Abrasive Ale - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Abrasive AleAbrasive Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

856 Reviews
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Reviews: 856
Hads: 3,896
Avg: 4.47
pDev: 17.45%
Wants: 2,139
Gots: 479 | FT: 19
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Buebie on 12-27-2008

Hazy gold in color, this Oatmeal Double IPA has aggressive aromas of candied grapefruit/tangerine and tropical fruit. Malted oats greatly enhance the body and the high level of bitterness is balanced by this sweetness. Citra hops are used for aroma & flavor additions and for dry-hopping, while Warrior hops are used primarily for bitterness.

OG 19.5 Plato
Color 5 SRM
Hops: Citra, Warrior
Yeast: English Ale
Malt: 2-row, Golden Naked Oats
ABV: 9%
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Reviews: 856 | Hads: 3,896
Reviews by xmorgan:
Photo of xmorgan
4.2/5  rDev -6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 1

This is a very tasty west coast type IPA, I found it a very tasty beer. I enjoyed using the can for beer can chicken and unless I can find this beer on tap I will only use it when making a very hoppy beer can chicken and drink the left over of the 4 pack.

The appearance was first rate with a nice lacing when poured from the can into a glass.

The smell had a significant hoppyness and was as flowery as one would expect from a Great Douple IPA, however great IPAs are not from a can.

The taste was full and hppy and was as good as one would expect from a beer from a can.

I rate this beer a 5 in all catogories exept overall as it is in a can.

No amount of plastic lining in a can can compensate for a bottled beer.

I really want to like this beer and the brewery, but I can get as good or better beers in glass. I know cans are better for recycling, but anything is better in glass then cans. I would pay more for glass then cans, and craft beer is best in a bottle or a keg. NEVER a can.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.72/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Can sent to me by Ryan, thanks so much dude.

This one pours a slightly hazy burnt orange color, with a half inch head, and tons of lacing.

This one smells quite herbal, a bit of marijuana, with a good amount of juicy, pungent citrus fruit as well. The smell just jumps out of the glass.

This one is so fruity, so wonderful, and so hoppy. Moderately bitter, with some pine resin, with a lot more juicy fruit- orange, pineapple, and some grapefruit. This one is pretty sweet, but that's balanced by the bitter pine and the herbal character as well. There's not much in the malt department, and nothing in the alchohol department- it's not noticeable at all.

This has a very juicy mouthfeel, with a body of medium heft. The carbonation is fairy low, but not distractingly so. I'm not sure if this is the normal level of carbonation, or it's lower than usual as per some of the 2015 batch(es) of Abrasive. No matter, though, it's still carbonated, and it still tastes quite good.

This deserves it's status as one of the best IPAs in the country. So good.

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Photo of beaversfan12
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Just as good, if not better than Pliny

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.26/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Canned on 1/10/2015. Poured into a nonic pint glass.

The head is impressive. It's two fingers of fluffy, pale white foam that resembles clouds. It persists exceptionally well and leaves abundant lace. As for the body it's a blend of amber and gold that is slightly hazy at its upper parts, but clear and blonde closer to the base of the glass. 4.75

Piney, resinous and dank on the nose. Hints of citrus and berries but really very much more resinous. A sweet caramel base is noticeable too. 4.25

I'm surprised by a big floral flavor that is much more in line with what I'd expect from a Belgian, very much like fresh lilies. This is accompanied by a resinous, hop oil and fresh hop leafy flavor before a sweet and mildly citrus finish. It has currents of sweet maltiness offering some caramel and there's a nice interplay of flavors here, as each sip seems to offer a different twist. 4.25

Abrasive is apt for how this beer assaults the mouth. It's bitter almost throughout and not in a mellow way, it really bites at the tongue. There's a refreshing element initially, but it gets pretty thick and creamy before a dry and bitter finish. Carbonation is low to medium and works with the bitterness to really punish the tongue. 4

Besides being overly bitter for my poor taste buds, this is a damn good brew. The more masochistic of IPA/DIPA drinkers would probably love this.

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Photo of Brado913
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Everything about Abrasive is what beer should be. It is the perfect cold MN winter day beer.

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Photo of shrek806
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Surly Darkness snifter from a 16 oz can

The pour is an orange hue with a thick creamy head and sticky lacing on the glass

The smell is an awesome, over-the-top citrus explosion of orange, pineapple, lemon, and mango with a hint of pine.

