Surly Brewing Company

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American Black Ale
Ranked #90
Ranked #7,979
3.97 | pDev: 9.82%
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States
Very Good
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Reviews: 68 | Ratings: 411
Photo of SawDog505
4.09/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Got this can from @Nachos4two and if it is National IPA Day why not have a black IPA. Poured into a 16 Nordic pint glass not sure when it was canned. Pours near pitch black with a finger of sticky light brown head that leaves plenty of webs of lace behind. 4.25

Smell is cocoa nibs, Expresso, pineapple, tangerine, vanilla bean, toffee, and hints of grapefruit rind. 4

Taste follows chocolate, coffee, vanilla, toffee upfront ends with pineapple, orange, and a hint of grapefruit. 4

Mouthfeel is bigger than medium, plenty of life, a tad dry, and at 6.5% ABV extremely drinkable, but way more flavor than most at this ABV. 4.25

Overall I have always been a fan of this style that is slowly fazing out and this is an excellent example of the style. 4

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Photo of bbtkd
4.02/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Surly Damien Child of Darkness Ale, 6.5% ABV. Pours black, with a nice two finger tan head. Nose is roasty and slight caramel, taste is caramel, roast malt, piney hops, slightly sweet, slightly bitter. Excellent mouthfeel, overall excellent.

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Photo of brentk56
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: After an impressive bubble show, the head settles in on three fingers of tan foam; the liquid underneath is fudge colored with ruby highlights; webby lacing

Smell: Roasty, with chocolate and coffee tones wrapped in a pine cone hug

Taste: Black bread, roast and black licorice forward, with piney hop flavors building, through the middle; a berry fruit character builds, after the swallow, adding a sweet aspect to the finish; overall, the roast and hops are dominant and there is a hop bite on the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Overall: I find myself going back and forth on this beer; I have had far better and far worse ABAs but I almost think of this in a different category as there elements here that are not typically found in that style

Thanks, NathanBeets, for the opportunity

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Photo of barnzy78
4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750mL bottle, pours jet black with a fluffy khaki head that holds incredible retention. Dark cocoa, roasted barley, and molasses for aroma. Bold roasty malt with dark chocolate cover the palate tasting similar to Darkness, but a bold piney hop presence creates increasing bitterness on the finish that melds well with the roasty charred grain; caramel and a bit of raisin come through as it warms. Full body, piney hops resins coat the palate, starts roasty and ends bitter. Overall, a cool beer creating something out of left-over Darkness otherwise discarded. I find the label a bit creepy, but the beer inside is good!

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Photo of chinchill
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml shared bottle.
Moderately hoppy, not quite to the level of a black IPA.
Rich aftertaste with hints of burnt toast but mainly dark roasted grains.

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Photo of Victory_Sabre1973
3.89/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This beer pours quite dark, nice black color. The head was off white - 1 1/2 finger, and frothy. The taste is fairly mellow. There's some maltiness to it. Maybe some of the wooden barrel. There's some burnt notes in it. Maybe even a hint off sweetness. Very interesting beer. Not as thick as Darkness, it's parent, but not a thin feeling beer either.

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Photo of gopens44
4.11/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Opaque blackness under a more fizzy than not beige head that leaves a curtainy lace.

Raisins, molasses and oak figure solid in the nose. Upon exit, something with noble hop quality and maybe a hint of vegetable.

First wave of taste is the oak. Not like whiskey barrel, straight up oak, like the virginal oak you find in a Chardonnay. Backing it up is that noble hop quality. Finally, we have only hints of molasses, but nothing nearly as sweet as what the nose suggested.

Body is not nearly as thick as I thought it would have been, as seriously, I could almost guzzle this. But I won't..... Finish is bitter, wet and finally a touch sweet, maybe.

I love Cascadians, and this one is a good representative of why. Bold, yet quenching

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Photo of mynie
4.6/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle. A few months old. I love how even though Surly is now a fairly large production brewery who are held in universally high esteem they still sometimes do bottle art that looks like it was taken from a high schooler's notebook in 1997.

A dark pour. A pour... of THE DAMNED. Very black, very opaque, with a light head and good lacing.

Smells charred and chocolatey with minimal hop presence--basically everything I look for in a black ale aroma. The grain bill takes center stage, and it's assertive and interesting enough to carry the whole show.

Tastes burnt, fruity, peaty, and creamy. Perhaps a little aged, but not unpleasantly so. Starts with charred grain with some balancing nodes of coffee and chocolate, the middle is sweeter with strong nodes of ripe, generic fruit, and then at the end there's finally some American hops with a hint of marshmallows. The finish is of an old school RIS, sticky and vaguely vinous.

