Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews


Surly Brewing Co.
Brooklyn Center, MN

Style: India Pale Ale (IPA)
ABV: 6.2%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

Finally, a beer for metal fans.

Yes, this IPA comes in not just a can, but a 16-ounce silo. But that’s not what I meant by metal. I’m talking death metal, an extreme, brutal form of rock music that makes most normal people’s ears bleed. Fans of Disneyland, Harry Potter, and all that other kiddy crap, well, their heads just fucking explode. It is aggressive, uncompromising, and contemptuously oblivious to mainstream popularity. So once I saw Surly head brewer Todd Haug pictured in a profile in Beer Advocate magazine wearing a Burn The Priest t-shirt—the original name of death metal thrash masters Lamb of God—I knew I was going to get along with this brewery famously.

So I pop the top of a can of Furious and I actually get a little shock. Not from electricity or anything like that, but from the fact that I instantly smell hops. When was the last time you opened a can of beer and smelled hops? I’d say, um, never. But there it is, a shot of citrus that just screams “Cascade!”

The pour is blood-red. Dark as Hell for an IPA. Sitting on top is a gargantuan mass of off-white, concrete-thick foam. While I wait for it to settle, I sniff. All grapefruit and pine needles. What is that, Simcoe and Cascade? Whatever it is, I like.

The first thing I notice on the sip is a giant-ass body. The mouth-feel is as heavy as molten lead, which is a bit of a rarity these days in IPAs. But that’s just the overture. Immediately following is the beer’s main act: a sustained, aggressive assault of hop bitterness from beginning to end. The side of the can claims 99 IBUs, and I believe it. And we’re not talking subtle, citrusy hop flavors, but a throat-gashing, crawl-through-knives mix of hops that has to include a healthy dose of Columbus or Warrior, alpha monsters that are the diametrical opposite of “subtle.”

After a few sips—and once my taste spuds are ready to follow the reaper from the continual onslaught of bitterness—I notice a strong current of maltiness in the background, one that would be more than prominent if not for this glorious nightmare of hops, which explains where that big body comes from. The packaging talks that maltiness up as “caramel-toffee,” but to be honest I can’t pinpoint any flavors beneath the hops.

So, then, is this beer over-hopped? That would be an unapologetic “fuck yeah.” In fact, if you are not a hophead, this beer may very well kill you. Even if you’re into hops, if you’re not in a hoppy mood when you drink this, there’s a good chance you’ll decide you don’t like it. But that is what the metalheads at Surly are going for: an unrelenting, uncompromising pure American craft brew. So if you’re not up to the challenge, please don’t drink this beer. I really don’t want to see forum posts across the internet whining about how “I don’t see why anyone likes this beer, all I taste is hops!” But if you are ready for a bit of brutality, grab a four-pack of Furious silos and walk with me in Hell …

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on July 24, 2007.
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