Hell Lager
Surly Brewing Company

Hell LagerHell Lager
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German Helles
Ranked #29
Ranked #19,765
3.84 | pDev: 10.94%
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States
Very Good
Hell LagerHell Lager
Notes: Not unlike a Zwickel Bier from Germany, Hell is not filtered and fermented with lager yeast. American hops takes a back seat to the Pils malt sweetness and fresh bread aroma. The color is well... hell (Deutsch for light). It's fiendishly drinkable, and you don't have to sell your soul to get another.
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Photo of DoubleJ
3.76/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It's Halloween, and it's time for a scary beer. With a name like Hell, it must be. 16 ounce can, on to the beer:

Bright straw yellow in color and topped with a billowy white head that looks like it got scooped into the glass. Aroma is a somewhat astringent, although it still delivers those classic helles aromas of straw and grass, in generous quantities.

Strong taste for a helles. Could be mistaken as a Czech pilsner, as the hops are strong and provide plenty of bitterness, even into the aftertaste. Clean drinking and light bodied, it does go down, but more coarse per style.

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Photo of Mindcrime1000
3.71/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours light, nearly straw gold with an excellent head and effervescence. Nearly crystal clear. The head has moderate retention. Plenty of big bubbles.

Honey sweet and crackery malts forward on the nose, with floral and earthy hops.

The flavor follows the nose, with more hop and yeast aggression. The malts are still there, but the cracker is stronger. Spicy yeast in midstream. Strong floral and earth hops. Skewed a bit bitter for the style, but still tasty.

The mouthfeel is excellent for the style. Crisp and well carbonated.

Overall, a somewhat bitter for the style but still very drinkable take.

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Photo of BigGold
3.92/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Had at the Level Five Café, Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, on draft into pint tumbler.

Pours “hell” with a nice head, big lager aroma, and a pilsner and bigger malt backbone, with a nice, dry but not quite bitter finish.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
4.19/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Type: 16-oz. can
Glass: Beer Nerd 12-oz. tulip
From: My cousin Sam
Price: N/A
Purchased: N/A; Received July 19, 2019
Consumed: July 20, 2019
Reviewed as: Munich Helles Lager
Misc.: Canned on June 24, 2019 at 6:02 p.m. CT

Thanks, Sam!

Got this along with seven other beers from Sam. I used to hate this style, but really have had some good Helles lagers lately. Being Surly, I expected it to be a good one. Description read, “Not unlike a Zwickel Bier from Germany, Hell is not filtered and fermented with lager yeast. American hops takes a back seat to the Pils malt sweetness and fresh bread aroma. The color is well... hell (Deutsch for light). It's fiendishly drinkable, and you don't have to sell your soul to get another.”

Poured a medium yellow-to-gold clear color with four fingers of rocky white head. Lots of bubbles coming up from the bottom of the glass at different speeds, but mostly fast. World-class uneven foamy lacing. World-class foamy retention. (Sight - 4.75)

Smelled pilsner malt, Noble hops, earthy grain, raw barley, sourdough bread, wet hay, grass, honey and corn. Much of the same from the can. (Smell - 4.50)

Taste wasn’t quite as good as the nose, but still solid. In order got earthy grain, Noble hops, wet hay, raw barley, sourdough bread, pilsner malt, black pepper, lemon grass, a hint of honey and cracker. (Taste - 4.00)

Medium body. Oily-to-creamy texture. Lively carbonation. Abrupt, dry finish. (Feel - 4.25)

An outstanding lager overall. Glad I got to try it. (Overall - 4.00)

4.19 | 93 | A-

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Photo of ty_in_ND
3.37/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Poured into a pilsner glass from a 12 oz can.

L - Very clear. Beautiful light yellow color. Plenty of bubbles. 1 finger head that laces well throught the drink.

Smell - For a beer that's supposed to be "malt forward", the hops sure hits you in the nose! It has a nice hoppy smell, though (spicy and floral).

Taste - More of the same. Despite the description from Surly, the hops are definitely not taking a back seat. It's not at all overly hoppy like and IPA, but the breast maltiness is in the background.

F - Nice and crisp. Light without being watery. Finishes dry (with the aftertaste of the malt barely there). Very refreshing.

O - Overall... I really do like this beer, but Surly does it a disservice by calling it a German Helles. If they had called it a Czech/Bohemian pils, that would be more spot on. So, if you're looking for a truely malt forward helles, pass on this one. If you're looking for a good tasting beer that's slightly leaning to the hoppier side of the spectrum that's a refreshing, easy drinker, pick this up!

