CynicAle | Surly Brewing Company

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

Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.70%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by tavernjef on 06-02-2006

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Reviews: 608 | Ratings: 1,465
Photo of Sammy
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Derek's can from a trade in WI. Yellow to grapefruit with a good head, lacing. Really easy drinking, 35 IBU but show more. A great summer deck beer. Restrained spiciness including the pepper. Light clover honey mouthfeel, about middling. I repeat, really easy drinking.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to UMNbeerhunter for sending me this one!

Pours a clear light orange-yellow with a 1 inch off-white head that fades to a thin cap. Random chunks of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smells of grains, spices, and Belgian yeast. Taste is exactly like the smell with the Belgian yeast taking prominence and the grain and spice flavors coming through on the finish. Reading the can I see that the hops are supposed to impart apricot/peach flavors and I do get them if I search for it. Beer has a good level of carbonation but seems a tiny bit flat. Very smooth in the mouth. Overall, this is a good beer from Surly but not one of my favorite styles. I am glad I got to try this one.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.5/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a real generic saison for a brewery i know to be one of the most distinct of all, so this was a real letdown, not that i expected much from their saison, its not their game, but still, this was disheartening. a flat looking hazy blonde beer, thick with sediment and hardly holding a quarter inch head. its all belgian yeast esters, very little real grain character or funk to this, and without that, it needs to be elegant, but unlike the lively belgian or french versions, this one is just heavy with spent yeast and wheat malt, and never gets anywhere. there is a grassy hop thing to it, which is its only real unique feature, but the mouthfeel is dense and sweet, and it really doesnt work all that well. against all saisons on the market, its not at all bad, above average even, but by surly standards, its pretty poor. stick to what you are good at here, because you are SO good at it!

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Photo of Knapp85
3.93/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This poured out as a slightly hazy golden color. It had a nice looking white head on top with a good retention and a touch of lacing on the glass. The smell of the beer has some subtle fruit and spice notes to it, there is an aroma of fresh grain as well with a mellow sweetness. The taste of the beer is light, refreshing and doesn't really show it's true colors till the aftertaste. The settling flavors of the earthy hops and the black pepper notes shine bright. The mouthfeel is crisp, smooth and clean feeling, leaving behind some stickiness in the mouth afterward. Overall I didn't know it was supposed to be a Saison but I could definitely make that assumption from the first sip to the last.

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Photo of metter98
4.07/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is hazy golden yellow in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high white head that died down quickly but left some delicate lacing on the surface.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of apricots and other fruits in the nose along with some hints of lemons, spices and floral and grassy hops.
T: Similar to the smell, there are flavors of apricots in the overall taste along with notes of peaches and a slight amount of initial sweetness. The flavors of spices are not really evident until the finish.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. Not much dryness is noticeable.
O: This beer is goes down very easily due to the lack of dryness and strong spicy flavors. I would have no problem having more than one of these on a hot summer day; the beer actually seems to be somewhat thirst quenching.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.62/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I always get a kick out of these wonderful beers decanted from a can. CynicAle definately qualifies as a wonderful Saison.

The beer falls clumsily from the can because of the unusual lip of the aluminum. But afterwards, a short but creamy head forms from a stark white foam. Light lacing and significant haze are both evident. A nice look but not as creamy or billowing as I need from great Saisons.

Sharp and spicy phenolics and pepper strike first, but with a quick follow-up of pears and appricot esters. An earthy (nearly musty) note blends into the sweeter and breadier malt base. All weave together with attention given to each scent with each visit to the glass.

Flavors of the bready, doughy, biscuity, confectionary malts give a very bold flavor to the beer- kinda odd for a Saison. But those peppery/phenolic and fruity esters are quite the quentessential flavors expected. Pears, apples, appricots, and lemons quickly become the leading flavors of the beer. Light soapy notes give a strange flavor but bounce off of the musty and acidic tastes.

