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: 896
Photo of brewskifan55
3.92/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter; Thanks, Cliff!

A: Blackish brown with a light head that dissipates quickly. Modest lacing.

S: Chocolate, smoky, anise, coffee.

T: A nice lager/smoke blend. Robust. Chocolate and coffee come through in equal proportion. Slight bitter finish.

M: Medium with medium carbonation. Semi-chewy.

O: An interesting combo of lager and stout. An all-day sipper.

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Photo of Duff27
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thin short lasting head on a dark brown body. Minimal lacing.

Strong smoke/peaty aromas.

Highly drinkable for such strong smoke flavor.

Medium mouthfeel, good carbonation.

Pairs well with ghost pepper cheese, I think. If they sold this in 4 pack cans...that would be awesome!!! Thanks Elliott.

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Photo of ehammond1
3.97/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle (2011)

Acquired via trade
Thanks, stig!

Dark brown with a small dark brown head which leaves irregular cling down the glass.

Aroma of smoke, slight meat character, mild roast, and some vanilla sweetness combine nicely.

The flavor is well-balanced, especially for a smoked beer. Often, I feel the smoke is far to dominant in beers like this, but this has enough roast, malt, and sweetness present to balance everything out. Smoke-forward, without dominating.

Medium bodied with moderate-high carbonation.

A very nice beer that made Elaine's home-made pulled pork sandwiches even better!

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Photo of zeledonia
3.86/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2011 vintage, bottled in the fall of 2011. Tasted 9 September 2012, reviewed from notes.

Pours very dark brown, almost black. As it's pouring, it looks thinner than I'd expect. About one finger of deep mocha-tan head.

Smell is like a campfire after it's burned out. Charred wood, light wispy wood-smoke. Yes, it's nice smoke, but I really can't smell anything else in it.

Taste is a lot fuller than the smell, with more coming through than just the smoke. More porter richness, and that porter is complemented well by the smoke. Feels more like partially-burned wood, rather than just the char leftovers. Here, the smoke is integrated well, rather than being the only element.

Mouthfeel is medium-heavy. Moderate carbonation.

It's called Smoke, so I expected that, but I was hoping for more, especially from the smell. A woody smoke, not meaty or salty. Want more porter, though. More richness, or more sweetness, or more of something other than smoke. An interesting beer, but not one I'll feel compelled to drink all that often.

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Photo of Goblinmunkey7
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Very dark brown. Almost black. Tiny light tan collar. Almost no head to speak of even after a rather vigorous pour.

Smell: Huge smoked malts. Almost borders on bacon levels of smoke. Some char and burnt malts as well. Deeply roasted. Some coffee and chocolate notes. Sweet and roasty. Smoked like whoa.

Taste: Smoked. Bacon bits. Mild earthy hops. Some coffee and chocolate. Cocoa powder. Dry maltiness. Incredible smokiness. Burnt, charred. Roasty sweet. As it warms the flavors begin to meld. Smokiness plays well with the sweeter malt base. Minimal hopping. So meaty. It's confusing my brain.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with a slightly below average carbonation.

Overall: I don't remember this being so smoky. Regardless, it's tasty. Surly crafts some aggressive, yet drinkable stuff.

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Photo of yamar68
3.91/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 750 to Surly coffee mug, 2011 vintage:

Pours a near pitch black with two fingers of light brown head that lasts a few minutes before receding to a collar that produces some average lacing.

Still a shit load of smoke on the nose. Not nearly is faded as I'd imagined. A bit of dark fruit and woody character as well.

While the nose is still pretty beefy, the smoke has faded considerably on the tongue which is what I was hoping for. various brown ale qualities have surfaced to balance out the aggressive barbecue profile.

Overall, an extremely unique beer. Not my favorite beer from Surly but it definitely showcases their creative potential.

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Photo of vandemonian
3.7/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Surly Smoke is a smoky dark beer. It's malty and smoky. There isn't much else happening here.

A: Black colour and a 5 mm head that fades. 4

S: Nice smoky smell. Duh. 4

T: Malty with some earthiness. There is also a lot of smoke in the aroma. 3.5.

M: Foamy 4

O: 3.5

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Photo of Humulus85
4.44/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a 750mL into my Darkness snifter. 2011 vintage

Pours a motor oil black, with a nice two finger dark khaki head. Decent retention with very little lacing.

Smells of deep dark malts, peat, smoke, mesquite and alcohol in that order. The smoke smell is much stronger when the beer is cold.

