SurlyFest | Surly Brewing Company

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Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

Style: Märzen / Oktoberfest

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by feloniousmonk on 09-03-2006

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Reviews: 376 | Ratings: 906
Photo of BeerSnobRobinson
5/5  rDev +24.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Surly's take on the Octoberfest brew. Sometimes a brewery produces an Octoberfest just because... However, Surly rarely does anything "just because." Surly Fest is made with the same gusto as Abrasive, Furious, Darkness, and pretty much every other brew they make. Fest tastes like no other Octoberfest out there. It is unmistakeably hoppy, yet not too much so it takes away from what it is. I'd hate to call it an IPA-esque Octoberfest, but that's a fairly accurate description. Very attractive red-bronze color and a fairly thick head, agreeable aroma, and a smooth mouthfeel with a pleasant hint of carbonation. Of the dozens of Octoberfests I've had, this one is by far the best. If you have a chance to get it, do so. Your taste buds will appreciate it.

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Photo of deadbody
4.88/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Holy amazing beer batman. Pours a great deep amber color, nice head that wasn't too quick to recede, leaves good lacing along the glass. Good use of hops and rye to make a bit of an initial bite, but no bitterness. Solid mouthfeel, good carbonation, drinkability off the charts, easy to drink.

Surlyfest, it's like a party in my mouth and everyone is invited.

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Photo of ryantupy
4.85/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16oz can. "beer in a can for a stein"
Pours a nice hazy amber color with a nice tan frothy head. Smells of hops with notes of citrus and a nice sweet malty backdrop. Its tastes great! Nice a hoppy with a great citrus sweet malt character. This is a great medium bodied beer that has a ncie carbonation level to balance out the flavors. Great beer

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Photo of TastyTaste
4.83/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On Tap, Blue Nile.

The unassuming and standard looking body do not harbinger the different but fantastic beer that is SurlyFest. The smell gives it away at first. Mangos, pineapple, strawberry, passionfruit. All very malty but rich and fruity as well. The taste backs this up. A rich malty beer with many fruit notes, also carmel malts, with a better-than-average-for-the-style hop finish. I think Surly could've stuck with what may be assumed is the Surly formula (hops up the wazoo), but this beer is so much more, it is delicious, unique, and should be tried by all. A standout Oktoberfest.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.72/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Acquired via trade from Scoobydank, so a big “Thank you” goes out to him. Poured from a 16oz can into a mug glass.

A: The beer is a dark orange color with a very thin white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is pretty hoppy for an O-fest. There are also plenty of caramelized malts and spices in the smell as well.

T: Just like the smell, the most notable thing about the taste is the strong burst of floral hops up front. It almost makes you wonder whether you’re drinking an Oktoberfest or an IPA. There are flavors of caramel, spices and nuts to provide a good balance to the strong hops bitterness. At the risk of overstating it, this is by far the hoppiest O-fest I’ve ever had and I like it a lot. Hell, it’s hoppier than most IPA’s that I’ve had.

M: Smooth and very crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean and dry.

D: Very tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, good kick, decent representation of style while taking the style to the next level. This is definitely one of those beers that I could drink several of throughout a whole evening and not have the urge to drink anything else. I know that the fact that I like this beer more than any other O-fest I’ve had simply because of the hoppiness means I’m a Hophead, but I’m calling like I taste it. This is an excellent beer.

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Photo of objectivemonkey
4.72/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a dark orange in color with pretty good head and ok lacing, a bit hazy, good looking. Aroma is a good bit of normal fest with a palpable citric hop twang to it, leading me to think... 'oh, Surly, crazy guys, you can't even leave O-fests alone...'

And sure enough, easily the hoppiest OFest I've had to date. Deliciously so! Lots of malt to be sure, but its like they 'oops' poured half a Furious in with the OFest and this is what they got. And it works, perfectly.

Now, normally I'm not a huge fan of fest beer, but this... the malts are sweet, lovely, hop hit bang... ya, really, like all other Surly beer, it defies description, and is just... simply... fantastic. The mouth is smooth and crisp, if not a little too lean perhaps... an utterly fantastic beer to drink.

