Pentagram - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
PentagramPentagram

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

809 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 809
Reviews: 91
rAvg: 4.16
pDev: 9.38%
Wants: 214
Gots: 294 | FT: 38
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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Ratings: 809 | Reviews: 91
Photo of AnalogErik
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Updated for 2015 - on tap at Brewers Table. Really good offering this year, I think the nose has improved over previous years!

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.

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.

Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.33/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Jeff for this one. 750ml waxed and capped bottle into Tired Hands stemware. Shared with schen9303.

Pours a 2 finger rich, cream colored head with moderate retention. Beer is a clear, dark mahogany-purple. Lacing is spotty and sparse with little cling. Average. Nice color though.

Nose is heavy on the Brett funk. Notes of hay, oak, band-aid and must. Some light grape character lends layers of sweetness and tartness. Light, spritzy and moderately aromatic but pretty appetizing.

Opens big Brett notes. Hay, barnyard, and wet wood funk. Light grape notes lend a touch of tartness and fruit character. Just the right amount of sour. Middle to end is more Brett and cobwebs with an accented sparkling water tartness. Ends lightly fruity. Aftertaste is dry with some sour dark fruit character. I love this!

Light bodied with ample carbonation. Prickly and lively in the mouth and goes down sparkling and bubbly. Finish is accented with a tart, dry, puckering aftertaste. Excellent! I didn't expect this one to be so light and drinkable!

I'm usually not a huge fan of dark sours but this is really an excellent offering. I think the secret here is that the beer is very light bodied, playful and doesn't punch you in the face with alcohol. Its a light sour disguised as its darker cousin. Evil indeed!

Photo of facundoCNB
4.41/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a dark brown pour with a finger of head which quickly diminished. as soon as the cap popped off, you get a mix of apple/cherry aromas, wine barrels, lots of barnyard funk. a closer inspection (once poured) and you get a nice hint of subtle roastiness/chocolaty scents. an initial sour kick, followed by a subtle roasted grain flavor, then immediately a wine barrel - pinot noir? - tastes of chocolate, tobacco, green apples.. very funky, very amazingly delicious. the longer you sip, the more it starts tasting like a flanders ale.
medium in body with a higher than usual carbonation for a stout, perfect for a wild ale.

this is a fantastic drinking experience. can't say i've ever had a stout like this, and can't say i'd call this a stout. it's a great wild/sour beer - more leaning towards wine barrel flavors and barnyard than it is sourness... has a nice amount of apple-tart qualities. i know this bottle's a bit expensive, but it's worth trying.

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

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.

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.

Photo of SPLITGRIN
4.32/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Got this gem in a trade. Really glad I was able to come across this beer that has stayed on the down low in terms of hype.

Pours to a gorgeous dark cherry black body that is oh so sinful in itself. A strong pour achieves nearly an inch and a half of nougat brown head. Retention is short and there is little to no lace left behind.

Nose is absolutely inviting and mouthwatering. Funky and tart up front with bursting berries and lots of dark fruit. Powdery sweet and sour thing going on almost like pixie sticks. Really great nose. Spot on perfect for the style.

Now on to the flavor. I must admit that after the anticipation built by the nose that it is a slight letdown, not bad just not as good as the nose promised. First sip is initially tart quickly yielding to vinegar like feel. On the back of the tongue it turns brutally dry and has a hint of black strap molasses. Really dry on the mouthfeel.

This is a really unique brew and is bound to make fans of sour lovers. There is a lot going on in terms of the palate. Super solid over all and definitely worth seeking out.

