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Smoke - Surly Brewing Company

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785 Ratings
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(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 785
Reviews: 272
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 327
Gots: 238 | 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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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 785 | Reviews: 272
Photo of witterlee
4.19/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle poured into a pint glass on Christmas Eve.

A- very dark with tan head.

S-Smoke but not overwhelming.

T: malt, chocolate, coffee

M: medium body.. not heavy or syrupy.

D: surprisingly drinkable for a porter and I'd never guess the ABV if it wasn't on the bottle.

Very good Beer. Nice bottle. Will keep for display.

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

750mL bottle poured into snifter glass and shared with tasting group - thanks to therobot

Pours a dark black with a brown hue. A decent head bubbles up and fades out leaving some spots of lacing across the glass.

Strong smoke with hints of leather, charcoal, and tobacco in the nose. Rich roasted dark malt with a bit of chocolate as well.

Starts off with a nice blast of smoke with leather and charcoal although somewhat soft in nature. Hints of caramel and molasses hold down the profile. Finishes a little bitter and dry with some lingering flavor around the palate.

Fuller medium body, lighter carbonation, creamy and pleasant on the tongue. Drinks faster than it should, the ABV is masked well and the smoke is much lighter than many other simpler beers.

Photo of Vdubb86
4.23/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass

Huge thanks to Lenny1203 for sending me this beer in the N00B BIF #2.

This is a beer that I've heard a lot about and since I like smoke in dark beers this is one of my more preferred styles. The beer pours a beautiful darkness topped by a finger of tan foam. The smell is mostly smoke with perhaps a bit of chocolate, though there is so much smoke it's hard to tell. The flavor is thankfully toned down on the smoke to the point of near perfection. There is also a malty sweetness that comes through to help complement the smoke that is on the palate. The beer finishes a tad too bitter for my liking, but drinks pretty smooth for the other portions. This is a really enjoyable beer.

Photo of garymuchow
4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Fairly fresh, only a couple months aged at most. Nice bottle art.
Poured into SN tulip and shared with the giver.
Soft smoke is primary and I like the hardwood quality, but the background of fruit helps round off the aroma nicely. Only the lightest amount of roast.
Initially shows a dark head that settles pretty slowly. Very black with deep dark reddish hues in light.
Flavor holds this great experience of clearly being a smoke beer without being overpowered by it. The sweetness and fruit comes up front and after the smoke shows the roast flavors appear. Dryness and a short show of bitterness precede the finish that lays on the tongue with the smoke lingering.
Lightish body for a porter. Drinks close to an ale, really. The strenght of the flavors inhibit the smoothness some.
I'm torn, as I believe my initial statement of the smoke not being excessive, yet with aging and some toning down, I wonder about how this might present and maybe show greater traditional malt character for style. Nonetheless, a unique beer, done very well. The Surly way I guess.
It's going really well with smoked almonds and sausage with cheese. Yum.

Gift from #2. Thanks Eric.

Photo of CrellMoset
4.44/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. silver-waxed bottle courtesy of surlytwinsfan - thanks! Poured in to a tulip on Christmas Eve.

Appearance: Pours a raw umber, slick but viscous, transparent at the ruby-hued periphery at first but quickly turning opaque as the glass fills. The color is nice, a little nicer than the head, which rises to about a finger in height, fawn khaki, soapy and bubbly, and stays around for a spell but not as long as I'd like, fading in time to a dollop or two of surface lace and a thin, partial foamy collar.

Aroma: Sweet, earthy, and smoky - a fantastic combination. First, the malts here are just what you want from a Baltic Porter - strong toffee, blackstrap molasses, and caramel mingle with milk chocolate, toast, and springy half roast coffee, which itself is almost lactic-esque sweet at points, milky and creamy. The earth is a little dirty, but never astringent or harsh, and it transitions beautifully in to the smoky note, which is one of the most balanced smoky presences I've ever gotten out of a beer (and keep in mind I am generally not a fan of smoke beers, Alaskan's Smoked Porter notwithstanding). The peaty, beechwood notes are just beautifully integrated, amplifying everything and detracting from nothing. The finish even suggested freshly muddled spearmint, which mingles beautifully with the milk chocolate notes (York peppermint patties anyone?). An aroma I just can't get enough of.

Taste: Complexities abound - where to begin with this one? Malts (obviously, and entirely unsurprisingly) dominate, ranging from sweet, saccharine caramel to dirty, earthy coffee, and everything in between. Brown sugar and molasses, licorice, and milk sugars mingle with bittersweet cocoa and full city coffee. Nothing astringent here, and everything's actually rather smooth, silky (though it's definitely on the sweet end of things). The smoke isn't the star of the show here, and that's what makes this beer so wonderful - it's beautifully balanced, complimenting the dark fruits and spicy toasty notes so nicely. What a wonderful and understated flavor profile.

