Surly Brewing Company

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Lager - Märzen / Oktoberfest
4.04 | pDev: 10.64%
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Notes: Brewed exclusively for our Surlyfest Celebration

Brewed with three different types of Rye and a single variety of American Hops. Malted Rye, Flaked Rye, and Crystal Rye impart a distinctive biscuit flavor to the lush Vienna Malt body, and dry-hopping with Sterling Hops adds bright, floral hop aromas.
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Reviews: 384 | Ratings: 950 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of defunksta
defunksta from North Dakota

3.81/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Pours a crystal-clear, orange, golden color with a bright white foamy head. SRM of 11. (3.25)

Aroma: Aromas of dark red fruit, caramel, rich bread with a slightly bitter berry rye spice. Hintsof toast and grass. (4.00)

Flavor: Bread spice, red fruit, pine, grains. Finishes bitter and dry. (3.75)

Feel: Medium to heavier bodied. Strong carbonation. Bitterness and carbonation clean the palate well and are drying. (4.00)

Compared with Great Lakes Oktoberfest: This one is lighter in color. Has more red fruit and spicy bread and rye flavors. Dryer and less caramel malts. More bitter overall.

Overall: A good and spicy Oktoberfest beer. Great spices from the German bread and red fruit. Really showcases the vienna and rye malts. Nice, dry, and cleansing on the palate. Drinks slightly closer to an American Amber, but hits all the marks for a great Oktoberfest beer for the north. (Final Rating: 3.81)

Oct 20, 2019
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mackthknife from Minnesota

4.23/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Not a traditional Marzen but coming from Surly I'm not surprised. Less malt, more rye and a clean finish make this closer to a really good rye ale. Recommended.

Oct 11, 2017
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jimmah120 from Minnesota

4.01/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

22oz on-tap at fire lake

Dark amver with minimal head. Smells like sweet malt and pine. Taste is much the same: this is a very hoppy oktoberfest. Bitter finish with oak and wood flavors adding to the malt and hop flavors.

Another great extra hopped surly beer

Sep 20, 2017
Photo of dcotom
dcotom from Iowa

4.34/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 16-ounce can into a proper seidel. Crystal clear deep copper color, with a one-finger light tan head that settled rather quickly. The rye malts and Sterling dry hopping add an interesting twist. The aromas and flavors of dark bread and caramel are enhanced by subtle spicy and peppery notes, with a touch of citrus and some zesty bitterness. Who cares of it's not traditional? It's delicious!

Sep 11, 2017
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Vidblain from Minnesota

2.13/5  rDev -47.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.25

I still don't understand why they dry-hop this. A marzen should be roasty and malty and warm. The hops add a floral element that makes the taste garbled and strange. It's the worst marzen I've had in years. I say this as a Surly fan - stop over-hopping everything. It's gratuitous and unnecessary.

Sep 07, 2017
Photo of Blackop555
Blackop555 from Michigan

4.02/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours deep amber. Off white, thick, medium head lasts a while. Light lacing.

Smells rye, bready, light piney hops.

Tastes piney hops, spicey rye, earthy. Bready and Caramel malts. Fading to a short piney finish that is dry. Light oxidation and hops falling off from age. Medium body and creamy medium carbonation.

Mar 19, 2017
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basaywhat from Illinois

4.1/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16 oz can. Pours dark orange with beige head. Aroma is hints of toasted grain and some floral. Flavor is malty, toasted grain, some earth and pine, dry finish. Medium body with high carbonation.

Feb 13, 2017
Photo of Xamonline
Xamonline from Illinois

4.13/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

16oz can; served in german 20oz becker pint glass

L: deep orange with thick, large head that dissipates leaving large gas bubbles;

S: strong hops similar to an ipa; as it warms up its more spice and floral than hops

T: starts with hops then floral followed by a zing of rye which lingers on the finish with hops

M: creamy and medium weight; very nice

O: one of the more interesting oktoberfest beers i've had. couldnt session it but would welcome a pint every once in a while when i'm looking for some hops but wiht more character than an ipa

Jan 15, 2017
Photo of barnzy78
barnzy78 from Illinois

3.83/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

16oz can, shared with my wife, who usually doesn't care too much for beer, but had this in the fall and loved it. Canned on 09/08/16
A - hazed rusty orange hued body with a creamy ivory head
S - fruity, earthy, caramel & grain, a bit spicy and floral
T - fruity and spicy with a nice rye malt backbone of bread crust, grain, and caramel; earthy & grassy hops provide moderate bitterness
M - lighter side of medium for body, ample carbonation, dry rye finish
O - definitely an Americanized Märzen - and barely one. Blindly I would guess rye pale ale, but either way it's pretty delicious.

Jan 08, 2017
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hoptheology from South Dakota

2.41/5  rDev -40.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.25

Reddish-orange-yellow color with a 2 finger head of froth.

