CynicAle | Surly Brewing Company

1,482 Ratings
no score
Send samples

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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,482 |  Reviews: 612
Photo of beertunes
3.78/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

My first beer from a brewery I've heard so much about. Thanks to phreak1983 for sending me this in a recent trade.

The beer poured a pretty golden-orange color with over an inch of fluffy, white head that had good retention and moderate lacing.

The aroma was the fairly typical blend of grain, yeast and spices that represent the style. The flavors followed the same template, grainy, spicy and refreshing.

The body wasn't as full as some of the style I've had, but was still good. Drinkability was very good, smooth and without the sharpness that sometimes shows up in some Saisons.

Overall, a very nice beer, one worth seeking out. I know I'll be getting more.

 666 characters

Photo of axeman9182
4.32/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to BDlbrewster for hooking me up with Surly goodness. Poured from a can into my Duvel tulip. Pours a nice burnt orange color, a little bit darker than I usually expect from a saison. A nice sized, slightly off white head forms and lingers for a minute before largely disappearing and leaving behind a disappointing lack of lacing. The smell is a wonderful blend of biscuity malts and yeast goodness. A few sips bring a taste that largely mirrors the nose, with a little bit of a lingering hop bitterness that seems out of place. The mouthfeel is probably the highlight of this beer, there's the normally slightly prickly carbonation I find in a saison, but there's also a creaminess that takes it to another level. I can't say it's my favorite saison (that would be fresh Jack D'or), but CynicAle is a damn good beer.

 824 characters

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

Big thanks to tytoanderso for this generous extra (one of many)

A - Ultra-clear golden hue, fizzy, with a decent white head and so-so retention.

S - Saison in the can? It smells like a Saison; summer-y and farmhouse-y and generally floral and spicy. Some honey, banana and grain are also available.

T - For real, Saison in the can? I doubt even Hercule Poirot could get to the bottom of that one. It is quite good though. Sweetly spicy, and quite dynamic. Begins with sweet notes of pale malt, honey and flower blossoms. Nuances of earthy, bready and grassy elements are asserted, and followed by a tinge of alcohol and a fusing of the hop and malt profiles. Ends with a Bohemian Pils-esque finish, as the leafy and earthy hops linger in the aftertaste. Very nice American Saison, can or not.

M - Thin enough to be very refreshing, full enough to carry some serious flavor, and with just enough effervescence.

D - Surly is awesome; they are easily one of the most underrated brewers in the game. And this brew is definitely worthy of the brand bestowed upon the can.

 1,071 characters

Photo of evanackerman
3.91/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beer pours a nice golden-orange color with sizable beige head out of a 160z can.

Smell, Belgian beer smell, sweet, flowery, alcohol

Taste, interesting mix between Belgian Triple, and German Lager, there is a sweet malt component and also a mild pepper flavor in the finish. Very interesting, not quite like anything I've previously tasted.

Mouthfeel is medium viscosity, moderate carbonation, very appealing.

Overall, very drinkable and interesting brew. Surly is always somewhat unique as they don't seem to be beholden to style constraints, I could see some people really loving the beer, personally, I enjoy it but think it might be a bit overpriced.

 658 characters

Photo of DavoleBomb
3.74/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip. Big thanks to OHLRangers and jyounger30 for this one (both included as extra).

4.0 A: Nearly clear light orange color. Big mix of creamy and frothy head with average retention and spotty lacing.

5.0 S: An exceptional smelling saison for sure. Load of spiciness from the start with pepper, clove, and corriander. Hay-like funkiness with subdued peach and apricot notes

3.0 T: Compared to how good the nose is, the taste is rather flat though still pretty good. Still some spiciness going on, but mainly corriander. A lot of the pepper and clove taste isn't there. Much drier than I expected with a lot of the peachy fruitiness gone. The funky hay is also gone.

4.0 M: Light body with fizzy Belgian carbonation. Soft bitterness on finish.

3.5 D: I heard that there is a lot of variability with this brew. I think I got one of the duller ones. Good, but not great.

