Surly Brewing Company

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Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States
Belgian Dark Strong Ale
Ranked #53
Ranked #9,019
4.08 | pDev: 8.82%
Wednesday at 05:05 AM
Sep 08, 2021
Notes: Brewed for Fifteen Years

Surly built its reputation on not necessarily brewing to style. Our 15th anniversary beer embraces that ethos. Fifteen is a Belgian strong ale aged for eight months in Parker’s Heritage Heavy Char Bourbon Barrels, then back-blended with a touch of wine barrel-aged wild ale. Expect cocoa, milk chocolate, and dark fruit notes with a hint of tartness beneath, plus honey and vanilla from the barrel, and a little spice from the Belgian yeast for good measure. Unclassifiable and wholly unique, Fifteen is a true celebration.
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Photo of stortore
Reviewed by stortore from Illinois

4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
16 ounce can into a snifter. Canned 8/17/21, had 9/25/21.

Pours a clear orange copper color, with no real head or lacing. Aromas of bourbon, caramel, oak, malt, vanilla, brown sugar, light spices, light char, slight cherries- more as warms. Flavors are mostly the same- bourbon, caramel, oak, malt, vanilla, brown sugar, spices- especially cloves, some wine, light cherries- again, more as warms. Smooth, a very good medium body, appropriately carbonated.

Not especially Belgian, but it’s really good. Great bourbon barrels, and the wine barrel shows pretty well in a minor role. Solid effort.
Wednesday at 05:05 AM
Rated: 4.75 by Hallertau from Wisconsin

Apr 14, 2023
Rated: 4.16 by MJSFS from Florida

Sep 20, 2022
Photo of REVZEB
Reviewed by REVZEB from Illinois

4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
Lighter brown murky pour with a head of tan foam. Smells of strong wood and char with bourbon and significant wine must to the dark malts. Taste adds mild funk, fig, and more defined yet faint yeast. Feel is medium light bodied but with little depth, smooth but not lasting on the palate. The wife liked it
Sep 01, 2022
Rated: 4 by a77cj7 from South Dakota

Aug 17, 2022
Rated: 3.92 by howardnss from Pennsylvania

Jun 21, 2022
Photo of SpeedwayJim
Reviewed by SpeedwayJim from New York

3.75/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
Thanks to Jeff for this one. 16oz. can into a Founders snifter.

Pours a dark bronze. Stringy lace with really nice legs. Very little head to speak of. Nose is lightly tart... uhoh. I get booze, caramel, molasses, oak, and tart red fruit notes like cherry and sour grape. Beer opens molasses, brown sugar, and maple syrup candy. More brown sugar and a mellow booziness in the middle. There's some red fruit notes but it never becomes tart and never takes over. Rather, it creates a nice complexity of cherry and anise overtones. End is more maple and more brown sugar with a caramel aftertaste. Pretty solid. Body is medium with ample carbonation. Prickly and lively on the palate and goes down aggressive, sparkling with a long, lingering, messy aftertaste.

The nose here gave me a scare but the flavor is spot on. Pretty unique and very delicious!
Jun 14, 2022
Rated: 3.89 by admonster00 from Illinois

May 23, 2022
Photo of jlindros
Reviewed by jlindros from Massachusetts

4.44/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
Canned 2021/08/17
Pours a fizzy 1/2 finger head that fades almost instantly, mostly clear cranberry to chestnut red color

Nose sweet malts, candy, toffee, nutty, caramel, lots of toasted bread crust, biscuity sweet bread, a bit of dark fruit, candied date, fig like, buttery toffee candy, vanilla and buttery oak, quite a bit of the buttery oak with a bit of port wine raisin, chocolate, hint of tart sour funk beer character, and some sweet spicy bourbon

Taste brings more sweet malts and fruits, candy malt, candi sugar and caramelized sugars, toffee, a bit nutty, some bitter spicy hop notes, a touch syrupy into the candied dark fruits, fig, date, etc, port wine, raisins and some glug like with a hint of spices, vanilla barrel with more buttery oak, mild perfumey alcohol, a bit more sweet spicy bourbon as well, raisins soaked in port candy, a bit of chocolate raisin, and touch of funky sour fruit notes, sweet bourbon barrel juice, semi sweet sticky finish

Mouth is fuller bod, med to a touch lighter frothy carb, fair warming alcohol that gets a touch hot, tad syrupy

Overall very nice beer, great sweet malt characters very Barleywine like (or Belgian strong in a way), with good fruits, lots of great barrel characters, all blended nicely, alcohol was a tad hot but nice otherwise
Feb 28, 2022
Photo of Beginner2
Reviewed by Beginner2 from Illinois

4.01/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25
While making a humongous pan of Surly's most favored imperial (Darkness), I complained the ABV was in my face. So, I'm glad to report the second strong I've had from them (Fifteen) is much more subtle.

