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Five | Surly Brewing Company

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very good
136 Reviews
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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: 502
Photo of Sammy
3.88/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sour aroma, dark bodied with substantial head. Very creamy for the style. very good drinkability for a sour. Brett and the blending are nicely done and result in a balanced creation. Cherry and oak flavours are understated. Thanks Pete for sharing another Surly gem.

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Photo of largadeer
3.11/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks, Cam.

Appearance: Opaque black with faintly translucent brown edges, very stout-like in appearance. The head recedes quickly.

Smell: Very vinous and barrel forward. Currants, raisins, balsamic vinegar, a little dark malt. Soft leathery notes from the brett, though the funk is fairly reserved with this bottle. Previous bottles I tried seemed a bit more acetic and bretty; not the case with this one.

Palate: Tart and extremely vinous, with lighter notes of roasted malt and sweet balsamic vinegar. Sourness is moderate - I'd be very surprised if this is in fact 100% brett fermentation. The acidity implies that there was some bacteria at work. Currants and raisins come to mind again. It's a rather dry beer, but the body has a decent amount of heft; about appropriate for the ABV. The finish leaves some leathery, almost tobacco-like flavors along with a touch of oak.

Overall: Very middle of the road. Nothing particularly bad about it. Sort of tastes like a mediocre version of Consecration.

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Photo of emerge077
3.92/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Draft served in a small footed goblet.

Second time trying this, first time with a full pour. The color appears black at first, with a brown hint in the lower meniscus of the glass. Towards the last third of the glass, it's a reddish transparent copper color. Thin ring of froth around the edges, it didn't have much head to speak of.

Tart and vinous aroma, wet barrel and cherry skins.

Flavors are similar, black cherry, some tannic cherry skin bitterness, lightly oaky and toasty. Feels a bit thin, though there's an ample level of tartness to it, lending some acidity that carries it through. Finishes somewhat dry and clean. The flavor profile seems Flanders-inspired, which always hits a sweet spot for me. It was good and i'd have one again if the rare opportunity arose.

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Photo of kojevergas
4.2/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on-draught at Cafe 23 in Minnesota. Reviewed from notes. Expectations were high.

A: Pours a one finger head of great cream, good thickness, and pretty good retention. Colour is a solid black.

Sm: Red wine, bacteria, yeast, and pleasant souring hops and funkiness. A moderate strength aroma, but very pleasant.

T: Wonderful sourness, funkiness, and yeast alongside red wine notes. Very complex and subtle. Extremely well balanced and quite nicely built.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Very complementary of the flavours and style. Not too thick or too thin. Just right.

Dr: Very drinkable for a sour beer. I'd definitely love to have it again. A bit pricey, but excellent. The red wine and sourness coalesce beautifully. A real gem of a beer that would be wonderful with age. It might be disrespectful to pair it with food.

I was sad to hear that Cafe 23 will be closing soon.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.58/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to skinnyguy for sending a bottle of this out my way. Served in a wine glass the other night. Reviewed from notes.

Pours a moderate rusty brown with a decent-sized off-white head and a spattering of lacing on the way down. The nos is really quite mellow with a bit of red wine. Faint Brett presence as well alongside some light earthiness. Slight tannin and acidity come through in the nose. Medium body elevates the flavor and is one of the better aspects of this brew. Overall, I think this could be good, it just needs a little something extra and perhaps a bit more time.

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Photo of oline73
4.3/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this at the November Baltimore BA tasting. Poured from the bottle into a tasting snifter.

Appearance: The beer pours a mostly clear mahogany color with hardly any off white head. The head fades to a ring around the pour.

Smell: I'm getting lots of dark sour smell, some wine and a hint of red berry tartness. Just enough malt sweetness to compliment the sourness.

Taste: Wine and red berries with some malt sweetness in the background. Just a touch of vinegar and a hint of bitterness. The finish is tart with some fruity vinegar notes.

