Surly Brewing Company

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Porter - Baltic
Ranked #28
Ranked #3,337
4.12 | pDev: 11.65%
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States
Notes: Ebony-hued, Smoke wafts out of the bottle and into your senses, borne on the wings of European traditions, wrapped in American innovation. Lager-brewed, like any true Baltic Porter, with smoked malts from Bamberg, Germany, the home of Rauchbiers, then mellowed by oak-aging. Black malt flavors mesh with notes of raisins, plums, figs and licorice with the subtle smoke on the side, for a complex and luxurious, yet silky smooth drinking experience. It's a sipper at Alc. 8.2% by VOL., but everyone knows you can't have Smoke without fire!
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Reviews: 290 | Ratings: 914 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Sigmund
Sigmund from Norway

3.54/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle, kindly shared by gunnar. ABV was 8.2%. Black colour, moderate beige head. Smoky aroma, notes of tar and bonfires at the seaside. Smoky flavour, notes of smoked meat and roasted malts.

Mar 22, 2021
Photo of Treyliff
Treyliff from West Virginia

4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750ml silver wax top bottle poured into a goblet
2015 Vintage

A- pours deep brown in color with a one-finger khaki colored head that has short retention and leaves nothing behind

S- a nice array of smoked malts, similar to a rauchbier, gives notes of campfire, smoked pork & black licorice. Undertones of figs & chocolate

T- sweet chocolate and figs up front are quickly followed by a waft of smoke, adding flavors of smoked barley, smoked pork and black licorice. The finish gives notes of raisins, molasses and brown sugar, more smoke sticks around long after the linger

M- medium body with moderate carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel and a slightly warming finish

O- well balanced with just enough smoke to compliment the dark chocolate and dark fruit notes of the beer

Nov 09, 2019
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GoBearsWalter34 from Illinois

4.49/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L- ours black with a lightrr, lan head that dissapates quickly.
S- smokey malts, black ucorice.
T- Smokey black ale taste in which smoke lingers. Slight meat taat in which oak presence smoorhs all.
F- nice warming especially from smokiness lingering.

May 03, 2017
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REVZEB from Illinois

3.97/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Charcoal black appearance with a tan head. Indeed plenty of smoke fillings the nose with campfire and general roasted tones with licorice, bitter dark chocolate and earth supporting. Taste is overwhelming with the wood and more so smoke, baltic porter influences get covered up for the most part minus the roasted malts and leather. Feel is smoky but crisp and thin for style, want more balance here too. Good for a smoke kick but not much else

Sep 12, 2016
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BlurryVisi0n from New York

4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass from the tap here at Surly Brewery.

Appearance: Thin black body coming off with medium bubbles. Head is tan roughly half a finger's length. Looks pretty descent.

Smell: Light smoked meat. You smell malts.

Taste: This brew will twist your palates, bacon and malts with light sweet notes.

Mouth: Sticky brew which overpowers almost anything you're eating. I have a side of beef brisket and still feel the beer.

Overall: Definitely a must grab for any advocate. Had the luxury of having this on tap and easily one of the better porters. Salud!

Aug 22, 2016
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Peepskp from Wisconsin

3.98/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Had this at the Surly beer hall. Excellent balanced nose of campfire and sweet malt. Well balanced for a smoked since some can be overpowering. I really enjoy the raisin sweetness they introduced, it plays well off the subtle but present smoke. I'd have this again.

May 18, 2016
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tillmac62 from South Carolina

4.49/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown, almost black, pour. Outstanding head volume, quite outstanding retention and lacing.

Rich Rauchbier style nose that is world class. Bacon cooking over a campfire aroma with emphasis on the wood smoke. Subtle notes of roast, molasses and dark fruit lurk underneath. As it warms, a light licorice note mingles with the campfire.

Medium body that is smooth in texture and has nice creamy aspects in the finish. Superb carbonation that has an effervescent tingle in the middle and a nice burst in the finish.

The flavor profile is world class, rich in complexity and extremely well balanced. This balance is exemplified by smoke not dominating the palate as was the case in the nose. Rising to balance, is a rich sweet base that is heavy caramel with very subtle hints of bakers chocolate. The middle hints at bitterness, but serves as the smoke / caramel battleground. As the middle fades, plum, fig and raisin flavors separate. The finish is preceded by a light licorice note just before the aged oak aspect arrives. The finish is a slow fade of smoke, caramel, oak, and a hint of alcohol that delivers a drying finish with a hint of heat.

