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Hell - Surly Brewing Company


Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

696 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 696
Reviews: 284
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 11.2%

Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Munich Helles Lager |  5.10% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Not unlike a Zwickel Bier from Germany, Hell is not filtered and fermented with lager yeast. American hops takes a back seat to the Pils malt sweetness and fresh bread aroma. The color is well... hell (Deutsch for light). It's fiendishly drinkable, and you don't have to sell your soul to get another.

(Beer added by: feloniousmonk on 08-26-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 696 | Reviews: 284 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of mfnmbvp


4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

16 fl oz. can, with canned on 10/18/2013 printed on the bottom of the can.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter.

A - Pours a nicely hazed golden lemon colored body with lots of dark flecks of sediment floating around. Two fingers of fluffy fizzy white head that thins to a ring rather quick. Looks very nice for the style.

S - Smell is of bready honeyed malt, lemongrass, fruity citrus / melon rind, grain / wheat, and lots of fresh florals.

T - Bready grainy pilsner malt is most apparent, some honeyed sweetness, and very lightly integrated citric / floral hop presence. Crisp, clean, fresh tasting grain / wheat presence. Fairly simple, but it hits it's mark for sure. Supremely smooth and easy drinking.

M - Smooth and creamy, lightly sticky / bitter on the palate, with good high carbonation befitting of the style. Light, creamy, sort of texture to it.

Overall, it is a fairly tame beer but it is an extremely well executed example of the style. I'm not quite sure what it is, but Surly has concocted one hell of a drinkable lager. Definitely one of the best beers in the style that I've had. Do seek out, do drink again.

Surly Hell ---4/5.

Serving type: bottle

03-16-2014 01:27:47 | More by mfnmbvp
Photo of chanokokoro


4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 16 oz. can into a willibecker glass

Pours a hazy straw gold capped by a bright white head, great retention. Plenty of grain and yeast on the nose. Bready lager yeast and herbal hops upfront, very light fruit accent. Finishes with bread crust and light honey notes. Light and crisp body, fairly smooth. Lively carbonation. Wonderful zwickel, very drinkable and a great pairing with almost anything.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2013 22:21:46 | More by chanokokoro
Photo of jreindl


3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a pale yellow into an Imperial pint with about an inch of soft white head, moderate lacing. Smells very bready and sweet, with a hint of spice and citrus hops. Taste is very clean, predominantly bready/crackers with subtle notes of spicy noble hops and citrus. Finishes dry, very little linger. Light mouthfeel, very clean with a fair amount of carbonation. Very drinkable. This is an excellent lager, although I tend to prefer ales. An excellent sessionable brew, very clean and easy drinking, plenty of flavor but light enough to have a few and not feel filled up.

Serving type: bottle

07-28-2013 10:54:30 | More by jreindl
Photo of RoamingGnome


3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to ncketchum for scooping up some Surly for me to try.

Poured this from the 16 oz can into Cheers drinking mug. Served chilled...

A) Light golden brew with a finger of white foam, which settles quickly, light lacing.

S) Quite floral, a little sweetness, grassy with light citrus zest.

T) Light malt/bready sweetness bumping up against pleasurable grassy/floral hops, along with light fruit that was kind of apple/pear.

M) Lighter medium body with moderate carbonation which works well. This one is crisp and refreshing. Grassy slightly zesty aftertaste.

O) Nice Lager right here... Certainly enough flavor and body to separate itself from the run of the mill offerings. Glad to recommend...

Serving type: bottle

09-29-2012 00:50:51 | More by RoamingGnome
Photo of VncentLIFE

North Carolina

3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks heatwave33!

This looks like a good beer. Slightly hazy goldenrod body. Thick small white head.

Smells insanely sweet and smooth. Corn in there for sure, but its smells syrupy. Almost wheat like in its crispness.

Very light and crisp, kind of like a wheat lager. Sweetness isnt too much. Its definitely sweet, but its crisp enough not to make it syrupy. Maybe its the style, but its so light and smooth, yet finishes clean with just a hint of grassy sweetness.

