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CynicAle | Surly Brewing Company

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604 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: 604 | Ratings: 1,446
Photo of Stevedore
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz tallboy canned 3/21/2013, poured into an unlabeled snifter today 8/27/2013. Yes I realize this beer is 5 months old but after drinking some of it, I thought it would still be a good review.

Clear, golden copper body with a thick, and I mean thick! white head that has great retention and leaves all kinds of sticky lacing all over as the beer makes its way into my stomach. Outstanding appearance that fits the style very well.

The nose is relatively non-existent though. Smelling it gives me a nice Belgian yeastiness- cloves and a bit of spice. Not much in way of the malt or hops contribution. Mostly a slight yeast nose. Nothing particularly impressive; I wonder if its because its a 5 month old can.

I really like how the taste comes out in this beer. Tastes like a nice Belgian farmhouse ale with a good bit of complexity.. banana and cloves round out the yeast contribution, with a little bit of peach that I'm assuming is from the hops. A bit of honey and biscuits are to be found here as well. Very smooth and mellow with the flavours being distinguishable but not clashing with each other.

The body is thinner medium bodied, very well carbonated and it is a very refreshing beer with a slightly dry finish of clove spiciness mixed with a little bit of honey. Very easy to drink, refreshing on a hot summer day like this one (90 degrees outside!)

Very interesting take on the Farmhouse style. I definitely like this better than Ommegang Hennepin.. which is ironic as Minneapolis is located in Hennepin County. Funny that Ommegang is pricing themselves out here.. Surly makes some great shelf beers here that holds up well, style-wise.

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Photo of jhawth
3.91/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Poured into a pint glass. Pours a clear gold with a fluffy, two-finger head that dissipates but leaves a nice lacing on the glass.

Aroma: Some earthy yeast character, as well as some breadiness. Pepper and a little bit of citrus are also discernible.

Taste: Grainy malt flavors blend into an earthy yeastiness. Some spice character and just a hint of tartness as it finishes.

Mouthfeel: Lively carbonation, creamy smooth head. Very pleasant.

Overall: A solid saison, with a nice subtle earthy and tart character.

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Photo of Ri0
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured 16oz can into Duvel tulip. Thanks goes out to Nick for sending this to me.

A - Hazy marigold with a 1.5 finger white head. Thin ring and nice lacing.

S - Nice peach, apricot, and banana scent, with some Belgian yeast. Light honey sweetness emerges as it warms.

T - Tasty banana, peach, and apricot with Belgian yeast, Hints of sweet honey, minimal spice, and bready malt.

M - Thin with moderate carbonation. Slightly dry on the finish.

O - This is a very easy drinking and tasty Saison. If I had this I would have it often in the summer. Very nice flavor profile.

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Photo of bylerteck
3.47/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Can from kjyost. From notes.

A - Poured with a mild haze on a very light golden yellow body. Strong carbonation with a one finger white head leaving spotty lace and a half finger of retention.

S - Sweet spice, pear, sweet malts.

T - A bit peppery, maybe too much for my tastes. Sweet malt, sweet spice, peach, orange, honey.

M - Strong carbonation, medium body, a little dryness to finish.

O/D - Drinkable but definitely not too intensly interesting. More hopping might improve this a tad. Spice was a bit much, but it was decent.

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Photo of fmccormi
3.83/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Straight pour from a 16oz can to an oversized wineglass (Tired Hands stem—Ryan’s the best!); canning date of May 13, 2013 printed in black ink on the underside of the can (“CANNED ON 05/13/13”). So, seven weeks old exactly, on the date of consumption.

Appearance (3.25): The body is a honey-golden color, and at first nearly clear but eventually perfectly so as it warms. The head is a bone-white foam that reaches maybe a finger before dying down, showing somewhat subpar retention and very little lacing. Great body, but the head, not so much.

Smell (4.0): A very nice bouquet of hay and pale grains, and a warm and modestly spicy aroma of dusty straw, wet grass, damp leaves, light clove, and fresh-baked white bread. Some honeyed biscuits, but not quite any fruitiness.

Taste (3.75): This has an interesting graininess to it, almost like a damp multigrain bread that floats underneath that spiciness in the smell . . . which here is much more herbal and floral, for sure. Some clove, and something almost tannic, with something almost like an anise tang—which, in spite of my undying distaste for anise, is not unpleasant. Slightly phenolic. Lots of grassiness, bitter and herbal but almost juicy and refreshing in its own right. The herbal-grassy component, which bridges hops and phenols, is actually probably the most prominent component in the end, when all is said and done. Though, it smooths out as it warms.