 888 characters

Photo of Parrotbeak
4.04/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Golden straw color with a thin, white head that fades quickly.
Smell is earthy malts, with some Belgian yeast. Cloves, faint cinnamon, and some light fruits.
Taste is cloves and cinnamon on the front, with some light fruits, and a peppery finish, all over a decent malt backbone.
Mouthfeel is smooth and slightly crisp, with a nice, dry finish. Medium light body.
Very good drinkability. Alcohol well hidden.

 408 characters

Photo of womencantsail
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks again to Alicia for sending me this can. Shared with some friends at the Bruery.

A: The pour is a very nice looking light golden-orange color with a touch of haze and a nice fluffy white head.

S: A lot of citrus and spice aromas going on in the nose. The typical pepper notes are there, along with some floral and spicy hops.

T: The citrus and the pepper work well on the palate and the floral quality really comes through as well, exhibiting some honey notes. A little sweeter than usual for a Saison, and perhaps fruitier as well.

M: The body is on the lighter end of medium with a moderate and refreshing level of carbonation.

D: Who would have thought, a Saison in a can? A nice beer, perhaps a bit sweet for me, but still a pretty good (American) example of the style.

 785 characters

Photo of Halcyondays
4.18/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Out of 16 oz. can, excited to try this thanks Andrew,

A: Pours a vibrant real orange with a nice white creamy head.

S: Orange blossoms, some yeast, fruity.

T: Sweet orange, peach and apricot jam, some honey in there as well. Stone fruit heavy. Some nice malt character too, a tasty brew.

M: Very smooth and easy on the palate. Light carbonation. Elegant.

D: I've always wanted to try a regular Surly beer and this one did not disappoint. A stand out effort.

 462 characters

Photo of Arenbeer
4.52/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to SuperColter for this one!!!

16oz can into a pint glass.

A- Golden yellow with a thinner 2 finger white head that doesn't last too long.

S- Sweet malts with a variety of fruits going on here. Sweet honey and black pepper come out but don't overpower the overall hopiness of this brew.

T- Definitely the most interesting brew I've come across. Sweet bready maltiness hits you up front along with a solid strange honey black pepper taste. A good amount of fruitiness comes out, apples, apricot, peaches, and some good citrusy fruits as well. Also a strong yeasty flavor that complements the flavor and the mouthfeel.

M- Solid medium bodied beer with low carbonation and literaly no bitterness. This beer is insanely drinkable. The moderate ABV and smoothness makes this brew pretty dangerous, and a great session brew.

Overall this is a must try. Great freakin brew.


 887 characters

Photo of jrallen34
3.94/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I drank this from a 16oz can into my Orval glass. Thanks to cosmohophead for a great extra.

The beer pours a glowing medium orange, a very eye appealing color. The head is white rising about a finger but fades quickly to form only a rim. The lacing is light.

The aroma is pretty light, with some sweet orange tones.

The taste is decent, its pretty sweet for a saison, not a lot of the earthy floral tones I was expecting. At the end a small sour bite. There is a pretty sweet finish/aftertaste.

The feel is rather light, but there is a very tannic feeling that sticks to your tongue for a while.

This is very drinkable.

Overall, not your typical saison to me but it was a nice change of pace that was funto drink.

 720 characters

Photo of KickbacksSteve
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16 ounce can poured into a Unibroue tulip. Never thought in my life I would be pouring a saison out of a can. Totally strange. Thank you kindly to kbutler1, for trekking some Surly cans across the country for me. 1 inch of pillowy white head lingers on a blonde/golden body leaving some soapy lacing. Aroma is spicy, fruity, hoppy and refreshing. Taste is of apples, apricots, sunshine and a touch of funk. Actually leans more towards a Belgian saison versus and American one. Really, really hard to believe that these flavors are coming out of an American CAN. Wow.

 566 characters

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.

 1,221 characters

Photo of camp0474
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into Nonic Pint Glass

A: Creamy off-white head dies off quickly. Yellow-Gold color, which is a bit hazy.

S: Initial notes of citrus, honey and black pepper. Also the smell of fresh bread baking.

T: Sweet apricot and honey balanced with black pepper. Maybe a little lemon flavor as well. Pepper bitterness as it first hits the tongue which quickly rebounds to a sweet clean smooth flavor. Traces of light floral and citrus hops.

