Hell Lager
Surly Brewing Company

Hell LagerHell Lager
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German Helles
Ranked #29
Ranked #19,217
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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Reviews: 352 | Ratings: 1,222 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by AKuehn47:
Photo of AKuehn47
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%

More User Reviews:
Photo of KeithS
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good solid summer beer without all the gimmicks that come with summer beers. Nice and light but with enough flavor to make it interesting.

Good beer for me when my taste buds want something easier and less hoppy.

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Photo of TH28
3.95/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

16oz can. 2/16/17 can date. Appearance: Golden and mostly clear with a slight touch of haze, and a moderate frothy white foam head. Aroma: Doughy, bready, with a touch of floral, spicy hops Taste: Bready, crackery maltiness that turn to a sharp, abrupt, strong bitterness that has a strong spice quality. Mouthfeel: Medium to heavy bodied for the style, with a moderate carbonation Finish: Strong lingering spicy hop bitterness dominates. Dry, with little evidence of the malt. Overall: A really nice crisp lager with a bit of body, but waaay too hoppy to fit in the Helles style. Has the bitterness of an overly aggressive Dortmunder or maybe more so a Pilsner. Closer to a Czech pils because of the more robust malt base

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Photo of gvarsity
4.83/5  rDev +25.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I'm not a huge fan of lager beers because of their general lack of flavor and body. Hell is an amazing beer. Hell is one I would reach to over many other beers of styles that I prefer at any time.

In the warm summer months when refreshment as well as flavor and beer enjoyment is required HELL is unmatched for me. This is my favorite summer beer. Everything you want from a sit on the deck beer in lightness, refreshment and drinkability but with taste.

Grab one I think you will be surprised.

note: I rated this comparing it to what it is supposed to be not in comparison to other styles such as DIPA and Imperial Stouts etc.. For a lager beer it really hits on all cylinders.

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Photo of Wer34truh
2.99/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Golden appearance with a one-finger thick head.

Crisp smell with notes of cloves. I also detected what can best be described as grapes in the smell. Almost like someone hid a little bit of white wine in a can of beer.

The taste was surprisingly subtle for a Surly beer. Yes, it's a lager but I've been surprised by the attitude of pretty much every other Surly beer I've tried. Has a aftertaste of apple, and of malt - the later of which lingers for quite a while. I also picked up on quite a bit of sourness, which certainly did not work for me.

Carbonation is heavy to begin with, but dissipates quickly. Generally speaking, I enjoyed the feel of this much more than the subtle taste.

I probably won't return to this, but if I'm ever at the Surly Taproom and have to recommend a beer to someone who considers anything darker than Grain Belt an abomination - then this is the one. Otherwise, there are much better lagers from Minnesota.

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Photo of Ssitron
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of jwc215
3.59/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Milwaukee Burger Company, Franklin, WI:

Pours golden with a nice lasting head. Lacing sticks down the glass.

The smell is of grain with some nuts.

The taste is of some grain - sweet with some general (floral) bitter-ish hop balance.

Cream and crisp.

Easy enough to drink. Pretty much a standard lager.

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Photo of beerwolf77
3.68/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another load of Surly came in recently courtesy of my friends from the twin cities. To my surprise they snagged some hell. Can split into tulips.

A: Mostly clear golden pale yellow. Solid finger of white head. Soapy lace.

S: Crisp pils malt. Sweet and earthy grains. Hops are present but nothing too strong.

T: Soft pale malt and sterling hops make for a mild flavor. Some breadiness but not much. The yeast makes for a nice finish.

M: Light body with biting carbonation.

O: A BMC drinkers cross over beer. Nothing sexy just easy drinking.

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Photo of magictacosinus
3.73/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Hooray, yet another lager from one of my favorites! I always love a good craft lager. Sent to me by amerak. Poured out of a 16oz can into a pokal glass. Canning date is listed as "09/17/13."

Pours a good example of the style - yellow straw, with a frothy white head that rises in a foamy manner that eventually dissipates into a ring, leaving behind some stickiness. Contains a ton of carbonation, with bubbles aggressively rising upwards at first, followed by smaller scattered lines that kept rising no matter how long I let this sit about. Not sure what's up with the head, but we'll leave it at that for now.

Unlike other Surly offerings, where a hop dankness is immediately present, this provides, perhaps, the exact opposite of an experience. Wet, crisp grains, cereal, and toffee make up the predominant flavor, with a little bit of lemon zest and grass following afterwards. Very mild stuff, to be honest. Contains some notes of white grapes and stone fruit (maybe melons as well), but I can barely tell. Still, it's what I expect from the style, for better or for worse.

The flavor follows the exact path of the aroma, with mild bitterness, stronger emphasis towards the malts, and a crisp clean finish. With a quick barrage of toffee and cane sugar at the front, any sweetness is subdued with a bit of the crackly, toasted cereal grain notes, some wet, cracker-like texture, hop zest, and a little bit of indistinguishable fruitiness (I want to go towards apples, but I'd probably be making stuff up). Nothing too complex, as it finishes extremely clean and wet, with minimal astringency and dryness, but it's undeniably refreshing. This goes down like air! It does get even more malty as it warms up, but that provides a flavor profile that is still unique as far as an American take on this style goes.