Fifteen has a beautiful mid-amber to ruby color; but I deduct for its Looks because its can looks sinister to me. Smells are generous with the dark fruit having gone through the barrel treatment. Tastes follow, too; full and fruity and finishes integrated... with just enough alcohol to be popular as well. Smooth in the mouth with some ABV penetration.

While this is my sixth from Surly, I've not given them a micro-review. So I went on their website and they do all the cool things that a brewery should do (Surly Gives A Damn!), but they do it better than most in a city (Twins) that is one of the cooler North American places to live if you can take the cold. So for that (despite rating all six beers below their average), I give Surly some pretty damn good Overall Hugs.
Feb 08, 2022
Rated: 4.55 by tatecarson from Louisiana

Jan 23, 2022
Rated: 3.59 by TMoney2591 from Illinois

Jan 21, 2022
Photo of Roguer
Reviewed by Roguer from Connecticut

4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25
Very clear dark brown body with ruby highlights. No head worth mentioning, as it fizzes out as quickly as you can pour, leaving a completely flat body occasionally broken by small rising bubbles.

First impression on the nose is chocolate, followed by bourbon, Belgian yeast esters, dark fruit, nuts, alcohol burn, white grape. It's a bit intimidating and boozy, but quite lovely.

Not overly sweet, but there is a decent amount of sugary and fruity sweetness from both the malts and the bourbon influence, which itself returns on the back third. Nuts, banana, chocolate, white grape, prune, caramel, toffee. A bit of alcohol heat up front, but it quickly relaxes. Overall a fairly short sip.

This is a lovely, complex, flavorful, and big beer, quite appropriate for a Surly anniversary offering.
Jan 17, 2022
Photo of 57md
Reviewed by 57md from Pennsylvania

3.9/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75
Pours a bright copper color with practically no head. The nose has notes of bourbon. The flavor has sweetness from the bourbon followed by a residual tart essence that doesn't quite fit.
Jan 01, 2022
Rated: 4.06 by Mickt465 from New Hampshire

Dec 25, 2021
Rated: 3.95 by CisPiece88 from Nebraska

Dec 17, 2021
Rated: 4.1 by GreenMind from Pennsylvania

Dec 14, 2021
Rated: 3.93 by einman from Minnesota

Dec 12, 2021
Photo of chum_husk
Reviewed by chum_husk from Minnesota

2.49/5  rDev -39%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2
Damn, time flies, I remember waiting in line for seviin back in thee day. Thanks for the can, TB

Light root beer pour, nice head, good amount of barrel in the scent. Same with the taste, big barrel blast then mild belgian yeast (fruit, coriander, powdered sugar maybe..) along with plenty of dry leaves and dark fruit, my two nemeses

Dec 11, 2021
Photo of 40ontarget
Reviewed by 40ontarget from Colorado

3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75
Hazy dark tan color with one finger of head that quickly dissipates. The nose is super oaky, vanilla, honey, pecan banana bread, and an underlying tartness. Wine is right up front with the taste. Bourbon, a bit of chocolate, and burnt sugar are in the middle. The finish is dry wood and yeasty. The feel is chalky with a little hint of carbonation. OK beer that doesn't really connect the dots. I liked 13 a lot...15 not as much.
Nov 16, 2021
Photo of gatornation
Reviewed by gatornation from Florida

3.56/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5
A boxed pounder with grat artwork on can. Pour is a cheat light copper color with little head or lacing Smelkl is oak ,cheery dark fruits some musty hay/grass. Taste is fruity with dark fruits ,plum date ,some berries oak tannins some Welty hay and caramel Mouth feel is sweet with some funk, Twas not a fan other may love not me a chore to finish.
Nov 15, 2021
Photo of cbutova
Reviewed by cbutova from Massachusetts

4.29/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25
A- Pours from the tallboy into a wine glass with a basically clear ruby red body and a half finger cap. The head has a foamy texture with large bubbles that burst out fairly quickly and therefore just decent retention. The belt at the edges is small and leaves rare spotty lacing.

