Smoke | Surly Brewing Company

286 Reviews
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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 vette2006c5r
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

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Photo of reebtaerG
4.36/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had on draft 4oz pour into snifter at churchkey on 5/8/14

A-Pours a dark brownish black with tan head.

S-Aromas of smoke, tobacco,and chocolate. Feels like you are at a campfire.

T-Tasting notes of smoke, roast, malts, tobacco, light chocolate.

M-Mouthfeel gives a medium-full body with a dry finish. Decent carbonation

O-Overall quite surprised loved the smoke aroma and flavor.

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Photo of Carb-Overlord
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This is a very well made smoked porter. The smell is simply wonderful; soaked hickory on your hot coals smell! Sort of makes me hungry when I get a whiff. The smell is appetizing, but the smoke flavor is subtle and in no way overpowers the porter, what I feel is a big danger in smoked beers.

A: A rich dark black with an initial tan head that foams down to a crisp thin line.

S: Like my grill when I throw a handful of soaked hickory chips on those hot coals with a splash of yeasty chocolate in the back of the sinus.

T: Very interesting progression of flavors; initial bitterness (interesting for a porter) but it quickly mellows into a more chocolate smoothness and finishes with a smoky after taste. Again, when you breath deeply from your glass there is such a rich smoky scent, but the flavor itself doesn't overshadow the rich flavors comprising the base of a very good porter. Well done Surly.

M: I personally like my porters a little more smooth, the carbonation was a little too in my face to make this aspect outstanding.

O: Great smoked porter. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys the pleasure of smoke flavor in their food or drink. Quite enjoyable.

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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 jbaker67
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep, dark cola brown pour with khaki head. Nose is a nice mix of salty smoke and sweet cherry-type smoke along with refined roast malt, cocoa powder, and faint fruit esters. Flavor is a gentle salty/sweet smoke mix, bittersweet chocolate, soft roasted malt, and some mild dark fruit. Lingering bittersweet chocolate, and to a lesser extent, charcoal.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
3.1/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

A-Pours a very dark brown. Head bubbles up and fades. The head was also quite dark. Lighter lacing.

S-Obvious smokiness. Campfire. Rauchbier. Salty, cured meat. Struggling to acquire much else behind the smoke...I know there's a Porter there somewhere.

T-Flavor is exceedingly smoky, of course. More of the Porter elements come out here. A bit peaty as well. Pretty one dimensional.

M-Surprisingly light in body. Alcohol hidden well. The smoke coats the tongue a bit.

O/D-I wasn't enamored with this beer. Over the top smokiness. I was expecting a bit more diversity in the flavor profile.

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Photo of falloutsnow
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

From: France44 dot com
Date: 2012 edition (available in 2013)
Glass: Founders snifter

Surly's Smoke was a good baltic porter, definitely taking the smoke-caramel-raisin flavors as the main inspiration and dropping most of the roasted malt and cocoa elements in some other versions of the style. While I enjoyed the beer and certainly would not hesitate to have another, I don't think I'd go out of my way to purchase this fairly expensive ($14) 750ml bottle again, as I can find nearly the same flavors in the darker Aecht Schlenkerla offerings.

Pours a 1cm tall head of grey-beige-colored foam, made up of small and large-sized bubbles. Retention is average, the foam lasting about one minute in decline to a thin ring around the perimeter of the glass and a small island of filmm drifting atop the beer. Lacing is minor, with a few small dots and lines clinging to the glass' walls. Body is a dark brown to black color, with light bringing out slight burnt orange hues around the perimeter of the beer. Carbonation visible along the sides of the glass as the body is opaque, fairly low in number and activity.

Aroma of smoke that is substantially mellowed by oak aging, with attendant scents of raisins, dark caramel-like sweetness, and faint charred toast and cocoa.

