Surly CynicAle, For All The Sophists, Cynics, Epicureans, and Stoics


I figured for saison week, we have to have something relatively NORMAL up in the mix so that people don’t think that Saisons are exclusively for pretentious assholes. This saison is not only 1) amazing and 2) off the shelf but it also 3) comes in a can. That means you can slam this shit at the lake, while installing that body kit on your 1997 Eclipse GST, or while watching your kid play teeball. This is a rough and tumble sessionable saison that is ready for combat at all times. This may not have a huge funk or wild aspect to it, but god damn it if this isn’t a refreshing example of the style. Let’s pop open some cans in today’s review:

Being Cynicale can make you emotional.

Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States
Saison / Farmhouse Ale | 6.70% ABV

A: This has a radiant gold color to it with an incredible amount of carbonation that rises to the occasion. There is a moderate amount of lacing and the whole affair is bright and uplifting like a Michael Bay movie where you know that the saison hero is going to come out on top. There isn’t a ton of cling or thickness to the carbonation and it subsides like the emotions of a teenage girl, pretty quickly.

Kill a 4 pack of this, wake up in the morning like “the fuq we do?”

S: This is the most straightforward telling of the saison story that I have had in a while. Since it is pasteurized you obviously don’t get any musk or funk or wild characteristics. However, what is lacks in the wild, it makes up for in the decadent sweet treat department. There’s a deep honey and clove and bubblegum smell to this beer and a cornbread backend like pies cooling on old timey windowsills. There’s also a light peach/pear aspect going on but it is like the background vocals in a Coheed song, you hardly notice them at all.

T: This is incredibly refreshing from the outset with a nice punch of clove and pepper with some bisquik biscuits and some bubblegum that has lost its flavor. It is tough to describe that lingering waxiness but it is delicious and washes away clean. There are some light fruits and a sort of buttery biscuit finish. Again, this isn’t the most ambitious example of the style but at least it doesn’t go on some Surly hop rampage.

This is a strange beer, but totally enjoyable.

M: This is incredibly light and makes you wonder why anyone tries to session any other type of beer when this has the abv, the finish, the look, and the YM charm that gets those teenagers so feided. The whole affair is a flavor bomb with minimal effort. The 16oz can is appropriate and I wish I would get these as extras more often because I rarely want to go out of my way to seek this out on its own because it never seems to last long in my house. BigLobo sent me a 4 pack of it and that shit was merked like John Connor at a Skynet convention.

D: Read the foregoing, this is exceptionally drinkable and totally affordable. The thing I don’t understand is why it is only for sale in places that are frozen for 80% of the year. Ain’t nobody tryna drink a farmhouse ale while ice fishing or whatever it is they do in Minnesota while they aren’t watching the Twins and Vikings lose.

This beer will get you feided on that purp.

Narrative: Sally Weathers was a content housewife enjoying the gentle respite provided by fall in Minnesota. The children were busy outside playing in an igloo that they had just constructed and she lovingly nodded while chopping the iced root vegetables for her famous tundra cabbage stew. It seemed as though the harvest season passed so quickly this year that she scarcely had time to break out the summer jackets from storage. “WHOMP!” a snowball struck the window and she playfully waved a knife at her child through the kitchen window while watching her son jump around in the 9 inches of September snowfall. She longed for the growing seasons that she enjoyed as a child in Salinas, California. She missed receiving that mortgage statement and paying well over $3,000.00 to live in a land not completely forgotten by the civilized world. Those majestic 42 days of sun seemed to pass so quickly, but it was hard to leave when the State paid her family not to leave. Furthermore, work at the ice harvesting farm was plentiful and she could take vitamin D supplements and wait for the sun to return. Life in Minnesota wasn’t easy, but at least she didn’t have to harvest superficial Persian interactions, elective surgeries, American Apparel clothing, and emotionally bankrupt aspiring actresses. Life is all about compromises like the passing of the seasons.


