1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Smoke - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
SmokeSmoke

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

721 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 721
Reviews: 267
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 12.47%
Wants: 330
Gots: 227 | FT: 8
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Baltic Porter |  8.20% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 12-05-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 721 | Reviews: 267 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BEERchitect
4.28/5  rDev +4.6%

If you are like me, you're always a bit weary about the quality of the smoke content and its intensity. Well, my friends, this is one well put together Smoked Lager.

Painted deep and dark brown, the beer shows nearly complete opaqueness. A dainty lightly tanned head forms on the beer, settles to a sheet and holds firm. Slim on both lacing and legging.

Aromas, surprisingly are of toasted malts and chocolate. Aided just a bit by light coffee, nutty, and woodsy notes, the smoke settles right into the mix in a quite nonchalant kinda way.

Flavors are decidedly sweet and complexly malted. Toasty, bready notes remind me a bit of Dopplebocks. Caramels and kettle caramelization make the beer very rich and variant. The smoke flavor comes across more like a mild campfire flavor rather than the harsher Rauchbiers. Interestingly a fruity grape, plumb, and date flavor comes through but this might be because of the dark grains used as much as an ester character.

Malty and rich up front, the beer fades nicely into a smooth and velvety finish. Despite the 8.2%, the beer never gets dry, alcoholic, bitter, or fusal- a testement to the well lagered practice.

This is a much better beer for which I gave credit before tasting. It shows that a beer can display great smoke character without dominating the glass. Delicious!

Thanks tdg!

BEERchitect, May 01, 2010
Photo of herman77
4.3/5  rDev +5.1%

A: Pours black with just the slightest dark ruby hue to the edges. Just a little bit of brown head that dies off quickly into a collar, then that dies off to nothing. Lacing is non existent.

S: Smoked malt and tons of oak. A hint of coffee and dark fruits. Smells damn good, but slightly subdued even near room temp.

T: Roasted malt up front with a hint of dried fruits, cherries and raisins. A hint of bittersweet chocolate. Nice and oaky all the way through, very reminiscent of oak aged bender. There is some hop bitterness near the end as well to let you know whats up and this is Surly. A little smokiness is there the whole time, but comes out the most in the finish and lingers around for a little while.

M/D: A little bit thinner then I remembered it to be when I had it at the Surly Beer Dinner @ The Happy Gnome in Feb. Medium body. Carbonation is a little on the higher side at first, but dies down to hardly anything after a short while. ABV is hidden pretty well. A cold fall/winter night sipper. Drinkability is pretty good considering the style.

herman77, Apr 24, 2010
Photo of Mistofminn
4.38/5  rDev +7.1%

Had this a couple times on tap, but never in the right situation to review it. Got a couple bottles and figured I'd finally get this one in the books.

Pours dark translucent brown, but once in the glass appears pitch black. A brown head comes and goes quickly, much like soda foam. Looks lighter in body than I remember.

The nose is full of roasted malts, a light pilsner like hop character, dark dried fruits and subtle smoked malts. It's great, just like I remember it, possibly more mellow.

Taste is awesome. Smooth and malty, roasted and lightly smoked. Dark dried fruits and a nice pilsner like hop character just like the nose. The smoke is incredibly subtle and I think (just as I did the first couple times I had it) that the name is misleading. If you actually know anything about the beer, you know your not going to get a smoked beer, but rather a traditional baltic porter with a light subtle hint. Dry, earthy and smokey in the finish.

Mouthfeel is medium, smooth and creamy with a higher carbonation than I remember. Drinkability in this is awesome, and probably dangerous. It's way to easy to drink an entire bottle to myself.

Overall, I think I liked this slightly better on tap, but can't really complain about this in bottle form. I don't really see this improving too much in the bottle, but it certainly won't get any worse.

Mistofminn, Apr 21, 2010
Photo of DefenCorps
4.18/5  rDev +2.2%

I can not say that this is a style I get excited about, but it's a Surly beer and Bill was kind enough to send me a bottle at my behest and so, given my inability to find someone to drink this with on short notice, I am going it alone.

