Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Surly Hell (2015 original review)

   AROMA 5/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 13/20
Chad9976 (1300) - Albany, New York, USA - MAR 10, 2015
Surly is one of those breweries I always associate with high quality across the board. Since I can’t get their stuff regularly here in NY, every beer of theirs I’ve tried has been really good. Therefore, it comes as a shock to me that Surly Hell, is rather mediocre and average. It tastes eerily like a lot of a generic pale lager; mild-tasting with a slight tang on the finish (almost as if it were old beer, but the can is quite fresh). I don’t know what happened with this one, but I’m not impressed.

I poured a 16oz can into a lager glass. It was canned on 1/22/15 and was sent to me by Matthew L. (thanks yet again!).

Appearance: Clear shade of clear gold with consistent carbonation visible. Pours to a small, white, soapy head which mostly evaporates and leaves no lacing.

Smell: Just a generic lager aroma. Nothing off-putting at least.

Taste: I’m not sure if this beer should be considered a Munich Helles Lager or a Zwickel (according the description), but either way it’s not especially German in character. It’s much closer to American pale lager with a mild, slightly grainy base flavor. I got no distinctive flavors as far as malts or hops, which is a little odd since it’s brewed with American rather than German hops. On the backend there’s a slight tang or metallic character. Cheap adjunct brews tend to have this as well, only much stronger. What’s here is more than tolerable; it’s not off-putting, but I’m struggling trying to find a quality about it I genuinely enjoy.

Drinkability: “Hell” is the German word for “light” (in color), but in the case of Surly Hell it would probably refer to the flavor and body. Light but not paper thin; crisp but not overly spastic. It’s somewhat refreshing while in the mouth and leaves a clean aftertaste. At 4.5% it’s indeed sessionable, but I’d want more flavor to do that. 
Grade: 5/10

NOTE: See my 2018 re-review to BJCP specs here: http://www.chadzbeerreviews.com/2018/03/surly-hell-2018-re-review-to-bjcp-specs.html


  1. Hell is lagered for less than two weeks. Not a true lager or Munich Helles.