Smoke | Surly Brewing Company

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Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

Style: Baltic Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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!

Added by BeerAdvocate on 12-05-2007

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Reviews: 286 | Ratings: 897
Photo of MBrausen
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A. This bear pours a beautiful pitch black color, with a light caramel head about 1 finger thick. It faded to a nice thin ring, with a little lily pad making it's way around the center.

S. Smells of light caramel, strong bacon and of course, smoke. The bacon smell is really dominate. Almost the same as when you first set a piece into a hot pan. I can almost hear the crackle when I smell this beer :)

S. A noticeable hickory comes out first, that holds through even after your done drinking. A a smoked, almost burnt toffee taste comes through extremely smoothly. It isn't at all overbearing. The malts are noticeable, but not a dominate trait.

M. Very smooth flavor, that is not at all hard to drink. The flavor is thick and bold, but it still feels light on the tongue. Just a hint of dryness on the finish.

O. Overall this is a complex beer, that is extremely smooth and very easy to drink. I could see spending many hours at a bar not trying anything else if this was on-tap. It delivers everything you expect from Surly. Unlike a lot of their beers that tend to take a style to it's extreme, I think this hits spot on for what I would expect to see in a quality baltic porter.

This is by far one of the top beers I have ever had! It is amazingly smooth and easy to drink. The flavors are bold, but also complex. It's not a one sided smoke flavor like often what happens with Porters. The tastes changes and matures in your mouth. I look forward to having this beer again and again.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.8/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is an exceptionally good beer that was on my elusive list of things to track down, I had all but given up hope when growler sales were stopped, but go figure the day they are someone offers me a trade! Hell yeah. 64oz growler at cellar temp, this one was poured into multiple pint glasses and consumed on 01.11.2009.

The pour was very big. Deep, Dark brown in color with no light coming through this one at all. A rich tan head of three inches came up over the top of the glass and took a few moments to settle down, meanwhile some very nice lacing was developing on the sides and the bottom of the glass.

The aroma was beautiful. Rich, dark fruit notes. Lots of prunes and plum smells coming off of this, with roasted malts, and a nice smoke smell. Not your huge campfire peat, this was massively complex with hints of bourbon like alcohol bouncing around in here as well. The flavor, well was outstanding. I really cannot explain how good this came off for the style. Rich roasted malts, hints of chocolate, dark fruits, hints of alcohol and a wonderful smoke flavor that came through perfectly in the finish. Smooth, mellow feel, with a nice full bodied and well carbonated texture. This was a big beer, there was no hiding that, however it was a superb sipper, just perfectly well balanced and enormously smooth, I sipped on this one all day long and loved every second of it.

Overall I cannot say enough good things about this one, it was one of the best Baltic Porters I have ever had and tasted more complex then just about anything else in the category. This is a must get that it looks like you will have to go to MN to go get now.

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Photo of hero27
4.8/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On-tap @ the Darkness release..

For a beer titled very blatantly "Smoke" I expected this to taste like a charcoal briquette wrapped in bacon... Needless to say, I was surprised at my first sip to find that this is one very eloquent & well-thought out beer. The smoked malt flavor is subtle and provides lingering notes rather than the punch-in-the-face that most smoked brews offer.

I had no idea of the abv when I was consuming this nectar by the glass...but I assumed it was in the 5-7% range...I find out now it's nearly 10%...amazing. That being said, it's so delicious and easy-to-drink. The soft woody flavors & smoked malts are complex and make this unlike any beer out there. I need another chance to pick apart the flavors a bit more...hopefully this will be widely available to the public soon.

there's just one thing I'd like to say to the folks at there anything you can't do??

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Photo of Weli
4.78/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A- Dark chocolate colored pint with thin off white lacing, ok head retention

S-Campfire! Nice smokey aroma reminiscent of cooking over a wood fire in the fall, hints of toasted malt and cacao

T-Wow doesn't disappoint! Sweet and smokey like cherry wood smoked bacon, big malty flavor of chocolate and dark Munich malt

M-Full bodied, mild carbonation, lingering smokiness

O-Excellent smoked beer, very complex and a delight to taste, yet altogether very drinkable and balanced,would gladly have another. Don't know how true this beer is to the Baltic porter style, I think its really in its own category or should be in some specialty hybrid category of smoked beers.

