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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.
View: Beers (55) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 306 | Hads: 1,015
Photo of koopa
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Can received in a trade with mothman thanks!

Appearance: Beautifully transparent golden body with a 2 finger off white crown that shows some retention and lace.

Smell: Very nice grassy hop coupled with pears and apple skins. Smells crisp if that makes any sense to anybody.

Taste: Sweet malt up front with a touch of orange citrus and bready yeast.

Mouthfeel: on the light side of medium bodied and quite crisp.

Drinkability: I'm not a fan of the style or the flavor profile but its a session beer all the way.

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

Dispensed via 16oz. can on 11/9/09. Thanks to FooFaa for sharing.

A - Poured a crystal clear pale golden body with a thin white head that reduced to a patchy film and deposited stringy lace around the edge of the glass.

S - Fruity aroma suggests citrus and fleshy fruits (orange, apple, pear) backed by sweet caramel malt and a hint of light grassy hops.

T - Initial flavor is quite sweet and malty with a prominent fruity character, followed by slight herbal and grassy hop notes. Finishes with a light citrusy character accompanied by sweet caramel malt.

M - Light bodied with a mild syrupy texture and subtle carbonation. Finish is sweet with a very faint hop bite on the palate.

D - Easy drinking Helles that is well balanced and has a nice fruity aroma and flavor. I was expecting something a bit more extreme from Surly, but this was just a fine example of the style.

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

A - Pours a medium gold color. The egg shell head tops out at about a finger deep and sticks around for a minute or two. The abundance of active carbonation keeps a thick layer of foam on top almost all the way through the beer. Some lacing is left behind as well.

S - Starts out with a clean grainy aroma. Midway there is some creamed corn and a touch of alcohol. Light hop spiciness is in there as well. Finishes off with a light smell of raw bread dough. I know Surly can make some pretty good smelling beers but this is definitely not one of them.

T - Now, that's better. The flavors that are present and accounted for here work well together. White bread starts it all off. Grain is present but not as much as in the nose. Alcohol is very hard to detect in the flavor. It's a little sweet with a spicy (almost peppery) hop presence. This beer makes a strong case for lack of complexity not always being a bad thing.

M - Lighter side of medium bodied with a healthy level of carbonation that keeps the palate tingling. This is a very smooth and creamy brew overall. Finish starts out sweet and ends up with the hops that gives it kind of a spicy twang.

D - Drinkability is pretty good for the Hell. Flavor is mild. Alcohol is low. It's very smooth. That's pretty much the trifecta of an easy drinking brew. The aroma could probably use a little work but that's really about it. I could easily see this beer find a niche in the concert / sporting event crowd. Given the current distribution, I probably wouldn't seek this one out again. If given the chance though, I'd probably never turn it down either.

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Photo of glid02
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Can shared by gford217 - much obliged!

Pours a clear straw color with a one-finger white head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of crisp grainy malt with a hint of breadiness and very little hop influence.

Tastes very similar to how it smells. Crisp light malt flavors up front are backed up by light amounts of earthiness and breadiness. Lots of ess's here. Here's one more: the ending is crisp with a mild amount of bitterness.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a solid thickness with moderately active carbonation.

Drinkability is very good. I finished my glass quickly and could have a bunch of these.

Overall this is a very clean lager that has a good amount of drinkability. Worth a shot.

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Photo of corby112
4.4/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a clear golden yellowish orange color with pale golden banana yellow when held to a light source and a one finger frothy soapy white head. Very good retention, only slowly fading into a thin cap and lasting ring that leaves rings of soapy lacing in it's path.

Sweet pilsner malt aroma with nice bready yeast notes, light fruit, toasty biscuit malt and subtle hops. The pilsner malt provide a slight golden apple presence as well as a very nice toasty biscuity nose.

Lots of crisp light flavor but not watered down at all. Refreshing slightly creamy medium body with a nice amount of bready yeast and crisp light fruit. I'm picking up a lot of apple, first in the aroma and now in the flavor. There is a lot of sweet pilsner malt that is countered by a slight zest spiciness and an amazing crisp floral hop presence as well as a pleasant toasted biscuit malt character. This is an insanely drinkable, very flavorful session beer that I wish that I had constant access to.

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Photo of gford217
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another Surly brew from buebie. Thanks Brian!