S- Has a few big notes like Bourbon barrel, charred wood, vanilla, dark fruits and some tartness but honestly they play together well and the aromatic strength is high here. Whiskey, tart cherry, lactic acid, slight raspberry, oak wood, cocoa, brown sugar, toast and slight caramel.

T- Leads off again with the caramel, Bourbon whiskey, spiciness, vanilla and dark fruits. The tartness is actually more subdued here compared to the aroma with hardly any actually acidic feeling on the palate, more just fruitiness in the form of cherry, dark grapes and vinous notes. Brown sugar, Belgian yeast spice, candi sugar, cocoa powder and slight booze.

MF- The body itself is toward the lighter side for this ABV but I think that is a product of the generally high fermentation capacity of most Belgian yeasts. The body is a bit slick and the carbonation is on the lower to medium side of things. Ends fairly warm with an herbal bitterness.

Just a bit thin on the body but honestly it has a great complex flavor profile from the barrel, the base beer and the blended beer. Didn't read the description when I bought it and was a bit worried upon seeing it before reviewing but this is a tasty, interesting and well brewed beast.
Nov 13, 2021
Rated: 4.19 by SlightlyGrey from Minnesota

Nov 12, 2021
Photo of vette2006c5r
Reviewed by vette2006c5r from Minnesota

4.19/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25
Fifteen pours a cloudy brown, with not too much head. Aroma is sweet, very sugary. Flavor is dark, very sweet, sugary, fruity, some candy flavors. Flavorfull, but light. Overall lots going here, nice sweet flavors
Nov 04, 2021
Rated: 4.35 by TLA from Pennsylvania

Oct 25, 2021
Photo of MonDak_Joe1953
Reviewed by MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

4.21/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
16oz can, packaged in an outer container box. Bottom of can is stamped for canning date as '08/17/21'. Beautiful visage for the can art.
Clear, medium amber colored body. One finger of egg shell white head. Leaves scattered spots of lacing.
Aroma is dark fruit, oak bourbon barrel and vanilla.
Taste has more complex expression than the smell, with red wine, caramel, dark fruit, oak and vanilla from the bourbon barrel, spice, yeast, a sweetness similar to honey, and a touch of chalky chocolate as the beer warms. Muddled after taste with a dry finish.
Medium mouth feel. Okay carbonation.
Has a unique set of flavors, which generally work together, with no outliers nor vagaries.
Oct 21, 2021
Photo of 5toutman75
Reviewed by 5toutman75 from Illinois

4.19/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Canned 8/17/21
Consumed 10/9/21

I'm really liking that Surly is putting these strong ales/beers in a single can instead of a 750 bottle now. I can actually drink the can in one sitting without too much trouble. I'd prefer a 10oz can/bottle though to be honest in a 2 pack. Anyway, this can art is so cool. This is one of the best looking cans of beer I've ever seen. Unfortunately although the beer is good, it's not world class as I'd hope it would be. They have a great bourbon barrel for aging, aged for a full 8 month. I'm wishing it could have sat longer and got more bourbon notes. The bit of wild ale added does have an interesting impact. There's no bret funk, but I can see the honey and vanilla notes that are supposed to be here. It has an odd thin consistency. More wild ale than Belgian maybe? The alcohol is well hidden. I feel like the interesting components of a wild ale belgian adds up to an odd mix that almost works, but is a bit of a mess. Not a bad beer, but somehow missing something to pull it all together to be a great beer.
Oct 10, 2021
Rated: 4.47 by d5001986 from Wisconsin

Oct 09, 2021
Rated: 4.17 by MykeJ from Minnesota

Sep 30, 2021
Photo of mothman
Reviewed by mothman from Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Can. Beige head. Clear copper color with a ruby hue.