This is a rare beast for 2017, in that it tries to innovate within a stylistic frame rather than just do its own thing outside of any means of mooring. This is a black ale that starts like a stout and ends like an APA but then the aftertaste like an old, English russian imperial.

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

Sample from brewery. Notes taken back Oct 2016.

Great idea to pull some runnings from Darkness, and this beer coming in at 8% means Darkness would perhaps big an even more massive beer than it already is.

Great take on the American Black Ale, even coming from an Imperial Stout base this is beer does have that roasted character but not so much it would take it out of its style. Well hopped, big but balanced. Its really hard to notice the 8% abv until several sips in. I want to see more from Surly like this beer.

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

Really dark brown color with mocha head. Aroma has dark malt, some sugar, even a hint of liquorice. Taste starts with chocolate, roasted malt, caramel and finishes with just a hint of roasty and earthy bitterness. Medium body, soft carbonation. Overall it's quite good but nothing really special.

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Photo of Cfred371
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

First things first: whoever designed the bottle art should be fired. I hate the label, HATE it. Bottled 11/07/2016, so not too fresh, but it's a black ale, so it shouldn't be terribly important.

Look: Damien, while pouring, comes out a brown color, but in the glass appears black, and opaque. A nice slight tan head appears up top, and is nice and thick.

Smell: I first am hit with a wave of chocolate, coffee, and, after swirling, am greeted with the piny hops the black ale is dry hopped with.

Taste: There's a lot going on here: anise, leather, some coffee roast notes, the piney hops, and, surprisingly, not all that much chocolate. What chocolate is there is a bitter, bakers cacao.

Feel: Reminding myself this is a black ale, not a stout, the body is alight. Medium bodied, carbonation prevalent throughout, and a slight bitterness/drying presence in the finish

Overall: This is a tasty beer worth seeking out. While not Surly's best offering, at 7 or 8 dollars a bomber, it is about right for the price.

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Photo of maximum12
3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle split with my wife, who used a random number generator to pluck a bomber out of the fridge. Not what I would have picked tonight, but hey. Dated 9/30/16.

Pour is dark brown with a long-last Tempur-Pedic head (though I’m sure a lot softer than those torture devices in the guise of mattresses). Smells like an old nut brown with a sideboob of piney hops & roast. Interesting.

Damien - proving not every black IPA sucks (they should put that on the label). The roast & the pine cone hops are in nice harmony; xtreme roast is what dooms most of these halflings. Mild sweetness. Citrus & bitterness take the hand of the pine & lead it all the way to the end as the non-hops vanish from the scene. Disconcertingly creamy, & it takes concentration to drink this.

What’s really a Frankenstein, made-up-ass category that should have been smothered in the crib has had a few tolerable outliers, & this is one of them: Surly has found a balance that works. Good beer.

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Photo of Davepoolesque
3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Roasted malt, pine and bitter dark chocolate. Some nice bitterness on the end. Real good for a hoppy black ale. Surly knows their way around a black ipa.

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Photo of Czequershuus
3.35/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

This beer pours a deep black with a large, foamy, mocha colored head. The aroma offers up coffee, smoky-roastiness, with some chocolate and raisin. The flavor is replete with roast coffee notes, cocoa powder, fruity pebbles cereal, tropical fruit, and something that reminds me of fancy soap. The mouthfeel is very light, almost thin, with fairly low carbonation. Overall, this does feel like a seconds thought of a beer - a bit thin with some unusual flavor combos.

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Photo of angrybabboon
4.23/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Consumed 11/6/16

Cheers to Goblinmunkey7 for the share

A: Appears black from a distance, but really dark brown - pours with a medium size, light tan head, fades to a medium size, creamy head

S: Dark and roasty, with some chocolate malts, burnt malts, smoke, and char - dark caramel, dark chocolate - leather - nice hoppiness as well, with some citrus and some grass - low sweetness

T: Dark but nicely small - dark and roasty, dark chocolate, baker's chocolate, semisweet chocolate, toast, roast, smoke, char, leather, some dark fruit - some pine, grassy hops, and citrus - some dark fruit - light sweetness - lots of flavor

M: Medium body, smooth, medium carbonation, dry finish

O: It's like Darkness without the hangover

I don't think of Damien as an American Black Ale. It's a small beer made from Darkness, and most of the magic of Darkness is here, just in a milder form. If you enjoy Darkness, this is definitely worth tracking down.

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Photo of NolaHopHead
4.27/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750 ml bottle. Very tasty black IPA, both the aroma and taste have very nice balance of roasted malt and hops. Medium silky feel. Would definitely have this one again.

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Photo of cosmicevan
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

didn't even know this thing existed until a recent swap with timthebatteryman. cheers bud, and thanks for the cool extra. as for the brew itself, nothing too special...kinda like a watered down black ipa. light roast light hop just really light all around.