Pours an unbelievably clear golden orange with a huge fluffy white head that recedes very slowly to a small cap and leaves small hints of lacing.

The aroma is very clean with some light lemony hops and lots of light sweet malts and toasted bread in the background. I'm also getting some grain in the nose, definitely some corn. Kinda has a grassy character overall.

The taste has the same clean citrus hop presence up front which gives way to the toasted bread of the underlying malt base. The corn sweetness is more prevalent in the taste and lingers through the finish with a dry bready character as well.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with good carbonation and smooth and slightly spicy in the finish.

This is a very solid lager from Surly and extremely drinkable. Not sure it's my favorite style, but this is a very good example.

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Photo of BeerTruth
3.68/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to younger35 for this one. He lost to me at something (what's new) so he sent this bad boy my way.

16 oz. can poured into my Surlyfest mug, once again provided by Dan the flaming Man.

Pours a clear straw yellow with a big three finger fluffy white head. A slow crawl down the sides of the glass leaves behind spotty spiderweb lacing. Smell is pretty mild; corn, honey, and some bready malts...nothing more, nothing less. After the first sip I realize the taste is exactly like the nose; corn, honey, and bready malts. The only difference is a slight floral hop flavor but it's very minimal. Pretty hefty medium body for a lager, I like. Good carbonation with a creamy feel. Drinkable for sure, but it should be, it's a 5.1% lager. I had two cans of this prior to my review and at first I really loved this beer. Now sitting down and reviewing it, I find that that love has faded, kinda like Dan-O's stone washed jeans. Nothing too crazy about this one. It's good, don't get me wrong...but A+ beer this is not.

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

Can poured into pint glass

A: Gorgeous honey colored. High amounts of CO2 releasing from bottom of glass. Little to no head retention.

S: Very faint floral and herbal, slightly sweet.

T: Crisp sweet malts, very smooth from start to finish Finishes with very light hops.

M: Very light on tongue

D: Very sessionable, easy to drink, and palette is still fresh.

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Photo of Onenote81
3.46/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to BDLbrewster for this little treat!

Poured this into a mug. Pours a very pale yellow with very few bubbles rising throughout. Big frothy white capped head. Good retention; leaves some nice sip rings on glass. Smells of grains, and light citrus, like orange zest.

The mouth was a tad wet and thin, but for the style that may be normal? Not sure. Very easy to drink though. The body was light with little carbonation play on the tongue. Flavor was pretty decent. Light citrus pop with hints of hop bitterness and a semi-sour finish. This is my first of this style. It reminds me of a Kolsch or something of the sort. This was refreshing. I'd have another.

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

Poured from a can into a pilsner glass. It pours a really light straw color and forms a 3/4 inch almost white head the reduces to a nice lacing. No sediment and mild carbonation visible.

The aroma is primarily that of yeasty bread. Some earthy hops and a hint of citrus.

The taste is quite citrusy with a dose of grainy malts that balances out fairly well.

This is a light bodied beer with a good level of carbonation that accents the flavor. It goes down clean and leaves a little dryness at the finish.

Overall, this is a drinkable beer as it is balanced and not overpowering in alcohol or flavor. However, that lack of intensity is also probably what keeps me from rating it a bit higher.

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Photo of Overlord
2.44/5  rDev -37%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Huh. A new style for me, and one I'd never heard of, to boot. One of many splendid extras from mba. Thanks!

Pours a clear gold with a 1-2 inch white foam head. Okay. So far, looks like a typical lager. Uhhh... I looked up the style, and shouldn't this be cloudy?

Smells faintly of lemon zest, but mostly of a disappointingly grain-y cereal malt. Hurm. Is this going to be grainy and sweet, cause right now, I'm getting a malt liquor vibe.

Well, there's a bit of lemon zest and a crisp earthiness to it, but the grain malt sweetness makes me think malt liquor mixed with a pilsener. A bit of bready yeastiness to it, but just a bit. I just am not sure what they were going for here. Frankly, if I had this blind, Surly wouldn't be one of the breweries I guess made this. Even if I took 1000 guesses.

Mouthfeel is strangely flat, despite the big white head.

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Photo of aerozeppl
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to mikesgroove for this in growling at the moon.

