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Hell - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

306 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 306
Hads: 1,015
Avg: 3.87
pDev: 19.9%
Wants: 130
Gots: 136 | 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: 306 | Hads: 1,015
Photo of Sammy
3.87/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Tasty stuff.Straw colour. Fresh, hopped light and tasty. Great drinkability, although so dainty that the carbonation, though not aggressive, is obtrusive.Moderate citrus.Thanks John for bringing back. Something that I can drink pint after pint of.Spot on.

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Photo of metter98
3.92/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is clear straw yellow in color and has a moderate amount of carbonation. It poured with a finger high white head that died down but left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface and lots of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: There are moderately strong aromas of grainy malts and earthy yeast in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and also has some notes of yeast along with a light amount of bitterness.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer tastes somewhat like a pale lager but has a lot more flavors due to its unfiltered nature. It's relatively easy to drink.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.82/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured out looking like liquid gold, it was very nice looking. It was a very clear looking yellowish gold color with a nice solid white head on top. The retention and lacing on this beer was quite nice and rather impressive for a beer of this style. The smell of of the beer is a little on the yeast side with some subtle hops aromas and malt sweetness. The taste of the beer is malty with a strong hop bitter finish, some lighter notes of grain and bread in there. Not overly grassy which I was happy about. The mouthfeel is clean and crisp, it's sharp feeling too, good carbonation and body. Overall this is a good brew, not my favorite style but it goes down really easy and could be enjoyed anytime.

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Photo of brentk56
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.04/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

An ultra floral lager that shares a lot in common with zinfindale and honey suckle.

Hell pours with a bright straw, lightly golden color and with little fan fare. The beer releases its carbonation early on and the initial thin lace of foam disipates fairly quickly.

A perfumy boquet of floral hops, light fruits, and honey malts mix for a varying and inviting scent. Winey (fruit wine) aromas give the impressions of apples (cider), pears, and white grapes.

Where the aromas are fruity and winey, the flavors instead take on an expected part-grain, part-malt profile with a light cracker-like flavor and pronounced hop bitterness. Lightly grassy/flowery, the beer takes on a delicate herbal hop flavor. Acidic flavors and sulfur taste also contribute complexity and balance, but maybe a bit too much as the beer warms.

Light-moderate roundness lightens considerably as the hop dryness, alcohol, acidity, and sulfury textures ward off the malt creaminess for a crisp finish and long bitterness. Mildly astringent because of the grains, but these sensations work in conjuntion with the hop bitterness and graininess.

Hell is a very floral German-style lager, whose intense hop compounds seem ester-like at times. A supurbly balanced, complex, and delicate lager.

Thanks Shango42!

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
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.

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Photo of largadeer
4.18/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A can of this crisp, refreshing lager beer was generously provided by bifrostguard. Thanks, mate.

It's clear and golden in my stein, topped by a thick white head that settles to a film with a thick ring around it. Lovely.

The aroma is honey-like and semi-sweet, hinting at cereal grains and apricots.

On the palate I get grain and fruit flavors and ample bitterness from hops and grain husk. It's light, clean, refreshing as hell (lmao) with a grainy, mildly bitter finish. Beyond a hint of initial sweetness up-front, this beer is quite dry and crisp. Another delicious canned offering from Surly; can this brewery do wrong? (The answer, FYI, is yes, they can, but not often).

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Photo of emerge077
4.18/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Canned 10/18/13
Just arrived in Chicago this past week.

Straw gold with a pleasant unfiltered haze, topped with a finger of creamy foam that settles after a few minutes. Plenty of lacing in the glass.

Soft aroma of white bread, lager yeast, and subtle notes of grassy noble hops.

Clean and smooth, light apple and crackers, very mild grassy bitterness. Soft supple finish, clean and dry, well carbonated and not at all watery. This is a great Helles, very traditional and tasty when fresh, tailor made for warm weather in the Biergarten.

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Photo of zeff80
3.94/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured a cloudy, golden yellow color with a one-finger, white head of bubbly foam. It left sudsy trails of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of caramel and floral notes.

T - Sweet caramel, toffee and grains. Some nice spicy bitterness adds perfect balance.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A light to medium bodied lager.

O - This is a really good lager. Well done by Surly!

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

"Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company."

