Four | Surly Brewing Company

148 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.

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Reviews: 148 | Ratings: 309
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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Photo of claaark13
4.4/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Chilled for about 20 minutes and then poured into a Darkness snifter. Charlie, you're a badass.

A - Pours black with a nice light-tan head. Retention appears to be very good, as the frothy head seems to stick around for a bit until it fades into thick lacing. Sticks nicely to the side of the glass.

S - Sweet coffee/espresso. Hints of chocolate come through. The aroma screams for the beer to be consumed.

T - Sweet chocolate and coffee flavor with the lacto-milk backbone pretty evident. Meets and complements the espresso well. Espresso finish is very evident. It isn't a weak Maxwell House flavor. Slight sweetness comes through again. I think the sweetness in the finish helps keep the coffee flavor from falling off.

M - Creamy and slightly silky. Although I would say that it complements the beer well, I would prefer for it to be a little thicker for the particular flavors coming through.

O - This is a great Milk Stout. I've heard that the coffee is actually fading at this point, which makes me have some questions about how it was upon release.

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Photo of ottovon
3.85/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

thanks to ejyoung for sharing.

A: pours out dark with a brown head.

S: coffee, chocolate, sweetness. dark fruits and some alcohol and burnt sugar.

T: lots of coffee. lactose and some dark fruit. candi sugar, roasted malt, and chocolate. starts out with some sweetness from the lactose and then ends with coffee and bitterness.

M: medium and a good amount of carb.

O: this is a good beer for sure.

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

Got this courtesy of stoutsnipas, much thanks. Poured from the bomber into a snifter. It pours a hearty almost black color. A 3/4 inch tan head forms and slowly reduces to a very nice lacing.

The aroma is up front espresso with that great roasted hit. A mild milky sweetness is in the background and some dark chocolate as well.

The taste is again that espresso/roasted coffee punch with perhaps a slight metallic component. This is followed by milky sweetness and dark chocolate at the finish.

The mouthfeel is full bodied. Carbonation is where it should be. It is uniquely creamy, smooth, and yet a somewhat sticky finish. A nice dryness and coffee bitterness lingers at the finish.

This is a very good beer and I will savor every last drop, as I'm not sure how much more of it I will be able to get my hands on. It is a solid milk stout with those imperial and coffee stout components nicely balanced out.

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

750ml Bottle Into my Surly Darkness Snifter

Now that Five is out I figured it's about time to crack open this bad boy for the first time.

A- Pours out jet black no light coming through whatsoever, not even at the bottom of the glass. On top is a small 1 finger light brown head that slowly fades into a rim around the glass. Lines of lacing left on the glass as it slides down and has some really nice legs clinging to it.

S- Tons and tons of burnt roasted coffee beans of a higher quality and shots of espresso. The dark malts come through as well with a slight roasted note, grains, chocolate, smoke, and sweetness. Definitely has that lactose milk-like smell to it, really dominates the nose as it warms. Some alcohol present in this one but blends fairly nicely with the overall aroma.

T- Creamy dark roasted malts up front mix well with the milky sweetness but as soon as that passes to the middle of the tongue and on down the strong coffee character comes out and brings out a totally new beer and blends amazingly. The finish is where I think this beer shines and separates itself from any other milk or coffee stout I've had. It's hard to describe but it's got a very resiny finish, my guess it's from a combination of the smoke and burnt notes from the coffee. Almost gives it an ashtray taste but in a surprisingly good way. Tons of bittersweet dark chocolate comes through in this one as well. All I can say is what a beast of a stout! So simple yet so complex.

M- Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation and a nice bitter yet creamy finish.

Overall I'm glad I put this one in the cellar for a year and brought it out now. Gave the coffee a chance to fade some and bring out all the other complex flavors this beer has. What a great stout that is definitely worth a try if you have the chance. Surly hasn't let me down yet and I have to say this is another one for the top shelf. Get it if you can and as much as you can. Drink one now, and one in a year. This beer will easily age with the best of them.


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

Shared by ejyoung and pitted against several other milk stouts at a recent meeting of the AZ Cooters. This one was brewed with espresso beans along with the regular milk stout ingredients and poured into my Lost Abbey stemware.

Not black, but super dark brown and completely opaque. A half-finger head of cocoa powder-colored foam remains for a while as a thin yet sticky top layer, leaving behind lots of spotty lace.

