Brew Review: SurlyFest

15 Dec

Brew: SurlyFest

Brewed by: Surly Brewing Co. (Brooklyn Center, MN)

Style: Rye Lager (6.0% ABV)


The autumn seasonal from Surly. Well one of two actually, they also have a fresh-hop beer that comes out about the same time. This is a beer from Surly so naturally I am expecting a pretty good brew. I especially enjoy the labeling on this one, the classic crazy Surly packaging comes with the traditional German fest type background. A good spin for an up and coming brewery.

The beer poured out a clear caramel somewhat amber color. There was also some red thrown in there as well. There was a big thick rich looking head right off the top but that died down in a few minutes to leave a thin cap of what foam on the brew the rest of the way down. A solid looking beer, the clarity of it all was impressive.

The aroma was not what I was expecting. There were a fair amount of hops that were present. Citrus and fruit were present but not over whelming just simmering under the surface. Knowing this was a Surly beer I could have guessed they would have found a way to get some good smelling hops in the brew. Following the initial reaction to the hops there was some classic German malts that I detected as well as some of the lager type bread and yeast smells.

Upon the first sip, the big malts present in this traditional fest-type beer were very present. However, and I don’t think I mentioned this before, the dry-hopping also was noticeable. The bready grains and yeasts took their share of the glory in the taste and that kept the beer within its style which was nice. The hops were the unique factor in the beer. If you have tried any traditional marzen-fest type beers there is really no distinguishable hops presence. There is enough to keep the brew from sticking to your teeth but not anything that plays a decent part in the actual flavor and aroma of the beer. Surly changes that with this beer. They have dry-hopped a lager that is traditionally one you don’t dry-hop or even consider dry-hopping. They made it work perfectly, as the big rye taste is almost balanced dead on and makes the beer a big heavy lager fest-beer but also one that doesn’t weigh you down as some others might.

I love the use of the dry-hops and the way that all the ingredients had their place and fit there like puzzle pieces. Nothing to complain about with this beer.


Final Grade: A


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