The taste follows the smell. It is loaded with citrus with a nice hoppy finish. little to no bitterness which is hard to believe considering the alcohol content.

The mouthfeel is perfect. Not to carbonated, smooth creamy swallow. No bite.

The overall drinkability is top notch. My absolute favorite DIPA. Maybe my favorite beer out there. Thank you Surly.

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Photo of troupos40
3.21/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

I know I'm not the only one to get a flat abrasive, 2 were great and 2 were very low carb. This review is for the flat ones, I just believe this beer shouldn't be rated this high when there is the possibility of tainted cans. The good is really good, but the bad is pretty bad. Surly really needs to take QC seriously.

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Photo of ThaCrax
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Perfect! Rolling warmth across my tongue. Hops Galore! I wish I could drink this every time I want an IPA.

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Photo of jegross2
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Reviewing the Abrasive Ale from Surly Brewing Company. Thank you BeerAdvocate user Mid for sending me this one!
Score: 100

16 oz can with a "canned on" date of 12/01/11 poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy, translucent copper-orange color with a full finger of creamy cream colored head that slowly settles into a thin layer and thick ring around the glass. Amazing lacing. An absolutely gorgeous IIPA. 5/5

Smell: This one is extremely fresh and citrusy! I could smell the beer as I was pour it out of the can. Huge amounts of pine and zesty citrus. Lots of fresh grapefruit, lemons, tangerines, oranges and tropical fruit. A little caramel malt. Deep whiffs of the fresh, zesty citrus aromas really perk the smell receptors, just like Zombie Dust. Abrasive Ale's aroma rivals Heady Topper. 5/5

Taste: WOW. Huge of zesty grapefruit and pine flavors throughout. I wouldn't say this one has a "malty backbone," but a noticeable maltiness on the mid-palate counterbalances what would otherwise be an extreme citrus hop bomb of bitterness. That balance is nice, as it takes you to the edge of hoppiness and back before the finish. Huge notes of fresh lemon come out more and more as the beer layers. The citrus zestiness of the beer is like a bright sunshine of hops on the palate. A lingering lemony bitterness grows in the finish as the beer layers. 5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, high carbonation. The carbonation really highlights the zestiness on the palate, making the bright, fresh citrus flavors "pop" on the tongue. Finishes dry and sharply bitter. 5/5

Overall: This is amazing imperial IPA -- the best I have had to date. This one takes you to the edge of fresh citrus hoppiness and back. An absolute must try beer. This is one tailor-made for hops heads.

Recommendation: Beer geeks need to seek this beer out; it lives up to the hype. This is a must try beer. Casual beer drinkers who are not hops averse should probably enjoy this one too, though I have found IPAs, and especially imperial IPAs, to be a poor "gateway" into craft beer for casual beer drinkers.

Pairings: I paired this one with beef shwarma, Mediterranean rice and tahini, and I thought the spiciness and hoppiness paired really well.

Cost: $15.99 for a four pack.

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Photo of Mr_Bongard
5/5  rDev +11.9%

Look forward to it every year

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Photo of RussBeercier
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I rated this a 5 last year. Then I got some this year. Blown away again.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.57/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A big thanks to my homeboy Ben for hooking me up with some cans of this beast.

A: The beer is amber in color with great clarity and a massive cream colored head on top which sticks to the edge of the glass.

S: A hop bomb if I've ever smelled one! Very reminiscent of Sculpin's aromas. A ton of tropical fruit, especially pineapples and mangos along with plenty of juicy citrus. No malt to be found.

T: The sweet tropical fruits are really the main attraction here as well. The pineapple and mango provide a nice sweetness, along with some peaches. There is plenty of juicy grapefruit and pine on the finish to give the beer a great bitterness.

M: Medium in body with a low to moderate carbonation and a really crisp finish to the beer.

D: I say it everytime I have a Surly beer, and I'll say it again: awesome! These guys really have a good thing going and I'm glad to have some more of this one in the fridge.

