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Four | Surly Brewing Company

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147 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

Style: Milk / Sweet Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by pdoran10 on 02-24-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 147 | Ratings: 305
Photo of Sirwootalot
4.64/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured on-tap at MacKenzie's customer appreciacion day - this beer is old enough to learn how to spell!

Pours black as sin, with a thin, espresso-like creamy head, and smells like a pastry pantry.

"Oh sweet baby jesus" is more or less what tumbled out of me when I tasted it - this is some seriously rich and thick stuff! Mocha dominates, with a body of creme brulee custard, salted caramel, chocolate ganache, and ancho chili mole sauce. The aftertaste is borderline fruity (more of that ancho), carbonically bitter, and effervescently peppery. It coats the mouth like fine chocolate, and whatever hops are there add a slightly juicy, pleasantly astringent feel.

This is beer heaven. I wish I could've grabbed a bottle back in the day!

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Photo of mjpolzin
4/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Surly. A great mouthfeel, good nose and overall a pretty good taste. What kept this beer from being better though was a slightly tangy, sour taste on the backend of the coffee. It is something I get from coffee stouts that are not quite done as well as they could be. So this beer was good but not great.

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Photo of thorkelson
4.74/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

10 oz pour @ happy gnome

L - jet black with off white head - small, milk stout head appears to be lower carbonation
S - huge whiffs of coffee (duh), some dark fruits, milk, general roast
T - absolutely wonderful. Perfect example of an imperial milk stout - coffee hits up front with vigor and finishes sweet & alcohol is masked well
F - just like it appeared, lower carbonation, easily pallatable

this is my favorite surly anniversary beer by far. Thank you for the rebrew!

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Photo of Taybeh
4.38/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

at the beer hall into a chalice, this is a re-brew of an anniversary offering brewed first in 2010. Very happy to have a chance to try it! Pours a dark black with a very tight frothy foamy khaki head that has great retention and leaves nice lacing. Great nose of bitter espresso, baker's chocolate, roasted but not charred barley, biscuit, and hint of milk and vanilla. All this comes through on the tongue, and a little more vanilla bean, but the real treat here, for me, is the earthy bitterness, which comes on stronger and stronger without really every being too much....it plays off the otherwise bittersweet chocolate and milky sweetness perfectly, ultimately winning out in a way that brings everything into a working harmony. Outstanding velvety smooth mouthful that hides the alcohol brilliantly.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.55/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2016 Rebrew On tap at Surly's Beer Hall. 10 oz. serving in a chalice.

Appearance: Pours jet black with a moderate amount of bubbles. Solid finger of light tan head which settles into a thin creamy layer.

Smell: A roasty and fairly sweet dark malt driven aroma with a scent of chocolate, coffee, and sugar. Dark roasted barley malt with a scent of milk chocolate, coffee beans, and smoke along with some toast, biscuit, and yeast. Sweet hints of milk sugar along with some subtle vanilla. A very good roasty aroma.

Taste: Like the aroma indicates, a roasty and sweet dark malt driven taste with notes of chocolate, coffee, and sugar. Dark roasted barley malt with notes of milk chocolate, coffee beans, smoke, and toast along with notes of biscuit and yeast. Sweet taste of milk sugar along with light vanilla. A really good taste.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Creamy and smooth.

Overall: A very good Imperial Milk Stout. Really nice chocolate and coffee flavors with just enough sugar.

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Photo of Umdrunner
4.21/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Re-brew at Surly beer hall. Poured black with fluffy tan head that had good retention and excellent lacing. Scent was subtle milk chocolate, roasted malt, and coffee. No overpowering scent. Flavor was heavy on the roasted malt, bitter coffee, then rounds out with a touch of sweet milk chocolate. The beer has good carbonation and seems to really coat your mouth. One of the best anniversary beers Surly offers for sure!

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Photo of cdkrenz
4.26/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This beer was released in February of 2010. I've had it in my cellar for 3 years stored at 42.5 degrees.

A - Black as night with a nice frothy beep brown head.

S - Chocolate and coffee are prevalent midst roasted malts.

T - Sharp coffee flavor with nice roasted creaminess in the malt.

M - Smooth and creamy. I have to imagine the milk sugar has really added to the nice texture of this brew.

