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Five | Surly Brewing Company

very good
135 Reviews
no score
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Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States | website

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: 135 | Ratings: 501
Photo of morimech
3.49/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sort of a Flanders Oud Bruin type of beer, at least in a couple of areas. Pours a brown color and appears black in my tulip. A small head forms and quickly disappears. Not much lacing is left on the glass.

Aroma of white wine vinegar and wine barrels. Definate wine charactor with hints of cherries. Just a light aroma of brett funkiness.

Flavor is moderately tart with low brett funkiness. Very vinous with lactic acidity. Notes of oak and leather. If you like tart without the bretty charactor, this beer may be for you. Just the faintest hint of brett funk in the finish. Alcohol is not detectable.

The body is larger than what ones finds in sours. It is also not that well carbonated. I would of like more bubbles to liven the palate.

I think I would take Monk's Cafe over this. I would not buy another bottle especially at Surly prices. Did not live up to the hype. Maybe their next sour will be more impressive.

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Photo of TheDudeRules
3.2/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On tap in a 8oz glass.

Pours a burgundy color liquid. Similar to wine. No head. No nothing. Smell is of grape skins and brett. Taste is right in line with smell. Not very tart. Rather bland for the type. Not my style of beer, but this is rather boring. I really love the sore throat feeling it gives me after I finish my sip.

Rather terrible.

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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 AgentZero
3.52/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Looks black in the lower light, with a bit of red on the edges. Bit of an off-white head.

S - A bit vinous, with some oak and cherries. There's a bit of tartness in there as well. There is a bit of an unpleasant sweat odor in there. Kind of smelled a little like bile after a bit, but you could get around it if you didn't pay attention.

T - A bit of a dry oaky taste in there, nice vinous influence with some tart cherries. It's a pretty nice beer, fairly heavy for a sour, slightly tart.

M - Medium bodied, but for a sour it's pretty big. Moderate carbonation with a dry finish.

O - Very solid sour. Aroma was a little bit off, but this is a pretty good beer.

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Photo of birchstick
4.07/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to the beertender at Haute Dish for hooking me up with this bottle!

A - I don't know if it was due to the low lighting or not, but it pours a very dark brown, almost black in appearance.

S - smells of sweet malts wrapped around a vinous character with some tart citrus smells

T - starts off with a citric sourness that dominates the front and middle of the palate. Next, the red wine / vinous character from the wine barrel aging makes their presence known. I am not really getting any of the Brett that was used in the brewing process, however we'll see how that develops in my other bottle.

M - medium body with nice carbonation. Leaves a dry, tannic finish

D - this is a really good American Wild Ale, especially for a first time attempt by Surly. I really enjoyed the different layers of flavor going on...it reminded me of a Consecration from RR, which is a good thing. Recommended if you can find a bottle of it!

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Photo of Sean9689
3.68/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to spycow for this one. Poured into my Narke tulip.

A - Pours black, slight cream colored head, thin collar.

S - Vinous notes, some oak, sour/tartness, sour cherries. The vinous notes are the big character in the nose and overpower any hint of brett whatsoever. Some funky tartness in there as well with well-hidden alcohol.

T - Tastes kinda like Cuvee de Tomme, not quite as good. Sour cherries, vinous character, oak, lactic notes. The booze comes out a bit more on the palate, but is still hidden well for 8.2% and being such a fresh beer.

M - Medium, a "big" chewy sour, light carbonation, dry finish.

O - My first wild from Surly, and I think it's a good first attempt. As for similar beers, I'd rather have Cuvee de Tomme or Consecration over this, but it's not all that bad. Give it a whirl.

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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 TVolt1
3.73/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: dark reddish-brown color. Almost the color of a deep red wine.

S: Smells of red wine, cherries, and a little bit of a pungent alcohol aftersmell.

T:I enjoy the initial taste of this beer where I immediately get a sour note in my mouth. The middle of the taste is a little funky until the large amount of cherry flavor hits your lips. It then becomes a great taste and an enjoyable finish. The middle is what I don't care for.

M: I enjoy the mouthfeel. It's crisp, hihgly carbonated and light.

O: Overall, this is an interesting beer. I really wish the middle of the taste wasn't quite as funky tasting because I would have loved the beer. I love sour beer and was very excited to give this one a try. Not overly impressed but not unimpressed either.

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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 46and2
4.24/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Finally snagged a late bottle after much searching, found at Hastings MGM on 9/1/11. (Thanks to my persistent wife)

A - Pours dark brown, deep cherry red when held up to the light. Light brown head that dissipated very quickly.