Serving type: bottle

07-12-2012 18:10:23 | More by VncentLIFE
Photo of Klym


3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a surly nonic. Special thanks to expedition for both the beer and the glassware!

A: Against the light this thing is an ethereal, yellow-tinted murky white. A small, barely 1 finger head comes off with a normal pour and crackles like cheap shampoo but dies off quickly.

S: Pilsner malt smells with leaves, orange rind, and a tad of roasted wheat.

T: Comes in lightly and builds up much of the nose with added floral notes, pollen, and a touch of honey. Well-rounded, earthy, and tasty for a lager.

M: Not sure if it's the journey the can has made but not much carbonation in the body. Luckily the body is pretty thick and it still drinks quite smoothly with a little bit of stickyness in the finish.

O: A really enjoyable lager, but still a lager no less for those curious. Very glad to have tried this offering from Surly.

Serving type: bottle

08-13-2011 03:13:31 | More by Klym
Photo of crossovert


3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml can.

It pours a nice golden color with a foamy white head. This is actually one of the best looking American-made helles beers I have seen.

The smell is a downer. They don't seem to be using German hops. It is okay in the smell.

The flavor again isn't that much in a normal Helles territory. It is a bit sweet for the style and the hop flavors are a bit off.

For an American brewery trying to squirm out a Helles lager it is a better attempt than most but American brewers have a lot to learn if they want to make a quality Helles.

Serving type: bottle

08-13-2011 01:23:03 | More by crossovert
Photo of lawlerj


3.55/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at Mackenzie's in Minneapolis.

A - pours a tranlucent golden color w/ an off white head. Not much head retention.

S - malt and fruit, not much hop character that I can detect on the nose.

T - grains and malt mixed with a bit of citrucy/fruity punch, but not overly sweet, which I like.

M - light to medium bodied, not overly carbonated. Nice and easy drinking.

O - overall a nice easy drinking summer type beer. Tastes very good and I'll have to try this again.

Serving type: bottle

07-23-2011 17:11:26 | More by lawlerj
Photo of bound4er


4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A. Whitest of white two finger head sits nicely over a straw to light golden colored liquid.

S. Bready grains with some earthy spiciness. Lagers never seem to shine in the aroma department and this beer is no exception.

T. Straightforward taste profile with mixed grains playing a prominent role. A kiss of hops on the finish provides a nice counterpoint to the malt. Finishes very clean and crisp.

M. Light to medium bodied with ample carbonation.

D. Excellent drinkability - this beer seems to disappear quickly. It's light enough to offer good sessionability with just enough complexity to keep my interest. Well crafted and worth seeking out.

Serving type: bottle

08-15-2010 21:50:33 | More by bound4er
Photo of alcstradamus


4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared by brdc. Thanks. Reviewed from notes.

Pours a crystal clear yellow color with a finger of head. Aroma a nice light corn maltiness. Very clean and appetizing. The flavor follows suit, with a clean corn and biscuit maltiness dominating. None of the mustiness that I often find comes with this type of flavor profile. The body is medium and the carbonation is nice and soft. The drinkability is high in terms of volume but average in terms of desire simply because it is not an exciting style. Overall a very solid example of the style, and a blueprint session beer.

Serving type: bottle

03-28-2010 20:53:13 | More by alcstradamus
Photo of br3wmeister


3.7/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a bright gold light copper color with a large fluffy white head. The head retention is moderate with some nice lacing. The beer smells of caramel, honey and nice citrusy orange hops. Good malt hop balance crisp and fresh smelling. This beer drinks really easy with a nice carbonation and great balance. Smooth on the tongue with a light hop bite. Caramel, light roasted malt, hind of honey and roasted nuts. Fairly dry finish with lingering bitterness from the hops. I really like the beer and could see myself drinking it often in the summer.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2009 21:22:52 | More by br3wmeister
Photo of mdwalsh


3.75/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a pretty good head of just about ivory white. Big bubbles mostly. The beer is very clear, not the cloudy hazy I would expect from a keller or zwickel, especially one that says it's unfiltered right on the can. Still very light and nice color. But the head is gone already, and left only a little lace.

