Eight Ale
Surly Brewing Company

Eight AleEight Ale
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American Barleywine
4.18 | pDev: 11.96%
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Eight AleEight Ale
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Reviews: 40 | Ratings: 326
Reviews by Tricerahops:
Photo of Tricerahops
4/5  rDev -4.3%

More User Reviews:
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.43/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: utter opacity, dark, rugged, rustic burgundy coloring, under a lush, off-white, creamy-toned head.

Aroma: comes screaming out of the glass…. whiskey all over the place. Vanilla, coconut, oak, …huge, vast, immense, …all the adjectives. The richness wraps over all other flavors, but that's alright, I don't mind.

Taste: yeah, let's…mmm, bright, bold, vibrant, and incredibly complex. Whiskey tones (more vanilla, more sweetness, still some coconut) are king of this jungle, standing tall above all, …and making me wish I could get a taste of the original, pre-High West barrel-aging to compare them. An oat barley-wine, rich, fruity, delicious, and strong. But, not too strong. Some have been reporting this as "hot", but having tasted it, I am here to declare them to be positively pussies. "Waah, wah, it's 'hot'!" Get over it, it's a barley-wine, it's supposed to be strong, be a man, and drink a beer! (Or be a woman, too, either way. How about this one: "person up!" Okay, I'll keep searching for the politically correct term.)

I'm barely halfway into this and it's tasting better and better, and feeling stronger and stronger. Pro-tip: share this one. Not wise to drink it alone. But, that's what I'm here for, taking it for the team.

An oat wine. How many of those are there? The wheat wine is a thing, sure, but Todd has always been pro-oat, and mostly anti-wheat. Smooth and supple and utterly delicious. Once the whiskey barrel-aging effects wear away, the brew below shows it's stuff, and it's goddamn gorgeous.

We're getting towards the end, and I'm close to surrender. This is the best way to enjoy this beer (screw sharing!)…late at night…got nothing to do tomorrow…let the time pass away, and accept every beautiful moment.

Here's where I read the label to you: First off, Omar: "When it's done is a phrase we've used to describe release dates for our beers for many years. When you're putting the beer first, it just makes sense. Our anniversary is technically in February, but this unique Oat Wine style ale needed to age in High West Distillery Rye Whiskey barrels until well…until it's done. Here's to eight great years, and we'll all be celebrating soon in our all-new Destination Brewery. …The idea behind our anniversary line-up of beers was to give Todd, Surly's Head Brewer, fee rein to use whatever ingredients and methods he wanted to brew the beer. This year's bottle artwork is a one-of-a-kind illustration collaboration between Todd and local artist Josh "Jawsh" Lemke." …and then, Todd: "This beer was designed for barrel-aging, so it's been a great opportunity to work with our friends at High West Distillery, in Park City, Utah. Brewed with Golden Promise and Aromatic malt, and milk sugar fermented in stainless steel, then aged in high West Distillery rye whiskey barrels, this golden-hued Oat-Wine style ale summons notes of spicy vanilla marshmallow and aromas of honey and whiskey."

Wait, there's information missing…why can't I find the ABV? Odd…well, I heard that it's 10.7% ABV. It's got to be on there somewhere….nope, nowhere…oh, well, worse things have happened.

Okay. This is incredible now. And it could be different later. I say get as much as you like, but drink it fresh, then stash some away and break it out on special occasions, but don't freak out about aging it. Probably the best advice anyone can ever give you about beer: don't freak out about it.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.46/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

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

Appearance: Pours a deep and hazy brownish amber with a moderate amount of bubbles. About two fingers of off white head which settle into a thin patchy layer. Leaves some decent lacing.

Smell: A nicely sweet and boozy malt forward aroma with big hints of oat, whisky, and vanilla. Good barrel presence with hints of rye whiskey, vanilla, oak, and wood. Sweet malt with hints of caramel, toffee, oats, straw, biscuit, and yeast. Sweet hints of honey and sugar. Subtle fruit hints of apple, raisin, and sour cherry. Can’t smell much hops. A really interesting and good aroma.

Taste: Like the smell indicates, a sweet, malty, and barrel forward taste with big notes of rye whiskey, vanilla, and oats. Upfront barrel presence with notes of rye whiskey, sweet vanilla, oak, and wood. Good malt presence with notes of oats, caramel, toffee, straw, biscuit, and yeast. Sweet taste of honey and sugar. Subtle fruit undertones with some notes of raisin, cherry, and apple. Sweet tasting but not overly syrupy. A very good taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Creamy and slick. Surprisingly smooth and easy drinking for a barrel aged brew. Minimal alcohol heat is felt.

Overall: Another very good Surly brew. Good whiskey and sweet vanilla flavors that avoid becoming overly sweet and boozy. Thinner body than expected but the flavor doesn’t suffer.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
2.68/5  rDev -35.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Bottle shared by Barry last night, thanks man.

This one pours a clear medium-dark brown, with no head or lacing.

This one smells pretty funky, and pretty bad- sweaty socks, mainly, with no aspects of the barrel or base beer coming through. A bit of poop, too, honestly.