M: Medium-Light Body. Tingle on the tongue from carbonation and peppery flavor. Clean sweet finish, not dry.

D: Overall well balanced. Sweet and bitter. Clean smooth finish makes this one easy to put down. Could definitely have a few more.

Haven't had many other Saison style beers to compare this to, but well balanced and enjoyable. A good exploit of yeast characters. Would definitely enjoy this beer again.

 852 characters

Photo of kbutler1
4.25/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

So Surly says: "CynicAle melds Old World ingredients in a new school style." and I would have to agree seeing as it comes in a kick@$$ can and all.
Pours a nice orange/yellow with a nice 1 inch head that settles down quite nicely. Aroma is of belgian yeast, lightly roasted malts, subtle spice & fruit. The flavor is very smmoth for a Surly, no in your face hops, but a nice smooth beer that is very easy to drink. Nicely done. The mouthfeel is light/medium. Very drinkable. For me, it's a great summer time beer as well as I nice break from the heavier RIS I have been drinking lately.

 586 characters

Photo of herman77
3.97/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark golden/carmel color. Pretty hazy. White cream color head that dissolved into a film after a minute or so. No lacing at all.

S: Sweet bread. Malt... apple?

T: Peppery/spice to start. Some sweet fruit, reminds me of apricots. Somewhat dry finish and again some spice at the end. A little apple at the end as well. Pretty complex taste.

M: Awesome mouthfeel. Very smooth coating feel. A little light on the carbonation. Medium body.

D: Goes down really well. I could have a few pints in a row for sure.

Don't think I have had a Saison before. Very interesting. The taste is not quite my thing, but still very good. Everything else is great in this beer.

 663 characters

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

Review is from notes taken on 2/16/2010 and poured from the can to a tulip.

Appearance: Pour is a medium to light coppery color and starts with a one finger creamy white head that fades almost immediately to a thin and uneven skim (I'm much more accustomed to big billowy heads with more retention with these beers); body is pretty clear and shows moderate carbonation; fair spots and washes of lacing are left trailing down the sides of the glass.

Smell: Some sweet and mildly tart green fruits (like apples, pears or grapes); a slightly biscuity yeasty bread presence and a fraint malt backing.

Taste: Really matches to the smell to a "T" -- the sweet and mildly tart green fruits, the biscuity/yeasty breadiness and the faint maltiness.. I do wish the the flavors were just a little bit more robust as I sip through it, but overall it's very solid; there's also a nice light spiciness to it as well.

Mouthfeel: Pretty light and crisp; carbonation is lively but not sharp and keeps the light flavors bubbling throughout; a mildly dry stickiness is left on the palate.

Drinkability: Solid enough with nice flavors -- I think if it came out of a bottle the the head may have had a different appearance that would be a little closer to style, but beyond that, it's spot on. I would gladly stock up on this if it was local.

 1,327 characters

Photo of kjyost
4.39/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Puchased at Zipps Liquor in Minneapolis and brought home. My first Surly, after hearing everyone in the Twin Cities talk it up I am looking forward to trying it.

Poured into a pint glass which yielded a quarter inch of head that was not long lasting. The beer itself is a rich Brownish Orange, indicating this isn't just a normal american beer (which up North is an insult).

There is a very nice aroma about the beer, where I can clearly smell the hops, but can't really pull anything else discernible off of it, although there definitely is something else there.

There is a nice light hoppy taste with a lingering bitterness. A nice little bite in the background of some sort of spiciness I cannot describe. Very, very good.

 729 characters

Photo of WYVYRN527
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy golden to orange in color, with a white head that quickly settles. Lacing is very nice as well.

Aromas consist of peppery spice, along with marmalade and honey. There is a slight grassy floral note in the backround. On the palate, honey, peppercorn, dried fruit, and rock candy accompany the trademark Belgian yeast attributes. Hops take a backseat, but still show their presence with hints of spicy herbs, grass, and a bit of jasmine.

CynicAle is light to medium-bodied, but full-flavored. The finish is silky and long-lasting as well. It's a great American twist on the style. Complex, but very easy to drink.

