Hell | Surly Brewing Company

very good
324 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

Style: Munich Helles Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by feloniousmonk on 08-26-2008

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Reviews: 324 | Ratings: 1,120
Photo of ta_hagen
4.84/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Very light tasting beer. Love this during summer time. Pours a clear golden color with white head. Cereal grains and floral notes on the nose; follows onto the palate. Finishes clean and crisp. This does not taste like a lager, but more like a light pale ale and dry finish. Thumbs up!

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Photo of gvarsity
4.83/5  rDev +24.8%
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 paladinjoe
4.75/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I know I'm in the minority when I say this, but this is my overall favorite Surly Beer. The taste is full, without being overpowering. The after taste has what they call a bread like flavor, and to me it goes well with anything from Pizza, to Steak, an absolute winner!! This is a Beer I could have everyday. If only Surly could bring the price down a buck or so.

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Photo of tyleeis
4.67/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Helles is one of my fav euro styles and this is by far one of the best examples I've tried. A little more hoppy than I expected...similar to 3 Floyd's Gorch Fock, also an excellent twist on a Helles lager.

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Photo of bmike86
4.67/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I picked up a 4 pack from Edina Liquor off of York Ave across from Southdale.

Appearance --- a nice light golden yellow with about a finger worth of white head

Smell --- malts, a bit of grass and grain

Taste --- bread like, malts, with a faint citrus

Mouth feel --- crisp early and finishes soo smoothly, has a light body and a bit of carbonation

Overall --- when the weather warms up during the year, this is the style I look for and Surly did a great job with their take on it… I will be coming back for more and more! I am thankful to live in the Twin Cities, where this is a fairly accessible beer in the liquor stores out here. I may not be the biggest fan of Surly’s year-round line up, but they hit some real home-runs with their seasonals

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Photo of rayjay
4.65/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

from kegatron

Rich golden brite beer with superb foam.

Rich fresh malts galore. Toasty, with some lager sulphur compounds. Simply delicious. Clean, just about as sweet as grainy bread. Zippy Saaz bitterness that lets the malts win in the end. Simple and to the point, I like it!

Mouthfeel is light crisp and refreshing. Great balance of lightness and simplicity with refinement and thought-provoking challenge. Another knockout from a great brewery. Cheers!

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Photo of dfillius
4.63/5  rDev +19.6%
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 ZAP
4.62/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I love this as an easy drinking lager with flavor and character in the summer. It is a little bready but has some pronounced citrus hop flavor ( a lot of orange and tangerine).

Excellent texture and body....almost creamy but still crisp...lower ABV makes this perfect for sessioning...the only issue I have is the pricing. I'd love to buy this by the case for the summer if it was priced along the lines of what Summit EPA is but it is priced like a DIPA, etc and I just can't afford to buy this because I will drink too much of it at that price. A DIPA I can rationalize because those are sippers...2-4 a night tops....shit this I could drink 10-12 of throughout the day and would if it was priced like Summit EPA (12 pack of 12 ouncers for 10.99 at some places).

I realize this probably takes a lot of skill to produce this type of quality lager and the price in theory may be justified but I really think this could really become a go to beer for many if it was priced a little lower and marketed to the macro crowd. I could see this being Surly's Spotted Cow but only 100 times better....

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Photo of pmccallum86
4.57/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a golden yellow straw color with a small white head the dissipates quickly.

Smell is very earthy and grassy with a light bready malt aroma in the background.

Taste is very clean and crisp with a big pilsner flavor. Very good flavor for the style. Light hops and bready malts in the finish, very good.

Mouthfeel is smooth and crisp. Medium carbonation with a light body.

Very drinkable, perfect beer for a hot summer day.

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Photo of EwaldEichstaett
4.53/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Got a pint on tap, great looking pour. Nice color and carbonation. Foam remains on the top of the beer throughout. Foamy side of the glass when finished.

S: Malty smell a little bit like bread. There is something a bit sour about the smell as well.

T: Malts are the predominant flavor- this is a (Hell)es of course. The sour taste is present, although it is not strong or unpleasant. think it adds a bit of character to the brew. Nice bit of hop presence at the end.

M: Nice and thick feel in the mouth, decent carbonation. This is a lager beer that makes you actually feel like you are drinking something.

Supremely drinkable!

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Photo of Ryan011235
4.52/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a pint glass on 9/15/10

Many thanks to biglobo8971

Pale & straw colored, Hell hath but a soft haze when held to the light. Poured an ample, one inch head with a high count of rising bubbles. The head is porous & visibly agitated while it recedes to a patchy skim. A few minor strings of lace.

Grass & grains comprise a good majority of the aroma. Lemongrass, toasted grains & a faint yeast note. It smells reasonably hoppy; earthy with hints of citrus - lemon & orange peel. Very, very nice.

The hops are showcased upfront. Moderate bitterness; somewhat earthy with citric accents throughout. Grassy overtones manifest for a brief spell, as large swaths of toasted grain & Pilsner malts sweep in on the latter half. The taste is clear & well-balanced.

