Four | Surly Brewing Company

310 Ratings
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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.

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Ratings: 310 |  Reviews: 148
Photo of gford217
3.87/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle thanks to Brian.

Pours a deep, deep brown that settles in almost black in the glass with a thick mocha head that leaves very little lacing.

The aroma has some bitter espresso beans and lactose with some roasted black malts in the background. Plenty of chocolate as well.

The taste is sweet chocolate malts, lactose and a little bit of coffee. There is a roasty bitterness underlying everything. Dry, almost chalky bitterness to the finish.

The feel is light to medium bodied, dry and maybe a little thin for the style.

I'm a huge Surly fan but this is not one of my favorites from them. That said, it's better than most stouts out there just not quite up to my lofty expectations. Really pumped to try it.

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Photo of Bombers4Benedict
4.82/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark with a light brown head that vanishes quickly. No lacing to really speak of which is the only reason this didn't get a 5.

S - Chocolatey covered in expresso and vanilla. There is definately a fullness to the body that is apparent at first inhale.

T - At first touch it starts with a semi sweet dark chocolate, and then continues to hit you with taste after taste: vanilla, caramel, chocolate, coffee, and a smokey grapefruit intermission taste to aftertaste.

M - Thick and encompassing yet not overwhelming. This immeditaly sticks to your inner cheeks and throat but fades to an wonderful aftertaste.

D - This is a truly a relative thing. This beer tastes so good I don't doubt I could drink this all night. However, I have a feeling after a couple I might be looking for a little relief. To be determined....

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Photo of tewaris
3.9/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

"Double Espresso Milk Stout"
On tap at Stub & Herb's in a 10 oz glass.

Appearance 4/5
Clear, very dark brown with garnet highlights, with a tiny bit of brown collar for head that manages to leave some lacing.

Aroma 4/5
Dark roasted coffee and clean, sugar like, sweetness.

Taste 4/5
Sweet from start to finish, with coffee presence building up into a massively roasty, bitter, coffee flavored finish. Pretty smooth for the most part but astringency from roast is very noticeable in the the end; roast, coffee flavor and bitterness, and alcohol warmth linger afterwards.

Mouthfeel 3/5
A wee bit thin for the sweetness, with over roasted coffee and high-ish carbonation, its mouthfeel could be called average at best.

Drinkability 4/5
Alright, but I can't see myself drinking too much of this beer.

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Photo of Jeffo
4.4/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottles of this gem provided by thetomG and Oakbluff. This was one I'd been excited about since its release date. Thanks heaps fellas!

From a 750 into a snifter

APPEARANCE: Pours out black but not quite opaque. A cascading effect produces a two-finger, thicker looking, fluffy, tan head with great retention. Black body with zero carbonation evident. Head is very persistent, but eventually fades to a thick cap leaving lots of lacing down the glass. A good wisp and ring remains the entire way leaving lots of nice lacing down the sides. A very good looking stout, and an opaque pour would make it perfect.

SMELL: Roasted malts, burnt coffee beans, black coffee, and some pure chocolate in there. A bit of cream and some evident lactose sugar poke their way though as well, though it is obviously heavier on the espresso notes. Medium strength nose that is enticing and certainly fits the bill.

TASTE: Roasted malts, black, burnt coffee beans and a good dose of sweet cream and lactose sugars. Some sweet vanilla icing too. The taste showed more sweet cream and milk sugars than the nose had indicated, though it's still well balanced and very tasty. A mild and lingering aftertaste of roasted and bitter coffee balanced with sweet cream and lactose. A sweet stout for sure, but well controlled and enjoyable.

PALATE: Medium body and carbonation. Creamy and velvety soft on the palate, goes down smooth, not bite at all, and finishes slightly mouth-coating. A nice, velvety soft body, but could be thicker and fuller.

OVERALL: This is definitely a big, sweet stout, but with enough bitter coffee and roasted flavors to balance it out very nicely. Very flavorful and enjoyable, and surprisingly drinkable as well; I could have easily had more. When this first came out I thought it sounded like something I'd like, and it definitely was right up my alley. Hope we meet again at some point. Thanks again for making this happen gents.

