Surly Blonde | Phillips Brewing Company

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Surly BlondeSurly Blonde
33 Ratings
Surly BlondeSurly Blonde

Brewed by:
Phillips Brewing Company
British Columbia, Canada

Style: Belgian Tripel

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.10%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
The Surly Blonde keeps watch over a bottle chock full of funky Belgian flavours and lots of alcohol! We brew this with a handful of herbs to give a very distintive note when the beer is young, and leave a bit of yeast in it so that it is able to mature over time, building complexity for the procrastinating (ie, patient) aficionado.

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 33 |  Reviews: 21
Reviews by charlesw:
Photo of charlesw
3.22/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

What a mixed bag of reviews this one has! It's... Well, it's beer. No head, which is a bummer. Way fizzy in the mouth, which is a bummer. But too sweet? Weird. Not this bottle. Like, not at all. Like... Like their different batches come out differently? Get out of here!

I picked this one up in a liquor store in a Northern BC company town (yes, there are still company towns in the world - it's a whole prefab village!) as the most interesting thing there was to try. And, frankly, there's no doubt in my mind that it was the most interesting thing in the store.

But... You know, it's interesting, on some level, that I give it such a good score (edit: that's a good score???) and yet I still feel... Well, let me explain, please. This is a decent Belgian. No question. But it's pretty weak in flavor. Now, maybe all of the sweetness and flavor in my bottles fermented out into bland fizziness. Soit (so be it). That's life. And yet... It's not bad. And, in this part of the world, it's inexpensive. And, seriously, if your goal is to get wasted, why not buy the 9% beer that's the same price as your 4% beer?

Still. It's a fine beer. I don't get any off flavors and the only things I can really reproach it are no head and it's fizzy. If it were available locally would I buy it? Well. I guess not, really. Still, it would be a great lawnmower beer. Not in the roofing/lawnmower sense where you're going to drink a few and keep roofing - out in the sun. But more in the sense of you've finished mowing your 48.2 acres in the 95F sun and you're going to just chill on the patio with a nice cold one. Weird that it has 9%. It would be so much better (and merit a better score) at 3%... Oh, and with more body and flavor, of course.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of trail77
3.75/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of chickenm
2.74/5  rDev -23%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Pours a golden orange color with hardly any head. Sweet aroma with ripe fruits, yeast, sugar, and a slight vegetal smell. Taste is overly sweet, with a sticky medium-bodied mouthfeel. Carbonation is quite low. Difficult to finish a whole 650mL bottle of this.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.97/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

650ml bottle, one of the few remaining souvenirs of my raid on the guv'ment liquor stores in Kelowna earlier this year...and into my DDC tulip glass it goes.

This beer pours a slightly hazy, medium golden orange hue, with one finger of weakly foamy, and mostly just soapy off-white head, which bolts quickly, leaving a thin ring of meniscus lace around the glass.

It smells of semi-sweet, grainy wheat and pale malt, banana esters, clove spice, and a bit of warming alcohol. The taste is pretty much the same - more sweet wheat malt, a bit of plain brown bread, candied banana, clove, white pepper, a bit of mild, somewhat vegetal yeastiness, and a very soft, sugary alcohol stripe.

The carbonation is on the low side, barely a pip or tic to be found, the body decently weighty, smooth, and more than a wee bit creamy - no alcohol ingress here. It finishes well off-dry, the malt and sugar sweetness abating only a tad, as do the yeast and spices, offset by a soft, smooth, and enticing tummy-warming booziness.

Wow - this goes down just a little too easily - seamlessly integrated big ABV, smooth, and nicely balanced between the sweet and the spiced. Very, very good, but too bad it's kind of hard to come by, it would seem.

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.07/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pretty generic label design. Dogs are a bit overused by North American brewers, aren't they? Nothing against dogs, of course.

Looks a beaut, and very much to style--peach-colored with a nice haze and a creamy head that drops lace onto the glass immediately.

An excellent melange of fruit and spice in the nose. Fruits are pear, peach and mango, spices a little less obvious but there's some coriander and white pepper detected. An overall musty smell puts the yeast smack in the middle of all that. A compelling aroma for sure.

Flavor offers everything the nose hints at. Fruit comes in gobs, and might perhaps be overshadowing the other elements, but spices and yeast edge in well enough. Impressive control of the 9.1% alcohol, which underscores the flavors with a little warmth but is otherwise not really noticed. A good thing, because if there's one problem with non-Belgian tripels it's a too-forward aftershave-alcohol kind of thing. Not here. It's sweet, yes, but consider the style (tripels are sweet, no?).