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Photo of TheBrewo
4.46/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This brew was served on tap from the upstairs walk-up bar, at the new Surly taproom in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Arriving in a pair of thick house tulips, Abrasive shined the color of a freshly polished penny. A half finger tall head the color of French lace stood tall, leaving milky ring etchings around our glasses following a medium retention. A chill haze obscured clarity, but no sediment was noted. Carbonation appeared to be mildly moderate. The nose filled with airs that were oh, so sticky sweet, with big grapefruity citric hoppiness complimented by heavy grassy and fruity nectar varietals, pale and clean caramel malty sweetness, mango and pineapple flesh and syrup juiciness, sweet cornbread, cooling vanilla bean, hot honey, warming white and caramel sugars, toffee, white chalk on sweating asphalt, green grassiness, hearty boozy sweetness, and mild shoe polish bite. The flavoring…BOOM!! We experienced massively bittering citric hop, fruitiness of pineapple, pear, and kiwi, grapefruity skin and juicy wash, underripe strawberries, lemon rind, warmer herbal hop rumbles, green weediness, aloe, foamy plastics, almond extract, bubblegum esters, dandelion, pine sap, worty caramel and pale malt toast, hints of silky fresh oats, and lipstick waxiness. Through the end and aftertaste, flashes of black pepper and old, dried cinnamon, big but welcomed boozy warmth, hoppy garlic airiness akin to Summit hop varietals, and harsh medicinal phenolic wash poked through intermittently. The body sat on the fuller side of medium, while carbonation was higher, but still only gently brushed the palate. Slurp and smack were great, with slightly less cream or froth. The latter were still present enough to contribute towards an initially wet and cooling coating. This dripped into bittering puck and decent astringent dryness. The abv was appropriate, and drinkability was frankly amazing.

Overall, what a fantastic beer to start your night with. Actually, we started and ended our night with pours of Abrasive at the new Surly brewpub (which is gorgeous, by the way). This was actually kind of an emotional experience for us. We had visited Minneapolis a few weeks prior to this trip, but unfortunately were unable to get over to Surly. Very sad. We happened to get a chance for a second trip to Minneapolis for work, and were so thankful for the opportunity to make time during this return visit. If we’re not mistaken, the day we arrived at the brewpub was their annual release day for Abrasive; a beer that has been ever elusive for us, at least for the past few years. It was such a nice surprise to see it one tap, and we had to go for it. Thus, the two glasses a piece. What a journey the beer itself is. The nose is sweet and warming simultaneously, making that first sip irresistible joy. It shocks you with intense citric and grapefruit bitterness, then the sweetness hits. Finally, the booze and chemicals wash you away for this amazingly balanced finale. This is the best DIPA we’ve had in recent memory, and it is sips uniquely as a true east/west hybrid on the transition from the front of the mouth to the back. We said it once, and we’ll say it again…BOOM.

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Photo of PhillyBrewPhan
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Best smelling beer I've ever had. Super smooth and great tasting. A personal favorite. Wish it was more readily available.

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Photo of hseldon15
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Take a moment to smell this beer before you taste it. You won't regret it.

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Photo of Kraj30
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is epic... Right up there with Heady... Fantastic

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Photo of BMMillsy
3.09/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Cans arrived today thanks to an extremely generous BA. Thanks man! Can dated 1/13/15 poured to a tulip glass deep copper colored with nearly no head. Aroma is straight up malt, no hop presence whatsoever. Straight up caramel sugar. Flavor follows with no hop presence, straight malt syrup, almost like this has been sitting around for a few years. Wow. Thick and syrupy, lower carbonation. Really horrendous. Maybe if this were called a barleywine, I'd give it a few more points. But wow. This is Abrasive?

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Photo of 1sophrosyne1
4.23/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a pint canned on 1/13/15 into an IPA glass. Appreciated over 35 remarkable minutes.

Produces a full two-finger head with good retention and appealing clumps of shave-soapy lacing. Hazy flat amber allows sufficient light through to read. Squadrons of small bubbles feed the head, leaving an airy cream cap on the core. It looks the part, but could have a more interesting show.

The nose is assertively bitter, oniony, and almost ammoniac in its way of dumping a tropical bounty in the nostrils. Smells make one see the color orange reflected by mangoes, peaches, papayas, and passion fruit. After some time in the glass, the sharp antiseptic resins flow away, leaving pineapple juice, saltine, and a touch of lime with those mounds of equatorial produce. Even later, the onion-cellar and sauerkraut overlay returns with the petrol of a used wine barrel; it’s unique, but not necessarily inviting.

