1. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

Hell - Surly Brewing Company


Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

696 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 696
Reviews: 284
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 11.2%

Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Munich Helles Lager |  5.10% ABV

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.

(Beer added by: feloniousmonk on 08-26-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers
Ratings: 696 | Reviews: 284 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of shand


4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 16oz can into an imperial pint.

Hell yes! This bad boy's been on my wants for a very long time, huge thanks to Corbet. This one pours out a vibrant golden color with a large head. The aroma is light and grainy, with some hops and breadiness. Awww yeah. This hits the tongue with the perfect lager crispness, there's a perfectly balanced bit of sweet bready and grainy maltiness, along with a bit of slightly bitter, floral hops. The mouthfeel is light and briskly carbonated, and the drinkability is very good. Everything is in balance here. It's just a perfectly smooth, balanced, and delicious lager.

Serving type: can

07-20-2012 00:50:18 | More by shand
Photo of TastyTaste


4.48/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Surly's first foray into a traditional German lager. I will be the first to admit that what I like about Surly is the usual intense dosage of hops, malt, or some other ingredient to make an assertive, strongly flavored beer.

This is a very good German-style lager. It tastes fresh and crisp, has a beautiful malt backbone, and only a flirtation with hops. I have nothing to complain about with this beer, it is up to the standards of having "Surly" on it's label.

Serving type: can

07-16-2012 18:04:10 | More by TastyTaste
Photo of VncentLIFE

North Carolina

3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks heatwave33!

This looks like a good beer. Slightly hazy goldenrod body. Thick small white head.

Smells insanely sweet and smooth. Corn in there for sure, but its smells syrupy. Almost wheat like in its crispness.

Very light and crisp, kind of like a wheat lager. Sweetness isnt too much. Its definitely sweet, but its crisp enough not to make it syrupy. Maybe its the style, but its so light and smooth, yet finishes clean with just a hint of grassy sweetness.

Serving type: bottle

07-12-2012 18:10:23 | More by VncentLIFE
Photo of Atev


4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Yellow with a tinge of gold. Lively 1 finger head that fades quickly. A very slight haze, with bubbles creeping along the side of the glass.

S: Light, breezy pils smell (less any hint of skunk). Smells like fresh beer, pretty much.

T: Sweet and refreshing, with a bit of bitter following. Does not dry out like a pils, it's more like it fades from the palate, with just some mineral and salt left in the aftertaste.

M: Fresh, watery, carbonation is light and cleansing.

O: I've had tons of lagers, and only lagers before I got to the US many years ago, and this is a top-notch one. Not as aggressive as a Czech, not quite like most Germans. Very refined and clean.

Serving type: can

07-06-2012 02:01:53 | More by Atev
Photo of siege06nd


4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to bertram for this!

A. Pours a mostly clear, golden straw color. Three-quarter finger crisp eggshell white head. Lacing is spectacular, really thick sheets coat the glass.

S. Lots of grain, bread crust, some herbal spiciness from the yeast, and hints of hops. Good.

T. Follows the nose with a very bready, grainy flavor profile, some light floral notes from the hops, and subtle dryness added by the yeast.

M. Very smooth and very refreshing...light bodied and highly carbed. Excellent integration of flavors here and a very nice finish.

O. These styles are very challenging for me because they don't distinguish between each other that much. Frankly, this drinks like a pilsner with a little extra yeast and a little less hop bite. It's mellow, grainy, and well-rounded. For a low ABV summer sipper, this is great.

Serving type: can

07-02-2012 14:49:44 | More by siege06nd
Photo of tone77


3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A big thank you goes out to cpolking for sending me this beer. Poured from a 16 oz. can. Pours a golden color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is sweet, malty. Taste is good, bready, malts, somewhat sweet, very refreshing. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a great summertime beer.

Serving type: can

06-29-2012 23:07:32 | More by tone77
Photo of jmarsh123


4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours slightly cloudy bright straw with a small white head.

Smells very grainy and bready. Good cracker aroma.

Starts out with a very crisp cracker like malt quality. Big wet grain flavor takes over the back end with some spiciness.

