Friday, November 25, 2011

Surly Bitter Brewer

I haven't had an English-style bitter in a while, mostly because so few breweries make them anymore (especially in the 'States). Anyway, I was surprised that Surly Brewing out of Minnesota had an entry in this style. This guys are known for their hop bombs - could they really brew a milder, more sessionable beer? I guess we'll find out....

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (576) - Albany, New York, USA - NOV 24, 2011
I received a 16oz can in a trade with a friend in Minnesota. I poured it into an English nonic pint glass.

Appearance: Hazy, tarnished orange hue but with plenty of visible carbonation. Forms a small, white, frothy head. Average retention and lacing.

Smell: Amazing hop presence with light citrus and flowers - almost like a perfume. Subtle sweet malty and confectionary notes buried underneath.

Taste: I’m always amazed when a brewery can do more with less and when brewers (usually Americans) can put entirely new spins on classic styles. Surly Bitter Brewer does both simultaneously: it doesn’t forget its roots, yet it doesn’t apologize for its overtly American qualities.

Usually light beers with strong hop presence tend to taste like hop water, but this one is a lot different. Sweet citrusy hop flavors begin and end the palate, yet it is not dry or bitter (only 37 IBUs). The English bitter palate is revealed throughout the middle with a strong flavor of grain, cereals, and red fruits. It’s a juicy taste with a strong orange and apricot marmalade taste. The hops bookend the palate with a light citrus taste, and keep the fruit theme going without becoming distracting or cloying.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly thick and full-bodied, but it lacks the intensity and deadweight of a stronger beer. Mostly calm, but some noticeable carbonation. A short, pleasant aftertaste of jelly but for the most part it’s clean.

Drinkability: It’s rare I find an American beer I could honestly see myself drinking for hours on end, but Surly Bitter Brewer is definitely such a beer. With a delectable palate of genuine taste that doesn’t overwhelm and a comfortable mouthfeel and smooth, clean finish it’s the epitome of drinker-friendly. It’s not strong enough to stand up to a hearty meal, but as the pub beer it’s meant to emulate it does the job perfectly.
Grade: 8/10

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