Five | Surly Brewing Company

very good
136 Reviews
no score
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Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

Style: American Wild Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
In the Surly brewhouse, brewing our Anniversary beers mean one thing: forget what ya know and try something different. In honor of FIVE glorious years we bring you a 100% Brettanomyces fermented dark ale aged in red wine barrels. Flavors of sour cherry, tobacco, oak and classic "brett" barnyard funk balanced by dark Munich malt chewiness. Enjoy immediately or age at cellar temperature for a couple years.

Added by sarro on 08-23-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 136 | Ratings: 505
Photo of ucis
5/5  rDev +26.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

So beating a dead horse has to be task? I have relished this one since tasting it in it's unmixed form in March.

Serving type: Bottle. What a sexy bottle with the most gorgeous art I have ever laid eyes on. Green Sparkle wax and that jazz.

Appearance: Fizzy yet dark. Spoiled brown vegetation and the color of Fall. Head settles fast and sticks to my glass.

Smell: Cherries, Vinegar, sour Brett. Old fruits and faint whiff of wine and spoiled leather.

Taste: Foul fruits and decomposing tobacco. Faint brush with the barrel and it's contents. The foul piss of vinegar and Brett rounds out respectably. Malty pushes of dark fruits and wood.

Mouthfeel: Not so chewy that you need a spoon. Not so thin that you need a straw. It feels good and hearty yet goes down like a fine wine. A very drinkable liquid.

Overall: I could drink this beer day and night. Don't like yours? I am sure I can trade you something to make you feel better and take this monster off your hands.

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Photo of lovindahops
4.83/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Getting amped up for my 32 can surly delivery from France44 next week, I felt this brew would be a great kick off. I love Surly and I'm kind of glad that its tough to get Surly brews. I would go through cases of the stuff! So on this this cold and wet spring, its time to get Surly!

A- five pours a look of the darkest ruby color you can imagine. A massive head of tan foam with red tints blasts to the top of my Hill Farmstead wine glass. Even in the darkness, shades of red ruby show through, as well as spotty floaties of sediment. No lacing on the edges, but plenty of character with the appearance

S- delicious sweet red wine, Brett, barnyard funk, darkened... But ripe black cherries, tasty apples, and hearty malt. This may be off the chart enhanced due to cellar time. I have never sampled a scent of such a dark, yet flavorful American wild ale. The Brett has slept nicely in this bottle. What a balanced scent profile!

T- massive funky tart flavors are almost "candy coated" with a red wine shell. Cherry and apple flavors are almost chewy and in harmony with the aforementioned taste. I am confident that cell wrong this not only mellowed it out, but also brought out some great qualities of balance and enhanced flavor. Tart and tasty. I have had some poor examples of red wine barrel brews, and this not one of them at all

M- good carbonation and slashing flavors all over the mouth. This is very tasty

O- best American wild ale that bundles red wine barrels and darkened ale properties. What ever has happened in this bottle is amazing. The tart fruit flavors mesh perfectly with the funkiness of a wild ale. What character and enhancement of the Brett and red wine barrels. I wish I could find this again!!!

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Photo of stealth
4.82/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Ahh, the beer that turned me on to sours. Thanks dragomni - I am indebted to you eternally for this gift you bestowed upon me.

Dark red-brown pour with steady carbonation bubbles. Not much of a head to speak of. You can smell oak, apples, barn, manure, funk. It's nasty, in a good way.

This is a very earthy brew with a tart red wine quality. The brett funk is there the entire time, and really hits your palate firmly with steady tartness and puckering sour. Very dry finish.

Love the mouth watering, salivating sensations that Five creates.

Five isn't as good as my favorite sours, but it will always be one of the best, in my book, due to the 'intangible' in that it turned me on to this style of beer in the first place.

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Photo of vobr0002
4.8/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- deep deep brown with red wine like hints of color.

S- cherry, red wine, maybe some hint of the barrels. Delicious

T- tart cherry sourness. Funky flavor in there too. A little alcohol taste on the back end.

M- smooth drier feel with moderate carbonation.

O- this is a very good unique beer. Worth the little bit extra on the price. Gives a complex flavor that isn't like many other beers.

