Surly Brewing Company

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Wild Ale
Ranked #302
Ranked #2,400
4.17 | pDev: 9.59%
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States
Notes: This Arcane Seal guards an enigmatic brew that is FUNKY, DARK, and SOUR. If you choose to break the seal, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

100% Brettanomyces Dark beer fermented in stainless and aged in red wine barrels. "Brett" is a unique yeast strain that produces flavors that would be considered offensive if they were not intentional. 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.
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Reviews: 124 | Ratings: 1,099 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Angus_12

1/5  rDev -76%
look: 1 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

This isn't beer, it strictly tastes like your jailcell friends first attempt at making toilet wine. Exactly like the $3 wine they sell at a grocery store that will remain unnamed but less than half the ABV. By far my most regretful purchase of any beer ever. Yes it smells like fermenting apples but so does my lawn on a hot summer day.

Jun 04, 2021
Photo of clayrock81
clayrock81 from Florida

3.9/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a ruby-tinted brown body with minimal head and lace down the glass. The aroma is sour, not really tart, acidic, and a little woody. Smooth, medium-bodied, mellows from overtly sour on first few sips to something that tastes like sweet and sour grape juice (would that be blackberry?). The finish is slightly sharper than the beer itself and has some funk to it, but isn't bad and this is beer worth sipping on.

May 20, 2021
Photo of Gajo74
Gajo74 from New York

4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a hazy ruby red color with brown prune like dark notes. A modest head rapidly dissipates. Looks inviting.

The smell opens quite funky with notes of wine barrel and tart fruit backed by bready malts. Aromas of sour cherry, red grape, raisins prunes and currants.

The taste is sour and quite mouth puckering. Very vinous and bone dry with notes of oak, grapes and currants. Notes of cherry, raisin, vinegar, peppery and rustic spices, all well supported by a doughy malt backbone.

Medium bodied with a nice malt fullness. The mouthfeel is mostly smooth, chewy at times. The carbonation is moderate.

This was complex and well executed; I liked it a lot. Reminds me of a Flanders Red. I would definitely have this again if I’m in the mood for a strong sour.

May 19, 2021
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Roy_Hobbs from Connecticut

4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance is reminiscent of root beer, both the actual pour and in the glass. Small amount of fizzy, short-lived head. Aroma is quite vinous, but with plenty of sour / funky notes that I am immediately intrigued by. Taste is really interesting. Plenty tart, but not one dimensionally so. There's a really nice underlying funk that is balanced with the vinous notes and maybe a bit of cherry lurking in the background. Overall, this is refreshingly complex and just an overall very interesting beer.

Apr 04, 2021
Photo of Merlyn
Merlyn from Michigan

4.51/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Bordeaux glass because that's all I really had.. not pouring this into a pint. Small head that dissipated quickly. Nose is funky grape, dried red fruit and vanilla. Some raisin. Taste has the same notes with a good sour kick and some wonderful funk from the Brett, with a hint of coconut and good texture. It smells elegant, rich, and subdued in the way a crimson velvet armchair is subdued, but the sour shocks the flavors awake and creates a wonderful drama. Everything just comes alive and the rich, round dried, stewed, caramel and coconut flavors are perfectly balanced by the sharpness of the Brett. This is outstanding.

Feb 23, 2021
Photo of bbtkd
bbtkd from South Dakota

4.24/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Surly Pentagram Dark Sour, 7% ABV. Pours deep purple with a half-finger tan head on an aggressive pour that left no lacing. Nose is wine and funk. Taste is quite tart cherry, grape/wine, vinegar, funk, a hint of vanilla, with other subtle flavors mixed in and evolving as it warms. Decent mouthfeel, overall outstanding. The complexity of Abyss - only in a dark sour.

Feb 07, 2021
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Mindcrime1000 from South Dakota

4.33/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a browner version of garnet with very limited head and lacing. It looks like a Flanders red mixed with a bit of red wine.

Aromas of almost sweet-tart malic fruitiness meet oak and special vinous wine notes that open and fill out as the brew warms. It's finished with brett funk, the slightest bit of unexpected molasses/brown sugar and both malt and apple cider vinegar.

