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Hell - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

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

835 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 835
Reviews: 292
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 11.23%
Wants: 123
Gots: 73 | FT: 2
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:
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
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Ratings: 835 | Reviews: 292 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of axeman9182
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to UMNbeerhunter for sending this one along. It was canned on 7/26/11 and poured into my Duvel tulip.

Hell pours a slightly cloudy goldenrod color, lightening to straw in places when held directly to light. There's close to two fingers of white foam crowning the beer, and it shows moderate head retention and lacing. The nose is redolent of freshly baked white bread and crackers, with a hint of delicate spiciness from the Sterling hops. The flavor is a carbon copy of the nose, there's really not much too add. Everything comes across very crisp, and there's a nice balance between all the flavors. The body is firm for a sub 5% beer, and the carbonation has just a little bit of kick in it to keep things interesting. I really enjoyed my can of Hell, it's got a great combination of good flavor and being very easy drinking. I can see myself buying this in bulk to go along with Allagash White as my go to beers next summer.

axeman9182, Aug 28, 2011
Photo of antlerwrestler19
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vigorous pour brings out a golden straw colored beer with a one finger head of fluffy foam that fell relatively fast - little haze. Smells doughy and bread-like just as the can suggests, really grainy with a light maltiness - not getting a whole lot of hops. The taste follows the nose with a bitter bread-like punch up front and finishes off sweet - crisp and refreshing! The mouthfeel is as expected - a nice amount of carbonation that accompanies the light to medium bodied beer. I gave this beer 4 4s because I felt that is exactly what it deserved. It didn't stray away from its claims on the can and was just spot on - nice session beer and a million steps up from Budweiser (just as the store clerk said) not that the two can even be put in the same category.


antlerwrestler19, Aug 26, 2011
Photo of jsprain1
4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- It's not as cloudy as I would have expected based on style and advertising. Head is thin and doesn't last long. No lacing.
S- Smell is intensely bready. Props to Surly for proper advertising. It really does smell like bread dough. Sweet grainyness through and through.
T- Sweet dough with just a light hop presence in the finish. There's a slight yeasty character to it, but not quite as much as I would have thought from an unfiltered beer. That being said, it's very well rounded and balanced.
M- Very low carbonation but the body is medium. It sits on the tongue quite a long time and the flavors really linger.Somewhat sticky, I would say.
O- A very solid beer. Other than the lackluster appearance, this is one of my favorite lagers. So drinkable. Flavorful, but not at all fatiguing.

jsprain1, Aug 20, 2011
Photo of woosterbill
4.03/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pint can into a Weyerbacher tulip. Thanks to the dormant BA markhvizdak for picking this up for me. My first Keller/Zwickel tick, style #95 for me.

A. Clear gold body under a finger of fine white head. Decent retention and lace. Pretty simple, and just fine.

S: Intense, lively aroma of pilsner malt and vibrantly bready yeast. Light, herbal hops. The yeast character is particularly fascinating, as it's totally free of any sulfur or typical lagery faults, but still a dynamic presence. It's almost citrusy, a trifle sour, and almost a bit salty - reminiscent of what I imagine a Pilsner/Gose hybrid would be like. Awesome.

T: A little less bizarre than the nose - much more of a bulked-up pilsner. Bready malt, herbal hops, and bright yeast. A little sweet, a little bitter, and very tasty.

M: Medium body, low carbonation. Soft, but a little sticky.

O: From the intensity of the malt flavors I really thought this one was higher than 5.1% (the can didn't give any indication) - maybe 6 or 6.5. I really appreciated that this pale lager had more going on than most, and would gladly drink can after can. I really want to track down some more examples of this style.


woosterbill, Aug 19, 2011
Photo of twiggamortis420
3.28/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16 oz can courtesy of biglobo8971, canned on stamp of 07/08/11. Uber-fresh Surly? Yes please! Pours a fairly clear gold color with a small white head. Retention is average at best and lacing minimal.

Nose is very grainy, smells like the grain crusher at the homebrew shop with some floral hops in tow. Doesnt really have the yeast presence I noticed in the two other Zwickels I have had.

Taste is grainy, light and fresh. This reminds me more of a Helles Lager than a Zwickel...the yeast is just not there. Hops provide a nice bittering, clean finish and the beer is very drinkable but I am surprised that both of the German imports Ive sampled in this style were tastier than this. I think Surly is one of the best breweries in the country, but this one just does not really do it for me.

twiggamortis420, Aug 14, 2011
Photo of Treebs
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this brew as a random act of kindness, Thanks stevef03!!