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Photo of defunksta
4.21/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pours a surprisingly clear, light golden color with a huge rich and yeasty white head. SRM of 8. (4.00)

Aroma is strong lemon citrus, honeysuckle, prairie grass and honey. Some sweetened bun or doughnut. Some fresh-cut grass and lemon dish soap. (4.25)

Flavor: Flavor follows the nose with lots of lemon zest, yeast and dry grains. There is a good presence of honeysuckle and lemon flowers. Similar to an American wheat in terms of lemon flavor, but more floral tones. Then comes a big yeast presence in the middle. Bready malts. It's more lemon and flowery than I expected.
Finishes dry, but no bitterness. Just lemon and wheat on the finish. (4.25)

Feel: Medium-bodied. Great cabonation. Finishes full and billowing in the mouthfeel without a drying astringency that I'm used to in a wheat. (4.00)

Compared with Dakota Summit (Bohemian Pilsner): Slightly lighter in color. More lemony and citrus. More honey. Less salty and bitter. Slightly heavier body. Finishes sweeter overall.

Compared w/ Josefbrau Pils: Similar color. More orange yeast and salty flavors. Sweeter. Less dry, citrus, and bitterness.

Compared with Wonderstuff: Extremely similar. More sour airy lemon citrus. Less sweet honey and buttery lemon. A lighter body. Crispier and lighter. Hard to differentiate, but the body makes it easier than the lemon, because the Bahaus tastes fuller and often like it has more lemon.

Overall: For my second review this drinks much like a Zwickel. Lots of lemon zest and grain. Similar to an American wheat, but more flower and a stronger, billowing body. Just more lemon and flower than other traditional Zwickel's I've had. Not the best Zwickel, but it's darn close and a good beer.
More flowery, yeasty and dryer than a traditional Helles. Still a fantastic Helles beer. (Final Rating: 4.21)

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Photo of REVZEB
4.19/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Was inspired by the "beers you somehow haven't had" thread and sought this one out. And I am glad I did! Nice golden pour with thinner finger of white foam. Smell is bready up front with lingering citrus and grains after. Taste features honey roasted malt, some pale hops, slight citrus, wheaty and grainy yeast and an expansive bready finish. Good bready texture, yet very drinkable

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Photo of mngermanshepherd
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A little hoppier than I'd like but one of the few Surly beers I like. Pours a solid gold colour with a head that refuses to leave. Taste is hoppy on the front, settling into a foamy, balanced finish.

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Photo of UlySA
4.24/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A simply fantastic lager. The price tag makes all the difference... Why would you ever drink a shit light beer or generic pilsner beer instead of this? It's the best bang-for-the-buck beer from surly... And maybe from anyone. Cheap and cheerful, it goes down easy and fast and it's hard to hate it for anything it's trying to be. Very good lager... A staple for me...

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Photo of ghwolf
5/5  rDev +30.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Like all beers from Surly, the Hell Lager is exceptional. A German-style, pale lager, this beer goes down smooth and fast. Great color, aroma, and a perfect blend of hops and malt for the discriminating lager drinker.

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Photo of jjamadorphd
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I saved this Surly out of a variety 12er for last - glad I did...

To start my Sunday I decided to go light and reached for a lager. This has more of a pilsner taste to, as admitted on the can itself, but still has a lager look - so taking it all into consideration, it's pretty good. A clear yet slightly hazy brew pours a nice head with some lacing. The smell had hints of fruit and some wheat which actually worked well, surprisingly enough. Speaking of surprising, the taste was more tart than I would expect making it unique (at least in my book.) Tastewise - I think I've had better lagers and even pilsners but this still solid. I think the surprise on smell and taste really impressed me, so I graded along that thought...

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Photo of fitzy84
3.82/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

In Minnesota and had this at my hotel. The beer has a golden murky appearance with a slightly bubbly head and visible carbonation. The aromas are flowery aromas with a pretty sweet hit like honey or butter. The taste has a sweet Pilsner taste with a good mix of light hops. Really excellent refreshment. Overall, really nice lager.

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy piss yellow body, flocculated white head that leaves a mess of lace on the glass. The nose offers pilsner malt, a bit of spicy hops, and a kiss of butter. The flavors is a great balance of the distinctive malt and spicy hops. I could use a little more bitterness/hops presence, but it's still darn good. Dry. The body is medium weight, great effervescence, crisp.
This is a great easy-drinker. Characterful ingredients, but refined and elegant. A great stateside-brewed European classic.