EDIT: Drank another bottle with The Dooper on 17 September 2013. Smelt of tomato soup and tasted of slightly rotten vegetables. Not at all the beer I remember back in 2010 and definitely not worth tracking down again. Drain seemed to enjoy the last bit.

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Photo of andrewinski1
3.98/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Bendurgin for cracking this one! Poured into a tulip with a very large two inch mocha head. The body on this one is pitch black.

This smells mostly of roasted malt, followed by nice fruity yeast aromas of cherry.

This flavor starts with nice fruity malt flavors and finishes with bitter, roasted malts. The roasted character dominates mostly, with a nice smoothness in the middle that I'll attribute to the use of lactose.

The mouthfeel on this one is very light and creamy; aiding in the drinkability. Very nice.

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Photo of Bendurgin
4.08/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this one courtesy of the generous Translucent. Thanks again Andrew! This one pours black with a big foamy mocha colored head. This one has good retention but soon enough shrinks down to leave sticky lacing along the glass. The smell is very rich, bitter espresso to start with a bit of hops in the background. Roasted barely and semi-sweet bakers chocolate meld themselves into the mix to compliment the flavors. The nose isn't quite as sweet as I'd imagined, it's subtly sweet but the roastiness comes to be more predominant. The flavor follows the smell nicely, it's only slightly sweet and finishes with bitter espresso and semi-sweet chocolate. This is roasty as all hell, lots of roasted barley in this give it kind of a grainy flavor to throw into the mix. The mouthfeel is nice and silky with relatively low carbonation. The alcohol peers through a bit on this, but given the abv, this one is pretty drinkable.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.17/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

scoobydank sent me a bottle of this in our last trade. Thank you, Bill!

Jet black with a dense, dark brown head that slowly falls off to a thin disk, and there is pretty solid lacing. The nose is pretty excellent. Big coffee character is present, rich espresso and dark chocolate. There's a solid roasted malt character as well. The lactose really ties it all together very well, providing a nice creaminess.

The palate opens with a rather big bitterness, roasted malt and espresso present, the balance leaning toward the espresso. The lactose is present mid-palate, mostly as a sweetness that just barely balances the roasted malt character. Moderately fruity as well, it really works beautifully with the coffee character. The fruit is more plum and raisin like.As it warms up, a little alcohol appears too. Mildly sweet on the finish, there's lingering coffee and and some roasted malt. Medium in body with low carbonation, this beer is creamy and smooth on the palate. It takes a while to get used to the bitterness, but once I do, this is an enjoyable and quite drinkable beer. Towards the last 3/8ths of the bottle, my palate has completely acclimatized to the bitterness, and the sweetness is really noticeable.

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

Waxed bomber into a Weyerbacher tulip; shared at a tasting.

A: Black body with a perfect inch of creamy brown foam; awesome, especially for 10%.

S: Dry oak and sweet, malty goodness. Great balance.

T: Super sweet, super malty, and totally delicious. The booze is well hidden, but there's no doubt that this is an Imperial milk stout. I love it.

M: A little light on body, and a little weak on carbonation. Still, not unacceptable in this kind of beer.

D: It's an amazing brew, but doesn't do especially well in this category. While the sweetness really works for the aroma and flavor, it's just too much to be really drinkable. Great beer to share, though.

Notes: Huge thanks to Chris for busting out this exciting treat. I've yet to have a beer from Surly that was less than stellar, and that's especially great news since 08 Darkness looks to be on the menu for tonight. I'm so happy.


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Photo of mdfb79
4.17/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 08/26/10 tasting. Had at a local Dc tasting thanks to Kevin (MrChopin); thanks man!

a - Pours a dark brown color with one to two inches of tan head.

s - Smells of coffee, chocolate, vanilla, dark fruits, roasted malts, cream/milk. Very enjoyable.

t - Tastes of coffee, cream, vanilla, and chocolate.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. Smooth and creamy, very easy to drink.

d - I enjoyed this stout quite a bit. I thought it was well balanced and smelt great. Would love to try again.