S: Pils and pale malt, maybe a little Vienna/Munich in there as well, but just the malt. No hops. It almost smells a little...damp I guess is the word I'm looking for. But it's a clean, clear cut lager smell.

T: The taste is a little fruity, actually, but also bready and grainy and full of that pils malt. But it's not a clean taste, and doesn't seem to have gained anything from open fermentation. This really isn't anything to write home about in my opinion, but I guess is sort of to style. I guess I'm just not impressed, I expected something more from Surly.

M: A good weight, smooth on the tongue, but then bitter on the swallow. An interesting transition there.

D: Great, like a standard Euro Lager really, which is good I suppose, but at the same time not.

Serving type: bottle

09-23-2009 02:24:41 | More by mdwalsh
Photo of mothman

United Kingdom (Wales)

4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into Pint Glass.

Pours a nice creamy slight off white 2 finger head that has great retention leaving amazing lace rings. Color is a clear golden straw yellow.

Aroma: Wow, for a light lager this packs a lot of flavor. A lot of herb flavors with a nice hop profile. Some grain as well. Not bad at all.

Taste: The herb taste is so great. Mixed with earthy hops. Grain, a lot like the aroma. This light lager packs a lot of flavor.

Mouthfeel: A little crisp from the carbonation and a little smooth as well. Light bodied. Ends with a very herb flavored slight dry aftertaste.

Overall, probably the best light beer I have ever had. It has so much flavor for such a light beer. Very drinkable. I will have not problem with my can. I highly recommend this if you don't like light lagers, because I don't and I love this one.

Serving type: bottle

09-18-2009 03:33:59 | More by mothman
Photo of JohnGalt1


4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Can given to me by ditmier over the weekend.... Thanks Eric!! Very generous... Poured into my small weizen glass.

1" foamy eggshell white head.... the brew is crystal clear straw golden... good retention and a very nice lace as the can drains.

Nose is a grainy pils malt... very very clean.. lite floral hoppiness is there just as a reminder...

Flavor is great... lite bitterness and right into the clean malts... very smooth and drinkability is off the charts.. body is par for the course, but looking at this beer and you would think the mouthfeel is gonna be more prickly... instead it is very smooth and just makes me want another sip.

I've never been able to tell the difference between a Helles and a Kellerbier... but I would call this a Helles if I had to pick... that said, if this was available locally, I would buy it again and again during the summer... and I would slap myself in the hand anytime I ever reached for PBR again.

Serving type: bottle

09-14-2009 06:30:02 | More by JohnGalt1
Photo of BDLbrewster


4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Pours a bright hue of amber with sunbeam highlights. Moderate size frothy head that recedes leaving little bits of residual lacing. Crystal clear for being unfiltered.

The smell is the most reserved of any Surly I have had, but very lively for the style. The first thing I get is the fruity backbone that makes up much of the smell. It's either the pils malt used or the hops contained in this very fresh can. Gummy candies right away, this fades revealing a subtle toasty aroma.

The forefront of the flavor is dominated by a strong push of bready, earthy pils malt. Heavily flavored (American) Zwickel, good, good. The hops eventually catch up to the malt providing a fruity, barely discernible citrus twinge. If I had to name the flavor, I would call it lemony. Very smooth with almost no bitterness in the finish, also a very pleasing aftertaste.

The mouth feel is pretty consistent with the style, maybe even a tad heavier than expected. Medium to low carbonation and nice and slippery on the tongue.

Stellar drinkability, very rounded brew. It sucks that it will only be available for a week or two. I could drink this on the daily.

