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SurlyFest | Surly Brewing Company

358 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States | website

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: 358 | Ratings: 847
Photo of Taybeh
3.9/5  rDev -3.5%

Bier from a can, keep it kalt!
A: Pours a bright copper, with a 2 finger head
S: Smells like a marzen, though less sweet. A little spicy hops and rye bread. The hops beckon.
T: The nose is toasty rye bread, followed by a little honey, some earthy/herbal hops, and then more grain. Nice combination of bitterness and rye, and both linger. I get that its a lager from the taste, but its a strange one.
M: medium, carbonation is okay.
Overall: I like it. As it says on the can, it isn't intended to be a classic Ofest beer. Nonetheless, it is close in some intriguing ways, and it delivers on the rye, which is always appreciated. In the right mood and on the right day, I find this beer to be awesome. Other days, its an oddball, but one I appreciate. This year like every year, its gone too soon.

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Photo of oberon
4.11/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a becker a clear rich copper/bronze with a thick creamy white head atop.Grain and light toast in the nose along with mild spicy rye.Dry on the palate wich I liked alot with German malts toasted bread notes,a good shot of spicy hops and light lactic rye in the finish.I could drink this from a stein all day,a great O-fest beer.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.15/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a brilliant clear orange with dense white head, terrific retention, and some nice sticky lacing. Nose features biscuity malt up front with that trademark marzen character that I can only describe as the smell of fall or freshly raked wet leaves. The nose also has a noteable hop presence which I'm not used to for the style, but I must say that it is welcome. The taste is malt forward with notes of biscuit, honey, and bread. This is followed up by slight herbal hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is light with appropriate carbonation. Overall, one of the more enjoyable oktoberfest beers that I have had.

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Photo of EeeCeeTee
2.5/5  rDev -38.1%

First Surly beer I havn't liked. I had hoped this would be a more conventional lager. Does everything have to be flavored like an IPA?
I love both Surly Furious and Cynicale, so I'll stick with those Surlys.

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Photo of Brams17
4/5  rDev -1%

Poured into a half liter dimpled stein

A: Nice copper/light amber beer. Poured with good head. Many reviews said their beer poured clear, but the can I poured had a slight haze to it.

S: Slight spicy hop flavor, grainy malt aroma

T: Clean and crisp malt taste with a pleasant bitter hoppiness that pushed the boundary of the style. Some spiciness from the rye. Clean lager taste

M: Crisp and easy drinking. Medium body and carbonation. Very drinkable

O: Not a typical Oktoberfest, but these guys love pushing the style guidelines so thats no surprise. I really liked this beer and it lived up to my expectations and excitement to try it.

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Photo of BeerSnobRobinson
5/5  rDev +23.8%
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 macrosmatic
4.22/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to Cyclone8 for sending this one! Reviewed from notes. Poured from 16 oz. can into an Upland pint glass.

A: Pours incredibly clear - nice light bronze with some faint reddish highlights. Forms a half-finger of off-white head with lots of small bubble visible carbonation.

S: Bready malts and clean lager yeast with no discernible sulfuric qualities – a very restrained aroma but nice. Perhaps a touch of oily hops lurking in the background.

T: Bready malts with some rye spiciness and just a bit of husk, extremely clean lager yeast character – no fruity esters that I can find. Mild resinous and earthy hops with maybe a touch of citrus bitterness near the end. The hang is mostly residual malt sweetness but with a bit of hop bitterness.

M: Medium body for style, good carbonation sensation, and the alcohol is essentially nonexistent.

O: Really digging this beer – it's not always my favorite style, but this example is well-lagered and enjoyable. I do wonder what yeast strain they used because it comes across very well in this beer, and the rye addition with restrained American hops (don't know which one, also curious about this) create a very drinkable and tasty beer. I feel like this is a beer that needs to be in my fridge every fall.

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Photo of shadetree67
4.15/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - Light Amber and almost clear. After a strong pour there was about a quarter inch of head which didn't last for long.

Smell - Caramel Malts, rye spice, and a faint hop aroma.

Taste - The rye is present but not overwhelming. A good balance of malts with a touch of hops. This is very drinkable and a nice variation on the Oktoberfest style.

Mouthfeel - Medium body with a decent amount of carbonation.

Overall - I always look forward to drinking this beer in the fall. One of my favorite Oktoberfest beers and the rye makes it stand out from the herd

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Photo of jegross2
3.99/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewing the SurlyFest from Surly Brewing Company, out of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. This beer, one of the few Surly beers that I have not previously gotten around too, is a dry hopped rye lager; Surly's take on the Oktoberfest style.

Score: 89

September 2013 release. 16 oz can served in a Goose Island Chicago flag snifter and enjoyed on 10/03/13. Thank you for the can Brandon!