The pour is a very dark brown, black in the glass with a dark brown head that rapidly dissipates to a ring leaving no lace. That's not really of much concern because the nose is quite excellent. Coffee, chocolate, roasted malt and a moderate smoky character, all tied together with a gentle vanilla sweetness and a dash of alcohol, this is arguably on the lighter side for a Baltic porter, but I'm not complaining. Alcohol is light but definitely noticeable, working well with the smoke. While not as savory as a rauchbier, there definitely is a touch of a meaty character. Mildly fruity as well, this is a very interesting and well-executed beer.
The palate is solid. Opening moderately fruity with a blend of raisins and dates coupled with some medium dark chocolate (50%?) and vanilla sweetness with some smoke to tie it all together, this is actually a beautifully crafted beer. The smoke character is moderate to low and is well integrated. Licorice is noticeable mid-palate. Alcohol does appear on the finish that's dry, fruity, a little smoky and a little astringent. There's also a touch of Splenda-like sweetness on the finish. These two do detract marginally from a great experience. Medium-light in body with moderate carbonation, this is a very enjoyable beer. Thanks again, Bill!

DefenCorps, Apr 20, 2010
Photo of sisuspeed
4.4/5  rDev +7.6%

Poured into wide tulip glass. Surly Smoke is extremely dark in color with a red berry tint around the edges. No head, no lacing, just very dark with a red tinge.

The aroma consists of a light smokiness mixed with dark fruits, figs and raisins. Some alcohol rises up from the glass as well. Swirling reveals more fruit, blackberries, bits of cherry and a touch of woodiness. More fruit and less smoke than I would have imaged, but very enjoyable and well done.

Smokey, roasted malts soaked in oaky vanilla roll across the tongue, followed by smoked meatiness, cherries and raisins. The oak aging comes through quite nicely. Again, light smoke, fruits, roasty malts, a touch of anise and silky vanilla.

This beer looks pretty thick, but the mouthfeel is surprisingly light for the style. Warming alcohol mixes with light, tiny, carbonation.

Drinkability is good, especially for a smoked beer. Lots of flavor, but not too much smoke. The ABV is somewhat noticeable, but my hand kept going back to the glass constantly. This bomber was shared with others, but I'm pretty sure I drank more than half of it. Very enjoyable.

Overall, this is another awesome beer from Surly. It seems that every thing they brew rocks pretty hard. I think some people might be looking for more smoke flavor in this beer, but the complexity and smoothness that the brewers bought to this offering will make most people forget any complaints they may have had. Awesome job Surly! I'm eagerly awaiting the release of Four.

sisuspeed, Apr 12, 2010
Photo of bwiechmann
4.53/5  rDev +10.8%

On tap at Stub and Herbs

A- Pours nearly pitch-black. No substantial head to speak of, minimal lacing.

S- Perfect. Wood smoke ballanced with roasted, sweet malts. A touch of hops provide some earth-notes.

T- Wood smoke is here too, but certainly not over-done. Most akin to smoked, pulled pork. A touch of espresso in the background.

M- Not oily, but smooth. Medium body and carbonation.

D- alcohol is unnoticeable- very drinkable.

This beer is absolutely a treat. Surly scores again. Get your hands on some if you can.

bwiechmann, Apr 09, 2010
Photo of blackearth
4.22/5  rDev +3.2%

Enjoyed on tap at Acadia Cafe in Minneapolis, MN. Poured into a stemmed tulip glass this beer shows an extremely dark brown body with a thin ring of off-white foam. Aroma is raisins, peat, burnt sugar and a hint of smokiness. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with a low to medium carbonation level. Flavors are of caramelized sugar, dried grass and level smokiness. Hop bitterness shows for a moment in the finish and is quickly replaced by a dry malt sweetness. I was expecting much more smoke flavors, but this is still a solid baltic porter.

blackearth, Apr 07, 2010
Photo of happilysurly
4.13/5  rDev +1%

Had this on tap and now in a bottle.

Pours dark black, but thin. Nice head right away but disappears rapidly. The smoke aroma is clear as soon as the cap is removed. Also smells slightly metallic. Patrick from Heritage Liquor in Maplewood apparently made a pork shoulder marinade with this stuff and I think thats fantastic. I get a sense of BBQ from the smell of this brew, also smells like a deli.

The smoke flavor is certainly not over the top which impresses me. You could easily go overboard with smoke and they did not. Tastes of raisins, rubber, leather, molasses, mole. Very very interesting taste. I taste more non-food flavors than food flavors, but it works really well.

I bought 2 bottles from Heritage for like $14 and then one from Haskell's Stillwater for closer to $16, so this is certainly not a cheap beer, but its certainly worth trying. I have one to trade...

happilysurly, Apr 02, 2010
Photo of younger35
4.1/5  rDev +0.2%

Picked up a bottle of this from The Four Firkins with their pre-release thing. I've had this beer many time and never got around to properly reviewing it. Drank from my Darkness snifter and served at room temperature.

