Hell | Surly Brewing Company

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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: 320 | Ratings: 1,096
Photo of facundoCNB
3.72/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A clean pale golden yellow, finger of head which dissipated rather quickly. Aroma of pilsner malts, grassy hops, honey-frosted cereal.
The flavor is very sweet up front, with a refreshing subtle citrus and bready malt backbone, subtle grassy bitter hops.
Light in body and high carbonation this is a very refreshing lager, and quite damn tasty as well!

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Photo of ISmith87
4/5  rDev +3.4%
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 Ri0
3.94/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

poured 16oz can into Duvel tulip. canned on 6/21/2013

A - Darker yellow straw with a 2 finger white head. Very transparent with a light stream of bubbles. Small retention and limited lacing.

S - Grain, grass, Pilsener malt with light floral and herb hops. Some cracker and bread sweetness.

T - Pisener malt and breadiness are the main players. Some grass, grain, and light floral/herb hops pop up.

M - Light, crisp and wet on the palate. Carbonation is right on for the style.

O - Very nice take on Munich Helles Lager. I enjoyed it on a 90 degree day.

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Photo of tectactoe
4.02/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to maximum12 for all the Surly love. The man is single-handedly accountable for sending me over 75% of the Surly beers I've had to date, and it is much appreciated. Surly Hell pours out with a straw-colored body; helles... that's Deutsch for "light" (thanks to the back of the can for that little lesson). Very pale, hazy, and squandering with a white head - cloudy, puffy, and crackling loudly like a box of Pop Rocks.

Surly Hell is far from hell on the nostrils. Zesty sweet grains, mound upon mound of bready malt, and the slightest hint of lemon peels and leafy hops. The hops are toned down and provide only a little aid, which really gives the bright Pilsner malts a chance to shine. It gets a bit sweeter and a little more amped up with warmth; a bit more citrus zest and some more sweet grains. The lager yeast is crisp, chunky, fresh, and certainly inviting.

Pilsner malt-y is the first sip, as well as lager yeast-y. A very nice amount of malt sweetness and doughy bread flavors envelope the tongue and show a nice sign of both balance and control, all at once. Earthy hops hang in the background, providing more of a musty, dry bitterness than actual flavor, which is fine by me... That said, the bitterness is still quite low, retaining superior drinkability in a very appropriate style.

The back-end contains some nice notes of orange and citrus zest; pretty light, just a nice spruce to keep things interesting. A faint musty hop note and bread-laden yeast flavors reign in the finish and clean your mouth of all other flavors (and moisture), begging you to take another sip. Thin bodied, as expected, with lots and lots of carbonation. The lager yeast definitely helps out with the clean mouth feel in the finish.

Superb drinkability, no doubt. I love a good helles lager, and one in a can, no less. This beer exhibits cosmos-level balance in the fact that it would be acceptable to BMC drinkers looking to turn to craft, while also being an excellent rendition of the style it represents, pleasing even people who have been in the game for while now. Far better than many of the other craft helles beers available in my area - why can't Surly extend their reach just a few states east?

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Photo of jhawth
3.38/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: Poured into a stange. Pours a pleasant golden straw color, with visible bubbles. Head dissipates quickly, even with a relatively aggressive pour.

Aroma: Sweet malt and fresh bread notes. Pretty much nothing else.

Taste: Following the smell, lots of sweeter malt notes, lots of yeasty breadiness through the finish. Very little noticeable hop character. Finishes clean.

Mouthfeel: Light but lively carbonation, light bodied.

Overall: A pleasant, very drinkable lager. I could easily have a few of these back to back. Not particuLarly complex or mysterious, just solid and consistent.

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Photo of timmylange
3.53/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Canned 6/10/13, drank 8/5/13

A: A golden honey lemon color with mild carbonation

S: Fresh, crisp citrus with notes of pear

T: A very clean and refreshing taste of malts and pear; very light and almost watery but not watered down

M: Light, crisp, refreshing

O: Very much true to the style; I really enjoyed drinking this beer for it's light qualities and flavor. This is a great beer for summer because you can drink a large quantity and not feel bloated. I can definitely see myself drinking this beer during an all day tube float down the Quadalupe River in Austin.

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Photo of Stevedore
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

16oz tallboy canned 6/21/2013, poured into an unmarked pilsner glass today, 8/5/2013.