Poured from a pint can.

A: Pours a golden straw with slight haze to it. You can't see through it, but you can see all the great carbonation bubbles zip to the top of the glass. Pours a nice fluffy white head that subsides into a thin top-coating film.

S: I definitely pick up the bready pilsner malts along with a slight flowery/fruityness that finishes the smell. Not so much yeasty though.

T: Solid cracker malts with a nice subtle yeast backbone. I'm picking up some slight fruity tartness as well that makes the finish a little bit of a zing. The yeast also makes an appearance, but it's very subtle.

M: Great carbonation with a medium to light body. Crisp and prickly on the tongue.

O: This is my first Surly offering and I really liked this lager. It was very well balanced lager and I liked the traditional aspects about it. Good work Surly, now I'm ready for some more.

Treebs, Aug 14, 2011
Photo of Klym
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a surly nonic. Special thanks to expedition for both the beer and the glassware!

A: Against the light this thing is an ethereal, yellow-tinted murky white. A small, barely 1 finger head comes off with a normal pour and crackles like cheap shampoo but dies off quickly.

S: Pilsner malt smells with leaves, orange rind, and a tad of roasted wheat.

T: Comes in lightly and builds up much of the nose with added floral notes, pollen, and a touch of honey. Well-rounded, earthy, and tasty for a lager.

M: Not sure if it's the journey the can has made but not much carbonation in the body. Luckily the body is pretty thick and it still drinks quite smoothly with a little bit of stickyness in the finish.

O: A really enjoyable lager, but still a lager no less for those curious. Very glad to have tried this offering from Surly.

Klym, Aug 13, 2011
Photo of crossovert
3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml can.

It pours a nice golden color with a foamy white head. This is actually one of the best looking American-made helles beers I have seen.

The smell is a downer. They don't seem to be using German hops. It is okay in the smell.

The flavor again isn't that much in a normal Helles territory. It is a bit sweet for the style and the hop flavors are a bit off.

For an American brewery trying to squirm out a Helles lager it is a better attempt than most but American brewers have a lot to learn if they want to make a quality Helles.

crossovert, Aug 13, 2011
Photo of beerwolf77
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another load of Surly came in recently courtesy of my friends from the twin cities. To my surprise they snagged some hell. Can split into tulips.

A: Mostly clear golden pale yellow. Solid finger of white head. Soapy lace.

S: Crisp pils malt. Sweet and earthy grains. Hops are present but nothing too strong.

T: Soft pale malt and sterling hops make for a mild flavor. Some breadiness but not much. The yeast makes for a nice finish.

M: Light body with biting carbonation.

O: A BMC drinkers cross over beer. Nothing sexy just easy drinking.

beerwolf77, Aug 10, 2011
Photo of GilGarp
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

16 oz silver can with green flames. Packaged on 7/8/11.

Served cold from can to imperial pint glass. Hell has a slightly hazy pale golden yellow color. The head is creamy white but short-lived.

Aroma is sweet and mild like a light wheat beer. The yeast is probably the primary contributor to the smell.

Flavor is a little more dominant than expected. A mild grainy taste with more than a little bitterness to balance things out. It's not a real hoppy flavor but the bitter bite is there. It must be all early additions and nothing towards the end of the boil.

Mouthfeel is balanced and clean, crisp and refreshing after an outdoor activity or project.

Overall a solid beer. Nothing to get really excited about but it's well made.

GilGarp, Aug 10, 2011
Photo of ElGordo
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Found on tap at Bailey's Taproom. Body is a bright golden color, rather still and without much head. Crisp, slightly sweet malt on the nose, with a decidedly bready character. Palate is crisp with a slight tang, I'm never sure how to describe it, but it's a telltale marker of the Helles style. Notes of light fruit, bready malt, and mildly fruity hops are present as well. Body is light and airy, although some more carbonation would not be a bad addition. A decent beer for the start of an evening in late summer, that's for sure.

ElGordo, Aug 10, 2011
Photo of Duff27
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Foam explodes out of the can onto my faux-wood paneled parents basement/room. Quick dissipating head, no lacing.

S- Smells like German bread that you would get from the downtown Berlin bakery on a Tuesday.

T- Bready, sweet. Well balanced like a state-of-the-art teeter-toter.

M- Palate fills with beer and carbonation feels great on the tongue.

