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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 jreindl
3.86/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a pale yellow into an Imperial pint with about an inch of soft white head, moderate lacing. Smells very bready and sweet, with a hint of spice and citrus hops. Taste is very clean, predominantly bready/crackers with subtle notes of spicy noble hops and citrus. Finishes dry, very little linger. Light mouthfeel, very clean with a fair amount of carbonation. Very drinkable. This is an excellent lager, although I tend to prefer ales. An excellent sessionable brew, very clean and easy drinking, plenty of flavor but light enough to have a few and not feel filled up.

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

Poured from 16 oz can into pilsner glass.
A: Pours a clear pale yellow with high carbonation producing a 1/2 inch white bubbly head. Good retention.
S: Soft and sweet malt notes, toasted grains and bread, hint of pepper and funk...and something akin to 7UP.
T: Gently sweet malt, toasted grains, and soft citrus hops in the distant background.
M: Light body. Mild effervescence from the carbonation.
D: A solid example of style. A wonderfully sessionable brew.

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

Decided to go with Surly Hell on the first 90 plus degree day in MN of the year.

Not my usual style, but it is tasting pretty good today. Sessionable.

Pours light golden with a slight haze.

Smells crisp, slight breadyness. Some citrus.

Crisp mouthfeel. Quite easy drinking.

Nice change of pace for me and a great example of the style.

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Photo of BigBry
3.96/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Four pack of tall cans, brought back from my last trip to Minnesota, love the Surly and more cans for the collection.
Pours a straw yellow color, slight bit of unfiltered haze. Golden liquid is topped by half an inch of white head. Smell has a slight, grainy sweetness with just enough hop presence. Grassy and a bit herbal. Taste is very similar to the aroma, no suprises, just a crisp refreshing beer. Mouthfeel is light, crisp, dry-ish finish. Very drinkable, would pair well with most meals, and still great on its own.

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

The style of this beer isn’t one that is often talked about currently. IPAs, barrel-aged, sours, are dominating headlines with most craft beer drinkers but if you want to try different styles and try them when they are done right, I think Surly can be proud of this beer. This could also quite possibly be a great transition beer for those looking to get into the craft beer world. Rumblings of Surly wanting to expand a bit continues through the midwest and here’s hoping that they make it south to the lovely state of Iowa.


Style: Hells/Dortmunder


Purchased at: France44.com

Pour: Golden straw color with a thick white head.

Aroma: Bread, yeast, light citrus.

Flavor: Lots of breadiness with lemon and bit of hops.

Ratebeer.com rating: 90/100

Beeradvocate.com rating: 88/100

Overall: B

My recommendation: A great beer for the style, extremely drinkable. Surly continues to do things and if you can get up north to Minnesota to get some, buy a bunch, or order from france44.com.

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Photo of falloutsnow
3.71/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From: France44 dot com
Date: Canned on 2013-01-03
Glass: Ayinger willi glass

Note: about four months of age seems to bring out a stronger peach-like essence in this beer, at least from the 2013-01-03 canned batch.

Surly's helles lager is a fairly solid representation of the style, crisp, clean, malty, with slight American hopping-style influence. That being said, there isn't much that separates it from fresh versions of its German-created counterparts, and the difficulty in obtaining this and its relative price make it likely I won't seek it out again.

Pours a 1cm tall head of white bubbles, small to medium in size, and of average retention, lasting about a minute. Fades to a thin ring around the glass, with a few flecks of foam lingering atop the center of the beer. Lacing consists of a few spots adorning the innser sides of the glass, nothing very substantial. Body is a transparent orange-yellow color, fairly bright, with carbonation that is visible, but sparse and somewhat sluggish. Light brings out brighter yellow hues.

Aroma is of light, sweet, grainy malt, lager yeast, slightly grape-like and plenty doughy with hints of a mild fruit ester akin to orange peel mixed with cantalopue. WIth age (four months), the fruit ester becomes rather like the scent from a mild, ripe peach, adding that pleasant component to the beer.

The overall flavor of the beer is sweet, somewhat grainy and bread-like, with slight grassy and vegetative aspects, but a fairly interesting mix of yeast-mixed peach and honeydew melon-like esters, either from hops or generated by yeast. Tasting opens with a front palate that is grainy, bready, and slightly grape-like, moving on to a mid-palate that is grassy and vegetative, mingled with mild hints of grapefruit, peach, and honeydew melon. Back of palate features continued peach and honeydew, mild graininess, and bready brewer's yeast. Aftertaste of malt sweetness, yeast-flecked peach-like esters, and slight graininess.