Mouthfeel (4.25): This does have an excellent feel, I’ll give it that: a very easy, soft, but lush carbonation that quickly expands and fills the space with soft foam without ever prickling or tingling too much. The body is on the light side of medium-weight and finishes moderately dry with a lingering, slightly starchy bitterness.

Overall (3.75): This is a pretty good saison. I may have been sliiightly generous on a point here and there, but I give this credit for being a quaffable saison in a great package (4-packs of 16oz cans? C’mon, don’t we all wish we could get saisons as such?) . . . good for them, I say, and I wish other breweries (ahem, Sixpoint) would follow suit. As for the beer, in my opinion it was slightly too phenolic (the herbal qualities were not always flattering), and could use more spice and hops to help balance the malt (not that it was a particularly malty saison in any way, but still). But, undoubtedly, a good saison that performs better slightly warmer, as fits the style. Glad to have tried.

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

Poured from a 16oz can into a snifter
Thanks goes to my brother for bringing this one down from Minnesota for me.

A: Pours a lightly hazy golden-straw color with a foamy white head with a few larger bubbles that quickly dissipates to a thin, oily cap.

S: Some grassy funk and hay is met by some toffee notes which lend an overall sweetness to the aroma. A little bit of yeasty dough as well. It may have been a little cold at first; as it warms a nice banana phenol joins the aroma.

T: The bready yeast and banana flavors play a prominent role here, however the banana is more subdued than in many of the classic Belgian beers. The midpalate is mostly caramel with just a hint of alcohol flavor to temper the sweetness. Some hay funk frames a moderately dry finish.

M: Fairly thin but almost a little creamy. Carbonation is at a medium-low but pleasantly foamy, which lends the beers to easy drinking.

O: A great farmhouse style beer. I wouldn't quite call it mild, but the flavors are all well-balanced which leads to a great, easy drinking beer.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.47/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

16 oz. can poured into an Allagash chalice.

Appearance - Clear golden body with a nice fluffy white head. Never quite settles. Sticky lacing all down the glass.

Smell - Phenolic esters that remind me of a tripel in some respects. Mustiness to the nose brings it back to the farmhouse genre. Fruity, between apples and apricots.

Taste - More malt forward. Sweet caramel malt. Grainy biscuit malt. Slick with that fruit flavor lingering on the back end. Less complex than the nose by quite a bit, but a clean tasting saison.

Mouthfeel - Strange dichotomy to it. Initially slick and sweet, but quickly drops off. Never quite achieves a dryness, but the body deteriorates quickly.

Overall - Only touches on the components that would make a it a really good saison, but there aren't any flaws or off-flavors. Surly always makes a good product.

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Photo of Sarlacc83
3.53/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

16oz can courtesy of kevin's order. Thanks!

A: Brilliant gold color, mostly clear, with a 1/4" hhead. Bubbles rise through the body like there's a geyser at the bottom.

N: Yeast, banana, clove. A little peach in here. Flaky oats. Black pepper and salt. Clean nose, if overwhelmed by the esters.

T: Very peppery. Floral hops, apricote notes, lots of yeasty esters again. Has a distinct oatmeal quality. Some green apple tartness. Can be a little too sharp, as there are too many hops to maintain balance.

M: Has a loose, light mouthfeel. Feels like there's a low amount of carbonation, somewhat surprisingly.

O: Decent, but not something I'd seek out too often. The mash-up of styles doesn't work well for me.

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

From: France 44
Date: Canned on 12/06/2012
Glass: Tulip

Pours a tall, 3cm head of marginally off-white bubbles that begin as small, then move to medium-sized as the head coalesces and begins to collapse. The result would be a time-lapse shot of bubbles congealing, growing in size, then becoming too large and infiltrated by air and popping, leaving a cavernous void where the head used to be. Thus, retention is above average and declines with cataclysmic intensity, though it reduces to a fairly standard ring around the perimeter of the glass. Lacing is present, though not particularly substantial, a few spots and washes of lines scattered across the glass. The body is a copper orange color, somewhat hazy, with light bringing out red and orange hues. Carbonation is visible, streaming from the center and sides of the glass.

Aroma is simultaneously grainy, Belgian saison-yeasty, slight funk, and peaches. In general, this is appetizing and intriguing, spurring the act of drinking.

The primary flavors are grain-like with white pepper, Belgian saison yeast, and mild apricot and peach. Front of palate picks up grainy, slightly cracker-like malts with hints of peach ester sweetness and slight hop bitterness. Mid-palate finds an explosion of peach complexity melded to white pepper, Belgian saison yeast with mild funk, subdued graininess, and relaxed bitterness. Back of palate experiences increased Belgian saison yeast presence with subdued peach, grain, and white pepper. Aftertaste of peach and grain flavors, remaining appetizing and never cloying.

