Blakkr | Surly Brewing Company

147 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.99%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
This double black as night IPA is too massive for just one brewery's efforts. BLAKKR took the trinity of Real Ale Brewing Co, Surly Brewing Co, & Three Floyds Brewing Co, to actualize this crushing ale. Cheers.

This is the 16oz canned Surly version.

Added by stvanderwoude on 02-15-2014

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Reviews: 147 | Ratings: 1,141
Photo of cjohns73
4.91/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 16 oz can. Dated about 3 months prior but drinks incredible. Pitch black with huge frothy head. Smell is full of tropical hops and you would think this was any traditional DIPA on smell alone. The hops are so wonderfully balanced with the roasty flavors -- every sip has everything you want.

I foolishly offered one of these to a friend the other day, he chose a pseudoSue instead. I think I lucked out.

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Photo of jwc215
4.24/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pin-sized can:

Pours very dark brown with a listing head. Some lacing sticks.

The smell is of pine/resin and citrus with chocolate.

Taste is of pine/resin some citrus and chocolate. There is some coffee but the roast is restrained enough to add dimension without clashing with the bitterness of the hops.

It is velvety smooth despite the noticeable alcohol.

Tasty, rich and strong. This is heavy on hops and malt. And it all comes together wonderfully!

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Photo of Treyliff
4.45/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz can, canned 4/2/15, poured into a tulip glass

A- pours pitch black in color with a small creamy khaki colored head that retains long after the pour, eventually leaving some lacing behind

S- citrus hop aroma gives notes of orange peel & tangerine, also hints of pine. Underlying smoky black malt gives notes of chocolate & earth

T- rich dark roasted malt up front gives lush flavors of dark chocolate and cocoa, along with some caramel notes. Sharp citrus and leafy hops poke through the dark malt, giving flavors of orange peel, grapefruit, fresh cut grass & mint. More chocolate malt & citrus on a dry finish

M- medium-heavy body with medium-low carbonation leads to a thick, creamy and chewy mouthfeel that continues into a smooth and drug finish, ABV is hidden very well

O- one of the best Black IPA's I've had. This one finds a way to provide enough chocolate malt to stand up to the intense hops, which usually dominate in this style. Drinkability is so smooth for the ABV

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Photo of rynegne
4.26/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I really like this one a lot. It's hop-forward with a bit of a roasted coffee and anise flavor that some IPAs have. It's up there in my top Black IPAs. Quite expensive, but, given the ABV and quality I don't mind paying a bit more.

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Photo of larryi86
4.34/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thank you garymuchow for this!
16 oz can, dated 3/30/15, poured into a teku

A- Black with a four finger mocha head.

S- Some tropical fruits, pineapple, roasted malts, pine, faint coffee.

T- Tropical fruits, faint pineapple, some citrus, roasted malts, coffee, some sweet fruits, piney/dank finish.

M- Smooth, medium to full body, creamy.

O- When I opened the can I thought this this was 6.66% ABV until I looked down and saw it is 9.99%, but the alcohol is very well hidden. Really enjoy this, feel the malts really help balance out the El Dorado hops. Probably the best use of El Dorado that I have tried.

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Photo of martyl1000
4.17/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Somewhat of a splurge at $18/4-pk 16 oz., though when you think about it, if it came as a bomber, it would be about $7 -- not especially "luxury" pricing. Wait, let me work this out. It's $18/64 oz. = $0.28/oz. So, oh, 22 oz. would be only $6.18. I wouldn't think twice about buying a bomber of totally legendary beer for six bucks!

Mmm. It's quite good. Makes me think of New Glarus Black Top, though with sweetness and body and abv. It's actually a tad bit overly sweet.

This is what Lake Louie Radio Free IBA aspires to, and nearly achieves, I might add.

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Photo of cokes
3.79/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Thoroughly shadowy, blackened Crimson with an impressive and lasting stack of beige-peach foam.
The nose brings pine bark, burnt grapefruit, toasted sugar, raisin bran flakes, brandy, and flares of pineapple and peaches.
A slap of tropical fruits across the tongue. Peaches, melons, pineapple, lime leaves. A dusting of coffee grounds. Some creme brûlée, burnt sugar and custard notes. More herbal on the swallow. Alcohol is not a factor, other than a twinge of post swallow bitterness.
Thinner bodied than i expected with a trickling carbonation.