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Photo of Fatduck
4.77/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I drank this beer at Darkness Day, and wrote down all my opinions and took a while a get it here. I was a volenteer, pouring beer off the brite tanks(where the beer is carbonated).

I poured this beer into my darkness goblet. We sold more of this beer than any other, 85% of the beers we poured were smoke.

It pours a dark brown/black color, with a little bubbly head, not a lot but, sticky. It smells like roasted coffee and smoked malts, lots and lots of smoke. It tastes like liquid smoke was added, or lots of peat smoked malt was used. Its smooth and drinkable, I had probably 6-8 of them during my time pouring them
It was overall a GREAT beer, one of the best I have ever had, maybe it was just the freshness of the beer, or the fact that I was drinking it at the brewery, but it was sooo good.

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Photo of hardy008
4.74/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark black color with a one foamy tan head which fades somewhat quick. Smells of smoke, sweet malt, raisins, plums, figs, and licorice. The flavor mirrors the aroma perfectly. There is a nice combination of smoke an sweet malt which are great together. Neither is overly strong, but both are very good.

Medium bodied, smooth, easy to drink, and the alcohol is well hidden. I could drink this all the time with no problem.

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Photo of zealot
4.72/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Release party at the Muddy Pig. I live ~4 miles from the bar, and getting there was still an adventure. Kudos to the Surly staff for actually getting there.

This beer was served way too cold. In order to really appreciate it, I had to let it warm it in my hands for a good 5-10 minutes.

Appearance was certainly dark, but not as dark as one might expect. I had Darkness the night before, though, so perhaps my radar is a bit off. There was a small head that stuck around like it was doing someone a favor - there for a minute, but leaving way too early. This may have been a function of how cold this was.

Only good things from here on out: Smell was a subtle, but definite smoke. Not an over-the-top Rauchbier, but a slight woody campfire aroma, mixed with some excellent toffee, roasted aromas that made this an exceptional brew.

The taste was similar to the aroma, but I was surprised at how restrained the Smoke flavor actually was. Wow! Again, maybe because it was so damn cold, the smoke flavor didn't come out until the back end. Up front, it was much lighter than I had expected. I knew going in about the 9.5% ABV, but if I were to guess, I would have pegged it at 6-7%. Silky roastiness with toffee and mild chocolate, and, again, the back end with a truly elegant smoky finish. Not as much hops as I would expect from a Surly brew, but it was so well balanced.

This was a phenomenal brew. This is probably the best Surly brew behind Darkness. I polished one of these off easily and I could have pounded more, but I felt compelled to try the TeaBagged Furious cask.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.72/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Served very cold in a tulip-like goblet at Muddy Pig: Plain glossy black. No head was present when served on any of my orders? I'm sure, perhaps at point of pour there may have been, but I saw none. A glare of oily residue coats the glass while flecks and specks of lace frantically stick about the surface.

Heavy, dark, aroma of deep dark fruity tanged fig, raisin, with a nice rounded black malt sweetness. Crisp and fresh smelling at first wiff. Only slight smoked ascents at first but it grows with a delicate and gradual nudge as it warms. Creating more smoked bacon tendencies as it goes as does a bit more roasted deepness.

Wonderfully broad deep flavors. Clean, invitingly deep, lasting flavors of all sorts of malts with caramel smoothness, black malt sweetness, roasted malt dryness, and smoked malt tangyness. Mildly figgy and raisin paste make for a nice quick tang of a dark fruity nature upfront. The smoked meat flavors are a near perfect match as it is never overpowering in any fashion. Its just a mild yet fulfillingly rich and well blended tone all across the palate. Notes of burnt rubarb pie, black cracked pepper, cocoa, and vanilla create nice little additional things among the smokey realm of its character. Lots of subtle layers and melding flavors in this one. A smoked crockpot of malts if you will. Nice!