While the beer starts off creamy and relatively full, the dryness never really comes into play. Even as the carbonation regresses, the beer remains sweeter and more bready than do classic Saisons, leaving the beer fuller and richer- keeping it from the evaporative and digestable qualities that keep me reaching for another. While the oats are a great bennefit to the creaminess early, the slickness on the tongue late only add to the full/fatty texture in the finish.

A very nice and smooth beer, but the long lasting sweetness and weight hurt the beer's body in the end. Thanks Chicksdighops!

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Photo of brentk56
4.47/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy honey color with a surprisingly modest head that does splash a bunch of lacing around

Smell: Spicy farmhouse yeast aroma, somewhat cheesy and peppery

Taste: Opens with a bready flavor (with hints of honey) and a yeasty farmhouse character that turns in a hoppy bitter direction by mid-palate; after the swallow, the peppery, coriander elements join a fruity peach flavor along with honeyed undertones

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate, but prickly carbonation

Drinkability: Saison in a can - who knew?

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Photo of largadeer
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pale amber in color, hazy but fairly clear. Not a lot of head on this one, which is somewhat unusual for the style.

Smell: Peppery and floral, semi-sweet, lots of estery fruit character (honeydew melon, banana).

Taste & mouthfeel: This one opens with a mix of esters and spice, white pepper being particularly prominent. A bit of melon-like sweetness appears mid-sip, followed by a strong resurgence of spice. The finish is long and peppery with a firm bitterness. Body is medium-light, right on target for the style, though carbonation is a bit low.

Notes: Very good stuff, definitely up to Surly's standard of excellence. Doesn't quite compare to a lot of authentic Belgian saisons, but great nonetheless (plus I love the idea of a saison in a can).

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can courtesy of Stine: Poured a medium amber color ale with a big foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of light pepper, medium sweet malt and some ester and yeasty notes. Sharp note of pepper are noticeable as well as some medium toffee sweet malt and a nice yeasty finish. Body is quite full with some medium filtration and some good carbonation. This beer was well done and I am getting to be more and more impress by the quality of the beers brewed by this brewer.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.35/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served on-draught into a pilsner glass in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the 8th street bar and grill. Reviewed from notes. Expectations were high given the brewery.

A: Pours a one finger head of fair cream, decent thickness, and okay retention. Colour is a semitransparent copper.

Sm: Amber hops, light cherry, cream, and full barley.

T: Cinnamon spice - especially on the finish and aftertaste, light cherry tones obscured by light amber hops, and assorted spices. Maybe a touch of Belgian-inspired candied sugar on the climax. Not horribly complex, but pleasant and refreshing for the style.

Mf: Tingly, smooth, and wet, suiting the flavours mildly.

Dr: Very drinkable, but innovative for the style. A unique take on the style that I'd have again. Lovely on draught.

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Photo of LXIXME
3.91/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear rich golden honey color with a nice big off white head that settles into a decent lacing.

Light spices like cloves with lemon pepper and some yeast aroma.

Light dark spices with cloves and peppers mixed in a lightly sweet grain malt taste.

A medium bodied beer that has a dryish aftertaste with just a hint of the spices remaining.

A decent enough beer but not really up my alley, would be cool to have this with just a touch of the traditional American hops taste added to it.

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Photo of zeff80
4.3/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a crystal clear, orange/gold color with a thick, off-white head of foam. It left wispy trails of lace on the sides of the glass.

S - It smelled peppery and spicy with some fruity characteristics. There were spicy and funky notes, too.

T - It tasted quite spicy with a peppery kick. There was a sweet caramel malt taste with some fruity flavors, too.

M - It was crisp and sharp with a dry finish. A light bodied ale with a good kick.

D - This is a great beer. Amazing to find a great saison in a can.

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Photo of oline73
4.02/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a can into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a slightly cloudy amber with a half finger of white head that goes away pretty quickly.

