bad.

Overall a decent brew with a serious roasted flavor that I haven't found anywhere else. Surly knew what they where doing with this one.


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

Poured into a tulip.

Pitch black with a one inch head. A ring of foam and a patch of foam in the middle.

Smells of smoke, ash, bbq and perhaps a hint of chocolate.

Tastes of smoke, ash, licorice, hints of dark fruits and chocolate. A bit of vanilla oakiness too.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied. Clean and lager like with good carbonation.

An overall good beer.

Photo of wisrarebeer
4.24/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchase at BlueMax in the Twin Cities from the "back room."

A: opaque, jet black, no head
S: mild, burnt licorice, malt, treacle
T: very good beer, burnt malt, licorice, treacle toffee, underlying alcohol not that noticeable, not cloying at all, subtle oak undertones, well made
M: very nice, not thick and cloying
D: very for its strength

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

Poured from 22oz bottle into Tulip

A. Poured a 2 finger dark tan head. Color is all black. Head faded pretty quickly. Not a lot of lacing left.

S. Smell is roasted malt, chocolate, nice smokiness. Oak, some vanilla. Coffee.

T. Taste is super smooth. Coffee, smoke, chocolate, roastiness. Goes down super easy. Vanilla hints, oak.

M. Mouthfeel seems a bit light, but then again for a lager it is pretty full bodied. Medium carbonation.

D. Very drinkable. This is a pretty damn tasty beer. Very smooth drinking. Lots of complex flavors that blend together nicely. Never been let down by Surly yet.

Photo of Viggo
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle, thanks to grub for sharing!

Pours a clear dark red, appears black away from the light, very thick and chunky tan head forms and settles down to a big ring around the glass, some lace spots stick all over.

Smell is great, very heavy and malty, big caramel/toffee, lightly smokey, lightly roasty, some chocolate milk, raisin and licorice, a touch of alcohol, a bit of dark fruit, really nice aroma.

Taste is great too, some chocolate milk up front, nice touch of creaminess, alcohol, heavy raisin, lightly smokey, brown sugar, biscuit, nice roasty middle, a touch of booze but well hidden, balanced finish thats lightly sweet, huge flavour.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low to medium carbonation, silky smooth, a bit of warmth going down. A great beer, thanks Russ!

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

Scoobydank hooked me up with this one. thanks bill!

750ml bottle topped with silver wax.

pours deep dark brown, nearly black. crystal clear with a few reddish highlights at the edge. a small brown head forms, dropping fast with a few spots of lace.

aroma is good. dark and milk chocolate. bit of coffee. smoke. caramel and toffee, but with no buttery character. light alcohol. lightly toasted whole wheat bread. biscuit. bit of cracker.

taste is good. caramel and toffee. smoke. toasted multi-grain bread and biscuit. bit of cracker. dark and milk chocolate. light alcohol. earthy and woody. bit of vanilla and raw oak.

mouthfeel is good. just over medium body. silky smooth medium carbonation level.

drinkability is great. nice balance. great depth. a tasty baltic and smoked beer.

Photo of Huhzubendah
3.79/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Shared at my tasting on May 29, 2010. Thanks Paul! Review from notes.

A: This beer appears a very dark brown, almost black. There is virtually no head or lace at all.

S: Whoa - the aroma is extremely smoky. I guess this is what they were going for.

T: This tastes much more like a rauch bier than a Baltic Porter, incidentally. While there are some nice flavors here, the body is just too thin to support the complexities of this beer.

M: There is very little carbonation, and a generally flat feel.

D: I'm glad I tried it, but I can get an Aecht Schlenkerla rauch bier that tastes better for way less trouble.

Photo of brentk56
4.09/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Very dark brown with faint ruby highlights; the head fritters away like a soda leaving no trace

Smell: Smoked chocolate, licorice and dark fruit

Taste: Dark fruit, licorice and chocolate provide the initial elements, with the smoke and molasses aspects developing by mid-palate; rather fruity, after the swallow, though the smoke builds in intensity through the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body; low carbonation

Drinkability: For whatever reason, my bottle lacked carbonation; still a fine example of a creatively brewed beer by the folks at Surly

Photo of Derek
4.67/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Black with a tan head, thin ring of retention, light lacing.

S: Smoky, coffee, chocolate, demerara/molasses licorice.

T: Truly exceptional. Just try this!

Bakers chocolate, molasses, dark roasted coffee, dark bread, hint of lagery sulfur, smoky spice.

M: Extremely smooth, moderate body, off-dry finish.

D: I could drink this all night, but I'd surly regret it in the morning.

Photo of bobsy
4.69/5  rDev +15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Huge thanks to Russ for bringing this beer over! The cap is hidden under a crazy amount of wax, but its well worth the effort.