Maybe a little more than light bodied. Carbonation is fairly low; there's just enough to complement the flavors. The finish is more of a soft landing than a crisp, sharp ending; I find it quite befitting. Subtle malts & ghosts of lemon lest make for pleasant, lingering residuals.

Hell is top notch for drinkability. Incredibly flavorful & balanced. The American hops do wonders for the beer without over-shadowing the finer aspects. If possible, this would have regular visits in the old beer fridge. Recommended.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I would almost like to call this one a Macro done right! A very kind and courteous BA sent me a good bit of this one and I am very glad that he did. Served cold and poured into a pint glass.

The pour was the best I could see. Clear, rich golden amber in color with tons of carbonation bubbling up toward the surface. Massive looking I have to say. Aroma at first is dominated by notes of wheat and light earthy hops, but warming brings out much more complexity and in fact a good bit of richness. Hints of almost lavender and jasmine, more then likely not, but that same floral kind of aroma is there. Smooth, clean, crisp, and a bit heavier then I would have expected given the style. Rich flavor abounds here. Tons of malt up front but very nicely balanced against a big hop finish and a grainy and earthy aftertaste.

Overall a wonderful addition to their lineup. This is damn near a perfect summer brew, I could have drank ten of these without batting an eye, it was just that smooth. Go get this one.

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Photo of Pitmonkey
4.48/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Hell? Hell yes!

That is damned good beer.

Kellerbier, Munich Helles, German light lager... whatever... this is what American lagers should be like.

Mine was surprisingly clear for an unfiltered beer, no haze and no floaties but the light wasn't the best so maybe there was a light haze I wasn't able to see. It looked yellow and clear to me. Head was thin but persisted on glass as the beer went down.

Primary smell was grain.

Taste was sweet and... you got it, grain, malt yum. Smooth, finishes with hints of bitterness at the corners of the tongue. Reminds me of a legendary local lager only better.

Lightly carbonated, light, refreshing but a lot of flavor and balance.

Did it knock me over with flavor? No, but I didn't really expect it to. It was malty, balanced and refreshing. I am sad that is likely the only glass I will get but I'm glad I searched 5 places for it.

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Photo of TastyTaste
4.47/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Surly's first foray into a traditional German lager. I will be the first to admit that what I like about Surly is the usual intense dosage of hops, malt, or some other ingredient to make an assertive, strongly flavored beer.

This is a very good German-style lager. It tastes fresh and crisp, has a beautiful malt backbone, and only a flirtation with hops. I have nothing to complain about with this beer, it is up to the standards of having "Surly" on it's label.

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Photo of gordavidson
4.47/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- Pours a slightly hazy yellow with a bit of orange for good measure. The white head settles to the tiniest small splotch.

S- Light fruits and some bready malt. Very clean and simple. There is something special to this that I can't put my finger on.

T- Sweet malt and some fruit. Very clean on the finish. The sweetness is definitely kept in check and there is no strange lasting flavors.

M- There is a perfect amount of carbonation that keeps it light without providing too much bite. The finish is extraordinarily clean.

O- Extremely drinkable. Simple and very well made. I would make,this a regular if I could.

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Photo of pweis909
4.46/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This might be my favorite beer from Surly for its simple beery goodness. Beer doesn't need to be angry, it can just be enjoyed for the way it balances a cracker-like malt with a touch of mid palate sweetness and a lingering bitterness. The beer is transparent and golden with a good head and lacing on the glass etc. If you brought beer lovers from the last three generations together and you made them agree to drink just one beer for the rest of forever, this one would contend.

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Photo of samie85
4.45/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear golden color with two fingers of white head.

Smells of sweet malt with with some lemony hop notes.

Follows the nose with sweet light grain and light lemony and grassy bitterness on the finish.

Mouthfeel is nice and light with low carbonation.

Very easy drinking; wish I would have bought more of this one considering the hot streak we're having currently.

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.45/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a clear spun gold color. The head is one inch in height, and recedes slowly into nice sticky lacing. The aroma very bready, slightly spicy, and has a nice faint metallic thing going on that reminds me of a lot of good beers I drank while living in Germany. For a golden lager this beer has a very robust aroma. The taste is as bready as the aroma with a hop presence that is noticeable, but certainly plays second fiddle to the malt. The nice metallic taste from the aroma is present in the taste too. Again, like the aroma, the taste is larger than one would expect from a golden lager. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with lively carbonation, and a smooth texture. Overall, this is a very nice beer. It is sessionable, flavorful, and has good complexity in more taste and aroma. I would really like to see Surly making this into a year-round beer.

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Photo of cpolking
4.45/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a glowing yellow-honey golden in color with three quarters inch of pure white head. The head dissipates with medium rapidity and leaves very light lacing on the glass.

The aroma is fresh and clean, aromatic, zesty in a citrus way, fresh tall grass, a bit sweet, and somewhat fruity, with a touch of lager funk.