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Photo of WesMantooth
3.7/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the bottle into a snifter.

It is a medium viscosity jet black with an ample amount of light brown foamy head. Really good retention. Leaves a noce film and some slotty lacing, and is easily agitated back into some soapy bubbles.

Smells very one dimensional. All hops. Very, very strong floraly pine. A bit of charred aroma and some licorice being suppressed in the background.

Very surprised by the flavors. Much more balanced than I would have ever expected. I was thinking Founders Dark Penance, but it has a nice amount of roasted, slightly charred malts, some brown sugar, some sort of baking spice, and licorice. A hint of tobacco, and a significant amount of orange/tangerine. There is a bit of lingering resinous pine needles.

It has a pretty good amount of carbonation. Lively feel. The consistency is a bit more watery than I would like.

While the flavors are good, and nicely balanced, the depth is lacking a bit. The roasted malts just don't come across very strong and it is a bit thin tasting and feeling. Pretty good beer, but not toward the top of my black ales list.

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Photo of NickSMpls
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Is this a "small beer" ? The answer is no, for sur on this one. Pitch black pour with a solid head which fades to a persistent froth. Aroma is light slightly burnt toast whole grain toast (no jelly, no jam) and not much else. The hops come out in the taste which is right down the center of a black ale. Enough there to rate it well.

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Photo of vette2006c5r
4.19/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Damien pours a black color with a big, long lasting and lacing head. Big smokey and bitter aromas. The taste is bold, smokey, with a harsh bitter aftertaste. Slightly watery body. Overall, very tasty and smokey black ale.

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Photo of Gobearswalter34
4.73/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Pours a deep black with a one finger off-white head.
Smells of toasty nut, hop and chocolate with slight hop.
Roasted coffee and chocolate malts up front. Bitter hop and licorice join at the end. Wonderful warmth from hop and alcohol.
Good mouthfeel for an ale. Awesome brew!

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Photo of NickTheGreat
4.45/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

L (4.5) - Pours a very dark cola color. Almost black. Thin brown head on top.
S (4.5) - Smells like an IPA, kinda. But definitely masked by those roasted coffee-esque aromas.
T (4.5) - Tastes very good. Definitely get the roasted tastes at first, but plenty of the bitter hops to balance out. They kinda play tug-of-war with your taste buds.
F (4) - Smooth drinking beer but probably should be a little drier?
O (4.5) - I compared this to Blakkr, which I may like a little better. But I kinda bought this on a lark and was not disappointed. Good example if you're not familiar with the Black IPA types of beers.

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Photo of Strix
2.95/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.75

Deep black, brown edges. Good initial head, fades to nothing.

Coffee, roasted malt, a little wood in the nose.

I'm not really sure what's going on here, but the actual taste is really bland. Like an old, cold, cup of coffee. I let it warm up hoping something else made an appearance but no. Basically like Guiness, but with less flavor.

Mouthfeel thin and near flat. I think this is part of what sinks this. My tapwater is chewier than this.

I've never had Darkness, but if it's anything like this I no longer need to.

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Photo of Smakawhat
3.82/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured on tap at the Brewery into a tulip glass.

Jet brown with walnut dark highlights and quite opaque a bit, some transparency through the bottom of the head. A creamy tan head is presented, very light looking and almost orange in color. Neat looking beer.

Very different mix on the aroma. Slight fruity indistinct ester. Clean and very subtle flavors though being a bit closed. Hints to slightly raisin and hop accented fruit tones with a faint spicy to clove sweetness. Very pleasant but involves some exploring.

Very light bodied for a Casacadian on first sip. Slight roast in the mid palate with a bit of a hop punch. Very good hop tangerine orange like citrus finish while swallowing. Unfortunately missing some malt depth and is quite watery.

Tastes like a sessionable black IPA essentially. Good for what it is but was hoping for a little more.

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Photo of Sabtos
2.93/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pitch black with a large, fluffy caramel-tan foamy head that settles to a thin blanket.

Smell is woody cedar, coffee, roasted malt, and salted nuts.

Taste is actually less distinct and forgettable--there is so little flavor, to be honest, it almost doesn't seem like beer. How the aroma is so much more substantial than the flavor is beyond me. There is a little caramel, salted toffee, smokey wood, and a slight tart or floral note. Overall, it's all very light, and like a bitter cola, but really not as bitter or hoppy as I was expecting. There's some light milk chocolate, with a pineyness that is just barely there, along with a little wheat bread. I'm really reaching here, trying very hard to discern flavors, but there really isn't even all this much going on.

Feel is thin and watery, slightly crisp, with a faintly dry finish. I'm really surprised how watery this is when the look lets absolutely no light through, even with a bright LED flashlight pressed right up against the glass.

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Damien from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 411 ratings