Serving type: bottle

08-28-2009 20:44:14 | More by BDLbrewster
Photo of jjanega08


3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A= pours a translucent yellow color slightly darker than your average american macro lager with a large billowing white head that falls fast and just sits on the top of the beer in a very thin sheet.
S= lots of grainy malt in it. There's also a hop front on it. Sort of a stinky german smell too. I enjoy the odor just for the odd stink that it has.
T= really sort of plain for a beer from surly. Clean as hell. It says the hops take the back seat on the can which I don't find to be true. I think the hops over throw the sweet grain while the sweet grain is still present. Not bad but not amazing either.
M= low carbonation and smooth finish.
D= very high. This is a surly beer for everyone. Really nothing special about it and sort of rediculous due to the hype that surrounded the release. I would prolly not buy it again if it came out regularly just because its so plain for the price. Still a good beer though.

Serving type: bottle

08-25-2009 18:15:13 | More by jjanega08
Photo of KFBR392


4.4/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Canned 11/25/13

Appearance: Pours with a finger of bubbly head. Settled in to a thin layer across the top and was present while drinking. Sticky random lacing left behind at each level. The color is a straw yellow/golden color. Active carbonation, in line with many other lagers.

Smell: Grassy hop character with some mild tropical fruit hop tones jump out right away. Cloves and buttery yeast character form an impressive body. Flowery, airy character rounds out the aroma.

Taste: Rounded yeast character gentle warms its way on to the palate. Prairie grass and some fruity hops jump out on the body. Lingering light hop bitterness meshes well with the pilsner malt dryness on the back end.

Mouthfeel: So wonderfully clean and crisp on the palate yet provides an extra layer of hop tones which takes this brew to the next level. Carbonation is perfect.

Overall: A masterfully executed brew and has single handedly rejuvenated my love for lagers. Great lagers seem to be few and hard between in the American craft seen, but this one is a must try.

Serving type: can

03-30-2014 19:05:03 | More by KFBR392
Photo of BeerDazed


3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. can poured into Pilsner

Golden straw color with a small, white, head.

Slightly sweet aroma; very crisp.

Light, refreshing, body and feel. Great beer for the summer when in MN at one of the world's largest soccer tournaments.

Looking forward to some Furious and Bender the next time around.

Serving type: can

03-02-2014 16:47:04 | More by BeerDazed
Photo of barnzy78


3.51/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16oz can, canned on 11/10/13
L - golden, slight particulate haze, creamy white head
S - Pilsner malt, biscuit, grain, grass, yeast
T - biscuit, Pilsner malt, grass, faint fruit, crisp clean finish
F - lighter body, moderate carbonation
O - good easy drinking refreshing lager, but I prefer an authentic German Munich Helles, especially at this price point ($10.99 for 4 cans).

Serving type: can

02-01-2014 00:22:22 | More by barnzy78
Photo of Omnium


4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Can > Pint Glass

A - Clear yellow straw color with a finger of fizzy white head, no lacing.
S - Lager yeast, grains, some sweet bready malt
T - Best helles lager I've had I think light lemon zest, fresh bread malt, grassy hops, sweet grains, but not overly sweet at all.
M - Clean smooth refreshing.
O - Super drinkable, I could drink this all the time.

Serving type: can

01-26-2014 01:12:20 | More by Omnium
Photo of smakawhat


3.56/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the can into a pilsner style glass. Canned November 25th 2013.

Slightly hazy, with mostly clear appearance and a light brass and faint greenish tinge color to the body. Nice simple pin head rising carbonation that goes slowly, with a nice bleach white head, about two fingers and settles to a nice puck.

Nice hints of dough like malt, pretty clean a hint of dirt like earth hop it seems unexpectedly, a bit subtle but pleasant.

Palate comes with a very light body and palate. Nearly watery but with a sticky yeast and faint sourness tinge. Not much bread like malt action, but some pops out. The light body pulls a very large crispness off of it, but without a large expected hinting dryness.

A very different Helles, missing lots of the bakery malt action, and almost comes off as a crisp Czech like pilsner with more yeast like punch.