The brew hits the tip of the tongue with more malic sourness and vinous character before giving way quickly to a spectacular array of flavors. Graham, honey, brown sugar, and slightly toasted malt flavors deliver an unexpected sweetness that creeps up around the tip sides of the tongue. Dark fruits, oak, red wine, vanilla, brett funk, and leather all arrive in the midstream and last to the end, where more tartness and a touch of very well hidden alcohol arrives. As a result, the brew initially delivers just as much tartness as the nose suggests, before quickly balancing the palate with the hidden malty surprise.

Perhaps a shade beyond medium bodied, it has low carbonation. Still easy to drink owing to some strong acidity.

Some may find this brew a bit too domesticated for the style. It does seem a bit more like a Belgian sour than a true wild ale at times--until the surprising toasty sweet malts are factored in. So ultimately this is an extremely well-constructed and sophisticated wild ale that provides remarkable background balancing sweetness to compliment the expected funky sourness and woody wine notes. One of the best beers I've had in some time.

Jan 31, 2021
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MadtownMaltman from Wisconsin

4.9/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2015 750 ml bottle chilled on the front porch. A thin head that disappears fairly quickly. Smell of oak, cherry and some kinda funk. Tastebuds feel a little pucker and sour; feels warm and smooth. A great beer for the holiday (or any day you can take some time to savor!).

Nov 26, 2020
Photo of DTOB
DTOB from Minnesota

5/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pentagram receives a perfect score from me because it is the first beer that got me genuinely interested in beer. My first time drinking pentagram was at the Surly brewery in Minneapolis. After the first few sips, I remember thinking to myself that it was an interesting brew. A few sips later, and I remarked to myself that this was a really unique flavor experience. Finally, I started to attempt to decipher the flavors I had tasted. I couldn't do it, as there were too many, including many which I would never have expected to notice in a beer. Pentagram really showed me what an adventure beer-drinking can be.

After drinking Pentagram at every opportunity for years, I can gladly report that the flavor has held up. It's an exciting mixture of oily leather, with wine, oak, tobacco, brettanomyces, and perhaps a little smoke. The smell is of grapes, leather, and oak. The appearance is dark brown with a small head. It's drier than most beers, but not overwhelming in that regard. My only complaint is the tacky name and ABV (pentagram? 6.66 ABV? come on, folks). But that's negligible given what an incredible beer this is.

Bottom line is that if you are lucky enough to have access to this beer, I'd recommend that you try it at your soonest convenience.

Jul 18, 2020
Photo of GuyFawkes
GuyFawkes from Illinois

3.9/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled February 2014; drank 6/14/14 @ Yuss Haus.

Semi-opaque ruby hue.

Cream-colored head; minimal lace.

Mild strawberry tartness in the nose.

Medium thin mouthfeel.

A pleasant, mildly tart strawberry flavor; session-able but a bit too shy.

Jul 14, 2019
Photo of MonDak_Joe1953
MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

4.1/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle. Waxed and capped bottle. Bottling date is March of 2016,
Muddy brown colored body, with red cherry when back lit. Slight off white head which quickly disappears. No lacing.
Aroma of dark cherry and slight barnyard funk (sour). Slight coating of tobacco and leather.
Taste is slight sour, with much influence from the wine barrels. Dark cherry with barnyard funk. Abrupt dry end.
Medium mouth feel. Very good carbonation.
This is a very mellow Brett sour.

May 12, 2019
Photo of snaotheus
snaotheus from Washington

4.03/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

750ml bottle served in a small Cantillon glass. Dated 03/20/17. Gift from @mr-jj.

Pours a clearish dark brown, big head and lots of carbonation. Smell is tart and plummy.

Taste is tart and plummy. I'm not sure what else to say about it.

Mouthfeel is medium to light, airy in a way. Overall, good beer.

Feb 13, 2019
Photo of tomloops
tomloops from Minnesota

4.49/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One of the cornerstone brett offerings available. Surly has mastered a balanced approach to serving up funk, flavor and feel – this one is proof of that.

