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Smoke | Surly Brewing Company

285 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States | website

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: 285 | Ratings: 886
Photo of Graham21
4.58/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this one on tap at the Blue Nile and Surly. Went up to Min. for some Darkness, wish I woulda brought back a growler of this bacon grease.

Rustic black in appearance, with a nice creamy brown head that left small lacings. Smells of smoked ham and campfire.

Definitely had characteristics of smoked fish or bacon, but not over the top. Nice malt balance. Bitter chocolate is also mixed in with the flavors.The smoke flavors are light and not abrupt and thats what I like about this beer.
The alcohol is high, but well hidden.

This was a well balanced, medium bodied, well rounded beer.

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Photo of Buebie
4.57/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Got a 2nd chance to review this, the first being on tap, this one from a growler filled 12/30/08.

Poured from my growler into an oversized snifter. Color is all blackout out, with a 1 finger fizzy brown head. Thin greasy brown streaks of lcae are left behind. A small thin layer of retention sits atop the beer.

Aroma is quit toasty with charred oak. It smeels like burnt buttered wheat toast.
Ceral grains, wiffs of dark chocolate and smokey burnt wood. It smells like a summer sausage.

Mouthfeel this time around is much more smooth and creamy. Its somwhat thick with a mellow amount of carbonation up front. Kind of a summer sausage like flavor, not so much the meat, but the smokey skin on weiner flavors. Slight resemblance here folks, dont let this tidbit ruin it for you.
Molasses flavors, some dark fruit and a hint of cherries. Smokey charred oak comes out through the swallow. Lingering after the swallow with a bittering dark roastiness.

Very good, much better then my plastic cup at the brewery. No signs of alcahol at the knose, but some mild warming comes around after the swallow with the lingering bitterness.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.57/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Received as a kick ass extra from millah!! Hell yeah... what better beer to crack for the Lost finale!

A: Pours black with very little head and a slight bit of light passing through, a little bit of lacing

S: roasted barley, smoke, coffee, roasted notes, very malty and little hops

T: lots of roasted barley on the front, lots of classic porter/stout roastiness in there with the added dimension of hickory and smoke. The smoke is most prevalent on the finish with a touch of chocolatey sweetness

MF: medium body, seems on par for a baltic porter brewed with lager yeast, medium carbonation

D: a nice showcase of roasted and smoked malts, everything is in nice balance, the ABV is undetectable. I am convinced that Surly is incapable of brewing a beer that is anything less than spectacular.

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Photo of lhaqq
4.57/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Opaque black-brown body with a thin off white head.

S: Dark malts, bittersweet chocolate, good smell but not too strong.

T: Grains and malt, some smoke and oak, bitter coffee finish.

M: For the abv, it's surprisingly light. Packs a lot of flavor without being too heavy.

D: Good flavor and body with a high abv but still easy to drink.

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Photo of kbutler1
4.55/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this at the release party at Brasa's on 11/30/09. Was poured from tap into a 10oz glass. Little to no head was a little bit of a dissappointment, not sure if that was caused by the pour or if it is just that way. Needless to say, the lack of head hindered the aroma of the beer a little. Smelled of slight smoke and a subtle sweetness. What a taste though! Very smooth with a slight smoke taste that ends with a subtle sweetness, just like the smell I guess. Very drinkable! With a name like Smoke, I was expecting a Smoked Porter taste but was pleasantly surprised. This is an extremely good beer. Love to see it in bottle or can...

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Photo of bwiechmann
4.54/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Stub and Herbs

A- Pours nearly pitch-black. No substantial head to speak of, minimal lacing.

S- Perfect. Wood smoke ballanced with roasted, sweet malts. A touch of hops provide some earth-notes.

T- Wood smoke is here too, but certainly not over-done. Most akin to smoked, pulled pork. A touch of espresso in the background.

M- Not oily, but smooth. Medium body and carbonation.

D- alcohol is unnoticeable- very drinkable.

This beer is absolutely a treat. Surly scores again. Get your hands on some if you can.

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.52/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Found at the Blue Nile. (reviewed from notes)

This beer pours a dark black with raisin highlights and a creamy ring of irregular cola-like head.

Smells of sweet, rich rauch smoke with a nice and subtle ham. There's some dark fruits and a dry dark chocolate, but it's sweetness holds back.

Tastes thick and creamy like chocolate milk with a sour snap of smokey grain. This is oddly reminiscent of a garden salad. There's a sour sting or tingle to this too of pungent rye bread.

Feels big, slick and frothy, but far from sticky. Nice.

It's really easy to forget this one's 9.5%. Watch out!