Photo of mwilbur
4.42/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 750 mL bottle into snifter.
A: Pours a very murky and dark brown (a dark red hue is apparent around the edges with backlighting) with a faint skim of dark tan head that quickly recedes. Somewhat foreboding in appearance, which fits the bill.
S: Sour brett, tart cherries, vanilla, tobacco, sweet milk chocolate, and some dark dried fruit (e.g. raisins).
T: Wow...quite sour up front. More so than the aroma suggested...nice surprise! Sweet and tart cherries, mild brett (the barnyard funk is nicely subdued here...allowing the other taste notes to shine), and in the background linger vanilla, oak, and a vinous note.
M: Light-medium body. Sour with tart and sweet notes. Fairly smooth and straightforward feel. Gotta love the ABV.
D: A very well thought out and crafted brew. Packs a strong punch (taste-wise) for such a light-weight (ABV-wise). Extremely sessionable...dangerously so. Seek it out and enjoy!

Photo of Scotchboy
4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml waxed bottle from laymansbeerfan (thanks!); part of my contribution to our epic tasting this weekend. Served into my Stone chalice.

A: Clear dark brown/mahogany with a fair amount of head.

S: Big sour cherry - surprised that it that big honestly; I expected Brett funk and not too much sourness. Oak and lemon, funky tartness, some malt backbone of the dark beer makes itself known...touch of apple cider vinegar and a nice underlying hint of red wine.

T: Follows the nose, with a really nice amount of cherry tartness that hits your palate...lots of lemon and some apple cider vinegar. Oak and malt smoothness take over in the middle of the mouth with tart/fruity vinous notes, and carry the beer to a dry, tart finish.

MF: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

O: A good sour that really surprised everyone at the tasting. Surly did a good job with this; definitely more sour than funky or barnyard-y. If I loved sours, I would have scored this one even higher...still, tons of respect here; this is a really good beer.

Photo of inlimbo77
4.21/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750ml, 2013
The Lost Abbey

A: Pours a deep brownish red color. Dirty flanders looking brew. Layer of light tan. About a half finger. High carbonated.

S: Tart cherry. Tobacco. Vanilla. Oak. Funk. Smells good for American sour.

T: Very nice American sour. Getting all that I smelled. Up front, that tart cherry pie filling. Some light tobacco. Touches of vanilla seem to come in there as well. Definitely some tannic oak dryness. Especially on the close.

M: Medium bodied.

Photo of jhawth
4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured into an oversized wine glass. Pours a deep ruby-brown, almost black, one finger head which quickly dissipates.

Aroma: Initially very tart, and not much else. Some sweetness. Malty, yeasty and woody notes become apparent as it warms. Funky (of course).

Taste: Sweet, dark bread-y malt flavors, balanced by an initially intense but quickly mellowing sourness. Sour cherries. A little woodiness as it warms. Long finish.

Mouthfeel: Little carbonation. Smooth.

Overall: Wow. This is excellent. I've not had too many sours (mostly gueuze), but I'm loving the combination of dark, sweet malty flavors with that intense brett funk and sourness. Really really enjoyed this beer. I'm glad I bought a second bottle, which I plan on cellaring for a year or two.

Photo of mynie
4.11/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I’ve never trusted the goth aesthetic. For personal reasons. The kids who adopted the clown-white personas in high school were shitty little wieners in middle school, the kind of terrifying children who got their kicks by disemboweling Beanie Babies or pooping their pants right before sliding down the playground’s fire pole. These were the kids who grew up to post craigslist ads asking if any local teenagers wanted to be photographed while eating a jarful of hair follicles. If they didn’t become cops, that is.
That kind of visceral, disgusting aberrance is a cover up, an attempt to disguise pedestrian tastes and normal intellect. It’s a pale imitation of being actually interesting, and I knew it as soon as those little fuckers started bathing in bleach. In 8th grade, it’s all “Tristan turn this Sonic Youth album down, it’s just a bunch of noise and we should re-listen to my tape of the Lion King soundtrack.” Then in 9th grade it’s “What do you mean you haven’t heard of Skinny Puppy? Everyone who’s anyone simply adores Skinny Puppy. They’re way brutal.”

Of course they weren’t brutal. Just bad. Some people confuse offensive ineptitude for the deeper sort of profound offensiveness, the sort found in Lenny Bruce’s racism jokes or Jimmy Carl Black’s teeth. More often than not, offensive things are offensive not out of any profundity but because they just suck and are gross.