Appearance- Pours a pitch ass black with a half finger fizzly dark tan head that immediately sizzles and dissipates leaving nothing. Not a touch of a cap, collar or lacing.
Smell- Lightly smoky and almost dirty smelling with plenty of dark roasted malts hiding amongst the smoke. Light whiffs of alcohol and coffee but are fairly weak compared to the malt and smoke. Maybe touches dark fruit with some raisins and prunes.
Taste- Starts with a bit of acidic roasted malts that are lightly coffee like with even a lighter touch of chocolate. The smoke is more prevalent in the nose than in the taste but the slightest bit of ash is noticeable. The beer is really dry and roasted but I do get a touch of caramel amongst the earthiness of beer. The wood isn't really noticeable but a smidgen of vanilla is. The finish is dry and somewhat crisp with a lingering bit of earthy bitter hops.
Mouthfeel- Deceiving light body that makes you remember this is indeed a lager. The carbonation is also deceiving sharp considering there is absolutely no head on this brew what-so-ever. Dry.
Drinkability- Lots of big flavors going on here but all done in moderation and considering the 8%+, this thing is hella drinkable. My only real complaint is that I a Smoked Beer fan and I'd love a bit more smoke in this. Who knows though, maybe it would screw this up royally. Enjoyed yet again!

younger35, Apr 01, 2010
Photo of bsp77
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Extremely dark brown without much head and very spotty lacing.

Smell: Smoked malts, oak, molasses, raisins, vanilla and licorice. Impressive for a lager, which tend to be mild in the scent department.

Taste: Oak and smoke is very predominant, with nice rounded semi-sweet malts of molasses, plum, licorice and figs. Ends with a touch of spicy and bitter hops, which co-mingle nicely with the smoke.

Feel: Low carbonation, smooth and creamy lager body that is somewhat full bodied.

Drinkability: Overall, very nice balance between a Baltic Porter, Rauchbier and Oak-Aged beer. Delicious and very easy to drink, belaying its 8.2% abv.

bsp77, Mar 28, 2010
Photo of WYVYRN527
4.3/5  rDev +5.1%

Poured into a snifter from it's beautiful 750 ml. bottle.

A: Very dark brown in color,almost black. Very little light gets through this one. Head retention is is non-existent, and lacing is nil.

S: There is alot going on in the nose of this beer. almost like campfire at first, but soon the malt comes forward. Coffee, roasted meat, and spice, along with a nice hint of charred wood. Hops are almost non-existent on the nose.

T: If i didn't know what this beer was, it just screams Surly. Roasty, with hints of coffee and bitter chocolate, accompanied by campfire, cedar, and just a hint of flint. There are some fruity notes lingering in the backround, and the hops dry the finish.

M&D: A bit lighter than I was anticipating, but still very full bodied and smooth. It's a great sipper, and would accompany BBQ quite nicely. This, however, is a smoked brew that is amazing on it's own. Like I said before, this beer has Surly wriiten all over it. They can do no wrong.

WYVYRN527, Mar 27, 2010
Photo of hardy008
4.75/5  rDev +16.1%

Dark black color with a one foamy tan head which fades somewhat quick. Smells of smoke, sweet malt, raisins, plums, figs, and licorice. The flavor mirrors the aroma perfectly. There is a nice combination of smoke an sweet malt which are great together. Neither is overly strong, but both are very good.

Medium bodied, smooth, easy to drink, and the alcohol is well hidden. I could drink this all the time with no problem.

hardy008, Mar 25, 2010
Photo of THORN
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%

750 mL poured into Duvel tulip. Served 50-55 F.
A: Black and purple around the edges. Pours thick thick head that quickly reduces to nothing.
S: Smoke. Sweet malts and brown sugar.
T: Dark smoke malts. Toffee and mollasses round out out with strong bitter hops.
M: Medium on tongue.
D: Good portion of smoke. Mouthfeel is just right. Big in flavor, but refreshing.

THORN, Mar 24, 2010
Photo of Parrotbeak
4.05/5  rDev -1%

Black with a thin, brown head that quickly dissipates. No light passing through this one.
Smell is smokey malts, sausage, jerky, licorice, chocolate. A little heat on the nose from the alcohol. Very nice aroma that gets more complex as the beer warms up.
Taste is again smokey and malty up front, with some bitterness coming in. Faint cocoa, with some raisins, licorice, and a touch of alcohol. Curious, candle wax "flavor" that hits the back of the mouth near the finish. Ah, I am curious candle?
Mouthfeel is fairly smooth, with a little bit of carbonation. Medium body.
Good on drinkability. I have to admit, this one didn't quite live up to the hype, but it was still quite good. I'm looking forward to trying the other bottle sometime down the road to see how it fares with some age.