The taste is luckily better than the aroma, but the apparent infection has affected the taste as well. There's a bit of tartness, some caramel, and some astringent woodiness. It's not entirely unpleasant, but this is very clearly not what Surly intended for this beer.

This is fairly thin bodied, too light, with a lower level of carbonation. The drinkability is fairly low.

Meh. I'd like to try a good bottle to see what this was supposed to taste like.

 729 characters

Photo of DCLAguy11
3.82/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of garymuchow
3.83/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Not sure how long I've been sitting on this, but I'm sure it's been awhile.
Anyway. Aroma starts with a sweet rye whiskey with alcohol and a bit of vanilla. Big full head that is sticky lacy. Mostly clear amber with red prominent.
Not quite as complex as I would expect. Wood becomes more prominent in time and it shows vanilla later.
On a bigger side of moderate feels. Smooth and nicely carbonated. Some dryness on the finish.
This is only okay. Nothing that makes it stand out in any particular fashion.

 517 characters

Photo of HoudiniRN
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

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

L-chestnut brown colored


T-Just as awesome with the same impressions

F-Right on...heard rumblings of sourness but nothing here on either bottle I had...

O-Great beer. I hate spending this $ on any beer but when I do expect it to be exceptional and this is.

 309 characters

Photo of ja09
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of Tyecko
4.4/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of tavernjef
5/5  rDev +19.6%

Photo of TboneRN
4.49/5  rDev +7.4%

Photo of RushLimbmalt
4.74/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Photo of devilfluff
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Mdog
3.87/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Amber/dark red, good head.

Smell: First thing is some sour wood, then moves to vanilla and booze.

Taste: Sweet vanilla candy, fruity, big mouthfeel. A little rye whiskey kick in the finish with some mint and dill in the aftertaste.

Overall: Congrats to Surly on 8 years! The anniversary beers are always an adventure with Surly, this one had me worried at first with the smell, but ended up being a tasty, sweet, whiskey-tinged barleywine.

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Photo of kkleu357
4.43/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Dark caramel body. Odd smelling. Slightly musty"?", but with a touch of oak. Pretty darn tasty. Haven’t had many oat wines, but it does lend a unique taste that is hard to describe. Smooth beer. Not an overpowering rye whiskey taste, just a good touch of it.

 260 characters

Photo of OStrungT
4.51/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a murky orangish brown color, and sports a thick and fluffy light brown head. The head fades slowly, leaving a nice lace.

This beer smells much more mellow than I expected. I detect some oak and vanilla, the standard for a barrel aged beer. I also get some whisky as well but it is ever so slight. Some caramel sweetness also.

This beer tastes of vanilla and toasted coconut. Some oaky flavor mixes in. Mild whisky as well.

This beer is really smooth. It leaves an aftertaste of vanilla.

Overall this beer is pretty good. It isn't overly aggressive, and that is nice. I could drink a lot of this, if it wasn't for its high, but well, hidden alcohol content. Thanks Sarah for this one. I think I'll put a little time on the other bottle.

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Photo of Stillyman11
4.28/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of jzeilinger
4.13/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a cloudy hazelnut color with a dense white, creamy thin lacing ring.

S - Oak, vanilla molasses, sweet aroma.

T - Sweet roasted toffee, bourbon, some spice, vanilla, and a little shot of citrus on the back end.

M - Medium body, no carbonation, silky liquid.

O - Diggin' on this beer.

 297 characters

Photo of brians52
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of BEERchitect
3.83/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Barleywine is easy. Anyone can do that- its such a well-documented style. But an oatwine? Now that's unique! And to build a recipe that takes in consideration the maturation stages in used rye whisky barrels from High West and the complexity, charm and uniqueness keeps growing.

Deep golden and solidly amber, the ale pours with a creamy off-white pillow of froth. As the malt sweetness is deeply caramelized, nutty and toasty, it does so with an aggressive pep of booze. And to taste, the creamy caramel, toffee and caramels seduce the senses ahead of its spicy balance.

As the sweetness coats the mouth evenly, it works to ease the brunt of the barrel that comes charging in over the middle palate. Light char, chocolate and oak bridge the gap between malt and barrel as the spice of rye adds its earthen and husken grit. Bitter, peppery and woodsy, the beer's balance is all barrel with a cinnamon-like pep.

Yet in finish, the beer's oat influence keeps the textures soft and creamy; seemingly of pulled candy. But there's no mistake, the strong booze character is spicy, peppery and its effects pang away at the soft tissues of the mouth is prickling, numbing fashion. With a playful coconut and vanilla aftertaste, the bourbon kicks the taste out of balance.

 1,266 characters

Photo of Stillmakingnoise
4/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of emerge077
4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brownish copper, spotty lace, wispy surface skim.

Super woody aroma, the rye comes through in a big way. Slightly sweet and sticky.

Rich taste at first, though it has a pretty dry finish with a moderate bitterness. Body is somewhat thin with some dimension from the oats. Rye taste is dominant, and clear in the mix. Personally I really love High West, though the whiskey more than the rye. It's good though I'm not sure it's worth $25 really.

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Photo of Nate_Christian93
4.9/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Photo of rab53
4.16/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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Eight Ale from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 326 ratings