Five | Surly Brewing Company

very good
137 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: 137 | Ratings: 507
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 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 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 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 andrewinski1
3.69/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Bendurgin for sharing! The body is black. There is a small amount of bubbles somewhat resembling a head.

The aroma has chocolate and tart cherry. Notes of vanilla cream are mixed in.

The taste is nice and tart in the beginning. I notice a pleasing subtle cocoa finish. I like the clean lemon tart flavor without any vinegarryness.

This is medium bodied with a small amount of prickly carbonation.

Not bad, this exceeded my expectations.

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Photo of Bendurgin
3.89/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Grant for sending this one my way. This one pours dark brown with a short lived cap of brown foam. It settles quickly.

The aroma has a nice tart cherry aroma with hints of vanilla and just a faint cocoa powder aroma in the background. A little bit of a vinous finish here. Dark cherry flavor with some clean tartness right up front with a bit of sweetness on the finish. Just a faint cocoa powder flavor on the finish.

The body is light with good carbonation. A little bit of a dry tannin finish.

Pretty impressed with this one. To my knowledge this is Surly's first wild effort. Would love to see more.

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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 Florida9
3.55/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Clear dark brown. Forms a thin surface coating of dark tan head. No lacing. 3.5

S: Dirty, earthy, and sour. Malt vinegar. 3.5

T: Slightly vinous with notes of earth, tobacco, and just plain dirt. Mild malty vinegar quality. 3.5

M: Medium bodied, light sourness, clean finish. 4.0

O: I can't say I cared for this one. The sourness is light, but the flavors are earthy and dirty. Between the earth and the sour, I just didn't feel like it worked that well. 3.5

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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 Ryan011235
2.52/5  rDev -36%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Super Bowl Sunday 2012. A-B flute.

Shared by nrbw23. Thanks, Brad!

Brown in color. Loose head of bubbles. Thin retention.

Dark fruit aromas; vinous and such. There is some brett funk, but it's heavy on the wine - grapes and cherry. Vinegar. The feel is weird - thin/thick feel with appropriate carbonation. Tastes much more bretty and oaky. Lots of dank basement and dark funk. Tart, but not out of control.

Better as it warms. A bit bitter, but there are some interesting things going on.

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

This brew arrived in stemmed glassware, very dark in color, with nice cap of creamy foam. The aroma is sour, like cherries and citrus with some hints of darkly roasted malt. The dark malt comes alive on the palate with hints of cocoa as the beer melts around the tongue. The sourness drives the flavor while the dark malt and chocolate notes strangely and positively accent it. As the beer moves back the flavor weakens the slightest amount. An interesting brew, worthy of a fifth year celebration.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.62/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml wax-finished bottle. Pours a cabernet color with a loose head that dissipates into a froth. Nose expresses tart, dark fruits, malt and vinous notes. Taste is somewhat dull - some vinous notes are present; however, there are also some herbal and leathery qualities. Mouthfeel is medium-light in body with a lively carbonation. Overall, a decent dark sour, albeit very mild considering the description on the bottle.

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

Pours a dark brown color with a small amount of dark reddish tint along the edges. Small minimal off-white head that leaves a little lacing.

Aromas begin with nice vinous dark red grapes with plenty of dark fruit notes. There is a mild chocolate aroma, strong scent of figs and perhaps cherries. A touch of vinegar, mostly balsamic, along with some oak.

The tastes begin inversely of the aromas with a bit of chocolate starting off that melds into a sort of vinegary, light tartness. Plenty of oak with figs, dates and unripe plums. A bit of straw and grass, just a light lemon zest flavor. Dark sour fruits emerge more and more as it warms.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation. Finish is also balanced as well, dry but not overly so. Full but not heavy, lightly bubbly and carbonated but not too much, so balanced as I mentioned earlier.

Overall this is a winner for me. It is so balanced for a dark sour ale, plenty of dark maltiness but never overdone. Not to tart or sour with plenty of dark vinous notes and flavors throughout. Oak aging leaves a nice dryness that helps to balance the darker chocolatey maltiness. Overall this is a huge great surprise from a brewery that is not known for making sour beers, they hit a home run in their first attempt.

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Photo of craytonic
3.53/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Draft at Churchkey DC

Appearance: mahogany brown pour with a small head, touch of lacing

Smell: Sourness that is very odd, a bit earthy with cherries, cranberries, raisins and chocolate.

Taste: Odd-ball, doesn't seem like it should be sour but it is. Vanilla, wine, oak, cherries, prunes, raisins, plums.

Mouthfeel: medium body and carbonation

Overall: I love sour beers, but this tastes like a beer that shouldn't be sour.

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

On-tap at a Surly event at Churchkey in DC

A: Amber red pour, not unlike soda, with a finger of white head. The retention is great, lasting well into enjoying the beer, but the lacing is just OK.