I really don't know what to do with this. I like it as an Imperial IPA with touches of roastiness. But the style is one I can't really embrace, nor know what to expect. The IPA part of this works, but the black part seems completely underdeveloped. And I'm not sure if I like it more or less due to this (lack of) balance. Ultimately, it's a handicap, because I still have no idea what I want in black IPA, nor have I found an example to adore. Not here either.

Sorry Blakkr, it's not you, it's me.
But at $16/4-pack, I'm not going to try any harder to salvage this relationship. But I know you'll make someone else very happy.

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Photo of Moose90
4.02/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

16oz can reads - "Canned On 04/20/15 F2870"

A — Pours a deep and dark black color, with little to no light around the edges, just pure black. There is a puffy, cappuccino like head that forms, but it fades into a thin layer atop the dark body of the beer. Lacing left behind is sticky, and extremely consistent.

S — Smells quite hoppy and bright initially. Though underneath it all is a very rich and darkly roasted malt profile. Lightly roasted bitter coffee, earthy and herbal notes, light lemon and citrus tartness.

T — Taste is quite intense and complex, lots of big hop and citrus notes initially. The background is very malt focused and layered, lots of roasty charred malts. Though it does seem to be slightly dialed back in each regard, not super dark and rich, and it is also not overly hoppy or bright. As it warms there becomes a bit of a fruity and estery tone, almost cherry and jam like, really really great. Still balanced with char and malt.

M — Medium bodied, there is a long and lingering finish, almost a bit sticky, the 9.99% ABV is undetectable.

O — Nice overall, would love a little bit more char and roasted complexities, but great nonetheless, this holds up very well over time (within reason), I would absolutely seek this out again.

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Photo of Mattress00
3.48/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

L: Holding a flashlight behind it doesn't break through this very dark beer. The foamy tan head leaves a nice lacing effect behind on the glass.

S: Strong dank, earthy, piney aroma with a smidgen of citrus. Some roastiness comes through.

T: Dankness dominates initial taste followed by a combination of green, earthy, hoppy taste quickly surrounded by some bitterness. There is a balance of bitterness there but it's overwhelmed by the earthy dankness and roastiness.

F: Because it's a very dark beer much like a stout, a full mouthfeel is anticipated but it immediately reminds me that this is an IPA with it's crispy carbonation and bitterness on the tongue.

O: While I really admire Black IPAs for blending the roastiness and color with the bitterness/hoppiness of an IPA, this balance is often contradictory. This beer makes it more complicated as it adds a huge earthy hoppy aroma/flavor aspect to what I expect to be a more West Coast IPA style (I don't know why because these are all Midwest breweries). While a very tasty 16 ounces of goodness is found in this can, if you like earthy dank IPAs and strong, roasty stouts then this IPA will cause you an added joy. For those looking for a traditional Cascadian Dark Ale, you will be disappointed. Still a good beer but nothing I would spend more than $10 a 4-pack for.

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Photo of majorbase2
4.42/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown, nearly black color with a small foam head. Dissipates quickly, leaving just a ring of lacing around the edges.

Aroma is fantastic. A wonderful blend of smells. Citrus hops, dark fruits, and alcohol are there at first sniff. Some very lightly roasted coffee and chocolate malts.

Wow! The taste is remarkably complex. The fruity, citrus led by grapefruit and pineapple arrive first, quickly overtaken by some roasted malts. Licorice and fig play beautifully with the citrus that led off. Followed up with some roasted coffee malts, that stick to the tongue unlike anything I've seen before. The transformation of taste here, from the initial, brief flavors of hoppy citrus to the overtaking of dark fruits and more notably some roasted malts. Runs the gamut from IPA to Stout from beginning of sip to end of sip. Quite a bit of sweetness and bitterness on the back end, really sticking to the tongue.

Medium bodied. Sweetness and bitterness make it a bit more of a sipper, but not what you'd expect at 10%. A little bit of bite from the alcohol, especially as it warms.

