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Four - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

267 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 267
Reviews: 142
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 10.6%
Wants: 448
Gots: 49 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Milk / Sweet Stout |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: pdoran10 on 02-24-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 267 | Reviews: 142
Photo of bound4er
3.88/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Jet black appearance with a tan, frothy, two finger head that looks like the surface of our moon.

Smells semi-sweet with roasted chocolate, vanilla and coffee taking center stage. I can tell by the smell that this will be a very rich tasting beer.

Yeah, very rich tasting. Lots of chocolate, roasted malt and espresso upon entry. Warming alcohol hits you next followed by some hop/roasted bitterness that lingers nicely.

Full bodied with good creaminess. This almost borders on being too heavy - call it a meal in a glass.

I should have split my 750 with my wife - this is just way too big and rich to drink in large quantities. Very glad to have tried this beer but it isn't something I need to drink again.

Photo of bsp77
4.63/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with thick tan head, leaving lots of lacing behind.

Smell: Espresso beans, molasses, chocolate, cream and a nice whiff of alcohol.

Taste: Dried out molasses, roasted barley, coffee, cream, chocolate and a light touch of citrus hops. There is also a nice level of smokiness and it almost seems as if it was barrel-aged, but I do not believe that it was.

Feel: Extremely smooth, lush body with low carbonation. Highly warming. Quite silky overall.

Drinkability: Just incredible. This gives KBS a run for its money. It may not have the Bourbon flavors, but it is just as rich, complex and delicious (if not more so).

Shouldn't this be classified as an American Imperial Stout, regardless of the Milk Stout base?

Photo of BEERchitect
4.03/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The sweetness of Four along with the aggressive roast of Four makes me think Tropical Stout as much (if not more than) Sweet Stouts.

An impressive dark brown pour, gives a nearly black appearance along with extremely impressive roast-stained head formation, retention, and lacing. A most gentlemanly look.

Aromas of sharp roast give and acrid deep toast, burnt grains, and coffee grinds aroma. Quite bold but not a smooth and as rounded as I'd expect from sweet stouts, but fine for most other Stouts.

Robust roasted barly dominates the taste. A quick rebuttal of malt sweetness and milk sugars are hardly enough to round out the big charred grain flavors. Burnt, rather than espresso, cocoa flavors and sweeter milky tastes are a bit disjointed; instead of balance, we get a bit of competition between the malt/sugar sweetness and the big roasted quality of the beer.

The body of the beer is solid with a creamy and sweet feel early. But when the roast takes hold, the beer takes a harsher- more acrid and ashy feel that hurts the drinkability just a bit.

Realizing that the criticism here is harsh, the beer is a very nice beer- I'm just expecting more from a finess style of Stout, but Four gives me an aggression that doesn't fit the style. The espresso takes away from the Milk Stout creaminess.

Thanks again Chicksdighops!

Photo of Florida9
3.92/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Served in a snifter with only a small bit of bubbly tan head. Surprisingly little retention, but lots of lacing. Black, but not "jet black" or "motor oil black" Maybe a very dark brown.

S: Heavily roasted malts. Coffee. Sweet licorice.

T: More heavily roasted malts, roasted almost to the point of being charred. A faint smoke flavor. Coffee. Rounded out with a malty, raisin sweetness. Leaves a long roasted malt finish.

M: Think with lower carbonation levels. Covers the tongue then seems to linger there.

D: Good, though I felt as if something was off. Also, a little too sweet for my preference, but I do understand it is the style. I also felt the sweetness and the char helped to temper each other, but they also seems to be battling for supremacy.

Photo of rye726
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This was a very nice suprise from my friends Andy and Natasha. Pours a dark, oily black with a nice tan head. Nose has loads of fresh roasted coffee, peppery cocoa, roasted molasses, sweet oats, milky malts, caramel and vanilla. Taste is also powered by espresso but still well balanced. Medium to full body drinks well.

Photo of Overlord
4.07/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark cola brown, blackish core. Dark foamy bubbling on edges of glass, no real head.

Smells like coffee, dark coffee, roasted coffee, bitter coffee, espresso, and roasted malt. Coffee.

Tastes like the aforementioned coffee, with a few hints of bitter roasted chocolate, roasted malt, more coffee, and maybe an aftertaste of vanilla. Whoa. Thankfully it's sweeter than it smells.