No secrets in the nose; just goodness. Smoky pork, sweet lactose, espresso beans, burnt toast.

Same deal in the flavor. There’s more sweet milk lactose, somewhat tangy before the swallow. The finish is all espresso, smoothly blended with dark chocolate and toast. Bitter roast lingers on the tongue between sips. Awesome.

Very light, prickly carbonation inside a creamy medium body with lots of heft. Some fumes come through the nose and mouth, but the booze is well-hidden by the flavor, for the most part.

Coffee-laden, creamy, tasty stuff. Against the other milk stouts, this was the clear winner.

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Photo of cwguy5
4.5/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to JackTheBear for this one! Tasted on NYE 2010. Reviewed from notes.

A - black with thin tan head; faded to a thin cap with some lacing
S - light coffee aroma less than expected; dark malt and a little bread
T - iced espresso with a little booze at the end but not hot; yummy
M - thin body overall but substantial presence still; somewhat strong overall taste but smooth overall
D - delicious tasting beer; well put together; would love more

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

735th Review on BA
Bottle to snifter

Thanks Tieman for some of this.

App- A very dark stout even for a milk stout. My beer was almost black with some lighter edges and a nice one finger head. A little bit of sticky cling and good lace.

Smell- I get a little bit of dark chocolate powder and slightly grainy. Some roast malts and some heavy cream with a bit of walnut.

Taste- One of the few milk stouts I have really enjoyed. This one was well balanced between a chocolate note and roasty espresso.

Mouth- Medium bodied and medium carbonated. Slightly slick and thick with a good cream residual flavor.

Drink- Well I didnt post in the forum but so far surly hasnt let me down. Nice beer with good flavors and not overly roasty.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.22/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


Enjoyed at Clusterfork #7 in a snifter. Bottle shared by tieman.

A: Black with a brown tinge near the edges. The head is big and creamy and light brown.

S: Strong espresso profile with a pleasant nuttiness. Dark chocolate blends with milk. Smells really good.

T: Earthy coffee with a low bitterness. Dark chocolate is pronounced and the beer is lightly sweet. Alcohol is very well hidden.

M: Full body with creamy medium carbonation.

Overall: Really nice stuff. Coffee is the most notable component, but it's well integrated rather than overpowering.

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

Infinite thanks to my boy Bennettrox for this!

Pours black as nice, with a nice viscosity. Head's very creamy and rich; dark tan, and wonderful cream lacing. I'm not sure why anyone is saying the coffee is fading, because it's bold, rich and sultry. Granted, I've never had it truly fresh, but the coffee is there and bold. Lots of roast and some milk chocolate sweetness, and no alcohol. Coffee is big on the taste too: a slight bitter edge, very roasted, and with a great complimentary chocolate taste. You can't really taste any alcohol, but it makes itself known. Body is full, but it's not too rich, so drinkability is high.


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Photo of Mississipping
4.8/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle shared in line at the BASC release

A: Pours a very, very dark brown with slightly glowing amber edges.  A fairly large dark mocha head billows out of the body and slowly settles to a thick foamy blanket.  Excellent lacing is left behind.  Although the street was dark, it was quite evident that this was a beautiful example of a milk stout.

S: The aroma is comprised of heavily roasted malt, freshly ground espresso, dark chocolate, and just a hint of vanilla, tobacco and dark fruit (plum and raisin).  This is a little smokier than I was expecting, but I'm glad that there is more going on than just a coffee-bomb, which the description would lead you to believe.  Really aromatic and an excellent balance between a nice roastiness, coffee house characteristics, and sweetness.  

T: Huge coffee presence, but it's not overpowering.  Rather, it's the aroma of fine espresso beans ground and roasted to perfection.  The heavily roasted malt combine extremely well with the coffee to create a warm, inviting cup of well-crafted beer to carry you throughout the rest of each sip. Toward the middle, the lactose, vanilla, and dark fruit mingle with the dominant flavors to add a little sweetness and really round things out.  The finish is slightly bitter, with the dominant coffee and smokiness lingering, yet met with a mild bitterness from the hop addition.  The hoppiness might be just a tad high for my taste, but it's nothing unexpected really, considering who made this beer.  Very nice mix of flavors to comprise the aftertaste, and a nice complement to the sweet mid-section.