So naturally I’m going to be leery of a goth beer. And don’t go telling me this is metal, not goth, because I can tell by the font this is goth. The inch-thick coating of wax was as moronically unnecessary as the combat boots that Germans wear while dancing, and the rambling description on the bottle’s side is neither campy nor earnest; instead, it’s mechanical, tinny, only semi-self aware. Just like a goth album.

Pours much less brutal than I was expecting—less the devil’s sputum, more Lipton “Brisk” Iced Tea. Tastes like tame brett with some lightly fruity malt nodes. Nice and balanced, sessionable, but hardly the raging maniac of a beer the bottle’s font and color scheme had led me to expect.
Surprisingly refreshing. Really a nice, pretty beer, once you get rid of the wallet chain and wipe off all that mascara. It’s like the girl in the after school special who realizes she doesn’t need to be extreme to fit in and then at the end she’s in a swim suit and you realize you’ve wanted to fuck her the whole time. She just needed to stop trying to be interesting before you were able to properly objectify her.

Full review: http://mynie.com/?p=636

Photo of TheCrowsNest
4.68/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured dark brown, hazy; little to no head. Strong aromas of cherry, funk, and chocolate. Tastes like sweet tabacco, tart cherries, slight roast, also possesses a surprisingly vinous character from the wine barrels - more so than I would have expected.

Photo of Santanax
4.73/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This is a sour ale!!!! Perfect oaking goes almost unnoticed but its there. Bright citrus notes with sour lactic and acetic notes with brettanomyces funk kicking you in your face!!!Mouthfeel is superior along with mouthwatering happening there is some puckering along with crisp dry finish. Superb crazy price ranges for this shit ive gotten it from 16.99 to 30...sadly first one i got paid 25...great stuff!!!!

Photo of davey101
4.32/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

2013 vintage into a stemmed tulip. Awesome glittery black waxed 750ml with a pretty crazy label. Thanks to Yamar68 for this huge want of mine!

A - Pours a dark, dark purple that borders on black. Two fingers of purple stained khaki foam. Great edging and super long retention and lacing.

S - Massive red wine barrel presence. Oak, vanilla, grape juice, cherries and some rich charred malts. Man does this smell like sour grape juice!

T - Tart cherries, vinous red wine, oak and vanilla, tobacco and some chocolate malts. Not overly funky, just incredibly tart and barrel heavy. Finishes with an odd mashup of smooth oak and sour fruit. Has that lactic twang that most Flanders brouns and reds demonstrate. Mouth feel is a bit lacking and watery.

O - This is a super odd beer. Very similar to a Flanders bruin but with red grapes replacing the dominant cherry notes. I really enjoyed this one, total heartburn though.

Photo of ddedhed
4.6/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Doing this from memory. Thanks to a friend of mine for bringing this and some other Surly beers home for me from Minnesota.

Appearance was dark ruby. I was drinking it outside at dusk, so not the best lighting to appreciate it. There was a thin head that popped up, but disappeared immediately. It smelled vinous and funky. Definitely a little tart cherry too. The taste was amazing. Earthy, funky, sour dark grapes, some oak from the barrel, and a nice dry finish. Definitely taste the wine barrel, in a very good way. Mouthfeel was thin and typical of a wild ale.

Overall I thought this was exceptional. I tasted with my father in law and a friend, neither of whom drink sours. They were really impressed by the complexity, and so was I. I would really like to get another bottle and let it sit in the cellar for a while. Great beer!

Photo of jimmah120
4.07/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle with no date, poured into a big-ass wine glass. really cool bottle, definitely a keeper.

pours a dark hazy cherry-blackberry color with a small ring of head. smell is funky red wine, strong and heavy on the sour funk. taste is light sour cherries, effervescent white grape juice, red wine and slight vinaigrette. finish is sweet, waxy, and winey.

Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.34/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a tulip glass from a 750ml bottle.

