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: 377 | Ratings: 907
Photo of maximum12
4.21/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

What is this beer? Rye? Lager? Marzen? Who cares? It's beer! And I've been jonesing on anything with a little rye tossed into the kettle lately, so I was amped for this release.

Surlyfest is a little redder than your classic yellow, with a ro-bust head on it & some nice carbonation blazing up the pint glass. Doesn't smell like much.

Definitely get the rye on the tongue, along with the hops, & backbone of malty sweetness. Defintely different. I like the rye, the rest of it's fighting a confused rear-action in my mouth. I keep taking sips to try to sort it out, but it's good.

Eminently quaffable. And I ask, where are the other low-ABV, session beers of the world? I've had a couple of excellent ones lately (Bitter Brewer, Leatherlips, Lost Sailor) but they're exceptions rather than the norm. I'd love to see some more tasty, complex, non-run-o'-the-mill beers that I can drink & still drive home, brewers! I'll hoist this as another example. Thanks guys!

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Photo of Duffman
4.42/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The color is a dark wheat color, of autumn leaves, this beer just smacks of fall across the board. Aroma is breathtaking. Floral, malty (love the rye), hoppy, sweet-smelling, bitter-smelling all at the same time. Extremely inviting. Sunny rye flavor, with a nice malt sweetness. Nice amounts of hops as wlel in the taste. Though not as evident as they were in the aroma floral notes come through here nicely Medium-bodied and somewhat robustly creamy as well. At the same time is is extraordinarily smooth and not at all too weighty. An autumn delight.

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Photo of Buebie
4.32/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Just released today for the '08 season.

Poured from a 16 oz can into a snifter. Off the pour a fizzy 3 finger head adorns my glass. Some drapy lace. Thin layer of white retention sits ontop of the beer.
Deep copper in color with a very mild haze, but mostly transparent.

Smell is a yeasty dough, with juicy sweet floral hop aroma.
Much malt, reflecting that marzen aroma style perfectly. Although this brew has a great hop aroma kick that most fests do not.

Taste is well balanced, hops do not overpower. Sweet malt comes through and each flavor and aroma compliments the other nicely.
Starts out thick with a creamy burst of carbonation.
Then comes the meaty sweet malt finishing dry and bitter with a great hop linger.

I've been craving this one for 9 months. Better stock up for the release next year!

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Photo of Greggy
4.52/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

**2008 Can

A- Pours an apricot color, just slightly hazy, with a nice 1+ finger head that leaves some good lacing.

S- This has an extremely fresh, cascade hop aroma. It's very reminiscent of a fresh from the sealed bag, hop aroma. I also get a nice spicy edge of rye. Underneath that all, I sense a caramel backbone.

T- Very thick to start. A big quick whack of the cascade (guessing), then notes of caramel, cream, slight chocolate even, with a nice, in the background, dry hop feel, especially in the finish where it even gets a bit vegetal with the feeling I get in my mouth after a garden carrot. Nice scope of flavors. The rye isn't huge but I can tell especially in the finish.

M- Big large mouthfeel on this one, which is great considering it's only 5.5%. The finish is excellent and carbonation is spot on.

D- I could toss these back no problem... and I probably will. A unique twist on the fest beers, and really nice instead of the same malty fests that we all know.

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4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Two inches of creamy light tan head that turn rocky and leaves lots of lace as it slowly fades. Body is an attractive honey dark amber. Nose is more on the hoppy side than I was expecting from the style. It includes a grassy malty backround with some green tea notes. Enters the mouth with destinct lengthy tones of rye and minersl based hops. The slightly rustic bitterness is smooth and welcome. Bold yet sesionable on the back of the tongue creating a very tasty mouthfeel. Super easy to drink all around. This would stack up well with many foods.

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Photo of Derek
4.18/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to DaPeculierDane for the trade.

What an eclectic brew: German malts, crystal rye, all-summit hops (even dry-hopped).

A: Copper with a light tan head, good retention, excellent lacing.

S: Pine, grass, nectarine & a little rye. Should a rye aroma dominate a rye beer? Who cares... it's got a great nose.

T: Plenty of hop flavour (pine, grass, tangerine & grapefruit), nice underlying breadyness, though it's light on the rye (even less than Founders Red's Rye).

M: Well-attenuated moderate body, slight hop acidity, dry finish.

D: The hop-heads will love it, but it's got some quality malt & rustic rye flavour to back it up.