M: Full-bodied; thick, creamy, slightly chewy.  Pretty well carbonated, which gives it a bit of a velvety feel on the tongue, and amplifies some of the flavors.  Moderately drying at the finish, due to the slightly bitter triad ... espresso, roasted malt, hops.  The mouthfeel was just about perfect, in my opinion. 

D: This beer is very, very good!  Absolutely the best milk stout I've ever had (though I haven't had many) and one of the better coffee stouts.  The flavors were delicious, the complexity was something I wasn't expecting but was hoping for, and the balance was almost perfect.  The alcohol was completely hidden, making this even easier to drink than it already was.  This is a pretty big stout, though, and the thickness will slow you down just a bit.  Really nothing to gripe about here.  I'm very glad I have another bottle that I might just have to enjoy myself this time!

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Photo of Chriscrundwell12
4.53/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a Darkness snifter.

A- Big 3 finger bubbly dark beige head, really nice carbonation, really nice lacing sticks to the side of the glass for a while, dark pitch black color.
S- Big coffee aroma, sweet vanilla beans, slight alcohol is present, some cocoa, chocolate, nice roasty aroma.
T- Wow big flavors, vanilla beans, milk chocolate, big coffee flavors, roasted malts, cocoa, sweet bitterness, huge flavors, complex beer.
M- Big mouth feel, roasted, chewy, thick, sticky, well carbonated.
O- Very impressed, I’ve heard great things about this beer as well as bad things. I’ve had this one for a while and thought aging it would have hindered the beer instead of enhancing it. I was not able to try it fresh but I can only imagine how amazing it would have been fresh. This beer is complex and tasty. Now I feel a little sad I no longer have one in my cellar.

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

Poured from a 750 mL bottle into a tulip. Thanks to Dunt for bringing this bottle.

Appearance: Out of the bottle comes a mahogany brown, viscous liquid with ruby edges. A quick-fading brown head forms with the initial pour.

Smell: Balanced roast malt, nice full espresso and milk chocolate aroma, like chocolate covered espresso beans.

Taste: The flavor is very smooth, one of the key features I enjoy about milk stouts. It starts with some molasses sweetness and a sugary lactose flavor that lingers throughout. A milk chocolate presence turns from sweet to bitter as the sip progresses. The dark roasted malt starts to play a factor and a burst of espresso comes through, leading toward a bitter end. Just a touch of booze at the finish.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is creamy although not over the top. The lactose adds an extra layer to the smoothness. There is a noticeable level of carbonation, maybe just a bit much, and there is a definite stickiness to the texture. All of this is wrapped in a fuller than medium body. To create a 10% milk stout that does not have an over the top body takes some great skill, and I definitely appreciate the effort.

Overall: This is a very enjoyable beer. The flavors blend very well together and the rich, creamy mouthfeel supports the flavor nicely.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
4.92/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

My brother picked up a few bottles for me when this first came out, and here I waited almost one full year to crack the first one (I'm an idiot with way too much beer). I can only imagine how good this might have been when fresh, this was just insanely delicous now though!

The text on the bottle describes this as "brewed with too many espresso beans, too much roasted barley and a healthy dose of milk sugar, this Double Espresso Milk Stout has layers of chocolate, espresso, and smoke flavors intertwined with a velvety lush body". Thick purple wax and a beautiful image in light blue ink on the front, this is a striking bottle. The beer itself pours dark, an opaque chocolaty brown color with a massive tan foam that settles to a reasonable finger or 2 in height, some clumpy lace too.

What an aroma, this is what I always want a milk stout to smell like. Rich and sweet smelling, very much like a chocolate malt. Lots of cocoa, lactic notes too, roasted malts, this has everything I want and it has massive amounts of everything. Big and bold.

Absolutely perfect flavor, somehow this never becomes cloyingly sweet, just strong and rich in every way. This is an easy beer to love, so much cocoa and coffee, lactic notes, and roasted malty goodness. Plus a thick and lush mouthfeel, coating my mouth with all those delicious qualities, this is a beer to savor. But I can't, as I shared it with a few other guys over a poker game. Oh well, I still got a huge pour, maybe 12oz, so I'm good. But I could easily see cruising through the entire 22oz, no problem.

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Photo of afksports
4.57/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle opened with my girlfriend in honor of my 30th birthday. Holy Lord, I picked the right bottle. We may just be sitting at home, but wow... This beer is fantastic.