The beer is medium bodied with carbonation that is of medium intensity and feels "big" on the tongue. This creates a fairly full mouthfeel with some foamy nuances. Closes semi-dry, with little residual stickiness on the palate.

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Photo of macrosmatic
3.61/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to BubbaBeerMan for this one. Reviewed from notes. Poured from 16 oz. can into a CCB pint glass.

A: Light gold, fairly cloudy, with a thin white head that fades fast. Low visible carbonation.

S: Light pilsner malt, bready yeast, light floral and citrus aromas, and just a bit of wheat.

T: Light pilsner malt, light citrus, lager yeast flavors, and just a mild hop bitterness. Pilsner malt graininess on the exhale.

M: Light body, low alcohol presence, great carbonation sensation.

O: I'll likely never drink this again. But, it seems to be a decent example of a beer style I don't care for.

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

Poured into my mouth during another one of the usual disc golf outings with cans. Nice vibrant yellow with a lot of clarity and carbonation running through it, pristine virgin white head on it. Aroma is lightly bready, grassy and floral at alternating moments.

Taste, wow, I'm going to have to give "zwickelz" another chance. This is enjoyable, its much like a good pilsner, thinking back to the old Czech Pilsner I used to drink in the Second Millenium. It is somehow a very good blend of smoothness, high carbonation, floral hops and crispness. Impressive. I wouldn't trade any Furious for it, but its probably one of my favorite lagers out there, in a style I don't completely understand.

In some ways, the mouthfeel is simple and clean, but it really has some delicate and appropriate touches and nuances. There's a little floral non hopped aspect, like some kind of literal flower petal in there, mild pepper notes, etc. . . Its kind of like an episode of the Simpsons, it can work on different levels, be it the simple punch in the crotch laugh or something a little more high brow at the same time (example, Duffman proclaiming in court while being sued by Duff Brewery for intellectual property violations: "Ever heard of 'Fair Use'? (hip thrust, OOOOHH Yeah).

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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 DovaliHops
3.41/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear golden color with a medium white head. Scent is somewhat citrusy with a grainy aroma. Light hop aroma...very light. Probably the least appealing Surly beer I've tried (aroma-wise). Taste is a little bit better. Nice, light blend of hops, grain, malt, and lemon. Very light and easy-drinking. Mouthfeel is light and crisp. Drinkability is high. Overall, this beer does not have a lot going on. I could see this one being very user friendly to BMC drinkers. It is very refreshing and decent for the style of beer it is. Not my favorite Surly beer.

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Photo of Roland45s
3/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Almost like a pilsner, I think this is more of a wannabe oktoberfest. Poured with a rich white head and had a golden wheat colored body. Picked up from the mid-west, a standard pilsner style beer, not too much to write home about but not the shittiest beer I've ever had. Supposed to be a reminder of Germany, but I have had better.

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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 sommersb
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 10-20-2012
Freshness: Canned on 08-01-12
Packaging: 16 oz. can
Glassware: Seidel
Purchased: Received in a trade

Pours with a big white head. Color is a hazy, bright golden. I get a decent amount of lacing with fair head retention.

Aromas are of light, bready malts plus grassy and floral hop notes. Also has some lemon/citrus smells.

Crisp and clean mouthfeel is the first impression, with carbonation in the moderate range. Flavors are slightly sweet and lightly hopped. Medium-bodied, the finish is again balanced equally between the hops and malts, playing well with each other. It does have a slight vegetable flavor in the aftertaste that I don't care for.

An enjoyable, easy-drinking lager here.

Thanks to fLax for this one!

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Photo of pmarlowe
3.83/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tuilp glass.

A: Pours clear copper color with two fingers of beige colored head, which deflates slowly leaving behind a solid wall of lacing. Very good retention.

S: Bready and amber malt, a little sweet grain, and some whiffs of interesting baker's spices.

T: Clean malt and lagery yeast flavor, a little eatery caramel. Slight bitterness lingers on the palate momentarily.

M: Medium body and carbonation, a little bite.

O: Solid example of the style, though nothing exceptional. Fairly drinkable, and will satiate any lager craving.

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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 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 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 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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Photo of NuclearDolphin
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Pint Glass

Appearance - Clear Moderately Dark Golden Color with some carbonated bubbles climbing up the sides. Head is about 2 fingers in width and leaves behind some good sticky lacing.

