Pentagram | Surly Brewing Company

103 Reviews
no score
Send samples

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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 103 | Ratings: 1,005
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.

 460 characters

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.

 613 characters

Photo of JackieTH
3.18/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours from a wax-sealed 750mL bottle cola brown with a very transient dark foam head. Quite effervescent, after 15 seconds the head is completely gone but for a thin rim around the glass. So it's not much in appearance, although the bottle is hellishly cool looking. Pervasive smell is of a high quality red wine vinegar, perhaps a hint of Worcestershire sweetness, balsamic, oak and tart cherries. Certainly it smells good, like something I'd want to use for cooking a fine roast shoulder in a reduction with mushrooms and rosemary. Now the taste is immediately far less pungent than the nose suggests, which is a bit disappointing. It's pretty zippy, high carbonation and quite watery on the palate. Back to the's lightly tart cherries washed with a weak solution of Heinz white vinegar, there is some sense of balsamic sweetness as well. So sweet and sour, medium dry, again watery, and strong carbonation, all sitting on a sort of thinnish brown ale like underpinning. Well then. 6.66% ABV

 1,003 characters

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

on-tap, brouwers

Excited for the opportunity to consume surly wilds down the street from my home - pentagram comes with a high billing...

Dark, wine barrel, a bit flat, not extremely tart, some vinegar, trace cherry. This is extremely underwhelming and an average wild ale at best. I thought I recalled trying this at a festival and being less than enthused but the high ratings convinced me otherwise.

 404 characters

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.

 169 characters

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.55/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Deep reddish brown. Small khaki head that settles to a pencil thin collar.

Smell - Buckets of wine. Caramel malts. Some acidity. Oak and vanilla.

Taste - Sour up front. Musty wine flavors, very grapey. Sweet and sour at the same time. Finishes with more wine and a sour kick.

Mouthfeel - High carbonation and kinda light. Too light, really.

Overall - Too much wine and a little monotonous, but a decent sour.

 464 characters

Photo of morimech
3.56/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown with crimson tones. Just over one finger forms and has very good retention before settling to a thick cap. Moderate amount of sticky lacing is left down the glass.

Not really that forceful in the aroma department. Smells tart and acidic with vinous qualities. Notes of cherries, leather, wood, and tobacco. No sign of any Brett funk.

Mildly sour. Has a solid malt foundation that carries the tartness well. The wine barrels really are upfront in this beer. Very vinous with hints of cherries. Just the smallest hint of Brett funk in the finish.

Just slightly bigger than a light body. The carbonation just seems off. For a sour I would want to be a bit more effervescent.

A solid beer but for a $20 beer, I was a bit letdown. Better than Five but I know I am in the minority and thinks Surly should scrap their sour program. They have a long ways to go to rival the great American sour breweries. Awesome bottle art however.

 947 characters

Photo of johnnnniee
3.63/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle from jcwattsrugger, huge thanks for the opportunity!
Slightly cloudy medium brown color with a smallish off white head that dissipates quickly. Aromas of tart cherries and lemon with a bit of brown sugar and chocolate at the edges. The flavor is light lactic tart with a healthy dose of funk but still has a bit of residual malty sweetness left to it. The darker malts lend to a slightly chalky mouthfeel, medium body and a moderate level of carbonation. Decent wild ale but nothing horribly exciting.

 508 characters

Photo of NilocRellim
3.71/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This ale came on tap in a 10oz pour. It looked opaque, brown and murky with a creamy rim. At first smell, this ale seemed potent; definitely smelled like a sour beer with an aroma of fruity cherry, a slight oakiness and certainly tart. The flavors were very brief, but VERY tart with cherry. No lingering flavors or tastes present. Juxtaposition of blended tartness; becomes smoother after the initial shock of that first taste.

Would I buy this beer again? Probably not.

 472 characters

Photo of thebigredone
3.71/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Jason for sharing this.

The beer looks good in a glass and smells good.