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Photo of cdkrenz
4.74/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 5

2 years in the cellar. It has a nice deep brown hue. The aroma is certainly that of funk. The flavor is complex, rich, delightful, and inviting. The finish is a bit on the rough side but it may be due to the low temp at which I'm consuming it. Is it worth the $23 I paid for the bottle. In my first few sips I have to say, yes.

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Photo of MBrausen
4.73/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A. The beer is beautiful. If pours a very dark cherry into the glass, turning black as it fills the glass. A nice 2 finger head forms, that fades to a thin ring.

S. Smells of cherries, sweet red wine and slight vanilla. Very slight hops. Sweet and slightly bitter scent.

T. Sweet and tartness comes across. A sweet cherry wine flavor , with noticeable oak notes does hold over the rest of the flavors. A bitter after taste rounds out the finish, in a similar way to the linger of hops after a sip of an IPA.

M. Very coarse across the tongue. Medium body, that is very easy to drink. Mild carbonation.

O. This is a very nice sour. The oak and wine flavors are wonderful. A year or two on a bottle would likely mellow this to some impressive notes. A great beer.

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Photo of dogfishandi
4.5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

big thanks to pete for bringing this to our last tasting!

750ml waxed and capped bottle poured into a darkness snifter.

pours out much darker than expected, almost black, a very dark ruby red color, tannish colored head.

intense barnyard brett funk and sour cherry. really attacks the nostrils.

sour pie cherries, tons of barnyard, musty brett funk, rich maltiness, tobacco, leather, almost a bit of lactic funk.

medium bodied, nice feeling carbonation, so intensely sour.

overall, a really solid sour, such an intense sour brett character with still a nice rich maltiness. reminds me a bit of bruery oude tart or marron acidifie, flanders red almost.

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Photo of YalovaIA
4.5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was fantastic treat shared by Omar at Reds Alehouse on Surly/Toppling Goliath night. Poured from a (very hard to open) bottle, it was beautiful dark brown/red and tasted fantastic. The sour and wood were perfectly intertwined. I real loved this beer.

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Photo of minnesotaryan
4.5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Have had multiple times, fresh on tap and in bottles and now after almost a year later opened another, and wow is it drinking good!

pours brown and turns black as night, slight cream head

smells sour and tart, bretty and lactic, sour cherries, rich and complex

tastes incredible! tart cherries, tobacco, brett and lactic yeast, sour fruits (peach and pear, apple) nice complexity, a little less tear jerker like now, truly delightful.

medium body, prickly carbonation and a wonderfully dry finish.

wow this is drinking nice, love the complexity, lots going on, but not so much that you can't pick it apart.

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Photo of pmccallum86
4.5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep dark brown maroon color with a light head that dissipates quickly.

Smell is acidic with slight vinegar. I have never smelled a Surly beer like this before, long overdue.

Taste is tart up front, followed by a rich malt character, maybe a slight bit of cherries. The barnyard funk is going on, and it brought a tobacco flavor along with it. Pretty good, not butt puckeringly sour by any means, but it does have a refreshing tartness to it. The red wine qualities are apparent too.

Light in body with medium carbonation. Very smooth in the mouth with a lingering vinegar tartness.

Overall a pretty dang good beer. Very complex, I am digging the black ale turned sour concept. Well done Surly.

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Photo of Heatwave33
4.47/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle to a Dogfish Head Snifter.

Color: Very dark brown with a tan head. Some sediment floating towards the bottom.

Smell: The red wine and sour cherries come through at first. Then the oak and toasted malts follow very nicely.

Taste: The red winr comes though at first just like the aroma but I get more oak than cherries. Folowed with toasted malts.

Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation, smooth and a light dryness on the palate.

Overall: A very goos brew. I love just sipping on it. No way I could tackle this bad boy on my own. Good balance too. Not very sour either but I'm not complainig. Cheers.

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Photo of SummitVA
4.47/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Soft hiss as I pop the cap. Deep mahogany pour puts up a thin head, although carbonation appears steady.