Dark brown body, bordering on black, but betrayed by ruby highlights. A small tan head quickly drops to a film leaving only the odd spot of lace. The nose is intriguing, bringing well-integrated smoke to a mixture of dark fruit, molasses, chocolate, brown bread and alcohol. Smells fantastic. The tastes is heavenly, with a great smoked chocolate character, and a profound depth of chocolate flavour. This is more than complemented by prunes, earth, molasses, light roast and vinous notes. Complex, but well balanced, with the smoke as well-integrated as you could hope for. Medium bodied with a creamy carbonation.

Awesome, awesome beer! Thanks again Russ!

Photo of dpnelson1978
4.44/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle into Duvel tulip.


A: Bright deep reddish-brown body with a small tan head that quickly dissipates leaving no lacing or cover.

S: Light smoke character (a nice surprise considering previous experience with the style). A little sweet, and very noticeable hop signature.

T: Smoke up front and at the back of the throat. Slightly sweet, with low hop bitterness throughout. No noticeable alcohol, and a very nice drink.

M: Light body and light to medium carbonation.

D: Very high abv., and dangerously drinkable. Goes down so easy it is scary.

O: Just another example of why Surly is quickly becoming one of the best in the business.

Photo of PittBeerGirl
3.88/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Kevin for sharing this brew!

A-Body is a dark brown opaque-nearly black hue.

S- Nose is somewhat complex but dominated by lots of smokey tones. There are also some stale earthy hops. plum, and unidentified sweetness, booze, and roasted chocolate malt.

T- Taste is very similar to the smell-only the smokes aspects are more pronounced yet blend with the other characters well. You can really detect the dark, chocoalte, roasted baltic porter in this brew.

M- Mouthfeel is well done. Medium carbonation and medium weight body as should be for the style. Slightly smooth yet slightly dry.

D- This was a good brew overall. Classic smoked porter. I have New Glarus smoke on the porter and I am interested to compare this experience to that brew.

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

22 oz, received from MPLS. Muchas Gracias.
A rather dark nearly black pour with brown and burghundy around the edges. Almost no head, just some tan bubbles.

Aroma has a nice roast malt with dark chocolate tone to it. Some charcoal, oak, smokiness, peat and hint of dark red or blackberry like fruit.

Taste is what one would expect and very good. The "smoke" accent on the porter is just right, not over powering and not meaty like some traditional smoke lagers can be. A nice blend of roast malt, peat, oak and some dark vinuous fruit just peaks around.

The lack of head did not mean there was no carbonation. Very lively bubbles keep this just lively enough above creamy. Pretty solid medium body. It is a bit more warming that I would expect, with a lower high abv of 8.2. Still there was not problem putting this down, just warmed the throat and that worked its way down.

Certainly above average and worth seeking out. I'm sure this would be outstanding to age, unfortunately I have no more.

Photo of darklordlager
4.42/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On tap at Darkness Day 2009 (finally getting notes onto BA)

A: Dark brown, small layer of dark tan head that struggles to remain afloat.

S: Smoked, dark chocolate with some underlying caramel. Chocolate covered fruit.

T: Nice hearty sweetness hits the lips, before your mouth is ambushed by a tornado of smoke--worthy of a team of small town firefighters. Nice bready sweetness, chocolate cake.

M: Nailed the carbonation on this one. A thick liquid with just enough carbonation to make things slide smoothly. Think airport conveyor belt when you're too tried to walk.

D: Given the heartiness and flavour present in this brew, it is great. Not even sure of the ABV.

Photo of TMoney2591
4.27/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

Very big ups to tdg for this mucho-anticipatado bottle!

The prospect of a smoked baltic porter --> I need new pants. Let's do this shit! It pours an opaque scorched brown with a small amount of tan foam on top. The nose comprises charcoal-smoked ham, roasted malts, molasses, and brown sugar. The salivation has begun in earnest. The taste holds notes of sweet syrup, molasses, brown sugar, spruce, and caramel up front, leading a healthy puff of light smoke. The flavors may not necessarily stand on an equal footing with the smell, but they do come very close. And, besides, it's still pretty damn tasty regardless. The body is a hefty medium, with a lightly moderate carbonation and a rich, oily feel (and I mean that in a good way). I am very pleased, indeed, to have been able to try this beast. Now I've gotta find a way to get more...

Photo of FreshmanPour77
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review #100 on 6-13-10
Reviewed cold from a bottle to a glass

A - Poured black with 1 finger of foam, not much of a lacing ring but there was enough to show a little something on the glass. Can't see if there is any carbonation bubbles present

S - Smoke aroma, dark roasted malts. A bit of a hop presence lingering. Oatmeal and vanilla and coffee notes are the heavy hitters with smoke a little behind

T/M - Medium bodied, smoke flavors and coffee along with some dark baker's chocolate. Finished smooth and creamy. Not as smokey as some brews that I have add. Very easy drinker

D - Excellent choice for my 100th review. Another great brew from Surly. Medium bodied smooth sipper. An easy brew that I can easily have more than a couple of glasses of. I recommend this brew if you can find it yet on a shelf or trade for it

Photo of woosterbill
4.37/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber into a mini nonic; shared at a tasting.