Mouthfeel: The body is medium with tingly carbonation and a finish that is a bit dry.

Overall: This is a nice dark sour. Quite smooth and I think it will age quite nicely. I would have more in the future.

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Photo of mothman
3.5/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a beige head. Leaves a little bit of lace. Color is a dark caramel bronw.

Aroma: Brett funk and a little sourness. Not too sour. Cherries and oak. Medicinal. Malts and spices.

Tastes: Caramel and bready malts. Medicinal bretty funk. Oaky. Cherries and vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Kind of tart, kind of funky. Lighter bodied with a lower amount of carbonation. Ends clean.

Overall, it's an okay wild. Nothing to amazing. Somewhat drinkable, but nothing to go crazy over. Above average.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.33/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Rich dark brown, very hazy and cloudy with a rich tan colored head. Excellent retention left behind thick coating side glass lace.

funky and sour, which were to be expected, however, letting this one warm up brought about all sorts of goodness. This one had to warm though to really let you appreciate all of the subtleties that were going on here. Rich notes of caramel and tart cherries, light notes of oak and woodsy like malts. Extremely complex here. The flavor was much more of the same, just absolutely decadent and delicious. Started out a nice rush of Brett funkiness in all of its glory, rich notes of fruit, cherries layered in on top of that with an almost toffee like flavor as the base

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Photo of womencantsail
3.68/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Greg for this one.

A: The beer pours a dark brown color with minimal off-white head formation.

S: A nice vinous aroma with plenty of dark fruit notes. There is a mild chocolate aroma, strong scent of raisins and perhaps cherries. A touch of vinegar, mostly balsamic, along with some oak.

T: Sort of vinegary, moreso than the aroma, anyway. Quite a bit of chocolate for a sour. Plenty of oak with a sort of prune-like flavor along with raisins and plums. A bit of straw and grass, just a light lemon zest flavor.

M: Medium bodied with medium carbonation.

O: For a brewery that doesn't really do sour beers, this was pretty decent. It was just a bit too...simple.

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Photo of orangesol
3.68/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to therealnomayo for bringing this one along on our Black Friday beer trip.

A - Pours dark brown with a small white head leaving light lace down the glass.

S - Smells of dark fruits; mostly raisins and figs; chocolate, sour cherries, balsamic vinegar, and some oak.

T - This one is pretty vinous up front quickly giving way to a mix of light funk, dark fruits, more balsamic, chocolate, damp earth and lots of oak tannins. The finish is pretty dry with a tiny bit of funk, lingering for some time.

M - Medium body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Feel is funky up front giving way to a good dose of dryness in the finish.

O - For their first attempt it isn't too bad. It had some good qualities but in reality it wasn't mind blowing. I wouldn't turn it down in the future.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.22/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From 01/15/12 notes. Big thanks to Thorpe429 for sharing this one, been wanting to try it. Poured into a tulip.

a - Pours a dark brown color with one inch of off white head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of sour dark fruits, brett, roasted malts, wine, lacto, vinegar, some funk, and fruity malts. A nice mix of sour fruits and roasted notes, very nice nose.

t - Tastes of brett, roasted malts, sour dark fruits, vinegar, earthy notes, fruit malts, toasted malts. Not quite as funky or sour as the nose, but still very nice.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation. Pretty easy to drink.

o - Overall a nice beer; kind of reminds me of a sour/bretty porter. I liked the nose quite a bit, though the taste wasn't as sour. Definitely worth trying and would like to try it again.

EDIT: Had this on tap at Churchkey on 3/12/12 at their Surly event and liked it even better, so bumped the overall up from a 4 to a 4.5. Was nice and sour and very easy to drink; would love to get a bottle of this.

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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 Alieniloquium
3.53/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Almost black. Deep brown with a bit of red. Nice head as I pour it, but settles to nothing.

Smell - Cherries and lots of red wine. Some oaky mustiness. Dark malts. Some chocolate.
Taste - Much more red wine. Really dominates. Oak too. Cherry sourness. The dark malts aren't very prevalent here. Just an undertone of dark malt.