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.72/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Stuttgarter Hofbrau stein as per the instructions on the can. This brew pours a clear copper color. The head is massive, firm, and recedes slowly into thick lacing. The aroma is explosive. Spice rye, and noble hops, a hint of green apple and pear, with a soft biscuity undertone. The taste is more malty than the aroma. Biscuits appear then quicky fade as a hint of caramel comes through, then that fades and a nice lively spiciness shines, then some firm bitterness arrives in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with perfect carbonation, and a creamy texture. Overall, this is one of my favorite Surly beers. It seems to walk the line between being an extreme beer and being a tradintional beer. Whatever it was intended to be it is wonderful.

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Photo of dfried
4.72/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Toffee amber in color, frothy off white head. The aroma was of rich malt, caramel and molasses, and of course, this is a Surly beer, hops. Fresh and citrusy and floral.

The taste of this beer is very difficult to explain. Definitely along the lines of a Marzen, but it deviates pretty significantly. The malt is sweet like candy, caramel like. I had never heard of this "crystal rye" malt that was used, probably because I had never tried it. It had a very unique and delicious flavor, again hard to describe, it was kind of like a darker grain flavor, but really really crisp and refreshing. In my notes I actually wrote "sweet malty lagery goodness" and that honestly sums it up well. Robust and fruity.

This malt backbone pairs incredibly with "the more than is typical for the style" hops. They used Summit hops, and did a dry hopping with them as well, as if this beer needed more flavor. I think it was 40IBU, fresh floral and citrus flavors, pretty bitter, but was really all about the hop flavors. Excellent job of dry hopping.

This beer was so easy to drink. I really feel like this is the best lager beer I have ever tried. I like a good pils, I like the high end doppelbocks, there are some good marzens out there, but this was hands down my favorite lager.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
4.7/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got this can from JohnBierman as an extra, very appreciated and I'm so happy to have another Surly beer to try. This is difficult to rate against any given style, a dry-hopped rye helles lager. The beer is copper colored and a little hazy, with a thick rocky 3-finger foam that recedes into a thin wet frothy film. The first smell that hits me is rye spice, followed by bready and malty "helles lager" aromas straight outta Munchen. Exceptional, and the taste is even better if only because helles lagers seem stronger in flavor than aroma (at least to me). Delicious biscuit, malty sweet, with distinctive rye bite and a sharp after-taste that lingers. The body is creamy and filling, this is as drinkable as any beer I've had before. An instant classic, this beer is unique and needs to exist, a near perfect beverage.

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Photo of brow1901
4.69/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Extremely happy I was able to pick up a couple six packs surlyfest this year. Cool looking can like most of the surly beer poured into a pint glass.

A- Color is a dark dull orange, bordering on red. Off white head is nill but the great carbonation keeps it alive. Not much lacing.

S- Very different smell from any lagered beer I've had, and it's quite pleasant. The smell of lager yeast is there, definite hop aroma. But theres that other pleasant scent I mentioned, I'd guess it's the rye but I could be wrong.

T- Nice complexities, the hop bitter stikes the tounge (not too sharply) and gets washed away by a smooth almost oily malt and rye flavor. And quickly leaves the mouth dry.

M- Great carbonation, excellent feeling of smoothness on the tongue. And leaves the mouth nice and dry ready for another swig.

D- Highly drinkable, very refreshing and leaves you wanting more. An excellent session beer.

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.64/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a hop-hazed sienna brown/gold, with a modest head that thins to about 1/8 inch and stays there. Not much lace. 3.5 + .5 for that nice haze.

The aroma is a singularly amazing experience. I have never smelled anything quite like it. The closest is Three Floyds' Gumballhead. It's a breeze of clean fresh pine, closer to scented dryer sheets than hops, but that gives an incredibly negative impression, doesn't it? Whatever it is, however they did it, it's wonderful.

This was sent to me by mnwags, who raved and raved about it. And I have to agree. This is one tasty beer. Clearly made with rye, it exhibits the pleasing sharpness of a great rye beer and is balanced delicately with a very strong, spicy hop presence. They boast of using a single hop variety on the can, and damned if I can tell which variety--but that simplicity comes through in the flavor. Equal rye, equal hops, both huge, both delicious. Citrus rind in the finish makes me want to reach for another sip before I've even put the glass down from the previous.

Texture-wise it's fine, a bit spiky but hardly harsh. It allows the big rye/hop flavor to ride through in a loud rush rather than a creamy wave.

