Surly Brewing Company from Minneapolis MN, is one of my favorite breweries. My niece recently returned from a trip to The Twin Cities with a nice care package containing several Surly beers. Here is a new IPA that I got to taste for the first time - Overrated West Coast IPA (7.3% ABV, IBUs somewhere around 99 – I was not able to actually confirm an actual number).
Whether is was a joke or not, here is the original label that was submitted from Surly, but denied by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). I don’t think that it takes too much though to figure out why.
Here is from the actual approved label:
It’s been said, “It’s easier to brew an extremely hoppy beer than an extremely balanced beer.” And you know us, we are always looking for the easy way out, so we jumped on the West Coast IPA Bandwagon and brewed this dry and hoppy ale. “Surly’s a little bit of a one-trick pony, they just brew gimmick beers,” and maybe we are OVERRATED, but at the end of the day, it’s just a beer. If you like it, great, so do we. If you only liked us when we were small, then leave this one on the shelf. Let one of the fanboys grab it.
Some Surly fans have wondered whether this new IPA was not the same beer as Bandwagon IPA, a beer that is only served at Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins baseball team plays. Surly head brewer Todd Haug responded to this on twitter, they are both “Am. IPA’s” so I can only assume that people might think they are similar. New hop variety for us so we’re stoked!” My guess is that he is referring to the El Dorado hops that are used alongside Columbus, Centennial, and Cascade.
Abrasive Ale (double IPA, 9% ABV, IBUs – according to the website 120ish) is a seasonal favorite of mine and was also in the Surly care package. Originally, this beer was named 16 Grit, after a size of abrasive grit used at the abrasive factory, previously on the site of the current brewery.
If you are a hop head, you will love the huge resinous grapefruit and piney hops. After one sip, there is no question that this is a huge flavor-full IPA. It comes in 4 pack 16 oz. cans, is not particularly cheap, and is only available in Minnesota. So if you are looking for this, contact all of your long lost relatives that live in or near Minnesota.
Also included in this package was Surly Pentagram (American Wild Ale, 6.66% ABV – brewed only once). This is a 100% Brettanomyces dark beer fermented in stainless and aged in used red wine barrels.
From the label:
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.
Generally, if I have never previously had a particular beer, I like to drink it fresh. However, I’m not quite ready to crack this one. I’ll keep it in the cellar for awhile until a good occasion arises.
Here was the biggest surprise – a bottle of Surly Darkness (Russian Imperial Stout, 10.3% ABV, IBUs 85) from 2011. I’m not exactly sure how she pulled this off, and she is keeping it a secret at this point. Either way, I am very happy as this is one of my all time favorite Russian Imperial Stouts. This beer is only released once annually, most of which is sold at a brewery only event. However, there is some distribution around the Twin Cities area. I have a mini vertical going from 2009 through 2012, only missing the first two – ’07 and ’08. But this extra bottle gave me a chance to enjoy some without breaking into my mini vertical.
This pours a thick dark black and definitely has big roasty, boozy flavors going on. Also good toffee and caramel sweetness up front, with a slight bitter finish. It was a great way to end my birthday last week.