Jun 16, 2018
Photo of BucannonXC5
BucannonXC5 from California

4.29/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Type: 750-ml. bottle
Glass: Clear 16-oz. Bruges beer glass
From: Sam K.
Price: N/A
Purchased: N/A; Received on Nov. 28, 2017
Consumed: May 2, 2018
Reviewed as: American Wild Ale
Misc.: 2017 release; Bottled on March 20, 2017

Got this from Sam in a haul on Nov. 28, 2017. Decided to open it May 2, 2018 to share with Rachel. Had given a version of this (2014 I think) a 4.00 on Untappd back on Feb. 1, 2015. Bottled description read, “This Arcane Seal guards an enigmatic brew that is FUNKY, DARK, and SOUR. If you choose to break the seal, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! 100% Brettanomyces Dark beer fermented in stainless and aged in red wine barrels. "Brett" is a unique yeast strain that produces flavors that would be considered offensive if they were not intentional. 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.”

Poured a reddish brown murky color with two fingers of dark khaki frothy head. Lots of bubbles creeping up along the sides of the glass. Good spotty lacing. Outstanding retention. (Sight - 4.25)

Smelled cherry, dark fruit, red wine barrels (Rachel says Cabernet), chewy cherry candy, oak, Brett, barnyard funk, cherry tart, cherry skin and hints of sugary caramel. Had me really looking forward to tasting it. (Smell - 4.50)

Taste followed the nose, but not quite as good. Got chewy cherry candy, dark fruit, red wine barrel (Rachel says Cabernet), dry oak, tart, Brett, barnyard funk, cherry skin, sugary caramel, wood and berry. Seemed stronger than the 6.66 pct. ABV. (Taste - 4.25)

Medium body. Oily texture. Lively carbonation. Astringent finish. (Feel - 4.00)

This was just a really good sour. Really hit the spot. (Overall - 4.25)

4.29 | 95 | A

May 28, 2018
Photo of stortore
stortore from Illinois

4.29/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750 ml bottle into a tulip snifter. 2017 edition bottled 3/20/17, had 4/27/18.

Pours a very dark ruby color, semi opaque, with a two inch foamy head with decent retention and some foamy lacing. Smells sour, somewhat tart. Aromas of cherries, strong funk, oak, wine, light yeast, malt, a little lemon, wet hay, brett, some tobacco, plums when warm. Really smells great. The taste is lightly sour and tart, and not very acidic. Flavors of cherries, funk, brett, oak, malt, yeast, apples, wine, light lemon and tobacco. Smooth, a solid medium body, well carbonated.

One of the funkiest beers I’ve had. It’s not all that sour, and overall it’s a little more straightforward than I expected, yet it’s really complex. Very different and interesting. Well worth a purchase, but at a fairly high (but less than it used to be) price point.

May 08, 2018
Photo of Buck89
Buck89 from Tennessee

4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a snifter. A slightly hazy rust color on the pour that turned cola brown in the glass. A large menacing tan head formed but quickly settled leaving a small cap. A funky nose with wed wine, oak barrels, cherries, and leather. Mouth-puckering tartness featuring sour cherries and red wine. The funk was there but was somewhat hidden behind the tartness. The Munich malt provided some bready notes with a bit of tobacco. Medium-bodied with medium carbonation. The sourness lingered after the last sip, gradually fading into oblivion.

Nov 26, 2017
Photo of brenn79
brenn79 from Idaho

4.1/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 wax dipped bottle, thanks bro- Pours extremely hazy brown to red with a small light tan head that reduces to a thin collar and blanket. Aroma is tart, cherries, plums, figs, a tad nutty, toffee, caramel, chocolate. The taste is similar, a bit more well rounded than the aroma, tart, cherries and other dark fruits, chocolate, vanilla, oak, nice barrel influences. Good sour.

Oct 15, 2017
Photo of darktronica
darktronica from Indiana

4.19/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2016 release. A layered, complex beer that is much more subtle than I would have expected from the marketing text. Reminds me of a tart, red apple with a bit more sourness. The red wine barrels come through in spades, providing some tannic astringency on the mid-palate, after a very soft initial impression. Repeated sips are really rewarding, revealing some biscuit, pastry, and apple cider, a real depth of flavor. Brett funk blankets the entire experience but is never overwhelming; it somehow seems to keep the rest of the flavors in check. I'm glad I sprang for it and would be interested in trying some older vintages.