Chocolate- POW!
Then Espresso- and it's roasted! Zap!
Then malt, then sugar, then lactose, then bitterness. Espresso bitterness. Zowee!

(That's the taste portion of this review)

Surly's fourth anniversary beer is brewed with espresso, toasty malts, and way too much of a ton of ingredients. At 10%, it packs a powerful punch.

And did I mention the label is off the charts sexy? I mean, robots making espresso with skulls and biergarten lady with cartoon proportions? Hide the girlfriend, "Im single, Miss Four!" wait no... Miss Four, do you want to meet my girlfriend? ;-)

The mouthfeel is bold and big, the appearance is dark and broody, the nose is King Chocolate Milk, and overall this bad boy is exceptional.

My one critique? You taste the alcohol in the lingering aftertaste. But seriously, that's like telling me I'm about to have a very good time.

Speaking of which...

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

100th Review!!

Pours a reddish brown color, looks dark but light shines through as the glass is emptied. A tan head quickly appears and fades leaving no trace behind. Aromas are of stale coffee, burnt malt, and carmalized malt. Flavor is nice, lots of roast, coffee flavor is strong but not acidic or overpowering. Malt profile is very dry and burnt, the lactose lingers on the finish with coffee and a mild bitterness. Solid brew, glad I drank it now, this one won't age for much longer.

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Photo of emerge077
4.43/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a tulip. Inky black with burnt mahogany edges. Tobacco stained striated foam, the top layer was slightly darker than the first somehow. Extensive webs of sticky lace formed and covered the entire glass. Retention was good, a thin layer of skim rested on top for the duration.

Deep espresso notes in the aroma, rich and roasty, hints of sweet chocolate around the edges. Soft yet pungent, definitely a premium roast, nothing acrid or acidic at all.

Silky and smooth, very easy to drink despite the 10% abv. Huge espresso presence, firmly bitter and roasty, with a rich complexity. Tobacco, plum, raisin, oats, melted fudge brownies. Extremely smooth, yet full bodied. Zero trace of alcohol. Not especially sweet, as the coffee dominated, but there were elements of sweet chocolate and milk sugar present. Slightly dry aftertaste of roasty espresso and milk chocolate that linger nicely.

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Photo of biglite351
3.28/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - just a touch of red around the edges with a creamy tan head.

S - mild coffee, dark chocolate, milk chocolate and malt. A hot of smoke after a bit.

T - more smoke than anything else, but like the scent each piece is mild enough to not overwhelm. Coffee, chocolate and plum.

M - heavy coating with a mild tingle all over, including the throat.

D - probably just one.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.53/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

"Sex is a three-letter word that needs some old-fashioned four-letter words to convey its full meaning."


Valrhona dark chocolate brown with a tiny glimmer of maraschino cherry red when backlit with the blindingly bright sunlight blasting through my front window. The fudge milkshake colored crown was a cascader immediately after the pour and looks incredible now that it has settled. Thick blankets of finely stippled lace put the finishing touches on the best looking milk stout in the history of milk stouts.

The nose is a wonderfully aromatic combination of roasted malt, espresso beans and milk sugar... just as was intended. If this beast tastes like it smells, then I'm in for a tasty treat of epic proportions.

Surly beer (most of it anyway) is dialed directly into my flavor preferences for each particular style. I can't be considered a homer if I live in a neighboring state, right? Four isn't the grand slam that is Darkness, but it's clearly a home run with men on base. Since freeze-concentration was used, maybe it's really an eis-stout.

The flavor profile is right on the money thanks to what tastes like a generous amount of tangy milk sugar. That quality is beautifully balanced by malt sugar and an ideal amount of hop bitterness. Oh yeah, 10 months in the bottle don't seem to have hurt it one bit. Alcohol... what alcohol? This might be the best milk stout... ever.

Specific flavors include Oreo cookies soaked in espresso and a large splash of buttermilk. Warming emboldens everything across the board. You have to love milk stouts to love Four, because it takes the style to the absolute full-blown extreme. These guys simply aren't capable of doing anything halfway.

The mouthfeel is big and silky-creamy without being ponderous, heavy or sticky. Pretty much what a double-digit stout ought to be. No worries about the understated escape of CO2 on crown cracking because plenty of bubbles have hung around and are doing what they need to do.

It is a testament to Todd's brewing skill that a beer as delicious as Four has a hard time cracking my top-5 Surly beers of all-time. The biggest reason is that milk stouts are way below IPAs/DIPAs and RISs when it comes to my favorites styles. Thanks a few hundred million to the felonious one for the bottle.