The slick of hop oils delays the flavor explosion in cool wetness for a refreshing downbeat. Then, the juicy fruits take over. Papaya and passionfruit are stronger on the tongue than in the nose; mangoes come in a fraction later and fold downward into a lightly toasted and buttered biscuit on the back of the tongue midway through a swallow. At that point, there’s a surprising upward lift of freshness that suspends dusty earth and a nasally-sensed brush of pine that keeps bitterness in check and makes the aftertaste clean and enjoyable. There’s not much depth with a gangly, but rubbery and flexible backbone of malt designed primarily to wave the Citra flag. As it warms, the buzz of ethanol has more influence (right around the time that I can also feel that 9% in my head).

In the mouth, every phase feels right. Although I typically like more heft and chew in a DIPA, the body is properly matched to the hop and carbohydrate profile. Because it’s thinner, some floral phenolic notes of flavor dance on the tongue between gulps in a way that adds complexity to the otherwise humulenic focus. Early, the bubbles make a play, but they fade fast and leave organics to dominate the texture. If I could have just a bit more carbonation in the middle before the clean lift of bitter alpha acids, I’d give this element a perfect rating.

Despite the blast of Citra on the front end with tropical warmth in this winter release, I think the fresh, long ending and aftertaste are my favorite elements in the brew. It’s lively and large, but could use a touch more barley to ground and integrate its bitter angles and splashy fruits. Food fills that need quite nicely, though. The appellation doesn’t really fit this iteration of Abrasive, but buy it up and drink deeply! It’s a winner…again.

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Photo of dmgeng
4.82/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I've been wanting to try this for quite sometime and finally with the help of Omensetter got a chance to try it!

A - Very bright golden orange color. Some what hazy from the amount of dry hops. It almost look like there is fruit added with some of the bubbles getting stuck in the thick resinous beer. The head is small and fine white that subsides quickly but has some residual lacing.

S - HUGE HOP FRAGRANCE! It almost rivals Pliny in aromatics with tons sweet citrus/orange/grapefruit/tangerine just bursting out of the glass. As I cracked the can there were so many fragrances that I didn't even have to pour before I knew how good this could be. There is some pine, herbal, and resin to go with it basically just a big, juice-inspired hop bomb.

T - Lots of hop flavor coming out of this one. Mostly the grapefruit and tangerine along side the pine, herbal, and resin character. There is some malt but it is very light and no alcohol to be found. The bitterness is very strong and stronger than I would have expected from the amount of sweet aromatics but it is clear that the warrior hops provide a bitterness to be reckoned with. It is this big bitterness without a serious malt backbone that makes this beer not quite a 5-star beer but very close.

M - Medium to high mouth-feel with light carbonation. It is definitely going for lots of flavor to be savored and not to be pounded. The body is quite thick for a 9% DIPA with the addition of oats and the massive amount of hop resin in this beer.

Overall, I am thinking of this beer as the Pliny of Minnesota. With it's huge aromatics and a robust hop flavor this one gives all DIPAs out there a run for their money. I really enjoyed the body and hop profile but I hope that they add some more crystal malt in the future to add maltiness to this hop explosion. I would still strongly recommend this beer and is worth trading for the next time that a fresh release comes out.

Glass- Imperial Nonic

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.8/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Terrifically turbid caramel-covered orange with juicy tangerine and mango highlights. The golden sandstone colored head isn't huge, but it oozes quality. The foam is firmly creamy and sticky, leading to both persistence and an extensive array of fine lace. This is a great looking DIPA.

The word 'great' applies to the aroma as well. The tropical fruitiness emanating from the glass tells me that Amarillo is the dominant hop (Warrior and Glacier are also present). An insane amount of hops and double dry-hopping just cannot be beat. Each sniff results in billowing clouds of orange, pink grapefruit and passionfruit. This should be yet another doozy from Surly.

Doozy is right! 16 Grit Ale may not be as abrasively hoppy as the name suggests, but then I've only just begun to gulp. This might be one of those DIPAs that is cumulatively hoppy and starts to strip tooth enamel after 16-20 ounces. 110 IBUs seems a tad high. On the other hand, it tastes and feels like abundant malt sugars are running interference and attempting to keep things balanced.