S - Beautiful mustiness, and complex brett funk of wet earth, mushrooms, and green apple. Darker malt scents suggesting stone fruits, with plum jumping out at me especially along with some cherry, as well. Oak character a bit of heat.

T - Earthiness of the brett is very forward. Palate opens to a complex blend of sour apple, vanilla, and faint burnt sugar. Tartness of the finish is firm and crisp, and pleasant taste of green apple lingers in the finish along with a dry tannic quality. Alcohol heat is imperceptible.

M - Medium-bodied beer that drinks much lighter given the crisp finish. Carbonation is a bit on the lower end, but beer remains lively overall.

O - Really happy to have tried Surly 5 at long last. Fantastically complex brett character and solid tartness make for a beautiful dark wild ale. Todd and Omar just don't miss. Happy New Year!

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.47/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Splitting this bottle with my buddy Dave. Very excited to try a wild ale from Surly, a brewery of which I am very fond.

The beer appears brown with subtle ruby highlights. A finger of tan head slowly recedes to a thin cap.

The aroma brings brettanomyces funk, oak, cherries, red wine. Very appealing.

Really digging the flavor. So smooth. Complex and wonderful. No alcohol presence. Red wine, brett, cherries, oak. Extremely drinkable. Well balanced. A wonderful showing from Surly with this premier wild ale.

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Photo of timtim
4.47/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours a dark reddish-brown with a tan head that fades pretty quickly and doesn't leave lace. fine for what it is. nose is dark fruit, sour cherry, cola, toasty/roasty malt, wine, vinegar and a touch of oak and funk. seems pretty spot on flanders red to me. taste is very good balance of the above. sour hits first, followed by fruit and cola which is rounded out by a proper wood, malt and funk character. mouthfeel is medium full. very soft and silky. extra points for alcohol being virtually undetectable. wow! 8+% really! totally out of the mold for what i expect from surly. delicious, fun experiment that i would love to sit down with again.

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Photo of jmarsh123
4.45/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours deep red almost purplish hue with a small brown head and a little lacing.

Smells like a medium bodied red wine with a lot of oak character and some brett funk along with sourness.

Similar flavors although the brett stands out a bit more. Again a lot like a medium bodied red wine with lots of lush red grape and some oak along with the bretty funk.

Medium bodied with ample carbonation.

Had this on draft at the FFF XV party and loved it so decided to age my bottle. Not holding up quite as well as I'd like, but still a really wonderful beer and one I apparently like more than its rep. I wish I had more.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.42/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 750 ml bottle into a snifter glass.

Appearance: Very dark brown with hints of amber red. Starts with a lot of bubbly rising carbonation and a decent two fingers of tan head that quickly dissipates into a thin patchy layer. Lacing is very light.

Smell: Aroma is like acidic red wine with some vinegar. Sour and tart cherries, oak, lemon, and vanilla with hints of barnyard "Brett", tobacco, and some dark malts. Smells very balanced and complex. Very appealing.

Taste: Very fruity up front with cherries that are fairly tart and sour but not overbearingly so. Hints of lemon mix in with the cherries. A good presence of oak chips follows with light hints of vanilla, Brett and tobacco. Finishes with some dark roasted malts and some cherries that linger in the aftertaste. Very cherry forward tasting. Sweet and sour but nicely balanced.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation. Very smooth and no alcohol burn is detected.

Overall: A very nice brew from Surly. I typical don't care for both cherry beers and wine but this beer avoids the aspects of those two drinks I find difficult, excessive syrup and a fermented fruit flavor. This brew manages to be fruity and sweet while keeping the sourness and tartness in check well. It is nicely balanced by the oak and other aspects. This is my first experience with a Wild Ale and I'm liking the style.

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Photo of WYVYRN527
4.42/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle, pored into my trusty Darkness glass.

A: Very dark mahogany hue with a reddish-tan head that quickly settles to almost nothing. Carbonation is quite fizzy, which is to be expected.

S: Right up front, wood and spice collide with vinous notes reminiscent of aged red Burgundy. Some malty notes and brett funk are noticeable in the background.