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Photo of caskstrength
3.58/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I had this a year or so ago when released. Now trying again, a year after sitting in the basement. (the beer, not me)

Pours dark with ruby edges. Good off white carbonation.

First thing I notice on the nose is smoke, which surprised me. Then the expected coffee. Vanilla next. Looking for the lactose, maybe a little, but more roasted things here.

I remember this being so much about the coffee, rich coffee, with coffee notes and hints of coffee. A year later, it's still pretty coffee forward, but more smoke this time. Astringent, mainly because the coffee has lost much of it's richness. Some dark fruits way in the back. But it's a roasted/bitter coffee stout with lots of smoke. I'm forcing myself to find some milk stout sweetness mixing in with the vanilla on the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is a bit thinner than you'd think it would be, which worked fine. Carbonation appropriate.

Repeat after me: coffee beers are better fresh.

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

My 300th review!!!

Surly Four...brought to me by my MN Surly pipeline (Thanks Mike!)
Poured from the 750 ml brown bottle (waxed with purple wax) into my fine Spiegelau tulip.

A - An opaque dark brown body (closely bordering on black), darker than the darkest night, beckons. That beautiful dark body is topped by a tan one finger head of the finest Surly fluff. This is one delectable looking lady, and it reminds me a bit of the beautiful brunette wench on the label, pouring a nonic of this frothy goodness. The head leaves some thick yet naughty fishnet lacing down the inside of my glass.

S - Dark roasted malt and bitter bakers chocolate abound with a hint of that lactose that makes a milk stout what it is. Coffee takes over toward the end, making this a wonderful and complex smelling brew.

T & M - Dark, heavy roasted malt provides the backbone for this brew. Bitter chocolate makes an appearance, as well as that coffee I smelled in the aroma. There is a bit of that lactose sweetness as well. This is a very complex sweet stout, with many flavors jockeying to be the king. I think the one word that describes it best is "Robust". Heavy bodied creamy mouthfeel coats the mouth with heavy stout flavor. The finish on this one certainly isn't lets you know that a big stout just kicked you in the teeth (and I'll grin all day long like a toothless Hockey player drinking this stuff).

D - As Barry Badrinath said in Beerfest..."I wish it were winter so we could freeze it into ice blocks and skate on it and melt it in the spring time and drink it!"

Surly has done it again! This is probably the best milk stout I've had in my life, and given the chance I will be picking up several bottles next year. If you can get your hands on it, buy it! You won't be disappointed.

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

Bottle courtesy of surlytwinsfan - many thanks to a great trader! Had the Smoke a few weeks back (also courtesy of surlytwinsfan) and absolutely loved it, so I have high hopes for this one. Poured in to a tulip.

Appearance: Pours an abysmally dark brown, not quite black, opaque enough and consistently hued enough throughout that even holding this one up to direct light and tilting it such that a lesser volume of liquid stands between your watchful eye and the light still lets practically nothing through. Another thing to note - and perhaps the reason that this beer is consistently hued throughout - is that this beer is incredibly thick. The head on this one rose painfully slowly, so slowly in fact that I accelerated the speed of my pour when it seemed that no head was evolving. Too late I realized that it was evolving very slowly, and a good finger and a half of dark mocha lurched forth from the depths of this one to yield a fluffy, whipped head with admirable retention for a beer that's both a) 10% abv, and b) brewed with coffee, with all the oily additions that entails. That's not to say the retention was perfect - the promise of a great head faded inside a couple of minutes, leaving a nice but not spectacular collar and breath of surface dust. What is spectacular, on the other hand, is the lacing: crispy, rocky, and plentiful, it loops and streaks along the sides of the tulip, leaving solid patches and drips and just about every lacing pattern imaginable along the sides of this one. It's particularly amazing given that this is a coffee beer - I can only imagine there's an unbelievable bucketload of hops in this one.

