Hell - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

305 Reviews
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Reviews: 305
Hads: 1,001
Avg: 3.87
pDev: 19.9%
Wants: 129
Gots: 127 | FT: 4
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Munich Helles Lager |  4.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: feloniousmonk on 08-26-2008

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.
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Reviews: 305 | Hads: 1,001
Photo of Wer34truh
2.99/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Golden appearance with a one-finger thick head.

Crisp smell with notes of cloves. I also detected what can best be described as grapes in the smell. Almost like someone hid a little bit of white wine in a can of beer.

The taste was surprisingly subtle for a Surly beer. Yes, it's a lager but I've been surprised by the attitude of pretty much every other Surly beer I've tried. Has a aftertaste of apple, and of malt - the later of which lingers for quite a while. I also picked up on quite a bit of sourness, which certainly did not work for me.

Carbonation is heavy to begin with, but dissipates quickly. Generally speaking, I enjoyed the feel of this much more than the subtle taste.

I probably won't return to this, but if I'm ever at the Surly Taproom and have to recommend a beer to someone who considers anything darker than Grain Belt an abomination - then this is the one. Otherwise, there are much better lagers from Minnesota.

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Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours from a can into a Pilsener glass. L: Brilliant straw under a quickly receding 1” creamy white foam cap. S: Light grains with a faint hint of apple and sulfur. T: Light grainy sweetness, some spice, malty aftertaste, mild bitterness. F: Very crisp, light, above average carbonation. O: Refreshing, easy to drink.

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Photo of MNJR
2.71/5  rDev -30%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Not great, and sold at a premium price - $10.99 for four pints. The math is not on their side considering the taste of this brew. Funky, sour, skunky, not clean and "bright" as the name would suggest. Actually, it is unfiltered and cloudy, so the name is totally misused. Thick, soupy feel, and a little flat. Flavors of wet cardboard and sour cream. Smells like a macro brew, PBR or equivalent. A very average beer from my standpoint. I think I had it one time before, and forgot not to buy it again. I will drink what's left, but not with much enjoyment.

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Photo of drpimento
3.2/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Appearance, body, and aroma aren't bad, but didn't care for flavor too much. The malt and hop combo clashed leaving me with off flavors. One time only for me.

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Photo of KeithS
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good solid summer beer without all the gimmicks that come with summer beers. Nice and light but with enough flavor to make it interesting.

Good beer for me when my taste buds want something easier and less hoppy.

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Photo of jwc215
3.59/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Milwaukee Burger Company, Franklin, WI:

Pours golden with a nice lasting head. Lacing sticks down the glass.

The smell is of grain with some nuts.

The taste is of some grain - sweet with some general (floral) bitter-ish hop balance.

Cream and crisp.

Easy enough to drink. Pretty much a standard lager.

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Photo of ta_hagen
4.84/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Very light tasting beer. Love this during summer time. Pours a clear golden color with white head. Cereal grains and floral notes on the nose; follows onto the palate. Finishes clean and crisp. This does not taste like a lager, but more like a light pale ale and dry finish. Thumbs up!

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Photo of TX-Badger
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear golden color with white head. Cereal grains and floral notes on the nose; follows onto the palate. Finishes clean and crisp. Good summer beer.

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Photo of tyleeis
4.67/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Helles is one of my fav euro styles and this is by far one of the best examples I've tried. A little more hoppy than I expected...similar to 3 Floyd's Gorch Fock, also an excellent twist on a Helles lager.

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Photo of Treyliff
3.65/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

16oz can poured into pint glass

A- pours a bright clear straw color with a small creamy white head that reduces to a thin film on top

S- bready and doughy Pilsner aroma with some grassy and spicy hop aroma

T- faint floral, grassy and spicy hops lead the way, bready toasted pilsener malt adds some crackery flavors before finishing clean and toasty

M- light-medium body with medium spritzy carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel and a clean crisp finish

O- a nice interpretation of the style

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Can from Adam. Thanks bro.

Clear golden body with an inch of white head. Aromas of fruity esters, corn, lager yeast. Light and fruity. Mild sweetness finishing with a dash of hop bitterness. Easy drinking. Solid.

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Photo of OrestesMethuon
3.97/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

This is a fine lager.

The nose is soft, a bit floral, but doesn't possess any of that reek that all bad—and even some good—lagers exhibit. Instead it's smooth, right through the nose to the first and last moments it expresses itself in the mouth.

It's crisp—but not stridently so (even though extreme crispness is a quality I personally often favor amongst many good lagers). It's sweet—but only a little: just enough floral-fruit and banana-flax to give it a bit of punch. And it's effervescent—but not popping in the mouth with huge bubbles, like some weird bowl of fatty beer roe; instead its just buoyant, though maybe not quite edging enough towards ethereal, considering the weight of its malt.

I like it: perfect for grilling, or a late-night session when one just needs a little refreshment. Is it superb? No—but it is supremely drinkable, as promised, and light without sacrificing substance: truly lagerly without ever falling into heavy fruitiness.

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Photo of Strix
3.46/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured a clear golden, nice lines of lace down the glass.

Not much in the nose, faint bready smell.

Overall a crisp sweetness, with notes of bread, saltines, black pepper

Quite carbonated

Not Surly's most unique beer, but a well-done sessionable drinker.

