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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)
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Ratings: 696 | Reviews: 284 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of oline73


3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had this on-tap at the Twin's stadium. Served in a big plastic cup.

Appearance: Pours a clear golden amber color with a layer of off white head. The head fades to a ring around the pour.

Smell: A mild malt sweetness with some fruity notes. Nothing particularly special.

Taste: A touch of sweet pils like malt. Mild fruit and grain. The finish reminds me of a pilsner, just a touch herbal.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with just enough carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: I don't think this beer stands out like several of Surly's other offerings. I'm glad I tried it, but I'd probably pass in the future.

Serving type: on-tap

10-06-2012 21:36:30 | More by oline73
Photo of Tucquan


4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on 2012-08-16 in Maple Grove, MN, on 2012-08-20 in Columbia, PA and on-tap on 2013-07-19 at the brewery.

A - Mostly clear straw with a 1-finger head that fades quickly and leaves little lacing.

S - Corn flakes, yeast, lightly toasted bread, touches of lemon, grape and hop floral. Not strong but inviting.

T - Sweet bready malt, apple and grape flesh, touch of lemon citrus and spice. Nice amount of bittering hops that balances in the dry aftertaste with the good tasting malt. I really like the flavor.

M - Light-medium body and medium carbonation. Smooth, crisp and refreshing.

O - A fine lager indeed. Well-worth seeking out.

Serving type: on-tap

08-20-2012 22:21:32 | More by Tucquan
Photo of ElGordo


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

Found on tap at Bailey's Taproom. Body is a bright golden color, rather still and without much head. Crisp, slightly sweet malt on the nose, with a decidedly bready character. Palate is crisp with a slight tang, I'm never sure how to describe it, but it's a telltale marker of the Helles style. Notes of light fruit, bready malt, and mildly fruity hops are present as well. Body is light and airy, although some more carbonation would not be a bad addition. A decent beer for the start of an evening in late summer, that's for sure.

Serving type: on-tap

08-10-2011 00:17:43 | More by ElGordo
Photo of BeardedBoffin

New Mexico

4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Hell on Tap. The beer arrived a dark golden-yellowish color with minimal white foam. A tad more foam could have improved the appearance. The aroma is is pale malt along with some sweet bread. A touch of earthy hops are detectable.

Lots of old-time bready sweetness on the palate mixed. The grain is surprisingly smooth as it goes down. The slightest kiss of hops at the end provides balance. I could (and did) drink this all night.

Serving type: on-tap

07-04-2011 18:06:39 | More by BeardedBoffin
Photo of mynie


3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Unfortunately this is a straight-up Helles, not a Zwickel. Not that Helles are bad; they're just not Zwickels.

This is a very well-brewed Helles. It's like and spritely but still a little sweet, a little bitter, and plenty flavorful.

Thing is, Helleses ain't the most flavorful of beers, so even a really well-made Helles ain't gonna light up the BA scoreboard. Normally this is where Surly shines--they take an old, boring style and tweak it just enough so it's still identifiably of that style but it's different, better, more adventurous.

This is just a regular ol' Helles. It's well-brewed, like I said, but you could have told me it had come from any other competent brewer and I would have believed you.

Serving type: on-tap

05-30-2011 18:06:14 | More by mynie
Photo of EwaldEichstaett


4.55/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Got a pint on tap, great looking pour. Nice color and carbonation. Foam remains on the top of the beer throughout. Foamy side of the glass when finished.

S: Malty smell a little bit like bread. There is something a bit sour about the smell as well.

T: Malts are the predominant flavor- this is a (Hell)es of course. The sour taste is present, although it is not strong or unpleasant. think it adds a bit of character to the brew. Nice bit of hop presence at the end.

M: Nice and thick feel in the mouth, decent carbonation. This is a lager beer that makes you actually feel like you are drinking something.

Supremely drinkable!

Serving type: on-tap

08-03-2010 18:10:14 | More by EwaldEichstaett
Photo of sonata2008


2.93/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Served in a 16 oz. pint glass. The color was a clear pale straw with a thin head.
S: Very faint hops, no malt aroma.
T: Not much maltiness to speak of, a slight sweetness. There is a hop bitterness and a somewhat unpleasant aftertaste.
M: Very thin mouth feel.
D: Not much at the temperature it was served at.

This is very disappointing coming from Surly. This is the second time I have had this beer, at a different location this time around, so no mistake in getting the order right. It reminded me of Japanese beer. Perhaps if it were chilled to ~34F it would be more palatable.

Serving type: on-tap

08-01-2010 01:13:26 | More by sonata2008
Photo of Thorpe429


4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Bavarian Lodge back in November 2009.

Pours a nice straw color with a bit of unfiltered haze. A nice finger-and-a-half of white head with nice legs as it retreats. Smell has a pilsner, grainy sweetness with an ever-so-slight hop presence. A bit grassy with hints of herbal earth. Taste is very similar with a tiny amount of spice thrown in there. Mouthfeel is light with a nice crispness. Very drinkable; reminds me yet again why I need to always have more Surly.