Apr 06, 2016
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

this beer is big boy, so much better than the mole version, its not even comparable. they really blew it on that one, had no idea the base beer was such a gem. intensely dark brown and dense, more porter than brown ale, which i expected it to be. lasting darker tan head too, real nice in the glass. the nose is campfire all the way, intense german type smoked malts, almost makes me cough. woody and deep, i smell the oak too, but this has a downright barbecue thing going on, meaty and huge with the bitterness of the dark grain there too. the smoke is intense in the flavor too, almost acrid for a moment, like im in a burning building. an old wooden building though, nothing chemical, electrical, or synthetic about it, just intense. the dark malt is big enough to give it some depth, but the fact this is a lager is not readily apparent to me. its long finishing and not overly smooth. i think the oak ageing makes it. i dont taste the wood like i smelled it so much, but i feel how its rounded this out some, really dont get much of the booze coming through at all. bold beer, definitely for the rauchheads out there. certainly not for everyone, but i really dug it, especially as it warmed up.

Jan 15, 2016
Photo of kez
kez from Minnesota

4.59/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Definitely recommend aging this beer. Currently drinking the 2014 vintage after aging for a year. Much more smooth and mellow than a bottle I drank too early 2 years ago, which was too bitter at the time. Pours deep and dark. Rich smooth malty on the tongue, with a mellow campfire flavor that sits in the back of the mouth. Sit back a savor this complex and satisfying beer!

Dec 26, 2015
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Czequershuus from Minnesota

3.17/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This beer pours brownish black with a small but resilient head. The aromas of hickory smoke, figs, and prunes waft slowly off the beer. The flavor leads with a faint chocolate taste, followed by a fair amount of smoke - though not deep, rich smoke, more a faint, whispy, end of a campfire smoke - and hints of fig other dried fruit. The mouthfeel is surprisingly thin. Maybe it is not my style, but I cannot shake the feeling that this beer lacks in richnes - the smoke feels thin, the texture is thin, the non-smoke flavors seem muted. It is a decent beer, but not my favorite.

Oct 25, 2015
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JohnnyHopps from Indiana

4.48/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – The ale was brownish black in appearance with a dark mocha colored head. Little in the way of inconsistencies could be detected in the body.

Smell – Smoked meat was the dominant note. I think it leans a little toward bacon.

Taste – I could only think of liquid smoked meats. The smoke is well balanced in this porter, and does not overwhelm. There was noted or burnt sugar and perhaps a little coffee as well. The smoke lingers in the finish with a certain sweetness.

Mouthfeel – The mouthfeel is almost stout-like, but certainly does not reach motor oil quality. It leaves a nice impression.

Overall – Surly hits a homerun here. This is one of my favorite smoke beers.

Oct 19, 2015
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maedhros09 from Minnesota

4.34/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look: nearly opaque black with a finger or two of dense tan head and great lacing
Smell: roasty, smoky
Taste: Pretty sweet molasses maltiness, roasty with a pleasant campfire smokey finish and little bitterness. Alcohol definitely comes through.
Feel: Full bodied and thick, nicely smooth carbonation.

Overall: A densely flavorful baltic porter - drinks a lot like an imperial stout with a bit of smoke, which is nicely balanced with the other flavors. A bit on the sweet side, perhaps, but very enjoyable overall.

Aug 24, 2015
Photo of pat61
pat61 from Minnesota

4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours brilliant mahogany under a 2” tan foam collar with a very fine bead. S: Smells like a smoked pork chop with a light coffee rub. T: Rich Baltic Porter flavors with smoke throughout with caramel and toffee notes and hints of chocolate. The smoke muted the impact of the oak but there is slight vanilla and a mild mellowing. F: Very smooth and creamy, medium carbonation O: A nicely done smoked beer.