This beer pours with a beautiful golden straw-coloured body with a big, big fluffy head that dissipates, leaving a ton of lacing and a nice fluffy film on top. The lacing sticks as the beer goes down. Absolutely gorgeous.

Nose is mostly grassy and floral hops with a nice bready sweetness. There is a nice sweet yeast flavour that isn't spicy like the Belgian kind; it must be a different lager yeast compared to a lot of pilsners. Not a super pungent nose, but just about what I expected.

The taste of this beer is clean, crisp and brings a refreshing bready sweetness topped with grassy hops. It's a very smooth beer that does not finish dry at all, quenching any thirst I had before I cracked this one open. The aftertaste is a nice mild grassy bitterness that makes for a nice palate cleanser. It's a light bodied lager that's very well carbonated and very sessionable.

Very enjoyable lager.. I am starting to enjoy craft lagers and this is most certainly a very good one. Very refreshing and not off-putting at all.

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Photo of jreindl
3.86/5  rDev -0.3%
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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Photo of mwilbur
3.83/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 16 oz can into pilsner glass.
A: Pours a clear pale yellow with high carbonation producing a 1/2 inch white bubbly head. Good retention.
S: Soft and sweet malt notes, toasted grains and bread, hint of pepper and funk...and something akin to 7UP.
T: Gently sweet malt, toasted grains, and soft citrus hops in the distant background.
M: Light body. Mild effervescence from the carbonation.
D: A solid example of style. A wonderfully sessionable brew.

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Photo of Powderhornphil
3.89/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Decided to go with Surly Hell on the first 90 plus degree day in MN of the year.

Not my usual style, but it is tasting pretty good today. Sessionable.

Pours light golden with a slight haze.

Smells crisp, slight breadyness. Some citrus.

Crisp mouthfeel. Quite easy drinking.

Nice change of pace for me and a great example of the style.

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Photo of BigBry
3.96/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Four pack of tall cans, brought back from my last trip to Minnesota, love the Surly and more cans for the collection.
Pours a straw yellow color, slight bit of unfiltered haze. Golden liquid is topped by half an inch of white head. Smell has a slight, grainy sweetness with just enough hop presence. Grassy and a bit herbal. Taste is very similar to the aroma, no suprises, just a crisp refreshing beer. Mouthfeel is light, crisp, dry-ish finish. Very drinkable, would pair well with most meals, and still great on its own.

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Photo of iabeerbaron
3.3/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

The style of this beer isn’t one that is often talked about currently. IPAs, barrel-aged, sours, are dominating headlines with most craft beer drinkers but if you want to try different styles and try them when they are done right, I think Surly can be proud of this beer. This could also quite possibly be a great transition beer for those looking to get into the craft beer world. Rumblings of Surly wanting to expand a bit continues through the midwest and here’s hoping that they make it south to the lovely state of Iowa.


Style: Hells/Dortmunder


Purchased at: France44.com

Pour: Golden straw color with a thick white head.

Aroma: Bread, yeast, light citrus.

Flavor: Lots of breadiness with lemon and bit of hops.

Ratebeer.com rating: 90/100

Beeradvocate.com rating: 88/100

Overall: B

My recommendation: A great beer for the style, extremely drinkable. Surly continues to do things and if you can get up north to Minnesota to get some, buy a bunch, or order from france44.com.

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Photo of falloutsnow
3.71/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From: France44 dot com
Date: Canned on 2013-01-03
Glass: Ayinger willi glass

Note: about four months of age seems to bring out a stronger peach-like essence in this beer, at least from the 2013-01-03 canned batch.

Surly's helles lager is a fairly solid representation of the style, crisp, clean, malty, with slight American hopping-style influence. That being said, there isn't much that separates it from fresh versions of its German-created counterparts, and the difficulty in obtaining this and its relative price make it likely I won't seek it out again.

Pours a 1cm tall head of white bubbles, small to medium in size, and of average retention, lasting about a minute. Fades to a thin ring around the glass, with a few flecks of foam lingering atop the center of the beer. Lacing consists of a few spots adorning the innser sides of the glass, nothing very substantial. Body is a transparent orange-yellow color, fairly bright, with carbonation that is visible, but sparse and somewhat sluggish. Light brings out brighter yellow hues.