Surprisingly drinkable despite the strong roasted coffee and uber espresso flavoring. Mouthfeel could use more body.

Photo of glid02
4.27/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Lance - thanks!

Pours black with a one-finger light brown head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of strong roasted coffee backed by mildly sweet roasted malts. As it warms hints of dark chocolate aromas work their way into things.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Roasted malt flavors with a good deal of lactose sweetness (could also be residual sugars) kick things off. Robust coffee flavors join in shortly thereafter and are followed by dark chocolate flavors lurking in the background. The coffee and roasted malt flavors carry through to a sollidy bitter finish leaving coffee flavors lingering on the palate.

Mouthfeel is very good. It's got a smooth thickness with grainy carbonation.

Drinkability is also very good. I finished my glass quickly and could easily have another.

Overall I thought this was the second-best coffee-themed milk stout I've had behind only Depth Charge (although to be honest there aren't many in the style). It may be a bit of homerism, but regardless this beer is certainly worth a shot.

Photo of Beerisheaven
4.17/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Props go out to wisconsinbeer1 a gentlemnenly type from WI for passing this beer along to me. I have basically loved every Surly beer that I have tried, so I was eagerly anticipating this one.

A - Poured pretty black into my awaiting snifter with a fine tan head generated from a fairly aggressive pour. It is Surly and a stout, what did you expect?

S - Copious amounts of coffee with some chocolate sitting there in the background as well. Smells like a coffee chocolate milk shake was the best way to put it.

T - Great coffee taste with an ample amount of underlying lactic sugar giving a creamy taste to balance out the coffee. The one reason I dinged it a bit here was the presence of the smoke flavor. For me, I wish that they had not put the smoke element into this beer. Still very good, but it could have been great if they backed off the smoke

M - Rich and good.

D- Very nice and no hint of the 10.00% ABV.

This is a very good beer that could have been better in my opinion with less smoke profile. Cut the smoke and this is probably the best espresso milk stout that I have had. It would be better than Depth Charge in a big way minus the smoke.

Thanks Jason. I would love to try this one again because it still is really good.

Photo of runfoodrun
4.85/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is truly an amazing brew! Milky with plenty of coffee and a very rch flavor. Nothing to complain about here. I believe this to be a superior brew to the excellent Darkness.

Appearence: dark, but not midnight dark, nice lacing, just enough head, but I'm not a fan of wasting 1/2 my beer on foam.

Smell: hmmmm...coffee, milk, toffee, I love coffe, I love this.

Taste: you have to try it. So much going on, yet simple enough to just enjoy.

Mouth feel: very little booze despite the abv.

Drink: had 2 on tap without noticing the effect, which was strong! Great brew. Wish it was seasonal and not a one off!

Photo of largadeer
4.13/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from mully. Thanks! The beer is an opaque dark brown with a solid leather-hued head. Looks appetizing.

Intense espresso aroma, almost to the point of being one-dimensional. There's a little dark chocolate, cream and earthiness.

Bitter chocolate and coffee with cream. Pretty rich, the lactose provides a lot of body and sweetness. Moderate alcohol presence around the mid-palate, along with slight tartness and ashy bitterness. Finishes sharp and roasty, fruity, mildly tart. The strong roasty bitterness does a good job of balancing the sweetness, though it wears down the palate after a while. Very enjoyable beer, though I couldn't drink much of it in one sitting.

Photo of mdwalsh
4.17/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A; Four pours a 1 1/2 finger head of deep tan on a fairly black body. I say fairly black because while it is totally opaque, it has a hint of brownness to it. The head, however, has no retention and is gone in a few sips.

S: There is a very mocha aroma, very similar to fresh roasted coffee, and slightly creamy. It's sort of all the smells of a coffee shop combined. Even some real deep analysis says its more like a mocha latte type drink than a cup of black coffee, but coffee none the less.

T: Can't say it enough, mocha, though maybe the taste has a little caramel to it. It's not overly bitter, and any bitterness comes from grain, not hops. The milk sugar is evident. The Coffee doesn't fade at you go, and that may help this beer from becoming too sickly sweet.

M: Very smooth and not too heavy.

