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

Aroma is citrus/fruit, very light pine and malts. The flavor is citrus/fruit, mild hops/hop resin, malts, a hint of grapefruit and a slightly odd mix of bitter and smooth in the finish.

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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 Bshaw22
4.04/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One of my favorite Octoberfests. Smooth all over with a nice hop kick. Classic for Surly I guess. Definitely not a typical fest beer Marzen style which make it a nice change of pace. Very crushable. I could drink these alllll day.

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Photo of Stevedore
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz can, served in a Hofbräu half Maß. Pours a dark orange-caramel body, three finger white head with very good retention time, lots of lacing. Looks much the part of an Oktoberfest lager. Smells of bread, honey, floral notes, a bit of earth, toffee. Robust nose. Flavour is bread, toffee, mild earthy notes, sweet grain with a toffee and floral finish. For the most part, a very tasty lager that doesn't deviate from the style at all. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, about right for the style. Toffee sweetness on the finish that is cut slightly by a mild floral bitterness. Overall, just about right for an Oktoberfest, and glad to be drinking this again on a cool September afternoon.

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Photo of DabblinWiscCraft
4.11/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Picked up a four-pack of pint cans at the Trig's Cellar 70 in Rhinelander last week. The canning stamp says this one is good for another three months. Poured right from the fridge into my Samuel Smith pint glass.

L: Pours a clear, bright orange blossom honey color with about two inches of very dense off-white head that sticks around for a very long time and leaves considerable lacing on the glass. Profuse visible carbonation--like a whirlwind of bubbles--is present.

S: Caramel and bread-like malt notes are at fore, with grassy hops spicing things up. Just a bit of earthiness and floral notes, as well. At least at the initial pour, the bouquet is very pleasant but unassertive. As it warms, it takes on a more robust aroma.

T: Bread-like malts are there at the outset--more cracker-like than sweet. There's a tartness immediately lent to the malts from the hop presence--it's citrus, grassy, and floral in flavor. The middle retains the malt notes and brings a heightening of the hop flavor, with the citrus especially gaining some punch. An earthiness emerges here, as well. The back end has more of the nice malt bill showcased, an increase in the earthiness, and a nice level of citrus rind and slightly resinous hop bitter to close things out.

F: On the lighter side of medium-bodied, this one drinks just a touch more watery than the carbonation implied. It has a bit of astringency at the front, some creaminess to the middle, and a nice level of bitter at the close. There's just a bit of stick, as the hop bitter lingers on the palate for a short while.

O: Well, this one probably shouldn't be categorized as a Märzen; if we're gauging this one on those grounds, then it definitely misses the point/mark. However, as far as hopped-up lagers go, this one is impressive. Surly has deftly handled the competing flavors in this one and delivered a beer that should appeal to the both the lager and pale ale camps. I recommend giving this one a try.

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Photo of Wer34truh
3.56/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Strong notes of grass in the smell. I was surprised by how hoppy the smell was for an Octoberfest. There are also quite a bit of rye in the nose.

Once again, incredibly hoppy for an Octoberfest. Can't quite think of another beer of its 'style' that tastes remotely like this. If given a blind test I would have guessed an IPA rather than Octoberfest. Anywho, what is here is excellent. The hoppy flavor is explosive, and resolves slowly. The aftertaste is subtle, but with shades of various herbs. Otherwise, the spices are quite lacking.

Quite an interesting take on the style, so much so that I'm sure that hardcore Octoberfest fans might say
its a bastardization of the style. While I'm definitely able to enjoy this beer, I'm probably going to go for something more conventional next time. I feel like SurlyFest occupies a greyzone between styles which I don't necessary find compelling. Like a previous reviewer said, if I want something that tastes like an IPA I'll get Furious or the Axe Man, not an unbalanced Octoberfest.

It is possible however that I am being to harsh on this beer for that very reason, my expectations were so out of line with was being offered. A 3.56 is still quite high though.

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Photo of maedhros09
3.84/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: Amber with a bit of tan head
Taste: Bready, malty but not sweet, spicy, caramel. A pretty substantial spicy herbal hop finish with a lingering caramel essence.
Feel: medium body with lots of fine carbonation.

Overall: Without knowing the märzen style too well (and knowing that Surlyfest does not strictly adhere to the style) I have to judge mostly on enjoyment. Surlyfest is notable for it's spiciness and hops kick as well as its tendency towards maltiness without being terribly sweet. I thought it was enjoyable though frankly i was glad I didn't buy a 4-pack of it.

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

Copper in color with a white head and no lacing. Biscuit and jam dominate the nose and mouth here, with a little spiciness and bite at the end. With all that jam, I thought it would be a little sweeter, but no. Rinsed clean afterwards.

It's OK. I liked it week enough, but it's enough to say I've had it and move on.

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Photo of kbwalters
4.02/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured cold into a pint glass; canned on 8/18/15, consumed fresh.
Look = 4.25 Pours a golden/amber color with orange highlights and 2 fingers of light brown head; great retention and strong lacing. Lighter color than most OF style beers.
Aroma = 4.0 Hoppy aroma; citrus and tropical fruits notes, mild herbalness. Toffee and bready sweetness and a hint of rye spice.
Taste = 4.0 Hops upfront but more malt forward than the nose. Fruity notes on a bready, biscuity malt backbone and a hint of rye spice comes in on the backend. Low bitterness.
Feel = 4.0 Medium bodied with medium carbonation, substantial feel to it.
Drinkability = 4.0
Overall = 4.0375 Fits the description on the can well; a hoppy lager without much in common with a typical Oktoberfest.

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Photo of CraigP83
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Neither light nor dark, almost a vibrant red. Smell is sweet hops, apricots jam spread on a sweet biscuit. Delicious taste similar to the smell, as it warmed it had a taste similar to the inside of a fresh cut pumpkin. Fades into a hop bitterness that I wouldn't expect in the style.

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