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Smoke - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

280 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 280
Hads: 853
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 4.31%
Wants: 331
Gots: 281 | FT: 18
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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Reviews: 280 | Hads: 853
Photo of womencantsail
3.97/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks for sharing this one, Chris. But boo to Surly for making some of the most impenetrable wax I've ever come across.

A: The pour is pretty much black with a very small mocha colored head.

S: The roasted malts are really the first thing to hit me, but the smoke is not too far behind. There seems to be a bit of a lactose or vanilla thing going on, too. Some nice chocolate aroma is also present.

T: Lots and lots of roasted malts here. A good chocolate and coffee flavor along with just a bit of bitterness. The smoke is quite pronounced as you might expect.

M: The body is medium with quite a low level of carbonation.

D: Despite being pretty smokey, I actually thought this was good and had enough other flavors going on. (732 characters)

Photo of mnbrewery
3.97/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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 (985 characters)

Photo of mobius387
3.96/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 vintage

poured into a deschutes tulip

appearance: coal black pour with a thin chocolate head.

aroma: very light nose, was expecting more out of a smoked brew. get some hints of charred wood and a malty sweet undertone

palate: big body, flavor fills the mouth. i can hardly notice the 8%

taste: very robust and very good. i get the smoke flavor the most, then some hints of woody and nutty-ness as well as the chocolate/malty base.

overall: another great brew by surly. i can see why this one is less hyped than some others like abrasive because its just not quite a top tier beer, but who cares it still tastes great. could use some more smokey nose, but most important part is that this tastes great!

im looking forward to seeing how this ages over a year or two. a complex beer like this should change a lot! (822 characters)

Photo of Urbancaver
3.96/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice dark brown. Vry thick but still clear on the edges. Smells potently of smoke. Incredibly smoky... Wow. Tastes sweet and malty off the get go. Tons and tons of smoke on the back. Vry nicely potent. Not so much that it's unbearable. Solid mouthfeel and pretty interesting overall (290 characters)

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.95/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Acquired from brewerburgundy courtesy of BA Secret Santa 2011. Poured from a 750ml bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a thin light brown head that fades slowly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains smoked malts, chocolate, some dark fruit, some coffee and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out bitter-sweet flavors of dark chocolate and black coffee that are quickly followed by a hearty roasted malt character and a good amount of smokiness. There’s also some background flavor of dark fruit. The hops presence is mild but complementary and provides a good balance. The after-taste is smoky and bitter-sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is dry and slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, this is a very good smoked beer to drink for a long time. (919 characters)

Photo of zrab11
3.95/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Poured into a Homemade bacon mug, It pours a ashy black color with a small head that dissipates quickly

S- Has a smokey flavor up front which i would expect then followed by some chocolate and malts.

T- HAs a smokey flavor up front but a more subdued smokiness than others I've tried. Then it is followed by a nice chocolate sweetness and then ends like a sorta oaky finish

M-Medium to light bodied with decent carbonation

D-Overall this beer was good.. ME and my friend made homemade bacon mugs so i think that might of distracted me a little and gave the beer a little more of a cured meat flavor but i think it might have also made it taste a little better. But in my notes i tried to taste it and ignore the bacon. Overall i thought this was a nice baltic porter. Had just enough smokiness but didn't overpower it. Def. give this a try if you can.. I wouldn't pick this up right away if i saw it again but then again i might. (936 characters)

Photo of stxSS07
3.95/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber into a tulip. 2010 vintage.

A- Pours black with a finger of khaki head that dissipates to a thin cap. Leaves decent lacing.

S- Campfire, ash, smoked bacon?, maybe some dry bittersweet chocolate. That's about it, but the beer's name is "Smoke".

T- Follows the nose with campfire and ash. Definitely pick up more sweetness/chocolate and some roasted malts on the back end as it warms. Pretty tasty.

M- Medium-light. Probably the thinnest Baltic porter I've had.