S - Heavy red wine, oak characteristics and obviously a Brett brew

T - Follows the smell, close your eyes and you might be deceived that you aren't drinking a beer almost.

M - Thinner than expected but a perfect lower level of carbonation to match the red wine characteristics.

D - I drank the whole bomber but wouldn't have wanted more, I did enjoy sipping it and noting character changes as the temperature warmed.

I enjoyed it quite a bit overall, I will say I am less versed in the wild ales than any other style, but I was impressed with this offering.

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Photo of SurlyMe
4.12/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had this on tap a couple times during Surly's 5th year celebrations around the cities, reviewing off of recently released 750ml bottle, poured into a tulip glass.

A - Pours a dark brown/ruby color, average speed pour yields a thin, fizzy, khaki colored head which quickly dissipates

S - Barnyard funk, sour cherries, pinot noir, light oak

T - Sour cherries with some tartness up front which then moves to more of the dark fruit wine flavors and has a nice breadyness on the finish. not boozy smelling or tasting but gives a bit of a warming sensation once it has gone down, this stuff is very wine-esque for a beer

M - Fairly light, slightest amount of dryness on the finish

D - very drinkable, especially for 8.2%. a sipper, but a tasty one at that.

Overall, another fine piece of work from Surly! I feel lucky to have a brewery like this so close to home.

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

Tried at Jackie O's recent release. From notes

A - deep reddish brown, minimal head.

S - tart cherries dominate.

T - tart cherries again, some nice added complexity from dark malts

M - a little dry, but smooth and a medium-full body

O - a pretty good beer, and enjoyable.

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Photo of nppeders
3.95/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'll start this off by saying..I had a chance to try Pentagram which was a single barrel version of this beer. I most say...that single barrel version was absolutely amazing. This blended batch is good...but I think it needs a little more time in the bottle to come together.

appearance - very dark...they must have used carafa II or III as there isn't much for roasted malts in this beer. Extremely dark, held up to light you can't see through it but you get slight ruby colors. head dissipates to a very thin layer.

smell - slight tobacco, slight oak, but predominantly dark chocolate cherries.

taste - tart, a bit sour like sour apple, sweet cherries in the middle, then tart cherries on the end and finishing with more of the apple sourness. Dry's out in the finish and and then the mouth waters a bit. Sour apple dominates when I wish the tart cherries would take over.

mouthfeel - thin mouthfeel with low-medium carbonation.

overall- Wow...this is a very fine offering from Surly. I probably won't open another one until Surly 6 comes out. The brett needs to come forward a bit, and complement the sourness from the bugs. Hopefully it will come together...and if it does...holy crap this will be tasty!

It's a sipper, one to drink and age like a fine wine. It actually resembles a wine more then a beer. Very fine craftmanship and a great representation of what has gotten Surly to this point, and the direction they are headed! Cheers, Surly! You have never once let me down.

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

damn, this wax is a pain to get off... but pretty.

pours a darker than expected, very dark brown with a tiny bit of head ringing the glass. nice.

the nose makes my mouth water instantly. Tart cherry, some darker malt, mixed well with oak...and a decent amount of tartness.

taste is tarter than I thought it would be. a tinge of sweetness on the tip of the tongue, followed by a decent tartness, and finishes really dry. An oddness about this, is it seems very wet, right before the finish, and then dries out completely... I would attribute that to the oak aging. There is a bit of a chemical taste in the aftertaste, though... which lowers the score a bit, but it is subtle. Nice, decently balanced.

mouthfeel is what you would expect from a sour, thinner, lighter than it looks for sure... right amount of carbonation...

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Photo of tmcelvain
4.12/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

On-Tap at my local tavern - 10oz pour for 6 bucks, served in a tulip.

Nice dark mahogony color, but lacks much of any head. This seems true to the style, but for this ale it was a precursor to my biggest fault -

Super thin mouthfeel. I was about 4 oz in before the alcohol content began to build up a bit on my cheeks to give it a better body. This detracted a bit from the pleasing and complex flavor palette.

Very fruity and dry. A big departure from a lot of the other Surly products, but my complaints about the weight may stand to reason, as this is a fault I find with Bender/Coffee Bender as well.

Given those impressions, the flavors of sour cherry are very pleasing. I expected a funkier odor and taste, but my overall impression was a well balanced flavor and smell - a strong dark ale that you can sit for a long long time savoring a good number of.

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Photo of Phocion
3.15/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Review #200, conveniently coinciding with the Five Release Party at Republic 7 Corners in Minneapolis.

Served on-tap into a short "pint" glass with absolutely no head. Dark brownish-mahogany color body with moderate lacing.