D/O- Only real complaint is on appearance. Shot out of the gate like a lager thoroughbred- then fizzled and was lifeless. Tastes great though that if they were to lower the price to about 4 for $6.99 it may well be my go-to (read: have to trade for a couple cans) beer every summer.

Duff27, Aug 08, 2011
Photo of mdaschaf
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from notes.

A: Pours a clear golden color with a sudsy one finger head, pretty fast dissipation leaving behind only a few sparse bubbles on top. No lacing.

S: Even though the can said it does not have lager yeast, it smells like it does, almost like a pilsner. It has a slightly musty aroma but also some sweetness.

T: Plenty of grain and some sweet malt, with light citrus/lemon. There is some biscuity malt and slightly herbal.

M: Light to medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Drinks rather smooth.

O: Vastly different from the last Keller Bier I had, with the other one being my preference. Not bad, but probably my least favorite beer from Surly thus far.

mdaschaf, Aug 04, 2011
Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

16oz can poured into a pint glass.

A - Pours a light hazy yellow with a thin white head, it fades to a film across the top.

S - Wheat and sweet malts.

T - Sweet malts and bready.

D - Light body, good carbonation.

O - Very smooth and light. Refreshing.

HuskyinPDX, Aug 02, 2011
Photo of elgiacomo
3.55/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16oz canned June 30, 2011 (at least I think...was hard to read the month). Served at around 40-45F. Thanks again to Ryan for another Surly treat!

Pours clear gold with a very active white head that diminishes in a blink of an eye leaving just a light ring and a couple of temporary spots of lacing.

Aroma is some grassy hops, bread & cracker malt, lightly herbal and floral, overall strength is moderate at best.

Flavor is sweet bready malt, a bit of caramel, light grassy hops that offer just a hint of bitterness but sweetness dominates the profile. Fairly straightforward but offers a good amount of flavor for the style and goes down very nicely.

Mouthfeel is light bodied overall but offers a touch more heft than other similar lagers. A bit oily with light/medium carbonation.

A nice, flavorful lager that is hitting the spot after doing some yardwork in the summer heat!

elgiacomo, Jul 31, 2011
Photo of cjacobsen
3.2/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

(A) Pretty clear golden color with a frothy white head that dissipates down pretty quickly leaving only a coating on the top of the beer.

(S) Some light malt, some hops, possibly noble pilsner hops as it almost smells (and looks) like a pilsner. Has a slight sweetness to it. Kind of has a dry nut smell.

(T) Has a bit of a zest up front, maybe a little bit of lemon peel. Good amount of graininess on top of sweet, light malt. Hint of a little bit of biscuit followed by a slight metallic taste, more than likely from the hops and the lager yeast.

(M) It's a pretty smooth beer. It's got a full body to it and definitely fills the palate.

(O) Pretty decent beer. Been a while since I've had a straight up lager beer. This is a great lager style, but it's not something I would go scouring the land for. It's like a fuller flavor, bigger bodied MGD, in my honest opinion, which isn't a bad thing as I feel this is how a lager should taste, or how MGD wants to taste like anyway.

cjacobsen, Jul 31, 2011
Photo of Chaney
3.6/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thank you SamuelJackson45 (Leon) for sending this in a nice big fat Surly pack!

A: Very cloudy, unfiltered, with the color of a freshly squeezed lemon. The head was solid white and absolutely humongous!

S: Bread dough, but definitely not on the sweet side. I got a very strong mothball-like presence from this one.

T: A tinge of vomit taste which subsided somewhat once I got into the session. However, the aftertaste was smooth and very yeasty.

M: Pretty thick for this style, very subtly carbonated, and the lacing was minimal.

O: Nice on a hot day, but the gastric quality was a bit of a turnoff. I think I'll stick with Hefeweizens when I'm in the mood for a summer beer.

Chaney, Jul 30, 2011
Photo of EgadBananas
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big ups to Gushue3 for this CAN! Canned 6/30/11

Pours a slightly cloudy medium straw color, white head of maybe a finger, which dissipates to a bubbly film.

Aroma is malty sweet, a bit nutty, with hints of hops.

Taste emulates the aroma quite nicely with the malty, nuttiness and dash of bitter finishing hops.

Lightly creamy feel, light bodied, good carbonation.

Awesome can, pretty good brew.

EgadBananas, Jul 30, 2011
Photo of kkipple
4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

16 ounce can, QUITE fresh (canned 6-15-2011) from some generous soul at the wild n woolly BA Sexual Chocolate release. Thanks man, whoever you are!