The beer is medium-light to medium in body, with carbonation of medium intensity, resulting in a beer that foams up nicely as it moves across the palate, traveling fairly smoothly and without harsh fizz. Closes out semi-dry and with little stickiness lingering across the palate.

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

Poured into a tulip glass 1.1.13.

A: Pours a clear, amber/gold with a pillowy, 2 finger head that fades moderately fast, leaving only a slight lacing behind.

S: Very sweet, with notes of honey, apricots, peaches, and white pepper but, interestingly, not much of the barnyard "funk" I've come to expect with this style. It smells a little boozy, but not to the point of burning.

T: Surprisingly balanced, given the sweet, boozy smell. The sweetness, while certainly present, is hardly cloying, and actually backs off in the aftertaste. At 33 IBU's, the bitterness matches up nicely with the shortbread-like maltiness. Noticeably absent, as in the smell, is any hint of a tart, barnyard funk, but I hardly miss it with how well the other elements come together. Thankfully, thesomewhat boozy smell hasn't carried over to the taste, and the 6.5% ABV is well masked, to say the least.

M: This is perhaps the most impressive aspect of this beer. Given the lack of a tart "funk", I was concerned that the mouthfeel would leave something to be desired. Not the case. At first sip, the effervesence is inescapeable, but the initial tingling soon gives way to a chewy, full feeling that is just short of being syrupy. The aftertaste is pleasant, and peppery-sweet (if that's even possible).

O: I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised. Surly has done an excellent job of re-imagining the saison style, and has delivered something that is far from cliche'. Really solid brew.

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

A: Pours an almost perfectly clear gold. Huge effervescent and fluffy white head. Fades at a moderate pace, leaving smudges of light lacing here and there.

S: Crisp light citrus - lemons mainly. Mixes in with some nice strong banana. Bready malt with some fresh black pepper.

T: Citrus, banana and black pepper up front. Bready malt and spicy, earthy yeast kicks in in the middle with stronger black pepper. Spicy and peppery into the finish. Earthiness and black pepper lingers between sips.

M: Medium bodied, smooth. Slightly drying in the aftertaste.

O: A nice saison from Surly. Pretty standard, well balanced and drinkable. Not a huge in-your-face beer but it comes together nicely and goes down easily. Great example of the style.

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Photo of Philly82785
4.42/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly hazy yellowish gold color. The nose is strong with yeast, a slight bubble gum, and slight citrus fruits. Comes across the palate as balanced hops and malt with slight floral notes. It has subtle finish that gradually dissipates. Very good beer.

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

Pours a clear golden color with a small-medium white head that disappears quickly. Scent is wow... not what I was expecting. Now that I read about this beer...a saison??? In a can??? If anyone can do it, it's Surly I suppose. Smells somewhat similar to a saison, but with a strang malt liquor aroma. There is the black pepper, spiciness, and Belgian yeast aromas of a good saison... not much funk though. However, this strange malt liquor aroma is somewhat off-putting. Taste is a little better. Luckily, it does not taste like malt liquor. It does taste like a saison. A great saison??? No. The pepper and spiciness is there. The light fruitiness and Belgian yeast flavors are there. A ton of floral flavors. It lacks the funk and has some strange flavors that I've never got from any saison/farmhouse ale before. As it warms...I'm starting to get that malt liquor profile in my mind again. Mouthfeel is light-medium bodied, with a spicy, tingly finish. Drinkability is high. Overall, I didn't see "saison" anywhere on the can. So, there is a possibility Surly wasn't even trying to create a saison. Regardless, this is a very tasty beer. An AMAZING fizzy yellow beer (hence the title)... a mediocre saison.

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

16oz can poured into a tulip

A light amber body with a bit of a golden tint sits beneath an ecru cap that rose a good two+ fingers. Good retention with tons of clingy lace. The nose is floral and spicy. White pepper and clove with a little Belgian yeast tang/funk. Earthy undertones. On the palate, this guy slides right in. Floral spicy notes up front. Some mild fruity esters (pear and apple) from the yeast with pine and earth underneath. Some cracked grains through the middle leading to a dry finish of spice and floral/earthy hops. Light to medium body, good feel. This is a fairly straightforward saison. The flavors all work well together, good body, the carbonation is a little too high, but never really gets in the way. Solid across the board. Will gladly have this guy in my glass again.

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Photo of cfrances33
4.06/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Can thanks to yamar68, poured into a tulip.

Pour: Clear straw yellow with a nice two finger plus of white fluffy head. Head really sticks around, and leaves lots of lacing.

Smell: Spicy belgian yeast, some bready malts, and a light grassy hop presence. Just okay here.

Taste: Really nice breadyness, followed by a clean grass and pepper spiciness. Some light sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Incredibly drinkable, and nice and dry. This beer is a great thirst quencher. The best aspect of this beer for sure.