Feels medium-bodied, fairly crisp and with enough roundness, although I could have gone for a creamier and less prickly texture.

An interesting, enjoyable and totally drinkable take on a tripel by one of Canada's most underrated breweries.

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Photo of Sammy
3.35/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Foggy yellow with a small white head. easty aroma Taste like a saison.At the Alibi Club. Some interesting corriander and yeast in the mouth, otherwise just an attempt at a Belgium.I expect more from this brewery but I guess they need to get up to speed on Belgian styles. Also isn't 9% plus a strong Belgian?

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Photo of joemcgrath27
3.59/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - hazy golden orange, more hazy on the top half of the glass, short head didn't really stick around
S - clovish yeast esters, light grainy malt, mild citrus, and a sugary bubblegum hint
T - classic belgian yeast flavours very prominent, very grainy wheaty malt, some citrus and syrupy fruit hints, along with a light peppery note
M - a little thin bodied but full flavour, some tartness and dry from the high ABV which is generally well hidden
D - a nice effort at a belgian triple for a small western canadian micro, flavours were decent and the alcohol well hidden, but a little on the thin side

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Photo of Phyl21ca
1.57/5  rDev -55.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

Bottle: Poured a deep bright orangey color ale with a a large foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of grossly sweet malt with cough-syrup ester is not the most interesting. Taste is also quite gross with too much fake sweet ester and some overpowered sugar. Body is about average with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. This is one of the worst tripel I have tried - way too much sweetness and not spicy yeast or fruity ester.

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Photo of pudoo
5/5  rDev +40.4%

Photo of ritzkiss
3.25/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bomber pours a coppery brew with a finger of light head, lots of little bubbles coming up. No lacing.

Smell is super fruity/yeasty. Lots of pineapple, citrus, lemon, flowers. Slight hint of spices.

Taste is more of the same, the yeast is BIG on the esters. All the tropical fruits, apple juice, hints of anise. Some sweetness in the back, mixed with a cloying sweet/sour combo mixed with alcohol which leaves the mouth wishing there were a little less of this. Hints of banana as it warms up.... simply too one dimensional-fruity/cloying for me.

Perhaps this would be an interesting beer when paired with food but... I can't say I really dig it by itself; one is enough for me. Pretty rough around the edges. I'm putting one in the cellar to see if some of that cloying flavor mellows out over time.

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Photo of BreWolf
3.64/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

First of all, I must say. It's interesting stuff. It comes in a tall brown bottle with a mean looking golden retriever type dog on the lable. They call it a big Belgian tripple X.

Lay your nose on the bottle and take in that fruity fruity smell...

Not your usual kinda yellow beer. The color is amber. cloudy golden. Not much head, (Thats typical of Phillips beers.) The taste is fruity. Maybe thats what Belgian beer is known for. Kinda like a hefenweisen type beer. There is a sweeness to it but it's not too sweet. It has a nice after taste. As a home brewer myself I have a strong hunch that alot of the "fruity" flavors are given off from the yeast. Thats not necessarily a bad thing, but is definitely most of what makes the taste interesting.

You gotta remember that this is 9.1% alcohol. A very strong beer. And the taste masks that strong alcohol perfectly. So as far as you Alkys are concerned this is beer Meca.

I don't buy it very often but just the same I can say without a doubt that this is Phillips best product. This one has alot of character and most of it is positive. I give it an easy - 8/10


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Photo of LampertLand
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of grub
2.38/5  rDev -33.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Viggo brought this one over. thanks eric!

22oz bottle. sampled sept 19/09.

pours orangey amber colour with a small ring of fine white bubbles. no lace. pretty dark for a tripel.

aroma is weird. super grainy - like a bucket of freshly milled malt - mixed with tropical fruit. multi-grain bread. mango and pineapple. alcohol.

taste is ok. light alcohol. bit of caramel. tropical fruit. multi-grain bread. grainy. bit of belgian spice, but that's about the only real "tripel" character i've seen so far.

mouthfeel is not good. medium body is too big for a tripel. very low carbonation level is way off for style.

drinkability, as you might have guessed by now, ain't good. nearly flat, too thick, too dark, and tasting almost nothing like a tripel. heck, even ignoring style this one isn't even all that good a beer. i'd skip this one.