Mouthfeel - Medium body and pretty sour. Dry.

Overall - Without being a huge fan of dark sours, this is pretty good. Intense red wine. Mild dark malts. Works well.

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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 smakawhat
3.95/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass. Thanks goes out to translucent.

A very small tan and foamy head that disappears fairly quickly. giving off lots of snapping carbonation. Not a collar left. Body however is incredibly dark with a classic dark walnut brown/black body. Impressive to see that color on such a wild like beer.

Nose is an interesting sweet green apple, and hint of tartness. Great balance and a sense of almost baked apple pie. Very nice nose on this. Mild brett sense, but a nice apple angle on this.

Very fleeting taste. A sense of oud bruin malt and sour, but falls quickly. Apple sour comes through and vanishes after a swallow but there are other flavors that seem to follow. Mild cherry, definitely sour fruit, but a very fast finishing beer. Mouthfeel goes toward extremely light bodied without much viscosity. Some nice noticeable tight carbonation which is enjoyable and not distracting.

Overall nice tasting but also very fleeting. Enjoyable to drink no major complaints.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.39/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by Chris (spycow). Serve in a Surly Darkness glass.

A - A finger of tan foam settles to a thick collar, some patches of bubbles, and a few spots of lace. Opaque dark brown body.

S - Hmm...the taste has some intense funk to it, but it's unfortunately of the baby diaper, vomit, sweat, and medicinal variety. It mingles with vinous and sour cherry notes and roasted malts, and a mild amount of oak. I could swear there is other souring bacteria in addition to the brett.

T - Taste is more vinous, with tart grapes and other dark fruits, balsamic, and light chocolate. The stomach acid and slightly rancid note in the aroma is thankfully gone, but what's left is a pretty tame funky dark ale.

M - Medium-bodied with plenty of heft to support the listed 8.2% ABV. Lower carbonation, lightly tannic texture, no obvious alcohol, and a slightly dry finish.

D - Other than the puke-evoking aroma, this is a solid dark wild. For a first major attempt it's passable, but Surly has a long way to go to compete with the top tier of American wild ales. I'd try this again in a few months to see how it develops, but I probably wouldn't pay $17 for it again.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.2/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sent to me by kbutler, the long awaited Surly Five. Unfortunatley for it, a B+ doesn't get you on the top American Wild Ale list.

Beer is darker than expected, quite dark, thin tan head, low retention low lacing.

Oaky, mildly acetic, mildly lactic throughout, interesting.

Beer is good, definitely an above average sour, effervescent on the palate, strong oakiness, nice brightness, creamy lactic, great finish. I really liked it.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.03/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Weebay for sharing this one.

A - Dark brown, almost black in colour with some red wine coloured glow around the edges. A ring of cream coloured head formed on the poor and quickly disappeared.

S - Sourness up front with a big oak presence and some dark cherries.

T - Sour up front with a big black cherry flavour. Tart. Some red wine and oak flavours come through in the finish.

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation.

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Photo of Mora2000
3.78/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to BMan1113VR for sharing this bottle at bu11zeye's 10,000th tasting.

The beer pours a dark brown color with a tan head. The aroma is fairly straightforward. I get some tart cherries and toffee, with not too much else going on. The flavor is basically the same. The toffee and caramel notes stand out, but there are some tart cherries and oak thrown in for good measure. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

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Photo of John_M
3.92/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Cafe 28 today.

The beer pours a pretty dark brown color with good head retention and lacing. The nose is very impressive in this beer, showcasing considerable sour, chocolate, wine, vanilla and dark fruits. Frankly, in many ways the nose on this beer reminds me very much of the Cascade bourbonic plague. Unfortunately, this beer did not taste nearly as good as it smelled. There is considerable sour in the flavor profile, along with some underlying chocolate, brown sugar and wine. However, the flavors seemed muddled in this beer, with the sour clearly dominating the chocolate and wine I picked up on the nose. It's not bad, but it's not the sort beer I'll be unhappy to learn is gone. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a fairly long, mostly sour and wine finish. The alcohol is pretty well disguised, and is well integrated into the flavor profile

This is a very nice beer, but I can't say it's anything to get unduly excited about either. I have a bottle, so I'll hold onto it and see if things come together a bit a few years down the road.