Serving type: can

01-18-2014 19:15:53 | More by smakawhat
Photo of StonedTrippin


3.81/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

a very good lager from surly, pale and bright in color with a dish soap frothy looking head, but this may be best consumed right from the can. nose of german pilsener malts and light vegetal hops, more czech in aroma than german or american, but its tough to tell through the cereal heavy smell of it all. tough to pick out lager yeast too, as even in taste this is not as clean as more traditional versions. bready pils malt up front in taste, dense and hearty yet i find this impossibly easy to drink. hops just bitter, very little real flavor coming from them, but their contribution is critical. i almost get some oats or something slightly sweeter and fuller bodied here. the body on this is large and the carbonation gives it a pillowy mouthfeel not usually associated with this style. it really makes it for me, luxurious and creamy are not lager words, so props to surly for making that association for the first time for me. not their most epic work, but a darn good daily drink here.

Serving type: can

01-14-2014 16:34:12 | More by StonedTrippin
Photo of vette2006c5r


3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hell pours a golden straw color with a small head. There is a slightly stale, and very sweet aroma; very crisp. The taste is on the lighter side, a nice sweetness, crisp light malt flavors; very refreshing. Nice feel, good carbonation, but lighter flavor. Overall its a very refreshing, and tasty beer, would be great for the summer.

Serving type: can

01-11-2014 01:58:44 | More by vette2006c5r
Photo of paladinjoe


4.78/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I know I'm in the minority when I say this, but this is my overall favorite Surly Beer. The taste is full, without being overpowering. The after taste has what they call a bread like flavor, and to me it goes well with anything from Pizza, to Steak, an absolute winner!! This is a Beer I could have everyday. If only Surly could bring the price down a buck or so.

Serving type: can

01-05-2014 18:57:37 | More by paladinjoe
Photo of magictacosinus


3.74/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Hooray, yet another lager from one of my favorites! I always love a good craft lager. Sent to me by amerak. Poured out of a 16oz can into a pokal glass. Canning date is listed as "09/17/13."

Pours a good example of the style - yellow straw, with a frothy white head that rises in a foamy manner that eventually dissipates into a ring, leaving behind some stickiness. Contains a ton of carbonation, with bubbles aggressively rising upwards at first, followed by smaller scattered lines that kept rising no matter how long I let this sit about. Not sure what's up with the head, but we'll leave it at that for now.

Unlike other Surly offerings, where a hop dankness is immediately present, this provides, perhaps, the exact opposite of an experience. Wet, crisp grains, cereal, and toffee make up the predominant flavor, with a little bit of lemon zest and grass following afterwards. Very mild stuff, to be honest. Contains some notes of white grapes and stone fruit (maybe melons as well), but I can barely tell. Still, it's what I expect from the style, for better or for worse.

The flavor follows the exact path of the aroma, with mild bitterness, stronger emphasis towards the malts, and a crisp clean finish. With a quick barrage of toffee and cane sugar at the front, any sweetness is subdued with a bit of the crackly, toasted cereal grain notes, some wet, cracker-like texture, hop zest, and a little bit of indistinguishable fruitiness (I want to go towards apples, but I'd probably be making stuff up). Nothing too complex, as it finishes extremely clean and wet, with minimal astringency and dryness, but it's undeniably refreshing. This goes down like air! It does get even more malty as it warms up, but that provides a flavor profile that is still unique as far as an American take on this style goes.

Whether or not this is a tribute to helles lager or a Dortmunder, it's very curious to see more "definitive" American breweries (known for fruity, intense hop profiles and the classic 2-row caramel malt flavor) brewing THESE kinds of lagers when they are switching up their game from brewing ales. I tend to prefer lagers that are a bit more balanced, with an emphasis on the classic toffee malt/spicy and grassy hop profile, but I suppose this is a good change of pace for the brewery. This isn't a style that always leads to great things, and in this case, nothing is wrong with it. I'd love to have it fresh on tap someday, however, as I feel many of nuances that seem lost in this can would be far more present.

Serving type: can

12-19-2013 00:23:45 | More by magictacosinus
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Hell from Surly Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 696 ratings.