Surly Brewing Company

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American Wild Ale
Ranked #320
Ranked #2,116
4.17 | pDev: 9.35%
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: 115 | Ratings: 1,074 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of GuyFawkes
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.

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GuyFawkes from Illinois, Jul 14, 2019
Photo of MonDak_Joe1953
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.

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Photo of snaotheus
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.

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snaotheus from Washington, Feb 13, 2019
Photo of tomloops
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.

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tomloops from Minnesota, Jun 16, 2018
Photo of BucannonXC5
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

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BucannonXC5 from California, May 28, 2018
Photo of stortore
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.

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stortore from Illinois, May 08, 2018
Photo of Buck89
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.

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Buck89 from Tennessee, Nov 26, 2017
Photo of brenn79
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.

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brenn79 from Idaho, Oct 15, 2017
Photo of darktronica
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.

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Photo of mrsockless
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.

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mrsockless from Minnesota, Jul 04, 2017
Photo of Sabtos
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.

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Sabtos from Ohio, May 24, 2017
Photo of DaverCS
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.

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DaverCS from Arizona, Apr 23, 2017
Photo of JBowenGeorgia
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.

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Photo of Franziskaner
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.

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Franziskaner from Missouri, Feb 12, 2017
Photo of Dragginballs76
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.

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Dragginballs76 from South Carolina, Feb 10, 2017
Photo of rodbeermunch
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.

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Photo of Lucular
4.14/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The defining aspect of this beer is its sourness, more so than the funkiness or wine barrel presence. I had this on tap which is the only way I was going to have it since I wouldn't pay $25 for a bomber of this.

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Lucular from Maryland, Jan 19, 2017
Photo of Treyliff
3.95/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 vintage
22oz bottle poured into a snifter
Taken from notes

Pours a deep reddish-brown color with a thin fizzy white head that disappears almost immediately. Smells of dark cherries, balsamic vinegar, hints of vanilla and wood with some brett funk. Tastes of dark dark cherry with acidic vinegar, some woody tannic notes, funky brett before dropping off on the finish. Medium body with medium-light carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel and finish. Smelled better than it tastes, good but not quite on the level of the standards out there

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Treyliff from West Virginia, Jan 07, 2017
Photo of Scott17Taylor
4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 draft, served on 12-30 2016.
Solid sour, I get lots of tart sour cherry with some oak and a little bretty funkiness. I honestly did t get that much funk for a 3 year old bottle, and at the price this goes for I probably won't buy it again.

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

A 2014 vintage 750ml bottle. Pours a dark brown color with a tan head nice amout of lacing and a fresh settling head. Smell of wood and wine with tobacco and dark fruit. Fig prune and tart cheeries to start with tabacco wood and barnyard, very good compliments to each other. Mouth feel is slighty tart and sour with a nice blend of red wine slight acidity in the finish. Thought this was outstanding o drink we split it 3 ways and all of us were satisfied and enjoyed this wild ale.

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gatornation from Minnesota, Dec 27, 2016
Photo of mschrei
4.7/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2016 vintage, poured into a wine glass. Cloudy cola colored, very little activity. Scents of funk and wine barrel that really carries over to the taste. Tart and fruity with a mild barrel presence and alcohol burn at the back. Excellent excellent beer. I would put it up there with some of the Russian River beers of the same style.

2017 vintage drank on 6/1/19. Just as good. Amazing beer.

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mschrei from Illinois, Dec 17, 2016
Photo of bsp77
4.03/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Aroma of mostly cherry, with vinegar, light Brett funk and touches of oak. Taste is sharply tart upfront with cherry, vinegar and light roasted characteristics. Some Brett-horseblanket and vinegar, with loads of oak and pepper in the finish. Almost seem to be some tannins as well. Very good Wild Ale.

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bsp77 from Minnesota, Dec 12, 2016
Photo of REVZEB
4.22/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured medium brown with some lacing. Smell is full of sour cherry and red wine, some brett and dark fruit complimenting. Taste brings in brett, tobacco, and a lot of plum into the mix with the sour cherry and red wine, tartness is remarkable as is the level of funk as the beer warms up. Feel is my favorite aspect of the beer, with vinous, sour oak, brett and barnyard funk, and some dark malt feels all incorporated.

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REVZEB from Illinois, Oct 21, 2016
Photo of Emersonio
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pour: On draft at Smoke and Barrel in D.C. Poured into a snifter. Appearance: Deep brown to virtually black in color. Bone colored head that starts out moderate but reduces as the brew settles. Lacing present on the sides of the glass. Aroma: Immediate Brett funk. SOUR sour cherry all the way. Lots of barnyard as well. Almost medicine-like but not too distracting. Taste: Very sour. Pucker inducing immediately. Packs a punch right on the first sip. As soon as it smacks you taste buds with a sour wallop it reduces in intensity. What is revealed is a nice complex balance of sour cherry and Brett funk. Some acidity is there but nothing to oppressive. Aftertaste: Follows the end of the taste. Sour cherry and Brett funk all the way. Notes: This is as straightforward as it gets and doesn't disappoint. I wasn't ready for the sour intensity but was happy that it dissipated and revealed a nice balanced beer. Loved the extremes. Result/Rating: Very Good/ 4.45

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Emersonio from District of Columbia, Jun 24, 2016
Photo of Taybeh
4.11/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Usually have this at least once a year but have never reviewed... this one is on tap in a shaker (of all things) at Stub & Herbs.
Pours a murky reddish brown with little to no head.
Nose is oaky, vinous and some vinegar, fleshy and somewhat tart cherries and berries, maybe a little plum too. I don't get much Brett. A lot of good stuff there, but I don't get the waves or layers that I do in the wild ales I think of as really standing out.
Taste and Mouthful are a step up from the nose...everything is there in more detail, as well as a little sweet and juicy tobacco drowning out what I thought would be more plummy. Cherries and dark berries are still there, and it is moderately tart and sour. Body is light to moderate, carbonation is also middling, decently crisp considering the tannins that coat my tongue. Pentagram always reminds me of a Flanders Red, and it does so again. This is very enjoyable. In comparison to the best, it isn't quite as much of a standout as some of Surly's other beers, but I'm not going to complain.

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Taybeh from Minnesota, Jun 15, 2016
Pentagram from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 93 out of 100 with 1074 ratings