S: This was ordered directly after Darkness 2011...and I was surprised to smell a ton of smoke and roast coming out of Surly Five. Perhaps my nose was looking for it, but it really dominates here. I'm not really getting anything sour, but perhaps some wine notes are making their way up. Definitely some funk, but it's all taking a back seat to the roast. It's pretty strange.

T: The taste really follows the aroma, but finally I get some characteristics of an American Wild. Only a slight roast kicks the beer off and is taken over by some notes from the barrel aging (still not exactly sour, or vinegary), and some barnyard funk-like tastes at the end.

MF: Light body with lower than average carbonation. It hints towards being too light for my palate, but that could be a product of the kinds of beer I had before and after this one, sadly. Clean finish and pretty drinkable.

O: Not at all what I had expected. Still trying to figure out what I just drank. I wasn't a huge fan, but I didn't hate it. Just not in any way what I expected coming into it.

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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 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 nrbw23
2.51/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Broke this one out for the Super Bowl party I had split this one amoungest fellow BA's and good friends.

A- Pours a deep dark brownish red color with a very thin head. Quite a bit of chunks in this one too.

S- Picking up a ton of cherries here for sure. A touch of vinegar, very wine like, and some funk.

T- Nothing crazy sour, but I'm not a huge fan of anything sour. Tart cherries, red wine like, green apples, and light brunt sugar.

M- Pretty light in body and carbonation.

O- There is no way I could drink this whole bottle by myself. I'll sit on the other one I have for a while....

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Photo of spdyfire83
3.43/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

139th Review
Bottle to snifter

From notes. I opened this bottle at bspringer's birthday celebration. An epic night for sure to celebrate his golden day of birth!

A: Dark tint of brown. Single (java) fingernail head on gentle pour.

S: Smells like vinegar (not in a good way though). Oak, dark cherry, currants, brown sugar, and old apples.

T: Taste a bit better than it smells, but very leathery. Sweet up front and sour towards the back. Currants, oak, wine barrels, and candied sugar, but all of this is overpowered by vinegar which makes it taste a bit off.

M: Medium bodied with light carbonation.

O: A respectable effort from a great brewery, but I'd like their to be more complexity here. This beer dies quickly and there is no backbone to me. Maybe it needs some age, but I guess only time will tell.

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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 Dreadnaught33
4.12/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared thanks to tony (ahalloin). Poured into a chaise.

The beer is pretty dark from th pour like a dark brown with crimson highlights. Just a little bubbly head with a vigorous shake, and some almost purple colors.

Smell is very nice, there is a nice tart berry edge and some deep dark cherry and oak aromas that remind me of some of the better balanced wilds like supplication or beers like that. Very nice mix of favors with some citrus and almost a cocoa like refined sweetness.

Taste is nice as well, but not as sour as I'd hoped. It almost seems like an oud bruin in the way it has a sourness that isn't the focus, it's more about a fruity and malty chocolate taste. Some decent citrus favors accent it all as well.

The feel is nice with the carbonation and is medium in feel. Pretty nice but not a lot of aftertaste.

Pretty nice beer overall but not mind blowing. Not hard to get through the 11oz I got though.

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Photo of garymuchow
3.85/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served at Stub and Herb's.
I was surprised how light the body was on this, especially for the size of the beer. Dark color with minimal head. Fruit flavors and aroma quite notable. On the milder side of tart, although definitely sour. Held wine like qualities in taste (and kinda' for body too, except the bubbles). Mild carbonation helped some with smoothness. Not too acidic, but more than one could have been a bit of trouble.

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Photo of barnzy78
3.05/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

750ml bottle shared between 2 large tulips. Poured mahogany with a reddish hue at the edges of the glass, nice tan head that fizzled to a foam atop the ale. Aromas were red wine, cherry/fruity. Tastes were very tart and acidic: sour cherry, red wine vinegar, pungent grape, red wine, brett, and more brett. Mouth-feel was well carbonated and medium bodied. Overall, I really wanted to like this Surly offering, but was left disappointed. I think expectations set this up to fail for me. I think I was expecting and hoping for more of a port wine dessert-like ale, but it ended up reminding me of a red wine gone bad with the strong acidity and vinegar-like qualities. I've had limited experience with this style, but my prior experiences were better and more enjoyable. Surly is one of my favorite breweries, but this one let me down.

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Photo of ManVersusBeer
3.97/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brown body with a look of bread crust with a light bubbly head.
There are sour cherries, a touch of honey with a scone, a bit of oak, and some berries.
Sweet, sour apple taste with some mild cherry and red wine grapes. Feels as if it is almost trying too hard as brown bread and bagels covered in sesame and poppy seeds with a nice schmear of cream cheese arise in the mouth.
There are some mixed nuts and honeyed chestnuts and a good creamy mouthfeel with a slight bit of carbonation at the end. I like it and I could easily drink another as it is not overpoweringly sour, but I think it could have benefited from white wine barrels, possibly Riesling, instead, to give it a bit more funk and apple tartness to mix with the dark cherries of this complex sour brown.

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Five from Surly Brewing Company
3.94 out of 5 based on 507 ratings.
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