--Mark Twain

Kruggerand gold with bright lemon peel borders. Sparkling bubbles ascend to a two finger cap of alabaster colored creaminess that has loads of character. Lace that actually looks like lace puts the finishing touches on this lovely lager.

The aroma is simple and clean, but it too has plenty of character. White bread with a light muskiness and a hint of citrus is beginning to make my mouth water. Hard to believe that only 15 IBUs worth of Opal hops is making the beer smell this good. Maybe the German yeast strain is helping as well.

After watching beer exit can and giving it a few good sniffs, my expectations were on the high side for Hell. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite measure up. This would be better beer if it had a little more malt sweetness, a little more hop flavor and a little less hop bitterness. It's close to being good, though. Very close.

There simply aren't enough different flavors (and depth of flavor) to carry the day. The fresh grain and white breadiness that was expected never really materializes. The hops deliver a hint of lemon peel and white pepper... and slightly too much bitterness. Never have 15 IBUs been this biting. Must be a lack of malt sugars.

The mouthfeel flirted with the next lowest score for most of the can. In the end, however, it gains just enough 'oomph' for enjoyment to be had. The bubbles are sparkly early, pass through the ideal zone in the middle, and are lazy late.

Hell is neither eternal punishment nor eternal reward. It's much, much closer to the latter and might even get there with a few well-chosen changes. In the end, Surly Purgatory is probably a more appropriate name. I applaud Todd and Omar for 'going small', and hope they continue to do so... as long as the beers that made them famous continue to be brewed. Thanks to feloniousmonk for setting one aside for me.

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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 mikesgroove
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I would almost like to call this one a Macro done right! A very kind and courteous BA sent me a good bit of this one and I am very glad that he did. Served cold and poured into a pint glass.

The pour was the best I could see. Clear, rich golden amber in color with tons of carbonation bubbling up toward the surface. Massive looking I have to say. Aroma at first is dominated by notes of wheat and light earthy hops, but warming brings out much more complexity and in fact a good bit of richness. Hints of almost lavender and jasmine, more then likely not, but that same floral kind of aroma is there. Smooth, clean, crisp, and a bit heavier then I would have expected given the style. Rich flavor abounds here. Tons of malt up front but very nicely balanced against a big hop finish and a grainy and earthy aftertaste.

Overall a wonderful addition to their lineup. This is damn near a perfect summer brew, I could have drank ten of these without batting an eye, it was just that smooth. Go get this one.

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Photo of oline73
3.46/5  rDev -10.6%
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.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.81/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to mikesgroove for sending me this beer. I was very pleasantly surprised to see this can in the box I received.

On to the beer!

A: Hell pours a clear, light golden color with a finger's worth of white foam and lots of tiny bubbles.

S: This is my first beer of this style, which always leads to a nice adventure. The aroma is sweet and somewhat malty, not much in the way of hops, but a mild hop spiciness and a faint skunk, which I usually expect from a lager.

T: I was a bit worried about this one from the nose, but the flavor is far better. Hell has a primarily malty and spicy flavor. There is a subtle earthiness on the finish.

M: The carbonation is moderate to high and gives the beer a nice light mouthfeel. In this case, light is not a bad thing.

D: The fairly mild and overall non-offensive flavors of this beer, combined with the light mouthfeel make it a very easy drinker. I'm generally not a big lager fan, and this beer certainly didn't change my mind. That said, it was pretty good and very nice to have tried.

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Photo of Kegatron
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can into a pint glass. Thanks to brewseum for this in trade.

Pours a clear bubbly gold, with several billowous fingers of brite-white foamy head. This eventually simmers down into a thin, yet robust layer of froth, leaving back lace that clings in spotty clumps. The aroma is lightly grassy and spicy in the nose, with citrus and bready Pils malt adding a bit of a tangy kiss to the bouquet.

The taste is sweet toasted grains, with a splash of lemongrass on the tongue. A moderately sharp little punch of spicy hop bitterness helps jazz this up. The finish has a touch of a pithy feel to it, along with a pleasant dryness which gets you ready for the next sip. The mouthfeel is lighter-medium, with a firm sharpness to the carbonation, that rides on top of a much creamier feel, lending this a most crisp and quaffable nature.

A satisfying medium fullness here to the Lager flavors, with a light and crisp feel, Surly sure picked an easy drinking one to put in a 16 oz can. I think I'll go have another!

