CynicAle | Surly Brewing Company

Liked This Beer
3.98 w/ 1,499 ratings

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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Ratings: 1,499 |  Reviews: 612
Photo of Vonerichs
3.48/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Light and clear golden color with an aggressive white head.

The smell is grassy and floral, with a little spice.

The taste is grainy malt, and a peppery finish. There's a light hint of clove. Moild bitterness. Both the smell and the taste are on the lighter side and very subdued.

Mouthfeel is very thin and light. Crisp carbonation.

Overall, this was a good beer in general, but weak sauce for the style. In fact, when I first smelled and tasted it I thought it was a bitter with a little yeasty spice, only to find out that it's categorized as a saison.

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16 oz. can into a pint glass.

Appearance: A transparent golden copper beer fills my pint glass, leaving just enough room for a 3 cm frothy white head. Lots of carbonation rises from the bottom to keep the head alive, and some sticky lace webs the glass.

Smell: This is a spicy nose for sure. The pepper really dominates for me, with cardamon and cloves being next in line. A variety of lightly sweet light malts are noticeable in the background. Some herbal hops as well.

Taste: The tastes starts a little bit sweet, with a light caramel malt edge to an otherwise biscuity malt profile. A lot of pepper comes through, bringing some cloves, cardamon, and a few other spices. There is an herbal / grassy finish, although I would barely describe it as hoppy.

Mouthfeel: Aside from the short initial sweetness, this is fairly dry, but not overly so. Strong, crisp carbonation keeps each sip refreshing and enjoyable. Medium, maybe medium to full bodied.

Overall: The blast of pepper is difficult for me to overcome, or at least, difficult for me to overcome and give it a rockstar rating. I like this beer and appreciate the different components, but it is not my favorite.

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Photo of Jayli
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Acquired from SamuelJackson45 via LOKO for Locals BIF so a big THANK YOU goes out to him!
Poured in to my Portsmouth tulip.

A: This beer pours a lightly hazy light copper color with a one finger of white foamy head. Head recedes at a moderate pace leaving sheets of lacing.

S: Nose is yeast, bready notes, pepper spicing, light clove.

T: Taste is slightly malty at the forefront, a bit toasty, and then a hearty bread and yeast flavoring comes through. Finish is grassy, lemon citrus and a peppery spicing.

M: Lighter side of medium body, medium carbonation, nice and crisp at the beginning with a dry finish.

O: Goes down easy, tasty, not too filling, mild kick, nice representation of style. This is another fantastic offering from Surly. I seriously love this brewery.

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Photo of trxxpaxxs
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This beer pours a very nice cloudy deep yellow. Not much head to this beer and very little lacing around the glass.

S: Smells of banana and spice. I'm also picking up some clove and candied ginger.

T: I get a nice blend of sweet and spice. Initially it is more sweet up front followed by the spice. Tastes of banana and and caramel followed by clove, ginger and pepper. It's delicious. This is the third time I've tried this beer and it's beginning to grow on me. I'm becoming a fan.

M: Tons of flavor on the palate, but they fade fairly quickly. It entices me to take another sip. So, I will.

D: Drinkability is high. I could down a few glasses in one sitting without a problem. It's a beautifully refreshing beer. Perfect for summer.

O: I really like this brew. It's grown on me after a few tastings, and I think it's an excellent example of the style.

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Photo of syrupjoe
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

16oz can into pint glass

1/2 finger cream-white head that dies almost immediately. Clouded golden straw color with no particulates.

Smells of marmalade, grass, yeast, and pepper. Tastes very spicy, with slight banana ester. Very funky but clean.

Overall - a delicious beer. Not an astounding example of the farmhouse style, but something I will continue to purchase.

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Photo of FightingEntropy
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Out of the can, needed to be poured hard to raise a fluffy off white head on the beer which dissipated rather quickly. Fruity esters off the top with spice and yeast. Pleasant and not overwhelming at all. Peppery notes in the taste with a clean, almost acidic bit is the part of this beer I like best. Like many Surly beers, this has assertive characteristics for the style but it comes into balance in the end. The gold flecked amber color of the beer promises a bit more backbone in the beer; however, it always seems a little light in the mouth. Today, it's a hot summer day, so it's refreshing. Often, I think it's a bit thin for the taste.