Front of palate experiences dark caramel sweetness with notable smoke and a bit of charred toast. Mid-palate of smoke atop a heavy and dark caramel sweetness, raisins, prunes, and modest cocoa. Back of palate tastes diminished smoke, increased charred toast and cocoa, raisins, prunes, and a bit of anise and ethanol. Aftertaste of dark caramel-like sweetness, charred toast, lingering light smokiness, raisins, and ethanol.

Beer is medium to medium-heavy in body with carbonation of medium-low to low intensity, resulting in a smooth (4/5), somewhat foamy (1/5) mouthfeel that makes it easy to sip this fairly substantial beer, as it should be. Ethanol can be felt as a light burn on the back of the throat and a little heat in the nostrils, a bit disappointing for an 8% lager beer. Closes dry, with medium to medium-light stickiness clinging to the palate.

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Photo of Vonerichs
4.26/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Dark cola, almost black color. Minimal head with a persistent surface coating.

Light smoked malt, black licorice, cocoa, sugar plum aromas.

The sweet and smoke meld well. Cocoa and black licorice play with earthy tobacco and dark fruit.

Phenomenal mouthfeel. Smooth and creamy, mild carbonation. Soft.

A great smoked beer. The smoke doesn't dominate and gives all the other layers a chance to shine.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle, with 2013 vintage date. Bottle #8834 it appears. Snagged this guy from the local beer store about a month or so ago and have been holding it down for a little while. My first big bottle from Surly, and I'm excited to have it.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter.

A - Pours a dark cola color; opaque black in the glass with three big fluffy fingers of tan head. Hardly any lacing aside from a few streaks. Looks pretty nice.

S - Smell is of chocolate malt, some dark roast, cream, subtle smoke / char / bacon fat aroma, hint of woodiness, some lager yeast / mustiness, and some underlying dark fruitiness on the finish reminiscent of dates or black currants. Pretty pleasant aroma.

T - Tastes very nice, also. I have to admit I was expecting a ridiculous smoke bomb based on the name, but the smoked malt / char notes take the backseat. Smooth creamy chocolate malt, some dark bitter roast, hints of vanilla, subtle smoke / char, and some mild alcohol warmth on the finish.

M - Feel is smooth and creamy. Medium bodied with good carbonation. Not too thick, heavy, or bloating. Finishes with light stickiness and dryness. Very good drinkability.

Overall, I thought it was very nicely done. I haven't been a big fan of the smoked beers I've had in the past, but this one was nicely done. The smoke was well integrated with the rest of the flavors and wasn't overpowering or distracting. Good drinkability, and even on the lighter side of things, especially for a dark beer for an 8.20% abv. Recommended.

Surly Smoke Lager ---4/5.

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Photo of Jparker37
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into a

A - Opaque black. Tight tan head holds a solid two fingers. Lacing is pretty minimal.

S - Nice raw traditional rauchbier smokiness. Blended inside are some soft chocolate aromas. Great balance to the dimensions.

T - Porter like roastiness. Caramel sweetness midway along with smokey flavors lead into a bittering effect later from those burnt tannins.

M - Medium-full body, semi-sweet, medium-light carbonation.

O - Looks great. Drives home those aromas. Flavor shows much more complexity and the bitterness is derived from smoke and burnt malts. Body is adequate and drinks with a little bit of enjoyed sweetness.

Judgement - Absolutely worth a try and if smoked porters are your thing, pick up a few.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.78/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750ml brown glass bottle with silver wax over a standard pressure cap acquired in Minneapolis and served into a Guinness stem-goblet glass in me parents’ gaff in high altitude Castle Rock, Colorado during my annual Christmas tasting. Reviewed live. 2012 vintage. Expectations are very high given the brewery. 8.2% ABV confirmed. Reviewed as a baltic porter because the label identifies it as such.

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

A: No bubble show forms as it’s poured.

Pours an one finger wide head of khaki colour. Nice thickness and creaminess. Smooth even consistency. Soft complexion. Little lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes. Head retention is pretty good - about 5+ minutes.