Serving type: on-tap

02-17-2010 15:53:03 | More by Thorpe429
Photo of brow1901


4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Nice slightly hazy pale straw yellow with a big white pillow of foam at the top. The head loses some of its size but sticks around for the most part. Good lacing.

S- Fresh and clean hops. Nice and simple pilsner type malt scents. Alot more hops than I antisipated.

T- Crisp and clean hop spiciness, pretty powerful actually. It doesn't overpower the beer but it is really pronounced. Nice typical lager flavors, really goes nice with the hops.

M- Light, smooth in the mouth. Leaves the mouth a little wet. Perfect beer for a hot day.

D- Very drinkable, really this should be called surly session. I really liked this beer more than I thought I would, one of the best lagers I've had.

Serving type: on-tap

10-08-2009 18:18:37 | More by brow1901
Photo of cokes


3.03/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Lightly hazed yellow bodied with traces of white lace on top.
Doughy aroma spiked with peppery hops and crushed pill astringency.
Doughy again on its onset in the mouth. Wet bready and generally bland. More bread and more wet and more bland as it rests a while with no real lagered clarity. Hops bring herbs, florals, and, especially astringency, in a smashed Tylenol sense, twisted with lemon.
Doughy, wet, fatty, and plump through the gullet with no relief from the stunted CO2.
The astringency prevents an otherwise pedestrian brew from achieving its goals. If they tried to hop it up, it failed. If they're looking for mass appeal, look again.
This just isn't very good.

Serving type: on-tap

10-06-2009 06:29:13 | More by cokes
Photo of kruse


4.43/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at my local.

Golden with a nice white head.

Lovely hop aroma with substantial fruitiness.

Good hoppy flavor, but not overpowering. Some flavor from the grain, but could have been a bit more pronounced.

Decent mouthfeel.

Overall a very drinkable and refreshing beer. Good for a summer afternoon.

Serving type: on-tap

09-23-2009 16:32:10 | More by kruse
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Arrives at the bar with a clear golden color and a modest head that leaves the occasional splash

Smell: Crisp and grainy, with a hint of tart lemon

Taste: Opens bready with a quick detour to lemony herbaciousness; after the swallow, there is a lemon pound cake aspect that combines the sweet malt with the bitter lemon flavors

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body with crisp carbonation

Drinkability: Who would have thought a light lager could pack this much flavor? Surly did.

Serving type: on-tap

09-22-2009 01:12:10 | More by brentk56
Photo of ChopperSmith


3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the tap at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis into a Surly pint glass.

Appearance: Slightly hazy deep golden, almost amber, color with a nice white foamy head that didn't last long, but left a little lacing behind.

Smell: Malty goodness with some floral hops mixed in. Slight citrus notes. Nice.

Taste: Slight sweet, but dry, floral hops flavors up front. Tasty sweet malts in the middle and a good bitterness on the tounge for the finish. Nothing overpowering, a great balance.

Mouth feel: A fair amount of carbonation but nothing that distracts from the crisp flavors. Light to medium body.

Drinkability: HELL yeah! This is a damn tasty beer with a moderate ABV and a crisp clean taste that makes it very easy to do a session with. I had a few off the tap and they went down very easily.

Serving type: on-tap

09-01-2009 23:29:59 | More by ChopperSmith
Photo of younger35


4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had a pint of this at Bavarian Lodge on Friday while enjoying some tasty ass potato pancakes. I went specifically to drink as much Coffee Bender as I could fit in my belly but thought I better start with this. Drank from a normal ol' pint glass.

Appearance- Pours a light yellowish orange with excellent clarity and a nice half finger bright white head. Lots of fizzy bubbles permeate throughout maintaining a nice cap and collar that leave some spotty lacing.
Smell- Has a very light grainy sweetness that seems par for the course. Very light floral aspect and soft fruity peach skin. Pretty much exactly what you'd expect a light lager to smell like, inoffensive and fairly neutral.
Taste- Much like the nose it's very crisp and clean. Lightly sweet and bready with a bit of raw graininess and malty bite. The hops do come into play with a grassy start and slightly (stress, slightly) citric finish. The slight bitterness continues into the finish with a some yeasty tones.
Mouthfeel- After seeing all the bubbles fizzing throughout the beer it's surprisingly lightly carbonated. Smooth and clean and super refreshing.
Drinkability- Great! Nice easy drinking lager that does manage to not be totally lame and bland. Nice and malty with the slightest kiss of hops that I really enjoyed. It was very drinkable and could easily be sessioned for hours and hours. Without getting crucified for blasphemy, this would be an EXCELLENT beer for Sunday morning bloody beers. Tasty football beer that accompanied my potato pancakes wonderfully.

Serving type: on-tap

11-10-2008 16:13:27 | More by younger35
Photo of Pitmonkey


4.5/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Hell? Hell yes!

That is damned good beer.