Mouthfeel: This beer's weakest aspect, but it's still pretty solid, and does improve as the experience goes on. It's pretty moderately bodied, perhaps a little on the thick side, though that's perfectly to be expected with the amount of residual sweetness mentioned before. The amount of carbonation coupled with the thickness of the body, however, makes for a slightly erratic, uneven mouthfeel at first (until the carbonation dies down). Open this one right out of the fridge and give it a while to cool while the carbonation dies down - it hits a sweet spot (and I mean a borderline 5.0 sweetspot, if only it had been there the whole time, oy!) where there's enough carbonation to keep the sweetness from becoming cloying but little enough that it's not overeffervescent about thirty minutes in.

Drinkability: What an amazing and pleasant surprise! An evening that started with one disappointment (Tuverbol) is capped by one fantastic brew, and I couldn't be more thrilled. This beer is just so balanced, so flavorful, and - all things told, at 8.2% - so drinkable (not to say it's not there - I'm certainly feeling it!). Nonetheless, I want more of this, and could definitely keep coming back for more of this crisp, flavorful, balanced brew. Also, stick this in barrels and I'd marry it. Like, tomorrow.

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

Thanks to younger35 for this beer. Aged it a few months just cause.

Pours a dark black, brown highlights, no head at all.

Smell is less smokey than expected, hops, malt, chocolate, like a hop smores.

lot going on in the taste, syrupy, licorice, smoke, chocolate, some booze.

Good beer, not great beer, but still worth seeking out. A little too thin for me to love it.

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

A: Opaque black-brown body with a thin off white head.

S: Dark malts, bittersweet chocolate, good smell but not too strong.

T: Grains and malt, some smoke and oak, bitter coffee finish.

M: For the abv, it's surprisingly light. Packs a lot of flavor without being too heavy.

D: Good flavor and body with a high abv but still easy to drink.

Photo of MbpBugeye
3.85/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sent to me for my birthday by Fear025. Awesome.

A- Very minimal head with no retention or lacing. Just a pad in the middle, fueled by the laser etching in my snifter.

S- The nose is kinda weak, but its nice. Even though the peaty smoke is the dominate, its very soft. Marshmallow, wood, some dark fruits, and chocolate. Everything needed for a good campfire. I would now suggest taking this beer along too.

T- Again, smoke is this beers main prerogative. But its a nice, soft smoke. Very, very woody. Vanilla, marshmallow, some char and ash. A slight lick of licorice and molasses.

M- Smooth, mellow and lightly carbonated.

D- Very nice stuff. The smoke is very easy to deal with here.

Photo of TheDudeBeers
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured out of a tall bomber and shared with a friend in glasses.

A - Very Dark Brownish Black, no light can really shine through. About a finger of head that dissipates quickly.

S - I can't get over how wonderful this smells. I want to live in there. It smells like Bacon or another meat just coming out of the smoker. However besides the smoke I can't pick up on much else but it still smells fantastic!

T - To me the Smoky flavor overwhelms everything which is perhaps it's flaw. Besides smoke I can taste some malts, perhaps some anise or something bitter, a little vanilla, and a pretty prominent fresh roasted coffee and chocolate finish. But mostly just that prominent smoky taste.

M - Thick and creamy with almost no carbonation.

D - It's pretty easy to finish 1, but could I drink 2? Probably not. The smokiness is just a little bit too intense. Still a great brew. Glad I was lucky enough to try it.

Photo of billab914
4.39/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage poured from a 750ml bottle into my Surly nonic pint glass. it poured black in color with a small and fizzy tan head to it. The head disappeared after a minute or so though.

The aroma shows a lot of roasted malt and dark chocolate to it. The smoke is definitely there, but more subtle then I expected. It has a bit of a roasted coffee bitterness to it and the dark, milky chocolate gives it some nice sweetness as well.

The taste really shows a lot of chocolate to it as well. It starts out with some darker chocolate, but turns more towards some sweeter milk chocolate towards the finish. The roasted malt and coffee bitterness shows up front but is a little more reserved in the finish. The smoke does comes through though. The smoke shows the most in the finish and lingers with the chocolate. Very flavorful beer overall.

The mouthfeel is a little above medium bodied and carbonation is on the lower side. Drinkability is very good, it had some great bold flavors to it but yet remained very smooth and drinkable. The chocolate was especially nice. The smoke was good but was probably more intense fresher. Very good beer overall.

Photo of maximum12
3.78/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Really? I've never had Smoke? I'm not sure how that happened, except during the first bottle run last year, so many people wanted bottles I ended up trading them all away. Well, here we are again. During an excellent birthday dinner for my wife, consumed at Pracna on Main in Minneapolis.