Taste follows the nose. Wonderful Baltic Porter flavors upfront with a hefty, but not overpowering, smokey peat notes. Layers of sweet robust malts, dark fruits, toffee, hints of cocoa and coffee. The peat malts really round things out and add a dimension that is very intriguing. Moderate amount of alcohol in the finish.

Medium to heavy in body, and honestly lighter than I had expected it to be. Smooth and creamy in texture, with balanced but slightly sweet finish. Medium to low carbonation. Surprisingly drinkable.

Overall this was a beer that grew on me as I sipped. I think I started this one out too warm and the smoke flavors were a bit much. As it warmed up it really mellowed out and everything blended together. Todd from Surly really knows what he is doing and keeps putting out style defying and expertly crafted beers. Recommended to any fan of dark, malty beers, or any BA looking to try something one-of-a-kind. Cheers!

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Photo of Sammy
4.02/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Extremely smooth and creamy mouthfeel, with a signficant and controlled smokey taste, with the porter complexty behind it.Great smoked, although not as bold tasting a baltic porter as I would expect. The beer is really a cross between the two. Smoke aroma.

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Photo of brystmar
4.01/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Arguably my least favorite styles brewed by one of my favorite breweries. Smell tells me I won't like this beer: tons of smoke, a little roasty, more smoke. And I don't like smoked beers...

Fortunately the taste isn't smoke-forward. Mildly smokey, but tons of roast and malt are at the forefront. Thin-ish body still works given the lower carbonation. I really like this.

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Photo of n2185
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours black with half a finger of tan head that fades into a thin ring with no lacing.

S: Lots of smoked malts up front with dark fruits like plums and raisins. There are black licorice notes as well.

T: Similar to the aroma, lots of smoked malts at first reminiscent of bacon and BBQ. There are dark fruits as well with black licorice.

M: Medium-thick body with medium carbonation, this beer is pleasantly (and relatively) light in body with enough carbonation to accentuate the smoke characters well.

O: A tasty beer overall with an odd, but tasty, mix of flavors and aromas. Really enjoyable and super smokey.

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Photo of zaphodchak
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thin light brown head. Opaque dark brown body.

Deep, smoky nose with a bit of soy sauce. Kinda gouda-ish, a bit Swiss.

Woody and a tad bitter with the same soy from the nose, rich, and some of the dry cheese (is that a thing?) character.

Thinnish mouthfeel but not bad.

Nice smokey baltic porter, big flavor and powerful body.

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Photo of Tilley4
4.27/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not sure who I got this bottle from but I've had it for a little while... Pouring it into a CBS snifter this evening...

Wow, the smoked meat aromas coming off of this are intense to say the least... Not overdone though, just really intense... almost like walking into a smokehouse with bacon and ham everywhere... There's also quite a bit of campfire to this as well... an earthy quality to the smoke brings to mind sitting around a campfire on a chilly autumn evening with the sun slowly setting...

A plethora of flavor sensations on the palate... The smoke, of course, but I'm also getting this tobacco/leather thing here... as well as some chocolate but just a little... This is a delicious Baltic Porter for sure... It's intense, a touch boozy... thick enough on the palate to hold up... a sipper though, for sure...

This is one terrific beer...The aromas were heavenly and this was a real pleasure to drink... A very good effort from Surly...

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Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer jet black with big notes of bacon, smoke and charcoal. It would be excellent with BBQ. For a baltic porter some of the nuance of the style is lost in the smoke, but it's still super smooth and drinkable. The aftertaste is a slightly bitter chocolate. Very drinkable beer, but something is slightly off in the follow through.

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Photo of msubulldog25
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle with a well-detailed screen printed label and a thick coating of silvery wax atop. After a near-bloody mishap with the utility knife, the cap was revealed and removed with a hiss. Poured to a pint glass. Received in trade from rudylaw several months back; it's been cellared ever since.

A: Deep darkness, a heavy chocolate brown with a ruby tint at the edges. Closer inspection shows a scattering of speedy bubbles. Head is short despite a strong pour, cresting at maybe half a finger. The sandy-tan cream on top is nice-looking, but ebbs pretty quickly, holding as a thin crescent with a smear of film. A few flecks of lace.

S: Not the boldest Baltic in terms of its fruity esters and cocoa malts, but it's robust enough. A beer called 'Smoke' had better include some of its namesake; fortunately it does well. A sweeter charcoal and mesquite kind of scent, not too pungent, drapes over those malts. It's subtly meaty, or gamey... even a touch peppery. Nice.