Aug 12, 2015
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superspak from Ohio

4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into snifter, 2015 vintage bottling. Pours nearly opaque dark brown/black color with a 1-2 finger dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Aromas of big chocolate, cocoa, coffee, wood smoke, toasted oak, caramel, brown sugar, light licorice, raisin, plum, fig, light char, light herbal, and roast/smokey earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt, smoke, and oak barrel notes; with good strength. Taste of big chocolate, cocoa, coffee, wood smoke, caramel, brown sugar, toasted oak, light licorice, raisin, plum, fig, light char, light herbal, and roast/smokey earthiness. Light herbal/roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, cocoa, wood smoke, toasted oak, caramel, brown sugar, and herbal/roasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Fantastic complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roasted malt, smoke, and oak barrel flavors; with a great roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Very clean on lager flavors with zero estery yeast notes present. Light-medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a very smooth, moderately creamy/silky, and slightly sticky/chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warmth lingering after the finish. Overall this is an awesome smoked Baltic porter style. All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roasted malt, smoke, and oak barrel flavors; and very smooth and easy to sip on for the ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

Aug 08, 2015
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1000lbgrizzly from Illinois

4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Deep brown body, tan/grayish head. Kickass bottle art, good solid wax top.

S: Toasted malt/dark chocolate, good smoke, but as the namesake of the beer, I could use a lot more. A faint metallic aroma pops in, which I would consider a (tiny) flaw.

T: The taste is much improved from the nose, plenty of smoke throughout taking center stage, with all the caramel-dark chocolate-malt-husk flavors to support. No metallic flavor here, but an unexpected sweetly fruit-resembling flavor on the front, like plum/strawberry. Straight dark chocolate and smoke comprises the finish, with a good burn in the throat (either from the smoke or the alcohol, probably the former) to accompany it.

F: Light-medium body, not even moderately carbonated but not still either.

O: I was hoping all my clothing and the room I drank this in would smell like a campfire for a week after drinking this, but sadly, the smoke was really well balanced. This beer still blew me away with the range, clarity, and balance of all the flavors, the perfect not-too-heavy feel, and all-around enjoyability.

Aug 05, 2015
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Cannibalgasm from Minnesota

4.06/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a Surly pint glass.

A: Pours a rich black with an off-tan head. Fades to a thin layer of bubbles that linger on the top of the brew. Little lacing is present.

S: Roasted malts, oak, smoke, tobacco, molasses, and some dark fruit.

T: Roasted malts, chocolate, oak, tobacco, plum, raisin, and then the smoke comes through without overpowering the other flavors.

M: Medium bodied, moderate carbonation, thick on the back end with a slight pleasant burn.

O: A very well done smoked porter. Unlike a lot of smoked beers out there, the smoke actually takes somewhat of a backseat. Instead of overpowering it serves as the backbone of this brew. I tip my hat to Surly for this enjoyable brew.

Jun 15, 2015
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stortore from Illinois

3.77/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750 ml 2015 bottle, half into a snifter, half into a pilsner glass.

Dark, thick looking pour with a medium head, not much residual lacing. Smells mostly of malt, then smoke, some chocolate. Hint of black pepper at pour. Taste follows the nose on the strong malt and the smoke. A little more chocolate in the taste, some oak and vanilla. Smooth, but thin for the style and ABV. Leaves a bit of a salty aftertaste that I've not noticed in other smoked- type beers.

This is ok, but it's not as good as I was expecting. Didn't make a strong case as a Baltic Porter or as a smoked beer. Price point is a little high for what you get, in my opinion.

May 25, 2015
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OStrungT from California

4.44/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a very dark brown with a ruby mahogany tint when held up to the light. It is nearly black. The brown head fades quickly, leaving minimal lace.

This beer has a smoky aroma. Go figure with the name "Smoke" I also detect some coffee aroma. Sweet caramel as well.

The beer tastes great. Smokey flavor mixes in with some tobacco, molasses, and coffee.

This beer is carbonated nicely, and goes down surprisingly smooth, leaving a smokey aftertaste.

This beer wouldn't be the best session beer since it is a little high on alcohol, and the smokey flavor may become cloying after a time.

Overall, this beer is really good. Hands down one of the best smoked beers I have ever had. Thanks to Sarah for hooking me up!

May 12, 2015
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ARoman from Illinois

4.02/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap, poured into an english tulip pint glass. The beer is dark and oily dark woth a rich cola hue and a light tan colored soap head that has a moderate retention and very light lace. The aroma is a smokey, charred note with roasted coffee beans, and a cookie dough hint with late developing aromas of vanilla and raisin. The taste is a medium high roasted sweet with a complimentary medium slick bitter. The beer is syrupy smooth with a soft fuzz carbonation and a medium full body with flavors of coffee and smokey grilled meats with some undertones of chocolate. It finishes sticky with mostly a spicy clove and coffee that carries to the aftertaste that's mostly clean with a smokey charred quality.