Overall: A highly underrated saison.

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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 JoEBoBpr
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Ommegang flute from a 16oz can.

Pours a nice rich bright golden color with some slight orange hints. There is a nice 0.5 inch head that is white and dense and is retained for a good bit. It recedes down to a nice thin film.

Starts of with yeasty spice notes with some nice earthy grain notes. There is some slight sweet notes as well.

Taste follows the nose pretty well. Starts off with some fruity sweetness with some good spice notes. Notes of yeasty phenols and slight clove notes. Pretty straight forward saison. Nice crisp mouthfeel.

Good saison.

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Photo of JamesMN
3.38/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Translucent straw color. Thin off-white head.

Aroma: Not much in the nose. A little peppery malt and yeast.

Taste: Grainy with cloves and other similar spices. Missing that Surly essence (i.e. hops) or at least the Slovenian hops aren't cutting it. The description on the can says the ingredients create "honey & black pepper flavors." I guess I'd agree with that, although it's not super appetizing. It is, however, very clean tasting with a dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with good effervescence and decently smooth. The taste of cloves and dry finish get a little cloying.

Final Thoughts: This one is geared more towards the BMC crowd (although maybe not intentionally). I wonder why this is brewed year-round. Would I drink it again? No. Hell, Bitter Brewer, and SurlyFest are much better options (close to this style) if you're in the mood to get Surly.

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

A - Pours a slightly hazy copper colour, finger of head with some retention and no real lacing.

S - Musty grassy hop notes, light citrus and a hint of fruity cloves.

T - Nice fruity cloves, hints of peach and orange citrus, a bready malt with buttery notes alongside a citrus rind and peppery spice.

M - Medium bodied, smooth and a touch of dryness.

O - Yet again Surly delivers the attributes of the style offering a solid dose of flavour and a unique fruity twist. Flavourful and drinkable. This is a brew that I could drink all night, and I'm certain many would agree. Do yourself a favour and grab a can.

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Photo of joemcgrath27
4.33/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - mostly clear golden orange, solid head that retained at a thick half finger and left lots of whispy lacing
S - grainy, fruity, leafy, with a hint of mineral/metallic
T - must like the nose, the fruity flavours are pear and light apple, leafy hops, cracked grains and a mineral finish
M - light to medium with big carbonation, finishes pleasantly dry
O - a fantastic example of the style with its own surly character, this would be a go to sessioner were it available in my hood

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Photo of micromaniac129
4.25/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Though it might be yet another yellow beer in a can, this one sports a golden yellow color from the can. Not much head here but lots o' carb's.

Smells of wheat malts barley and yeast come through. Spicy and hints of clove.

Refreshing with a dry finish. Lightly sweetened malts yet spicy and peppery with hints of Beligum yeast.
Hops come through but lightly.
Feels smooth with a med. weight. The carbonation gives a prickly feel as it goes down.
Grainy and a bit metalic in the finish too.
I'm not really big on farmhouse styles, I could take them or leave them but this was most enjoyable.

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Photo of TheQuietMan22
3.97/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving type: 16-ounce can. The “CANNED ON” date printed on the bottom of the can is “07/16/12.”

Appearance: Poured into a tulip glass. The color is a lovely, medium gold with an amber tint. Two fingers of eggshell-colored head dissipated to leave a spotted lacing and ring around the edge.

Smell: Floral, yet spicy and hefe-like. Lots o’ cloves. It has a nice bouquet of floral hops, which is rounded with Belgian yeast, a little funk, and both pepper and clove spice.

Taste: Smooth, creamy, and well-balanced. The floral hops shine and offer adequate bitterness. Much like the smell, there is also a little funk that is spiced with black pepper and cloves. The can mentions honey, apricot, and peach notes, but I do not really get them. It does, though, have a fruitiness to it.

Drinkability: It does not blow me away but it is a very well-crafted brew. Enticing nose, great flavor, and excellent mouthfeel.

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Photo of sonata2008
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I'm always thrilled when Cynic is available as cask conditioned. It is so smooth.

Appearance: Cloudy yellow with about 3/4 inch of creamy white foam. Lots of lacing.

Smell: Strong hops with spicy floral notes and some pine.

Taste: The cask version makes it taste less Belgian. The cask had a hoppy taste with floral hops dominant. The a bit of astringent-ness probably from the hops, but overall, there is very little bitterness. It is extremely smooth.

Mouthfeel: Almost a creamy mouthfeel. No sweetness. A dry finish.

Drinkability: Very drinkable. Goes well with poutine. Would go well with other foods with subtle flavors.

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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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CynicAle from Surly Brewing Company
4.01 out of 5 based on 1,446 ratings.
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