Smell: Herbal notes with some citrus, malt, and yeast spice.

Taste: There is a very strong herbal presence with some citrus notes mixed in. There is a hop bitterness in the finish along with some spice.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with tingly carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: I really liked the herbal notes in this one. The bitterness in the finish was a bit much, but I still really liked it. I would have another.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Bavarian Lodge in Lisle, IL

A: Golden with a nice white head.

S: Some pepper notes and a little bit of other spices thrown in. A little bit of earthiness with some subtle fruit undertones.

T: Much like the nose, with a little bit more earthiness coming through.

M: Plenty of carbonation; light-bodied.

D: A little bit much to be too drinkable, but the complexity brought me back for more.

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Photo of mothman
3.97/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my ommegang 10th anniversary chalice.

Pours a 1/2 finger white head. Fizzles down quickly. Leaves no lace. Color is a clear yellowish orange gold.

Aroma: The first thing that comes to me is the Belgium yeast used in this beer. I read the can and this beer has exactly what it says.. black pepper and honey. I never thought they could mix so well. Then in the back note I definitely get the peach aromas. Very cool smelling beer.

Taste: Initially again is that Belgium yeast with the black pepper and honey. Wow it I have never had anything like this and I really like it. The fruits follow in the back end as well as the aftertaste. Fresh peaches stick out the most to me. I am really liking this offering from Surly.

Mouthfeel: A little bitter, but mainly crisp and funky. Medium bodied. A lower level of carbonation. Leaves a fruity/peppery aftertaste. A nice mouthfeel for a hot summer day... great!

Overall, this is a really great Saison that is offered from Surly. I really enjoyed all the unique tastes and this pint will be gone fast. My mother even enjoyed this beer! I will definitely be drinking more of this beer during the summer. Easy to drink, but backs a ton of flavor!

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Photo of oberon
4.06/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours into an oversized wine glass an oranged tinged lighter golden with a fluffy white head atop.Overripe tropical fruits stand out in the nose with a bit of a creamsicle element to it,some toasted grain in there as well.Tropical fruits and spicy yeat on the palate with more toasted grain notes,a shot of white pepper hits the throat in the finish.Another bigtime beer from Surly...thanks Eric!

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Photo of superspak
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got in a trade with The-Adjunct-Hippie. 16 ounce can into tulip glass, canned on 5/6/2016. Pours lightly hazy/cloudy golden amber color with a 1-2 finger fairly dense white head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big lemon, orange, peach, pear, apricot, apple, peppercorn, light clove, biscuit, light honey/toasted bread, herbal, floral, grass, and yeast earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of fruity/spicy yeast, bready malt, and light-moderate earthy hop notes; with great strength. Taste of big lemon, orange, peach, pear, apricot, apple, peppercorn, light clove, biscuit, light honey/toasted bread, herbal, floral, grass, and yeast earthiness. Moderate yeast spiciness and light herbal hop bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of lemon, orange, peach, pear, apricot, apple, peppercorn, biscuit, light honey/toasted bread, herbal, floral, grass, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a while. Great complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity/spicy yeast, bready malt, and light-moderate earthy hop flavors; with a great malt/spiciness balance, and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-moderate dryness from yeast spiciness as well. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, moderately bready/grainy/creamy/sticky, and fairly crisp balanced mouthfeel that is nice. Zero warming alcohol for 6.5%. Overall this is a great saison. All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity/spicy yeast, bready malt, and light-moderate earthy hop flavors; very smooth, easy, and fairly crisp/clean to drink. A bit on the malty side for the style; but still stays spicy/drying enough to feel like a saison. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of jlindros
3.9/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Tall boy can... gotta love the cans, thanks to GoldenJet.

Pours a nice fluffy 1 finger head that fades at a fairly quick pace, with bits of lacing, over mostly clear dandelion yellow orange nectar colored beer.