Overall, this is a fantastic beer. A very good collaboration. Definitely would recommend this to everyone.

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Photo of snaotheus
4.24/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

16oz can brought in in a friend of a friend's suitcase. Canned on 3/30/15. Served in a large snifter.

Pours black with a smallish light brown head and lots of carbonation to sustain it. Smell is interesting -- caramel and hops? Roast and tropical juice? Sounds strange, but smells nice.

Taste is a nice mixture of roasty burnt caramel and hops again. With a strong bitter hoppy finish.

Mouthfeel is light and effervescent. Very nice black ale.

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Photo of pat61
4.75/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Have had this on tap at the Bryant Lake Bowl and from a can.
L: Pours black under a 3” frothy, sticky tan foam collar that provides prominent lace.
S: The nose is richer on tap than from the canned version. The tap version has mild espresso, light roast over cocoa and a light hop accent.
T: Its very soft in the mouth with layers of roast, coffee, cocoa, and toasted bread, with a big bitter finish woven from dark roasted grains and a moderate hop addition. The beer has distinguishable layers of both malt and bitterness.
F: Very creamy, medium to medium full body, medium carbonation, very soft.
O: This is an interesting complex beer with layers of flavor. It is not as bitter as some of this brewer’s brands.

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Photo of KevChiTown
4.48/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tons of coco nibs. Super crushable. The single most unique Black IPA I've ever had. Soft, smooth, creamy almost. Hops that balance, but not overpower. Awesome beer

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Photo of joiceed
4.87/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Phenomenal Beer. Despite its bold 10 % ABV, it is extremely drinkable. Dangerously so. It's appearance is nearly as black as a Guinness with a slight hue of red cedar on the edges. It develops a nice head with a tan coloration. It smells of citrus: orange, apricots, and even suggests the slight sour of pomegranate. The taste is a bouquet of deep plum, caramelized apricots, oranges and even hints of a very smooth red wine soaked tobacco. Wonderfully flavorful in the realms of sweetness without tasting sweet. This is due to its excellent hop character. As a Double IPA should, it finishes with the tingling bitterness of fresh hops. Tangy and tongue twisting the hop profile is very noticeable. The only drawback to this beer that I can conjure is that I think it could have a little more zing with regards to the hop. Nonetheless, absolutely smooth. Its dangerous because it's extremely delicious and easy to drink, but also this beer will be quick to knock you on your ass!

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Photo of nhindian
3.67/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to TGanyone for tossing a 4-pack of this into a recent trade as an extra!

Too massive for just one brewery, Blakkr sees three heavy-hitting breweries team up to release this imperial black ale. Generally not my favorite style - I don't exactly like the combination of fresh hops and roast flavors - but if anyone can do it, I whole heartedly place my faith in Surly and 3 Floyds.

Appearance - Rather than being black, Blakkr more closely resembles a dark cola as shades of brown poke out from around the edges. Atop the surface, a light tan head slowly builds until peaks at around a figure in height before fading away, leaving nary a trace behind. Instead a thick lattice of foam speckles the glass.

Aroma - The nose is a cacophony of hop and malt that I find myself constantly wavering about. On one hand, the hops are just as juicy and tropical as a DIPA and the malt is roasty and filled with coffee, but on the other hand, when those two extremes are coupled there isn't a smooth mingling. It is hard to reconcile the spectrum but I truly do love each individual component.

Taste - Much like in the aroma, the flavor has all the punch of the hops and malt behind it. Unlike the nose, however, the ingredients play much more nicely together here. The coffee subsides and is replaced with a licorice note that bridges the gap. A slightly bitter chocolate flavor also meshes well with the pineapple and citrus hop taste.

Mouthfeel - The mouthfeel is imposing without being syrupy. Perfect carbonation helps move the flavors along, and in a beer with so much going on, it's much appreciated.

Closing Arguments - At the end of the day, I still feel like my impressions of this style are unchanged. Unlike other black ales I've had, Blakkr kicks it the hop and roast to a previously unseen level, but still suffers from the fate of not co-mingling the two in a seamless manner. To be fair, taken separately, both the hop and malt components are near top-notch, but there is a clear separation between them. This is much more apparent in the nose than the flavor.