D: Pretty good for as coffee as it is, since I don't particularly like coffee flavors. For the coffee drinkers out there, this would be heaven, as I would expect from the makers of Coffee Bender.

Photo of nickd717
4.17/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bomber thanks to largadeer on BA.

Pours black with a small tan head and some lacing.

Aroma is great - espresso, roast, and dark chocolate.

Flavor is really solid. Sweet dark chocolate, espresso, caramel malt, and a little alcohol. Sweet yet dry on the palate.

Medium-full body with average carbonation and some warmth.

This is a really solid impy stout overall, and I know one when I see one. On the sweeter side, but that's what the style is going for.

Photo of Thorpe429
3.91/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to two generous Minnesota traders for getting me out bottles of this.

A: Wow! Pours very dark with a huge, billowing cream-colored head that lasts for quite some time and leaves behind multiple rings of sticky lacing.

S: Very nice dry roasted malt scent comes up behind an overwhelming force of espresso. Some creamy sweetness in the background, but the espresso beans really just take this one over.

T: Similar to the nose, although the lactose definitely makes a bit more of an appearance here, lending some sweetness behind the competing sources of roasted character.

M: A bit too dry and harsh, something which I would think the lactose could lighten up a bit.

D: Not the best, as the flavors don't really work together. This is certainly a coffee bomb, which I ordinarily like, but think it pales in comparison to some of the best I've had. It doesn't quite have the expressive hop character of fresh FBS, nor does it have the smooth creaminess that comes alongside the coffee character with Bullfrog's Double Coffee Stout.

Photo of RustyDiamond
4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Darkness stem, on a hot humid night in Decatur. Wonderful dark tan head, frothy with tiny bubbles in the middle. Not one iota of light penetrating through this glass. Ring of tan stays on throughout...great ringed lacing.

As expected, strong whiffs of fresh roasted espresso. Tobacco, ancho chili, cinnamon as well.

Sweet lactose on the front end...very unassuming at first. Hard to believe this could be 10%. Creamy Nestle Quik cocoa taste with some bitter chocolate riding with.

Bitter mouthfeel, with some spice but still quite creamy. Quite delicate finishing dry and roasty bitter. Tasting a subtle ancho chili in the back, which is quite nice on the cocoa.

Drinkability off the charts. Nice job Surly

Photo of tavernjef
4.63/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

FOUR! Inky blackness. Floppy and loosely bubbled cap of iced frappacchino hued foam slurps up heavily at first, then thickens, and slips down to a skimming and lots of thick cob webbed lacing being strecthed all across the goblet.

Aroma is mostly of dried husks with a moderate dousing of milk chocolate and cold pressed coffee. Semi charred notes of graham cracker crust and smokey ABV murk its way thru as it sits.
The tapped version at release night had much more funky smokeyness to it, but this is quite nice and very bold and heavy.

Wonderfully fun to taste as Four expresses a big chocolatey dryness with oatmeal flaked crustyness, espresso/iced coffee/latte burntness, tender pull to chocolate cake sweetness, sherry and vanilla pod spiced warmth and cindering darkened bitterness that really sinks into one heck of a fantastic finish. By far the overall winningest best part of this celebration. The finish is so fulfullingly fun and full of warming chocolatey baked goods. Yum Absolutely!

Mild, yet rich, tender, yet bold; definately dark! Roasty, yet sweet, soft, smooth, and milkenesque, balanced with a superb dryness, and a nearly perfect pitch of alcoholic warmth that pulls unique chocolate and coffee characteristics onto the back of the palate. You'll wonder...how the hell they do that?
After talking to Todd about what process he actually did to produce 'Four', I'm still unsure exactly what he did to pull this off, lots of techincally fun jargon about freezing coffee and freezing the beer in the fermenter kinda stuff, but man it sounded crazy.

'Four' is one yummy fun treat from Surly! Hell yes I say! So Congrats to them! And here's to more! Cuz I'm feeling pretty 'Surly' now thanks to this and them!

Photo of copyguyadam
4.83/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I've only had a few other milk stouts and this one kicked their asses... Surly usually does.
Bomber into Darkness tulip.