Black. Smell rising from the fogginess of the glass is pretty pure bacon/smoke. Not much else. Gives my tummies little butterflies.

Smoke tastes much more complex than the smell. The smokiness is ascendant (or they would have called it "Mist" or "Drizzle" or "Crack" or something else), but not the whole shesnizzle. The smoked malts are strong, but cut beautifully by the oakiness, which lends a dry, wry irony to the brew, keeping the smoke in check & keeping this from moving too far into pork territory. The malts are nice, too, lending a sweet counterpoint, & I could swear there was chocolate present, too. Perhaps a sprinkle of dark fruits.

Very good beer. The oak is for me a critical component that kept this one sane & drinkable. Glad to finally meet you, Smoke.

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

Poured into a snifter. Appearance is a gorgeous midnight black.

Smell lives up to the name; extreme mesquite, meaty smokiness.

Taste is similar, very smoky with some mild chocolate/caramel, dark fruit, and smooth roasted malts.

Ridiculously smooth and tasty. I haven't had Darkness on tap yet, and until I do this remains my favorite offering from Surly. And that's saying something.

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

Poured from bomber into pint glass

A - Pours a deep brown color with little to no light penetration once in the glass. An average speed pour yields a one finger, fizzy, light tan/cinnamon colored head which thins quickly. No lacing is left on the glass as you drink.

S - SMOKE! smoked malt, licorice, raisins, figs, little bit of chocolatey/coffee scent

T - Smoked malt flavors up front followed by licorice, raisin and a little semi-sweet chocolate; Finishes with a hint of vanilla. A tiny bit of warmth is felt as it goes down but no alcohol taste. The smoke is present all throughout and lingers nicely after a sip. I found it a bit challenging to pick out all the different flavors as they kind of meld together, but not in a bad way.

M - Fairly light for how complex and dark this beer is, nice low to medium level of carbonation, a little bit of stickyness to it, semi-dry smokey finish

D - Fairly easy to drink, I took down a bomber no problem. It's a sipper, but you just want to keep on sipping and sipping...

Overall, another great limited release from Surly. This beer just reminds me of fall/winter. Would be perfect while sitting around a fire. The name really is dead on as the biggest thing that stuck with me is its smokey characteristics.

Photo of TCMike
3.16/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

My first smoked beer. I really wanted to like it since it's local, but as it turned out, I'll probably pass on it next time around.
Poured into a mug. The color was a dark brown, with a 2 finger head. The smoke smell was, in my opinion, a little too strong. The taste was OK, but again, I thought it was too smokey. It was smooth at the start, and a medium bitter on the tail end. Drinkability was somewhat low due to the over powering flavor, and slightly elevated ABV.

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

Had on tap at Stub & Herb's (just as the snow was starting to fall)

Served in a 10 oz. snifter a silky black with only a film of head that quickly dissipated leaving no lacing at all

The aroma was more subdued than I imagined, given this was a Surly and a smoked one at that. Rather than smokiness, I picked up the roasted malt and raisins, quickly followed by the sweet vanilla from the oak. I didn't get smoke AT ALL in the nose.

While the aroma might have been subdued, the flavor was complex and delicious. Here was the smokiness, but not as stark as I imagined. The front consisted of roasted malt, dried fruits, molasses, and just a hint of chocolate and coffee. The middle consisted on a smoky sweet vanilla, that finished slightly bitter and dry. A well-conceived and executed Baltic porter. Very flavorful. Increased in complexity and satisfaction as it warmed.

Silky smooth, full-bodied, and just a bit oily. No harsh smoky aftertaste nor alcohol burn (despite the 8.2%).

Quite drinkable. As noted, the alcohol was well-masked and the smoke added character without overpowering the rest.

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

A- a beautiful dark brown out of the bottle, with a reddish tinge.

S- mesquite, sea salt, and a wonderful smoke reminiscent of beef jerky.

T - Raisins, currants, oak, smoked tomatoes, with a bit earthiness.

M- one of the best mouthfeels I've experienced in a beer. like a fine wine, it dances on your palate, long after you've finished it. Truly wonderful.

D- The higher alcohol, and strong smoke, limit the drinkability of this beer, but it is still remarkably smooth.

All in all, this is a truly fantastic beer. I'll be trying to find a few more bottles around town before it sells out.

Photo of AmberMan22
4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

The bar I was at ran out of Surly Bender and replaced it with Smoke. Not having had it before, I snapped up the opportunity.

Pours a deep deep brown/black that barely allows some light through around the edges, producing varnished mahogany highlights.
My only complaint with the appearance was that the head disappeared rapidly, and was almost impossible to stimulate without shaking the beer out of the glass. Thus, no lacing to speak of, though it does add menace to see a pint of polished black liquid.