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Photo of dukeandduke
3.81/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

4/8/18: 16 Oz canned on 11/22/17 @ 8:54, gift from my brother, poured into flute glass. Golden clear pour. Puffy white head, white lacing as head dissipated, mild carbonation. Strong wheat and bread aroma, sweet. Taste matches aroma, light wheat taste, nice for this style. Thin texture, carbonation holds, nice mouth feel. Overall very good offering, well done Surely!

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Photo of Lorgeous
3.47/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a honeysuckle yellow. Smells of yeast and warm bread. Never been a fan of lager aroma. More bright than any other lager I’ve had. The taste is very refreshing for a lager in my book. Definitely grainy but it has flavor. A frothy free makes this a great lager.

= Surly does it again with a lager that is bold and doesn’t taste like piss water like the other big light American beers. Maybe a bit too hoppy to be called a lager but I’m digging it.

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Photo of AZBeerDude72
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Golden with carbonation and a nice foamy head, decent lacing.
N: Grains, bread, malt.
T: Follows the nose, clean malty grain notes with a bread like flavor on the finish.
M: Light
O: Clean lager with nice flavors.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

16 oz. Can
Canned On: 10/12/17

Poured into a Squatters true pint glass a pretty nice clean/clear dark golden yellow color, pretty nice carbonation, with a pretty nice thick/creamy/foamy two-finger head, which also leaves some pretty nice creamy sticky lacing behind. The nose is malty, yeasty, bready. The taste is pretty nice, malty, yeasty, bready, nice little sweetness. Medium body, ABV hidden very nicely with this one. Overall, a pretty tasty brew. Really nice to see some fresh Surly around. Less than a month old.

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Photo of FLima
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Golden color with a thick two finger head with good retention and leaving laces.
Aroma with notes of floral and grassy hops, white bread and mild orange citrusy.
Likewise, flavor with notes of lemon drops, floral, spicy and grassy hops and pears. Dry and bitter aftertaste.
Light to medium body with appropriate carbonation.
Very rounded Helles that is no short of the top German ones. This dries your mouth perfectly and makes you beg for another sip. Fully attenuated as the style requires and flawlessly balanced. Very assertive.

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Photo of DaverCS
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a slightly hazy copper color.

Aroma has a bit of spice, wet hay, and wheat.

Taste is simple. Creamy mouthfeel, borderline wheat ale. Pretty classic Pilsner taste with perhaps a bit more malt and a lower carbonation level.
It pairs well with Mexican food. It gets a 76/100.

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Photo of cjgiant
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On tap:
Pours quite clear, but not fully - the most minor of distortion. Head is a thin, lasting cap by mid pour (from a fluffy beginning), lacing stronger early than later.

Nose is a light grassiness atop a hay-like, Pilsner-like malt. Clean.

Taste had me thinking Czech pils, which makes sense given the style description. Pilsner malt, light grain as the hay/dry grass comes on. A little greenness enters the grass but mid palate. Carbonation is light, but it helps the peppery note that tingles my tongue in the end.

Seems to hit the points for the style as I read them. Quite clean, bitter, a bit of bite; refreshing, enjoyable.

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Photo of badgerbeer1
4.19/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Surly, make more lagers! This proves that not everything has to be hopped up. Great beer. Great taste. Picking up multiple for storage in Badger State

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Photo of Blackop555
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours gold. Foamy, short, white head that last shortly.

Smells bready malt, grassy, hop spice and Floral.

Tastes bready malt and light grassiness fading quick to a bitter floral finish with hints of hop spice. Lighter body and fizzy medium carbonation.

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Photo of craigbelly
3.96/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Opinions are all over the place on this one. It's bud light all the way to it's to hoppy to be a lager. Don't get hung up on the category this beer falls in. It's light, it's a little hoppy, and it's delicious. Elements of many styles come to play here. Alot happening for what some call Surly's light beer.

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Photo of Gobearswalter34
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L- Pour is very little hazing in the golden pour. Little, creamier head.
S- slight yeast smell
T- Loads of yeaati breadiness and old German hops. Hops stick around. Hoppy Helles.
F- Crisp and clean.
O- wonderful Helles with German feel

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Photo of Spokie
4.9/5  rDev +27.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

It says lager, but the hops make it taste like a great IPA, not like the really hoppy IPAs that make you feel like you are cheweing on a pine cone, but a REAL IPA. But the color is more like Bud Light, so people won't be afraid to drink it. I could drink it all summer

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Hell Lager from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 1223 ratings