A: Poured a very clear golden color with really nice clarity which is weird for an unfiltered beer. A half finger of white head with really nice lacing.

S: The first thing that hits you is how clean the malt smells. Bisquit malt shines through the rest. Spicy hop character as well. Well balanced.

T: Nice lager taste up front. Again the malt is crisp and fresh tasting. Reminds me of a brewpub offering. Little bit biter in the finish. This beer is about the malt.

M: Very nice and light mouthfeel. Just what it should be.

D: A really nice beer. Lagers get a bad name but they can be really good and this is a great beer. I would love to always have this in the fridge at the ready.

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Photo of brow1901
4.13/5  rDev +6.7%
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.

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

Pours a clear golden body with a puffy white head that leaves decent lacing and is slow to fall. Aroma is of light grassy hops and clean malts. Light bodied mouthfeel with medium carbonation. A mild bitterness up front leads to a light sweet malt flavor at mid tongue and a slightly bitter finish. Not a bad beer, but I don't find myself wanting a second pint when I'm through with the first.

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Photo of cokes
3.03/5  rDev -21.7%
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.

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Photo of oakbluff
3.53/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Can shared via piscator34- pours straw golden with fluffy two finger head. Very soapy lacing. Nose- buttery sweetness, faint grassy hops. Taste- grass, mineral, sweet dough. Finish - drying aspirin like. Low to medium carbonation. Drinkability is pretty good but dryness of finish in mouthfeel gets old after awhile.

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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 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 bonsreeb85
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First things first, big thank you to Pochman for sending me this can. I appreciate it Ed!

A - nice head develops (for a lager) about 2 fingers of foam from can to mug. light golden/straw in color.

S - smells sweet. malt aroma is very high. lots of yeast/bread too. floral and musty hops smell rather grainy.

T - light and subtle kiss of hops. sweet and grainy malts are balanced by an earthy and floral hop accent. clean dry finish to this well balanced brew.

MF - very light body w/ a crisp feel thanks to tiny Co2 bubbles.

D - excellent session beer. light, subtle, clean, crisp, refreshing, all w/ just enough 'ummph' in the flavor dept.
Surly has yet to dissapoint.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
4.04/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My first of a 4-pack received from Mothman (thanks Ben). This is clear golden colored, a surpise as I expected some cloudiness in the zwickel style. Big rocky head that had a dry-appearing surface. The beer smelled a little grainy and not too different from several popular lagers, maybe a little floral hops but mainly grain. Same with the taste, delicately sweet and malty, not exactly rich but just about right for a lager. This goes down like water, hard to imagine much better drinkability. Overall a well done lager, I'd have liked more haze or other evidence of the unfiltered production but tasty and made to the style in every other way.

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Photo of kruse
4.42/5  rDev +14.2%
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.

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Photo of mdwalsh
3.77/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a pretty good head of just about ivory white. Big bubbles mostly. The beer is very clear, not the cloudy hazy I would expect from a keller or zwickel, especially one that says it's unfiltered right on the can. Still very light and nice color. But the head is gone already, and left only a little lace.

S: Pils and pale malt, maybe a little Vienna/Munich in there as well, but just the malt. No hops. It almost smells a little...damp I guess is the word I'm looking for. But it's a clean, clear cut lager smell.

T: The taste is a little fruity, actually, but also bready and grainy and full of that pils malt. But it's not a clean taste, and doesn't seem to have gained anything from open fermentation. This really isn't anything to write home about in my opinion, but I guess is sort of to style. I guess I'm just not impressed, I expected something more from Surly.

M: A good weight, smooth on the tongue, but then bitter on the swallow. An interesting transition there.

D: Great, like a standard Euro Lager really, which is good I suppose, but at the same time not.

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Photo of jamie2dope
3.86/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First off, let me thank tytoanderso for throwing way more than he needed to into the box of Surly beers this came in. I poured this straight in to a Guinness pint glass, and was not disappointed by the results. I got a clear golden colored beer, with a stunning white head that froths and sticks for quite some time. Smell is very doughy, like freshly baked bread and malt. Same thing comes through in the taste. Mainly bread, but some hint of fruit here and there. Feel is light, refreshing, and really drinkable. It is really cool to see Surly tackling a lighter style of beer like this, and putting their own spin on it. An excellent session beer that went well with pizza. Cheers

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