However, when we get to the taste, this beer is lacking. Nice sour cherry flavor, but then nothing. Maybe a little bit of oak? Don't get any Brett funkiness at all.

Combine the one dimensional taste with a thin mouthfeel, and this beer becomes a pass. I had high hopes, but really thought this was mediocre at best. Especially at the higher price point.

 439 characters

Photo of paco1029384756
3.72/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep burgundy with quite a bit of sediment. Rich oak is the most prominent character. Light sugar, tart yeast, hibuscus, tobacco, earth and hints of dry fruit in the finish. Less tart than many other sours, but worth a try if you like oak-forward beers.

 253 characters

Photo of kojevergas
3.74/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750ml brown glass bottle with waxed-over pressure cap and great label art/theme acquired from my sister and served into a Lost Abbey teku in me parents' gaff in high altitude Castle Rock, Colorado. Reviewed live. Expectations are through the roof; I loved Surly Five. I love the unique etching on the black wax; I've never seen a brewery etch symbols into the bottle wax before. Presentation is awesome as a result and fits the theme of the beer.

Served cold - straight from the fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a one finger wide head of nice khaki colour. Good creaminess and thickness. Nice supple retention - about 3-4 minutes. Soft complexion.

Body colour is a very dark ruby-brown. Opaque but not solid. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Looks pretty good for the style; rich and decandent. Looking forward to trying it.

Sm: Acetic, with some guiding undertones of oak. Obvious sourness - more lactobacillus than anything else; I struggle to find any funky bretts. Cherry and currants/berries. Acidic. Grapeskin. I guess I get the red wine notes. Light caramalts. Some tart fruit. A pleasant aroma of moderate strength. The sourness is clean and clinical, but inviting; I definitely don't suspect lambic yeast or bacteria was used - no true spontaneous fermentation here.

T: Acetic. Caramalts. Nice guiding cohesive sourness. Gestalt great balance. Acidic. Light tart fruit. Lacto yeast is dominant. Cherries and currants. Grapeskin. Hints of red wine. Barrel notes are restrained; I get some generic woody notes but not any evocative oak. A biteen reticient, but it's got good depth of flavour nonetheless. I don't get any funkiness or bretts; I'm a bit surprised. But the lacto is better anyway. It's a good build for a sour. Average flavour duration and intensity. A well balanced brew that could use some more complexity. Has nice subtlety, though.

No alcohol comes through. Constructively, the third act is a bit empty compared to first two.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Good body and thickness. Good carbonation. Complements the flavour profile nicely. Acidic. Good presence on the palate. Quite approachable - especially for a sour. Acetic.

Dr: I remember liking Five a bit better, but this is definitely a great sour. I'll have little trouble killing the bottle in short order. Recommended, but perhaps not amongst the very best in the style. A good sour from Surly, if a bit too clinical and clean for a style that demands spontaneous fermentation and a lack of control. I'd happily get it again at its market price. Reminds me of Rodenbach - which is always a good thing.

High B

 2,729 characters

Photo of deebo
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

On tap at the brewery.

A-Served with a weak ringing of light tan head. Color is brown with reddish hue.

S-Compared to Five, Pentagram has a weaker overall aroma, less boozy with a stronger grainy malt presence with a little bit of sourness and a mild amount of Brett funk.

T-Also subdued compared to Five. Low levels of sourness-lactic-like, a bit of funk with a prominent malt quality. Fairly quick finish.

M Moderate-high carbonation with atingly finish. Medium body. No alcohol burn. Smooth and easy to drink for this type of beer.

O-Not my favorite style. Nothing over the top with this beer. A nice change of pace beer. Milder overall compared to Five.

 662 characters

Photo of indurTheB
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

Tasted this not long after tasting a 2014 La Folie. There was more subtle notes in this beer, but there were fairly similar overall. The cherry notes are nice on this beer. Others noted tobacco in the beer as well, but I had just finished a cigar.

 252 characters

Photo of Mdog
3.77/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Brown-red, good head.

Smell: Funk, tart, vinegar, red wine.

