Saturday, November 12, 2011

Surly Wet

Surly is a brewery out of Minnesota that has been generating major buzz in the craft beer community the last few years. From what I understand they don't distribute outside of their state, which makes them pretty difficult to come by as well. This is the first of four different beers sent to me by a fan named Sean (thanks for the beer!). It's a "wet hop" IPA, which is a brewing technique wherein the hops are taken straight from the vine to the brew kettle and this approach has been utilized by more brewers over the last few years.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (569) - Albany, New York, USA - NOV 12, 2011
I poured a 16oz can into an oversize wine glass.

Appearance: Hazy, but translucent shade of pure orange with slight honey hue. Forms an average-sized frothy head which retains and laces pretty well.

Smell: Pure pine sap and resin - almost to the point of burnt rubber. A very earthy scent as well, similar to sharp cheddar with a noticeable tropical fruit juice syrup aroma at the core.

Taste: I wouldn’t say I like wet hop IPAs any more or less than regular IPAs, mostly because I’ve never been floored by one, but Surly Wet definitely is the best I’ve had so far. This is a different kind of bitterness - a continual, dull, wet, soft bitterness with a rich juicy sweetness riding shotgun. It’s very tasty, original and impressive.

It begins with the immediate presence of resin. A strong, rich, dull bitterness like standing too close to a car that’s stuck and is burning its rubber on the pavement and you can actually taste it. But in the case of this beer (and wet hopped beers in general), that’s a good thing. It’s pure pine sap in that it’s soft, rich, and seems to coat the entire mouth like an imperial stout does. There’s a rich, almost refreshing juicy quality through the middle, but it ends with a combination of resin and juice concentrate. It’s a very unique and somewhat strange, but highly satisfying experience for the palate.

Mouthfeel: Soft and full-bodied with a distinct dry aftertaste of syrupy richness and hop resin.

Drinkability: What really makes Surly Wet so impressive is that while its palate is very rich and bitter simultaneously, it’s also amazingly drinkable. The mouthfeel is comfortable and the low carbonation lends to a highly quaffable drinking experience. The 7.5% ABV is right on the money - accounting for a full-flavored palate without the boozy qualities you might get from an imperial IPA. A fantastic beer to pair with sharp cheddar, although it’s good enough to drink by itself.
  Grade: 9/10

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