When it comes to brewing low-ish alcohol beers that have huge flavor, Surly cannot be topped. Best lager ever? It's pretty damn close. Stupidly drinkable.

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Photo of shawnp
4.63/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

My first review on here but definitely not my first brew. I am not as sensitive to all things like smell, more specifically, what I can smell in the beer or what I taste exactly, but here goes:

Almost fresh off the line pint can poured into a pint glass. My first rye.

The color was darker than I would have thought, mix between golden and dark brown. Dark and hazy.

A: Great appearance, small head, could be due to my pouring style. Never dissapeared it seemed, lacing was very evident throughout consumption.

S: Very aromatic, I could smell the rye as it was quite profound. I had trouble detecting much else, I am not a seasoned aromatist.

T: All I can say for taste is its amazing. Rye comes through very nicely here. Very rich in flavor. Not too much carbonation which made it far more enjoyable.

M: Exceptionally smooth going in and down and as I eluded to earlier, carb was just right for me.

D: I could drink this as a mainstay. Very sessionable. I wish Surly would make this year round.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.62/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks goes out to the wonderful BA who sent me a good supply of this one to get through the season! Opened this box last night and immediatly put one in the fridge. Drinkin it as I type right now and waite for the pizza to cook. Served cold right out of the fridge and poured into a tall pilsner glass. This one was consumed on 09/27/2008.

The pour was very nice, rich copper colored amber beer flowed effortlessly out of the can. Hitting the bottom with a decent splash, it proceeded to throw up a nice one inch head of wite foam which quickly settled down to a thin layer, that never really left the top bare at all though. Lots of carbonation coming up from the bottom of the glass, really quite lively looking.

The aroma was damn spot on. I have never smelled a fest bier as god as this one. Rich candied malts, lots of green, vinous hops, soo fresh smelling with just the slightest of almost apple like aromas flirting down in the background. The flavor was more of the same, rich, caramel sweetness in the taste up front before fading back into a very nice grain like malt tht took up the middle of the profile, lots of hops in the finish, but very earthy with a huge and very healthy dose of frsh grass giving it just enough drying to let the sweetness come back for one more go round. Lots of little fruit hints in here as well, simply wonderful for the style. Great medium feel was a bit more then you would noramlly expect from the style, but the carbonation kept it flowing well. So smooth I wanted to drink like ten of the right away.

Overall I thought this was seimply excellent. By far the best fest I have had this year so far. SImply amazingly sessionable and just really a superb beer all around. Surly really is one of the best and this just goes to show it!

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Photo of franksnbeans
4.62/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep burned orange with 2 fingers of soapy white head that dies slowly. I know this is a marzen but I know its a Surly marzen which makes alll the difference. Smells of piney hops, citrus, rye and malty. Ooooh yeah. Tastes of juicy, piney hops, malty balance and delicious rye. This is the brilliant nectar named Furious but tamed down with more flavors. If I could make a perfect octoberfest beer to suit my hophead tastes, it would be almost as good as this. Medium in the mouth with the perfect tickle of carbonation. Drinkability? If I had a case of this I would drink non stop and end up in a hospital and it would be so worth it.

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Photo of surlyseth
4.6/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Expectations run high for this ten dollar four pack.

A: Looks kind of like a Furious. Deep orange-red in the light. Foamy head.

S: Hops! The first thing I notice from this O-Fest martzen/lager. Some malt, a little rye, tiny little citric notes.

T: Sweet and spicy, then malty, then actually lager-like for a second, and very bitter (and a little sour) at the end. The residual aftertaste is like a delicious bowl of breakfast cereal.

M: Gigantic for a martzen/lager. IPA-like. Hops linger forever.

D: Oh man! this is so seshable. Too easy for a hophead like yours truly.

Another home run for Master Omar and the wily fellows at $urly.

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Photo of seanpachefddfa
4.57/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

thanks to Mikegroove for this one

appearance- poured an amber/orange with a thin off white head.
smell- getting lemon and orange citrus with some pine and malts also.
taste- getting all the taste from the nose above but also getting some nice spice also.
mouthfeel- medium body with good carbonation. very smooth and crisp
drindability- i enjoyed this one very much it goes down way to easy. I could put down 4 or 5 of these.

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Photo of Mistofminn
4.57/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

It's an honor to carry the flag as the first review of Surlyfest in cans of the season!