Body is smooth, clean, and partially silky with a well handled tang of dark fruit and smoke. Tends to get slippery real quick as its medium body isn't a thick monster of malt. Its quite casual and leads you easily into a lull of drinkin ease and great flavors.

The drinkability is outstanding! Ahhh, but here is where I think that term "Smoke" came from other then the obvious use of smoked malts. As its the ABV that renders itself like smoke from a fire smoldering in your head. It builds slowly at first, filling your head gradually with smoke, eventually, and before you know it your head is a blaze of swimming glee from the ABV. Wow, one sneaky fuckin beer! Watch out for this one, be sure to drink water to help slow the smoke. Whew...

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Photo of Duffman
4.7/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From the Surly Darkness Release Party. Small plastic sample cup.

Appearance: Minimal toffee-brown head. Dark black in color.

Smell: Smoke and coffee overnotes, not overpowering yet formidable all the same. Warm and inviting in its subtlety.

Taste: Extraodinarily smooth and pleasingly sweet. The smoke is prominent, though not as much so as was expected (as with the O'Fallon's Smoked Porter) and along with the coffee notes dominates the flavor. Lubricious maltiness, reminds me of the lingering taste of a quality scotch, Glen Garioch 8 Years Old perhaps with its smooth smokiness, but maltier. Teasing notes of alchohol flavor near the end. The body is smooth and broad.

Drinkability: With its smoothness and surprisingly subdued alcohol taste this is an incredibly drinkable beer. I could drink this all day as inviting as it is. Unfortunately time and a full stomach kept me from fulfilling all of my 5 sample drinks at the surly event.

A phenomenal brew from Surly. Delightfully drinkable and versatile. A departure from the traditional Surly style, though more than welcome. hoppinessI would welcome this beer anytime time of the year.

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Photo of Sebowski
4.7/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Looks good
Smells like a good balance of smoke and chocolate
Tastes great. My palate is playing tricks on me. Skipping from chocolate to smoke and back and forth and back and forth.
Great mouthfeel.Very easy going down but rich on the tongue. Good stuff.
Overall I really like this. Been craving some smoke and this is doing the job. Surly hits another one out of the park for me.

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Photo of bobsy
4.69/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Huge thanks to Russ for bringing this beer over! The cap is hidden under a crazy amount of wax, but its well worth the effort.

Dark brown body, bordering on black, but betrayed by ruby highlights. A small tan head quickly drops to a film leaving only the odd spot of lace. The nose is intriguing, bringing well-integrated smoke to a mixture of dark fruit, molasses, chocolate, brown bread and alcohol. Smells fantastic. The tastes is heavenly, with a great smoked chocolate character, and a profound depth of chocolate flavour. This is more than complemented by prunes, earth, molasses, light roast and vinous notes. Complex, but well balanced, with the smoke as well-integrated as you could hope for. Medium bodied with a creamy carbonation.

Awesome, awesome beer! Thanks again Russ!

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Photo of jjfancybeers
4.67/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

draught @Firkin (Libertyville, IL)



Lingering, tan head. Opaque. Yep...grillsmoke and roasted malt in the nose. Creamy chocolate/+/hops upfront. Subtle smoke in an otherwise warm finish. Strong. Tasty. Want to pair it with ...smoked venison summer sausage.

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Photo of Derek
4.67/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Black with a tan head, thin ring of retention, light lacing.

S: Smoky, coffee, chocolate, demerara/molasses licorice.

T: Truly exceptional. Just try this!

Bakers chocolate, molasses, dark roasted coffee, dark bread, hint of lagery sulfur, smoky spice.

M: Extremely smooth, moderate body, off-dry finish.

D: I could drink this all night, but I'd surly regret it in the morning.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.65/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap, (at the Blue Nile) in a Big Ass Tripel Karmeliet glass, why the hell not...
Black as it gets, with a roasty tanned head. Looks absolutely perfect for the style.