Apr 26, 2015
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Hookstrat from Iowa

4.19/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Surprisingly subtle beer. Aroma opens up into clean smoke as it warms, alcohol present throughout. The flavor is the winner here. Dry, clean, well-balanced with a moderately bitter, smokey finish. I wish they could pull this off at 6-7 %ABV, but I'll take it!

Apr 12, 2015
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Alieniloquium from Florida

3.82/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Black, but a little transparent. Small khaki head.

Smell - Nice smokey aroma. Sweet chocolate. Kinda nutty.

Taste - Mirrors the nose. A little less smoke and more sweet chocolate. Sweet caramel in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium heavy. Medium low carbonation.

Overall - I really like this. Very nice smoke and chocolate combination.

Mar 23, 2015
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CraigP83 from Minnesota

4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

BLACK brew, solid tan head. Smells of smoky malts not unlike a campfire. More liquid smoke flavor. Good lager base is not overly objectionable. Mellower than other smoky beers

Mar 22, 2015
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Phocion from Minnesota

4.31/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2010 vintage bottle poured into a tulip. Black with just the slightest mahogany hues when held up to a light. Finger of short-lived foamy khaki head and minimal lacing.

Aroma is a good balance. Traditional beechwood-smoked malts are assertive but mellowed by a soft oaky flavor. Wood and smoke join big, robust, black malts. Anise, coffee, molasses, dark fruits, and dark chocolate are all trying to make themselves known.

The flavor is primarily mellow roasted malts. The smoked malts actually take a backseat to a bittersweet chocolate flavor. Soft barrel flavors and raisin, plum, and fig (malty, not estery) are all more powerful than the smoke, which works as a wonderful accent rather than overpowering. Clean yeast flavors and a dry finish. Alcohol very well-hidden.

Full body and low-moderate carbonation. Thick, chewy mouthfeel and very dry but little bitterness. The alcohol flavor is fairly well-hidden, but it still definitely feels very hot (even after a hair over four years).

I haven't had Smoke in several years, but this is far better than I remember. Maybe age has toned it down or maybe my memory is hazy. Either way, this is an excellently balanced beer. Still hot, but not overly smoky like a number of similar beers out there. Excellent base Baltic Porter. Worth a try.

Jan 30, 2015
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Nugganooch from California

3.93/5  rDev -4.6%

750ml wax capped bottle – split into a couple tumblers
Notes taken on 07/26/2014 – Big thanks to Allen once again!

A: Dark brown coffee bean color that settles closer to black in the glass. Thick creamy taupe colored suds forms over top and holds for a few good moments. Some light sticky cling remains to the glass after each sip.

S: The nose is very chocolaty with dark roast malts in abundance. I get some dark caramel sweetness with a mild dark fruit presence and a touch of earthiness too. Finishes out with a faint but easily distinguishable smoked malt character. Gives off a light campfire aroma. Nice but strangely this is not nearly as smoky as I was anticipating.

T: Dark roasted malt with dark caramel, coffee, and chocolate notes meld into an earthy green hop bitterness midway. The finish delivers a few whispers of beach wood smoke however it is fairly tame with no harsh charcoal or ashy presence. This is a really nice Black Lager but I am kind of missing the Smoke here. Not really complaining since the balance and flavor is great. Alcohol is well incorporated into the other flavors as well. Just not the aggressive smoke bomb I was expecting this to be at all.

M: Moderate heft in body with great frothy cream like texture and a nice drying lift at the finish. Touch of hop bitterness however void of any harsh astringency which is nice.

D: I found this to be a very tasty Dark Lager and would definitely have again. Extremely subtle use of the smoked malts here however. Actually had me wanting for more intensity. I mean why else would you wax the bottle. For those who may have shied away from this one should not fear the Smoke.

Aug 28, 2014
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vette2006c5r from Minnesota

4.04/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Smoke pours a black color with a nice lacing tan head. There is a strong smokey aroma; much like a smoked meat. The taste has a nice mellow, but pronounced smokey flavor, very meaty flavors. The body feels a little watery, but a nice warmth. Overall its a nice easy drinking smoking beer.

Jun 04, 2014
Smoke from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 914 ratings