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Photo of bumchilly25
3.42/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Derek
3.73/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Bronze with an off-white head, no retention or lace.

S: Tropical fruit, cloves & spiciness, alcohol, vanilla & ginger.

T: Heavy on the cloves, tropical fruit, peppery, vanilla, warming alcohol with a light bitterness.

M: Well-attenuated moderate body, modest carbonation for the style, dry finish.

D: A decent drinker.

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Photo of Viggo
3.08/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle, big thanks to ritzkiss for hooking me up.

Pours a lightly hazed golden amber, medium sized white head forms, quickly settles down to a thin ring, no real lacing on the glass, maybe a little dark for a tripel. Smell is weird, sweet and biscuity, apricots, grass, tea, unfermented wort, peaches, tropical fruit, caramel and sugar, interesting stuff. Taste is similar, tastes like unfermented wort with some fruit, sugary, apricots and peaches, hay, corn syrup, alcohol is well hidden but this is weird. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with low carbonation. Very strange tripel, as its not very tripel like and tastes and smells unfermented and sugary. Weird! Thanks Eric.

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Photo of andrenaline
3.42/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a slightly hazy, pale golden straw colour, paper thin head with no retention and little lacing.

S - Spices dominate the scent with cloves and coriander, followed by sour citrus and some bananas.

T - Fruits come through with bananas and orange, followed by the spices, cloves and some light pepper finish. Alcohol is nicely hidden, which was nice given its high ABV.

M - A little thin and watery, could use a bit more carbonation to make it more enjoyable.

D - Decent offering from Phillips, but not my favourite. The flavours were nice and alcohol well hidden, but the mouthfeel was a bit of a turnoff.

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Photo of Howlader
4/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Erik-P
3.47/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of TheJollyHop
2.57/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Pours a straw gold with an underwhelming amount of carbonation. Scents of yeast, sugar, bread, and coriander.

Apple juice, sickly sweet corn syrup, faint herbal component on the back end; ends sweet. Not herbal or spicy enough for the style. Sweetness is not balanced effectively, and the yeast strain didn't impress. Definitely needed more carbonation. Alcohol gives some heat throughout the taste. Couldn't finish this one; hopefully they don't miss the mark on their next batch.

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Photo of ericj551
4.57/5  rDev +28.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Sphillips Surly Blonde pours a orange gold with a decent head that fades to a thin layer. The aroma is sweet pale malt with some chalky, yeasty esters. The sweetness is muted in the flavor, but there it a little more malt flavor, leading nicely into some mild fruity esters. The esters fade into a light phenolic character that lingers a bit in the aftertaste. Alcohol is completely hidden, very good for the strength.

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Photo of EskimoDave
3/5  rDev -15.7%

Photo of DoubleJ
3.59/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

One of the guy's at Viti Wine & Lager recommended this beer for me. He said that it's a deceiving treat. Being ignorant to Canadian beers, I took his advice and got a 650 ml bottle. On to the beer:

This tripel is a little lighter than orange in color, with adequate head and retention. Spicy banana in the nose. A little dusting a sugar, some bubblegum, but mostly it's banana. Nothing wrong with that.

The beer guy was right, the alcohol is deceptive. Very deceptive. It warms the stomach at times. There's a little sugar and bubblegum note to taste at first. A little spice, and some amounts of candied pale fruits. The overall intensity of that beer is much lighter than expected being at 9.1% ABV. The flavors are balanced well enough to make this a drinkable Belgian-styled beer. As the the mouthfeel, it is a little light with small carbonation bubbles hitting the paalte.

Surly Blonde, while not put-you-on-your-knees kind of Belgian, is as solid as a rock. Worth trying out for fans of tripel.

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Photo of Graham5161986
3.85/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours a birght, cloudy gold with a decent frothy head that could hold a little better.

S: lots of citrus and yeasty banana on the nose

T: Again, tons of yeasty banana and citrus that gives way to a very long, lemon-lime, tart aftertaste.

M: Surprisingly light in the mouth - goes down smooth and crisp.

D: I like this beer - it has some very strong flavours, yet it goes down quite easily. It doesn't seem to have the complexity that the tripel style suggests. Nevertheless, an enjoyable brew that i would buy again.

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Photo of Coastal_Brew
3.75/5  rDev +5.3%

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Surly Blonde from Phillips Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.56 out of 5 with 33 ratings