Taste: Dry tart cherries, woody/tannic flavor, red wine, bit of sourness.

Overall: Pentagram and Five are very similar beers. Pretty good but not one of my favorite styles or flavor profiles. Worth a try if you can find it.

 298 characters

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.

 725 characters

Photo of chugalug06
3.82/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One-finger thick foamy tan colored head. Ruby red colored brew with lots of brown/black. No lacing.

Black berry, apple, apricot, lemon, hay.

Dry, not as tart as the nose, Lemon, orange, red grape, red apple, barnyard, peppery, high carbonation, slight bitterness. Slightly all over the place. Very glad I popped it, but it was better at GABF, IMO.

A good beer, I feel it will be best with about three-six years on it. It needs a while to develop. Heat is not apparent and is nicely blended. Recommended. I hope to re-review with better news. I loved FIVE.

 560 characters

Photo of JamesMN
3.85/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2013 Vintage.

Appearance: Very dark plum body with a thin layer of off-white foam.

Aroma: That vinegar punch that comes with a good sour.

Taste: Very smooth and on the lower end of the sour spectrum, some of which could do with its age. Pentagram starts with a bright, almost sweet, dark fruit flavor that slowly turns deeper. The sour Brett yeast creeps in near the finish, just potent enough to make you pucker for a moment before it turns into a rich near-ripe cherry flavor. The red wine barrel aging has definitely smoothed the flavor and lent a complexity to the finish and aftertaste that makes for a great drinking experience. Much lower alcohol content than I expected at 6.6% ABV but just goes to show how flavorful a beer can be.

Mouthfeel: Between thin and medium in body, which is typical for the style in my experience. Aggressive but somewhat sparse carbonation. Average drinkability.

Final Thoughts: Was it worth the year long wait in the fridge? I guess it met my expectations. Sour lovers should check it out but don't splurge if its not one of your favorite styles. Would I drink it again? Maybe.

 1,120 characters

Photo of BMMillsy
3.91/5  rDev -5.8%

Bottle sent to me as an extra from an overly generous trader. No date on bottle. Thanks!!! Pours dark brown cola color with a one finger, quickly receding khaki colored head. Tart funky Brett aroma, some sour acidity here, light roasted grain, and definite oaky vinous red wine notes. Flavor is oaky berries, cherry, leather, tobacco, very tart, some additional funky barnyard thing, acidic and sour, graham cracker, vinous warmth in the throat. Lighter bodied than I expected, with a super dry finish and low to medium carbonation. This is a pretty good sour brew with nice cherry and tobacco undertones

 604 characters

Photo of mothman
3.92/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark amber copper in color. No head.

Flavor profile is sour cherries, caramel, and bready malts. A lot of sour flavors here. Oak and vanilla. A bit of vinegar. A mild acidity.

Mouthfeel: sour and tart. Medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation. Maybe a bit high.

Overall, this was pretty enjoyable. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Pretty easy to drink.

 357 characters

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

 548 characters

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.

 306 characters

Photo of jlindros
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Thanks to rudzud for sharing. 2013 vintage.

Light fizzy head disappears almost instantly, clear ruby mahogany color.

Nose great sour funk, nice vanilla like barrel thing, little mineral dark malt, little funky cherry, sour lacto creamy bit acidic funk.

Taste brings candy sweet malts, nice sour cherry like fruit, nice sour funk, lacto creamy funk, little acidic, little cocoa, sour brown malts, little metallic thing, toasty caramel. Finish is sticky touch flemmy, touch metallic with sour funk lingering.

Mouth is med bod, light carb, little flemmy sour.

Overall nice but seems like there are things missing to really make it amazing, but still pretty good.

 667 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Thanks to GRG1313 for sharing this one at his tasting.

Pours a clear dark orange-brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small swaths of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is sour and tart with fruit, acidic, and wood aromas. Taste is much the same with fruit and wood flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of acidity on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty and easy to drink.

 551 characters

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.

 269 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Pentagram from Surly Brewing Company
4.15 out of 5 based on 1,005 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.