Thanks again Eric.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured amber with a good head that stuck around. Smelled super fresh and a bit grainy, with some spicy rye notes and subtle aromas of apple and pear. Tasted really frsh and clean as well, with some more rye graininess, a bit of vanilla, and a nice bitter finish. Mouthfeel is a bit thick for the style, but what a nice beer!

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of Oakbluff: Poured a deep slightly hazy amber color ale with a thick foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma consists of big semi-sweet malt rye with some dry hops. Taste is also dominated by big rich malt with the typical rye taste and some light dry hops at the end. Full body with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Very refreshing beer but also very filling which mean I wouldn't have that much in a session. Also, I was expecting a hop bomb as this brewery is quite good at those but this is somewhat close to the original style.

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Photo of Deuane
4.23/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Kegatron for this one...finally got aorund to popping it!

A-Clear amber with a large, foamy, very light tan head. Head finally settled into a small cap that left very nice lacing down the sides of the glass.

S-Nice blast of lemony, citrus hops with a following of caramel sweetness. Lastly, a background breadiness from the rye.

T-Nice, sharp lemony, citrus hops up front, followed nicely by the caramel and rye malts. A lovely lingering lemony twang in the aftertaste.

M-Medium body with a nice smoothness. Some astringency in the back from the hops and rye malt.

D-Oktoberfest not Fest...whatever! It is from Surly so you can only expect hops to be present! A cool interpretation, albiet blasphemous, of the style. Regardless, I really enjoy it and if was able would certainly have this every fall when it is released....nice. I can only imagine those hops a popping when this was 6 months younger!

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.45/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got this can in a trade with Wasatch. Thanks John!

Yet another Surly beer for me to try. ;^)

This pours a slightly hazy amber with a big +2 finger head of billowy foam. I see some floaties but I'm hoping that won't negatively impact the flavour. Oh and there's plenty of sticky lacing.

The smell is very nice! Lots of lemon citrus matched equally by lots of rye and some caramel malt. To me, a perfectly balanced nose.

The taste...hell, there's no denying that this is a beer using rye as it's right there and it's tasting great. The single hop that they are using gives me both lemon and some pine and the rye and a bit of caramel malt compliments the hops very nicely. Good medium mouthfeel and fairly light carbonation make for a very drinkable beer. This is just a real palate pleasing, easy drinking brew and I could drink a few of these easily without getting bored.

With the final pour, I didn't get any more floaties,(a good thing)just more of that hazy amber goodness. Btw, great head retention here. Well done, again, Surly!

Bottom line: This is a very tasty and drinkable Rye beer that I wouldn't hesitate to try again. Highly recommended!

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Photo of jaxon53
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I can't remember who sent me this, so thankyou to whoever it was. Served this one chilled, in an Imperial pint glass, from a sixteen ounce can. Another craft beer in a can.

Appearance: Pours out a deep, slightly hazy, amber copper color. A bit of a rough pour yielded a solid finger and a half of soapy off-white head. Decent retention here, leaving plenty of sticky lace clinging to the glass.

Smell: Hops! A somewhat strong hop aroma mixed with some thick yeasty notes. Almost lemony and grassy. The rye and malted barley stand out nicely. A faint fruity aroma closes out the nose with a bit more hops.

Taste: Wow, lots of piney hops out front. Tons of lemon and orange zest. Nice thick rye flavor. Bready and yeasty. Finishes spicey and dry. Different, but in a good way.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied mouthfeel with plenty of tingly carbonation. Crisp and clean.

Drinkability: Great drinkability. A bit on the sweet side, but easy to drink. Quite refreshing.

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Photo of jjayjaye
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy amber iced tea color with a full finger foamy off white head that fades fairly quickly and leaves a good amount of lacing behind. The smell is bright with lemon notes and a delicate rye malty underpinning. Adequately carbonated, the mouth feel is light yet complex. The rye and lager yeast combination create a really unique flavor. Bright with a more pronounced bitterness than my previous samples of products with rye. Altogether refreshing, a real session beer at 5.5% ABV. Recommended.

Thanks goes out to Pitmonkey for the opportunity to sample this one.