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Photo of HopHead84
3.7/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5


Shared by Andrew, thanks!

A: Dark brown with a small beige head.

S: Pronounced currant with grape and a dash of chocolate. Lots of vinegar. Moderate lactic profile. Smells nice.

T: Oak and currant with a moderate lactic sourness and a light tartness. Malt is bready. There's a light acetic acidity with a good amount of vinegar in the flavor. Falls off in the finish.

M: Medium body with a creamy moderate carbonation.

Overall: A solid beer, but it falls into the immense sea of pretty good American Wild Ales that I have no desire to revisit.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.19/5  rDev -19%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

The wax was pretty tough but I was tougher...

It looks to be a pitch black, the pour gave me about an inch of off white foam, with plenty of lacing. After a few minutes, the foam and lacing are gone.

The smell is of vinegar and sour cherries and reminds me of what a NB La Folie smells like. A little bit of the Brett also peeks through after a lot of sniffing.

When I take my first sip, I kind of expect an explosion of flavour on my palate but that's not what I get. I get sour cherries and vinegar, a hint of what Brett brings to the taste buds, but the overall flavours, imho, taste like, well, an American Wild Ale that's been held on too long and is past its prime. Very dull and uninspiring. Dang it.

Light bodied with a minimal level of carbonation, the mouthfeel isn't very good at all and though it is easy to drink, I have no desire to seek another bottle out. This is just plain disappointing; an unusual statement from me regarding Surly Brewing beers...

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.05/5  rDev +2.8%

Poured a dark brown hue. Mild, dark head fizzles away. The aroma comes off as aged, soggy oak, funked dark malt and sourness. Smells of aggressively puckering Brett. The flavor, despite a few years in the bottle is very sour yet well integrated. The oak has seemed to die away a bit but it still brings elements to the flavor. Dark, rotty fruit, Barolo wine. Sour. Body is interestingly full. Carbonation is softer; perhaps losing its edge. Overall, I had this next to two vintages of Pentagram and liked this a lot more. A tasty, aged treat.

Had by bottle.

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Photo of Stevedore
4.34/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750ml light green wax bottle. Served in a Surly snifter.

Pours a dark brown body, one finger offwhite head, fair bit of retention, not much in way of lacing. It looks like a dark wine, really. Smells of lemon, touch of leather, deep rich roasted chocolate, touch of oak and red vinous character. A moderate acetic acidity. It reminds me a lot of Side Project Black & Wild in that regard. Very promising aroma that combines chocolate and acidity. Flavour impresses more, especially for a five year old bottle of Five. Milk chocolate, roast, touch of espresso acidity, oak, moderate acetic acidity, cocoa, touch of leather and lemon, with red vinous flavours lingering on the palate. Really nice complexity to it. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, lighter on the carbonation. Vinous flavours cling to the palate on the finish. Overall, a very damn nice brett wild with a nice vinous character to it. As mentioned previously, this reminded me a lot of Black & Wild in its complexity and combination of a dark beer with Brett and acidity. This has aged very well.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
2.22/5  rDev -43.7%
look: 1.75 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

Brown, ruddy, turbid pour, yields zero head. Swamp water. Rotten eggs and dark fruit aroma.

A 2 on the 1-10 sour scale, lot of vinegar/acetic acid notes, brown malt, wet wood and other assorted dark fruits. Like, did they fuck a quad up and call it a wild ale? A little bit of leather, funk, ashtray.

Total fail of a beer.

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Five from Surly Brewing Company
3.94 out of 5 based on 502 ratings.
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