Aug 24, 2017
Photo of mrsockless
mrsockless from Minnesota

4.79/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of Minnesota's best widely available sours, and all part of the growing trend in making sour beers, Pentagram is an excellent exhibition of what exciting stuff U.S. Brewers are doing.

Unfortunately, recent efforts from Schells and Fulton have set the bar very high for this category; not to mention the longstanding excellence from Niko Tonks at Fair State - especially now that Roselle is widely available and in cans.

Still a strong favorite - just a bit overpriced and over-appreciated in a crowded market.

Jul 04, 2017
Photo of Sabtos
Sabtos from Ohio

3.74/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Almost still dark burgundy except for a thin tan ring.

I get just a ton of tart red apple on the nose, and in flavor it's a lot like a Flanders Red with dry red wine, cherry, cracker, and apple butter.

May 24, 2017
Photo of DaverCS
DaverCS from Arizona

4.48/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours mahogany in color with a small amount of an off-white color head. Medium thickness and prickly carbonation.

Aroma is very fruit-forward. Tart cherries, a bit of raspberry, and lemon dominate the nose. Tons of red wine character. A little bit of funk, but it is not overly assertive.

Taste is mildly-moderately sour. Some tart cherries, blackberries, and a bit of dark fruit character. Lactic acid and much more funk is present than on the nose. Red wine character with a touch of earthy hops.

Overall, I love the use of red wine barrels for aging sours. This has a nice balance of sweetness and sourness. However, the flavor profile and overall feel of the beer is just good not great. I see this pairing well with a thick roasted pork chop with a fruited preserves. It gets a 89.5/100.

Apr 23, 2017
Photo of JBowenGeorgia
JBowenGeorgia from Georgia

4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Surly Pentagram
First off this was my first attempt at opening one of these waxed bottles, seems like it's a brewer's method of childproofing. Finally got into it and was assaulted with a blast of yummy funkiness. Brett, oak, plums maybe. Pours a brownish red with minimal head. Taste follows but not quite as tart as I had imagined (good in my book), some tartness but more of the wine barrel and musty oak flavor, as it warms it gets a little more tartness. Really enjoyed this one and thankful for the chance to drink it.

Apr 10, 2017
Photo of Franziskaner
Franziskaner from Missouri

4.12/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Brown in to amber in color with a fingernail of off white around part of the rim. The aroma is of tart Brettanomyces, faint horse blanket, and tart cherries. I taste tart Brettanomyces, merlot, and just a suggestion of cherries. The mouth is very dry, moderately carbonated, and thirst quenching.

Feb 12, 2017
Photo of Dragginballs76
Dragginballs76 from South Carolina

4.1/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours purplish red color with not much of a white head no lacing.

Aroma - Huge tart funky aroma, vinegar and oak hints of dark fruit. You can tell this one will be sour.

Taste - Wow very tart lip puckering good, hay, oak, grape and plum. Sour cherries this is a super sour just so good.

Feel - Well carbonated, jaw drawing tartness, pretty dry finish.

Overall - This is a great beer,just what a sour should be the wine gives it another level of flavor.

Feb 10, 2017
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rodbeermunch from Nevada

2.81/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Was excited for this beer to challenge Tart of Darkness for the throne. Total squash job unfortunately. Pours a ruddy dark brown with notes of dark red through it, doesn't amass much of a head on it, 1/6" lighter brown. Aroma was earthy sour tobacco grits.

Taste was a lot of brown and darker malts, brett, wine barrel like vinegarness dominates the taste profile. Not impressed. So much dirt, vinegar, wood and tobacco to this one. And its expensive too? I just don't get the market for this, other than sub genre alterno metal guys I guess who are into the artwork.

As a beer, it is below average.

Jan 19, 2017
Pentagram from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 93 out of 100 with 1099 ratings