T: Rich cocoa/fudge, semi-sweet. A vague mineral tang, slightly chalky. Blackberry jam and an earthy blueberry, too. Woody beginnings lead to ashy ember finishes. In the middle is a light char that teases my taste buds into believing a juicy pulled pork sandwich or seasoned brisket is next on the menu. Light-handed smokiness is nearly perfect here.

M: Medium body, excellent mouthfeel, wonderfully creamy and dense. Carbonation is there, but it's so well refined that there barely seems to be a prickle. A very fine grainy coating and sticky malt but these serve to let flavors linger on the palate in a way that doesn't detract whatsoever. Alcohol is 8.2%? Could have fooled me...

O: Pretty much as good as I'd hoped for. Surly brews some damn terrific beers and this is no exception. I've had Baltics with lots of sweetness or loads of spice, but never one so savory. And I'll be savoring memories of this for a while. Its complexities (and subtleties) make it a joy to sip and one I'd very much like to have again. Thanks, Anthony!

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to mnbearsfan for this one! Been looking forward to trying it for a while.

A: Pours dark with a small bubbly head, decent retention eventually reducing to a ring of foamy bubbles on top. Sporadic lacing.

S: Some chocolate and roasted malt, a nice amount of dark fruit - plum and some cherry. The smoky aroma is faint coming through as a hint of bacon.

T: A little bit of sweet roasty malt upfront mixed in some chocolate and a little bit of oak. Some more of the plum and raisins come out as it warms with a touch of licorice. The smoke is very complimentary, not overpowering at all like it is in many smoke beers.

M: A little bigger than medium bodied, moderate carbonation. Great level of smoke.

O: Very impressed. Very drinkable, no sign of the abv at all. Perfect level of smoke.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this beer in a trade with chewyrx08. Thanks Mike!

vintage 2010.

poured into oversized snifter.

Appearance: dark black bodied beer with a 1 finger tall whitish/tan colored head. Drops to a moderate cap full of large bubbles. Decent lace on the side of the glass.

Smell: This baltic porter smells delightful. Chocolate and roasty malts with a nice balance of smokiness. The smoke smells mildly meaty like bacon, charcoal, and a campfire.

Taste: Its starts off like a solid baltic porter and finishes smokey! Great balance between the baltic porter and the smokiness; it tastes similiar to the nose. Mild chocolate sweetness from the malts to start things off. Little bit of roast and black licorice. A little bit of woody and earthy note probably from the oak barrel and hops. The smoke comes in about mid palate and blends nicely with the malty profile of this beer. The smoke is a little bacony and also has a nice charred quality to it. The finish is very balanced with mild milk chocolate and smoke notes lingering pleasantly. This beer start to show some fruitiness as it warms to room temperature.

Mouthfeel: medium boided beer with moderate carbonation. Really smooth and drinkable at over 8%; not a hint of booze. Carbonation is right where you would want it for this beer. The beer is mildly creamy and it has a mild dry finish.

Overall: Surly makes fantastic dark beers. Surly Four is my favorite beer from this brewery and Surly Smoke is not far behind it. This beer is also probably the best baltic porter and the best smoked beer that I have ever drank! Bravo Surly; you guys nailed this beer!

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Photo of warnerry
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Batch into a snifter

A - Pours very deep brown/black with two fingers of light brown head. Head has decent retention, leaving some lacing behind.

S - Wow. Smoke is right. Very smoky aroma with a nice oak presence. Hard to get much more than smoked malt and peat. Faint bacon aroma.

T - While the smell was good, the taste is much more complex and enjoyable. Yes, smoke and wood still play a large part, but there is much more here, including chocolate, raisin and faint plum, even a small amount of sweetness. Finish is quite smoky.

M - Mouthfeel is wonderfully creamy, with the smoke/char and a nice earthy dryness on the finish.

O - I'm always a little leery of smoked beers, and the smell had me a bit concerned that this would be one dimensional, but the flavors here are wonderful and balanced. Excellent brew.

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Photo of birchstick
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black in color with a small, chocolaty head. Nose is chcoloate malts enveloped by a rich smokiness. Taste is true to the nose. Starts off with a nice chocolate malt profile that ha a touch of grains. This moves into a deeper, richer chocolate flavor that is really nice. Next up is a nice touch of smokey meatiness (more smoke than meat). Finishes with lingering meats. Mouth is full bodied with good carbonation. This is a solid, solid beer. Takes rauchbier to a nice level, as the smoke is in the background, not the forefront, complementing rather than dominating the pallet. One of the better in the Surly lineup, IMO.