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Photo of B1gears
4.93/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Pours a beautiful dark brown almost opaque color. 2-3 fingers of tan head, which lasts long and leaves a nice lace.

S - Hop aroma is present and on the piney side.

T - Initial taste is of charred wood and chocolate, replaced quickly by licorice on the back of the tongue, and then a vague pineapple taste. It's really surprising that it's so high in alcohol content.

M - Good mouth feel. Carbonation is a bit more than I'm used in a dark ale. Not a bad thing!

This a beautifully balanced and delicious beer. Surly does it again (with help).

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Photo of dmgeng
4.73/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I made a trade for this annual Surly release and I was really not let down!

A - Pours a beautiful dark brown color. Off white colored head with fine bubbles and great lacing.

S - The smell is of citrusy hops along with pine and herbal tones. Mixed together with some bakers cocoa, medium roasted coffee, sweet malt, and roast. Smells just as you would expect this beer to and it's great.

T - It hits the tongue with a sweet malt character that is ushered by the citrus, pine, and herbal hop character from the nose. In the middle there is some caramel to compliment the hop flavors that I really enjoy. On the backside there is more of the coffee, dark chocolate, and roast similar to an export stout. Also on the end is a resin fueled hop bitterness that sits perfectly with sweeter porter flavors from the middle.
M - Moderate mouth-feel. Moderate carbonation. The mouth-feel is the best I've had for a BIPA and basically sits like a really good DIPA but has that bitterness from the roast to add balance.

Overall, this is an amazing black IPA. I would definitely seek it out next year. This is my new favorite BIPA and if it had a more amp'd up hop flavor it would be one of my favorite beers of all time. The hops are good but could definitely be stronger. I also couldn't drink more than a few due to the palate wrecking nature of an Imperial Black IPA. I would strongly recommend this beer if you like DIPAs and robust stouts.

Glass- Imperial Nonic

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Photo of Vonerichs
4.31/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark as can be with great retention and lacing from the head.

Smells like a super hopped up stout. Currant and blackberries. Lots of roast. Dark chocolate. Pine.

Pine needles and char. Bitter. Light coffee. Dark berries.

Moderate carbonation. Heavy body.

I'm generally not a fan of black IPAs but this one borders hoppy stout. It's a nice medium between the two.

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Photo of SweetwaterTuonker
4.59/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Surly is the only part of the collaboration I know on a tastebud level. With their name on the label one correct assumption is it's boomshakalacka good.

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Photo of ajchocholousek
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From can into New Belgium "Snifter"

Pours black as night with a two finger billowy light tan head. Stuck around for bit, but didn't leave much lacing. Smell hits you with big citrusy, floral hops floating in a shallow sea of roasty molasses and booze. Taste comes through similarly with a big citrusy hop bitterness up front that finishes nice, smooth slightly roasty, dark fruit and molasses. Even getting some very tropical flavors at the end - pineapple? In a black IPA? Yes! Mouthfeel is a nice medium body with a touch of silkiness. Really nice beer overall. I'm not the biggest fan of Black IPAs, but this one is really nailing it for me right now. Love the amount of hop character here with just enough darkness to smooth things out into a really satisfying sip.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.12/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Perfect blackness, with slight traces of red creeping out at the sides and foot. Roasted tan head stays large on top, until retreating, while leaving lace. Ominous.

Aroma: Hops hit first, pungent and powerful, piney and citric, even while being enveloped by the darkness below. Malt keeps pace and threatens to swallow all else. Hop aromas are screaming out of this nose, hoping to escape the dread darkness.

Taste: Once in the mouth, things get more intense. Hops hold their own and then some, becoming stronger on the palate that you'd suspect, and the flavor of the malt strives to catch up. Dark chocolate flavors, aniseed, char, smoke, tobacco…deep, dense, rich stuff. But the hop bitterness is never quite conquered and the two parts reign supreme in the flavors, hand in hand.

Not quite balanced, but not quite not. The alcohol is felt fairly early on, and brings on a mood of doom. (Not really, I'm just exaggerating for effect. I thought you'd figured that out by now?) Not one for the mild or fearful. Don't have more than one if you've got anything else to do later in the night. (Says the guy who's going to close the evening with a 10% barley-wine bomber.)