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Photo of zulufactor
4.52/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle, 2011

A- Dark brown or nearly black. Pours with a coffee brown head that leaves quickly not leaving a trace of its self behind.

S- Toasted malt with dark fruit and a bit earthy. kind of syrupy

T- The rich toasted malt hits right away. It quickly breaks down into toffee and coffee. The richness meets with a bit of hops that turns in to a crisp dry earthiness.

M- For being as thick as this beer is there is more carbonation then i was anticipating. It creates a great bright richness.

O- Surly struck a balance of richness and brightness that is fantastic. There are some thing lingering in there, a complexity that my less experienced palette can quite put a name to.

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

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Photo of dbossman
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Black with a small but steady head; great lacing for the style

S: Smoked ham dominates; roasted malts and a bit of chocolate but boy does that smoke dominate; sweet and salty

T: Alcohol is subdued; so roasty and chocolaty; a touch of a rustic woodiness; so smooth and smoky (but not overwhelimingly so)

F: Great creamy mouth feel

D: For a rich, smoky beer this is so drinkable

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Photo of gregshead
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed this one with my birthday BBQ dinner. Thanks to Biglobo for this bottle, reviewed from notes:

A: Pours with a half finger of thin head. Lace leaves a ring behind.

S: Nice subtle smoky smell. Right below bacon smoke/more of an oak smoke.

T: Subtle smoky flavors with some good sweetness that balances it out. Not as overpowering as other smoke beers.

M: Nice light feel with lots of carbon the tongue. Good dry finish.

O: Winner, Winner BBQ diner. Great with BBQ ribs. Another great style by none other than Surly.

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Photo of ManVersusBeer
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Courtesy of one trxxpaxxs. Much obliged.

The pour is a deep, dark brown with latte-like mocha colored foam which sits for awhile leaving a net of lacing.
Mmm...this is meaty. Slim Jims, oak chips, Applewood-smoked bacon, and roasted chocolate. Makes me hungry.
Tastes a bit lighter than the aroma, which is a good thing. As much as I love meat, I don't want it to overpower as I drink. Lots of smoke in here with the hints of tobacco and a malty sweetness of crispy caramel coated beef.
A smooth, luscious, creamy, easy to drink porter. Good smoky bacon contrasted with the sweet maple then followed with the hop bitterness of orange peel makes it almost like a hearty breakfast.
Smoke gets sweeter as it goes and I would prefer a lasting smokiness. As it warms, though, this beer does a fine job.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a dark black-brown color with a big finger of brown-tan head. The head fades slowly down to a thick ring around the glass leaving behind some nice lacing on the glass.

S - Aroma is bursting with smoke and oak aromas. There is a touch of chocolate and even some smoked meats in there as well.

T - Starts off with a nice smooth hit of smoke and oak flavors with some nice vanilla flavor. Touch of chocolate flavor mixed in as well. Through the middle, some more roasted flavor and a bit of coffee comes though. The finish is a mix of oak and smoke with a bit of chocolate that lingers really nicely.

M - Medium bodied with moderate-low carbonation. The beer is smooth and just a bit creamy. The smoke flavor really coats the mouth and provides some warming at the finish.

D - Fairly drinkable, especially considering how bold the flavors are, but that is just how smooth it is. The smoke flavor is really strong and fits right in with the beer.

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Photo of tillmac62
4.49/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.48/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of brewerburgundy
4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

25.4oz bottle, Boulevard tulip, 2010 vintage. Thank you very much for that awesome trade, Craig.

The pour is a sticky dark brown with vague red highlights. Quite a nice latte froth like head bubbled up and an attractive flotilla of foam covers the majority of the top.

What I smell coming from the glass is all that is good in a dark smoke beer; brown sugar, roast, and BBQ or campfire smoke with a bite that is very deep but not overwhelming. There's a cured Kalamata olive scent that is slightly salty, like a sea breeze, intriguing.

Smoke contains a good bit of smoke, but the flavors extend further that just this. Brown sugar again, complemented by what must be oak vanilla. A bit of dark fruit, raisins, flows through the middle and the finish is a lovely contrastingly sweet nougat, caramel.

While the carbonation level is not low, this is a remarkably smooth beer. In the mouth it feels like smoke looks; languid, slippery, smooth.

This beer was well worth the wait and I am so glad that I have another bottle. Smoked Porters are quickly becoming one of my favorite styles. Please, Surly, keep doing what you do. This beer is smokey but not overboard, with some wonderful complexities beneath the plume of smoke.

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Photo of arboristfish
4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a black color that you cant see through. There is also an off white, tan looking head. The aroma of this beer smells of smoke and roasted malts. The flavor reminds me of a piece of oakwood that was burnt and thrown into the aging tank. It is a very good taste, balanaced with malt and hops. The carbonation is low to moderate, and I would consider this a drinkable beer.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22 oz. bottle into a snifter glass. 2010 bottle.

