Hell | Surly Brewing Company

very good
326 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: 326 | Ratings: 1,124
Photo of Spokie
4.9/5  rDev +26.6%
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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Photo of DraconusDesanctus666
4.06/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

P- Poured from a 16 oz can,into a pint glass.Canned on 02/16/17.

L- Thin frothy white colored head with low retention and minimal lacing.Gold colored body,slightly hazy,with good clarity.Medium amount of carbonation.

S- On the nose I get bready malt,floral hop,and grassy notes.Some hints of spice hops,but subdued.

T- On the palate I get bready malt up front,grassy floral hops in the middle,and spice hops on the back end.

F- The mouth feel is medium light,with a good amount of oxidation on the tongue.Silky texture with a smooth finish.

O- This is a very good lager in my opinion.I like that it has a strong hop presence on the back end.I would drink this again,and recommend if you like a little hop to your lagers.

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Photo of TH28
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
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 DrMullet
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear medium golden yellow.
Smell is light sweet grain, slightly floral.
Taste is mainly grain and corn. Slight pepper, no real floral component.

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Photo of ipeters1017
3.9/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From a can into a standard pint glass. Pours clear with a straw color and a big head, dissipates quickly. Smells of bread and slightly sweet. Tastes like bread with a really nice slight spiciness that lingers--that might be the hops. There's a slight sweetness and it finishes clean. Mouthfeel is watery and has a good amount of carbonation. I would prefer to drink this with a meal, which I'll definitely be trying next. Very refreshing, and I'm looking forward to having this as a summer beer.

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Photo of superspak
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got in a trade with The-Adjunct-Hippie. 16 ounce can into lager glass, canned on 6/21/2016. Pours lightly hazy medium golden yellow color with a small dense white head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings down the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Aromas of lemon, pear, apple, cracker, biscuit, light honey, herbal, floral, grass, light pepper, and yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance of pale malt, earthy hops, and light fruity yeast notes; with good strength. Taste of lemon, pear, apple, cracker, biscuit, light honey, herbal, floral, grass, light pepper, and yeast earthiness. Light-moderate herbal/spicy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of cracker, biscuit, light honey, herbal, floral, grass, light pepper, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Great robustness and balance of pale malt, earthy hops, and light fruity yeast flavors; with a great malt/bitterness balance, and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-moderate dryness from bitterness, lightly increasing through the glass. Fairly clean on lager flavors; some light yeast fruitiness present, but not overwhelming. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, crisp, moderately creamy/grainy, and fairly sticky balanced mouthfeel that is great. Zero warming alcohol as expected of 4.5%. Overall this is a great kellerbier style. All around great robustness and balance of pale malt, earthy hops, and light fruity yeast flavors; very smooth, crisp, clean, and refreshing to drink. Just a touch too fruity from the yeast; but spot on for the style otherwise. A very enjoyable offering.

 1,699 characters

Photo of Parmesan
3.74/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

L: Pours a clear straw gold color with a large frothy head that dissipates slowly. No lacing left on the glass.

S: Crackers, white bread, some sweet honey from the malt. I don't get very much hop character in this beer.

T: Cracker, white bread, sweet honey and some other sweet malt. Very little hop bitterness.

F: Mouthfeel feels a little watery.

O: This is a pretty good lager, but there are better options out there, it is not mind blowing. The mouthfeel doesn't quite feel right for a lager.

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Photo of Wiffler27
4.18/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

one of the more flavorable lagers out there.

i got this on draft a few times while in Minneapolis. light and easy to drink yet has a nice flavor. great on draft, worth trying for sure

 184 characters

Photo of irrevjim
3.94/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

from a can to a pilsner glass
look; slightly hazy bright golden, 1" fluffy head, not much retention or lacing
smell; honey, saltines, good lager smell
taste; sweet malt, honey, mild hops kiss, classic german lager
feel; smooth, hint of dry, moderate but not intrusive carbonation, very drinkable
overall; an excellent classic german lager

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.83/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Gold in color with a fairly hazy complexion. There's an inch of frothy and creamy off white head on top. I smell sourdough bread malt notes and faint German bittering hops. The taste is closely in line with the aroma. I'm getting that sourdough pretzel flavor along with Saaz bittering hops. The mouth is very smooth, light, and quaffable.

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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 SomethingClever
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16 oz can poured into Spiegelau glass canned on 5/26

A: body is a yellow gold in color with a small bubbled creamy looking white head beer has great clarity

S: corn, caramel, doughy breads slight hints of toasted bread as well

T: nice deep caramel sweetness with just slight traces of hop bitterness on the end, some corn, deep dough breadiness with almost a little bit of nuttiness

M: light to medium with a little slickness

O: This is an amazing beer its sweet light smooth good carbonation and bursts with caramel bready corn flavors with just a slight berry hints of hops in the background this is easy drinking.

 621 characters

Photo of HoppyBastard
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 16 ounce can into a Shaker pint glass, "canned on" date 4-14-16.