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Photo of dogger6253
4.24/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black, completely opaque. A black hole that draws my every thought into it. A mocha head on top, three fingers deep. As it falls it leaves giant globs behind on the edge of the glass.

The nose is full of coffee and chocolate, hints of tobacco too. A sort of boozy smell hangs in the back.

Flavor is really smooth for what I taste, mostly coffee and chocolate. There is a sort of vanilla and caramel sweetness to it as well, perhaps where the balance comes from.

The mouthfeel is, for the most part, what you'd expect; slightly on the heavy side, quite creamy. Even though a little uncharacteristic, I think this beer would benefit with a little more carbonation. Regardless, it's quite pleasant. The balance of flavor makes this a more accessible "dark" beer for those who might normally be turned off by the style.

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

A: The pour is a dark, dark brown color with a finger's worth of khaki colored head.

S: This beer certainly lives up to the description on the nose. Lots of rich coffee and sweet lactose on the nose along with chocolate and great roast quality.

T: The combination of coffee and lactose is probably the best of any of this style of beer other than perhaps (non-infected) Cup a Joe. Just a great blend of rich roasted coffee with hints of chocolate and a smooth creaminess.

M: The body is medium with a really smooth, pleasant carbonation.

D: Another hit from Surly. A really well done coffee and cream stout that highlights both flavor components and makes for an enjoyable beer.

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Photo of Viggo
4.08/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle, big thanks to oakbluff for sharing this one.

Pours an opaque black, a touch of red in the edges, huge and thick foamy tan head forms, slowly settles down to a thick layer, drops a ton of lacing, great retention, looks good.

Smell is nice, huge espresso roastiness, chocolate milk, toffee, vanilla, a bit musty, some raisin and dark fruit, alcohol, lightly sugary, nice aroma.

Taste is similar, dark and roasty up front, like raw coffee beans, big chocolate, milky sweetness, sweet fruit, raisin, toffee, big and sweet, but balanced with the coffee roast, a bit of biscuit, some alcohol in the finish but well balanced.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with low carbonation, very smooth going down, ABV is well hidden. A pretty damn nice beer, and it was in good company. Thanks Scotty!

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Photo of rudylaw
3.45/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap @ Binny's SL

Served in a 10z goblet with a tiny head. Very dark but not 100% opaque.

Tons of toasted malts and coffee in the nose. Quite obviously a coffee bomb.

More of the same in the taste although it the roastiness is almost too much. Burned coffee bean/brownie. Lessens as you work your way through, but it's a palate destroyer.

Thin body with low-medium carbonation. In no chance can I attempt another pour of this. It's just not balanced enough to make me come back. Way too much of a charred character for my liking.

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Photo of tigg924
3.2/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had on tap at Binny's Tap Room--Chicago

Appearance: black in color with minimal head, opaque

Smell: coffee and roasted malt

Taste: toasted malt and deep roasted dark coffee..the sweetness is more caramel like and appears at the end.

Mouthfeel: light body, low carbonation, sweet start--then the coffee tastes bitter followed by a really sweet end

Drinkability: Not as sweet for a milk stout as I am used to. The sweetness at the end is nice to ease the taste back from the really strong and bitter coffee taste--almost comparable to Bells Java. Not a bad beer, but I have had much better in the style. Worth a try if you are more looking for a regular stout.

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Photo of joshuaseresse
4.52/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Have had this a few times, but now its time to give it a review. Drank with brian23456. Poured it into a Dogfish Head snifter:

A - black with tan foam head that dissipates but keeps a ring of light foam around the edges. Some lacing retention, but not much.

S - milk chocolate, sweet milk. "Darkness with a bit of milk added to it" as Brian put it. Maybe its just me, but it kind of has a hint of chilies. Not hot or spicy, just a peppery flavor that mixes with the chocolate and milk. Perhaps its just the sweetness and the milk flavor.