Appearance: Very dark and black with only a slight amount of color shining through the bottom. Decent one finger tan head quickly fades into a patchy layer. Small amount of lacing.

Smell: Big aroma of smoke with lots of dark roasted malts. Has a strong hint of dark chocolate along with some hints of dark fruits. Has a woody character.

Taste: Lots of dark roasted malts up front with a smokyness that lingers well throughout but is not as overbearing as the aroma suggests. Has some hints of plum, raisin, and other dark fruits along with hints of dark chocolate and vanilla. Bitterness is low but felt somewhat in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a medium level of carbonation. Very creamy and smooth.

Overall: A very good porter that is complex and very tasty. The smoke is tame enough to notice the many flavors going on here. Another great Surly brew.

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Photo of twoheadedboy
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter. Appearance is a gorgeous midnight black.

Smell lives up to the name; extreme mesquite, meaty smokiness.

Taste is similar, very smoky with some mild chocolate/caramel, dark fruit, and smooth roasted malts.

Ridiculously smooth and tasty. I haven't had Darkness on tap yet, and until I do this remains my favorite offering from Surly. And that's saying something.

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Photo of AmberMan22
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

The bar I was at ran out of Surly Bender and replaced it with Smoke. Not having had it before, I snapped up the opportunity.

Pours a deep deep brown/black that barely allows some light through around the edges, producing varnished mahogany highlights.
My only complaint with the appearance was that the head disappeared rapidly, and was almost impossible to stimulate without shaking the beer out of the glass. Thus, no lacing to speak of, though it does add menace to see a pint of polished black liquid.

The smell is subtly smoky, with plenty of roasted malts and a tinge of bitterness. The smoke lingers in the nostrils, letting me know what's in charge.

And the smoke flavor kicks in on the first sip. The aftertaste is the most profoundly smoky, yet while the beer is in my mouth I find it very well balanced. The alcohol flavor is masked underneath the wave of dark malts and smokiness -- I had no idea this was 8.2% ABV.

It smells (and tastes) like a sort of hickory-smoked bacon, but isn't nearly as aggressive as a Rauchbier. Don't get me wrong, this Surly is just as 'in-your-face' as its brother brews, and I love the assertive flavors.

Mouthfeel is thick and smooth, with minimal carbonation. Any less CO2 would be flirting with danger, but Smoke pulls it off well.

The smokiness is a limiting factor in drinking a lot of this, but I do love this beer.

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Photo of Jwale73
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Procured in a trade, but can't remember from who. 750ml capped bottle coated with silver wax. Served in my Allagash chalice. Pours the color and clarity of cola with a half inch, khaki-colored head embedded with tiny ringlets that eventually dissipates into a soapy skim. Exceptional nose on this brew - smoky, dark fruits (figs and dates) as well as an earthy quality and grape and bubblegum notes. Taste follows nose; however, much more smokey than suggested by the nose. Chocolate and roast are also revealed in the flavor profile. Mouthfeel is medium-light in consistency, perhaps a little thin for the style, with a lively carbonation and a slightly oily texture. This is definitely one of my favorite Baltic Porters. Not only is it delicious, but there is great complexity to this brew. Another top notch offering from Surly.

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Photo of closetchef
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A- a beautiful dark brown out of the bottle, with a reddish tinge.

S- mesquite, sea salt, and a wonderful smoke reminiscent of beef jerky.

T - Raisins, currants, oak, smoked tomatoes, with a bit earthiness.

M- one of the best mouthfeels I've experienced in a beer. like a fine wine, it dances on your palate, long after you've finished it. Truly wonderful.

D- The higher alcohol, and strong smoke, limit the drinkability of this beer, but it is still remarkably smooth.

All in all, this is a truly fantastic beer. I'll be trying to find a few more bottles around town before it sells out.

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Photo of OStrungT
4.44/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of dpnelson1978
4.44/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle into Duvel tulip.


A: Bright deep reddish-brown body with a small tan head that quickly dissipates leaving no lacing or cover.

S: Light smoke character (a nice surprise considering previous experience with the style). A little sweet, and very noticeable hop signature.

T: Smoke up front and at the back of the throat. Slightly sweet, with low hop bitterness throughout. No noticeable alcohol, and a very nice drink.

M: Light body and light to medium carbonation.

D: Very high abv., and dangerously drinkable. Goes down so easy it is scary.

O: Just another example of why Surly is quickly becoming one of the best in the business.

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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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Smoke from Surly Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 285 ratings.
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