Parrotbeak, Mar 23, 2010
Photo of Sean9689
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%

I originally had this at Darkness Day but wanted to wait a bit until I could sit down and review it properly. This time, it was on at Sheffield's. Poured into snifter.

A - Black, thin head, no lacing and no retention. Just a glass full of black liquid...not saying that it's a bad thing.

S - Smoke, dark fruity sweetness, black liquorice.

T - Similar to the nose. A good amount of smoke notes (I recall a lot more smoke notes at Darkness Day), subtle sweetness, a dark chocolate bitter finish.

M - Medium bodied, smooth, rich, dry finish.

D - Easy to drink, no real hint of alcohol. Another winner by Surly.

Sean9689, Feb 19, 2010
Photo of Florida9
3.95/5  rDev -3.4%

On tap at the Publican

A: Dark brown, almost black. No translucency as far as I could tell. Served with a short tan head that reduces to a surface coating. There is some minimal lacing.

S: Not surprisingly, smoke, though the smoke is on the light side. Roasted malts and toast.

T & M: Roasted malts. Some smoke, but it is certainly not the predominant flavor. There is a smooth creaminess to the beer. Lighter in body than I was expecting with low carbonation levels.

D: This beer was described to me as a stout, along the lines of BCS, but smokier. That description is quite inaccurate. For a beer named "Smoke" I was expecting a heavier beer with a more pronounced smoke aroma and flavor, but, in the end, I'm glad the smokiness wasn't overdone as it created a beer with a better drinkability.

Florida9, Jan 01, 2010
Photo of jrallen34
3.9/5  rDev -4.6%

I drank this on tap into a pint glass at the Map Room.

The beer is a light black with a light tan that doesn't have much retention or lacing.

The aroma is nice because its not to strong bringing a nice combination of smoke and roasted coffee.

The taste is also pretty light which makes this more drinkable than most smokey beers your come across. You get a nice smokey pork start then it finishes with some light coffee.

The feel is worst part of the beer, pretty watery, I'm looking for a lot more umph.

For this sytle of beer its drinkable, compared to a lager not at all, so where does that leave you.

Overall, this is a fine beer. I wouldn't call it a baltic porter its not nearly heavy or sweet enough. I'd call it a pseudo rauch and for that, its pretty damn tasty.

jrallen34, Dec 31, 2009
Photo of mnbrewery
3.98/5  rDev -2.7%

Aroma: (10/12)
Slight roasted hints, nothing over the top at all.
No hops evident. As beer warms, the presence
of smoked malt comes alive (only became apparent
after warming up).

Appearance: (2.5/3)
Deep black hue with no ruby color on the edges.
Decent head, but it waves a quick
goodbye; very little to no lacing at all.

Flavor: (17/20)
Roasted grain up front with very little to no smoked
malt noticeable. No bitterness and very smooth.
Tastes very similar to a Schwartzbier.
After waiting a bit for this beer to warm, there IS a slight
smoked flavor that arises.

Mouthfeel: (4/5)
Very nice and smooth and medium-bodied. There
seems to be a touch of oatmeal in this recipe, because
of the creaminess, but it actually wasn't added into the
grain bill.

Overall Impression: (8/10)
This Surly offering was very good, but definitely not
exceptional. I didn't pick up the smoked Bamburg
malts until the beer really warmed up and didn't pick
up any oak notes at all.

TOTAL: 41.5/50

mnbrewery, Dec 28, 2009
Photo of WeisGuy
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%

On-tap at Buster's on 28th. Stopped in just hoping to catch some Furious (which we did) and/or Bender, but found this gem on tap.

a - pours a deep brown a shade lighter than black, one-finger medium brown head, good retention and lacing

s - burnt malt and smokey aromas dominate, some bitter chocolate and earthiness/woodiness, bacon/ham notes as well, light booziness

t - big hardwood smoke and dark chocolate flavors up front, mild sweetness mixed with a slightly bitter coffee flavor on the mid-palate, more smokiness and slight smoked bacon flavors on the finish, alcohol is there but I wouldn't guess it's 9.5% abv

m - medium-bodied, perhaps slightly thin for the style, moderate carbonation, well-balanced finish, some alcohol warming

d - fairly drinkable for the style, the alcohol is pretty well masked and it's not too harsh on the palate, flavors are pretty complex and interesting

Very good beer overall and a distinct example of the style in that I didn't get the typical black patent malt flavors that are typically found in Baltic Porters. Yet more evidence that Surly is among the elite breweries in the world.

