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Pentagram - Surly Brewing Company

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76 Reviews
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(Send Samples)
Reviews: 76
Hads: 847
rAvg: 4.2
pDev: 8.1%
Wants: 215
Gots: 304 | FT: 40
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: 76 | Hads: 847
Photo of Santanax
4.73/5  rDev +12.6%
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!!!! (410 characters)

Photo of davey101
4.32/5  rDev +2.9%
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. (920 characters)

Photo of ddedhed
4.6/5  rDev +9.5%
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! (837 characters)

Photo of jimmah120
4.07/5  rDev -3.1%
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. (360 characters)

Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.34/5  rDev +3.3%
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. (1,312 characters)

Photo of mdfb79
4.27/5  rDev +1.7%
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. (1,061 characters)

Photo of KarlHungus
4.39/5  rDev +4.5%
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. (721 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.95/5  rDev -6%
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. (551 characters)

Photo of mothman
3.92/5  rDev -6.7%
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. (357 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.21/5  rDev +0.2%
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! (1,540 characters)

Photo of Knapp85
4.17/5  rDev -0.7%
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. (572 characters)

Photo of cw577enfield
4.32/5  rDev +2.9%
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. (685 characters)

Photo of VelvetExtract
4.19/5  rDev -0.2%
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. (586 characters)

Photo of ehammond1
4.04/5  rDev -3.8%
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! (628 characters)

Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.19/5  rDev -0.2%
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. (319 characters)

Photo of chugalug06
3.82/5  rDev -9%
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. (560 characters)

Photo of smakawhat
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
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. (623 characters)

Photo of ShanePB
4.19/5  rDev -0.2%
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. (647 characters)

Photo of morimech
3.56/5  rDev -15.2%
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. (947 characters)

Photo of MattyG85
4.46/5  rDev +6.2%
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. (1,525 characters)

Photo of WYVYRN527
4.49/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I've been wanting to try this beer for some time! Poured from a 750 ml. bottle into an appropriate Surly snifter.

A: Pours a deep crimson/mahogany color with a thin cream-colored head that quickly settles to a thin ring on the edges.

S: Cherries, some wood, and a faint hint of barnyard funk, followed by some caramel and dried fruit undertones.

T: Really vinous up front, with tart cherry, plum, and a touch of spice. Just the right amount of tartness on the mid-palate with some balsamic notes. Finishes tart, but with nice caramel notes and sour cherry.

M: Medium-bodied, this beer attacks all taste buds with complexity, and finishes long and intense.

O: This is an awesome sour! I can't get enough of it. Pentagram has everything I look for in this style of brew. Drinkability is superb, and I can't wait to see how it turns out with some age! (856 characters)

Photo of JackieTH
3.18/5  rDev -24.3%
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 (1,003 characters)

Photo of jera1350
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Deep burgundy brown body that lets a peak of light through. Thin head that is more of a tan ring around the glass I guess.

The nose is quite wonderful. Notes of wine grapes, sour and tart cherry, leather, and earthiness.

Much like the nose here as well. Highly complex I must say. Funky and tart, but not overly so. Lower sweetness, oaky, earthy and wine like. Leather on the finish. Really makes me want to keep sipping to taste what develops next.

Lighter feel, pretty thin, very dry, lower carbonation.

I am not a big sour fan at all, but I really like this one. The funk and tartness are more approachable for the style, but the come itty of the flavor is what grabs my attention. If not for the price tag, I would buy up another couple of these. Well done overall for the style though. (798 characters)

Photo of Powderhornphil
4.29/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 bottle aged about one year.

Pours deep mahogany brown. Two fingers of soapy head. I would have expected a bit more carbonation.

Funk has become more pronounced over the last year. really nice funky aroma.

Taste is wine, grapes, tart fruity notes. Pretty much in that order. Definitely not as tart or vinegary as some of the highly regarded wilds.

Lower carbonation for the style. Medium mouthfeel.

Very nice wild. (425 characters)

Photo of mnphish
4.41/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750ml waxed bottle (2013 edition) served into a snifter. Pours a murky dark red/brown with a half inch head that stays afloat. Smell is of sour cherries, vinegar, barnyard funk, and red wine. Flavors of sour black cherries, tobacco, red wine, leather, and cocoa hit the palate. No metal taste whatsoever. Relatively dry mouthfeel with low carbonation, very chewy. I am very happy Surly chose to make this an annual release. Surly Five is one of my favorite sour beers and this is very similar. Way to put MN on the map Mr. Haug!

edit: I've noticed some variation in sourness from bottle to bottle. The stuff I had on tap wasn't as tart as the first bottle I reviewed. (668 characters)

Pentagram from Surly Brewing Company
93 out of 100 based on 76 ratings.