Just got back from Zipps, the first store in the state (and the world) to get Surlyfest cans in! It's not even on the shelves yet, I got it straight from the cooler minutes after the truck arrived and dropped them off. This is as fresh as it gets, literally.

Poured two cans into my 32 oz mug to start it off. Go big or go home, eh? Pours a beautiful copper orange, kind of like a mint condition penny. Gorgeous tan head comes and goes rather quickly, but leaves little wisps of it's former self. Lively carbonation but not much lacing (might be the glass I'm using also).

The nose is mouthwatering. A very pleasant hop spiceyness leaning more towards the piney side, with a significant rye twang. Nice bready malts balance it out, and it finishes with a light toasted character.

The moment we've all been waiting for! Slowly, the liquid gold slides past my lips, and dances over my palate. Enough of the romance novel...this is some damn tasty stuff. Who would have known a lager could be so complex and tasty!?! Spicey hops and rye duke it out with a lightly toasted grain malt base. There is probably caramel malt in here as well. This is extremely tasty. It has the characteristics of an IPA, yet it's a lager. Who would have known?

The mouthfeel is very smooth...maybe it's best quality. Even with the heavy carbonation, this beer goes down with no bite at all. So smooth and just sweet enough to balance the bitterness.

Drinkability is through the roof on this one. If this isn't the perfect session beer, I don't know what is. I'm going back tomorrow to pick up another case, this is going to go too fast.

This years batch definitely lives up to the hype, this is some good stuff. Try it if you can, drink it if you've got it.

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Photo of Czequershuus
4.56/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a light amber with a modicum of head. The aroma is disticly un-marze like. If fact, my thought on smelling it is, is this and IPA. I get tangerine, pine, and mango. The flavor, however, leads with malty tones, toast and caramel leading the way, followed by the hoppy pine and mango. The feel is surprisingly fizzy but also coating. This is certainly as far from traditional as possible, but it says that on the can. As an American hop-fanatic take on an Oktoberfest, this is really cool.

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Photo of morimech
4.55/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

It pours a rich, deep, golden color with a small head that settles around the edge of the glass. Leaves good lacing. The smell is of a grassy field. Some maltiness and citrus comes through as well. This is a different Oktoberfest as is stated on the can. A satisfying hop bitterness to begin with a then a mild smooth malt flavor to finish. Light to medium body. It is mildly carbonated but more so than the other Surly beers in the can. Surlyfest finishes clean with no aftertaste and drinking several of these would be no problem at all. I love what Surly is doing. The best Oktoberfest I have had.

Kudos to the Bavarian colors of the can.

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Photo of aasher
4.55/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A single hop, dry hopped, rye lager beer? Yes please! I picked up a four pack of this over the weekend in Minneapolis after enjoying Darkness Day.

Upon opening the can I instantly get a whiff of dry hopped goodness, perfect! It pours a light bodied and creamy light hazelnut brown in color, very translucent, with a creamy beige head that laces my snifter. It looks like a creamy marzen. The aromas are very hoppy, featuring the traditional Surly hop profile, despite being dry hopped I get more fresh wet hops from the nose with light German malt and an interesting yeast strain. The flavors are a near perfect mix of fresh hops and malt. The rye is subtle and it does drink like a light lager. The hop presence is really nice. It is VERY complex period, and especially for the style. Like most of their beers, this one was built for a can and has a perfect mouthfeel. It is overly sessionable and really surprised me. The complexity is unheard of for the style. I'd say this is a must try, and a nice upgrade over traditional "festbier" that you'll find this time of year.

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.55/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16 oz. can poured into a Sam Adams Octoberfest Stein. Awesome looking color. It's a nice dark orange to brown in color. Nice glow when held to the light. Absolutely perfect clarity on this one. Nice orangey creamcicle colored head on it that absolutely erupts after a hard pour. There is good lacing and glass retention on this as well.

Smell is good, but it's not that strong. Not completely traditional for a oktoberfest style here. Plenty of roasted barley, a helping of rye and as the can indicates it's dry hopped. All that combined with a dose of lager yeast to makes it smell a little more traditional. It's all very nice and well blended, one of the better smelling I've had this year for sure, it's just not that strong.