WeisGuy, Dec 28, 2009
Photo of nkersten
4.22/5  rDev +3.2%

A- Pours a very dark brown, near black with little to no head. A small tan ring sits around the edge of the glass.
S- Dark roasty oak aroma with some oak. A bit of alcohol is present in the smell as well.
T- Charred oak, smokey malt and some slight alcohol in the aftertaste. A slight hint of hop bitterness to balance things out a little.
M- A very light body for such a dark beer. Little carbonation and a clean finish, dry, not a lot of sweetness.
D- For such a strong beer this is quite drinkable. I have become a fan of baltic porters recently, and while there are others that I like more, I would definitley get this one again if I saw it around.

nkersten, Dec 21, 2009
Photo of mdawson
4.43/5  rDev +8.3%

On tap @ brewery pour room.

A - Black; difficult to judge clarity in low light. Thin beige head w/ subpar staying power.

S- Very well-integrated nose of roast malt and campfire woodsmoke. Sweet malt, Underlying spice and earth from hops.

T - Tar, espresso ristretto, more woodsmoke giving way to a mouth-filling malt middle, hops and roast malt in the finish. Lingering smoke, never overstated. The alcohol is well hidden.

M - Full, thick; malt covers the astringency of the smoked and roasted grains. Moderate CO2.

D - The Rauchmalz, if that's what they used, is well balanced with the other ingredients. This isn't a subtle beer, but it is quite harmonious ... and drinkable.

mdawson, Dec 13, 2009
Photo of millah
4.35/5  rDev +6.4%

Had this twice in the past couple of weeks on tap, once at the release party and this evening at Grumpy's in NE Mpls. Poured black, very little head which dissipated fairly quickly. Slight smell of smoke and maltiness -- I had expected more but with little head and carbonation, to be expected I suppose. The smoke balanced nicely with a subtle bittersweetness. Somewhere between medium and full-bodied. The balance and creamy texture made this very easy to drink although I don't know that I'd session it. Love to see this in bottles or cans next year!

millah, Dec 10, 2009
Photo of kbutler1
4.6/5  rDev +12.5%

Had this at the release party at Brasa's on 11/30/09. Was poured from tap into a 10oz glass. Little to no head was a little bit of a dissappointment, not sure if that was caused by the pour or if it is just that way. Needless to say, the lack of head hindered the aroma of the beer a little. Smelled of slight smoke and a subtle sweetness. What a taste though! Very smooth with a slight smoke taste that ends with a subtle sweetness, just like the smell I guess. Very drinkable! With a name like Smoke, I was expecting a Smoked Porter taste but was pleasantly surprised. This is an extremely good beer. Love to see it in bottle or can...

kbutler1, Dec 01, 2009
Photo of mothman
3.93/5  rDev -3.9%

Had this on tap, obviously.

Color is a dark, dark brown. Very close to black. Very dark, but if you look down the top of the beer it appears to be somewhat clear. Pours a slight tanned head.

Aroma: not that smokey but it's there. Caramel, chocolate, very malty. A little bit of booze as well. Not to bad for a smoked beer.

Taste: Ok, here is the smoke, but it works in this beer. It is blended very well and I like it. This is very malty. Some fresh hops, caramel, chocolate, and some booze as well.

Mouthfeel: Well carbonated. Full bodied. Very creamy. A lot of booze shines through. Leaves the slightest smokey and malty aftertaste.

Overall, I was a little worried that the smoke was going to be to much for me. But Surly really blended this well. Very drinkable to me, considering smokes aren't my favorite. If you get a chance, give this beer a try.

mothman, Jun 29, 2009
Photo of supercolter
4.3/5  rDev +5.1%

Very interesting brew- one of the few smoke beers that I have liked. Appearance is very good. Lots of head, dark in color and nice cascading. Smell is pretty good but almost all smoke. Some roasted nut and bitter chocolate. Taste is a bit more complex, a lot of smoke but more of the malt comes through here. Some sweetness like caramel as well. Nice and thick mouthfeel. Drinkability is pretty good as well.

supercolter, Mar 21, 2009
Smoke from Surly Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 721 ratings.