Thursday, November 6, 2008

Surly Smoke

Brewery: Surly, Brooklyn Center, Minnesota

Style: Oak Aged Smoked Baltic Porter

ABV: 9.45%

Rating: 4 Stars

The waitress at the Blue Nile offered us samples of this limited release--the barrel was getting down to the bottom. Had to accept, this one doesn't get bottled and is rarely found in bars.

I'd never had a smoked beer before, let alone one aged in barrels, so this was new territory for me. Kristie, my beer-hating wife, got a sample too, and her off-the-top-of-her-head thoughts are more eloquent than mine: "Smells like you took a glass of Guinness and you lit it on fire, then you licked out the dregs of the ashy glass."

Indeed, it tastes smoky. No carbonation at all in this one, and it had a very nice thin mouthfeel, unlike the Darkness, which I had later. OK, I promised I wouldn't use jargon, but I enjoy the word mouthfeel. Probably doesn't exist in regular conversation. The smoke flavor pretty much overpowers all other flavors, but I thought it was quite sweet in general. I would never had guessed it was 9.5% alcohol, and knowing that now explains why I felt the way I did afterward.

It's probably too late to get your hands on this one, but come next fall, find a beer festival somewhere in the Midwest and chances are Surly will be back with it. It's a unique and enjoyable beer.

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