Three Floyds/Struise/Mikkeller/Surly Baller Stout, This Stout is Blended too Hard to be Ballin on a Budget

Oh shit, the Voltron of baller ass beers,l a blend of: Black Albert, Darkness, Dark Lord, and Beer Geek Brunch. I will let you ruminate on the potential for a moment. Alright. Let’s get this show on the road.

This beer -BALs so hard, but first barrels gotta find me.

Three Floyds Baller Stout, Russian Imperial Stout, 13.8% abv

A: It has a bit of a wateriness to the pour that doesn’t really blow me away given the all start lineup of dark potations blended. The Darklord alone should be enough to consume the world, but it isn’t necessarily bad as a result. For the composition of those 4 beasts to create something with the coating of gentle Czar Jack, the result is anomalous. The carbonation is fantastic and clings to the glass with Ellis Island desperation. The color of the foam is dead on Dockers’ khakis, my favorite Mervyn’s foam selection.

WAIT. Darkness. Dark Lord, Black Albert. Beer Geek Brunch? I see what you did thar.

S: The smell has a nice coffee roast with a bit of an oakiness popping in here and there, however, the wheelies are popped by the chocolate and sweetness. I can only assume that Darklord and Darkness teamed up to whip the other two rapscallions into shape. The brownie batter smell lingers until a nice espresso element sutures the wound and the smell is done. Pretty impressive really, don’t know what haters hate.

T: The sweetness has a great interplay with the coffee element and the result is a bitter upfront port character that is not altogether chocolate, but not just roasted malts either. It is funny how each beer contributed a different element to the final product, there’s the obvious sweetness from the Darklord that is faint, a nice coffee from Beer Geek Brunch, some roasted malts from Darkness, and a nice charred oakiness from Black Albert. No falacy by composition here, just a solid stout, BALLER EVEN.

Combining these beers has showed me something that I knew about myself all along. Just like Uncel Dolan.

M: The mouthfeel is surprisingly light given the composition of the 4 knuckleheads involved. Notwithstanding, I feel that it is a more original product as a result. I don’t enjoy this more than any one of the parts involved, but it’s kinda like a janky ass Voltron. It might even be Go-Bot status. But even the sorriest Transformer like Nightscream or Cosmos is still a Transformer, that’s pretty bad ass.

D: The individual beers involved, Black Albert excepted, aren’t exceptionally drinkable, but strangely, this beer is splishy splashy and drinkable. The coating isn’t intense and as a result the synthetic oil burns cooler. I don’t know who was submarining the efforts to make this thinner and easier to drink but, I would say that this is the greatest aspect of the synergy between the elements. I don’t know that I will put this in my water bottle before I get into some sick ass MMA, but it’s pretty breezy and enjoyable for a gigantic stout. This beer has me feeling all like a Newport Slims advertisement up in this mix.


Narrative: Metroplex was a shitty Transformer and he knew it. Sure, Transformed he was a bad ass robot that would make Gundam quiver. But he “disguised” himself as an entire city block. The rest of the Decepticons just kinda sighed robot sighs and shrugged their massive robotic shoulders when Metroplex would dissassemble himself into a Jiffylube, Chick-Fil-A, Planned Parenthood, and Ju Jitsu Studio. “Starscream, please can you just, tell him it is painfully obvious, no one is fooled, literally not even the blind Transformer Brailzor is fooled by his transformation.” Deep down Metroplex had feelings too. He knew that the disguise was shitty and inoperable. The Planned Parenthood was always closed and the Ju Jitsu studio just had a guy who watched a ton of Affliction tapes but, deep down he had spirit. The elements that composted his false city were bad ass in their own right, even if assembled it was an underwhelming display of power. “So then Megatron was all like Metroplex? More like METROSEX! Oh, oh, didn’t see you standing there Metro, uh, we were just-” Metroplex ran to the lower chambers of the elaborate robot facility and buried his face in his iridium pillow. “THEY DON’T GET YOU! NO ONE GETS YOU!” he cried his autotuned sobs into his comforter while his My Chemical Robomance poster looked on ruefully.