Aroma: And hops there are. The aroma here is, roughly speaking, 1/3 tobacco, 1/3 fudge, and 1/3 coffee. I hesitate from saying 2/3 mocha because the chocolate here is really heavy, really thick, and really dark, unlike the light, sugary, creamy chocolate notes one usually associates with mocha. First, the hops. Surly loves to hop the hell out of everything (Darkness being the prototypical example of a dark beer that they abuse similarly), and this one's no different - fat, dank tobacco notes waft out of this one without agitation, laying thick on top of the surface of this one. They're not astringent, and the juicyness mingles well with the intensity of the other notes. The chocolate is heavy, fudgier than I expected - with a milk stout, I usually get a lot of milk chocolate notes, but this one is dark, heavy, thick, and very brownie like. The coffee notes - certainly the star of this beer, or at the very least intended to be the star - mingle well, sweet in all things, creamy, well sugared though not overly sugared. The remainder largely consists of dark fruits like raisins (yogurt covered) and cherries as well as a few other notes typical of dark stouts such as anise and charcoal.

Taste: I was in love with this beer when I first took a sip, but I'm stepping back from my infatuation a little, both for the sake of a reasoned review and also because I'm noticing a few flaws now that I did not before. First, everything I said above in the aroma category still holds true - this beer is highly hopped (taste specific note: the bitterness that one can only perceive by means of the tongue does a lot to cancel out the sweetness of this beer, so it tastes like sweet than it smells), leafy, green, and tobacco-y, but the aforementioned is definitely balanced by a slew of dark chocolate, toast, molasses, and full roast coffee. It's a great package of notes, all of it wrapped up in a blanket of dark fruits, milk sugar, anise, and ... well, astringency. Lots of it. Now, I know that coffee can sometimes come across as astringent, as can other toasted black malts, as can too much leafy, tobacco-y hops. I think the problem here is a combination of all of them, though perhaps the word problem is a little inappropriate, because it doesn't really detract from the fantastic combination of flavors described previously (except in the finish, where it leaves a bit of a harsh presence).

Mouthfeel: Bright and well-carbonated, but also, in a fat, thick, creamy stout body. The end result is nearly perfect for the flavor profile - creamy, smooth, velvety, with a feel that perfectly augments the milk sugar, the darkness of the cocoa, and the smoothness of the roast on the beans.

Drinkability: This beer is good. It's very good, in fact, though it's only borderline "great." That being said, if Surly could tone back the hops from 11 to, say, 7 or 8, amp up the milk sugar a tad, and tone back the general astringencies just a little ... I'd drink this shit every morning in lieu of my morning cup (or, to be more accurate, my morning two pots). The 10% is also a little daunting, though, as always, to its credit, it's hidden masterfully. All that gnashing aside, this is still a beer definitely worth seeking out - not quite as good as that Smoke, but great (and different) in its own way.

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

What is up with the wax on the bottle. Hard as a rock and difficult to remove. Black in color with a large tan head that had excellant retention before settling to a thick cap. Heavy spotty lacing is left on the glass.

Plenty of lactose in the aroma. A lot of mocha coffee as well. Roasted malt rounds out the impressive aroma.

A little led down by the flavor. Has a burnt milk aftertaste that is a little off-putting. Elements of coffee, chocolate, roasted malt, and subtle smoke. Quite a bit of burnt bitterness that balances the sweet lactose. No sign of alcohol.

As good as a stout body could be. Thick, chewy, and a luxurious smooth texture. Exceptinal quality.

Other than a small flavor quibble, an exceptional, double milk stout. The high ABV will slow consumption and limit drinkability.

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Photo of brdc
4.18/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From notes, thanks to stoutsnipas.

Poured into anifter, it produces a pitch black body, with a healthy brown head, long lasting.
The espresso aroma comes out before you even smell the glass, and that is followed by chocolate, caramel, roasted malts, and more coffee.
Creamy on the palate, the flavors are better balanced than the aroma, as the espresso and mocha here are just a part of this very tasty beer. Caramel, a mild burnt bitterness, oats, milk.
This is not ONE, but it is a very good beer.

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Photo of mcgwire756
4.42/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a tulip.

This pours a dark black with a small tannish/brown head. It smells of sweet cream and a slight coffee. The taste is of sweet cream at the beginning with the espresso bitterness at the finish. There is a slight taste of coffee. I can tell that some of the intended coffee taste has been lost. However, since this is meant to be a milk stout first and foremost, I think a lot it better the now than if I had it super fresh. There is still a lot of complexity here, much more than any milk stout I have ever had. Even at 10%, I could drink this all night long. As good as it gets for milk stouts in my opinion. Drink this now if you have it.

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Four from Surly Brewing Company
4.27 out of 5 based on 309 ratings.
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