Overall, a very nice saison-ish beer that I continue to buy on occasion. Earlier review seemed a little harsh, especially since I seem to return to it more and more. Of the Surly beers, CynicAle is one worth repeating and getting a four pack several times a year. A great go to beer. Not as brash as Furious or others, but a very solid beer that has its place in my fridge.

Presentation: can poured into a pint glass from Dennis Brothers Liquors

A: Cloudy amber ale with a white head that fell quickly.

S: spicy, peppery, and has a kick to it.

T: continued spice, light fruits, alcohol there but not overwhelming, and has a sharp bite to it.

M: light and airy, but not thin.

D: easy and gone to fast.

Overall: a good beer, but maybe not to style for a saison--saison on roids would be closer, but that's the direction of Surly. Not my favorite of the Surly beers but an excellent beer nonetheless.

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Photo of PokerGod
3.56/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1 pint can poured into a pilsner glass

Appearance - orange, straw color- fairly hazy, little head which dissipates quickly. Little to no lacing.

Smell- Smells sweet but musty, almost moldy or yeasty, but ina good way.

Taste- Hoppier than I expected, and surprisingly sweet. Almost tastes of peaches.

Overall- Very good drinkable beer, not quite worth all of the fuss that I have heard about it. But I would drink it again.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can courtesy of brees6221, many thanks to you, sir. Pours a hazed gold color with a small off-white head. retention and lacing just ok.

Nose is grainy, phenolic and fruity. Not farmhouse-y per say, but the yeast throws off some huge esters. Sweet and doughy with some grassy saaz-esque hoppy notes coming along for the ride.

Mmmm, hits most of the right spots for a saison; grainy, grassy and bready. This is the best American-brewed saison I have ever had! It is missing some farmhouse that I find so appealing in a Saison DuPont, and of course to a greater degree Fantome, but damn....this is as close as you can get without going open fermentation here in the states. Surly has cranked out some of the best beers I have had, and deserve to be ranked amongst the elite brewers in America. Most impressive, young jedi.

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Photo of BrewerB
3.62/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear and golden color topped with a thin white foam. Retention isn't there and the foam is a lot smaller than expected for this style. Yeast-driven estery fruit profile perks its way up in the nose - strawberry, orange. Also detecting slight clove-like phenols. A soft malty character supports the more present fruity esters. Also picking up on a little peach, light spiciness, and a touch of tart lemon in the short, dry finish. Medium-light bodied with a moderately-high level of carbonation. Not as effervescent as expected.

Overall a decent example of the style but a bit of work to do to take this into the territory occupied by the best.

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Photo of bigdaddyeric301
4.26/5  rDev +7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

If you serve this to friends, try to dim the lights. The pour looks like Bud Light with a slightly thicker head.
The taste is a pleasant surprise, kinda like the can advertises.
Slightly hoppy, a little grapefruit, easy drinking. This beer is highly drinkable and could lead to trouble as the ABV is a little high for a session.

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Photo of rfgetz
4.02/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a lightly hazed gold color with faint orange touches, big frothy bubbly head, long lasting. Scent is bold fresh baked bread, yeasty with herb and peppery spice notes, touches of light watery floral fruit peeks through. Taste is a big punch of yeast and spice, as tongue adjusts the notes of grain, herbs, watery fruit, flower poke through. Only thing missing is the earthy and funky notes i prefer in the style - in the end it compares in profile to some other belgian styles. Body is tremendously creamy for the style with faint graininess, active carbonation subsides quickly - maybe a bit too quickly, dry and lingering pepper and yeast notes. Very nice beer - bold with some original qualities.

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Photo of argock
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16oz can into a Duvel tulip. 05/31/11 stamped on bottom of can. Yet another brew by the overachieving hand of my brother Greg.

A: Apricot hue, slightly hazy, with a 2-finger off-white head with decent retention and numerous tiny spots of lace around the glass.

S: The aroma is a nice combination of Belgian yeast fruitiness and phenolic, medicinal smells. It doesn't overdo it, yet hits the pungent notes just right. The pale maltiness is slightly sweet and very bready. This one smells more in the mold of a Hennepin-type of saison rather than a Stillwater/Dupont style -- less citrus aromas and more bready and yeasty-fruity aromas.

T: The flavor is definitely falling more on the side of a bready, malty type of saison, which I generally enjoy more than the more sour, funky, lemon-citrus laden brews. The Belgian yeast component is perfectly balanced with the pale maltiness, which is substantial and layers light sugary sweetness with more crusty, bready overtones. The hoppiness is herbal and not too citrusy, but it does have some bitter bite to it. I like this beer better than any of the other Surly brews I tried in the last several days, including Bender, Bitter Brewer, and Furious.