Appearance: Pours a caramel bourbon color that is clean in appearance, but not quite transparent, with a thin layer of head that quickly settles to a pencil thin ring around the glass. Good lacing, average retention. 3.75/5

Smell: Hops, spice (presumably the rye), caramel malt, grains and distinctive Oktoberfest-like lager yeast. Faint alcohol esters too. 4/5

Taste: For a Surly beer with a hoppy nose, the taste is pretty hop-devoid. Malt sweetness upfront, followed by whole/creamy grain flavor and a light spice character. Clean finish with a little residual malt flavor. There is only a minimal amount of that distinctive "yeah, you're drinking a lager, wanna fight about it?" yeast flavor that you get in other Oktoberfest brews, and it does not layer or linger which I really enjoy about this brew. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Thin bodied, but not watery. Good carbonation level. Very oily. Starts out with a light spice kick, but as the beer layers the rye/spice gains a more life on the front-sides of the tongue. 4/5

Overall: A very solid beer, and nice twist on the Oktoberfest style. I like the rye character here, and although I would have enjoyed more hops in the taste, I do like that the lager flavors I am not personally partial to are dialed down here. Definitely a beer I would drink again, but this is not one I would seek out specially.

Cost: $8.99 for a 4 pack of 16 oz cans.

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Photo of arc3636
3.99/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - golden red color, fair amount of head. Beer is extremely clear

S - faint spicy aroma

T - rye is featured, but there is also a nice spice flavor I can't place

M - full bodied

O - solid and very drinkable, I had 2 pints and could have easily had 2 more. Only complaint is it was tough to find!

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Photo of Ri0
4.1/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

poured 16oz can into Duvel tulip. Dated 8/28/13

A - Golden bronze and clear with an off white 1 finger head. Fair retention and thin patches of lacing.

S - Sweet roasted malt, caramel, lager yeast, and spicy rye. Some faint earthy hops round it out.

T - Sweet with a bit of rye and hop spice on the finish. A good amount of caramel and lager yeast, with earthy, light bitter hops and a touch of spicy rye on the finish.

M - Medium body with acceptable carbonation. There is a hint of bitter and spice that lingers on the tongue.

O - I really enjoyed this offering from Surly. Something different to drink in the sea of Oktoberfests.

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Photo of davey101
4.16/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

09/04/13 can into a tulip glass. Thanks yamar68! Pours a clear dark amber/red body with a finger of tan foam. Aroma is a combination of sweet bubble gum, citrus, caramel malts and spicy rye. Taste is milder with the citrus and fruit working off of the caramel and spiced rye bread perfectly. A little lingering hop bitterness. Mouth feel is full and coating for a lager. This is a really interesting beer. It's really delicious and kind of perfect for the colder weather.

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Photo of vette2006c5r
4.02/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

SurlyFest pours a dark copperish color with a small lacing head. There is a mellow sour rye aroma. The taste has a slightly sour, but sharp rye like bite, with a nice hop bite. Very full body, yet very drinkable. Overall its a very solid and well crafted beer.

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

Pours a clear amber into a nonic glass. Canned on 27 Aug and quaffed on 1 Sept on the deck during a warm MN evening. Light head and low carbonation. Out of the can, the rye and barley malts hit the nose first. Well balanced and the dry hopped result produces a lighter and less sweet beer compared to others. A purist would say it's not true to style, but who cares?

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Photo of DaveAnderson
3.42/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

This is one poorly named beer. It reminds me of no Oktoberfest whatsoever. Then again, the can proclaims it a dry-hopped rye lager.

That's pretty much where it lines up. The rye spiciness is front and center, perhaps to excess. I would have liked a fruitier finish to back all of this rye. Still, it's clean-finishing, if a little heavy.

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Photo of AnalogErik
3.17/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

watery this year. no hop presence, lower carb. not thrilled with this, especially given the track record for their previous iterations. I hope they figure it out next year!

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Photo of joemcgrath27
4.17/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - clear bronze, generous head held its own with plenty of sticky lacing
S - caramel, grains, wood, mild citrus and earthiness
T - pleasant mix of earthy, spicy, and light piney hops, big caramel and hearty grain maltiness, finishes with a mild woody flavour
M - slightly heavy, full malty feel with just enough hop bitterness to balance
O - this is a fine brew with a nice mix of spicy rye grain, sweet malts, and a smooth finish, not a traditional 'fest' beer as I know it but big ups for putting a twist on it, this brewery is the real deal

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

apparently surly makes only interesting and top quality brews. I love this one. its like a Oktoberfest, but is spiked with rye malt, and has a unique vanilla character im not used to in the style. the pour is more bronze than orange, mostly clear, with an inch or so of lasting white head. the nose is german malty, but with that familiar peppery rye kick and a finish of fresh vanilla beans cut open and scraped clean. yum! the flavor is a little less dramatic on the vanilla, and its more toward the front than the finish, but its still there. the malt balances out into a nice german traditional marzen style. this has characteristics of both an ale and a lager, its crispness is remarkable for its complexity, and its super sessionable. strong carbonation lightens up a fuller medium body, and the 6% abv is just right for me in thus style. overall a very strong offering from surly, I really love the vanilla twist here.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.06/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can opened on 3.14.13

A - Pours a clear, dark orange-red with a foamy three inch head that fades slowly.