The taste is honey sweet, citrus zest, on a subtle but solid malt grain base, and a nicely refreshing finish that is bitter, but not so much to cancel out the other flavors. As the beer is consumed it leaves a bit of a flat feeling on the tongue and needs just a touch more carbonation to last throughout the beer and finish a bit more refreshing.

It is hard to do justice in describing just how awesome this beer tastes and smells.

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Photo of brewdoc75
4.45/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to my buddy's wife, I got 8 of the beauties.

A: Straw yellow with golden hues. Strong carbonation. Minimal head.

S: Sweet malts with a hint of biscut. I get some faint fruitiness as well. Faintly floral hops in the end. Not super aromatic, but pretty good for a lager.

T: Maltiness is strong with this one. Faintly sweet and tons of grains. There is a mild fruity tone as well. I can't put my finger on it though. I taste hops towards the end with some spiciness and a pleasant balancing bitterness.

M: Light on the tongue. Crisp, clean and lovely.

D: This is an exceptional lager. I'm not super familiar with the style, but it is definitely one I want more of. This beer is the epitome of drinkability. This should be a summer seasonal for Surly. It would be in my fridge all summer long. A great companion on golf outings and fishing trips or just after a night mowing the lawn...which I should get around to.

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Photo of kruse
4.42/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at my local.

Golden with a nice white head.

Lovely hop aroma with substantial fruitiness.

Good hoppy flavor, but not overpowering. Some flavor from the grain, but could have been a bit more pronounced.

Decent mouthfeel.

Overall a very drinkable and refreshing beer. Good for a summer afternoon.

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Photo of esch
4.42/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Brilliant clarity, dark straw color. Almost no head to speak of. 2mm compact off-white bubbles ring the glass.

S: Very grainy. Malt is dominant but still not overwhelming. Hints of hop aroma, honey-like... Some DMS.

T: Grainy-sweet. The first thing I think of is Honey Comb Cereal. Again, only the vaguest hop contribution. Malt sweetness is countered mid-palate by just enough bitterness to keep the malt in check. Finish is quite even, perfect balance of sweet and bitter; leaving the palate clean with the aftertaste of pils malts.

M: Medium body. A bit more than I expected. Medium carbonation. No alcohol heat, astringency or creaminess.

D/O: If Mild didn't, this should shut the Surly critics up pretty quickly. While it's not something I'd expect to see as a year-round, this is a knockout session lager. Proving once and for all that Omar, Todd and crew can produce solid beers from 100 IBU IPAs to century old German recipes.

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Photo of KFBR392
4.41/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Canned 11/25/13

Appearance: Pours with a finger of bubbly head. Settled in to a thin layer across the top and was present while drinking. Sticky random lacing left behind at each level. The color is a straw yellow/golden color. Active carbonation, in line with many other lagers.

Smell: Grassy hop character with some mild tropical fruit hop tones jump out right away. Cloves and buttery yeast character form an impressive body. Flowery, airy character rounds out the aroma.

Taste: Rounded yeast character gentle warms its way on to the palate. Prairie grass and some fruity hops jump out on the body. Lingering light hop bitterness meshes well with the pilsner malt dryness on the back end.

Mouthfeel: So wonderfully clean and crisp on the palate yet provides an extra layer of hop tones which takes this brew to the next level. Carbonation is perfect.

Overall: A masterfully executed brew and has single handedly rejuvenated my love for lagers. Great lagers seem to be few and hard between in the American craft seen, but this one is a must try.

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Photo of corby112
4.4/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a clear golden yellowish orange color with pale golden banana yellow when held to a light source and a one finger frothy soapy white head. Very good retention, only slowly fading into a thin cap and lasting ring that leaves rings of soapy lacing in it's path.

Sweet pilsner malt aroma with nice bready yeast notes, light fruit, toasty biscuit malt and subtle hops. The pilsner malt provide a slight golden apple presence as well as a very nice toasty biscuity nose.

Lots of crisp light flavor but not watered down at all. Refreshing slightly creamy medium body with a nice amount of bready yeast and crisp light fruit. I'm picking up a lot of apple, first in the aroma and now in the flavor. There is a lot of sweet pilsner malt that is countered by a slight zest spiciness and an amazing crisp floral hop presence as well as a pleasant toasted biscuit malt character. This is an insanely drinkable, very flavorful session beer that I wish that I had constant access to.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.38/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16 oz can poured into SA sensory glass. Appearance is straw colored with a faint amount of haze. Dense white head forms and retains well, considerable amount of lacing left behind. The nose starts with lemon and bread. The bready component features notes of wheat and yeast and gives a biscuit like quality to the aroma. Light herbal hops make a presence at the finish paired with mellow lager yeast. The taste starts with mellow malty sweetness, notes of lemon, grain, and corn. This is followed by huge bready dryness that off sets the mellow sweetness and provides a great balance. The finish features one last wave of lemon zest. Tons of delicate flavors here balanced terrifically. Mouthfeel is light and refreshing. This is a terrific lager, definitely worth seeking out, even for the ale heads.

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Hell from Surly Brewing Company
3.87 out of 5 based on 1,120 ratings.
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