T - milk chocolate up front, burnt malts and espresso middle and end. Very sweet in the beginning but toward the middle and end its kind of burnt, as in coffee and a bit bitter, as in coffee. I don't drink coffee, but for some reason I love coffee brews.

M - carbonation is perfect. Creamy and smooth.

D - IMO, this is an end of the night beer or after dinner beer. It leaves a lingering espresso flavor and sort of injures the palate, but only temporarly paralysis' it. For 10% it goes down pretty easy, but you can feel it after a few drinks.


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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.12/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A gift from drabmuh. Thanks Matt! Split with my wife last night.

A: Near black shade and dark brown at the crest of the beer. Small beige head that leaves a crema layer resting atop the liquid. There are random spots of lacing noticeable on the glass.

S: Heavily roasted malt, coffee, bitter chocolate, cocoa

T: The beer tastes pretty decent and has a few different nice flavors happening. The coffee aspect tastes a little too bitter to me. I wonder what kind of coffee was used in the brewing process. Nice notes of chocolate throughout the taste. There is not nearly as much of a lactic presence as I was expecting. Perhaps the roasted malt and coffee flavors have masked the milk portion of the beer.

M: Decent feel, though a bit too bitter. The bitterness continues into the finish and through to the aftertaste. Alcohol is hidden well.

D: A good beer and worth trying. Decent stuff.

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Photo of emmasdad
4.3/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Meghan for sharing this one the other night. Pours a nice black color, with some good tan head. Big espresso nose, along with dark chocolate. On the palate, more espresso, milk chocolate and cream. Very, very good. One of the highlights from a very nice tasting.

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Photo of grub
4.23/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

big thanks to oakbluff for sharing this one. thanks scott!

750ml bottle topped with purple wax. sampled aug 10/2010.

pours deep dark brown, nearly black, with a big fluffy cappuccino head. the head drops super slow with tons of thick lace.

aroma is great. big espresso and milk chocolate blast up front, fading to coffee and a bit of dark chocolate. caramel and toffee. just a hint of lactic twang. whole wheat bread and biscuit. hint of alcohol. earthy and a touch woody.

taste is good. milk and dark chocolate. coffee and espresso. whole wheat bread and biscuit. light alcohol. woody and earthy. hint of caramel and toffee. hints of citrus and anise.

mouthfeel is great. nice big body. medium-low carbonation level. silky smooth.

drinkability is great. pretty good balance. a touch sweet, but that's expected for the style. good stuff!

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Photo of ChrisPro
3.34/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Draft at Jerry's sandwiches on 8/7/10.

(part of a day of drinking some incredible brews, so this might have downward bias in the presence of such other great beers)

Pours dark black, with hints of brown in the light. Very little head.

Because of the head, I couldn't get much aroma. There was definitely some cofffee and chocolate, and then a strange fruity note that I usually only get in baltic porters.

Flavor has some solid sweetness, but then a really off bitter coffee flavor. I am not a coffee snob by any means, but this was not good.

Carbonation was okay for the style, but I kind of wanted a little more. Other than that, it was med-heavy bodied and very smooth, not oily.

Overall, a bit of a disappointment. I was hoping for the second coming of Depth charge (one of my favorite beers of 2009), but it didn't live up to my expectations.

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Photo of ritzkiss
4.2/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

650ml bomber in blue/fuschia wax, thanks to oakbluff for joining us and bringing this fine brew!

Pours a dark brown almost black with two fingers of light tan head which leaves some light lacing down the glass.

This is an exceptionally smooth brew and dangerously drinkable. Not a ton of coffee in the nose but it's there, in the taste it's more like a cappuccino, smooth coffee flavor, sweet and creamy. Light lactose funk which might get more prominent with age (I don't think I would recommend aging it...), dark fruits, hints of cream. Impossible to find ABV, ridiculously smooth and creamy mouthfeel.

Really very nice though perhaps short of spectacular, especially in light of some of the other offerings of the night but Surly never really disappoints - this is a clear winner. Thanks Scott!

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.41/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in the trusty Devil's Backbone willibecher.

Big thanks to dzyneguru for this bottle!

