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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Ratings: 903 |  Reviews: 287
Photo of BuckeyeOne
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Stub & Herb's (just as the snow was starting to fall)

Served in a 10 oz. snifter a silky black with only a film of head that quickly dissipated leaving no lacing at all

The aroma was more subdued than I imagined, given this was a Surly and a smoked one at that. Rather than smokiness, I picked up the roasted malt and raisins, quickly followed by the sweet vanilla from the oak. I didn't get smoke AT ALL in the nose.

While the aroma might have been subdued, the flavor was complex and delicious. Here was the smokiness, but not as stark as I imagined. The front consisted of roasted malt, dried fruits, molasses, and just a hint of chocolate and coffee. The middle consisted on a smoky sweet vanilla, that finished slightly bitter and dry. A well-conceived and executed Baltic porter. Very flavorful. Increased in complexity and satisfaction as it warmed.

Silky smooth, full-bodied, and just a bit oily. No harsh smoky aftertaste nor alcohol burn (despite the 8.2%).

Quite drinkable. As noted, the alcohol was well-masked and the smoke added character without overpowering the rest.

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

Had this twice in the past couple of weeks on tap, once at the release party and this evening at Grumpy's in NE Mpls. Poured black, very little head which dissipated fairly quickly. Slight smell of smoke and maltiness -- I had expected more but with little head and carbonation, to be expected I suppose. The smoke balanced nicely with a subtle bittersweetness. Somewhere between medium and full-bodied. The balance and creamy texture made this very easy to drink although I don't know that I'd session it. Love to see this in bottles or cans next year!

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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 billshmeinke
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip.

Pitch black with a one inch head. A ring of foam and a patch of foam in the middle.

Smells of smoke, ash, bbq and perhaps a hint of chocolate.

Tastes of smoke, ash, licorice, hints of dark fruits and chocolate. A bit of vanilla oakiness too.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied. Clean and lager like with good carbonation.

An overall good beer.

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

750ml Bottle poured into a Surly Stein (seemed appropriate).

Appearance: Pours a dark thick mahogany color, beige head.

Aroma: Smokey chocolate. Definite coffee feel. Hint of toffee.

Taste: Smokey, almost bacon like. (which is good) Coffee undertones, hint of chocolate. It's like a decadent breakfast in a glass. The Alcohol isn't noticeable in the taste, but the 8% sneaks up on you later.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation, a little thin. But it fits the smokey flavor.

Overall: Another great beer from Surly. Unique, complex, and definitely not subtle.

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Photo of BrewCrew2010
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Thickfreakness for the beer. Cracked it open to celebrate our new fire pit.

A: Dark brown body with a small tan head. No lacing.

S: Nice roasted malts, dark chocolate, & a hint of coffee. As it warms, the smoke aroma really comes out.

T: Coffee & roasted malts upfront, followed by a slight sweetness from chocolate malts. Middle is slightly smokey, but not as much as I would have liked. Finishes slightly bitter.

M: Creamy, medium body, light carbonation.

O: Great beer. Reminded me of coffee bender if it was smoked though. Very easy to drink and perfect by the bon fire. Would drink this again if I could get my hands on it.

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Photo of gregy55902
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours from the 2011 vintage bomber much darker than expected - it almost looks like an imperial stout in the glass. Minimal head from a gentle pour.

S - Dark chocolate malt, huge roasted malt characteristics, peat-smoked malt

T - Follows the nose, with a nice (if understated) chocolate finish. Some good hops are present to even things out.

M - This beer is extremely smooth. Good level of carbonation, flavors are very well balanced and the alcohol cannot be detected.

O - I usually avoid surly because all their beers are incredibly expensive (I'm in MN, and usually it's at least $18/4pk). I also have not had many 'smoked' beers, but this brew is very nicely balanced so that the smoky flavors are not overpowering. It works very well considering the base beer is a baltic porter. Recommended.

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Photo of camp0474
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark brown to black, almost dark red near edges. Dark tan head dies off quickly. Not much lacing if any.

