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Pentagram - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

81 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 81
Hads: 899
Avg: 4.15
pDev: 31.57%
Wants: 226
Gots: 326 | FT: 45
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States | website

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.
View: Beers (60) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 81 | Hads: 899
Photo of Scotchboy
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
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.

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Photo of inlimbo77
4.21/5  rDev +1.4%
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.

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Photo of jhawth
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
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.

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Photo of mynie
4.11/5  rDev -1%
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

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Photo of TheCrowsNest
4.68/5  rDev +12.8%
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.

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Photo of Santanax
4.73/5  rDev +14%
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!!!!

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Photo of davey101
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
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.

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Photo of ddedhed
4.6/5  rDev +10.8%
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!

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Photo of jimmah120
4.07/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

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Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
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.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.27/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.39/5  rDev +5.8%
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.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
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 mothman
3.92/5  rDev -5.5%
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 StonedTrippin
4.21/5  rDev +1.4%
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!

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Photo of Knapp85
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This poured out as a deep burgundy color with a tannish hire head on top. The head settled leaving a soap ring around the edge of the glass. Light lacing as well. The smell is big with sour notes and wine barrel aging. It's also got a nice sweet aroma, slight cherry-like aromas on the nose. The taste isn't as sour as I thought it might be. The beer has a subtle tart flavor with some cherry or grape flavors. There is some earthy tobacco and malt. The mouthfeel is smooth, moderate carbonation and medium bodied. Overall it's a very drinkable brew, glad I got to try it.

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Photo of cw577enfield
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Once again, big old thanks to Yamar68 for this bottle!

A: Poured into a snifter, half-finger foam, crimson and amber color, and plenty of bubbles around the sides.

S: Got whiff of tartness and sour fruit...could pick up hints of cherries and chocolate...even grapes. Wine barrels did a nice job to this one.

T: Could taste plum and cherries right off the bat, with that nice balance of tartness which it won't leave you feeling bitter. Very drinkable...

M: Medium-body, has great carbonation, and somewhat mild grainy quality.

O: This is a GREAT sour ale, wished I had another bottle so I'll put some time on it to see how it turns out. This is definitely going into my ISO list.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.19/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A-Pours a murky brown color. Thin, bubbles tan head pops away to nearly nothing.

S-Funky, malty and tart. Some soggy wood, rotten dark fruits and Brett. The base beer is detectable but has been clearly manipulated.

T-Tart cherry, rotted wood and a sweet underbelly. The Brett is noticeable but it doesn't steal all the attention. Not violently sour; its tart but its also quite sweet.

M-Seems dry during some sips and sweet during others. Tight bubbles.

O/D-A neat sour. Not a stunner but its quite interesting. One of those beers that seemingly brings a new flavor with every sip.

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Photo of ehammond1
4.04/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Bottle (2013)

Acquired via trade
Thanks, stig!

Murky, somewhat thick, dark brown. Not a lot of visible carbonation. Thin ring of brown bubbles. Oily sheen left down the glass.

Aroma of vinegar, red wine and lots of oak, and some stinging sour character.

Lots of red wine, oak, and sour character combine nicely, with a hint of a vinegar note, though it works well enough. Straightforward, bold, powerful flavors that come together nicely.

Medium bodied with low carbonation.

I wish it had a bit more bubbles, but overall this was quite nice and very flavorful. I think this is easily my favorite sour beer yet from Surly!

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.19/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle opened on 3.27.13

A - Pours a dark cola brown with a one inch tan head that fades slowly.

S - Funk, Some dark fruits.

T - Tart, then sour fruit, but the sour fades fast to some farmhouse earthy flavors.

D - Good carbonation with a medium body.

O - Tart and funky, but not overpowering like some other sours.

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Photo of chugalug06
3.82/5  rDev -8%
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 smakawhat
4.28/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured on tap at Pizza Paradiso Dupont into a 4 oz. taster.

Quite a nice red amber, while dark quite clear. Faint tan head with a good creamy collar to match. Laces nicely.

Nose is a bit standard but quite solid. Simple malt sweetness and mild tartness, almost Rodenbach like territory particularly on the malt angle, just not quite there but good.

Very noticeable carbonation but not detracting. Light acid with a tartness and good malt backbone with some mild chewy good grainy quality. Borderline crisp. Very different mouthfeel compared to most American Wilds.

Overall a real interesting take on wild, quite decent.

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Photo of ShanePB
4.19/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750 ml waxed bottle, shared by Greenplastic615. Thanks Jason!

A: Brownish/maroon/crimson colored body, slightly clear in the light. Soap off-white head stuck around for a bit and left moderate lacing.

S: Red wine, sour cherries, oak, funk, chocolate malt, red grapes.

T: Malty on first sip with some chocolatey and dark fruits at the base. Sour cherry and tart red grapes, finished with some dry wine and oak notes.

M: Carbonation is good, medium-bodied, very acceptable for the style. Drinks quite well without drying out the mouth.

I tend to really love Surly's sours and this is no exception. This would be a regularly purchase if I could.

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Photo of morimech
3.56/5  rDev -14.2%
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 MattyG85
4.46/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750 ml waxed bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice glass.

Appearance: Pours a very dark brownish amber with a hint of ruby. Lots of bubbles stick to the sides of the glass. Solid two fingers of creamy off white head that slowly fade into a thin patch. Lacing is pretty good.

Smell: A big aroma of tart and sour fruit along with dark malts. Big hints of red wine grapes and cherries upfront. The tartness, sourness, and sweetness is strong but not overwhelming. Good hints of oak, wood, tobacco, Brett funk, and leather. Dark malts with hints of chocolate, caramel, toffee, yeast, and biscuit. Hints of prune, raisin, and fig as well. A really solid complex aroma that has a good balance of fruit and barrel aromas.

Taste: Follows the nose quite nicely with a solid combination of barrel and malt flavors. Sour and tart taste of red wine grapes and cherries. Good notes of Brett barnyard funk, oak, wood, leather, and tobacco. Sweet dark malts with notes of chocolate, caramel, toffee, biscuit, and yeast. Also some good undertones of dark fruit with notes of prune, plum, raisin, and fig. The flavors blend together well and the sourness and tartness are not overwhelming. A really solid Wild ale taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Creamy, juicy, and somewhat slick. Goes down very smooth with minimal alcohol heat.

Overall: A very good take on a American Wild ale. Lively and well balanced wine barrel and malt flavors. It will be interesting to see how this evolves.

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Pentagram from Surly Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 81 ratings.