Smoked malt from Bamberg in this, and it wafts out slyly, but confidently. There’s bacon down there, but I get salmon as well....mmm, smokey!

Taste: mmm, a beautiful mix of the roasted chocolate malts, the deep, dark fruits, like raisin and plum, but so smooth. The smoke aspect is just sliding along in the flavor, not a dominant aspect at all, but it hangs in there and never lets you forget it. The strength is sneaky, too, you don’t get hit on the head, but it creeps up on you, and invades your mind with stealth. Delicious stuff, and so easy to drink, though you have to pace it...too strong for sessioning! But you want to, you really really want to!

I have to wonder if other American brewed "Imperial Porters" are as faithful to the style and actually made as a lager, as Todd did here. How do you get this dark and this deep, with a lager? But it's a wise choice, as the flavor is there aplenty, and the mouthfeel is so smooth, so clean, so sumptuous, as well. This is one of my favorite styles, though the smoked porter variety isn't, exactly. So glad that the smoke is not intrusive, and merely in the end, a side characteristic, ...maybe the oak aging aided in the mellowing of the flavors? Whatever, it really came together in Smoke!

Really magnificent! This needs to go in bombers and blow some minds out there! Til that happens, I'm happy to drink it down on tap right here! Ahhh!!!

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Photo of natasharai
4.64/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Poured with a thin layer of head on top that is tan and a made of small bubbles. The beer is black in color and does not let any light through. The small amount of head that was in the glass dissipated after a few minutes.

Smell: Quite smokey up front, followed by a lot of roasty malts

Taste: Very nice smokey flavor balanced well with the roasted malt flavor, all finished off with a hop bitterness, verry small amount of alcohol presence.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth, not too thick and not too thin, with a small hop tingle on the tongue.

Overall: Pretty drinkable, the smoke flavor is not too overpowering, generous amount of roasted malt, there is a very nice hoppyness towards the end that gives this beer an extra bit of character.

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Photo of br3wmeister
4.64/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Dark black liquid topped with a small head that dissipates quickly leaving no lacing.

S- Lots of smokey aromas, more peat then wood smokiness. Good malty character gives is some roasted notes.

T- Some alcohol and light hop bitterness up front that is overwhelmed by smokey malts and roasted flavors. Some dark chocolate and hints of molasses come through in the middle but drops right back into the roasted smokey malt. Some alcohol warmth in the end leaving your palate with a nice smokey flavor.

M- This is a medium full bodied beer that is smooth, silky, and slightly oily. Great balance helps to keep this beer very drinkable. Almost perfect carbonation, this beer feels great in your mouth.

Overall- This is one of the best porters I have ever had and would recommend it to anyone looking for a nice smokey porter.

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Photo of copyguyadam
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First review even though I've been a BA for over a year... just wanted to get a good selection of styles in my belly before sharing my opinion. Found this rare bottle by way of "friending" my favorite liquor store on Facebook.
Let my wife have a sip (she's not a BA) and she said "mmm" and smiled.

Served via bomber into a Duvel Tulip.

A = Nice and dark, not too much head. Just right.
S = Hint of smoke. Kind of sweet... in a good way for me.
T = Warmed up nice and smoke was perfectly placed.
M = When the smoke kicks in, you don't want to swallow. I could brush my teeth with this.
D = Would prefer a smaller bottle. Seems like a lot. Took 1.5 hours to finish this big boy. I will buy this again if Surly releases it.

Another example of Surly showing us why we love them.

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Photo of mtullius
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had it on release night at the Muddy Pig, and a couple days later at the Happy Gnome.

Black and intriguing in appearance.

You'll want to take your time and really smell this one: yep, that's a bit of bacon, mixed in there with port wine, and general dark malty goodness.