Light bodied, but still full flavor with medium carbonation levels.

A very good take on a very underrated style from Surly. Great summer beer.

Serving type: can

06-28-2012 21:47:23 | More by jmarsh123
Photo of bmike86


4.73/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I picked up a 4 pack from Edina Liquor off of York Ave across from Southdale.

Appearance --- a nice light golden yellow with about a finger worth of white head

Smell --- malts, a bit of grass and grain

Taste --- bread like, malts, with a faint citrus

Mouth feel --- crisp early and finishes soo smoothly, has a light body and a bit of carbonation

Overall --- when the weather warms up during the year, this is the style I look for and Surly did a great job with their take on it… I will be coming back for more and more! I am thankful to live in the Twin Cities, where this is a fairly accessible beer in the liquor stores out here. I may not be the biggest fan of Surly’s year-round line up, but they hit some real home-runs with their seasonals

Serving type: can

06-28-2012 18:45:20 | More by bmike86
Photo of rlee1390


3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Clear yellow, some carbonation, two finger head

S-Straw, wheat, bread and some grass.

T-Nice sweet bready malt, some lemon and grass, good balance and slight toasted malt.

M-Light, very smooth and crisp.

O-One of the better Summer beers I've had and one of the better pale lagers I've had. Good job Surly.

Serving type: can

06-23-2012 15:29:43 | More by rlee1390
Photo of tewaris


3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Canned 06/06/12, poured into a pint at ~2 weeks from the canning.

As promised, it's a fairly light colored beer. Medium head and medium retention. A really bready and sweet aroma... like walking in the bread aisle of the store. Sweet upfront but slight balancing bitterness towards the end. This beer doesn't seem to be about hops at all.

There's another note in the aroma that is hard to place... a tad like a Berliner weisse but not sour by any means.

Anyway, it's quite simple and clean in its flavors but the finish is more sweet than it is dry. Light body and high carbonation works. Refreshing and a good summer beer on all counts. At the same time not the best summer beer... I would reach for a Pilsner first that I think Surly should totally brew!

Serving type: can

06-21-2012 08:28:46 | More by tewaris
Photo of chugalug06


3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Canned 5/17/12

Reserved, two-figered, foamy, white head. Brew is very light (piss) yellow with nice clarity.

Smells thin. Papery and rusty scent. Not much there.

A refreshing Lager, but thin, watery, and bland. Wet with HIGH carbonation. Mild crisp murky bread flavor.

Nothing memorable. No noticeable standout flavors or scents, a typical light Lager.

Serving type: can

06-19-2012 03:15:40 | More by chugalug06
Photo of samie85


4.45/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear golden color with two fingers of white head.

Smells of sweet malt with with some lemony hop notes.

Follows the nose with sweet light grain and light lemony and grassy bitterness on the finish.

Mouthfeel is nice and light with low carbonation.

Very easy drinking; wish I would have bought more of this one considering the hot streak we're having currently.

Serving type: can

06-12-2012 04:16:04 | More by samie85
Photo of Holland


3.48/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Mista again on this one!

A: straw color, clear with a nice sized head, poor retention, but decent lacing and stickiness.

S: some sweet malt and cane sugar.

T: bitterness with the sweet malt. Good thing the hops are here to give it a slight bitterness.

M: well carbonated and medium-light body is right on for this.

O: decent beer, don't even know what Keller bier/ Zwickel bier is, but it's pretty good for a light colored lager. Not complex, but fine. Like your haircut is fine.

Serving type: can

06-06-2012 00:22:14 | More by Holland
Photo of lovindahops

New York

4.23/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first surly hell. A huge thanks from biglobo, one of the greatest traders on BA. Poured into my surly snifter

A- hell pours a bright straw yellow body with a fantastic head of white foam. The lacing coates the sides of the glass, while also offsetting the golden straw yellow body

S- bready with a good whiff of grassy notes pushing out from the glass. A real refreshing pils blast that I like

T- slightly heartier than a normal pils, hell has a good sweetness that is still quite crisp and refreshing. A sweet bready and rice malt taste is really refreshing. I could taste this all day

M- crisp and refreshing with flavor mingling for a treat

O- wow, surly does no wrong! Hell is just as good as a prima pils to me. So drinkable that I don't know what to say other than I could drink these non stop! Surly is amazing

Serving type: can

06-01-2012 00:35:43 | More by lovindahops
Photo of inlimbo77


3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

16oz can. Canned on 5/17/12, so super fresh. Poured this one into a Victory tulip glass.