Aroma is much hoppier than expected, it just smells like straight sterling and amarillo. A touch of munich malts.

Yeah, flavor is way hoppier than expected. Some ugly caramel sweetness too. The Munich malt pops out a bit but that's the only thing distinguishing it from being an old IPA.

Feel is crisp and clean, with apt carbonation. Chalky residue on the finish.

This was a drain pour for me. Most of it, too. I was not expecting an IPA and I got one. Way off base.

Jan 06, 2017
Photo of pweis909
pweis909 from Wisconsin

4.23/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Great color, a classic Octoberfest color, amber with clarity, with a white foam that recedes maybe a little sooner than would hope for but leaves such great lacing on the glass. The smell promises some delicious malt, but the taste doesn't quite deliver. In their quest to be different by including rye in this beer, I think the brewers may have muddied the beer up. It may just be me, but I think just about every time I have had rye in a beer, I think it might have been better without. It could also be the dry hops that left me with this impression, as there is a bit of astringency in each sip. However, if I search each sip for that malty goodness, I eventually find it. I think that astringency or muddiness (the more I drink, the more I think astringency related to hops may be the issue) becomes a non issue as I approach the end of my pint. The palate adjusts and finds some interesting spiciness that perhaps is the rye as well as some sweetness.

This of course is my own opinion, but I look for a festbier to be friendly and approachable, which is diametrically opposed to Surly's strategy, it seems, in brewing this festbier, Regardless, this beer is well worth exploring, and I appreciate it. I think if I were to try brew something similar, I would first leave out the dry hops and see what the rye brings to the table on its own.

I picked up a 4 pack (for an amazing price!) and think I will see how it pairs with my Christmas day turkey.

Dec 21, 2016
Photo of WoodBrew
WoodBrew from Ohio

4.22/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bought a 4pck of Surly Fest at Binnys. It poured a clear amber with white head that dissapated and left no lace. The scent had pine like hops. The taste was evenly balanced and finished slightly bitter. There was pine and some citrus presence. The Mouthfeel is medium in body with smooth carbonation. Overall it's a great Oktoberfest like beer and definitely worth a try.

Nov 23, 2016
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matcris from Arizona

4.35/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Opaque and dark red/amber with a finger + of foamy eggshell head that sticks around. Moderate lacing. Lots of carbonation rising. Prominent peppery rye in the nose, caramel/toffee, citrus, and pine. Smells fantastic. Same for the flavor, nice peppery bite, nice bit of caramel, and lots of citrus and pine. Medium feel, and average carbonation and dry. Not a traditional Oktoberfest, but a really nice flavorful brew.

Nov 21, 2016
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Victory_Sabre1973 from Minnesota

4.33/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This pours a darker amber color. The head was fairly thick 3 finger, and it does last for a while. The nose is very rich smelling, since I'm not the best at figuring out what is on the nose, I can't describe it, beyond delicious. The taste of this beer is at first somewhat bland, but that lasts for a second before the flavor hits. The second sip is the same way. I do get a bit of hops, when it does hit. This is a rich beer, and a good offering from Surly.

Nov 07, 2016
Photo of bbtkd
bbtkd from South Dakota

4.02/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Surly SurlyFest, 6% ABV, 34 IBU. Pours thick and cloudy orange with three finger foamy off-white head, leaving foamy lacing. Nose is hoppy, malty, and sweet. Taste follows, though some hop bitterness in the middle. Good mouthfeel, and overall excellent.

Oct 26, 2016
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BlackBeerPirate from Illinois

3.34/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Taste: crisp, rye grain, fresh hop bite. Malt and rye bread with an herbal nose. Dark copper, mostly clear, with a cream colored head, some lace. Medium body. Different than an Oktoberfest.

Oct 05, 2016
Photo of mynie
mynie from Maryland

3.94/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Some brewers just don't got the right yeast profile to produce certain lagers. Surly is one such brewer: they are ale-makers to their core.

This pours brown and clear, pretty nice for a marzen. Smells malty, with heavy nodes of toffee and caramel but also with an awful lot of zippy, tangy rye and a surprising dose of hops. A nice combination for a malt-forward beer, I guess, but not really what I look for in an Oktoberfest.

Tastes like it smells: toffee and biscuits up front, moving quickly into a rough and tangy middle that is very rye-heavy, ending rough and spicy.

It's a nice beer, overall, but just not indicative of the style.

Oct 03, 2016
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Ozzylizard from Pennsylvania

3.67/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Received from NBS BIF #4 – Thanks to josholson666
Canned 8/23/16 at 42 degrees into a hand washed and dried JK snifter
Aroma – hard to describe – kind of the wet grain smell of a lager with a rye spiciness. Fades away.
Head large (Maximum 6.8 cm, aggressive pour), tan, frothy, diminishing to a frothy irregular three to ten mm ring and a broken frothy layer
Lacing - none
Body – bright copper-orange, clear
Flavor – odd. Starts with some spiciness and a nearly hidden barley malt breadiness. Then the rye hits. It ends almost sweet with a bitter aftertaste. No alcohol, no diacetyl.
Palate – medium, watery, lively carbonation

Not bad, just odd. Certainly not a typical Octoberfest bier. I’m a fan of rye beers in general, but I’ll pass on this one in the future.

