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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: 371 | Ratings: 895
Photo of WoodBrew
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

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Photo of MACrist
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
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.

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Photo of Victory_Sabre1973
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

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Photo of bbtkd
4.02/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

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Photo of BlackBeerPirate
3.34/5  rDev -17.1%
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.

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Photo of mynie
3.94/5  rDev -2.2%
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.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
3.67/5  rDev -8.9%
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

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Photo of Benish
4.19/5  rDev +4%
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!

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Photo of WesMantooth
4.24/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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 would gladly add this to my short list of non imported Oktoberfests.

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Photo of bound4er
4.23/5  rDev +5%
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.

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Photo of Karl_12welveEyes
3.6/5  rDev -10.7%
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

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Photo of emerge077
4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

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Photo of brewmudgeon
3.35/5  rDev -16.9%
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.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.05/5  rDev -24.3%
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.

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Photo of SD-Alefan
4.18/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours from the can a hazy orange-amber with a light tan head that leaves spotty lacing.
The aroma is caramel and biscuit and light spice.
The taste is caramel, biscuit, a bit of sharp rye and hint of citrus. It finishes with a bold and pithy bitter bite.
Mouthfeel is medium and well-carbed.
Overall, not entirely traditional but tasty and refreshing. Very good beer.

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Photo of MorganJ
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

L: poured 16oz can into pint glass. Nice mahogany amber color with good head.
S/T: little hoppy and some raisin. Finish is sweet with some malty.
MF: not smooth. Different from most of this style. Little bite and uniform carbonation with each drink.
O: good and different for this style. I love Octoberfest and marzen. This one is a bit more hoppy for this style -- I prefer the traditional carmel and malt.

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Photo of OmahaKF
3.94/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Smell is of sweet bread, heavy malt sweetness, and a hint of honey.

Taste is bready, with a heavy caramel sweetness. Not like a traditional Oktoberfest. I find it preferable because the taste is more complex but not as heavy.

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Photo of NickTheGreat
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L (4.5) - Nice dark red/brown/amber coloration and slightly off-white head.
S (4) - Very malty smelling, and a little spicy. Not peppers or cinnamon, but I'm guessing it's the rye.
T (4.25) - I like the taste of this. It's not really an Oktoberfest or a Marzen, but pretends to be. You get that rye spice here. And another flavor, I'll call "meaty." Not sure how else to describe it!
F (4) - Easy drinking beer, with plenty of carbonation. You couldn't chug it, but . . .
O (4) - This is a good beer. It's not something I'll need to always have, but I'm glad I tried it. A fun beer for this time of year.

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Photo of argock
2.87/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Poured from a 16 oz tallboy into a clear glass 20oz mug. Canned on 08/18/15 on bottom of can. Lugged by my parents from IA -- thanks M&D.

A; Slightly hazy light amber with 1/2-finger of off-white head with average retention but no lacing.

S: Minimal maltiness with a little bit of doughy, bready maltiness but none of the active aromas. Minimal to no hop aroma. No yeasat aromas. Bland.

T: Bland also with a bit of musty malitness. I will admit that I had a Bells Oktoberfest lage on tap this evening beforehand and it was not even close. The Surlyfest is very flavor-shy as a comparison.

M: Light bodied with moderate carbonation and clean finish.

O: Easily the worst Surly beer I have had. It was below average for the style and tasted like an average brown Munich Helles at best. This beer is overrated really badly -- not even close to 90.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.63/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the can into a Libbey style pilsner glass. Can dated August 27th 2015.

Very clear and light for a marzen, faint copper and mostly a reddish brown edge but highly orange and almost glowing. Good classic streams of thin pinhead rising carbonation reaching to a classic head. Head is frothy and billows up nicely on the pour, but settles quickly with good retention. Light colored off tan nearly white and managing an easy one finger puck.

Aroma seems to go more hop forward than malt. Nice interesting tea like aromas, black tea oolong like hop qualities in favor of herbal spice and green earth tones. Crispness seems to lack a bit, and there's really not much toffee or malt presence going on here. This is a nice bouquet but it seems totally out of place for a marzen, I would certainly like some sense of malt sweetness at least.

Palate manages to get more into the realm of an Oktoberfest. Mid palate gives a good but light slick and full malt body. The malt angle on this incredibly neutral and if anything the least thing adding to the flavors of the beer. Once again the hop angle and tea leaf like qualities fill the mid palate, with a bit of neutral sweetness coming. Aftertaste has some old school lager sticky and pasty yeast qualities. Doesn't quite finish clean and doesn't really have that lager crispness either, but more of a juiced up body. Clove and spice angle is more replaced with a faint banana like ester as well, and a bit of spice bitterness on the finish that seems to be from the rye.

Hard to score this one it's a very different marzen, it's a well made beer, but it has too many qualities that I want to have in a marzen that are missing for me to really get into it.

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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 mjpolzin
3.64/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Excited to have Surly in Wisconsin and still working my way through a lot of their beers for the first time. This one was good and a solid representation of the style.

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Photo of Hopheadjeffery
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Tasted from draught at Firkin on September 25, 2015. Look is clear light amber with a thin white head and some lingering lacing. Smell is floral. Taste is biscuit.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz can provided by BitterBeerGuy.. Thanks George!! Poured into my trusty slim tulip so I get a 2nd pour... foamy white head.. the brew is clear light amber.

Big toasty maltiness with some slight cocoa notes in the nose.. hops are light and floral.

Flavor mirrors the nose with a sorta dry maltiness... rye malt is there (I guess) but I would not pick it out in the crowd.. again a little toasty on the finish..

Body is light/medium... carbonation seems light... small bubble...

Interesting... Not exactly right, but down the right street..


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Photo of RJB66
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Oktoberfest taste test between 4 of the Top 5 on Beer Advocate has the SurlyFest just a bit below the Sierra Nevada collaboration. I like it it drinks really easy and finishes super clean. The next go around I'll try the SurlyFest first and see how they compare. Great Lakes really missed the mark for me.

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SurlyFest from Surly Brewing Company
4.03 out of 5 based on 895 ratings.
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