T: Tart right off the bat, with sour cherry notes and red wine character. Strong malt backbone is present, with hints of caramel. Some barnyard funk, along with strong oak presence appears just before the finish, which is laced with tannins and a pleasant dry aftertaste.

Notes: This beer is probably my favorite anniversary release from the folks at Surly. Funky, with complex flavors, and a soft mouthfeel. Surly's first wild release is definitely a winner, and it's a shame that this is a one-time deal. Supplication, watch out!

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Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.42/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Generously shared by Rutager.

A: Black liquid with a slight tan head around the edges of the glass.

S: Smells like an oud bruin. Caramel malt and sourness.

T: Pears, white wine, red wine, oak, chocolate, hazelnut and caramel.

M: Medium to thin viscosity and a low level of carbonation.

O: Interesting wild ale reminiscent of an oud bruin.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.42/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Surly Five. Five points in the pentagram, mystic talisman of satanic ministers, invoking demons and demigods to do evil bidding. I just knew the eventual imagery for this one, celebrating 5 years of Surliness, had to be Baphomet. "It Had to Be Baphomet." Sounds like a sitcom. or a broadway show. I want to see that.

So, this was made exactly like a Flanders Red. Brown ale and brettanomyces, aged in wine barrels, blended. But this comes out much darker than those. Called a "dark ale" on the label, perhaps in an effort to dodge associations with more famous "brown ales"?, …but looking at this final product, it is mighty dark.

Nearly black, this, with a slim head, currently a light, cola-tinted ring.

Aroma: black cherries, sourness, tart, slightly sweet, deep, and inviting. Beautiful. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Taste: bam, fruit, bam, sour, bam, pucker. Not incredibly intense, not horribly palate-wrecking, just nice and sour, amply backed up by rich malt. Tanin-y, tart, puckering, gritty, earthy, with the feel of grape peels, of getting into the insides of stone fruit, licking the pith, getting rightfully intimate with the danker sides of darker fruits. Berries and cherries, grape and more, a potent sour kick, then smooths, mellows, and winds down delightfully.

once off the palate, it begs back in. Hey, that was good, let's have some more. Mmmm, yeah. Tangy, tasty, never-ending sour kick, starts in the front, moves to the back. Lays long in the palate, fades slowly.

This is a very mellow, approachable version of this style, ridiculously delicious. Sour flavor still kicks in, drops it's bombs on the palate, over and over, with rich malt holding down below. Hints of cocoa, chocolate, some bitter hops and funky acidity. Tangy kick never quits, cherry/currant flavor remains strong, sourness reigns supreme.

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Photo of plfahey
4.37/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

750mL bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance-Deep brown mahogany in color with ruby highlights and high clarity. Very low tan head is disappears almost immediately. Almost looks like red wine.

Aroma-Tart cherries, oak, vanilla, black currants, lemon, and a little bit of raisin. Just a hint of brett horse blanket character.

Flavor-Lightly tart with lactic and slight acetic notes. Very fruity up front with notes of cherries, black currants, and lemon rind. As the acid and fruit up front fades, tannic oak notes come through along with some ash and tobacco. In the finish, a toasted malt character, with subtle shades of caramel, chocolate, and coffee roast, expands on the palate. Flavor is dried by tannic wood notes, and the aftertaste is a complex interplay of the wood, fruit, and malt notes. Brett character is still rather subdued at this point, though I suspect that that will increase with age.

Mouthfeel-Medium to medium full in body with rather low carbonation. Smooth on the palate-the oak character is not overly tannic or astringent.

Good god this is delicious. Reminds me of something in between a Flanders Red and flanders brown, this is superbly crafted with a wonderful balance of acidity, oak character, fruit, and brett, with a substantial malt backbone that is often absent in these types of beers. Wow.

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Photo of Moon2Goddess
4.37/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Just came back from the Common Roots Cafe where I had this on tap. Other patrons must not be in the market for sours, because the server was trying to warn me about!

Color: Very dark cherry wood or mahogany. Nice red tones on the edges where bits of light could pass through. No head to speak of in the glass I was served, which was a stemless wine glass.

Aroma: Fantastic! Instantly reminded me of the Rodenbach Grand Cru. The predominant aroma was sour cherry, then raisin, oak and malt.

