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Smoke - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

766 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 766
Reviews: 269
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 328
Gots: 236 | FT: 10
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: 766 | Reviews: 269 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

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

750ml Bottle poured into a Surly Stein (seemed appropriate).

Appearance: Pours a dark thick mahogany color, beige head.

Aroma: Smokey chocolate. Definite coffee feel. Hint of toffee.

Taste: Smokey, almost bacon like. (which is good) Coffee undertones, hint of chocolate. It's like a decadent breakfast in a glass. The Alcohol isn't noticeable in the taste, but the 8% sneaks up on you later.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation, a little thin. But it fits the smokey flavor.

Overall: Another great beer from Surly. Unique, complex, and definitely not subtle.

Photo of gford217
4.42/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Briab fir this bottle.

Pours much darker than i was expecting, almost completely black with chocolate brown showing through the edges. The head is short lived and recedes to a tiny collar with no lacing.

Aroma is dominated by heavily smoked chocolate malts with some caramel and cocoa as well. There is a little bit of spent espresso grounds in the background.

Taste is sweeter with chocolate and caramel up front before the wave of smoked wood starts to take over. The finish is dry, woody and all about the smoke.

I've always like a good smoked beer so this one hit the spot for me. Lots of smoky character but still very drinkable. Good stuff.

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.

Smoke from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 766 ratings.