~ This is an amazing beer. I imagine the brew's sharp coffee flavor may have been a bit more mild had I not aged it for three years. Either way, the cellaring of the beverage hasn't harmed the beer.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.35/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to BeerTwinke for this bottle!
Poured in to tulip glass.

A - Poured black. Half a finger of espresso coloured head formed and reduced to a ring around the edges of the glass with a few scattered bubbles throughout. Good lacing.

S - Big espresso aroma up front despite the two years of age on this bottle. Roast and a fairly prominent sweetness from the milk sugar. Some milk chocolate and dark caramel aromas are also present.

T - A huge roast presence is met with a big sweetness up front. The espresso hits mid-palate and is not as robust as the nose indicated, which is a good thing as it allows the other flavours to play a bigger role. Sweet milk chocolate, dark caramel and molasses notes add layers of complexity. The finish has a mix of bitter espresso and sweet milk sugar, reminiscent of cappuccino.

M - Medium to full body with a really big chew. Light carbonation.

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Photo of DovaliHops
4.47/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark black, with a small-medium, light-tan head. Scent is sweet chocolate and lactose. A good amount of cocoa powder, with very little espresso. Not sure what this smelled like fresh, but it smells amazing now. I'm guessing the espresso was more dominant in the past. Now the cocoa and lactose are very evident. Taste is sweet, milk chocolate with cocoa powder, Nestle Quick, milky lactose, and just a hint of espresso. The coffee profile is very subdued, but it is definitely "milky", which suits the style quite well. Mouthfeel is soft and very creamy. Drinkability is very high. Overall, this is the first Surly Anniversary beer I've had. Got Five and Syx after this. This one is going to be tough to beat. This beer sure held up well over the last few years.

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Photo of korguy123
4.42/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Surly Four courtesy of BeerTwinkie.
Poured into tulip.

A- Inky, oily, syrupy black pour. Finger and a half of light tan head. Lacing is pretty good.

S- Huge coffee notes, still after two years this thing is full of coffee wonder. Dark bitter chocolate, definitely getting the lactose sugar in the back giving it that real sweetness. Slight char and a touch of tobacco.

T- Up front is the lactose sugar, followed by semi sweet chocolate, than you get a huge wallop of burnt, bitter coffee. It's super coffee like I've never had in a beer before. I love coffee and this is excellent.

M- Medium to full body, creamy with just the right amount of carbonation to clean the palate.

O- The biggest thing I've heard/read about aging a beer is coffee flavours won't hold up. GI BCBCS being the biggest example. Either Goose Island can't make a beer of Surly added SO MUCH COFFEE to this that it is faded and the results after 2 years are mind blowing.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.11/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle opened on 5.21.12 Thanks popinbottles

A - Pours a dark brown with a huge dark brown foamy head that lingers forever.

S - Milk chocolate, some wood, and roasted malts.

T - Strong coffee and chocolate. Some toffee and vanilla come out a little later.

D - Good carbonation here with a heavier body.

O - Coffee and smooth, very silky and nice. I was a bit worried how the coffee flavors would hold up on this one due to the age, but it tasted fantastic.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.05/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml purple was topped bottle into a couple of snifters. Big thanks go to Stakem for sharing this guy.

Pours black, with 2 fingers of rich dark mocha head. This maintains a sudsy ½ finger or so of froth, leaving back a robust cascade of rich spotty lacing. Espresso jumps right out in the aroma, with some definite backing lactic character and more malty notes of cocoa and some sweeter molasses. There is just a touch of light ripe citrus here as well which helps round out the nose.

The taste is flavorful mix of coffee, green citrus (with maybe even a smidge of darker fruit as well), and then both cocoa and lactic flavors that really give this a smooth milk chocolate feel. This malt, lactose, citrus, and coffee flavors are all in balance and combine to give this a rich twang on the finish that lingers with a dry roasted feel and some lingering stickiness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, maybe a touch fuller; with a soft creaminess that puts just some light sharpness on the tongue during each sip. For 10% ABV this is just ridiculously smooth and I never would have guessed just how high this was while we were drinking it. Fantastic!

