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Hell | Surly Brewing Company

very good
313 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States | website

Style: Munich Helles Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.50%

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.

Added by feloniousmonk on 08-26-2008

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Reviews: 313 | Ratings: 1,054
Photo of MACrist
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

APPEARANCE: A hazy golden/yellow. Chilled to the bone, so the head was just a small layer. Nice amount of small bubbles rising. Minor lacing.
AROMA: I get a nice grainy/grassy aroma. Lots of bready malt. Smells nice.
TASTE: Very clean tasting. Mild bitterness. Lots of bready sweet malt.
FEEL: Perfect level of carbonation...lots...for this style. Medium thin body, super refreshing. Dry overall.
OVERALL: Super refreshing, I chilled this way down to just above freezing. Perfect for a hot day.

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Photo of Sconnie25
4.26/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I purchased a four pack of cans from France 44 in Minneapolis, MN. Hell pours a cloudy golden hue with a decent head and a nice lacing. The aroma is quite aromatic for a lager. Nice amounts of malt and yeast. The taste is quite good as well. The yeast and malt combine together nicely with just a hint of a hoppy zest. The finish is crisp and clean. This is one of the best lagers I have ever had.

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Photo of Rockjocknroll
4.29/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: Lovely pale straw; totally clear with a small but sturdy head.
S: Rich lager yeast, bready malt, a hint of sweetness
T: Great smooth and slightly sugary pale malt. The traditional hop bitterness is perfectly balanced with a little more honey than you usually find in a helles. Long finish for a light lager.
M: Silky smooth with a little flair from the carbonation and sticks on the tongue.
O: What a great lager. I wish we could get this more often; it would help convert more AB drinkers!

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

Finally, my first Surly! (Had a chance to buy an oldish bootleg can of Furious a few years back for 6 bucks and reluctantly passed, but now the stuff is everywhere and at a more reasonable price.) A deep gold with a white one-finger had. Smell liike a pilsner, fair amount of noble hoppiness coming through. There is perhaps a little more of a malty body than a typical pilsner, but if this were a blind tasting I would certainly have guessed that style rather than Helles. In any event, this is clearly a good, solid beer with everything pleasantly balanced although nothing really seems outstanding about it. Finishes easy and will definitely be visited again, at which time maybe additional impressions will emerge.

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Photo of stevoj
3.84/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Flight at MSP. Nice light bodied, slick helles. Light grain flavor, light corn, subdued grain aroma. Tasty lager, one of the best of the group, and a damn fine rendition of of a dortmunder.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.77/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Lots of yellow, lots of clarity, good white head, soft, tiny bubbles. Aroma comes across bready, grassy and floral.

Enjoyable skunky lager, hoppy, highly carbonated. Flavorful lagers. Some flowery peppery stuff at times. Good for warmer weather.

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

This beer pours a light gold with a large dissipating head. The aromas are primarily bready,with some hints of dry caramel and black pepper. The flavor lead with the light bready notes, with the peppery spice coming in at the finish. There is also a slight hint of maplewood present. The mouthfeel is quite full for a lager. Overall this is one of the more flavorful, full-bodied lagers I have had.

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Photo of maedhros09
3.89/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I think the surly description of this one says it pretty well. You get the full flavored bready malts with enough hops to provide just a bit of balance. Simple and tasty.

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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.

 945 characters

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.

 320 characters

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.

 158 characters

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

 501 characters

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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Hell from Surly Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 313 ratings.