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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 kojevergas
3.13/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

16 fl oz aluminum can served into a Dick's Last Resort pilsner glass at me sister's gaff in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Reviewed live. Expectations are above average given the brewery. Thanks to me sister for purchasing the can for me.

Served straight from the refrigerator and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a two finger head of nice cream and thickness, and good retention. Body colour is a clear translucent pale copper. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Pale malts mainly. Cream. Full barley. Pleasant but simple. Appropriate for the style. Maybe a vague hint of lemon.

T: Pale malt body with full-bodied barley and minimal hopping. Traces of lemon citrus. Balanced but simple and pleasant. An effective Helles. No yeast or alcohol comes through. Balanced and enjoyable. There's nothing special or unique here, though.

Mf: Coarse and wet. A bit too thick. Good carbonation. Suits the flavours alright, and the style fairly well.

Dr: One of Surly's weaker beers, but nevertheless quite drinkable. It's certainly a tasty beer for the style; it's just not one I'd have again. A bit mundane, but worth trying.


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Photo of LXIXME
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A big white head quickly dies above a clear straw golden colored beer.

Straw, week malts, light corn syrup blended in a light aroma.

Light sweet corn syrup mixes with a light sourness and some malts for a distinct tasting Keller Bier.

A medium bodied beer with a drying aftertaste that seems to harbor some of the light corn syrup tastes.

This beer has a decent taste, although to much of the light corn syrupy taste for me, other than that some goodness going on here.

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Photo of russpowell
3.59/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thrilled to get to try this, big ups to kenm2118, who threw this in as an extra. Cheers Ken!

Pours an effervescent gold with 2 fingers of rocky pearl colored head. Clearer than any keller bier I've ever tried, some head retention & above average lacing

S: Bready & grainy, some perfumy hops late as this warmed up

T: Grainy, with lemony & metallic hops, grassyness up front. Slight apple peel presence as this warms, along with more lemony & metallic hops & grainy doughyness. Finishes slightly wet with grainy bitterness, a touch of lemon rind & some white grape

MF: Light bodied with slight carbonation

Pretty drinkable, but to be honest a bit of a let down. So far Surly's German iterations ( the few I've tried ) haven't wowed me. I would happily take St Geargen Brau or Bischof Keller bier over this any day. Was looking for a bit more fruittyness. I could drink this all day, but do not se it as a bencmark for the style by any any means.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.73/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 08/26/10 notes. Had at a local DC tasting.

a - Pours a clear transparent golden color with no head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of wheat, spices, fruity malts, and light lemon/citrus.

t - Tastes of light apples, fruity malts, wheat, bready malts, and citrus.

m - Light body and low carbonation, very easy to drink.

d - A pretty nice beer that is very easy to drink. Some nice fruit in the smell and taste, would try again.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.3/5  rDev +11.1%
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!

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Photo of MasterSki
3.93/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Can purchased at Discount Liquor. Served in a stein.

A - Pours with two-plus fingers of creamy off-white foam that eventually settles to a cap and leaves behind plenty chunky rings of lacing. Body is a transparent golden straw color with tons of visible bubbles adhering to the sides of the glass.

S - Lightly toasted grain, honey, floral and slightly zesty citrus noble hop character.

T - Taste is more malt-forward, with sweet doughy bread, light toffee, and a moderately bitter hop finish. I like it a touch more than the smell, but it's not a 4.5.

M - Fairly zesty and zingy carbonation that left me feeling a touch bloated after a third of a glass. Medium-light body that also has a bit of grain character.

D - Other than the overly bloaty carbonation I can't see anything that would be a big inhibitor. Wish this was available at the ballpark or something. A better session beer than Gossamer in my opinion.

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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 dbrauneis
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear medium golden yellow in color with just a tinge of orange and moderate amounts of visible carbonation. The beer has a fizzy finger tall white head that reduces to a thin film covering the entire surface of the beer with a thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light aromas of bready malts with some grassy and floral hop aromas. There is also a subtle note of light fruit and lemon.

T: The beer starts out with a bready malt flavor with a light amount of sweetness. That is followed by some grassy and floral hops with just a hint of light fruits (pear/apple).

M: Slightly less than medium bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Crisp.

O: Very enjoyable and super easy to drink - I would recommend this beer to others. Good flavors and aromas, definitely sessionable.

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Hell from Surly Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 306 ratings.