Surly Coffee Bender, Finally A Responsible Morning Beverage for Unemployed People and Fashion Students

A responsible morning beverage for unemployed people.

Surly Coffee Bender, 5.1% abv

A: This beer has a menacingly deep dark countenance with a huge banana republic khaki head, a bit refined for its Midwest heritage which would be acceptable if it didn’t smell like alpha acids an- on to the next section.

Beer in the morning, no time to explain.

S: I couldn’t hold this over, the coffee is overwhelming. The Midwest loves to make beers that just infiltrate the nose, take over your house, wake your girlfriend up: OLFACTORY. That is their game and it is played well. I supposed there is some mild Hershey’s cocoa and bittering elements but overridingly, it is coffee, like elephants, all the way down. All of this is predicated on coffee as its existence.

T: Wait for the spoiler alert: coffee. Seriously. Just coffee for days. Were it not socially reprehensible to just straight up drink brown ale for breakfast, this could replace mocha frappa adjective misusacinnos. Maybe in the Midwest that’s just how they roll, wake up, drink some surly, work, more surly, check redfin.com, attempt to solve property value disparity, call it a day. But just wow, not just coffee, amazing coffee. I don’t want to say barefoot intelligensia level, its not that acidic but it has a definite Coffee Bean feel to it. For my east coast readers, Coffee Bean is the exceptional coffee that we drink while you keep Dunkin Corp. stocks abreast. It tastes like coffee.

This beer is dark and strangely offensive.

M: It is incredibly thin. . .not unlike. . .coffee. If you think I am trying to drive home some form of Nabokovian motif, let’s just put it out there, it is coffee, not sex with minors. Seriously it tastes like an iced coffee. I got this as an extra and I demand to know the price of this temptress. If it is under $3 per can, I have pity on the poor Midwest that unleashed this wraith upon their productivity. Even the siren of Farmville nods at this Amarosa knowingly.

D: If you haven’t gathered from the foregoing: very. I have essentially provided a voucher for drinking this unabashedly for breakfast. I don’t care if you are a crane operator on the new children’s hospital which happens to be occupied early, go ahead, have some coffee bender in the morning, you earned it big guy (or woman, whatever, find me a woman who operates a crane [sic.])

This beer is hard as fuck. But gentle.

Narrative: “I just don’t understand why the early Seinfeld episodes look\ so dated, look at what they are wearing-” Uncle Adam droned on. “Keep it together Jonah, keep it together” he told himself as he clicked the rhythms from Vengaboys songs along his jaw line. He didn’t exactly mean to supplement all of his caffeine habits with coffee alcohol but, such is the way of things. “Jonah are you cold? You’re positively shaking!” Aunt Beatrice exclaimed grabbing an afghan rug. “Yeahbut you know who really- I mean always touching the thermostat? Who says that? Seinfeld, you know what I meanyeahyeah, notevencoldthough seriously.” He attempted to break his repartee into at least dactylic hexameter for his relatives to try and understand. Jonah was a man converted to the alcoholic coffee beast, and now he was dropped as though he should have invented the rain coat.




Surly Furious

A: Orange radiance that calls more to a DIPA the way that the carbonation sloshes all over the sides like it owns the place. Nice big bubbles that dissipate fairly quickly.

S: There’s a huge pineapple citrus bouquet to this that doesn’t bring along the irksome herbal/pine qualities that some single IPAs try and push on you. I enjoyed the traditional grapefruit notes but there’s also this little sneaky pete of toffee that pokes its head in there for a moment as well. I wish he would stay but apparently, non-citrus notes are not invited to hang out.

Surly Furious here to save the day.

T: The first taste is a bit thin with a huge orangey orange to it, it subsides to a gentle bitterness and washes away clean and fast. There is no real lingering aftertaste, just a one two combo and a ninja roll out the side door leaving orange rind in the entry way. Luckily the inexpensive 16oz cans don’t leave you high and dry, you are sufficiently low and…uh…wet. I GUESS!