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Photo of challenja
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Served On Tap at Surly Tap Takeover at Church Key DC

This is going to be a weird review, I was umm.. pretty...ughhhh done but take this review for what it's worth.

This smells like my uncles house who loves to smoke Marlboro reds and BBQ out back. Gourmet chef style.
This taste like if I ate my uncles living room but in a good way. Great memories.
It's smoked meat heavy. Lovely salt rine.
Smoked charcoal oak barrels. Dark burnt cask malts.
The tingle left in mouth is like a comforting flannel shirt. Definitely unique.

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Photo of Scotchboy
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 bottling from an awesome BA (thanks man!) poured into pint nonics.

A: Thin black, red hues, a fingers-worth of tan head leaves some decent lacing.

S: Smoke and oak...light rich fruitiness, toasted malt...the Baltic Porter here unfolds delicately and mixes well with the oak aging.

T: Smoky roasted malt, burnt caramel, a lagerish-fruity component, lighter chocolate notes, a bit of lip-smacking bacon and campfire, damp earthiness, with oak balancing well.

MF: Thinner medium mouthfeel, a bit oily and dry from the smoke component but bolstered by creaminess from the oak.

O: Pretty good, could have gone higher as I liked it but I'll stick with a 4. Thanks a ton Aaron!

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Photo of craytonic
3.53/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-draft at Churchkey DC

Apperance: very dark pour, not quite black, decent head and lacing

Smell: Roasted malts, very smokey in an aggressive/bad way, dark fruits

Taste: Roasted malts, smoke, bitter chocolate, dark fruits, dried meats, salt

Mouthfeel: medium body, perhaps slightly under-carbonated

Overall: Too much smoke, salt and meat.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured on tap into a small snifter at Churchkey DC.

Head really falls quickly on this one, so fast I could have barely time to register it, a faint tan collar is left. A dark walnut brown body color, red edges, with a sense of clarity and see through appearances all be it dark.

Woah what's that smell! Is this Heller Trum? This smells like classic Marzen rauchbier. Beechwood smoke, a faint sense of milk chocolate like a Russian Imperial Stout as well. What a great mix this is! It's like cocoa beans on fire!

Palate matches the nose, and it's balanced nicely. Creamy texture, but also strangely a hint of wetness, with velvet milk chocolate. Smoke hits, I get the sense of roasted nuts while drinking this. Finish is even salty, I call almonds, however there's a little novocaine/band aid action here. Luckily that doesn't take over, but it is "just" noticeable enough.

Overall though this is really delicious. If they somehow get the novocaine action nixed or controlled this beer would be a serious winner. Very different and unique brew, and the beer has that one lacking character that many don't have, it's just flat out fun.

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Photo of alpinebryant
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark oil can black / brown with a thick mocha head. Little to no lacing.

S: Plenty of alderwood smoked malt mixing with a baltic porter malt sweetness of not fully attenuated wort.

T: Nice bacon smoke flavors with very sweet malt presence, a slightly dry finish despite this being a baltic porter that was lagered. From all of the baltic porter (lagered) beers that I have had, this one seems to be the most well attenuated. Gonzo being my favorite baltic porter with a thicker body and more flavors mixing in, this is a close second. This clearly focuses more on the smoke aspect and is a little smoother than Gonzo. This is nearly a beer that could be sessioned despite the high abv. The smoke levels seem just about right , not overwhelming and not too weak.

M: Medium to light mouthfeel for the style. Every other example of this style has been slightly thicker, but this seems to be more well attenuated / not too many unfermented sugars present.

O: I like it, it only took three years to get a bottle after a little bit of effort but it is definitely enjoyable.

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Photo of oline73
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours a dark mahogany color with a layer of off white head that fades to a ring around the edge of the glass.

Smell: Slightly sweet and smokey with some dark fruit notes. Nice combination of things going on here.

Taste: Smokey and sweet, but not over the top in either way. Doesn't seem too strong. Malty with some dark fruit. The finish is sweet and smokey, like the rest of the sip.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with a lot of smooth carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: I thought this was a very nice beer. Not overly sweet or smokey, yet all the promised flavors were there. Very tasteful.

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Smoke from Surly Brewing Company
4.14 out of 5 based on 896 ratings.
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