Aroma is of light, sweet, grainy malt, lager yeast, slightly grape-like and plenty doughy with hints of a mild fruit ester akin to orange peel mixed with cantalopue. WIth age (four months), the fruit ester becomes rather like the scent from a mild, ripe peach, adding that pleasant component to the beer.

The overall flavor of the beer is sweet, somewhat grainy and bread-like, with slight grassy and vegetative aspects, but a fairly interesting mix of yeast-mixed peach and honeydew melon-like esters, either from hops or generated by yeast. Tasting opens with a front palate that is grainy, bready, and slightly grape-like, moving on to a mid-palate that is grassy and vegetative, mingled with mild hints of grapefruit, peach, and honeydew melon. Back of palate features continued peach and honeydew, mild graininess, and bready brewer's yeast. Aftertaste of malt sweetness, yeast-flecked peach-like esters, and slight graininess.

The beer is medium bodied with carbonation that is of medium intensity and feels "big" on the tongue. This creates a fairly full mouthfeel with some foamy nuances. Closes semi-dry, with little residual stickiness on the palate.

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Photo of macrosmatic
3.61/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to BubbaBeerMan for this one. Reviewed from notes. Poured from 16 oz. can into a CCB pint glass.

A: Light gold, fairly cloudy, with a thin white head that fades fast. Low visible carbonation.

S: Light pilsner malt, bready yeast, light floral and citrus aromas, and just a bit of wheat.

T: Light pilsner malt, light citrus, lager yeast flavors, and just a mild hop bitterness. Pilsner malt graininess on the exhale.

M: Light body, low alcohol presence, great carbonation sensation.

O: I'll likely never drink this again. But, it seems to be a decent example of a beer style I don't care for.

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

Poured into my mouth during another one of the usual disc golf outings with cans. Nice vibrant yellow with a lot of clarity and carbonation running through it, pristine virgin white head on it. Aroma is lightly bready, grassy and floral at alternating moments.

Taste, wow, I'm going to have to give "zwickelz" another chance. This is enjoyable, its much like a good pilsner, thinking back to the old Czech Pilsner I used to drink in the Second Millenium. It is somehow a very good blend of smoothness, high carbonation, floral hops and crispness. Impressive. I wouldn't trade any Furious for it, but its probably one of my favorite lagers out there, in a style I don't completely understand.

In some ways, the mouthfeel is simple and clean, but it really has some delicate and appropriate touches and nuances. There's a little floral non hopped aspect, like some kind of literal flower petal in there, mild pepper notes, etc. . . Its kind of like an episode of the Simpsons, it can work on different levels, be it the simple punch in the crotch laugh or something a little more high brow at the same time (example, Duffman proclaiming in court while being sued by Duff Brewery for intellectual property violations: "Ever heard of 'Fair Use'? (hip thrust, OOOOHH Yeah).

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Photo of zeff80
3.94/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured a cloudy, golden yellow color with a one-finger, white head of bubbly foam. It left sudsy trails of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of caramel and floral notes.

T - Sweet caramel, toffee and grains. Some nice spicy bitterness adds perfect balance.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A light to medium bodied lager.

O - This is a really good lager. Well done by Surly!

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Photo of DovaliHops
3.41/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear golden color with a medium white head. Scent is somewhat citrusy with a grainy aroma. Light hop aroma...very light. Probably the least appealing Surly beer I've tried (aroma-wise). Taste is a little bit better. Nice, light blend of hops, grain, malt, and lemon. Very light and easy-drinking. Mouthfeel is light and crisp. Drinkability is high. Overall, this beer does not have a lot going on. I could see this one being very user friendly to BMC drinkers. It is very refreshing and decent for the style of beer it is. Not my favorite Surly beer.

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Photo of Roland45s
3/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Almost like a pilsner, I think this is more of a wannabe oktoberfest. Poured with a rich white head and had a golden wheat colored body. Picked up from the mid-west, a standard pilsner style beer, not too much to write home about but not the shittiest beer I've ever had. Supposed to be a reminder of Germany, but I have had better.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.13/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

16 fl oz aluminum can served into a Dick's Last Resort pilsner glass at me sister's gaff in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Reviewed live. Expectations are above average given the brewery. Thanks to me sister for purchasing the can for me.