A: Pours a really beautiful clear (unfiltered?) golden yellow color. Two fingers of fluffy bright white head. Lots of carbonation streaming off the bottom of the glass. Pretty beer.

S: Fresh bready notes. Bright citrus hop aromas, but they are mild. Grassy and grainy for sure.

T: Initially you get a touch of hops (mild ones) on the tip of tongue. Fades really quickly into that pilsner maltiness. Nice clean breadiness. Very smooth and easy drinking. The finish is clean and crisp. Definitely a beer you could slam in the summer months.

M: Light bodied.

O: B+ (solely because it isn't a style that I really care for).

Serving type: can

05-29-2012 15:27:08 | More by inlimbo77
Photo of yamar68


3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 16oz can to pint glass. Extremely fresh, canned 5 days ago:

Pours and smells like a quality pilsner. Pale gold, clear as a bell, abundant large-gauge beading. A starch white finger of foam floats above.

I have a hard time pinpointing the flavors of this family of beers. Cereal, sweet bread, some bitter hop presence, rather pleasant.

Drinks like a good outdoor summer beer. This might be a candidate for my Bonnaroo beer in a few weeks. Crisp, clean with subtle hops and mild malts.

Serving type: can

05-24-2012 21:37:01 | More by yamar68
Photo of argock


3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 16oz can into a Samuel Adams Perfect Pint glass. Canned on 8/09/11 smudged on bottom of can. Received as a gift from bro Greg (keep them coming!).

A: Slightly hazy gold with tightly bubbled white 1+-finger head that recedes to a small trail of lacing.

S: Sweet cereal grains with slightly citrus American hoppiness without much German hops character.

T: The flavor is also slightly fruity sweet with a lot of juicy lemon-orange citrus blending with the sweetness to leave a zippy fairly crisp lager.

M: The nice thick creamy kellerbier feel is there with fairly tame carbonation.

O: I liked this beer but it doesn't carry all of the traditional qualities of the style. I don't like the American hopping like in their other beers -- it just doesn't fit that well. All in all though, this is still a drinkable, enjoyable beer.

Serving type: can

04-13-2012 03:04:47 | More by argock
Photo of spdyfire83


3.43/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

197th Review
Can to snifter

From notes. Pretty sure some generous BA sent this as an extra, but not sure who. Thanks though!

A: Clear golden hue. 2+ ( frothy white) fingernail head on gentle pour. Holy carbonation!

S: Not much here - hints bready malt, lemon zest, and hay.

T: Bready malt mixed with grassy taste. Touch of dried citrus peel and (soft) spice. Faint hop bitterness towards the finish.

M: Light bodied and well carbonated. Very easy to drink.

O: Overall a pretty decent beer for the style, but I'm just not a big fan of lagers. I realize the Keller Bier/Zwickel Bier is a style of its own, but I am generalizing my thoughts here. Nice to drink out of a can though!

Serving type: can

02-21-2012 14:21:07 | More by spdyfire83
Photo of angrybabboon

Rhode Island

3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Cheers to Goblinmunkey7 for hooking me up

Review adapted from notes taken 8/20/11

Appearance: Mostly clear golden color - not much of a head, but it leaves some sticky lacing

Smell: Like a sweet bread - sweet and grainy - otherwise, quite mild - some slight yeast spiciness, but mostly this just smells like bread

Taste: Sweet grains, with some spiciness - doesn't scream "lager" though, which is interesting - as the smell implies, this tastes like a light bread - somewhat clean and simple, but there are some off-flavors

Mouthfeel: Medium, smooth, personally I'd like this if it were a bit more crisp

Overall: Interesting, not amazing

For maximum cheesiness, I drank this while watching Hellboy and frequently asked myself, "What the hell is a Keller Bier / Zwickel Bier?" Good times. This was good, but it wasn't particularly remarkable. If I could get this, I probably would drink it again - with food.

