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Pentagram - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

79 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 79
Hads: 878
Avg: 4.16
pDev: 31.49%
Wants: 225
Gots: 313 | FT: 42
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
American Wild Ale |  6.66% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: MasterSki on 02-19-2013

This Arcane Seal guards an enigmatic brew that is FUNKY, DARK, and SOUR. If you choose to break the seal, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

100% Brettanomyces Dark beer fermented in stainless and aged in red wine barrels. "Brett" is a unique yeast strain that produces flavors that would be considered offensive if they were not intentional. Flavors of sour cherry, tobacco, oak, and classic "Brett" barnyard funk balanced by dark Munich malt chewiness. Enjoy immediately or age at cellar temperature for a couple years.
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Reviews: 79 | Hads: 878
Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.02/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

From my notes at a 2014 Craft Beer Expo. Not a fan of the name or the ominous ABV.

Look : 2 finger head, 80% opacity, honey brown color.

Smell : Medium strength bouquet. A soy sauce/sour aroma - like rotted watermelon and discarded fruits, light hop.

Taste : Sour melon flavors, a bit of rose, high alcohol presence. Very tart like a Mead.

Feel : Semi dry, light to medium bodied, wet.

Overall : Not bad but not great. I'd probably skip it next time.

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Photo of JackieTH
3.18/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours from a wax-sealed 750mL bottle cola brown with a very transient dark foam head. Quite effervescent, after 15 seconds the head is completely gone but for a thin rim around the glass. So it's not much in appearance, although the bottle is hellishly cool looking. Pervasive smell is of a high quality red wine vinegar, perhaps a hint of Worcestershire sweetness, balsamic, oak and tart cherries. Certainly it smells good, like something I'd want to use for cooking a fine roast shoulder in a reduction with mushrooms and rosemary. Now the taste is immediately far less pungent than the nose suggests, which is a bit disappointing. It's pretty zippy, high carbonation and quite watery on the palate. Back to the taste..it's lightly tart cherries washed with a weak solution of Heinz white vinegar, there is some sense of balsamic sweetness as well. So sweet and sour, medium dry, again watery, and strong carbonation, all sitting on a sort of thinnish brown ale like underpinning. Well then. 6.66% ABV

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Photo of dirtylou
3.52/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

on-tap, brouwers

Excited for the opportunity to consume surly wilds down the street from my home - pentagram comes with a high billing...

Dark, wine barrel, a bit flat, not extremely tart, some vinegar, trace cherry. This is extremely underwhelming and an average wild ale at best. I thought I recalled trying this at a festival and being less than enthused but the high ratings convinced me otherwise.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.55/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Deep reddish brown. Small khaki head that settles to a pencil thin collar.

Smell - Buckets of wine. Caramel malts. Some acidity. Oak and vanilla.

Taste - Sour up front. Musty wine flavors, very grapey. Sweet and sour at the same time. Finishes with more wine and a sour kick.

Mouthfeel - High carbonation and kinda light. Too light, really.

Overall - Too much wine and a little monotonous, but a decent sour.

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Photo of morimech
3.56/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown with crimson tones. Just over one finger forms and has very good retention before settling to a thick cap. Moderate amount of sticky lacing is left down the glass.

Not really that forceful in the aroma department. Smells tart and acidic with vinous qualities. Notes of cherries, leather, wood, and tobacco. No sign of any Brett funk.

Mildly sour. Has a solid malt foundation that carries the tartness well. The wine barrels really are upfront in this beer. Very vinous with hints of cherries. Just the smallest hint of Brett funk in the finish.

Just slightly bigger than a light body. The carbonation just seems off. For a sour I would want to be a bit more effervescent.

A solid beer but for a $20 beer, I was a bit letdown. Better than Five but I know I am in the minority and thinks Surly should scrap their sour program. They have a long ways to go to rival the great American sour breweries. Awesome bottle art however.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.63/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle from jcwattsrugger, huge thanks for the opportunity!
Slightly cloudy medium brown color with a smallish off white head that dissipates quickly. Aromas of tart cherries and lemon with a bit of brown sugar and chocolate at the edges. The flavor is light lactic tart with a healthy dose of funk but still has a bit of residual malty sweetness left to it. The darker malts lend to a slightly chalky mouthfeel, medium body and a moderate level of carbonation. Decent wild ale but nothing horribly exciting.