The epic 600th review of my illustrious career. And, of course, such milestones cannot come easy: Whoever started dipping bottles in wax needs to be killed painfully. Honestly, these bottles are almost never "easy" to get open, and this one was no exception. Once I move the heavens themselves to pry the cap off, it pours a deep black-brown topped by over a finger of nearly frothy beige foam. A relatively thick residue is left on the glass as the head dissipates. I can't call it "lacing", as it exhibits no real characteristics of lace, per se. Pretty pretty, though. The nose is surprisingly (to me, anyway) packed with coffee beans. Behind that lie hints of graham crackers, corrugated cardboard, milk, vanilla, charred chocolate, and roasted malts. Something about this aroma does not sit well with me. The taste is similarly off-putting. Notes of darkly roasted malts, coffee, charcoal, bitter dark chocolate, sourdough, and mint compose a strange tapestry from the Codex Gigas: mostly bitter and charred evil, with some artistic sweetness and spiritually smooth teases. Like the Codex, though, the balance is like Laurel and Hardy on a see-saw. Too much is going on, all of the pieces trying to be the alpha dog, and no cooperation is attempted. Imagine a drunken and mentally unbalanced meeting of the General Assembly. The body is a heavy medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a gooey feel. Overall, I think this one missed the mark a bit. I'd be interested to see it in a few years, to see if continued proximity is enough to allow some sort of peaceful, collective voice to emerge.

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Photo of brentk56
4.38/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: A very nice pour, with the requisite black color and a massive tan head that sheets the pint glass

Smell: Dark chocolate with mocha undertones; lactose character, as well

Taste: Dark fruit, at the outset, followed by the chocolate and mocha elements, with a tart, blackberry aspect developing by mid-palate, as the hops begin to strutt their stuff; after the swallow, the pithy hops and coffee flavors join together with the vanilla cream finishing things off; a bitter espresso character lingers for quite some time

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Leave it to Surly to come up with a hoppy milk stout with double espresso, to boot; congrats on four years

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Photo of bigfnjoe
4.85/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

A- blacker than a moonless night with an awesome 3 finger mocha colored head. Lacing is all the way up the glass. Gorgeous

S- intensely strong dark coffee smell. Slight hints of chocolate and roasted malts...dear god.

T- awesome STRONG espresso booziness at all. Finish is very sweet from the milk, but not nearly overwhelming. Perfect

M- thick and lovely. Might be a little too thick. But I don't care, its fantastic.

D- if you're not a huge coffee fan, it might be a little overwhelming...I am not a huge coffee guy. But this is FANTASTIC. My first Surly beer is a huge hit

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Photo of washburnkid
4.2/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Lower carbonation is apparent upon pouring. Dark black with lighter edges when held up to the light. Aromas are super burnt coffee. Flavors are the same, but add layers of complexity on top of the coffee that's promised by the aroma. Sugar and caramel come to mind as the sweetness lingers heavily on the palate. While the ale is clean and light on the nose, the flavors reveal a deep burnt flavor, but also fruit. Currants, berries, and then a wave of chocolate. This stout is really well done, and considering the ABV, balanced enough to hide the heat of the alcohol. Well done, Surly.

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Photo of JackieTH
4.48/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured directly into a chilled pint glass from the wax-sealed bottle. The custom artwork on the bottle deserves a mention here, it's quite striking.

The pour is a lovely dark brown, more black that brown, really. No light penetrates or escapes, for that matter. There is a finger of dark mocha head that dissipates leaving a espresso froth.

An immediate blast of espresso on the nose, yet there are some subtle roasted malt and chocolate undertones coming through once the barista has finished brewing and leaves the room.

The palate is of course espresso throughout yet there is a delicious interplay of roasted malt, subtle chocolate, lactose?, sweetness, all balanced by a perfect degree of grounds or hops I don't know or even care at this point, as this is an excellent brew.

So I've been very fortunate to continue to find scattered bottles of this liquid gold hidden througout the city. She isn't cheap, but good beer isn't.

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Four from Surly Brewing Company
4.27 out of 5 based on 310 ratings.
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