You should take your time drinking it, too, though that's hard to do-- it gets better as it warms (and it was served quite cold both times I had it). Definite smoke character, but it's subtle (thank goodness). Dark fruit, dark chocolate, all kinds of dark and mysterious flavors happening in this beer.

I found the mouthfeel very satisfying-- appropriately chewy for such a high-alcohol, high-complexity brew.

This is highly drinkable, dangerous even. Another triumph for the geniuses at Surly. Bring on the "two"!!

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at Cafe Twenty Eight. This beer is an opaque black color. The head was small when the beer arrived, but a nice cap of lacing lasted until the beer was gone. The aroma is immense. Smoke bacon, maple syrup, burnt caramel, and bitter chocolate. The taste is as large as the aroma. The smoked flavors are prevalent, but are well balanced with the beers other attributes. The mouthfeel is full bodied, silky in texture, and has light carbonation. Overall, this is a beer to contemplate. I would certainly drink this again.

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Photo of Chasmill70
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

a- Thick, tan head persists well. Black color.

s - Smoke and dark fruit. Malty sweetness. Really nice aroma that starts by overpowering smoke but moves to the Baltic porter character.

t - Taste is similar to smell...on first sip I thought it was WAY too smoke forward. But each sip after seemed more and more balanced. The smoke perfectly compliments the dark fruit, roast, and malt.

m - The highlight of the beer. It's rich and velvety.

o - This is a darn good Raucbier! It really hides the 8% alcohol, which could be dangerous in a bomber. I'm glad I gave it a chance beyond the first sip...each sip has been better than the last!

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Photo of stealth
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served from a bottle to a tulip.

This is the first and only 'smoked' beer I've had. 'Drinking a campfire' was what came to mind immediately. Smelled like a campfire. I thought the wife would smell my clothes and ask where I was after I drank this. Very immersive experience that made me want to go out and make some smores. I can't say I was crazy about the taste overall, but man, the great smell, great smooth mouthfeel really made it a nice.

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Photo of alexgash
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle. 2010 vintage.

Pours a dark, inky brown-black. Sticky, dense, khaki brown head. Good lacing. Wonderful nose of peaty, smoky, meaty, roasty, caramel-y, coffeeish malts. Well-balanced and very inviting.

Roasted, toasted malt up front. Light coffee bitterness is there as well. Palate soon swells with a mix of sweet and smoky. Smoked meats, campfire, and peat blend nicely with caramel, dark fruits, and chocolate. Long finish with lingering smoke and chocolate-caramel. Roasted bitterness is there is well. Medium-full body with a chewy, yet creamy feel. Delicious!

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Photo of AdmiralDiaz
4.61/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the Blue Nile for the Surly Three release party.

A: Very dark brown with lighter edges, no head at all but I'm going to call that the bartenders fault.

S: Burnt coffee and smokeiness with strong roasted malts and strong molasses.

T: Highly roasted malts upfront that subside into pure smoked flavor rolling into a bitter roasted coffee finish. Excellent, this brew knows what it wants to be and pulls it off perfectly. With so much smokey and roasted tones it stays very well balanced between precise flavors. Best Baltic Porter I've had!

Overall: Very good porter, nice arbonation and very enjoyable as far as mouthfeel goes. Highly drinkable beer as well, the alcohol doesn't come out as much as it should for such a high abv beer. One of Surly's most impressive.

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Photo of kez
4.59/5  rDev +10.9%
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!

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Photo of jgagne
4.59/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into 16 oz Funky Buddha Snifter

A- pours an opaque, oil jet black. With a nice dark brown head.

S- at the nose you get an amazing bacon, chipotle, and maple wood scent. Real intense smokey smell. Impressive.

T-great, rich tastes just layer this beer. I get intense smoke flavors with a nice under layer of dark fruit.

M- thick delicious leathery body layers your mouth. heavy and mildly carbonated.

O-another really impressive beer by Surly. Very unique and delectable. As far as smoked beers go you probably can't find a better example. World class.

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Smoke from Surly Brewing Company
4.14 out of 5 based on 897 ratings.
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