S: Heavy toasted malts and coffee with faint smokey malt smell in the background. Also picking up some sweet smells from the oak aging.

T: Toasted malt and coffee. Also sweet malt flavors reminiscent of sweet and tart dark fruits - fig, prune. Definite oak and vanilla flavors from the aging. Finishes on the dry side with the smoked malts. Many layers of flavors, surprisingly balanced for everything this that is going on. Each part adds to the whole.

M/D: Medium body, slightly chewy but very smooth. Tingle from the fine carbonation. Body is a bit light but easy to forget this is lager brewed.

Once again another feather in Surly's hat, solid and unique beer.

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Photo of DrKarl
4.31/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of edbeered
4.31/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap in a tulip glass at Stub&Herbs, this pours a beautiful opaque black color, with a minimal white head and scant white lacing on the glass. The smell is faint. I detect an alcoholic, brandy-like smell. The taste is wonderfully complex, with a cherry brandy flavor, along with a smoky toasty chocolate malt presence, as well as a slight taste of vanilla. There is just enough hop presence to balance the other flavors. This is a terrific tasting beer, with rich and lingering flavors. The high alcohol content is the only thing marring the drinkability. This is another exceptional beer from Surly.

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Photo of Garvey
4.31/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Phocion
4.31/5  rDev +4.1%
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.

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Photo of dogfishandi
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 Vintage. 750ml waxed and capped bottle at fridge temp poured into a darkness snifter.

pours out opaque black. a little less than one fingers worth or creamy mocha colored head off the pour. fades to a thick creamy ring that stayed to the finish. some lacing off of a swirl that is fairly quick to fall back into the beer.

some very nice smokiness while still allowing the porter to come through. the rauch malt comes off as smoked meats, bacon, and ashy campfire while being balanced by some cocoa, a bit of dark fruits and almost a milky, creamy milk stout like chocolate. just slight hints of alcohol as it warms. the aroma seems to kind of come and go, maybe my palate just adjusted while drinking the whole bottle?

an awesome smokey taste, even a little more so than the aroma led me to believe. smoked meats, bacon, campfire, but still a nice base baltic porter as well. lots of cocoa, roasted malts, a bit of dark dried fruits and dark chocolate. a subtle bitterness on the finish with some lingering smoke as well as a little bit of bitter cocoa.

slightly heavy side of medium bodied. just a touch on the thin side and just the slightest bit too much carbonation. no booze or alcohol, but definatly comes off bigger than your average porter.

definatly one of my favorite baltic porters and quite possibly my favorite smoked beer as of now. lots of in your face smoke, which i really enjoy, while still staying somewhat in balance. gotta give it to surly, they dont know how to make a bad beer.

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Photo of Beerbuddha
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Poured a nice dark brown with slight reddish hue. Nice solid tan head.

Smell: Incredible roasted malt aroma with hints of chocolate, dark fruit and licorice.

Taste: As in the nose you get hints of chocolate, dark fruit and licorice. The smoke flavor isn't overwhelming but is rather nice and subtle. Some smoked beers are too much. Not this one.

Mouthfeel: Full body with low carbonation.

Overall: What a great presentation with the red wax on the bottle. Cool graphics on the bottle as well. Overall this is a fantastic brew. I think I found a brewery whose beers I'll be be making a serious effort to search out.

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Photo of BarrytheBear
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of JP and shared with the boys while watching the final preposterous minutes of the Notre Dame-Michigan game. Watching two teams you mildly despise completely poop the bed against each other provided a solid backdrop.

Dark brown verging into black with a tan/khaki head that settles and laces unevenly.

Smells faintly of smoke and grows livelier with cheese, bacon, and some roast. A pleasant layer of fruity lager yeast permeates as well.

Taste really opens up on the nose. Not overly smoke driven which I appreciate, but enough so to put some charred campfire wood, sultry cheese, and fried bacon along the palate. Slight purple grapes from the malts tag onto the dried, fruity yeast finish.

Body is a touch too thin, but it allows for an easy drinking experience. Carbonation allows the flavors to prickle on the tongue.