Nose has a nice saison farmhouse aroma, light straw, toasty malts, wheat, dry rustic farmhouse yeast aromas, light spices, slightest hint of citrus, semi sweet like malts. Then fruits, light fruits, apple, pear, and other juicy fruits, and then the slightest hint of grassy hops.

Taste starts like a lighter malty saison, a hint of sweetness with some toasty malts, light straw, hint of wheat like flavors, light farmhouse but a bit maltier and juicier than typical farmhouse saisons but mostly typical overall. Hints of spices and citrus, as well as fruits from the yeast, light lemony citrus, faint hints of apple and pear, a little grainy. Some light floral grassy hops start to come out but not a lot, with a slight bitterness. It finishes drier but not as dry as most saisons, lingering toasty malts and farmhouse flavors, light citrus and fruits, and hints of grassy hops, although a little sticky, and gets a decent bitterness on the finish.

Mouth is med to slightly lighter bodied, decent carb although I would expect a little more for the style.

Overall not bad, similar to most saison farmhouse ales, but a little light is a few categories. Tasty and drinkable, nothing really wrong per se, but not the best representation of the style and nothing that really stands out, and I've been drinking lots of saisons this year.

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Photo of Kegatron
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16 oz can into a tulip glass.

Pours a clear coppery gold, with 2-3 firm fingers of foamy brite-white head. Retains with a thin layer of foamy retention that leaves some light spotty froth down the sides of the glass. The aroma has a pronounced tang to it from a combo of toasted biscuits and fruity character (apples and some ripe banana are coming out the most). I'm also getting a good bit of sharp peppery yeast notes, as well as some earth and bitter citrus rind.

The is similar to the aroma but a bit more mellow. Toasted grainy malts and fruity citrus flavors definitely give this a bit of a sweet tangy feel on the palate. Touch of earthy bitterness offers up some balance. Spice and yeast flood the back of the throat, giving this a dry finish that gives way to a bit of leftover tang. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a fair amount of crispness to the carbonation but overall stays very smooth in the mouth. Maybe a touch of warm to the feel but that ABV is mostly hid.

Not the strongest effort from Surly here but this still possessed enough flavor and smooth drinkibility to keep me entertained during the duration of this can. This would be a good one to crack when the weather gets a little warmer.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Acquired via trade from feloniousmonk, so a big “Thank you” goes out to him. Poured from a 16oz. can into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a bright gold color, with a thin white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of bananas, spices, light malts and Belgian yeast.

T: The taste is pretty refreshing and has a lot going on. There are flavors of peppery spices, fruits like bananas & apricots, and Belgian yeast up front, but it’s not too sweet. There’s a decent hops presence that comes in and provides a nice balance. The malt character is light but still gives a good backbone. The after-taste is slightly bready with a little sweetness.

M: Crisp and very smooth, light-to-medium body, medium carbonation, finish is very clean.

D: Very tasty, goes down quite easily, not too filling, good kick, very good representation of style, I found this to be a very enjoyable beer. I could definitely keep drinking this beer for a very long time.

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Photo of Kurmaraja
3.52/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Light gold, slight haze, couple inches of rocky head that retains fairly well. Aroma and flavor are fairly subdued; light hay, white pepper, some lemon, maybe stone fruit. Light and clean finish. Solid summer beer but not very distinct.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.35/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy, light sunny-hued yellow body with a moderately-sized, fluffed, white head.

Smell: Soft malts scented of round table bread dressed up with hints of ground spice and sweetish honeysuckle and notably fragrant notes of both fresh-picked orchard and citrus fruits.

Taste: Delicately malted bready barley with a gentle taste of honey-coated morningtime cereal followed by a juicy, fruity melange of white peaches, Honeycrisp apples, lemon, and maybe even a bit of ruby red grapefruit. Pinch of spicy coriander powder. Light trace of floral hoppiness with a modest bitterness to it. Finishes semi-dry with last touches of honey and fruit.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium-plus carbonation.