O- I'm a big Baltic porter fan so I've had this on my list for a while, but since I'm not a rauchbier guy I was a bit hesitant. I think this brew does a good job showcasing smoked malts while still leaving a bit of flavor to be discovered. Not sure how it intense it is fresh, but at a little over a year it seems perfect for me. (806 characters)

Photo of BretSikkink
3.95/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Chocolate colored lager with a nice mocha head. Very little ruby lighting. Good looking dark beer. The nose is subtly smoky when compared to a full-on rauchbier. The barbecue note is quite noticeable, with pleasant porter notes of roasted barley and peppercorn.

I'm guessing this base porter was pretty dope itself. Anise jumps into the roasted mix, along with ample dark fruiting and carob. The smoke is woody, and lightly sweet.

Body is a little thinnish, with the carbonation coming on a little strong up front and finishing too light. The roasted, smoky notes linger too long for the next drinkability score. Thanks to the sis for this birthday present; looking forward to next year's Surly! (699 characters)

Photo of Florida9
3.95/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 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. (803 characters)

Photo of Bitterbill
3.94/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Purchased from France44.

A pitch black pour with about a 2 finger head of foam.

It smells very roasty with some smoke, malty.

It taste of roasted malt, lots more smoke here than in the smell, solid semi sweet malt presence. Very dry finish. Delicious.

Medium bodied, same for the carbonation, very good mouthfeel.

A pretty strong brew though right for the style....the alcohol, imho, is hidden pretty well. A very good beer. (429 characters)

Photo of Nugganooch
3.93/5  rDev -6%

750ml wax capped bottle – split into a couple tumblers
Notes taken on 07/26/2014 – Big thanks to Allen once again!

A: Dark brown coffee bean color that settles closer to black in the glass. Thick creamy taupe colored suds forms over top and holds for a few good moments. Some light sticky cling remains to the glass after each sip.

S: The nose is very chocolaty with dark roast malts in abundance. I get some dark caramel sweetness with a mild dark fruit presence and a touch of earthiness too. Finishes out with a faint but easily distinguishable smoked malt character. Gives off a light campfire aroma. Nice but strangely this is not nearly as smoky as I was anticipating.

T: Dark roasted malt with dark caramel, coffee, and chocolate notes meld into an earthy green hop bitterness midway. The finish delivers a few whispers of beach wood smoke however it is fairly tame with no harsh charcoal or ashy presence. This is a really nice Black Lager but I am kind of missing the Smoke here. Not really complaining since the balance and flavor is great. Alcohol is well incorporated into the other flavors as well. Just not the aggressive smoke bomb I was expecting this to be at all.

M: Moderate heft in body with great frothy cream like texture and a nice drying lift at the finish. Touch of hop bitterness however void of any harsh astringency which is nice.

D: I found this to be a very tasty Dark Lager and would definitely have again. Extremely subtle use of the smoked malts here however. Actually had me wanting for more intensity. I mean why else would you wax the bottle. For those who may have shied away from this one should not fear the Smoke. (1,690 characters)

Photo of thagr81us
3.92/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to largadeer for sharing this one after the Bruery RS Post-Party. Served from bottle into a Bruery sampler imperial pint. Poured pitch black with a very minimal slight tan head. There was no lacing evident throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, slight roasted malt, and smoke. The flavor was of sweet malt, smoke, caramel, and chipotle. It had a medium feel on the palate with no carbonation to speak of. Overall this was a pretty good brew. MASSIVE smoke going on here (as would be suggested by the name). Even with this fact, it was still pretty nicely balanced. This is a must try if you get an opportunity. (643 characters)

Photo of titosupertramp
3.92/5  rDev -6.2%
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. (651 characters)

Photo of mothman
3.92/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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. (861 characters)

Photo of brewskifan55
3.92/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter; Thanks, Cliff!

A: Blackish brown with a light head that dissipates quickly. Modest lacing.

S: Chocolate, smoky, anise, coffee.

T: A nice lager/smoke blend. Robust. Chocolate and coffee come through in equal proportion. Slight bitter finish.