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Photo of knight84
4.06/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to alexgash for this can!
Pours a fairly hazy dark copper to amber color. One finger creamy off-white head that thins quickly leaving moderate lacing. The nose is understated, piney hops and yeast dominate but I get some floral esters as well. The taste comes as a bit of a surprise as it tastes more like an IPA than a lager, the rye is big up front and the finish is caramel malts and herbal hop flavors with a bit more pine though a little dusty and dry. Mouthfeel is nice, very smooth with a creamy carbonation that matches the head seen when poured. When very cold the feel is light and dry with some bite that moderates by the end of the glass. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this beer and found it very drinkable, especially being a rye lager, this is probably due to the IPAish character that it seemed to have. Another solid and enjoyable beer from Surly.

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Photo of JDV
3.87/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of trade with tytoanderso
Pours a gorgeous autumnal amber color with a big sudsy lace inducing head. Smell is fresh and vibrant and wow, there are actually big fresh hops in this oktoberfest! Smell is hoppy, yet apples and sweet malt as well. Amazing for a style I usually find pretty average. Taste is nice, and mildish aside from a decent dose of grassy hopping and a nice bitterness level. Easy on the malt, and not a sweet or tart oktoberfest like I'm used to but more mildly sharp and zesty, perhaps from the Crystal Rye. A touch on the thin side palatewise, although the carbonation is spot on. A great, unique oktoberfest although I would actually like a hint more sweetness here. Big thanks for the can, Tyler!

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Photo of HopDerek
4.09/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber/bronze color with lots of thick foamy off-white head, good retention and great lacing. Takes a while to pour it all in the stein with all that head pouring out of the can. Smells quite hoppy for an Oktoberfest with amarillo hops taking a commanding presence, as well as some honey, lemon, and caramel. Taste is also way different than I would expect, with rye jumping right out at you followed by some honey sweetness and a touch of lemon citrusiness. A nice sweet toffee backbone with a big ole piney hop finish. Medium in body, smooth and creamy with a dry finish. An unexpecting beer, but very drinkable and something I wouldn't mind drinking often in the Fall (or any other season).

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Photo of Kegatron
4.07/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Procurred in a recent trade with Scoobydank. Thanks Bill!

16oz can into a Stein.

Pours a clear amber with a a huge foamy light tan head. It takes me several minutes to get it all into the Stein. It eventually settles down into a fairly nice sized retention that leaves huge sticky hop lacing down the sides of the glass. The aroma seems to be a big blast of Amarillo hops right off the bat, with some citrus notes, caramel sweetness, and a bready Rye element.

The taste is piney hops up front, caramel and rye malts, citrus, and a pleasant lingering bitterness in the finish. The overall flavor profile feels just a tad muted and makes me wonder what a fresh can would be like. The mouthfeel is medium bodied wiht a smooth, creamy feel.

Whether or not you call this an Oktoberfest Marzen, an interpretation of a Marzen, or just some strange abortion of the style, I think that is damn tasty for what it is and would keep this in my fridge full time during the fall months if I had access to it.

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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 brewgetter
4.47/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - The beer pours a light brown with some orange highlights, slight haze

S - I get grapefruit, pine, and lemon. nice.

T - Rye is certainly there, slight maltiness is nicely balanced by huge hops. The can is probably a good 4 or 5 months old, not sure if that would play a factor or not. Not as good as Furious, but still a great beer! can't wait to see what comes out next year!

M - medium body, seems sppropriate for the style, and very good for a lager.

D - Quite drinkable, Don't know if I could drink two in a row...I probably could though:)

Since I'm a confirmed Surly Nut. I love the twist that they've brought to an O-fest, certainly one of the best lagers I've ever had.

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Photo of Bighuge
1.66/5  rDev -58.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

This beer is a bit of a conundrum. I'm not sure if anybody has touched on this yet, but this beer tastes nothing like a marzen. It's more like an IPA or actually more like a DIPA. The blue and white checkerboard background on the can reminds me of a German Oktoberfest banner (like the ones in "Strange Brew" eh?). But the beer inside is not even in the same ballpark. I understand it's a lager, but this has to be the most hopped up lager I've ever tried. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Well actually, in this case there is.

Hazy, tarnished copper. Thin coating of beige head. Lace is moderate in amount. Sickly pungent pine needle aroma. It's like smelling the gooey sap straight out of a pine tree. And then licking it. The flavor is all hops. And in truth, these hops don't appeal to me. My belief is that they're 100% Sterling. If that's the case, Sterling is one hop I'll avoid when homebrewing. I get garlic and onion and clove. And an astringent tannic presence that muddles everything up as well. Ouch. This is not good. And my ratings are not due to the nonconforming style. I rated this as if it were an IPA/DIPA/Rye lager.