Body colour is an opaque dark solid black. No floating yeast particles are visible.

Overall, it’s an appealing appearance for the style. I’m really looking forward to trying it.

Sm: Heavy smoke character. Dark malts. Smoked malts. Caramel. Light ash. None of the smoked meat or pork notes of a rauchbier are here. Smoke is dominant, true to its epithet.

No hop character, yeast character, or alcohol is detectable. No spice.

A pleasant if somewhat chaotic aroma of moderate to high strength.

T: Smoke is very well integrated into the dark malt base. The smoked malts really shine here. There's no harshness, but there is some ashen character. Good depth of flavour. Average duration and intensity of flavour. Caramel. Faint cocoa/chocolate. Nice complexity, but there's room for improvement. It's certainly well balanced; the smoke doesn't overwhelm the other notes, which is impressive and hard to accomplish. A nuanced build, but not an intricate one. It's quite cohesive, but not quite gestalt.

No hop character or yeast character comes through. Alcohol presence is quite timid.

It's one hell of a lager. Very approachable for a smokey beer.

Mf: Smooth and wet. A bit ashy/rough in brief patches. It has a light coarseness which helps coax out the smoke a bit more. Unrefreshing. Good presence on the palate. Quite approachable. Good body.

Not oily, astringent, gushed, hot, or boozy.

Dr: A very drinkable brew for the high ABV. If you fancy you some smoke, this is a good brew to try. Surly continues to deliver quality beers. I could kill this bottle alone with ease. Very likable stuff. I'd definitely get it again. I'm not sure if the smoke faded with age, but there's plenty of smokey character here even after a year.

Low B+

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Photo of Stir-the-pot-guy
3.99/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A- Dark with a creamy white head(with an agressive pour)....not quite a stout darkness but darn close

S- Smokiness that does not dominate but compliments roasted malts and dark fruit notes of the beer

T- Vegans might be conviced someone slipped some slow cooked ham or thick cut bacon into your beer...with that and the complimentary dark fruit notes of raisen, fig and prune this beer burst with complexity as is warms

M- silky smooth with no detection of the 8.2 abv. Aftertaste that lets you continue to enjoy the complex flavors of this beer without it leaving you the feeling you need to rinse, spit and then repeat

O- I had a bad experience with a smoked beer from a macro brew so I came in skeptical....but again Surly shows why they're the pride of Minnesota Breweries. A smoke beer that can be completely miss handled and they are able to balance the smokiness with the rich flavors of raisen, fig, licorice, and that slight molasses sweetness.I recommend you let this beer begin to warm before you are really able to enjoy the full flavor experience of this beer.

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Photo of PHBoiler
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Dark brown almost black with a fairly agressive brown head. Roast, dark chocolate, and light smoke on the nose. Really balanced beer. Tastes primarily of roasted espresso and dark chocolate. Smoke level is minimal and actually helps round/sweeten the beer a bit. The base is very well made and has the exact lager mouthfeel that a baltic porter should.

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Photo of JamesMN
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 vintage.

Appearance: Clean black body with a one finger light tan frothy head.

Aroma: Soft dark malt. With a year of age on it the smoke is barely detectable and yet still there.

Taste: Explosion of toasted malt and mild hop bitterness upon the first sip. Great dark malt flavors edging on milk chocolate and iced coffee but without any immense sweetness or harshness to the taste. The smoke is quite tame here compared to drinking it fresh but does a great job of keeping a balance among the flavors. Nice oak flavor in there. The 8.2% ABV is unnoticeable but packs the right amount of robustness. No off-flavors, which is rare to say about a mid-range ABV beer that went unopened for over a year.

Mouthfeel: Just above medium in body and slippery smooth. Very drinkable.