I’m guessing ba pentagram was what was blended into this. It shows a little but adds a nice twist the the Belgian ale. Very faint cherry and tartness. Caramel, toffee, spices, yeast, bananas, cloves. Lots of classic Belgian ale flavors. Fruity. Has some nice barrel flavors as well. Bourbon and vanilla.
Sep 25, 2021
Photo of mwilbur
Reviewed by mwilbur from Minnesota

4.21/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Poured from pint can into snifter.
A: Pours a clear ruby red with moderately active carbonation jets fueling a 1/4 inch bubbly white head that quickly recedes.
S: Oak tannins, cherries, red berries, sweet vanilla, light caramel, and a red wine note.
T: Smooth red berries and cherries, dry oak tannins, juicy red wine, supple sweet caramel, and hints of vanilla, honey, and cream. Very subtle spice with warming.
M: Light body with mildly effervescent feel. Soft, smooth, and sweet. The 10.5% ABV is imperceptible. Lingers nicely on the palate.
D: Nice complex sipper. The blending certainly adds to the complexity. Not an exceptional brew, but it is another solid Surly offering.
Sep 24, 2021
Photo of bbtkd
Reviewed by bbtkd from South Dakota

4.39/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
Surly Fifteen BA Belgian Dark Strong/Grand-cru, 10.5% ABV. Pours clear dark reddish brown, with a one-finger off-white head. Nose is sweet dark fruit, wine, and bourbon. Taste follows, plus toffee, slightly sweet, slightly bitter, faintly tart. Decent mouthfeel, overall outstanding. I'll age up the second one, this could get even better. Nice complexity, improves as it warms, but costs more than BCBS variants.
Sep 18, 2021
Rated: 4.17 by Dave2234 from Minnesota

Sep 16, 2021
Photo of maximum12
Reviewed by maximum12 from Minnesota

3.85/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Fifteen years, really? Goodness I’m bloody old. Boxed 16 oz. can. Bought only one because I’m suspicious of the wine barrel & wild ale mixture.

Pour is a lovely clear garnet color with zero head. Nose reeks of vanilla, bourbon, & that rusty amber plum that I associate with some Belgian yeasts.

Fifteen hits several of the weird notes it seemed to aim for. Plummy fruit announces either the wine barrel or yeasts up front (tastes more like yeast), with undergrowth that includes bourbon, vanilla, raw sugar, cherry, with a finish of sharpshooting assassin. Light, almost effervescent mouthfeel that’s a big liar to the ABV.

A proper anniversary beer that is. It doesn’t hit the heights of the series but it absolutely destroys some of the weirder, lesser, un-fucking-fortunate episodes. Very good brew.
Sep 15, 2021
Rated: 4.14 by Dactrius from Netherlands Antilles

Sep 13, 2021
Photo of feloniousmonk
Reviewed by feloniousmonk from Minnesota

4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
I'm not sure what the face on the label represents, or if there's any story behind the illustration, but it's an impressive visage. Is it a god, or a wizard, some elemental force who holds sway over nature, maybe? Someone powerful to signify fifteen years of beer, it seems.

As the illustrator of the first label for a Surly anniversary beer, I can say that my choice of a punk rock chick with a cranberry on her tongue was indeed intended to send a strong message about the beer and the brewery. How far we've come in fifteen years.

Enough of my jibber jabber, let's open a box, and crack open a can.
Dark burgundy hue, near transparency, slim whitish head.

In the nose: Vanilla, caramel, and bourbon notes come popping out. There's a twist of tart in here, too. Big malt notes, as well, giving off the husky tone of a Belgian quadrupel. A lot going on here.

In the mouth: Intense from the start. Rich and malt-forward, wrapped up in bourbon. Caramel and toffee are chiefly in charge. Dark fruits start charging in, raisins and dates, a fig or two. A bit brandy-ish. Sweetness takes command, and the strength roars up. It's a sipper, for sure. And I'm enjoying it.

There's a hint of a Flanders Red in this, coupled with a mix between a quad and a dubbel, covered in whiskey barrels. I can't help but wonder how this would taste after a few years. Guess I'll have to pick up a few more ...cans...still getting used to that....
Sep 11, 2021
Photo of Victory_Sabre1973
Reviewed by Victory_Sabre1973 from Minnesota

4.09/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
This beer pours a copper color. There's a 1 finger off white head. The head really dissipates quickly, and there's no lacing on the glass.
The nose is quite interesting. I get a lot of a wine aroma, now I'm not a wine expert, but I'd say it's not a red wine aroma. I also get a bit of caramel, as well.
Taste - A lot of wine flavor. I also get some caramel, toffee, malt biscuit, raisin and cinnamon.
The body is bubbly, and crisp feeling. It's strong, and you know it, but it's not too boozy, just a bit.
I've not been impressed with Surly lately, but I really like this. I am impressed.
Sep 11, 2021
Fifteen from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 37 ratings