APPEARANCE: pours a clear, light golden color with less than one-finger white head that quickly dissipated until just a ring of small bubbles remained around the rim of glass, lighter than average carbonation, there is a small amount of lacing on the glass.

SMELL: initially sweet honey, bread and grassy, very pleasant for a lager.

TASTE: bread, honey, then a very nice hop bite, finishes clean.

PALATE: medium body and lighter than average carbonation.

OVERALL: this is a very good Helles Lager, I will buy this one again and would recommend to anyone who enjoys the style, this is a very flavorful beer and the 4.5% ABV means you can enjoy more than one.

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Photo of bbtkd
3.69/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Surly Hell, 4.5% ABV, 20 IBU, style is Munich Helles Lager. Pours thin and nice pale cloudy yellow, not much head, not much lacing. Served in an iced glass (yes, I know!) which at my core temperature was excellent, even if it may detract from the beer. Nose is...fresh. Taste is a bit yeast, slight bitterness, but very good. Mouthfeel is typical for a lager, and overall an excellent beer.

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Photo of matcris
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

APPEARANCE: A hazy golden/yellow. Chilled to the bone, so the head was just a small layer. Nice amount of small bubbles rising. Minor lacing.
AROMA: I get a nice grainy/grassy aroma. Lots of bready malt. Smells nice.
TASTE: Very clean tasting. Mild bitterness. Lots of bready sweet malt.
FEEL: Perfect level of carbonation...lots...for this style. Medium thin body, super refreshing. Dry overall.
OVERALL: Super refreshing, I chilled this way down to just above freezing. Perfect for a hot day.

 494 characters

Photo of Rockjocknroll
4.29/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: Lovely pale straw; totally clear with a small but sturdy head.
S: Rich lager yeast, bready malt, a hint of sweetness
T: Great smooth and slightly sugary pale malt. The traditional hop bitterness is perfectly balanced with a little more honey than you usually find in a helles. Long finish for a light lager.
M: Silky smooth with a little flair from the carbonation and sticks on the tongue.
O: What a great lager. I wish we could get this more often; it would help convert more AB drinkers!

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Photo of brewmudgeon
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Finally, my first Surly! (Had a chance to buy an oldish bootleg can of Furious a few years back for 6 bucks and reluctantly passed, but now the stuff is everywhere and at a more reasonable price.) A deep gold with a white one-finger had. Smell liike a pilsner, fair amount of noble hoppiness coming through. There is perhaps a little more of a malty body than a typical pilsner, but if this were a blind tasting I would certainly have guessed that style rather than Helles. In any event, this is clearly a good, solid beer with everything pleasantly balanced although nothing really seems outstanding about it. Finishes easy and will definitely be visited again, at which time maybe additional impressions will emerge.

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Photo of stevoj
3.84/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Flight at MSP. Nice light bodied, slick helles. Light grain flavor, light corn, subdued grain aroma. Tasty lager, one of the best of the group, and a damn fine rendition of of a dortmunder.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.77/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Lots of yellow, lots of clarity, good white head, soft, tiny bubbles. Aroma comes across bready, grassy and floral.

Enjoyable skunky lager, hoppy, highly carbonated. Flavorful lagers. Some flowery peppery stuff at times. Good for warmer weather.

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Photo of Czequershuus
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a light gold with a large dissipating head. The aromas are primarily bready,with some hints of dry caramel and black pepper. The flavor lead with the light bready notes, with the peppery spice coming in at the finish. There is also a slight hint of maplewood present. The mouthfeel is quite full for a lager. Overall this is one of the more flavorful, full-bodied lagers I have had.

 398 characters

Photo of maedhros09
3.89/5  rDev +0.5%
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 Wer34truh
2.99/5  rDev -22.7%
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.

 945 characters

Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours from a can into a Pilsener glass. L: Brilliant straw under a quickly receding 1” creamy white foam cap. S: Light grains with a faint hint of apple and sulfur. T: Light grainy sweetness, some spice, malty aftertaste, mild bitterness. F: Very crisp, light, above average carbonation. O: Refreshing, easy to drink.

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Photo of MNJR
2.71/5  rDev -30%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Not great, and sold at a premium price - $10.99 for four pints. The math is not on their side considering the taste of this brew. Funky, sour, skunky, not clean and "bright" as the name would suggest. Actually, it is unfiltered and cloudy, so the name is totally misused. Thick, soupy feel, and a little flat. Flavors of wet cardboard and sour cream. Smells like a macro brew, PBR or equivalent. A very average beer from my standpoint. I think I had it one time before, and forgot not to buy it again. I will drink what's left, but not with much enjoyment.

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Photo of drpimento
3.2/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Appearance, body, and aroma aren't bad, but didn't care for flavor too much. The malt and hop combo clashed leaving me with off flavors. One time only for me.

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Hell from Surly Brewing Company
3.87 out of 5 based on 1,124 ratings.
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