Final Thoughts: Having had both the fresh and aged version of Smoke it's hard to say which one was more enjoyable. The solution would be to buy two bottles every year for further drinking--analysis. Would I drink it again? Yes, I've never understood how this beer does not garner the same reputation as Surly's other seasonal releases.

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Photo of pourmeadrink
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The first sniffs out of the glass are heavy with smoke. You get that burning wood aroma, like being around a meat smoker. The color was a dark brown that was moderately translucent. A thin tan head capped this beer off and dissipated quickly.

I have never really found a smoked beer that I am hog-wild over. Mostly, I think they taste like liquid Slim Jim's. I found this bottle at a store on clearance and knew well enough to just buy it without asking. I was pleasantly surprised.

The first taste is filled with that woody smoke from the aroma. As it washes over the pallet, the more complex flavors begin to shine. First was that meaty jerky flavor. Next came a warm boozy wooden taste. As it warmed and I continued to drink, the nuance began to become more noticeable. The bottle claims a fig, raisin and plum taste. They weren't kidding. There was a very earthy date and fig taste with the mild sweetness of raisins, mostly on the finish.

I was happy with this beer, though it is one I only wanted a bit of and not often. I would love to see this in smaller bottles so that I didn't feel like I wasted so much of something that had such a complex tone to it, overall. It was sippable, not drinkable. Smoke was a beer I will keep an eye out for in the future. As for the rest of the bottle? It just got used to make some beef jerky. Yep, I said it. Stay tuned for that post next week. Never let a good beer go to waste.

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Photo of Dope
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2010 vintage. Thanks Scotchboy!

A: Not-quite-pitch-black pour with a good sized and dense chocolate milk-colored head. Head fades nice and slow, leaving almost completely solid walls of lacing behind. Great retention.

S: Certainly lives up to its name. Smells like a forest a good way. Decent milk chocolate backs it up, especially when swirled.

T: Lots of sweet milk chocolate up front with some mild smokiness to round it out. Hints of dark fruit floating around. Sweetness runs out in the finish, leaving a more acrid smoke this with a bunch of savory umami. BBQ'd meat basically. Dry, bittersweet chocolate finish.

M: Nice medium and smooth body.

O: Tasty baltic porter for sure. Given the age, the smokiness is not bad at all. Instead of being at the forefront it's more of a complementary flavor, adding a layer of complexity. One of the best "smoked" beers I've ever had and a delicious baltic porter to begin with. Well integrated and balanced flavors leads to a very tasty and drinkable beer.

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Photo of facundoCNB
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a deep brown almost black pour with a perfect 2 fingers of tan head which diminished to 1/2" for the majority of the session. nice amounts of lacing left behind by head. a chocolate aroma takes most of the credit in this one, notes of licorice, dark roast, smokey. sweet chocolate flavor up front and BOOM you get hit by the smoked flavors which seem to battle with the sweet malt for a bit, and then the smoke lingers until the next sip. a medium body creamy beer with medium carbonation.

i wasn't sure what to expect from SMOKE.. after having a few smoked beers from jester king lately, i thought it would be something like that (a light colored beer).. i'd compare it to stone's smoked porter in style, but it's nothing like that either.. think of it as a smoked stout almost, just my two cents.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.82/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2012 vintage. Thanks to Jeff for this one. 750ml waxed bottle into a Founders snifter. Shared with schen9303.

Pours a 1 finger coarse cream colored head with moderate retention. Beer is an opaque pitch black. Lacing is patchy, layered and thick. Thin legs. A real nice looking beer.

The nose lives up to the name. Molasses, brown sugar, roasted malt, cocoa powder, and loads and loads and loads of smoke. Some bitter chocolate too. Weird but decent for the style... which I'm defining as a smoked beer.

Opens sweet molasses, roasted malt, chocolate, booze, and smoke. Like smoky maple bacon. More smoke and roast in the middle with fudge and chocolate sweetness to balance things out. Some dark fruit emerges right at the end. Finishes accented chocolate and cocoa. Aftertaste of maple, molasses and more smokiness. Like the nose, weird but I kinda like it.