Serving type: can

01-19-2012 01:59:52 | More by angrybabboon
Photo of vfgccp

New York

4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A – Crystal clear, bright, light gold body. Pillowy while head has great lace and ok retention.

S – Light nose. Hints of lemon, butter and malt.

T – Bright, clean, and malt forward profile. Soft herbalness up front, mineral center, and a sweet bready backend.

M – Medium full body. Clean, semi-sweet finish.

O – A fantastic hells.

Serving type: can

12-23-2011 16:03:49 | More by vfgccp
Photo of tvv375ia


3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured from 16oz can into imperial pint glass

A-style calls for unfilter this appears very clear gold color with about a finger of head that faded completely away quickly

S-a little citrusy hops with some bready malt

T-starts out with some orange flavors followed up with some carmel type bread and little more citrus

M-good carbonation with some dry citrus finish

O- good clean drinking beer not sure if it fits the style but I am just basing that of the style note provided, its good but trying to rate vs style it loses some points

Serving type: can

12-16-2011 00:58:59 | More by tvv375ia
Photo of sirosler


3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: A beautiful clear yellow-gold color with a quickly-dissipating two finger white head and no lacing.

S: Grainy and sweet with a clean, bready aroma and a scent of apples.

T: Bananas was the first thing I though of, with a lot of sweet malt. Fresh, simple, and clean with some bitterness.

M: Smooth with medium body and carbonation.

O: A good lager that's refreshing and easy to drink. The style has personally never done much for me but, as always, Surly makes a valiant effort.

Serving type: can

11-07-2011 20:00:49 | More by sirosler
Photo of kbuzz


2.73/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 16 oz can into a glass. Date on bottom of can says 6/30/11...not the freshest. I am not a fan of lagers at all, so keep that in mind...

A: You know...fizzy, light golden straw/copper color. Half finger head that faded quickly. Fairly clear. Not a bad looking beer, but not overly appetizing.

S: Yeasty breadiness hits first...some detectible floral/herbal/grassy hop notes. A bit of orange rind.

T: Tastes like a lager. Sorry, but I don't really have much more to say here. Mild hops, mild malts, and just a dominant bready/funky lager yeast flavor. Kind of a mildly funky saison quality actually.

M: Not a bad mouthfeel...this might be the only thing that distinguishes this from an average lager. It's a medium-bodied beer and where most lagers are ultra-fizzy w/o any flavors to balance out that bite, this is appropriately carbonated.

O: Sorry folks, I'm just not a fan of lagers. This is definitely better than most, but that's not saying much - just take a look at the scores I gave it. If you like lagers, I'm sure you'll dig this...but I think there are significantly better beers on the market by this brewery.

Serving type: can

10-29-2011 20:04:08 | More by kbuzz
Photo of NWer


4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pour into Pilsner glass gives explosive head that settles fairly quickly.
Clear, light golden appearance.
Nice aroma for the style.
Taste, same. Light, smooth, easy drinker. A good thirst quencher that goes down very easily.
Not much left for the aftertaste. It's as if I hadn't had anything to drink at all. 16 oz can disappears very quickly.
Beats the hell out of BMC for that nice easy drinking beer.

Serving type: can

10-28-2011 20:32:54 | More by NWer
Photo of kawilliams81

Yukon (Canada)

3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured 2 different times into pint glass.

A- 1st pour-poured clear light pilsner with 1 finger white head.
2nd pour-poured cloudy honey color (sediment in can) with thing white head.

S- Sweet honey malts

T- Sweet pilsner/honey malts, with crisp light hop finish.

M- Light bodied, crisp, very easy drinking.

O- Pretty good pilsner like beer. Went down very well with some pizza.

Serving type: can

10-25-2011 23:35:02 | More by kawilliams81
Hell from Surly Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 696 ratings.