This was nice, being a big and chewy Imperial Milk Stout with a lot of delicious character to it and a super smooth drinkability that really kept this accessible for the size. I’m glad I got a chance at this one. Thanks again Adam!

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Photo of stakem
4/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle split with some friends. The brew appears dark brown to black in color with a brown cap that is quick to recede. A swirl revives about a finger's worth of from that paints some spots of lacing effect on the glass. Around the edges, you can seem some lighter brown clarity and through the body some ruby clarity when held to the light.

The smell of this brew is sweet with hints of chocolate blended with a bit of musty coffee. There is a pleasant roasty element present that is a combination of coffee and roasted grain. A bit of earthiness rounds out the edges of this brew. Throughout the entire experience, there is this sweet smell of lactose that really draws in the scent of milk chocolate.

The taste is roasty from a combination of roasted grain and coffee. The coffee is much more prevalent here than the aroma suggested. The taste of the coffee inclusion is also more fresh tasting the slight mustiness picked up in the nose. Contrasting the bitterness of the roast is also a lactose sweetness that gives this a bit of a milky feel and really draws out the chocolate grain flavors just like it does in the aroma. The aftertaste has a bit of must and citrus inclusion partially from hops and partially from the citrus from the coffee. A light raisin touch of alcohol is also present as the brew warms up.

This is a medium to full bodied brew that is slick and coating to the feel. It is smooth and easy drinking with a pleasantly warming feel from the alcohol that really doesn't even become a factor until the glass is half empty. Overall, I thought this was a pretty fantastic sweet coffee stout. It ranks up there as probably the strongest and top 5 I have had. I wish I could of tried this sooner to get a bigger coffee punch but as-is more than a year after it's release, it is still drinking quite good.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.42/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to chewy08rx for sending me this beer as part of a big box full of Surly beers.

The beer pours a dark brown to black color with a tan head. The aroma has a ton of strong coffee and chocolate notes, with some light smoke and heavily roasted malt.

The flavor is more complex. I get a lot of coffee and lactose, as well as some roasted malt and some light chili pepper notes. Overall, the beer tastes quite a bit like malted milk balls. The alcohol is very well hidden and the beer is extremely drinkable and enjoyable.

Thick, heavy, full mouthfeel and low carbonation. A great beer. Glad I got to try it.

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Photo of portia99
4.35/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle poured into a CBS snifter.

A - Pours a thick, deep black color...totally opaque. A bit of muddiness is present, but doesn't really detract from teh appearance. A finger of cappuccino colored foam, thick and frothy sits on top for a minute or so, falls to the surface leaving behind islands of bubbles and a creamy foam lace is left down the sides of the glass. Good looking beer.

S - Opening the bottle resulted in a big waft of coffee and creamy milk chocolate that could be smelled several feet away. Once in the glass, the coffee totally takes over. Smells almost like a cup of black coffee...rich and intense. Notes of dark chocolate, cocoa powder can be found as well as some milk chocolate. Thinking this is going to be like a liquid chocolate covered espresso bean.

T - Black coffee front and center. Roasty and smooth with a bit of astringency on the finish. Nice touch of sweetness comes thru and smoothes the flavor. Hints of licorice, milk chocolate, bakers chocolate round things out.

M - I've yet to experience a beer this velvety smooth (perhaps BA Blackout, but its been a while). This almost has the consistency of whole milk. Super thick and goes down smooth. Almost feels like it is coating the entire mouth on each sip. Carbonation is on the lower side, a bit bubbly, not at all distracting. It feels alive, but just enough. Mouthfeel maybe the most impressive aspect of this beer.

O - I am really enjoying this beer. I find it hard to believe that this is a 10% beer - there is no discernable alcohol presence. This reminds me a bit of Founders Breakfast Stout (a favorite of mine) with the strong coffee presence and smooth mouthfeel. Sadly, I'm rather certain another bottle of this won't find its way into my cellar, but glad to at least get to try this once.

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Photo of TATURBO
4.41/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First off, Thanks to 4DALoveOfSTOUT for bringing this to share!

A: Super Dark Brown, Nice Head 1/2", Perfect Carbonation 4.5

S: Not really impressed with Smell on this one, Not really an inviting mix. A Bit of Chocolate, Espresso. 3.5

T: In One Word: Delicious! to elaborate, Chocolate, Coffee, Smoke. A Perfect combination of flavors that I love. 5.