A = Dark and a beautiful tan head. I dream of how this looks.
S = Sweet and coffee come to mind. It's a dark smell that's hard to describe.
T = Again, sweet and of perfect balance. Just a hint of booze.
M = It is light, but not thin. Just right.
D = This is too damn drinkable. I'm glad I was able to score a handful of these.

Happy fourth anniversary Surly! Many more!

Photo of homebrew311
4.62/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received this from a great trader- millah- thanks a ton!!

A: pours a thick opaque black, not a hint of light passes through, thick velvety head upon pour, nice head retention, appears creamy

S: wow-- Surly knows how to infuse their beer with coffee. This stuff smells like putting your nose in a fresh bag of bold espresso beans. The coffee is huge and aromatic with tons of roast along with lots of dark chocolate. There are notes of smoke in there as well but this is predominately coffee...and it smells amazing.

T: the taste starts with some lactose sweetness with notes of caramel which immediately takes a back seat to the huge coffee/espresso character. The sweetness completely transforms in to intense roasted notes, and the finish leaves lingering notes of gourmet espresso on the palate.

MF: thick and creamy, velvety on the tongue

D: this beer is delicious. I like the way the coffee works with the milk stout base. The alcohol is insanely well hidden. I could replace this with my morning coffee, but due to the limited nature of this beer, that is just not possible. Another homerun from Surly.

Photo of alcstradamus
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a towering four fingers of head that camp out for a while and leave nice webs of lacing.

The aroma is straight up gourmet espresso (as I would expect). Some milk and cream as well and perhaps a hint of nuttiness that adds some depth.

The flavor profile follows a similar suit. Although the coffee flavor is not huge (like, say, Peche Mortel), it is concentrated, intense, and very roasty. Not a ton of depth here, but I do pick up some hazelnut and maybe even a touch of cinnamon. Very tasty....lives up to it's billing as a iced coffee beer and doesn't try to do much more than that.

The body is medium and the carbonation is a a good level for the style.

Overall, this is definitely a great beer. Yet another Surly product I would describe as "well crafted"....I use that term a lot when talking about this brewery. A little more complexity may have put this one over the top, but I think they got exactly what they were looking for.

Photo of WYVYRN527
4.31/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark brown, almost black, with a two finger-thick tan head that settles very slowly. Head retention is excellent, with very good lacing on the glass.

S: Smell is all coffee and chocolate, along with some sweet notes of vanilla and cream.

T: Wow. Dark chocolate is noticeable at first, followed by a strong espresso character that adds just enough bitterness to the brew. Lactose balances this out with vanilla and cream sweetness.

M: Full bodied and creamy in texture. One of the smoothest milk stouts I have ever come across.

D: Complex and very rich in flavor, Four is very enjoyable, although one 750 ml bottle may be a bit much for a single consumer. This is a dessert beer if I have ever had one. Props to the folks at Surly for yet another fine brew.

Photo of Sean9689
3.95/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at my neighborhood bar, Four Moon Tavern. Poured into tulip/snifter.

A - Pours black, tan head. The head sticks around for a bit and then vanished into a thin ring along the sides of the glass.

S - Sweet milk chocolate, roasted malts, and expresso notes.

T - Like dessert. Chocolate milk with a hint of alcohol. For 10%, it's hidden very well. A nice bitter finish that goes nicely with the sweetness.

M - A little too light for me, light to medium, but not way off. Creamy finish.

D - I drank my pour easily and could have had another but decided not to overload myself this session. One of the better versions of this style I've had.

Photo of hardy008
4.7/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark black, allowing no light to pass through. Has an impressive 3 finger tan head with good retention, which reminds me of the color of a chocolate milk shake. The smell is espresso and chocolate.

The taste is espresso, chocolate, and sugar. Has a nice mixture of coffee bitterness and sweetness from the chocolate and sugar, with the coffee bitterness being the strongest flavor.

Surly Four is so smooth and easy to drink, and the alcohol is well hidden for 10% abv. Medium bodied, and properly carbonated. I am glad I was able to purchase several bottles of this.

Photo of Mdog
4.26/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Black, big brown head, coats the glass with foam as I drink.

Smell: Kind of odd, the first thing I smell is black olives, eventually a little coffee aroma shows up.

Taste: Big coffee taste, transitions to more of a milky mocha. Relatively sweet, a little dark fruit in warmer sips.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth.