M: The feel is smooth and lush with a medium-full body to match well with medium dryness. Again, the citrus is not puckering or astringent in the least, which leaves a very smooth, exceptional beer.

O: A really nice brew that I think treads the line between saison and Belgian pale ale -- it has the fruity, lightly funky character of both styles with a tiny bit of peppery flavor to push it a little more toward saison. But, all in all, this is an excellent beer and I think the best of the Surly lineup.

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Photo of claytong
3.52/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

appearance - light yellow, very clear, looks funny for a farmhouse

smell - saison yeast, not much else

taste - same as smell, a bit of sugar, hard to find much in this for me, wanted more funk to it which is weird for me, but more farmhouse for sure.

mouthfeel - strange for a farmhouse again, light, crisp, medium body, drinkable thats for sure

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Photo of AleWatcher
3.65/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Can into my Ithaca Tulip.

A slightly hazy gold color with a fizzy white head--- hmmm. Looks a bit like a BMC lager?! Much better retention and lacing than BMC though.

Apricots, pepper, bready malts, strong yeast, and peach notes all come across on the nose. The flavor is exactly the same. I'm pretty impressed here. I didn't expect Surly to be able to pull off a Saison, especially one from a can! This is very Saison-y. Dry and fruity with a strong spice bite on the finish.

The body is nice. Medium fullness with a firm feel and brisk carbonation.

Overall, this is a great Saison for coming out of a can... But it finishes too strong on the peppery spice for me. It isn't bad, but not one I see myself drinking very much.

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Photo of Chaney
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

SamuelJackson45 is the bomb shit! Thanks for sending me this one Leon!

A: One of the clearer saisons I've seen to date. Mildly dark yellow color (but not too), with a nice frothy (VERY!), solid white head that stuck to the glass as I siphoned the brew. Car Wash city!

S: Farmhouse funk. I usually don't get that on the nose of any brew, but I did here. Belgian yeast and then some, followed by honey. Faint, yet effective!

T: Peach! Yep, as much as I resist saying it, the marketing speak was right on! Total candy in terms of saisons! The sweet elements sort of formed a cushiony suggestion, rather than an in-your-face sugar bomb. This totally reminded me Steaz green tea.... and its various permutations.

M: I think it was the honey-like character of this that killed all the potential upfront spice and gave it an overall smoothness. No booze detected, the lacing was ultimately moderate, and the carbonation was spot on.

O: Initially, the nose gave me reservations, but this one turned out to be absolutely fantastic! It's great to finally sample one of my favorite styles brewed by one of my favorite breweries!

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Photo of aepb1
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- clear pale golden body with a fluffy white head

S- spicy coriander, yeasty and some floral notes in there too

T- spicy up front, sweet malts middle, some bitterness finishes and leaves a bit of a bready yeasty taste

M- lighter body with some carbonation bite

O- an interesting saison and will certainly be returning to this one and it's in a can!

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Photo of Preismj
3.96/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a: rich golden hue...looks like apple cider with a nice cloud for a head. moderate lacing and the head retreats quickly.

s: weak scent of white grapes and a clove like gingerbread smell. The yeasty smell is rolling over the rim of the glass on this and it has tones of green apple.

t: much like a belgian in the way it tastes of yeast and spice, though this brew has a mild tartness to it that is not overpowering in the least. Moderate bitterness in the finish makes this quite refreshing when it is all said and done. not an over powering flavor.

m: rich and creamy despite being a bit thin. solid carbonation makes this a very drinkable brew.

o: I could have 10 of these in a row based solely on the feel and how easily it would quench my thirst. The tartness is mild and welcome, though I think I could only take down about 2 of these before wanting something with more flavor to it. A good way to stay cool on a hot summer day, but lacks that pop from the spices despite a nice rich flavor from the tart fruits inside.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
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 jcartamdg
4.46/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my surly pint glass courtesy of theduderules. Pours a apple juice color with a little head that dissipates almost instantly. The aroma is great, Belgian yeast, fruity and a little funk. Taste is amazing, everything from the nose only intensified and a peppery finish. Mouthfeel is nice, smooth with moderate carbonation. This is a great saison, if I lived in surly land, this would be a regular in my rotation.