Whether or not this is a tribute to helles lager or a Dortmunder, it's very curious to see more "definitive" American breweries (known for fruity, intense hop profiles and the classic 2-row caramel malt flavor) brewing THESE kinds of lagers when they are switching up their game from brewing ales. I tend to prefer lagers that are a bit more balanced, with an emphasis on the classic toffee malt/spicy and grassy hop profile, but I suppose this is a good change of pace for the brewery. This isn't a style that always leads to great things, and in this case, nothing is wrong with it. I'd love to have it fresh on tap someday, however, as I feel many of nuances that seem lost in this can would be far more present.

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Photo of GarbageMan10
3.67/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of maedhros09
3.89/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I think the surly description of this one says it pretty well. You get the full flavored bready malts with enough hops to provide just a bit of balance. Simple and tasty.

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Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%

Photo of vikinghorn
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%

Photo of brn9000
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%

Photo of DbbC
3.75/5  rDev -2.3%

Photo of Smconnor
3.74/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of twiggamortis420
3.3/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16 oz can courtesy of biglobo8971, canned on stamp of 07/08/11. Uber-fresh Surly? Yes please! Pours a fairly clear gold color with a small white head. Retention is average at best and lacing minimal.

Nose is very grainy, smells like the grain crusher at the homebrew shop with some floral hops in tow. Doesnt really have the yeast presence I noticed in the two other Zwickels I have had.

Taste is grainy, light and fresh. This reminds me more of a Helles Lager than a Zwickel...the yeast is just not there. Hops provide a nice bittering, clean finish and the beer is very drinkable but I am surprised that both of the German imports Ive sampled in this style were tastier than this. I think Surly is one of the best breweries in the country, but this one just does not really do it for me.

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Photo of artoolemomo
3.8/5  rDev -1%

Photo of sirosler
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: A beautiful clear yellow-gold color with a quickly-dissipating two finger white head and no lacing.

S: Grainy and sweet with a clean, bready aroma and a scent of apples.

T: Bananas was the first thing I though of, with a lot of sweet malt. Fresh, simple, and clean with some bitterness.

M: Smooth with medium body and carbonation.

O: A good lager that's refreshing and easy to drink. The style has personally never done much for me but, as always, Surly makes a valiant effort.

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Photo of iHeartMNBeer
4/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of Barnoloid
3.82/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of dfillius
4.63/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a pint glass
Sold out in one hour from the Four Firkins? Let's see what all the fuss is about.

A: Aggressive pour yields 3 fingers of pillowy white head with great retention. Crystal clear pale straw liquid. Love all the head!

S: Assertive herbal hop triumphs over a still noticeable bready malt. Very clean. Delightful.

T: OMG! Complex and flavorful hearty bread to start. Perfect amount of bittering to balance it. Best lager I've had to date? Top 3 definitely. No distracting tastes like I've experienced in other lagers (metallic especially).

M: Crisp, bright, well bittered.

D: Strong. Gimme more! I would order another and definitely buy another four pack or two. I do see what all the fuss was about. This is a beer to be tracked down and enjoyed on a warm day in the sun.

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Photo of sonata2008
2.98/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Served in a 16 oz. pint glass. The color was a clear pale straw with a thin head.
S: Very faint hops, no malt aroma.
T: Not much maltiness to speak of, a slight sweetness. There is a hop bitterness and a somewhat unpleasant aftertaste.
M: Very thin mouth feel.
D: Not much at the temperature it was served at.

This is very disappointing coming from Surly. This is the second time I have had this beer, at a different location this time around, so no mistake in getting the order right. It reminded me of Japanese beer. Perhaps if it were chilled to ~34F it would be more palatable.

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Photo of ISmith87
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Surly Hell Lager

Appearance – 4 – Standard looking lager, clear as hell, straw colored, exactly what I'd expect
Smell – 4 – Not much there, but then again there shouldn't be. Straw, bread, corn, rice, all light and easy to take in.
Taste – 4 – Clean lager taste. I don't think I've had a lager in a long time and this one is a great one to start up again. All the same stuff that's in the smell is in the taste. Better than Bud.
Mouthfeel – 4 – LIGHT, alc covered, aftertaste slight bitterness but almost non-existent. Anyone up for beer pong?
Overall – 4 – Great lager, better than the other AALs. Goes down like water

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Photo of jreindl
3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a pale yellow into an Imperial pint with about an inch of soft white head, moderate lacing. Smells very bready and sweet, with a hint of spice and citrus hops. Taste is very clean, predominantly bready/crackers with subtle notes of spicy noble hops and citrus. Finishes dry, very little linger. Light mouthfeel, very clean with a fair amount of carbonation. Very drinkable. This is an excellent lager, although I tend to prefer ales. An excellent sessionable brew, very clean and easy drinking, plenty of flavor but light enough to have a few and not feel filled up.

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Hell Lager from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 1222 ratings