Smell - Biscuits, Bread/Yeasts, Barley and some very mild maltiness. Simple, but pleasant aroma.

Taste - Bread, Yeasts, Barley, Corn, and Malts. The corn aspect reminds me a bit of Spotted Cow. Much like the smell, it's simple but very tasty!

Mouthfeel - Light bodied with some mild carbonation which does not in any way interfere with the flavor. This is a very crisp bodied and refreshing feeling beer.

Overall - It's simplicity allows each flavor to really stand out and flourish and it's just so damned easy to drink. Just recently it was announced that this would be a year round offering, which is good because I will be having this quite often from now on.

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Photo of RoamingGnome
3.85/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to ncketchum for scooping up some Surly for me to try.

Poured this from the 16 oz can into Cheers drinking mug. Served chilled...

A) Light golden brew with a finger of white foam, which settles quickly, light lacing.

S) Quite floral, a little sweetness, grassy with light citrus zest.

T) Light malt/bready sweetness bumping up against pleasurable grassy/floral hops, along with light fruit that was kind of apple/pear.

M) Lighter medium body with moderate carbonation which works well. This one is crisp and refreshing. Grassy slightly zesty aftertaste.

O) Nice Lager right here... Certainly enough flavor and body to separate itself from the run of the mill offerings. Glad to recommend...

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Photo of jimmah120
4.13/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

16oz can 1mo after canning. review from notes

Smell is sweet, buttery, warm malt. Taste is sweet grain, bready malt, wheat grass, tinge of earthy bitter hops. Well carbonated light-medium feel, very drinkable.

Easy drinking lager with some actual flavor, excellent on a hot summer's day. Loses points for being expensive, if it were somehow cheaper I would be drinking it consistently.

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Photo of Redrover
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass, the beer is a vibrant gold with some off-white head and lacing.

It has a nose of lightly toasted malts, some citrus (lemon) and pear.

The taste is spot on for me. Nice balance of slightly sweet malts, fresh grass, pear notes and just a hint of hops.

The mouth is enjoyable as it slightly thick and creamy but still has some zesty carbonation.

It is very easy to drink and the beer highlight of my recent visit to the Cities.

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Photo of TheQuietMan22
3.85/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving type: 12-ounce can. The “CANNED ON” date printed on the bottom of the can is “08/01/12.”

Appearance: Poured into a pint glass. The color is light gold. About a finger and a half of fluffy white head dissipated quickly to leave a skim of foam and a ring around the edge.

Smell: The nose is a little tame but, basically, it is floral, fruity, and sweet; it is a pretty solid lager aroma. There is a little grass and barnyard and also a note of lemon zest.

Taste: The flavor is much more aggressive with a nice dose of floral hops to wake the taste buds. There is a bit of corn-like grain, but it seems more like a solid base for other flavors than anything else. It has a nice, floral/grassy flavor with apple sweetness and lemon zest. Overall, it seems to be a hoppier helles with a few pilsner qualities.

Drinkability: I like it. It is a simple and refreshing lager that offers a nice and subtle complexity.

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Photo of Tucquan
4.05/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on 2012-08-16 in Maple Grove, MN, on 2012-08-20 in Columbia, PA and on-tap on 2013-07-19 at the brewery.

A - Mostly clear straw with a 1-finger head that fades quickly and leaves little lacing.

S - Corn flakes, yeast, lightly toasted bread, touches of lemon, grape and hop floral. Not strong but inviting.

T - Sweet bready malt, apple and grape flesh, touch of lemon citrus and spice. Nice amount of bittering hops that balances in the dry aftertaste with the good tasting malt. I really like the flavor.

M - Light-medium body and medium carbonation. Smooth, crisp and refreshing.

O - A fine lager indeed. Well-worth seeking out.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a clear golden orange with a finger of frothy white head. The head fades down fairly slowly leaving behind some nice lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of Pilsner malt, lemon zest and other citrus hops with some biscuit, bread, grains, and corn.

T - Starts off with a mix of sweet Pilsner malt with some lemon zest and some corn and grains. Through the middle, some bready and biscuity malts come through with a just a hint of pepper. The finish is a mix of Pilsner malt, corn and other grains, lemon zest and light citrus hops, and a touch of floral hop.

M - Medium-minus bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a lightly sweet and dry finish.

D - Very drinkable. Really nice Zwickel. Really smooth and well balanced and finishes really clean.

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