Served straight from the refrigerator and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a two finger head of nice cream and thickness, and good retention. Body colour is a clear translucent pale copper. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Pale malts mainly. Cream. Full barley. Pleasant but simple. Appropriate for the style. Maybe a vague hint of lemon.

T: Pale malt body with full-bodied barley and minimal hopping. Traces of lemon citrus. Balanced but simple and pleasant. An effective Helles. No yeast or alcohol comes through. Balanced and enjoyable. There's nothing special or unique here, though.

Mf: Coarse and wet. A bit too thick. Good carbonation. Suits the flavours alright, and the style fairly well.

Dr: One of Surly's weaker beers, but nevertheless quite drinkable. It's certainly a tasty beer for the style; it's just not one I'd have again. A bit mundane, but worth trying.


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Photo of sommersb
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 10-20-2012
Freshness: Canned on 08-01-12
Packaging: 16 oz. can
Glassware: Seidel
Purchased: Received in a trade

Pours with a big white head. Color is a hazy, bright golden. I get a decent amount of lacing with fair head retention.

Aromas are of light, bready malts plus grassy and floral hop notes. Also has some lemon/citrus smells.

Crisp and clean mouthfeel is the first impression, with carbonation in the moderate range. Flavors are slightly sweet and lightly hopped. Medium-bodied, the finish is again balanced equally between the hops and malts, playing well with each other. It does have a slight vegetable flavor in the aftertaste that I don't care for.

An enjoyable, easy-drinking lager here.

Thanks to fLax for this one!

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Photo of pmarlowe
3.83/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tuilp glass.

A: Pours clear copper color with two fingers of beige colored head, which deflates slowly leaving behind a solid wall of lacing. Very good retention.

S: Bready and amber malt, a little sweet grain, and some whiffs of interesting baker's spices.

T: Clean malt and lagery yeast flavor, a little eatery caramel. Slight bitterness lingers on the palate momentarily.

M: Medium body and carbonation, a little bite.

O: Solid example of the style, though nothing exceptional. Fairly drinkable, and will satiate any lager craving.

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Photo of metter98
3.92/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is clear straw yellow in color and has a moderate amount of carbonation. It poured with a finger high white head that died down but left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface and lots of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: There are moderately strong aromas of grainy malts and earthy yeast in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and also has some notes of yeast along with a light amount of bitterness.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer tastes somewhat like a pale lager but has a lot more flavors due to its unfiltered nature. It's relatively easy to drink.

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Photo of oline73
3.46/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had this on-tap at the Twin's stadium. Served in a big plastic cup.

Appearance: Pours a clear golden amber color with a layer of off white head. The head fades to a ring around the pour.

Smell: A mild malt sweetness with some fruity notes. Nothing particularly special.

Taste: A touch of sweet pils like malt. Mild fruit and grain. The finish reminds me of a pilsner, just a touch herbal.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with just enough carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: I don't think this beer stands out like several of Surly's other offerings. I'm glad I tried it, but I'd probably pass in the future.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured out looking like liquid gold, it was very nice looking. It was a very clear looking yellowish gold color with a nice solid white head on top. The retention and lacing on this beer was quite nice and rather impressive for a beer of this style. The smell of of the beer is a little on the yeast side with some subtle hops aromas and malt sweetness. The taste of the beer is malty with a strong hop bitter finish, some lighter notes of grain and bread in there. Not overly grassy which I was happy about. The mouthfeel is clean and crisp, it's sharp feeling too, good carbonation and body. Overall this is a good brew, not my favorite style but it goes down really easy and could be enjoyed anytime.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear medium golden yellow in color with just a tinge of orange and moderate amounts of visible carbonation. The beer has a fizzy finger tall white head that reduces to a thin film covering the entire surface of the beer with a thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light aromas of bready malts with some grassy and floral hop aromas. There is also a subtle note of light fruit and lemon.

T: The beer starts out with a bready malt flavor with a light amount of sweetness. That is followed by some grassy and floral hops with just a hint of light fruits (pear/apple).

M: Slightly less than medium bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Crisp.

O: Very enjoyable and super easy to drink - I would recommend this beer to others. Good flavors and aromas, definitely sessionable.

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Hell from Surly Brewing Company
3.87 out of 5 based on 1,096 ratings.
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