Kellerbier, Munich Helles, German light lager... whatever... this is what American lagers should be like.

Mine was surprisingly clear for an unfiltered beer, no haze and no floaties but the light wasn't the best so maybe there was a light haze I wasn't able to see. It looked yellow and clear to me. Head was thin but persisted on glass as the beer went down.

Primary smell was grain.

Taste was sweet and... you got it, grain, malt yum. Smooth, finishes with hints of bitterness at the corners of the tongue. Reminds me of a legendary local lager only better.

Lightly carbonated, light, refreshing but a lot of flavor and balance.

Did it knock me over with flavor? No, but I didn't really expect it to. It was malty, balanced and refreshing. I am sad that is likely the only glass I will get but I'm glad I searched 5 places for it.

Serving type: on-tap

09-18-2008 04:54:08 | More by Pitmonkey
Photo of thathockeyguy


3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Grumpy's in Northeast Minneapolis

Appearance is a very nice hazy yellow with a thin white head.

Smell is sweet and grainy, not offensive, but not inviting either.

The taste is sweet and malty all the way through.

The mouthfeel is pleasant, good carbonation.

The drinkability of this beer is high. It is a beer that I would consider "lawnmower beer", meaning that it could be drank to quench thirst on a warm day or after a bit of vigorous activity. It is not a style of beer that I drink that often, but I will gladly recommend to fans of American lagers that are ready to try something different and more complex.

Serving type: on-tap

09-12-2008 23:19:50 | More by thathockeyguy
Photo of Duffman


4.13/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

On tap at Cafe Twenty Eight

Pours a wonderful golden hue with an almost orange touch to it. Looks brilliant with a nice head straight off. A nice fragrant bouquet of floral and fruity notes with a almost grassy overtone. Tastes wonderful. Peach and pear are predominant tones. A nice restrained bitterness from the hops and great flavor from the malted barley as well. Some sweet honeyed notes trickle in too. A nice mouthfeel, crisp and light but with a nice firmness to it. As others have noted before me it is ridiculously drinkable. You really could have this one all day and get in many pints before you even realized it. Wonderfully smooth and drinkable. A fantastic summer, or really anytime beer that is yet another hit from surly. I'll be sure to catch as much hell as I can before it's gone in not too long. Lovely.

Serving type: on-tap

08-29-2008 00:05:52 | More by Duffman
Photo of esch


4.43/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Brilliant clarity, dark straw color. Almost no head to speak of. 2mm compact off-white bubbles ring the glass.

S: Very grainy. Malt is dominant but still not overwhelming. Hints of hop aroma, honey-like... Some DMS.

T: Grainy-sweet. The first thing I think of is Honey Comb Cereal. Again, only the vaguest hop contribution. Malt sweetness is countered mid-palate by just enough bitterness to keep the malt in check. Finish is quite even, perfect balance of sweet and bitter; leaving the palate clean with the aftertaste of pils malts.

M: Medium body. A bit more than I expected. Medium carbonation. No alcohol heat, astringency or creaminess.

D/O: If Mild didn't, this should shut the Surly critics up pretty quickly. While it's not something I'd expect to see as a year-round, this is a knockout session lager. Proving once and for all that Omar, Todd and crew can produce solid beers from 100 IBU IPAs to century old German recipes.

Serving type: on-tap

08-28-2008 04:05:27 | More by esch
Photo of feloniousmonk


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

"Surly Hell is brewed in the style of a German Light Lager or Munich Helles. Pale Yellow in color, this unfiltered lager or "kellerbier" is brewed with Pilsen and Carahell malt, Opal hops and a German yeast strain. Delicate malt flavor finishing with a tart crispness. 15 IBU.

Hazy straw yellow, big, lovely white head...
Beautiful aromatics, floral, herbal,...a trifle grainy...but altogether pleasing.

to drink: bing: there's the smooth. Bang: there's the malt, and Boom:...there's no Boom...just the smooth and the malt, and some light hops, plus the deliciousness of the yeast.

Disclosure: To those who don't know already, I'm not a lager lover. Just not enough flavor. I'm partial to unfiltered brews, as well. Like Belgian ales, some German ales, certain Americans...like Surly...wait, Surly made a
German lager...and it's unfiltered? Sign me up...wait, I'm already drinking it...oh, okay...

I do like kellerbiers, when I find them. Can't think of one I haven't liked. Kep that yeast in, please! More flavor, por favor!

And here I am drinking Hell (a name I wish they'd saved for an abbey ale, or something, but I'm not charge, am I?)...and I am enjoying it. If this had zero yeast in it, I probably would report the doldrums by now, but there's just enough going on in the mouth to keep my tastebuds happy.

Drinking this sample from a tall Schneider Edel-Weisse glass. Seemed appropriate.

clean, yet fully flavored. You can hand this to a lager-lover and win them over, I think. Hey, it worked with me!

Serving type: on-tap

08-26-2008 00:50:19 | More by feloniousmonk
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 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 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
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Hell from Surly Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 696 ratings.