I dig this beer and am thankful for the opportunity. A beer that's been shared on multiple occasions and often with non beer geeks and always ends up a crowd favorite. Not an easy task Surly, so well played.

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Photo of suspect
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage poured from a 750ml bottle that was impossibly waxed with gray wax into a Dogfish Head Signature glass. Thanks to olympuszymurgus for the hookup.

A: Deep, dark brown color. Relatively aggressive pour leads to a 1 finger light tan head that disappears to a thin ring and light coverage on the top of the beer. Lacing is consistent and lasts throughout the drink.

S: Subtly smokey with nice layers of toasted chocolate malts along with some hop bitterness that shines through in a sort of black IPA fashion that was definitely unexpected. Very slight presence of alcohol (perhaps a touch of bourbon or oak even).

T: Follows the nose pretty well but what I don't think I picked up in the nose that I'm picking up in the taste is a strong balance of flavors. They really are all mixing wonderfully together to create an almost black-ipa flavor that, to be honest, in a baltic porter is totally unexpected but extremely delicious.

M: Big bodied, lightly carbonated but in a really good way. Bitterness is mild, sticky sweet mouth coating is present but subdued. ABV burn is definitely in the belly and I feel nice and toasty warm but the burn doesn't hit until it gets past the mouth.

O: Man, this rounds out my Surly box from my Minnesota homeboy olympuszymurgus and there wasn't a mediocre bottle in the box. They were all extremely delicious and this one is no exception. I don't know if you are supposed to age a Baltic and I don't know what it drinks like fresh, but this is a wonderful beer with a year on it. Very smooth, very balanced, lots of flavors mixing in and blending nicely.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to shrek086 for sending me this one!

Pours an almost opaque super dark crimson-brown with a 1/2 inch foamy dark khaki head that settles to a film on the top of the beer. Thin foamy rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smell is of smoked malt and maybe some caramel and cocoa notes. Taste is of smoked malt up front with some dark fruits and cocoa powder on the finish. A smoky, roasted bitterness lingers on the palate after each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp and smooth mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good smoked baltic porter from Surly. The smoke aroma is somewhat dominant but the smoke flavors compliment the other tastes in the beer very well.

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Photo of SurlyMe
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bomber into pint glass

A - Pours a deep brown color with little to no light penetration once in the glass. An average speed pour yields a one finger, fizzy, light tan/cinnamon colored head which thins quickly. No lacing is left on the glass as you drink.

S - SMOKE! smoked malt, licorice, raisins, figs, little bit of chocolatey/coffee scent

T - Smoked malt flavors up front followed by licorice, raisin and a little semi-sweet chocolate; Finishes with a hint of vanilla. A tiny bit of warmth is felt as it goes down but no alcohol taste. The smoke is present all throughout and lingers nicely after a sip. I found it a bit challenging to pick out all the different flavors as they kind of meld together, but not in a bad way.

M - Fairly light for how complex and dark this beer is, nice low to medium level of carbonation, a little bit of stickyness to it, semi-dry smokey finish

D - Fairly easy to drink, I took down a bomber no problem. It's a sipper, but you just want to keep on sipping and sipping...

Overall, another great limited release from Surly. This beer just reminds me of fall/winter. Would be perfect while sitting around a fire. The name really is dead on as the biggest thing that stuck with me is its smokey characteristics.

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Photo of ndolover
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black, thin, oily head that faded within a minute

Aroma: I drank this beer at a bar that already smelled of lunch. However, I was able to pick up smoked aromas

Flavor: A complex malt flavor consisting of mostly dark chocolate, with a detectable yet a bitterness that stays in the background, the flavor of my meat smoker comes through in the end.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with an oily warmth that falls quickly to the upfront carbonation...The kind of carbonation sessions beers are made of.

Overall Impression: I had 2 and am glad I went home when I did. 3 would have been too much for being 3PM and I would have had to go to bed. With that said, I loved the beer and believe it is another classic Surly beer...not true to the style, but damn good none the less!