S - Malty, rye bread, still hoppy.

T - Silky smooth rye and wheat bread with a touch of hops.

D - Gread carbonaton with a light body.

O - Old, but still tasty. Some hops still left. How'd I miss this one? I want a fresh one!

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Photo of Rifugium
3.75/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

First had: can, as a trade extra

I went in expecting a typical marzen, but this was actually quite different: a tasty rye lager. A mostly clear, darker amber pour, with a small, foamy, white head that sank to a collar and left a few streaks of lacing on the glass. Aroma was sweet with malts, bready, toasty, herbal hops. The taste reflected the scent, sweet malts, bready, toasty rye--not too distinctive, but still apparent--light herbal hops. Crisp, clean mouthfeel, medium body, maybe light-medium, quite drinkable overall. A nice and unexpected treat.

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Photo of starrdogg
4.3/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer pours a reddish-brown with a fluffy white head and lots of bubbles. Smell is caramel malt with hints of spicy rye. It essentially smells like your average marzen with a little something extra. The flavor is where this beer really shines, it has that great caramel malt flavor of a marzen but adds in some awesome spicy rye and a bit of hops. It's incredibly full-flavored but has a nice clean finish. Mouthfeel is light-medium bodied with some heavy carbonation. This is a pretty great beer and one of my favorite lagers ever made. I wish it wasn't just a seasonal, as this would be a fantastic beer to drink year-round.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.7/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

475ml aluminum can (by the way, they also claim it's 'one pint' which is quite inaccurate [even in terms of U.S. standards - consult wikipedia]) served into a Dick's Last Resort pilsner glass in me sister's gaff in low altitude Minneapolis, Minnesota. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given the brewery. No best before date.

Served relatively cold and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a two finger light khaki colour head of good thickness, nice cream, and good retention. Body colour is a delightfully vibrant amber. One of the better Amber colours I've seen. Transparent. Translucent. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Toasted amber malts, caramelization, a hint of cherry, and some cream. I don't get rye; call me crazy. A delightful aroma. Vibrant evocative malts abound. Some light spicing; even a vague hint of...ginger? Surprisingly fruity. I'm intrigued. A moderate strength, very pleasant aroma.

T: Toasted amber malts comprise the foundation. Hints of cherry. Some cream. Delightfully subtle caramelization. Malty and layered. The fruity notes blend well with the malty backbone, but it's never overly sweet. Again, I do not detect rye - either it's incredibly subtle or it's just a footnote in the grain bill. Evocative, rich, and delightful. I quite fancy it. Subtle, pleasant, and enjoyable.

Mf: Smooth but coarse enough to bring the flavour out. Good carbonation and thickness.

Dr: Quite drinkable and enjoyable. A solid Oktoberfest bier from Surly - even if they don't want to admit it. So you threw in a touch of rye - whoopty doo. This is a Marzen. Not a traditional one, but nevertheless a Marzen. And one of the better ones I've had, at that. I'd get this again. Dareisay sessionable (for those of us who aren't such nancies that we need our session beer to be 4% or less). Another solid offering from Surly.


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Photo of match1112
3.88/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

thanks to cofeeguru for this!

a: clear amber body with an inch of off white head.

s: sweet caramel, citrus hops and bread.

t: had no idea this had rye in it from the smell, luckily the rye spice shines thru on the tongue. balanced out pretty well from the hops and caramel malts.

m: medium body with decent carbonation. some of the rye spice dances on the tongue. clean finish.

o: easy drinkin, smooth taste, really solid beer.

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Photo of andrenaline
4.2/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Pours a nice copper colour, finger of head with some retention and sporadic lacing.

S - Scent is dominated by sweet butter caramel, leafy green and citrus hops, metallic rye and grainy biscuit malts.

T - The grassy and citrus hop flavours dominate, a peppery spice follows with the biscuit and grainy malt notes lingering alongside an earthy bitterness.

M - Lighter bodied, incredibly smooth and finishes with a touch of dryness.

O - Yet another winner from Surly. Incredibly flavourful and delicious. This is a session ale, and everything about it screams easy drinking deliciousness.

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Photo of metter98
3.85/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is relatively clear yellowish amber in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a short beige head that died down but left a large patch of bubbles on the surface and lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of herbs and hops in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell but also has some spiciness from the rye and a light to moderate amount of hop bitterness.
M: It feels medium-bodied and a little smooth on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The dry-hopping and rye helped lighten up the maltiness that is usually found in Oktoberfest beers. I found this to be very enjoyable and easy to drink.

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SurlyFest from Surly Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 358 ratings.
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