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Photo of oberon
3.85/5  rDev -0.5%

Poured into a pokal a clear somewhat dull lighter golden with a nice thick white crown atop.All malts in the nose with a tinge of iron,just a faint leafy hop aroma is detected.Smooth and drinkable with toasted malts standing out,went well with some pork shanks and kraut last night.

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Photo of Taybeh
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%

Straw in color, and a decent off-white head; Nice nose of bready pilsner malt, faint grassy notes, something a bit floral too; taste follows the nose, with the bready biscuity taste even more pronounced. This is a great summer brew, and a refreshing break from the intensely hopped ales I'm often pulled towards. I don't have access to enough good helles or zwickels to be sure about how this holds up against the best in class, but this is miles better than the macro lagers.

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Photo of pkalix
3.66/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

interesting.... like a typical American crap commercial brew, but with a twist. slight resin-y hops in the background, a fresher and cleaner build on the malts compared to, say, a coors, but still a little bit of piss-water taste. but that's not always bad, particularly on a warm summer day after mowing the lawn. just not NOW or TODAY after a Mastermind and a Zombie Dust, I suppose.... it kind of takes me back to my local bar/cantina late at night looking for some ugly hooch for a quick bed..... I've heard great things about Surly. it's a shame this is my first go at one of their brews....

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%

Served from the can in a tumbler.

Another Surly first for me thanks to my main man Vdubb. This stuff pours a slightly hazy straw topped by a finger or so of lightly off-white foam. The nose comprises light grass, mild biscuit, light dried honey, mild flowers, and the faintest notion of hard water. The taste brings in more of the same, with a stronger contingent of both grass and flowers. If I didn't know any better, I'd say this was an American take on a Czech pils, rather than a helles lager. Whatever. The body is fairly light, with a light moderate carbonation and a wet feel. Overall, an enjoyable drink, no matter the style.

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Photo of WoodBrew
3.3/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

The Surly Hell is ok....nothing spectacular in my humble opinion. The beer poured a clear golden with thin white head that is not leaving much of a lace. The scent is very faint if at all...maybe some bittering hops. The taste has biscuit with touches of grass and peat. The mouthfeel is medium in body with good carbonation. Overall this is a good session beer.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in a stemmed strange)

A- This beer pours a warm yellow body wit a thin snow white film and a slow carbonation of tiny bubbles working to the surface.

S- The clean soft mellow Pils malt has a bit more fullness than its German counterpart but still very nice. Soft hint of green hops come through as it opens, but stays softer than malt.

T- The mils sweet malt note is gentle with a note of bread as it opens. The finish is nice and clean with just enough sweetness to give it a fresh character without being sweet. A hint of pungent pith is very soft for a moment on the after taste. A cracker character grows in the malt flavor as it opens up.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a gentle fizz making the mouthfeel more full and no alcohol heat.

O- This is a nice sessionable beer that is clean with good malt character. More full that a typical German Munich Helles but just as nice. However after drinking a 16 oz can of this I fell like had just eaten a meal.

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Photo of steveh
2.98/5  rDev -23%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

First Surly review -- is it really a Munich Helles? Or a U.S. micro version? Let's see.

A -- Sort of hazy* gold with a white head that settles quickly.

S -- Mellow hops with some grainy to bready malts trying to grab attention.

T -- Some mild citrus up front with very light, grainy malts in the middle and some very light spicy hop bitterness in the finish. Some lightly bready malts in the aftertaste.

M -- Light body with a crisp mouthfeel.

O -- Well, it's lacking a little malt character for a good Helles, and the mouthfeel just isn't soft enough to make me feel like Munich. At least the brewers didn't pile on the hops to create a beer for the new geek palate. It's a good drinker for a hot afternoon at the grill, but I probably won't look to it for a German-style lager fix.

*I see the can reports unfiltered, but I'd think there would be more yeasty breadiness because of that.

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Photo of Nugganooch
4.04/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the 16oz can to my FW Imperial Nonic glass
Dated 02/12/14 – Thanks to mid as always for my Surly fix!

A: Pale straw gold body with a slight unfiltered haze look to it. About three fingers of eggshell colored suds builds up in the nonic holding for a lengthy amount of time. Suprisingly low amount of stick given all that head. Just a few dots and ribbons laced here and there.

S: Smells very doughy with that common Pilsner grainy bread like character. Has a touch of sourdough twang to it with some floral cut grass and dried citrus peel there. A very simple and clean aroma. You can really sense the high quality ingredients used.

T: Bready Pilsner malts take lead with a tuck of sour grains and a light dab of honey sweetness. Has a vanilla like creaminess to it that I find is just great. Some mild tingly hop bitters of prairie grass move in with flashes of old citrus and earthy spice. Subtle kiss of lemon lime there as well as some green apple. Alcohol is entirely disguised. Simple and understated but totally refreshing.

M: Moderate to lighter body with an upper amount of carb lending to an extremely smooth mouth feel. Moderate to lower amount of perceived bitterness. Very nice crisp finish. Balance is solid between wet and dry.

D: Very drinkable with some delicate flavors built around a base of Pilsner malts. I am no expert on this particular style but I found Surly Hells Lager to be utterly refreshing to drink. This beer is the reason why I need to check out more Lagers.

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Photo of KFBR392
4.41/5  rDev +14%
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.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
4.05/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

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Photo of BeerDazed
3.42/5  rDev -11.6%
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.

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Photo of barnzy78
3.52/5  rDev -9%
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).

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Hell from Surly Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 305 ratings.