M: Again, this is not exceptionally thick or chewy and it is even thinner than many hef’s and lower ABV beers. It is interesting in how completely lopsided that the beer is with a huge flavor and relatively low ABV and mouthfeel. If this were an army man, it would be the dude who carries the metal detector. Not because it is a raging vagina, it just serves a niche purpose, and an awesome one at that.

Single IPAs can get you double twisted.

D: This is incredibly drinkable top to bottom. Well, it’s the same all the way through but you know what I am trying to…it’s…you can drink it ok? This is similar to the Masala Mama category where they need to up the serving sizes if for nothing else but my own self esteem. I could kill a 4 pack of this without reproach and glance menacingly around the room for someone to say something. Take a sip and if your glass isn’t empty in a forthright fashion, you are doing this beer wrong.

Single IPA, for this cheap, that is this good. Confus.

Narrative: “Professor Mailer, the subjects aren’t responding to the medication, hell, even the control groups are becoming more enraged,” the lab technician pleaded while gesturing towards graphs which can only be sure to contain sciences. “MONITOR THEIR FURY, it is the fury I seek, not the intermediate results.” Professor Mailer boomed as he slammed his protractor on the desk, sending science all over the place. The lab technicians poked in on the control group playing the Dam Level of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for Nintendo and noted that the furious levels were through the roof. Next they monitored someone on hold with the DMV, the fury again was unparalleled. “Sir? According to these calculations, the furiousness of each group, even the control group has actually increased. Sir?” Professor Mailer insouciantly spun some sciences on his desk, in a sciencey fashion. “And the literature camp?” he impugned, “well sir, without even taking the medication, the group forced to read Mrs. Dalloway was, well, very, very, pissed.” “Excellent, proceed to phase two, up the dosage and administer Superman 64 to each group” he commanded with a refined poise.


Surly Five, Wild Ale, 8.2% Abv, Baby When The Lights Go Out…It is Dark

This beer delivers more than the average forgotten boy band, only more sour.

Well with all the holiday bitterness coming, I figured I would give you some sour delights to placate your cravings for old boy bands.

Surly Five, Anniversary Wild Ale, 8.2%

A: This is a deep dark ruby red with some mild browns at the center, the lacing leaves something to be desired NAMELY MORE LACING. This isn’t granma’s foyer up in this bitch, no cosies, doilies, lacing, or webbing. The lack of carbonation is saddening.

The lack of lacing is more depressing than Sarah McLaughlin commercials

EDIT: The second pour had more foamy goodness, quite unlike those depressing commercials.

S: There is a distinct waft of cherry, tart currants, nail polish remover, and deep merlot. There’s a backend of wet hay and 3rd grade classroom on a rainy day. You know the drill, soaked dirty children.

T: The taste is distinctly tart, with a sour cherry flavor that fades into a red wine tannic finish. The dryness is compensated by a nice clean finish. It feels like a baby Consecration, but a solid Nissan Altima of the sour world. Although I have to say, I am a bit skeptical due to how readily the gentleman who provided me with this amazing beer was ready to part with it. A scholar and a gentleman indeed.

The tartness and limited availability make me suspicious. Just a little too...delicious...

M: The motuhfeel is crisp and swift and leaves a tart jelly jam sourness upon exit. It drinks very well and hides the alcohol like a miserly eastern European. Sometimes the tartness becomes annoying like basically anything with Taylor Lautner in it, but this is pretty tolerable.

D: For the tartness, alcohol, and deep complexity, it is surprisingly gentle. Big old acidic Lenny holds my hand gently while I tell him about the sour cherry rabbits and demonstrate my knowledge of 9th grade English curriculum. Overall, I would buy it again, but I cant, so I dont think I would trade for it again. Not cheap but, there’s just too much beer out there. White people problems.

Gave Surly Five to my cat, it imploded like a Gushers commercial with PURE SOUR RAGE.