Pours a nice dark dark mahogany that look black while in the glass some slight amber and ruby hues are seen as the glass is placed next to the light. There is a nice dense cream colored head that is half inch tall. The head is dense and slightly sticky with some good retention.

Aroma starts off with some yeasty chalky funk. Some slight phenolic esters are perceived in the nose as some fruity tartness comes up. Notes of sour grapes with some good fruity sweetness and some slight wild cherry notes.

Flavor starts off earthy and funky. Notes of wood followed by vinous grape notes and sour cherry notes balanced out again by some phenols and some nice funk. Notes of barnyard are present. The flavor is a very nice mix of funk with some fruity tart notes. The sourness is nice and sharp but its not overwhelming and is balanced well by some woody earthy funk. The brew has also a nice grainy and almost roasted malt dimension to it. Quite earthy. It gives the brew more of a balanced note. As it warms there is a bit more of a vinegary note from the sourness but still it is balanced. Mouthfeel is light and has a nice dry note to it.

Overall this is a nice AWA. It is clean and not too intense but has some nice darker fruit notes mixed in with the tartness.

Photo of mdfb79
4.27/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From 05/19/13 notes. Again, big thanks to the founder of WTWBA for bringing out a few bottles of this; was a big Want of mine.

a - Pours a deep reddish brown color with one finger of off white head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of sour fruits, dark fruity malts, red wine, oak, brett, caramel malts, vanilla, toasted and roasted malts, vinegar, and sour cherries. Lots of sour dark fruits and sour red wine; really awesome nose.

t - Tastes of sour dark fruits, roasted malts, burnt malts, toasted malts, cherries, oak, sweet fruit and vanilla, and chocolate malts. More roasty notes and malts here and not quite as sour as the nose, but still really good.

m - Medium body and low to moderate carbonation. Pretty easy to drink, tiny bit acedic.

o - Overall I liked this one a lot. I thought the nose was awesome, just full of sour red wine, cherries, and dark fruits, working in a little bit of brett and some roasty chatacteristics. Taste has more roast and malts, but still nice. Easy to drink, would love to get another bottle of this one.

Photo of KarlHungus
4.39/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a dark ruby color with brown tints. The head is half an inch of white foam that recedes quickly into nothing. The aroma is of sour cherries, green apples, and jolly rancher. The taste is has some nice sour and tart notes, but doesn't quite create the pucker factor I usually look for in a sour. It does, however, have a really nice complimentary funkiness that fills in admirably in place of the pucker. In fact, the sour-funky combo give this beer a dimension that I can't recall encounterint before. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and dry with spritzy carbonation, and a velvety texture. Overall, this is another winner from Surly. I only wish I'd have bought more than one bottle when I had the chance.

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.

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.

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.21/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

my first bottled offering from surly. this had been described to be as just like consecration, so needless to say, I was stoked hard. it pours a similarly cloudy autumn red color with not nearly as much carbonation, and a minimal white head. there is a bunch of super fine suspended yeast in this too. the nose is cherry heavy, with the wine treatment also being quite obvious. it smells sour, but its front of the tongue stuff, not all encompassing as consecration is. the flavor has plenty of oak too it, lots of tart fruit, and a sour profile that's true to the nose. its piquant and acidic, maybe a little too much so really, at least if it wants to be more drinkable. all the components are present, but the unity is whats missing in my opinion. the acid detracts the mouthfeel after a glass or so, my teeth start to dry out and hurt, and my tongue feels like ive been hammering sour patch kids. its actually really good, and an impressive first (I think?) sour beer from surly. contrary to popular opinion though, this does not stand up to consecration at all. better carbonation than it shows, and the body is only medium. very long finish despite its drying effects, a funny but enjoyable peculiarity. overall a worthy beer, and a treat to try, but I would not buy this with a consecration on the shelf.

edit: just had the 2015 edition and was totally blown away. as good as any in ins field, bumping up a few scores to reflect the quality of this new batch. just the right sourness, lots of barrel, bright in the mouth. fantastic!

Pentagram from Surly Brewing Company
93 out of 100 based on 809 ratings.