M: Medium with medium carbonation. Semi-chewy.

O: An interesting combo of lager and stout. An all-day sipper. (379 characters)

Photo of yamar68
3.91/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 750 to Surly coffee mug, 2011 vintage:

Pours a near pitch black with two fingers of light brown head that lasts a few minutes before receding to a collar that produces some average lacing.

Still a shit load of smoke on the nose. Not nearly is faded as I'd imagined. A bit of dark fruit and woody character as well.

While the nose is still pretty beefy, the smoke has faded considerably on the tongue which is what I was hoping for. various brown ale qualities have surfaced to balance out the aggressive barbecue profile.

Overall, an extremely unique beer. Not my favorite beer from Surly but it definitely showcases their creative potential. (658 characters)

Photo of DavoleBomb
3.91/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass. Big thanks to kbutler1 for this one.

3.0 A: Pitch black color. One finger of frothy tan head dies down as if it were a Coca-Cola and leaves no lacing. I've never seen anything quite like this.

4.5 S: Really nice. Smoke is probably the most notable aroma, but it isn't dominating. Rather, I'm picking up toasted malt and a slight burntness.

4.0 T: Toasty and roasty, the base porter is tasty. A touch of dark crystal sweetness comes through. The smoke, unfortunately, is very soft. I wish it were five times stronger.

3.5 M: Lighter body and perhaps too thin. Carbonation is also a little low, or perhaps it stays in solution too well. Other than that, smooth with a smoky finish.

3.5 D: Good beer, but a lot of room to improve. The base recipe is solid, but a higher mash temp and some flaked barley or wheat could do wonders. (858 characters)

Photo of jrallen34
3.9/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

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. (778 characters)

Photo of gatornation
3.88/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on tap @ buster 10 oz pour

A-pours murky dark brown color with an ash grey head nice lacing on glass

S- was smoked malts,meats,baked bread

T- was a great balance of smoked malts , with meat and chocolate

M- very smooth lager like creaminess with porter tastes smoke is ever present but does not over power the brew

O- tasty smokey porter (343 characters)

Photo of BeardedBoffin
3.88/5  rDev -7.2%
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. (636 characters)

Photo of PittBeerGirl
3.88/5  rDev -7.2%
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. (760 characters)

Photo of brewdoc75
3.88/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Cafe 28.

A: Served to me in a Surly Darkness snifter. Dark black color with brown hues as the light shines through. There is a slight brown tinged head that dwindles fairly quickly.

S: Definitely smoky, but not too much. Actually less smoke than I expected and more roasted grains. It smells more like a foreign export stout than a smoke beer. There is definitely some smoke there to let it live up to the name.

T: Smoky flavors predominate, but not overwhelming. There is a nice chocolate and roasted grain flavor as well. Not as "burnt" tasting as some smoke beers. There are some caramel-toffee flavors as well. Not a lot of hops, but this fits this beer well.

M: Medium to full bodied mouthfeel. More crisp than creamy.

D: Overall, a pretty solid beer. I'm not a big fan of smoked things and I actually liked this beer. I think it is well balanced in regards to the smoky flavors. It really fit well with my adobo pork dish. I'd try this again with certain foods, but probably not on its own. I'll search for it when I have another adobo dish or if I have something in the way of a bacon cheddar burger. I'd recommend giving this one a whirl. (1,161 characters)

Photo of falloutsnow
3.88/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

From: France44 dot com
Date: 2012 edition (available in 2013)
Glass: Founders snifter

Surly's Smoke was a good baltic porter, definitely taking the smoke-caramel-raisin flavors as the main inspiration and dropping most of the roasted malt and cocoa elements in some other versions of the style. While I enjoyed the beer and certainly would not hesitate to have another, I don't think I'd go out of my way to purchase this fairly expensive ($14) 750ml bottle again, as I can find nearly the same flavors in the darker Aecht Schlenkerla offerings.