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Photo of siradmiralnelson
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz bottle into Tulip

A. Poured a 2 finger dark tan head. Color is all black. Head faded pretty quickly. Not a lot of lacing left.

S. Smell is roasted malt, chocolate, nice smokiness. Oak, some vanilla. Coffee.

T. Taste is super smooth. Coffee, smoke, chocolate, roastiness. Goes down super easy. Vanilla hints, oak.

M. Mouthfeel seems a bit light, but then again for a lager it is pretty full bodied. Medium carbonation.

D. Very drinkable. This is a pretty damn tasty beer. Very smooth drinking. Lots of complex flavors that blend together nicely. Never been let down by Surly yet.

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Photo of manzilla86
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Date Sampled: Christmas Eve 2010 14.99$ for 750mL bottle
Served from Bottle into Pint Glass

I have tried a few other of Surly's beers and found this to be a very enjoyable brew.

The appearance was a nice dark brown just as you would expect from a porter with a thin, dark brown head.

As for smell, to me I was expecting a lot more smoke to the nose and taste, but the main scent was chocolate and light hop to me.

The taste was similar as above. From the label I was expecting this to be almost like a rauchbier but it was mainly like a strong porter with strong chocolate and malt flavors with a little smoke going along for the ride.

As for drinkability, I had no problem holding a glass of Surly Smoke in my hand all Christmas eve. It even inspired my next homebrew to be a peat smoked porter.

I am lucky enough to live in the Twin Cities, MN and-like many of Surly's brews-this was still a hard beer to find. Give it a chance if you get the opportunity.

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 01-08-2011 06:55:41

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml wax dipped bottle, 2011 vintage. Served in a nonic pint glass, the beer pours dark brown/black with about a half inch tan head that went away quickly. There's a very small amount of lacing left on the glass. The brew smells like smoked and roasted malt, peat, coffee, and a bit of chocolate. It tastes like smoked malt/meats, burnt/charred malt, coffee, and some dark fruit and chocolate. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's a little creamy and slick with low/moderate carbonation. I think this is a pretty good brew overall, I'd definitely buy this again in the future.

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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 herman77
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours black with just the slightest dark ruby hue to the edges. Just a little bit of brown head that dies off quickly into a collar, then that dies off to nothing. Lacing is non existent.

S: Smoked malt and tons of oak. A hint of coffee and dark fruits. Smells damn good, but slightly subdued even near room temp.

T: Roasted malt up front with a hint of dried fruits, cherries and raisins. A hint of bittersweet chocolate. Nice and oaky all the way through, very reminiscent of oak aged bender. There is some hop bitterness near the end as well to let you know whats up and this is Surly. A little smokiness is there the whole time, but comes out the most in the finish and lingers around for a little while.

M/D: A little bit thinner then I remembered it to be when I had it at the Surly Beer Dinner @ The Happy Gnome in Feb. Medium body. Carbonation is a little on the higher side at first, but dies down to hardly anything after a short while. ABV is hidden pretty well. A cold fall/winter night sipper. Drinkability is pretty good considering the style.

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Photo of WYVYRN527
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter from it's beautiful 750 ml. bottle.

A: Very dark brown in color,almost black. Very little light gets through this one. Head retention is is non-existent, and lacing is nil.

S: There is alot going on in the nose of this beer. almost like campfire at first, but soon the malt comes forward. Coffee, roasted meat, and spice, along with a nice hint of charred wood. Hops are almost non-existent on the nose.

T: If i didn't know what this beer was, it just screams Surly. Roasty, with hints of coffee and bitter chocolate, accompanied by campfire, cedar, and just a hint of flint. There are some fruity notes lingering in the backround, and the hops dry the finish.

M&D: A bit lighter than I was anticipating, but still very full bodied and smooth. It's a great sipper, and would accompany BBQ quite nicely. This, however, is a smoked brew that is amazing on it's own. Like I said before, this beer has Surly wriiten all over it. They can do no wrong.

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Smoke from Surly Brewing Company
4.14 out of 5 based on 903 ratings.
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