 629 characters

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to exiled for sharing this beer.

Pours a hazy golden straw color with a white head. The aroma is bananas and cloves, not what I was expecting but still nice. The flavor is bananas with some spices and maybe the slightest bit of funk. There are some other flavors in there, possibly orange and bubble gum. Medium mouthfeel. This is much more like a hefeweizen or dunkel weizen, but still a very good beer.

 413 characters

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

Pours a nice caramel color with a medium head that quickly ran to the edges of my brandy snifter.

Smell of coriander, caramel, pepper, some banana and tiny amount farmhouse funk.

Lots of banana, more so than any I have tasted in another beer - although I have not had the banana bread beer yet - not sure that one counts anyway in this comparison. A nice pepper flavor, coriander, caramel, good carbonation, light mouthfeel. This is a great beer in a can, set up in a trade with GoldenJet -
Thanks man!

 505 characters

Photo of cdkrenz
3.53/5  rDev -12%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Quick living eggshell head on top of an apricot colored body with a hazy clarity.

S - Bananas and soap.

T - Banana, and then citrus hops, and then malt, and then hops and then more banana before a finish of subtle bitter hops. While I'm not a huge fan of the flavors present I am very impressed with the way by which they are presented. This is a complex flavored brew and I think Surly did it the right way.

M - The feel is chilly and kind of coarse. But, it does a good job of assisting the tastes here.

~ If you're a fan of this style I suggest you give this brew a shot. It offers some very complex flavors. For me, its not the best choice. That being said, I want to thank my peopes for the chance to sample the brewski.

Driz, you're a good man, despite what 2tal says about ya. : )

 798 characters

Photo of mdfb79
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

a - A dark, murky yellow color with very little head and a decent amount of carbonation.

s - Smells very strongly of yeast. Small sweet traces of honey as well as citrus and a little pepper.

t - Again, tastes that jump out are very strong tastes of yeast, followed by a little bit of honey.

m - Light to medium body with a moderate amount of varbonation.

d - Overall this is an above average ale that is very easy to drink. It has a strong yeast taste to it and also a little citrus. Not my favorite Surly product but I would definitely drink again.

 598 characters

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

A - Poured a clear orange/yellow color with a foamy off white half finger head. The head receded to a thin cap after several minutes and left spotty lacing down the inside of the glass.

S - Citrusy nose with a black pepper twang.

T & M - The taste largely mimicked the nose. It had a malty body with hints of citrus, but finished with a good amount of peppery spice. Light to medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Finishes dry and clean. The spiciness caught me a little off guard, but it does fit with the style.

D - The relatively low ABV makes this a pretty quaffable beverage if you don't mind the spicy nature of this brew. As always, Surly has yet to let me down.

 677 characters

Photo of billab914
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a can into my Dogfish snifter. Pours a pale amber color with a thin white blanket on top of it. It left moderate lacing on my glass as I drank it.

Aroma is strong with the spiciness of Belgian yeast. There is a good amount of citrus and spice present with a little malt sweetness as well. Taste is both citrusy and peppery with a nice sweet malt background.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate to above average carbonation. Drinkability is good, it's tasty and easy drinking. The only thing that would stop me from having more of this is it isn't one of my favorite styles. Like most things Surly does though this is a very good beer.

 654 characters

Photo of JohnGalt1
4.27/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

SAS gave me this can over the weekend... Poured into my Delirium goblet.. Thank Steven!

Foamy white head dies back fairly quickly leaving a slightly hazed golden brew.

Nose is bready with a twist of lemon zest... a bit grassy.. nice spiciness.

Flavor is lightly phenolic and has a nice lite pale maltiness that brings out many of the other flavors... a bit of citrus zest with some green tea.. a bit of white peach essence.. some minor white pepper.. hops play as an herbal/grassy presence that only really compliment the overall brew.

Body is lite yet solid for the style with a bursting small bubble carbonation... great mouthfeel and drinkability... This would be a goto summer beer if it was available to me.


 733 characters

CynicAle from Surly Brewing Company
4.01 out of 5 based on 1,482 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.