Medium bodied with moderate to low carbonation. Smooth and robust in the mouth with a sprinkling of bubbles. Goes down smooth and oily. Finishes pretty clean with a long, lingering, sticky aftertaste. Solid.

I'm not sure why this is categorized as a baltic porter instead of a rauchbier but either way, its a strange but ultimately, pretty pleasant and very interesting offering from Surly. Smokiness is balanced nicely by the chocolate and maple/molasses sweetness. I'm glad I got around to this one. Worth trying.

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Photo of Rutager
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This 2010 bottle came from Steasy66. He's might not be a great guy, or a handsome guy, or a guy that I could look up to, but I can honestly say that he is definitely a guy ...I think.

Appearance. Pours black, but not especially thick looking with a half finger of light tan head.

Smell. Freshly doused campfire, some dark chocolate and black coffee, and a bit of ocean saltiness. Smells pretty good actually and not completely dominated by the smoke, though it is pretty strong.

Taste. Lots of smokey dark malts, a little dark chocolate, slightly salty, again in an ocean-like way. There's also a little molasses and black licorice in the finish.

Mouthfeel. Medium body with low+ carbonation.

Overall. A good smoked porter that didn't go crazy on the smoke like so many smoked beers do. I appreciate that and am enjoying this beer. Thanks Ryan (Okay, he's actually a great guy).

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.94/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Purchased from France44.

A pitch black pour with about a 2 finger head of foam.

It smells very roasty with some smoke, malty.

It taste of roasted malt, lots more smoke here than in the smell, solid semi sweet malt presence. Very dry finish. Delicious.

Medium bodied, same for the carbonation, very good mouthfeel.

A pretty strong brew though right for the style....the alcohol, imho, is hidden pretty well. A very good beer.

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Photo of bigfnjoe
3.81/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bomber into a Victory tulip

A- pours black with a one finger tan head that quickly fades to nothingness. Eh.

S- very smoky aroma. Very...bacon-esque. About what I expected, considering the damn name of the beer

T- decent bit of smoke, lots of chocolate....tasty

M- medium bodied, actually on the lighter side...strange considering how strong the flavors are

O- not bad, not bad at all...just not a very mainstream style

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Photo of cvm4
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours a sort of thin looking dark brown. Tiny one finger head & no lacing.

S - Very woodsy & smokey. Reminds me of the scent of a real smokey scotch.

T - Somewhat sweet & very smokey that leads to a good malt profile, kinda chocolatey and a touch of dark fruits.

M - Lighter body, medium carbonation. An easy drinker.

O - Purely awesome if you love smoked beer &/or scotch.

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Photo of WillCarrera
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bomber, 2012 vintage with silver wax, poured into a tulip glass.

A- Pours black with an inch of creamy, thick dark tan head, has very nice retention and leaves thick sheets of lacing.

S- Smoky wood, burnt grain and coffee, light notes of chocolate and fruit.

T- Very nice mix of smoked grain and roasted coffee flavors as well as sweeter notes of chocolate, figs, dates, and licorice. The smokiness leans more toward dry, woody smoke rather than some of the meat/bacon flavors you can sometimes get.

M- Medium to full bodied, moderate carbonation with a smooth, creamy feel.

O- A really nice beer, balances the smoky and sweet flavors, which are tasty and complex, the smoke can become a bit strong though so this is probably a beer to be split with friends.

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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 King_KongDCO93
3.86/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 bottle.

A: dark motor oil with an off white head.

S: lots of smoked aroma

T: has a nice dark roasted malt and smoke flavor. also has a good balance of coffee/cocoa. This beer taste more like a imperial stout but actually a lager. wow. The smoke flavor really comes on as you continue drinking....growing more potent.

M: wet and moist with some bitterness

O: good take on a Baltic Porter wow

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