A: Looks black, with clear ruby tones around the edges. Fairly thin tan head that settles into a ring. No complaints.

S: Chocolate smoke. Perfect balance of rich sweet malts and smooth, meaty smoke. Awesome.

T: Follows the nose perfectly, with the malts taking the fore and the smoke following things up with a hint of oak on the finish. Delicious.

M: Surprisingly light and smooth body, with light carbonation. Could be better.

D: Tasty and very easy to put away. No noticeable alcohol.

Notes: Yet another great beer from Surly. This is both one of the best Baltic Porters I've ever had and one of the best smoked beers. There a lot going on here, and everything works beautifully. Thanks, Chris, for bringing this gem!


Photo of corby112
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review # 1000! Thanks a lot to traviserickson for sending this one to me in a recent trade.

Pours pitch black and completely opaque without even a trace of lighter color when held to a light source. Two finger frothy mocha colored head that slowly fades into a lasting ring. Minimal spots of lacing.

Roasty aroma that isn't is smokey as I expected with lots of dark malt notes. Hints of vlbitter dark chocolate, oatmeal, toffee, coffee bean, burnt toast and subtle spice. There is still a good bit of smokey aromas traditionally associated with smoked/rauchbiers. Hints of charcoal, campfire, ash etc. But again, there is a lot going on making it less one dimensional. Different and comex but not as intensely smokey as I prefer in the nose.

Chewy, viscous medium body that again, is only slightly smokey. Very well balanced with lots of luscious chocolate malt goodness. Slightly spivey possibly with anise as well as some hops to comiment the roasty/smokey notes. Hints of deep roasted coffee bean, bittersweet dark chocolate, burnt toast and toffee. As in the aroma, the smokiness isn't as intense as expected. Only subtle hints of vampire, butane, bacon, charcoal, BBQ, etc. integrated into the flavor. Very complex, excellently balanced and the high ABV is pretty well masked, making this beer ery quaffable. I really enjoyed this beer but didn't find it as smokey as I expected or hoped for. Highly recommend but I would warn the smokeheads out there that this beer isn't that intense in that regard.

Photo of cpetrone84
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Kevin for sharing this one!

A-pours a dark black liquid with a little tan colored head that is tight and creamy.

S-the nose brings a ton of smokiness up front, lots of roasted and smokey malty goodness. notes of chocolate and anise. sweetness and hops in the back, plums, grassy hops.

T-the taste is even smokier. lots of smoke dark malts, chocolate, anise behind. plums and raisins in the back with a light grassy hop presence.

M-the feel is so smooth and creamy on the palate. the carb is light but enough to hold the body throughout. hint of crispness at the finish with just a touch of dry in the back.

D-definitely a good bit of smoke with a good malty sweetness and nice hop presence in the finish. solid drink here with some nice maltiness going on.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.27/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours out a near black body with a bubbly, ecru head on top, though this dies out fairly quickly.

Smell: The aroma is smelling of moderately roasted grains, shaved chocolate, a teaspoon of ground coffee, and ripe dark fruits, though it's superseded by a scent of quality smoked meats.

Taste: Upfront roastiness with a marked sweetness, moreso than I'd expected. Additional toastiness. Handful of chocolate sprinkles tossed with a handful of Bacon Bits. Small splash of mild-mannered coffee. Fruit compote comprised of plums and Medjool dates. It's brimming with clean smokiness, though it's never overpowering or overbearing. Slight charred bitterness. Soft, smoke-accented finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium-light carbonation. Fairly creamy mouthfeel.

Drinkability: This one was very easy to down. What else can you say? It's a good Baltic Porter brimming with smooth smokiness.

Photo of homebrew311
4.57/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Received as a kick ass extra from millah!! Hell yeah... what better beer to crack for the Lost finale!

A: Pours black with very little head and a slight bit of light passing through, a little bit of lacing

S: roasted barley, smoke, coffee, roasted notes, very malty and little hops

T: lots of roasted barley on the front, lots of classic porter/stout roastiness in there with the added dimension of hickory and smoke. The smoke is most prevalent on the finish with a touch of chocolatey sweetness

MF: medium body, seems on par for a baltic porter brewed with lager yeast, medium carbonation

D: a nice showcase of roasted and smoked malts, everything is in nice balance, the ABV is undetectable. I am convinced that Surly is incapable of brewing a beer that is anything less than spectacular.

Photo of largadeer
3.11/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This was an extra from kbutler1. Thanks! Black with a light tan head that recedes to a full collar.

Smoke, dark malt and rubber aroma backed by a bit of chocolate and oak. Sweetness and smoke are pretty restrained. The rubbery character becomes more pronounced as the beer warms, which detracts from an otherwise nice smell.

Toasty dark malt, smoke, light roast and astringent rubber. Smoke is well integrated, present at a subtle level. Medium-light body with a good level of carbonation. Finishes with smoke, rubber, roasted malt. The body is spot on but the rubbery flavor is very detracting.

Smoke from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 758 ratings.