M: Medium thickness, a bit lighter than I expected for the style, but still very good. 4.

O: I would love more of this! ISO!! I'll say again it's a prefect mix of flavors that I personally love. Drinks super easy for 10%. Always enjoy when a beer can hide it's higher alcohol content. Smell was my only weakness, but taste made up for it big time. Highly recommend!

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Photo of Duff27
4.45/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very nice brown head retention on a dark brown beer. Great splotchy lacing!

Intoxicating scent blend of milk stout and coffee.

Chocolatey...Coffee is there but not overwhelming. Definite lacto aftertaste. Drinks closer to 6% than 10%abv.

Creamy although thinner than you'd think. Still well carbonated after two years.

Wow, with out a doubt the best milk stout I've ever had. Crazy drinkable. Surly did a great job with Four and with any luck they'll brew it again someday.

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Photo of hopfacebrew
4.5/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Kiddwhiz hooked this up! My man!

Review from 10/6/2010 and for whatever never posted.

A - The beer poured from wax sealed bottle to a globe pours a rich black color with a light tannish color head. Good retention and nice gobs of sticky lacing.

S - The nose has a stronger coffee/espresso character with mild tones of milk chocolate and roasted barley. No hints of alcohol whatsoever.

T - The coffee/espresso blend mixes very well with the milk chocolate found in the nose. Sweet but pleasantly so, not overwhelming, blends the mild bitterness with the coffee and chocolate well. Well balanced. Nothing is overpowering, rather a good mix of flavors. No hint of a higher abv.

M - Super creamy and full bodied. Good carbonation.

D/O - Extremely drinkable and very enjoyable. It is a treat to sample! I would love to get my hands on more if this. Terrific!

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.55/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to Danilo for this bottle of beer!

Poured from 750 bottle into oversized snifter. Might I add that this is the thickest wax I have ever seen. Man, it was tough getting into this bottle...the anticipation was killing me!

Appearance: black bodied beer. 2 fingers of khaki colored head that is made of small dense bubbles. Thick lacing is all over the side of the snifter.

Smell: Pretty straight forward nose with nothing mind blowing here and everything you would expect from the style. Big roasty coffee and sweet milk chocolates dominate the nose.

Taste: This has still got a lot of coffee notes in this beer! The coffee is upfront and in your face; the coffee still tastes fresh and its a nice roasty coffee. Midpalate you get gourmet milk chocolate that is sweet, but not cloying. The finish from this beer is fantastic... everything seems to come together. Hints of bitterness from the coffee, sweetness from the milk chocolates, and just a hint of smoke and earthiness. It just an awesome stout that has great balance.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied beer with moderate carbonation. Creamy, thick, and coating. Yet still really drinkable. This beer drinks like its 7%, but it 10%! Not even a hint of booze in the taste of the beer. Wow.

Overall: This beer is holding up wonderfully! I never got to try this beer fresh, but its still a delicious beer! Stout lovers must try this beer. Surly... you rocked this beer and represented the style very well! Best milk stout I have EVER drank!

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Photo of iadler
4.28/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to TIMMYJ21 for the bottle. I've been wanting to try this for a long long time.

A- Pours a deep black with a two finger mocha head, which slowly dissapates into a nice cap leaving some sheets of lacing behind.

S- Aroma was a bit subtle initially, but as it warmed up, fresh high quality roasted espresso beans were upfront, followed by dark berries, cream, dark chocolate, vanilla beans and a hint of smoke.

T- Espresso beans, cream, blackberries, black cherries, vanilla beans, roasted malt and some smokiness. The espresso is noticeable, but not dominant which allows the other flavors to shine as well.

M- Medium carbonation and a creamy body that finishes with some roasted malt and coffee oil that lingers.

O- I can't imagine how strong the coffee presence must have been fresh since the espresso is still pretty noticeable. At 2 years old, this is a really good milk stout, if not my favorite for the style. It did get a little sweet as I finished my glass, but the abv was hidden very well.

