Dismiss Notice

Site Performance Updates: We're aware of the nightly site outage, and working on resolving the issue.

Follow our progress ...

Hell | Surly Brewing Company

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
87
very good
316 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
BEER STATS
Reviews:
316
Ratings:
1,063
Avg:
3.87
pDev:
19.9%
 
 
Wants:
128
Gots:
164
For Trade:
6
HellHell
BEER INFO

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

View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 316 | Ratings: 1,063
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.

 478 characters

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....

 597 characters

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.

 642 characters

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.

 362 characters

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.

 984 characters

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.

 893 characters

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.

 1,504 characters

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.

 1,055 characters

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.

 1,153 characters

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.

 301 characters

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).

 377 characters

Photo of Omnium
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

 357 characters

Photo of smakawhat
3.58/5  rDev -7.5%
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.

 860 characters

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.

 993 characters

Photo of vette2006c5r
3.41/5  rDev -11.9%
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.

 333 characters

Photo of paladinjoe
4.75/5  rDev +22.7%
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.

 363 characters

Photo of magictacosinus
3.73/5  rDev -3.6%
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.

 2,534 characters

Photo of chanokokoro
4/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

 410 characters

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.

 540 characters

Photo of Monkeyknife
3.83/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the can a very clear yellow-gold color with a thin white cap. Not much lacing left behind.

Aroma of grainy pilsner malts, tart grapes and a touch of honey.

The taste was pilsner malts, honey, white grapes, lemon, and cracker. Finished with lightly spicy herbal notes.

Lighter bodied and crisp with a moderate carbonation.

A fine lager by the folks at Surly.

 373 characters

Photo of guityler83
3.76/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: A modest one finger of tiny bright white bubbles formed and quickly fell when poured into a pilsner glass. Briliantly clear straw, pale yellow color just a hair darker than a light lager. Very small coating of lacing as the foam fell.

S: Slight fruity yeast ester aroma with a solid bready pilsner malt backbone, very simple yet affective.

T: Moderatly sweet bready malt flavor with enough clean hop bitterness to keep it from beeing overly sweet. Clean german lager yeast character (round?).

M: Crisp, clean with low carbonation and a light body.

O: A very drinkable that pairs well with pizza and is sure to please the average BMC drinker but give the craft beer guy something to work with. Not something i'd get regularly but solid.

 743 characters

Photo of facundoCNB
3.72/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A clean pale golden yellow, finger of head which dissipated rather quickly. Aroma of pilsner malts, grassy hops, honey-frosted cereal.
The flavor is very sweet up front, with a refreshing subtle citrus and bready malt backbone, subtle grassy bitter hops.
Light in body and high carbonation this is a very refreshing lager, and quite damn tasty as well!

 352 characters

Photo of ISmith87
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Surly Hell Lager

Appearance – 4 – Standard looking lager, clear as hell, straw colored, exactly what I'd expect
Smell – 4 – Not much there, but then again there shouldn't be. Straw, bread, corn, rice, all light and easy to take in.
Taste – 4 – Clean lager taste. I don't think I've had a lager in a long time and this one is a great one to start up again. All the same stuff that's in the smell is in the taste. Better than Bud.
Mouthfeel – 4 – LIGHT, alc covered, aftertaste slight bitterness but almost non-existent. Anyone up for beer pong?
Overall – 4 – Great lager, better than the other AALs. Goes down like water

 642 characters

Photo of Ri0
3.94/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

poured 16oz can into Duvel tulip. canned on 6/21/2013

A - Darker yellow straw with a 2 finger white head. Very transparent with a light stream of bubbles. Small retention and limited lacing.

S - Grain, grass, Pilsener malt with light floral and herb hops. Some cracker and bread sweetness.

T - Pisener malt and breadiness are the main players. Some grass, grain, and light floral/herb hops pop up.

M - Light, crisp and wet on the palate. Carbonation is right on for the style.

O - Very nice take on Munich Helles Lager. I enjoyed it on a 90 degree day.

 560 characters

Photo of tectactoe
4.02/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to maximum12 for all the Surly love. The man is single-handedly accountable for sending me over 75% of the Surly beers I've had to date, and it is much appreciated. Surly Hell pours out with a straw-colored body; helles... that's Deutsch for "light" (thanks to the back of the can for that little lesson). Very pale, hazy, and squandering with a white head - cloudy, puffy, and crackling loudly like a box of Pop Rocks.

Surly Hell is far from hell on the nostrils. Zesty sweet grains, mound upon mound of bready malt, and the slightest hint of lemon peels and leafy hops. The hops are toned down and provide only a little aid, which really gives the bright Pilsner malts a chance to shine. It gets a bit sweeter and a little more amped up with warmth; a bit more citrus zest and some more sweet grains. The lager yeast is crisp, chunky, fresh, and certainly inviting.

Pilsner malt-y is the first sip, as well as lager yeast-y. A very nice amount of malt sweetness and doughy bread flavors envelope the tongue and show a nice sign of both balance and control, all at once. Earthy hops hang in the background, providing more of a musty, dry bitterness than actual flavor, which is fine by me... That said, the bitterness is still quite low, retaining superior drinkability in a very appropriate style.

The back-end contains some nice notes of orange and citrus zest; pretty light, just a nice spruce to keep things interesting. A faint musty hop note and bread-laden yeast flavors reign in the finish and clean your mouth of all other flavors (and moisture), begging you to take another sip. Thin bodied, as expected, with lots and lots of carbonation. The lager yeast definitely helps out with the clean mouth feel in the finish.

Superb drinkability, no doubt. I love a good helles lager, and one in a can, no less. This beer exhibits cosmos-level balance in the fact that it would be acceptable to BMC drinkers looking to turn to craft, while also being an excellent rendition of the style it represents, pleasing even people who have been in the game for while now. Far better than many of the other craft helles beers available in my area - why can't Surly extend their reach just a few states east?

 2,212 characters

Hell from Surly Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 316 ratings.