Pentagram | Surly Brewing Company

103 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

Style: American Wild Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.66%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by MasterSki on 02-19-2013

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Reviews: 103 | Ratings: 1,004
Photo of DaverCS
4.48/5  rDev +8%
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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Photo of JBowenGeorgia
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
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 -0.7%
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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Photo of Dragginballs76
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
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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Photo of rodbeermunch
2.81/5  rDev -32.3%
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 -0.2%
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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Photo of Treyliff
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
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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Photo of Scott17Taylor
4/5  rDev -3.6%
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 -1.2%
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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Photo of mschrei
4.7/5  rDev +13.3%
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.

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Photo of bsp77
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
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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Photo of Emersonio
4.45/5  rDev +7.2%
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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Photo of Taybeh
4.11/5  rDev -1%
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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Photo of FBarber
3.79/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured a dark deep reddish brown color. Semi opaque with some haze. No head to speak of.

Smell had aromas of red wine, grapes, oak, vinegar, with that signature barnyard funk to it.

Taste followed that nose with some red wine, grapes, oak and maybe some overly ripe cherry. Undertones of tobacco, acidic notes and vinegar along with a funky flavor. Some strong metallic flavors were also noted in conjunction with the vinegar flavors. Im no connoisseur of wild ales, but I doubt that metallic flavor is supposed to be there.

Feel half mild carbonation, body was light, thin, dry.

Overall, this may be a very good example of the style, from my limited experience Id say its not an outstanding example, but an ok one.

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
4.54/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown-purple body, light tan fizzy head, sediment appears at the end of the bottle. Nose is incredible, the stuff of dreams. Tart dark fruit with potent acidity, mellowed by light oak imparting vanilla and red wine notes, with a slight barnyard funk beneath it all. The aromas are by no means equal in strength, but do balance each other and give this beer a wonderful, inquisitive, intriguing complexity. The flavor is also great, but the aromas have been muddled. Only mild-moderately sour now (which I'm a bit disappointed by, but it does, begrudgingly, make for a more mature beer), there are still notes of sour cherry and blackberry, among other vinous notes, with a very stern mollifying oak note. Deep and brooding. Body is medium weight, highly fluid and crisp, carbonation is between fine and coarse, definitely noticeable.
What an experience. Satan is the new mayor of Yumtown, at least in the nose category. Wonderful complexity, with a wide bouquet of distinctive aromas. Tasted damn good, too, but subjectively I still want to push that sourness up a bit. Could have used a bit more funk, too. Nothing incredible in the feel, but considering how sensational the smell/taste was it's an achievement just to keep up. I'm not sure if having tasted it once makes paying the premium for this more or less justifiable, all I know is that I want more.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.26/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750 mL bottle poured into an oversized tulip. 2014 bottle.

Not sure what style I'm dealing with here, but the bottle mentions a "100% Brett dark beer fermented in stainless and aged in used red wine barrels." It also mentions dark Munich malt.

From the pour and the aroma, I'm on the fence on whether this is an oud bruin or Flanders Red. As I'm no expert, I find the two styles similar. Based on the burgundy color here that resembles a dark red wine, I'm guessing this is a Flanders Red.

Nose is vinous, tart, oaken, with a brown sugary sweetness that I generally find in Oud Bruins but I think is common in the Flanders Red too. Had a Rodenbach Grand Cru recently and recall it being similar to this. There's a vague similarity to vinegar I get in both the aforementioned styles and thankfully, as in the best of both, it's meek in its presence.

Sometimes I'm incapable of describing flavor and feel separately and this is one of those cases. As I was thinking about the taste, my first thoughts were that it was tart and vinous. These attributes seem to encompass both and are accurate so I'm gonna run with them. I get that brown sugar flavor, some vanilla, a pulpy berry or cherry flavor, and a dry, oak finish.

This is good. Plenty to absorb and enjoy.

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Photo of Peepskp
3.52/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Had this at Surly beer hall. Angostura bitters, sour dried dark fruit, leather, musk. Very interesting but not my cup of tea. Rather have red wine when it is this close.

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Photo of jaypaul522
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautiful bottle - once the wax is broken and the cap off, the aroma hits right away. Pours murky, with medium head that quickly dissipates. Aroma of fruit - heavily cherry. Taste is complex, with a smooth fruity finish. The body is medium. This beer was surprising good - highly recommend it.

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Photo of ONUMello
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewery
A: Murky brown with a thin head
S: Sour cherry, lemon, red wine, brett
T: Sour cherry, sour green apple, red wine, Brett funk. Sounds weird but it works
M: Medium-bodied, sour & crisp
O: Not the most puckering or most complex sour I've had but certainly solid/enjoyable

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Photo of PBRmeasap1980
3.96/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 opened in April 2016

A- Redish brown with think head
S- Cherry, apple, leather, wood
T- Tart cherry and green apple up front then fades to plum and then nearly nothing... where did the aftertaste go?
F- Thin
O- Interesting. Not too funky. Love the cherry notes.

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Photo of brentk56
4.52/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2014 bottling

Appearance: Pours tawny verging on ruby, with a two inch rocky head; spotty lacing lingers

Smell: Quite vinous, with red wine grape, cherry, rhubarb and pomegranate tones; barnyard funk creates complexity

Taste: Caramel, Munich malt base, with the fruit elements coming on strong, bringing red wine grape and cherry, with subtle undertones of rhubarb and pomegranate; lactic sourness builds, through the middle, with the barnyard funk and tobacco tones bringing up the rear

Mouthfeel: Medium body with low to moderate carbonation

Overall: The more I tasted the more I liked; a little age on this beer really makes it astonishingly good

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Photo of larryarms847
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark red brown with an active finger of purplish-red foam that dissipates quickly.

Subtle oak/earthy undertones are dominated by cherry, wet hay funkiness, and vinous notes.

Cherry, red wine, oak, subtle vinegary acidity, and surprisingly muted Bretty funk.

Light-medium bodied, medium carbonation, subtle funk, dry, tart, and pretty refreshing.

Overall, I expected a great deal more from this considering it's price point, but it's actually rather good. It's not outstanding and I probably won't purchase again but it's definitely worth a try.

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Photo of frasergrove
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours surprisingly lighter than expected - a dark amber which is very hazy. Aroma is a light mixture of Brett funkiness, tart red wine barrel, and a touch of earthiness. Lightly tart on the tongue with residual funk to the finish. Pepper, under ripe blackberry and mild tobacco on the tongue. A nice sour.

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Photo of Umdrunner
4.07/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I'm not generally a fan of sour beers or wine. I tried this fresh on tap about a year ago and the sour wine taste over powered it for me. Today I tried a bottle that aged for a year and the sour wine taste really mellowed to my liking. Solid beer, not my favorite.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
2.77/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

From my notes at a 2014 Craft Beer Expo. Not a fan of the name or the ominous ABV.

Look : 2 finger head, 80% opacity, honey brown color.

Smell : Medium strength bouquet. A soy sauce/sour aroma - like rotted watermelon and discarded fruits, light hop.

Taste : Sour melon flavors, a bit of rose, high alcohol presence. Very tart like a Mead.

Feel : Semi dry, light to medium bodied, wet.

Overall : Not bad but not great. I'd probably skip it next time.

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Pentagram from Surly Brewing Company
4.15 out of 5 based on 1,004 ratings.
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