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Photo of vande
4.5/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a - pours into my Black Raven glass appearing to be quite thick [not chunky!], heavy and dark....two finger thick head of sandpaper brown, dissipating over time leaving a heavy lacing all along the glass... beautiful pour!

s - boozey a bit still, but not overpowering....definitely get the coffee/expresso beans, hints of chocolate, sugar, sweetness....quite appealing!

t - damn thats a good beer! chocolate overtones push in front of the coffee notes, melding together though making a nice affect...slightly sweeter side mixed in... Yum!

m - viscous [ both in glass and mouth ], thick and heavy -- but smooth.. excellent..

o - I had 2, swapped one to a friend when I first got them, wish I had more...

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Photo of jsanford
4.25/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into a Surly Darkness Tulip.

A - Pours a dark, inky black with a creamy khaki-colored head that settles to a thick haze and sudsy ring, leaving sheets of sticky lacing clinging to the glass.
S - Dark, "roasty" aromas of espresso, chocolate malt, sweet cream, sugar, and some bitter, ashy malt. Decent amount of coffee character is still left, I can only imagine how intense this was when fresh.
T - Taste is quite similar to the nose, lots of sweet flavors of chocolate syrup, espresso coffee, cream-and-sugar, and dark malt with a bit of raisin and charred wood. Finish is pleasantly bitter, like a dark chocolate, and lingers for some time.
M - Creamy and velvet-smooth, with a medium-full body and lower carbonation. The 10% ABV is hidden nicely, this could pass for a session Sweet Stout easily.
O - Glad I finally cracked this open, as much longer and the espresso character would've been muted beyond recognition. As is, it's an amazing Sweet Stout, and ranks right up with Terrapin's Depth Charge as best in class!

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Photo of motorhed
4.06/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer has been aged in my cellar since purchase. Wanted to see how it would change with age. It's probably past it's prime.

A - Pours jet black with a medium tan color head. Light lacing on glass and the head dissipated quickly.

S - Very sweet blackberry, currant, with espresso lightly in the background. The coffee has really mellowed out since last time i had this and the sweet berry smells are overpowering everything else.

T - The taste of this beer now reminds me of a chocolate covered blackberry mixed with espresso. Definately get the a smooth coffee finish but has mellowed out significantly since it was bottled. Alcohol present on the finish.

M - Smooth and perfect level of carbonation for the style, in my opinion. Can get the alcohol a bit on the backend.

O - Overall, at the time of release, this was one of my favorite Surly beers however it has changed significantly from what i had remembered. It's still a fabulous milk stout but in my opinion, this beer is past it's prime, so if anyone has any, you should consider consuming it now. I'm very surprised at how sweet/tart this beer has converted to, i dont remember it being so sweet orginally - most likely because the espresso was stronger and balanced it better.

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Photo of John_M
4/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled during the epic finewinemike event.

The beer pours a blackish brown color with good head retention and lacing. I get lots of licorice on the nose, along with celery salt, coffee, green tobacco leaf and light vanilla. Talk about a complex aroma profile! The beer was a bit more attractive on the palate, as I got more dark chocolate and vanilla, some tobacco flavor and dry citrus on the finish (I'm guessing that when young, this beer was probably fairly hoppy, especially for a milk stout). Mouthfeel was medium bodied, and the slightly bitter finish seemed to dry out the moderate sweetness I initially picked up in this beer. Otherwise, I thought the mouthfeel was just a bit thin, though on the finish I got some nice dark chocolate, coffee and light licorice.

I found this to be very interesting, very complex beer, though probably a beer that needs to be drunk up at this point in its life.

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Photo of oline73
3.95/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a Colossus snifter. I had this the other night during a tasting at finewinemike's place.

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown with a finger of creamy tan head that fades to a small layer on top of the pour.

Smell: Very roasty and a bit ashy. Sweet and mildly creamy with a strong coffee presence.

Taste: Sweet up front with a bitterness in the finish. Lots of roast and coffee with a hint of dark fruits. There is a mild nutty taste in this one as well.

Mouthfeel: The body seems a bit thin given the abv and style. There is tingly carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: This was a very good milk stout. I may have liked it better fresh, if the coffee was a little bit stronger. I would have another given the chance.

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Four from Surly Brewing Company
4.27 out of 5 based on 305 ratings.
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