The smell is subtly smoky, with plenty of roasted malts and a tinge of bitterness. The smoke lingers in the nostrils, letting me know what's in charge.

And the smoke flavor kicks in on the first sip. The aftertaste is the most profoundly smoky, yet while the beer is in my mouth I find it very well balanced. The alcohol flavor is masked underneath the wave of dark malts and smokiness -- I had no idea this was 8.2% ABV.

It smells (and tastes) like a sort of hickory-smoked bacon, but isn't nearly as aggressive as a Rauchbier. Don't get me wrong, this Surly is just as 'in-your-face' as its brother brews, and I love the assertive flavors.

Mouthfeel is thick and smooth, with minimal carbonation. Any less CO2 would be flirting with danger, but Smoke pulls it off well.

The smokiness is a limiting factor in drinking a lot of this, but I do love this beer.

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

This beer pours a black color that you cant see through. There is also an off white, tan looking head. The aroma of this beer smells of smoke and roasted malts. The flavor reminds me of a piece of oakwood that was burnt and thrown into the aging tank. It is a very good taste, balanaced with malt and hops. The carbonation is low to moderate, and I would consider this a drinkable beer.

Photo of cdkrenz
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I cellared this brew above 45 degrees for a year. 2009 release obtained through a buddy. Thanks Xcal29.

A - Extremely dark brown, almost black. Head is hard to come by.

S - Smokey, mesquite, coffee.

T - The finish is that of a nicely smoked venison. It has a middle coffee taste as well as a light chocolate start.

M - Tiny bubble feel allowing the flavors to really come through.

~ I like this beer. It is one of the most unique beers I've been lucky enought to sample. If you are able to get your hands on a bottle, don't let go of it.

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

On tap at a local cafe, this beer arrived in a Surly Darkness goblet, dark as the night with a few wisps of foam around the outside. The aroma was subdued, but the pleasantness of a touch of wood smoke and dark roasted malt did enter the nose.

Smoke has a medium to full body. The smoke flavor really explodes on the palate. Dark malt mixes with the smoke that roasted it to create a satisfying flavor profile. Toward the end the alcohol warms the chest. A well made winter brew with ample complexity built around a smoky backbone. If you love smoked beer, you will be in heaven. If smoke isn't your think, it will remind you of hell.

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.

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

Bottle. Thanks to Weine for sharing!

A: Dark brown with a small, beige, head.

S: Smoked meat, Coffee, Caramel, Chocolate

T: Coffee, Chocolatem, Hint of smoked meat, Hint of caramel.

M: Quite thin and not very smoky at all. Elegant tho and very pleasant to drink. Medium carbonation.

I expected to taste way more smoke in this than i did. It feels more like a smoked imperial stout than anything else. Not bad tho. Not bad at all!

Photo of Spica66
2.46/5  rDev -39.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Got this one hand-delivered from Jason on his way to Kalamazoo.

A: Dark brown color. Good head formation and retention.

S: There is definitely smoke. I don't know if it is because this is so fresh (released yesterday), but the overwhelming aroma is only smoke. No hops, no nothing else really.

T: Tastes like bacon and not in a good way. Three out of four of us agreed that this is a bacon-tasting-drain-pour.

M: Medium light body, good carbonation.

D: As stated above, it went into the drain.

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

2010 bottling. Labeled Surly Smoke, Lager

Appearance: Chocolate dark brown nearly black with a thin mahogany brown head.

Smell: Wood smoke and pan fried bacon. Chocolate and dried plums.

Taste: Hazy wood smoke overlying classic elements of dark chocolate, figs, plums.

Mouthfeel: A bit on the thin side but medium to full bodied with moderately high carbonation.

Drinkability: The smoke isn't intense initially but is lingering. This is good for me as besides the smoke, the basic baltic porter elements are quite tasty.

Photo of boomer31
4.19/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2009 Bottle:

A - After I peeled off the 'plastic wax' and almost took my eye out, the beer pours black with nearly no head to speak of. Tiny tan bubbles around the edges.

S - Initial smell is smoke

T - Smoke, chocolate and some fig. The smoke did not disappear at all. Lots of smoke as it goes down, but chocolate is the flavor that lingers. Very clean

M - Low carb and richer than the body looks. Chocolate lingers but not sticky

D - If you like smoked beers this is a good beer. If you don't like smoked beers (like myself) this is a sipper to be enjoyed throughout the day. Clean and a good example of a baltic porter.

A solid beer from Surly again! Not sure I'll pick up more than 1 of these each year though it will be interesting to see how this developes.

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Smoke from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 785 ratings.