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Photo of NilocRellim
3.71/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This ale came on tap in a 10oz pour. It looked opaque, brown and murky with a creamy rim. At first smell, this ale seemed potent; definitely smelled like a sour beer with an aroma of fruity cherry, a slight oakiness and certainly tart. The flavors were very brief, but VERY tart with cherry. No lingering flavors or tastes present. Juxtaposition of blended tartness; becomes smoother after the initial shock of that first taste.

Would I buy this beer again? Probably not.

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Photo of thebigredone
3.71/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Jason for sharing this.

The beer looks good in a glass and smells good.

However, when we get to the taste, this beer is lacking. Nice sour cherry flavor, but then nothing. Maybe a little bit of oak? Don't get any Brett funkiness at all.

Combine the one dimensional taste with a thin mouthfeel, and this beer becomes a pass. I had high hopes, but really thought this was mediocre at best. Especially at the higher price point.

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Photo of paco1029384756
3.72/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep burgundy with quite a bit of sediment. Rich oak is the most prominent character. Light sugar, tart yeast, hibuscus, tobacco, earth and hints of dry fruit in the finish. Less tart than many other sours, but worth a try if you like oak-forward beers.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.74/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750ml brown glass bottle with waxed-over pressure cap and great label art/theme acquired from my sister and served into a Lost Abbey teku in me parents' gaff in high altitude Castle Rock, Colorado. Reviewed live. Expectations are through the roof; I loved Surly Five. I love the unique etching on the black wax; I've never seen a brewery etch symbols into the bottle wax before. Presentation is awesome as a result and fits the theme of the beer.

Served cold - straight from the fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a one finger wide head of nice khaki colour. Good creaminess and thickness. Nice supple retention - about 3-4 minutes. Soft complexion.

Body colour is a very dark ruby-brown. Opaque but not solid. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Looks pretty good for the style; rich and decandent. Looking forward to trying it.

Sm: Acetic, with some guiding undertones of oak. Obvious sourness - more lactobacillus than anything else; I struggle to find any funky bretts. Cherry and currants/berries. Acidic. Grapeskin. I guess I get the red wine notes. Light caramalts. Some tart fruit. A pleasant aroma of moderate strength. The sourness is clean and clinical, but inviting; I definitely don't suspect lambic yeast or bacteria was used - no true spontaneous fermentation here.

T: Acetic. Caramalts. Nice guiding cohesive sourness. Gestalt great balance. Acidic. Light tart fruit. Lacto yeast is dominant. Cherries and currants. Grapeskin. Hints of red wine. Barrel notes are restrained; I get some generic woody notes but not any evocative oak. A biteen reticient, but it's got good depth of flavour nonetheless. I don't get any funkiness or bretts; I'm a bit surprised. But the lacto is better anyway. It's a good build for a sour. Average flavour duration and intensity. A well balanced brew that could use some more complexity. Has nice subtlety, though.

No alcohol comes through. Constructively, the third act is a bit empty compared to first two.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Good body and thickness. Good carbonation. Complements the flavour profile nicely. Acidic. Good presence on the palate. Quite approachable - especially for a sour. Acetic.

Dr: I remember liking Five a bit better, but this is definitely a great sour. I'll have little trouble killing the bottle in short order. Recommended, but perhaps not amongst the very best in the style. A good sour from Surly, if a bit too clinical and clean for a style that demands spontaneous fermentation and a lack of control. I'd happily get it again at its market price. Reminds me of Rodenbach - which is always a good thing.

High B

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Photo of deebo
3.75/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

On tap at the brewery.

A-Served with a weak ringing of light tan head. Color is brown with reddish hue.

S-Compared to Five, Pentagram has a weaker overall aroma, less boozy with a stronger grainy malt presence with a little bit of sourness and a mild amount of Brett funk.

T-Also subdued compared to Five. Low levels of sourness-lactic-like, a bit of funk with a prominent malt quality. Fairly quick finish.

M Moderate-high carbonation with atingly finish. Medium body. No alcohol burn. Smooth and easy to drink for this type of beer.

O-Not my favorite style. Nothing over the top with this beer. A nice change of pace beer. Milder overall compared to Five.