So, now we read the label" "This double black as night IPA is too massive for just one brewery's efforts. BLAKKR took the trinity of REal Ale Brewing Co., Surly Brewing Co., & Three Floyds Brewing Co. to actualize this crushing ale. Cheers."

This is another mighty, massive Surly (co-)creation. I would smash the can on my forehead as a sort of salute, but, you know, I'm just not that metal.

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Photo of Awolter
4.81/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Can dated 3/30 picked up in Mankato, Minnesota. Delicious and surprisingly quite citrusy for such a dark beer. I've heard they used different hops this year, I wish I had the opportunity to try the old one!

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Photo of Cannibalgasm
4.44/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

On tap at House of Pizza.

L: Pours a deep black with a thick tan head. Good retention moderate lacing.

S: Pineapple, grapefruit, mango, orange, citrus, pine, roasted malts, dark chocolate, molasses, plum, coffee, earthy hops. One of the best smelling brews I've ever had.

T: Pineapple, orange, roasted malts, dark fruits, molasses, slightly sweet chocolate with a great earthy hop bitterness on the finish.

F: Full bodied, creamy, slightly oily, good dry finish.

O: This is my favorite Black IPA so far. The smell if absolutely phenomenal and taste truly follows suit. This brew is an absolute must try.

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Photo of CraigP83
4.77/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours a deep black with a tan head, about what I expected for this style. Smell is.....MANGO and pineapple, wow I wasnt expecting that. Flavor is malty beer with citrus and pine, fucking fantastic!

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Photo of OrestesMethuon
4.69/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

For this purposes of this review, I'm including my side-by-side notes for both the Three Floyds and Surly Blakkr iterations: half a twenty-two-ounce bomber in a Junkyard sixteen-ounce tulip, and half a sixteen-ounce can in a twelve-ounce Florida Beer IPA tulip.

Immediately, the Three Floyds smells a lot maltier, more chocolatey and burnt-toffee, and pours with a much more robust, bubbling, khaki-colored head. The Surly, meanwhile, boasts some authentically-detectable hop elements on the nose—a pleasant olfactory pulse for a beer as black as this (or, these two, more appropriately). Indeed, the more you snuff, the more the Surly measures: pine notes, some pretty intense citrus, surrounded with merely a hint of dark sugars and earthy petrichor.

The Surly is surprisingly dry, too, with light hop-candy notes and a pleasant hop-fused tartness that floats along the mellow, rich, smoldering-malt smoothness. In a lot of ways, the Surly is what I might have expected from the Three Floyds.

The Three Floyds, on the other hand, is much stouter: where the Surly is sort of a Black IPA suprême, the iteration from Munster, IN, leans much more heavily towards the “hoppy stout” spectrum. It's thicker; it expresses its abv much more strongly in the nose, especially, as well the flavor-profile; it billows with much more head, and lingers with much more substantial lacing; and its more deeply rich in its malt assertion. Cacao-forward, toffee'd, slightly smokey (almost ashy, in fact), and more bitter-hoppy than anything else, this is still a very good beer—clean for its heft, well-bodied and -balanced, and hoppy, if more narrowly so than the Surly—it nevertheless just feels less successful than the version of this collaboration brewed up in Minnesota.

Even though I do like Surly a lot, the results of this comparison were a definite shock to me—and it really forces one to consider more than just local elements (equipment; water), but the very substantial effect the bottling-vessel has on a beer, particularly as it ages. Indeed, I had Surley's effort on draught in Rochester, MN, but I think it's honestly better from its sixteen-ounce can. Moreover, the particular importance of pairings also further crystallize for me through this direct comparison, since I remember feeling more more positively about the Three Floyds version when I was drinking it off the tap at Owen & Engine, expertly poured alongside elk loin seared in brioche-ash and grains-of-paradise to bring out the strengths of 3F's offering.

So, it's certainly a good reminder: when a brew is delicate, and full of very deliberate effort, the smallest perturbations can truly create very different end-products.

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Blakkr from Surly Brewing Company
4.2 out of 5 based on 1,141 ratings.
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