Narrative: The POV camera premise just seemed wildly degrading to Tony Wachowski, TRU TV or not. “Alright Wachowski, you’re a loose cannon, and we all know about your rage,” Tony’s captain boomed from his podium during what was probably a morning briefing, I dont know. “So we are putting you on traffic duty, the commissioner is BREATHING DOWN MY ASS ABOUT LAST WEEK!” Tony shifted in his seat. The truth was, he didn’t have rage, and the incident was a series of missteps and unfortunate coincidences. “Hey uh sir, like I told yas, that fruit truck-” “FUCKING FRUIT TRUCK NOTHING WACHOWSKI, you are on meter duty.” I mean really, it would make even the finest officer bitter. Tony could still see that group of five year olds, covered in sticky, smashed cherries. “Sir, can I at least have my firearm back?” “GOD DAMNIT TONY, you are lucky I let you have your REGULAR ARMS.” Ultimately, no one would have predicted that merely tossing a Burt’s Bees chapstick container out the window would have blown out the tread of the fruit cargo freighter, overturn and kill several children, drowning them in sour fruit on the way to the preserves factory. “OH I AM SORRY TONY, the rest of us will wait while you SNACK ON SOME CHERRIES! NOW GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE.” Tony would never use chapstick again.


Surly Darkness, 10.3% Imperial Stout, Charlie Murphy: DARKNESS

It's like Baudelaire hooking up with Minnie Mouse, so dark, so dirty.

What perfect beer for the day after Halloween, DIA DE LOS MUERTOS, than Darkness, an inherently evil stout

Surly, 2010 Darkness, Imperial Stout, 10.3% abv

A: This has a deep black, 1970’s exploitation film sort of darkness to it. There is a bit of shiny resplendence but it is as inky as a frightened squid through and through. It lives up to its name, dark as satan’s magic, like post-Milton Satan, really dark. Also the carbonation is like 5% tint baller, thick, and mocha.

S: It has the smell of deep dark melted raisins, melted dark chocolate, roasted coffee, figs and a vanilla sweetness. It’s like that movie Problem Child, sweet, but dark and disturbing at the same time.

T: This beer has a fantastic sweetness at the outset similar to maple syrup with cocoa and chocolate tastes throughout. The alcohol is well hidden and presents a nice oakiness on the finish. It’s like being whipped with black licorice, but at a pagan Steinbeck festival, deep, sweet, and bothersome.

M: The mouthfeel has a great maltiness and depth that just delivers on so many levels. It coats initially like Behr paint, the nursery mocha color of negligent parents. It lingers when you cleanse the palate and gives a nice tobacco taste. It’s like kissing the smoky old chocolate mixer at the Godiva factory, with his sweet Guatemalan mouth.

D: This is thick, rich, and dark; the Lamar Odom of the stout world. While in most instances, a beer this ambitious suffers but, I have a tough time knocking this because the sweetness is there, the coffee is there, and it washes away clean. This tawdry barista is good for the long haul.

Narrative: “Dear Warren, I have longingly written to you every day, please, just let me know if the flame, that burned so brightly when we embraced each other underneath the Bakersfield moonlight at the water park, still smolders within your breast.” The rain pounded the window sill and Kaitlyn cried soft alligator tears that rolled down her cheeks and the Energy Star windows of her track home. The winters in Bakersfield had a biting cold that was paralleled only by the winter wonderland that was Stockton. “Dear Kaitlyn, I am not sure if our summer romance was a fleeting apparition in your mind, but I still think back to the warm buzzing of the Kern County air, and coughing mildly at the humidity and pollution. I still miss the sweet taste of your Dr. Pepper chaptick. My letters go unanswered, please answer me sweet muse.” Barreling down the streets of California avenue was a Post Service truck painted matte black, its occupant maintained a hateful twisted smile. Bags and bags of correspondence were ignited before the authorities caught onto his exploits. The Dark Courier knew no boundaries. “Dear Kaitlynn, I heard of a tragic fire in Bakersfield and double homicide on Cedar ave, near our favorite water park, please respond to let me know that all is well.”