Drinkability: Recommended. Perhaps a skosh fruitier and sweeter than most, but overall a rather tasty beer and a very enjoyable saison from Surly. Darkness is a fine treat now and again, but, I think I'd prefer to have this one on a regular basis.

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.05/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a lightly hazy medium golden yellow in color with moderate amounts of gentle carbonation near the surface of the beer. The beer has a finger tall white head that slowly redues to a medium sized patch of thick film, a thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer, and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light to moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light aromas of light fruit (apricot and peaches) along with yeast spices (pepper).

T: There are light amounts of light fruit flavors upfront (apricots, peaches, and pear) with some more moderate flavors of yeast spice (pepper) and some clove.

M: Light to medium bodied with slightly heavier than moderate amounts of carbonation. Very light amounts of dryness in the finish.

O: This might be the easiest drinking saison that I have tried and it comes with the bonus of being in a can. There is very light dryness (especially compared to others in the style) and good flavors. Quite enjoyable and just shy of sessionable - a little too strong in ABV to be truly sessionable but I could have a couple of these.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.69/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

"Cynics regard everybody as equally corrupt. Idealists regard everybody as equally corrupt, except themselves."

--Robert Anton Wilson

Softly glowing coppery orange with bold lemon edges. The good-sized crown is the color of a freshly cut pear and has a wonderful firm creaminess about it. A jagged necklace of lace (with more on the way, I'm sure) only adds to the beer's attractiveness.

I'm fully onboard with this whole 'canned beer' thing, but it's still strange to experience a great saison from a metal container. An IPA or a brown ale? Sure. No worries, though. Cynic Ale is the real deal if the nose is any indication. Whatever spice melange was used, and whatever yeast strain, it's fandamntastic! Ripe fruit, white pepper, cardamom... I'm in olfactory heaven.

How the hell does Surly do it? How do they brew such off-center beer that is so different from the usual way of doing things, yet is still identifiable as a beer of the target style, that is so mind-blowingly delicious? Sheer genius.

My expectations were that Cynic would be good, but that it wouldn't be much like a Belgian saison. Wrong again and happily so. The malt is beautifully bready and is as firm as crust. In fact, the entire beer is the equivalent of a freshly-baked loaf of rustic French bread brushed with herb butter and dipped in rosemary and black pepper-infused olive oil.

I'd like to take credit for identifing 'apricot and peach notes', but it says so right there on the can. The fruitiness is easily the equal of the intriguing spiciness. This is a well-balanced beer that still manages to provide an amazing amount of complexity. I originally thought that I would buy Cynic in smaller quantities than Furious and Bender when I make it up to the Twin Cities. Now, I'm not so sure.

Although the mouthfeel doesn't have the buoyant perfection of a world-class Belgian saison, it doesn't miss by much. It's medium to slighty full for the style (great!) and is energetically bubbled. My mouth is ecstatic and so am I. Was that really 16 ounces already?

Cynic Ale will turn even the most jaded cynic into a true believer. On the strength of four amazing beers, Surly has vaulted into a permanent place in my top-10 breweries of all-time. Believe the hype.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.97/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a slightly hazy bright yellow/orange color with a tight one finger head, bone white in color. Decent amount of carbonation released from the bottom. Decent head retention, but not much lacing.

S: Some light green apple and a little bit of apricot/peach hit me right off the bat. There is some spice that increases as it warms.

T: Very similar to the aroma, light green apple and some peach. Not as much spice as the nose or most in the style, and I don't really mind, they accentuate the flavors nicely.

M: Light to medium bodied with nice carbonation. Very drinkable.

O: Pretty good, if the flavors were a bit bolder I would have liked it a lot more, but they seemed slightly weak. A solid brew I would love to drink on a hot day hanging out with friends, good for BBQs and horseshoes.

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CynicAle from Surly Brewing Company
4.01 out of 5 based on 1,465 ratings.
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