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Photo of alf212
3.82/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into Snifter

Appearance: Nothing spectacular. Golden straw color, maybe a little darker

Smell: Typical belgian yeast, a little fruity and bready. Smells good but not spectacular.

Taste: Not as much funk as I would have expected from a saison but not to say it's not good. Cloves and bannanas coming through with some hop bitterness as well.

Drinkability: VERY drinkable, i mean i could have can after can of this. Great for the summer, very refreshing. slightly dry finish

Side note, do not eat with korean food or very flavorful meats haha. Had the first half as I was cooking it was going fine but then I drank the rest with my meal and it went downhill. The food killed the taste and it started tasting a lil watery. Wouldn't really accompany this with any food IMO, maybe some light cheese

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Photo of claspada
3.85/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aromas begin with doughy and biscuity maltiness and equal amounts of spicy Belgian yeast. A little earthy and clove as well.
The taste begins with the clove and spicy Belgian yeast flavors again with equal amounts of bready and doughy malt backbone. The spiciness could also be from the hops. Earthy and a little lemon and floral hops as well. The yeast and malts are predominant throughout and dominate the flavor profile.
The mouthfeel is fuller and more lucious than most Saisons I have had recently. The carbonation also is not as in your face like most tradional Belgian examples yet still finishes crisp and on the dryer side. Overall this is a nice American interpretation of the style, which I prefer to the traditional examples but that is personal preference. Highly recommended for lovers of this style of which I am not, but this may make me one.

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Photo of DearthVader
3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've got to say thanks to two people for this one since I received one in a BIF right after I sent a trade out for some. jimixr and larsenju, thank you for the opportunity to have multiples of these.

Pours a glowing copper orange color with a nice 1 finger of white foam that sits for just a moment. It fades to a film that thickens quickly with a swirl. You can see the carbonation racing to the top in this one.

Lemon peel and grassy funk dominate the nose. Definite signs of tangerine and apricot, but are overcome by the the lemon abd funk.

Taste is upfront with a tart grassy flavor. Lemon peel follows quickly. Has a slight hoppy bitterness that's very nice in the style. I tried to pick up the tangerine and apricot I was smelling, but failed.

Great mouthfeel. Solid carbonation that makes this dangerously drinkable.

I'm very impressed yet again by Surly. I'm looking forward to having the rest of the four pack at a barbecue tomorrow.

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Photo of colt45n
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark and cloundy yellow, very hazy, light comes through but nothing clear at all about this one.

S: I can smell the farmhouse funk and soon as I begin to pour, getting some lemon peel and maybe a little orange, grass.

T: lots of carbonaiton as it hits the tounge, getting a lot of the funk upfront, grassy lemon flavor on the the back end very subtle on the lemon though.

Overall very good farmhouse ale, a lot of great flavor, funk, and carbonation make for a very enjoyable beer.

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Photo of vobr0002
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- better color than the other light looking beers, a bit darker golden color. Good size head about a finger high.

S- not what you would call an appealing smell, but what you would expect from this style of beer. There is some fruit mixed in.

T- it has a fruity, banana sort of after taste to it. Its actually very pleasant. Very suprised.

M- very smooth with a higher level of carbonation.

O- this is a great beer on a warm summer day with much more flavor than a beer that swill drinkers would want. Maybe a good beer for someone to start trying micro brews.

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Photo of TVolt1
3.23/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Clear golden yellow color with pinky-sized head. Not much lace when swirled. Nothing very unique about the appearance but will give it a average for the clarity. I mean heck, I can read the computer through my beer.

S: Not a fan of the smell. Makes my nose wrinkle and does not make me want to drink it. Has somewhat of a musky smell.

T:The taste suprised me somewhat. I like the initial taste of it. It has a fruity taste along with a taste of a pilsner-type beer. The finish leaves my nose turned up a little as I still taste whatever the muskiness is I smelt. I have a feeling that this just isn't a style of beer I care for. I am more pleased with the taste than smell and the more I drink...the more I still am not a huge fan.

M: good mouthfeel, pretty light with medium carbonation. Any heavier and it would be too much to handle!

O: Overall, I am glad I tried this beer. I do know it's not a style of beer I usually go for but can appreciate the appearance and the fruity smooth taste of this beer. I would recommend it to a person who likes this type of beer for sure.

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CynicAle from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 81.7% out of 100 with 1,499 ratings
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