Appearance 3.75, Aroma 3.5, Flavor 3.75, Palate 4, Overall 3.5

Oct 03, 2016
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Benish from Wisconsin

4.19/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: On draft in pint glass. Copper color with full clarity.
Smell: hoppy aromas - light citrus with biscuity malt
Tastes: immediately hoppy - getting earthy citrus. Malt comes in midway with a buiscuity taste and brown sugar. Both sweet and bitter throughout.
Mouthfeel: light-bodied and smooth
Overall: this is a hoppy interpretation of an Oktoberfest. I wouldn't say it's an authentic one but it's delicious!

Sep 26, 2016
Photo of WesMantooth
WesMantooth from Ohio

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

Canned 8/24/16

Pours a slightly opaque dark copper. Decent sized, dark tan, thicker soapy head. It didn't last long, but there it does retain a fine ring.

Smells very malty. A lot of darker bread, earthy yeast, and rye. Almost has some rye whiskey like notes. Some lot of spicy, floral smelling hops.

A good amount of rye kick up front in both flavor and feel. There is a solid malted grains taste throughout. I would call it a dark toast. Very nice amount of grassy/floral hops. It is similar to Noble, but with more kick. Some lingering yeast flavor and maybe a baking spice like cloves.

Went down pretty easy for a 16 oz beer. Body is not too heavy for all the malt is offers.

I have seen some mixed reviews, and I will admit that is is a bit of a different take on a Marzen, but it doesn't come across as overly sweet/caramel like many American styles. I split the difference score wise because it still works to style quite a bit. I would gladly add this to my short list of non imported Oktoberfests.

Sep 25, 2016
Photo of bound4er
bound4er from Wisconsin

4.23/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Ruby amber appearance with a slightly off white head of two fingers. Smells of weedy earth, rye, cracker and faint pitted fruit. Taste really fills the mouth nicely with sweet rye, bread and an earthy floral combination. Feel is medium in body with low to moderate carbonation. Marzen is one of my least favorite styles of beer but this may change my mind. I am working on my second 4-pack and plan on getting a couple more. This is a really easy drinking, tasty lager. Recommended.

Sep 08, 2016
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Koral from Minnesota

3.6/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Look: actually kind of looks quite like a marzen style. copper/dark amber
Smell: like all surly beers, lots of hop aroma on the nose of this one with a hint of sweetness and spice behind it
Taste: nice spice/bready flavors from the rye and floral characteristics from the hops
Feel: smooth, perfect bite for how bready a beer this was, made it very drinkable

Sep 06, 2016
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emerge077 from Illinois

4.08/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Canned 8/18/16. Thanks Aaron!

Hazy dark amber with a compact layer of khaki foam. Minimal spotty lace.
Light clean lager yeast aroma with a dry grassy element.
Taste is firmly bitter, grassy hoppiness abounds. Rye earthiness and lager yeast.
Dry bitter aftertaste lingers. Light bodied with a substantial feel.
Overall very tasty and sessionable, far from traditional but a great beer.

Sep 05, 2016
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brewmudgeon from Wisconsin

3.35/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

looks orange and hazy, with an off white head. smells of citrus and sweet pale malts. at this point I would not argue if I were told this is a IIPA. now for a taste: the flavor is certainly less hoppy than a typical iipa and the beer is not so big, but particularly with the citrus rind finish and cottony mouthfeel I could still see this being passed of as a soft ipa past its optimal freshness period (this was brewed in August 2015 and it's now February 2016). but passing this off as a o'fest? given its overall muddiness, I am surprised it is even a lager of any sort. i am getting a hint of mint now in the aftertaste. a decent beer, but really not sure what the hell I just drank.

glancing at the description afterward, I see this is made with rye, which I guess helps the mint make sense since a number rye whiskeys are mint bombs. also this does remind me a bit of hop rod rye.

Feb 23, 2016
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GarthDanielson from Virginia

3.05/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a tallboy can into a shaker pint, the beer is a caramel-copper coloring, with a tall, foamy, white head. Nose of citrus sweet, nutty and malty notes, with some tangy and floral highlights. Flavors are very sweet forward, with a solid caramel backbone and highlights of brown sugar, subtle spice notes of nutmeg and cinnamon, and a bready character. The body is rich and bold, but light on the feel. The aftertaste is all malt notes, rich and sweet, through the light, smooth finish.

Jan 03, 2016
SurlyFest from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 950 ratings