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Photo of indurTheB
3.75/5  rDev -9.9%

Tasted this not long after tasting a 2014 La Folie. There was more subtle notes in this beer, but there were fairly similar overall. The cherry notes are nice on this beer. Others noted tobacco in the beer as well, but I had just finished a cigar.

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Photo of Mdog
3.77/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Brown-red, good head.

Smell: Funk, tart, vinegar, red wine.

Taste: Dry tart cherries, woody/tannic flavor, red wine, bit of sourness.

Overall: Pentagram and Five are very similar beers. Pretty good but not one of my favorite styles or flavor profiles. Worth a try if you can find it.

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Photo of chugalug06
3.82/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One-finger thick foamy tan colored head. Ruby red colored brew with lots of brown/black. No lacing.

Black berry, apple, apricot, lemon, hay.

Dry, not as tart as the nose, Lemon, orange, red grape, red apple, barnyard, peppery, high carbonation, slight bitterness. Slightly all over the place. Very glad I popped it, but it was better at GABF, IMO.

A good beer, I feel it will be best with about three-six years on it. It needs a while to develop. Heat is not apparent and is nicely blended. Recommended. I hope to re-review with better news. I loved FIVE.

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Photo of JamesMN
3.85/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2013 Vintage.

Appearance: Very dark plum body with a thin layer of off-white foam.

Aroma: That vinegar punch that comes with a good sour.

Taste: Very smooth and on the lower end of the sour spectrum, some of which could do with its age. Pentagram starts with a bright, almost sweet, dark fruit flavor that slowly turns deeper. The sour Brett yeast creeps in near the finish, just potent enough to make you pucker for a moment before it turns into a rich near-ripe cherry flavor. The red wine barrel aging has definitely smoothed the flavor and lent a complexity to the finish and aftertaste that makes for a great drinking experience. Much lower alcohol content than I expected at 6.6% ABV but just goes to show how flavorful a beer can be.

Mouthfeel: Between thin and medium in body, which is typical for the style in my experience. Aggressive but somewhat sparse carbonation. Average drinkability.

Final Thoughts: Was it worth the year long wait in the fridge? I guess it met my expectations. Sour lovers should check it out but don't splurge if its not one of your favorite styles. Would I drink it again? Maybe.

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Photo of BMMillsy
3.91/5  rDev -6%

Bottle sent to me as an extra from an overly generous trader. No date on bottle. Thanks!!! Pours dark brown cola color with a one finger, quickly receding khaki colored head. Tart funky Brett aroma, some sour acidity here, light roasted grain, and definite oaky vinous red wine notes. Flavor is oaky berries, cherry, leather, tobacco, very tart, some additional funky barnyard thing, acidic and sour, graham cracker, vinous warmth in the throat. Lighter bodied than I expected, with a super dry finish and low to medium carbonation. This is a pretty good sour brew with nice cherry and tobacco undertones

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Photo of mothman
3.92/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark amber copper in color. No head.

Flavor profile is sour cherries, caramel, and bready malts. A lot of sour flavors here. Oak and vanilla. A bit of vinegar. A mild acidity.

Mouthfeel: sour and tart. Medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation. Maybe a bit high.

Overall, this was pretty enjoyable. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Pretty easy to drink.

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Photo of jlindros
3.95/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Thanks to rudzud for sharing. 2013 vintage.

Light fizzy head disappears almost instantly, clear ruby mahogany color.

Nose great sour funk, nice vanilla like barrel thing, little mineral dark malt, little funky cherry, sour lacto creamy bit acidic funk.

Taste brings candy sweet malts, nice sour cherry like fruit, nice sour funk, lacto creamy funk, little acidic, little cocoa, sour brown malts, little metallic thing, toasty caramel. Finish is sticky touch flemmy, touch metallic with sour funk lingering.

Mouth is med bod, light carb, little flemmy sour.

Overall nice but seems like there are things missing to really make it amazing, but still pretty good.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.95/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Thanks to GRG1313 for sharing this one at his tasting.

Pours a clear dark orange-brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small swaths of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is sour and tart with fruit, acidic, and wood aromas. Taste is much the same with fruit and wood flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of acidity on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty and easy to drink.

