I like IPAs with appropriate names and Surly Abrasive is a great example
of why. Not quite a textbook example of either a West Coast or East
Coast double IPA, but a big beer that’s relentless in its bitterness,
but still manages to be easy drinking and satisfying.
Appearance: Hazy, translucent gold. Forms a large, ivory, frothy head which retains and laces excellently.
Smell: Light, clean, tropical fruit notes at first, but upon closer
inspection there’s a strong earthy/herbal scent of resin and pine.
Taste: If you want hops you definitely get them with Surly Abrasive.
They’re here from the moment it hits your tongue until long after the
swig is completed. Though the aroma is clean and fruity, the actual
flavor is dank and resinous. Intense bitterness envelopes the palate
with an almost pine-sap like flavor and character. There’s definitely
orange citrus in the palate here as well, but it’s closer to juice
concentrate or syrup than any kind of light, crisp, refreshing taste.
What’s interesting is that it’s never really all that sweet and
certainly not cloying. I get some subtle garlic or dry spice flavors on
the backend, almost a bit of "locker room" funky taste as well which
imparts a hint of candy tartness.
It’s a delicious tasting beer for sure, but not quite something I’d
award my highest grade to because it’s so unrelenting in its delivery
and the flavors that are here, though great, could probably be even
better. If I could get this on a regular basis I would, though.
Drinkability: While Surly Abrasive may be one of the overtly bitter
beers I’ve ever had, what really makes it memorable is its easy
drinkability. The mouthfeel is fairly soft, but lively, with a smooth
texture and accompanying finish. There’s no challenge to get this beer
down at all despite the fact it’s pretty hefty at 9% ABV. Still, the
alcohol is well masked as I don’t smell or taste it at all. The hops do
make it rather astringent, so there is noticeable drying of the tongue.
This would be a fantastic beer to pair with a spicy meal, though.