My preference is for DIPAs to have either no caramel malt or just a little. There's more than a little caramel-toffee flavor, but less than a lot. In the end, it works well in concert with the lusciousness of the hops, without overpowering them. The beer has 9.0% ABV power, even if the alcohol is barely appreciated on the palate. If that makes any sense.

As often happens, the flavor score has earned a bump near the bottom of the first glass. Warming is probably the reason why. The flavors are more intense and fit together even more seamlessly. This stuff is dangerously drinkable, as is most all Surly beer. Talk about liquid crack. Prediction: this will be one my 'top beers of 2009'. Easy call.

As the raging river of melted caramel solidifies the bottom end, an increasingly impressive hoppiness takes flight on the top end. Flavors mirror aromas, with juicy pineapple, orange zest and pink grapefruit being especially prominent. Maybe a little pine sap as well. Lawdy, lawdy, this big ol' hoppy ale is the cat's pajamas. It also comes in the best looking growler that I've ever seen.

The mouthfeel is pretty damn close to sheer perfection. It's lightly chewy, lightly sticky and moderately mouthcoating. I'm also pleased that the carbonation is laid back, yet insistent enough to provide lift and volume. Kudos to both the brewer (Todd) and the sender (Al).

The temperature outside was -16 degrees when I got up this morning. Coincidence? 16 Grit Ale is yet more proof that Surly can stand toe to toe with America's best breweries and not blink. This beer is a remarkable achievement and deserves to released each and every year. A million thanks to the felonious one for coming through again. Your generosity is humbling. Finally... hoppy birthday to me!

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Photo of ramay86
4.88/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Even in this age of new-world (incredible) pales, with newfangled hop varieties that mostly make me drool, Abrasive seems like the perfect IIPA. It's hard to imagine a better version of the style.

It's complex, yet simple... marmalade, tangerine, orange juice, some conifer bitterness... and the mouthfeel is damn near sexual in nature.

Might be my desert island beer.

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Photo of DanGeo
4.5/5  rDev +0.7%

Photo of Smokesnotes
4.14/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of tectactoe
4.79/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Thanks again to Mike for letting me split his last one with him. My first Surly IPA. Pours a copper-orange color exhibiting exceptional clarity all the way through. A big, white, foamy head piles up and stays perched atop the ale, leaving remnants of chunky lace all around the glass. Overall, very inviting and clean, especially for a DIPA. And of course, great head. Nothing worse than an IPA with no head.

And then I smelled it. Son of a bitch, this stuff smells excellent. As I bring my nose to the glass, a handful of citrus gets launched into my senses and sends me into utopia for a few moments. Pineapples, sweet grapefruits, mangoes, tangerines, and a large assortment of other various tropical fruits just reach out and run a number on my nostrils. The intense citrus is met in equal parts with one of the most raw, and down-n-dirty hop bills I've had the pleasure of smelling. Dank, super oily and resinous, wet, grassy, and full of pine needles. The hops here mean serious fucking business. Whatever they're doing over there at Surly - they're doing it right.

After an aroma like that, how can this stuff not taste excellent? Right up front, the piney, resinous hops swim to every nook and cranny in my mouth and send a shockwave of bitterness through my system. The bitterness is lovely because it seems to hit powerfully and quick, then tapers off and lets the rest of the flavors work their magic - those would include the myriad of fruits I fell in love with a few moments ago. More citrus rind, pineapple, grapefruit peel, mango, tangerine: citric and tropical, all day!

A light peppery flavor works its way into things, along with very slight onion notes, keeping things interesting. The aftertaste leaves you feeling like you just took a mouth full of the freshest and most green grass on the planet. Grassy, leafy, super resinous aftertaste with one, little, dying bit of citrus peel and rind. The malt gives a light bread and cracker canvas for all of the hops to go to town on. After every sip, I am blown away by how awesome this beer is. Medium bodied, carbonated heavily; this one leaves a light stickiness across the palate.

Jesus, this stuff is sickeningly amazing. Some of the freshest tasting hop notes around, nice and bitter without being scary (don't be afraid of the name "Abrasive" - it's not so bad), and one of the best aromas in the business. The formula for success. Surly has it. It's called Abrasive.

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Photo of t2grogan
4/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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Abrasive Ale from Surly Brewing Company
99 out of 100 based on 856 ratings.