For whoever reads this in the future, it is 100 degrees here today in sunny Columbia South Carolina. Heavens help us! Or maybe this beer will....

Dumped twice into my Trumer Pils cylinder, a dying breed of glass.

A. Gorgeous clear pale gold, fizzy, with an inch tall puffy white head that dies gently.

S. Straw / hay, lemon, german pale malt, grassy / gassy, refreshing, sour twang, fresh, cool mountain water.... mineral. Comes together quite well. Nothing off here.

T. Surprising amount of depth. Fresh malt, crusty white bread, lemon-kissed, earthy, restrained hop bitters, refreshing in the highest degree. Corn and straw, quite dry upfront. Excellent bitter / bready soft finish. A tremendous refresher, I would drink this anytime with BBQ or grill food.

M / O. Drier than I would have guessed, this demands large sips. The finish is excellent, just bitter enough to fade out gently, leaving a cleansing, lemon-malt-sweet finish. I am rather surprised by the (relatively) low scores this has been getting - with a beer of this style, freshness is paramount. I'm happy to say this one passes with flying colors. Surly Hell is a true to-style winner. Wish we had it here.

kkipple, Jul 30, 2011
Photo of pitasoup
3.18/5  rDev -17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: pours crystal clear yellow, very bmc like with a finger of white head.

S: a touch of noble hops, pils, corn, slightly alcoholic and dirt.

T: corn similar to taste, from pils or just how lots of lagers rub off on me? cant be sure.

m: light to light-medium body. clean finish and not very demanding

o: this is a marginally hoppier version of any bmc beer. i don't find this offensive, possibly because its a fresh can, but also perhaps because there is very little flavor. they've nailed the light lager style, which i hear is technically difficult to produce.

pitasoup, Jul 30, 2011
Photo of THECPJ
3/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed from notes:

appearance: golden yellow with a 1 finger white head the dissipates quickly.

smell: hops, malts,

taste: grass, hops, bready malts,

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, thin to medium body,

overall: a very drinkable beer. just nothing over the top or special about this one.


THECPJ, Jul 29, 2011
Photo of jsanford
3.55/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

16oz can poured into a Weizen Glass.

A - Pours a slightly hazy glowing gold with a 1-inch head of creamy white that settles to a thin haze and ring. Leaves slight sheets of lacing as it recedes.
S - Sweet toasted malt and a bit of German hops with a touch of ripe pear. A nice, crisp Lager.
T - Follows the nose closely with sweet bready malt and grassy German hops. Not overly complex but a very nice Lager.
M - Nice and crisp, with a medium-thin body and moderate carbonation.
O - Pretty good, one of the better Lagers I've had, but not a style I go nuts over.

jsanford, Jul 25, 2011
Photo of sweemzander
3.35/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz. can poured into an imperial pint.

(A)- Pours a mildly hazy golden yellow color. Produced a nice cap of white froth. Some lacing too.

(S)- A dry straw-like grainy aspect. Ever so mildly earthy with bits of clay-like yeast.

(T)- Very similar to the smell in every way. That dry straw-like, almost grassy earthy quality that finishes rather yeasty.

(M)- A crisp carbonation level. A nice balance too. Not overly bitter or dry but it does begin to get a tad heavy on the yeast as it warms.

(D)- Definitely crisp and refreshing during this heat wave we are having, but this is definitely NOT Surly's best stuff.

sweemzander, Jul 24, 2011
Photo of exonthebottle
2.17/5  rDev -43.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

this beer is not fun it was hell to drink. the malts were heavy and syrupy seemed not very carbonated and flat. Yeast taste was very rough and gave me a headache. Not impressed with this beer surprised by the high ratings. Yokel was better than this a lot better from my memories and that is only other Zwickel I have had so far but that was a long time ago.

exonthebottle, Jul 24, 2011
Photo of lawlerj
3.55/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at Mackenzie's in Minneapolis.

A - pours a tranlucent golden color w/ an off white head. Not much head retention.

S - malt and fruit, not much hop character that I can detect on the nose.

T - grains and malt mixed with a bit of citrucy/fruity punch, but not overly sweet, which I like.

M - light to medium bodied, not overly carbonated. Nice and easy drinking.

O - overall a nice easy drinking summer type beer. Tastes very good and I'll have to try this again.

lawlerj, Jul 23, 2011
Hell from Surly Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 835 ratings.