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Photo of Stevedore
3.99/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle, served in a FFF/DMC snifter 6/21/2014.

A- dark red-brown body, half finger white head with fine retention, no lacing.

S- oak, a bit of funky hay, sweet red table grapes. Not complex but certainly pleasing.

F- mild vinous character, funky musty hay, oak barrel. Semi-complex but missing something compared to the likes of Saint Lamvinus for instance. Could use either more funk or more red wine character.

M- medium body, smooth and dry. Good carbonation. Vinous finish.

O- nice red wine sour; not complex but has more character than most American wild ales do.

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Photo of rudzud
3.99/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Shared with others. 2013 vintage

A - Poured into a Kate the Great tulip a clear garnet hue with a thin head that fades to leave thin wisps

S - Aromas of mild funk, nice cherry, mild acidic note.

T - Taste is light vanilla, good funk, Nice cherry, good light chocolate, faint malts, faint booze, very pleasant funk and acid.

M - Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated, bit flemmy.

O - Overall this beer was nicely funky and lightly cherry. Pleasant.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of ZombieChan
4/5  rDev -3.8%

I'll admit, the bottle design is what got me to buy the bottle, but I'm glad I did. The sour cherry flavor felt odd at first, but I soon got use to it after the third sip. Overall a good beer, probably something I would pick up for date night.

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Photo of Myotus
4.01/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 750ml 2014 vintage bottle into a tulip.
LOOK: Pours with a finger's worth of brown foam that dissipates into a line after 35 seconds. Mahogany in color. Rising bubbles are extremely subtle. Lacing is low and thin.
SMELL: Smells like a Flanders Oud Bruin with brett; strong sour yeast and oak aromas, mild tobacco, cherries, and subtle hay aromas. This is not a special aroma. Very generic.
TASTE: Initial taste is of strong sour yeast and mild tobacco flavors. Strong oak flavors and subtle cherry flavors enter immidieately after. As all flavors persist, mild flavors of red wine and subtle hay flavors enter lastly.
FEEL: Somewhere between medium-bodied and light-bodied. Subtly carbonated. Finishes very dry. Sourness agitates the tongue.
NOTE: Had a very generic aroma, but was made it for in it's somewhat unique taste. The red wine barrels add a nice addition along with what little brett there was.

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Photo of Ri0
4.02/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured 750ml into Teku.

A - Midnight plum colored with a 2 finger off white head. Thick foam fades into a collar and leaves chunks of lacing on glass.

S - Starts off with aromas of malts and moves into the funkiness. Sour cherry and dark grape notes with some light tobacco.

T - Flavor is less malty and somewhat tart. Not sour, but tart with notes of tart cherry. sour dark grapes. I pick up some wine notes and hints of tobacco.

M - Lighter bodied and well carbonated. Not as dry as the aroma would have you think.

O - This is a nice dark wild ale by Surly. It aged gracefully and I enjoyed drinking it in the middle of winter.

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Photo of Goblinmunkey7
4.02/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to Sender1, KWMiles, and Minnesotaryan for the box containing this gem.

Appearance: Pours medium brown and settles to a darker brown In the glass. Small light brown head drops to a few hints with a small loose collar. Minimal carbonation on the pour.

Smell: Slightly tart with a big push of dark fruit. Reserved vinous element with dark cherry and plum. A touch of roasted malt adds a layer of sweetness. Brett abounds giving a slight funky element coupled with the usual Brett influences. Some minor spice. Pushes acetic with a vinegar aroma. A touch of dark malt adds some clean maltiness.

Taste: Brett hits harder than the nose. Deeply funky with earth, damp hay, and some grass. Cherry skin, vinegar, a touch of citric acid, and general funkiness. A sold blend of sweet and tart. Mild push of darker roasted malts add some general cooked malt sweetness. Surprisingly light for a Surly beer, but it carries their typical clean malt. A touch of red wine and oak to round the whole thing out. Nicely earthy.

Mouthfeel: Mediumish body with a moderate to light carbonation. Clean and slightly crisp.

Overall: 5 points 5 stars?

A nice mellow "sour" stout. Nice balance of malt sweetness with brett and wine barrel. Mellow for Surly and it's ok by me.

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Pentagram from Surly Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 79 ratings.