Drinkability: Very easy to drink for a stronger beer.

I really like milk stouts, so when Four turned out to be a big milk stout, I was happy. A very nice beer, gives everything I want from a milk stout plus some big coffee flavors. Drinks a lot easier than the ABV would suggest. Congrats to Surly on another year of beer!

Photo of Buebie
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A very nice brown 750 ml bottle. Purple wax dipped with an also, very nice looking label.

Poured from the bottle into an oversized snifter. A somwhat hard pour produces about an inch of dark brown foamy froth. Many assorted sized, long lasting bubbled hold steady ontop of the froth.
Leaving a thin cap with a generous thick collar.
Color is black, no light penetration. Lace is thin with streaks and blotches of lace.

Aroma is very malty with dark bitter chocolate and burnt toffee. Not too sweet at the nose, as its mostly overrun with bitters and robust coffee. Its definatly on the dark side of the moon. A bit of malted milk balls, with a mild spiciness hiding in there somwhere. The aromas do not overpower each other, the espresso is subtle, noticeable though but does not ruin the other aroma's.

Mouthfeel is slick and velvety, creaminess plentiful with a full bodied feel. Carbonation is modest, present but not biting. Feel on this is a gorgeous texture. Not too heavy either, just a slick full bodied feel.

Taste contains loads of malt, dark mildly bitter chocolate, kind of sweet upfront. Chocolate does not veer away from the bittering semi sweet bakers type either. Sweets drop out giving way to a robust espresso flavor. I cant compare it to coffee either. It really does taste like espresso with cocoa and whipped milk.
Finishing quite bitter, espresso mostly as well as some cereal grain, bitter chocolate, a touch nutty. The roast flavors providing mild smoke and not of the smoked beer kind. More of the burnt toast wafting smoke into the kitchen...you open your mouth and taste it...that kind of smoke.

Alcohol for me cannot be detected in either aroma or taste, but the esophagus is warming slightly.
For me this is very drinkable. But the robust dark bitters 'could' be cloying for some and drinkability, to be fair lowers my rating a bit. Sorry.

Very good brew. I needed a bit of a pick me up after only getting Four hours of sleep last night....whats more fitting then drinking a Four? Awoke to helicopters and sirens.

Photo of Parrotbeak
3.9/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Black with a light tan head that thins out, becoming patchy.
Smell is coffee and sweet espresso, with some lightly smoked malts lurking underneath. Caramel comes in as well. Faint, sour milk aspect and some vanilla beans.
Smokey malts laced with espresso comes first in the taste. Faint coffee bean aspect, with some sweet vanilla beans and caramel. Some bitterness near the end. Finish is slightly sweet and malty.
Mouthfeel is velvety and smooth. Low level of carbonaton, and medium-heavy body. Sticky on the finish.
Drinkability is decent, due mainly to the superb concealment of the alcohol. A tad bit off-balanced, being a bit too much on the sweet side. Not saccharine, but not very far from it.

Photo of blackenmn
4.07/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a small snifter:

Appearance:Poured like thick, strong, black coffee that's been sitting in the pot all day. Left about a 1/4" exceptionally bubbly head which dissipated into a constant film on the top of the brew.

Smell:This definitely smelled of expresso bean, smoke, a bit of noticeable sugar like aroma, and some feint caramel malt. Very stong smelling beer which I could smell while pouring at an arms length away without much effort.

Taste:Primarily expresso came through here. Not nearly as sweet as I was expecting. This tasted like expresso, very smokey caramel malt, and very feint but pleasing vanilla like sweetness which kept the coffee flavor from being too overwhelming. Not alot of noticeable hop presence.

Mouthfeel:This was a pretty medium bodied brew. Thankfully there was enough going on in this concoction to make for a fairly complex mouthfeel none the less. It was very velvety feeling as stated on the bottle, and left a noticeable aftertaste of clinging coffee bitterness along with a very subdued sweetness.

Drinkability:I was able to conquer a bottle of this without to much effort considering the well hidden ABV. This had more coffee flavor than anything I've experienced. I personally wish a bit more of the sweetness came through. None the less this was a very unique beer which is kind of what I think they were going with on this one.

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Four from Surly Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 267 ratings.