Taste is awesome, it's literally flawless in my opinion. Lots of rye mixed with plenty of roasted barley. Lager yeaste is a little more obvious in the flavor profile than the smell. The hops arn't overpowering by any means (and they shouldn't be in this style) but they are more apparent here than the smell again, which isn't all that common. Basically it has all the great characteristics of the nose just stronger now.

Mouthfeel is also great. Medium bodied with an excellent carbonation level. Smooth, buttery and well balanced with a clean almost crisp finish. Great drinkability on this one, wish I could have been drinking this already all during the fall. Great beer, great representation of the style. Has some unique characteristics while still maintaining the traditional integrity of the style. Well done Surly and thanks to Noah for sending this one out.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.55/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I drank a ton of this stuff on tap last year and never got around to reviewing. Now that it's canned, I may consume it within the comforts of home and the computer.
Brilliant orange color, very shiny with a halo of yellow nearer the bottom and edges. Firmly stacked foam of spongy looking consistancy lathers up to a decent height of nearly two inches. Dwindles down slowly to let loose a pattern of thin inky strings across the glass as its consumed.

Aroma is much like other O-fests with a nice firm realm of maltyness creating a sweet soft doughyness and a puff of dark grassyness and whole grains can be easily detected within. Very well-balanced aroma and well placed on the nose with good strength.

Taste is a broadly detailed malt brigade of heavy toasted malty sweetness, doughy, crisp with a spectacular grassy grab at the midway point which then goes all hoppy and drys off the palate with a subtle ease and tone that is incredibly delightful and inviting with grass, toast, and whole grain nuttyness. Quite complexingly subtle and straight up damn yummy.

Feel is about medium with a certain crispness to its malty body. For surely clean and easy. Has a creamy stained under carraige but stays mostly toasted and drys into the finish with a lushfully charming and soothing softness and cleanness with a willingness to venture more.

Drinkable and then some. Enough said. Damn solid O-fest by Surly! Grab your lederhosen, a big Ol' mug, pour a bunch of this in, and sing yourself a song until you fall asleep and do it again.

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Photo of KeithS
4.54/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

As it says on the can - this is not really an Octoberfest. Saying that it is a very tasty and creative beer. Nice simple hoppiness to complement a slightly sweet rye. An excellent fall flavor addition.

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Photo of jwc215
4.54/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Wasatch for including this in a trade!

Pours hazed orange/amber with a thin off-white head that lasts.

The smell is of a heaping of lemony, piney hops with some grainy malt. Amazing aroma. Aromatic hops with enough malt to keep it complex and deep.

The taste of juicy citric/lemony and piney hops blend very well with a firm malt base. Finishes refreshingly dry.

It has a juicy medium body.

Oh - is this drinkable...a wonderful hoppy, yet balanced brew. Very creative/unique!

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Photo of tpd975
4.53/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Let me get ahead of myself here. Best damn Octoberfest brew in the world. Period...Point Blank.

Moving On!

A: Pours a beautiful amber color with a big puffy head. Lots of carbonation and beautiful layers of lacing.

S: Big and bold malty sweetness. Tons of caramel, hazelnut toffee, and hops. Holy shit I smell hops. Is this really an Oktoberfest brew? Citrus, check, Pine, check. Oh god I can't wait to taste.

T: Yep. Surly rules. This beer alone is reason enough for BA to name them brewery of the year. This is your typical Oktoberfest brew on steroids. The malty sweetness is there right from the start. Tons of nutty caramel sweetness that alone would be the makings of a great brew. But wait! This is Surly, and we all know that they don't settle for great. They hopped the hell out of this one to put it on the next level. Pine and grapefruit can both be noted. I have never loved Oktoberfest soooo much.

M: Nice and medium bodied. Soo drinkable. I loved this brew.

D: Can after can I could pound this one.

Overall: Ever since objectivemonkey sent over the Surly brews I have been getting Surly. I have to admit that I saved this one for last as I tend to lean toward the hoppy brews. Being a fest beer I expected pure malt. I have never been so wrong in my life. They have taken an Oktoberfest brew and made it sooo much more. Hops and malts are both noted in pure balance. I profess there is not a greater fest brew in the world. Surly could hang their hat on this one. Yet there are sooo many others. Furious, Bender, Cynic, and dare I say DARKNESS. I see why BA voted them best. Break out the parkas honey I want to move to Minnesota!

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SurlyFest from Surly Brewing Company
4.03 out of 5 based on 906 ratings.
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