Texture: Decent texture, low carbonation, medium body, not creamy or frothy, but very evenly consistent. There was a good amount of sediment at the bottom however, which became little white chunks and took on a funky smell at the very end. I did not drink the last swallow because of this. For this reason only, I am scoring it lower on mouth-feel.

Flavor & Balance: The wine barrels gave it a darker flavor and richness than some other sours. It was quite smooth, and maintained its sour characteristic throughout, there were no uneven moments when the sour suddenly attacked and made my lips pucker and the hair stand up on the back of my neck. The malty tones and oak from the barrels made it a very easy drink. I can honestly say I could taste all the flavors the brewers claim--tobacco, dark malt and Brett, along with sour cherries and grapes it was extremely balanced and quite delicious.

I have two bottles of this in my fridge, I hope they taste as good as it did on tap!

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Photo of Arenbeer
4.35/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle into my Surly Darkness Snifter

A- Pours an extremely dark murky brown that looks like swamp water with pretty much no head other than some big white bubbles clinging to the side of the glass. No retention at all but has sexy alcohol legs.

S- Straight up funk and barnyard with notes of cherry, roasted malts, and vinous grapes. Definitely some musty oak/wood coming through in the nose as well, maybe some slight vanilla.

T- Funk and Grapes dominate the flavor. The barrel comes through up front with a nice dry musty oak and vinous grapes that's followed by roasted malts and cherry sweetness. The brett creates a very sour finish but doesn't give off to many traditional flavors in the taste like the aroma or it usually would due to the barrel aging.

M- Medium bodied with moderate carbonation and a nice sour finish that doesn't stick to the tongue to long making you come back for more.

Overall this is a pretty damn good sour especially being there first one. I'm curious as to how well this is going to age and what flavors will come out whether it be the brett or red wine from the barrels.


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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.35/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle opened on 2-10-12.

A - Pours a dark cola brown with a fluffy light-medium tan head. Fades pretty quickly.

S - Sour dark fruit.

T - Tart raisin, cherry and dark fruit.

D - Sour, but nicely balanced.

O - I love it. Great flavors and balanced.

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Photo of gford217
4.35/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle.

Pours an extremely dark mahogany, maybe not quite black, with a very small creamy head that recedes to a thick collar quickly.

The aroma is sugar-coated tart cherries and a very prominent red wine character with oaky tannins featuring. The brett is noticeable but not as dominant as the wine and cherries.

The taste is even better than the aroma for me with the red wine barrels bringing a dry oaky taste balanced by the sweetness of the cherries, brown sugar and malt backbone. Finish is dry and vinous with only a light bretty character.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with soft carbonation and, as mentioned earlier, dry and oaky in the finish.

I'm a big, big fan of this beer which is already very complex with lots of wine character and sweetness. It will be very interesting to see what the brett does to this over time. Might even make it better which is exciting.

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Photo of maximum12
4.35/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Republic in Minneapolis, new restaurant across from Town Hall. I gotta say that with the beers, ambience, & kick-ass food, it has a chance to steal us away from Town Hall once in a while. Great place.

Anyways, the beer. Having been raised on Russian River sours, it's a surprise that this beer is dark brown with a spare shot of reddish. Smell is very vinous, healthy shot of wine barrel mixed with a noseful of tart. Nice.

I have to say: wild ales aren't my favorite, & I still haven't found a sour that I really love. Surly Five is close. Sour-heads might not be too excited though. Not quite sour: a tart. Very tart. Really melds well with the wine & oak, which are both prominent. Sharp lemon. Extremely dry, complete lack of alcohol presence. Not making my brown-eye pucker, this is up there for drinkability, extremely drinkable for a wild. My wife & I split three of the 8 or 10 oz. glasses over & after dinner.

Well, damn. I was prepared to be all non-homer on this beer, but then it's all "drink me, I'm good!" & so it is. If this is going to get more sour with age, I'm going to drink my couple of bottles soon. Excellent beer that was well worth the wait.

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Five from Surly Brewing Company
3.94 out of 5 based on 505 ratings.
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