Pours a 1cm tall head of grey-beige-colored foam, made up of small and large-sized bubbles. Retention is average, the foam lasting about one minute in decline to a thin ring around the perimeter of the glass and a small island of filmm drifting atop the beer. Lacing is minor, with a few small dots and lines clinging to the glass' walls. Body is a dark brown to black color, with light bringing out slight burnt orange hues around the perimeter of the beer. Carbonation visible along the sides of the glass as the body is opaque, fairly low in number and activity.

Aroma of smoke that is substantially mellowed by oak aging, with attendant scents of raisins, dark caramel-like sweetness, and faint charred toast and cocoa.

Front of palate experiences dark caramel sweetness with notable smoke and a bit of charred toast. Mid-palate of smoke atop a heavy and dark caramel sweetness, raisins, prunes, and modest cocoa. Back of palate tastes diminished smoke, increased charred toast and cocoa, raisins, prunes, and a bit of anise and ethanol. Aftertaste of dark caramel-like sweetness, charred toast, lingering light smokiness, raisins, and ethanol.

Beer is medium to medium-heavy in body with carbonation of medium-low to low intensity, resulting in a smooth (4/5), somewhat foamy (1/5) mouthfeel that makes it easy to sip this fairly substantial beer, as it should be. Ethanol can be felt as a light burn on the back of the throat and a little heat in the nostrils, a bit disappointing for an 8% lager beer. Closes dry, with medium to medium-light stickiness clinging to the palate. (2,134 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.87/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

"We cross our bridges when we come to them, and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered."

--Tom Stoppard

Awesome label. Ridiculously tenacious wax. Charred coffee bean brown with superslim edges of ruby and burnt orange. The khaki colored crown is fizzilicious and featureless, but still manages to hang around for minutes after the pour. The glass is spotless.

The amount of smoke in the nose is just right. It doesn't dominate to the extent that it covers up the base beer, nor is it shoved so far into the background that it's merely an afterthought. So far, slightly more rauchbier than Baltic porter.

Even though Surly Smoke has seen better (read: fresher) days, it's still a humdinger of a lager that explodes on the palate with each upending of the glass. If the body/mouthfeel didn't drag it down so much, the next highest taste score would have been a slam dunk. It's pretty easy to imagine what this beast would have been like right after the release.

The flavor profile is surprisingly black malty, like a smoke-saturated Imperial schwarzbier. Black licorice is prominent, along with high cacao dark chocolate, bitter black tea leaves and a few campfire's worth of sweet wood smoke. The boys at Surly don't do anything halfway.

Age has taken a massive bite out of the body, which is too damn bad. It has also played havoc with the carbonation, which is harsh and stinging early, then close to absent late, without passing through the proverbial sweet spot.

I'm glad to have had this opportunity to taste Smoke (thanks feloniousmonk), even if it's clearly not the beer that it once was. I would be even more glad to have the chance to taste it fresh and on-tap. Here's hoping that wish comes true sometime in the next several years. (1,852 characters)

Photo of zeledonia
3.86/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2011 vintage, bottled in the fall of 2011. Tasted 9 September 2012, reviewed from notes.

Pours very dark brown, almost black. As it's pouring, it looks thinner than I'd expect. About one finger of deep mocha-tan head.

Smell is like a campfire after it's burned out. Charred wood, light wispy wood-smoke. Yes, it's nice smoke, but I really can't smell anything else in it.

Taste is a lot fuller than the smell, with more coming through than just the smoke. More porter richness, and that porter is complemented well by the smoke. Feels more like partially-burned wood, rather than just the char leftovers. Here, the smoke is integrated well, rather than being the only element.

Mouthfeel is medium-heavy. Moderate carbonation.

It's called Smoke, so I expected that, but I was hoping for more, especially from the smell. A woody smoke, not meaty or salty. Want more porter, though. More richness, or more sweetness, or more of something other than smoke. An interesting beer, but not one I'll feel compelled to drink all that often. (1,036 characters)

Smoke from Surly Brewing Company
93 out of 100 based on 280 ratings.