Aroma was of dark cherries, raisins, and a bit of earthiness. Kind of a "funky" smell that reminds me of a red wine and nothing at all like any other sours I've tried.

Flavor is tartness, dark fruits, and very earthy (nice way of saying it tasted like dirt).

Mouthfeel is somewhat chewy and very sticky. Extremely dry, which was nice, but that's about it.

Let me qualify this review. I love sours, no matter their origin. I'm also aware that on this site, Surly could do a Bud Light clone that would probably rate a B-, and I am even somewhat of a fanboy. But I did not like this beer. If you want to try Surly Five, but can't find it, just save your money and get a cheap $5 bottle of merlot, that's what it tasted like to me.

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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 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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Photo of deebo
4.15/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had on tap tonight at Republic release party for Surly's fifth anniversary beer Five.

A-Weak tan head that is gone almost immediately-a little hangs on rim of glass. Color is dark brown with reddish hue.

S-Boozy aroma, some caramel malt with a hint of an acid bite.

T-Upfront sour. The sour is not an overpowering Brett bite. A mild lactic acid bite, not acetic like some sours which makes it smoother than others. Mild malt flavor is also there.

M-Fairly tingly. Moderate-high carbonation. Thin body. No alcohol burn-hidden nicely for a stronger beer.

D-More drinkable than dark sours I've had such as Rodenbach Cru. This one would be easy to have multiple pints.

O-A good sour. A nice entry to sour dark ales for those that are new to the style and expect it to taste more like "traditional beer". Will be interested to see how these age in the cellar.

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Photo of JackieTH
3.09/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Well here we go. 1 @ 750 ML of Surly's Fifth anniversary no-holds barred speciality. Shared the bottle with four friends.

Cool screen-printed artwork bottle with a flecked-green wax sealed top. Poured into my brother's finest Ravenscroft balloons. So here is a semi-transparent mahogany liquid with a finger of cafe-tan head that dissipates leaving a ring of lace. Impressive chunks of yeast sediment line the bottom of my own glass as I tipped the bottle to get every last drop of the $25 beer.

Aromatic sour cherries and un-ripe plum comprise the main body of the nose, dig deep and there's tobacco and something musty I can't quite place.

Flavor is quite sour up-front but not bracingly tart with strong notes of cassis, cherry pits and prune juice, backed with subtle elements of funk reminiscent of dry-aged Gruyere. Acidic, mildly drying and astringent into the finish.

Body seems light but well-carbonated.

Overall. I have another bottle. I hope it ages gracefully.

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Photo of hardy008
2.53/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours dark brown with ruby highlights and more than one finger of creamy tan head which disappears quickly. The aroma has tart cherries and grapes, vinegar, oak, Brettanomyces, and a whiff of tobacco.

Does not taste as sour as I expected or hoped, but does have a bit of tartness. Unfortunately, I don't think the base beer is any good at all. I can taste tart cherries and grapes, oak, and some funk from the Brettanomyces. Does not mesh well.

Light to medium bodied with average carbonation. The alcohol is well hidden, and this beer finishes dry. Not one of Surly's better anniversary beers.

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

Congratulations Surly on another successful year! This is a very interesting beer and being an inexperienced sour drinker, I'll admit that I like this.

First of all, comes out of a beautiful screen printed bottle with green with metallic fleck wax sealing the cap. It's definitely sour smelling to the nose. When poured it leaves very little head and that dissipates relatively quickly.

The first taste is very sour and tart. You'll taste it right down the middle of the tongue. Reminds me so much of a wine. Definitely a cherry sourness to it with the current sweetness. It's almost overwhelming at first, but, the finish is the best part.

Once that initial sour/tartness wears off it mellows into a very enjoyable Surly flavor. A very sleek oat/coffee/vanilla finish. I just love how it mellows out this way.

Overall, this is another very enjoyable beer by Surly. Of the anniversary series I've only tried Four and now Five. Five is by far my favorite.


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

Appearance: Brownish-red, fizzy head like a coke, flares up then disappears.

Smell: Red wine, sourness.

Taste: Light sour to start, woody, red wine flavors. Some dark cherry. The sourness sticks around for a while in the finish.

Drinkability: Interesting to try, but not exactly a session beer. Plus, it's pretty hard to find now that it has been out for a week. Expensive at $20 per bottle too.

Congrats to Surly on five great years. Surly Five is in a style I don't drink much of due to the price and the fact I like other styles better. The Surly anniversary beers are almost always a love-it-or-hate-it proposition since they are way "out there". It's definitely interesting to try.

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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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Five from Surly Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 135 ratings.
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