This is the first beer from Surly that I have not enjoyed. I see others have, so drink up. But I will pass on this next fall. Unless they try a new hop, like Columbus or Palisade or Simcoe. My opinion is that Furious is 10 times better than this.

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

Appearance - Ultra-hazy amber, almost opaque. The head retention is great.

Smell - The hop aroma is huge and immediately noticeable upon cracking open the can. It lends a ripe, zesty grapefruit character to the nose, with a slight bready note from the rye present underneath.

Taste and mouthfeel - The taste is quite a contrast from the aroma. Very up-front rye, bready and dry. A touch of malty sweetness appears briefly, providing a touch of balance before the tangy, citrus-flavored hops take over the finish. Mouthfeel is decidedly full for a lager, with a coating hoppy bitterness remaining on the palate.

Notes - Never thought I'd try a dry-hopped rye Octoberfest lager. Very creative stuff, and more importantly, quite good.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks goes out to Tolann for this brew.

Pours a nice hazy golden brown color, nice carbonation, very nice one-finger plus off-white creamy head, which leaves some nice sticky lacing throughout the drink. The nose is malty, hoppy, nice touch of the rye (bitter), and some caramel. The taste is malty/hoppy, nice touch of rye (bitterness), and some caramel. Medium body. This brew is pretty dry and bitter on the finish, very tasty though. Very drinkable, really like this one, highly recommended. Thanks Megan.

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Photo of Tolann
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this hidden in my stash. Poured my 'half' into a whisky snifter and shared the rest with DH who had his poured into a pint glass.

A- a white light head on top of amber waves of grain...
Leaves a thick,heavy lacing on the glass.

S- sweet and almost minty. What did DH use to rinse this glass,toothpaste? Sweet and kinda citrusy

T- kind of sweet, tho I rarely drink lagers. Kinda dead on taste considering other Surlys. Probably a good shot at a non-traditional Oktober-fest lager. Surly does nothing 'traditionally'

M- light but not crisp. Almost a medium body. Lots of malt and citrus

D- Very easy to put back. Could be a very sessionable beer if it were more available.

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

L:A very light brown color. A birght white frothy head.
S:Slight grapefruit hoppiness with big caramel sweetness.
T:Big roasted nutty caramel. What sets this one aside though is what comes next. Deciscious grapefruit hop on the back palat.
M:Thick big round bubbles for a syrupy consistency.
D:Best example of a Octoberfest beer that I can think of. Definitely a Surly twist using those hops to round out this beer. I wish more Octoberfest beers used hops like this.

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Photo of flexabull
4.4/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Great looking can courtesy of leftmindedrighty, thanks YET again!

Pours a bright gold color with a big off white head. Looks great.

Nice nose, creamy malts, tea like, with some really obvious hop aromas, mostly resin and pine. Smells great.

Taste is dry and biscuit like. Some cereal grain flavors, bright and crisp tea like qualities, and a hint of rye. Finish is biting, with an earthy like hoppiness and some spicy yeast flavors. This is a complex tasting beer.

Mouthfeel is thick and smooth, very nice.

Drinkability is great, this is extremely sessionable. A very interesting and tasty take on the Oktoberfest / Rye Beer styles. I really like it, and would make this a staple in the fridge and "in" the outdoors if this was available here. Well worth a try.

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Photo of BeerTruth
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another amazing beer courtesy of tpd975, thanks for hookin' me up!

16 oz. can poured perfectly into a nonic.

Pours a somewhat foggy rich copper hue with a generous two finger off-white head that has no intentions of leaving. Beautiful lacing left behind on the sides of the glass. Smell is of crisp rye up front with a subtle fresh citric hop scent. Nice caramel malt with a bit of a metallic aroma as well. Some dirty earth hops find their way in the nose too. Wow, what a perfect blend of hops and malt on the tongue. Sweet grapefruit hops balance with a creamy caramel malt. The crisp rye gives a fresh zing in the mouth. A spicy pepper sting finds it's way in the mouth as well. Aftertaste is an interesting combination of toasted nut and pine hops, niiice. Fluffy light to medium body with a full carbonation. This doesn't exactly fit into the "traditional" fest beers, but that's why I like it. Definitely a nice change of pace during the Oktoberfest season, especially for hop lovers. Line 'em up, I'll put 'em down...scary good drinkability. What a great beer experience. I would take this beer over Furious anyday.

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SurlyFest from Surly Brewing Company
4.03 out of 5 based on 907 ratings.
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