Review of Surly Smoke (2012)

Surly Smoke 2012 in the Glass

Poured into a goblet, the dark lager is black as night with a lovely, thick tan head.

This evening, I had the opportunity to drink an entire 22oz bottle of Surly Smoke (2012 vintage).  I’ve had “Smoke” on a few occasions, before, always directly from Surly at various beer tastings; it has always been delicious at each of these events.

It is almost as good in the bottle.

As a dark lager, it’s aromas are understandably dominated by roasty notes, and—true to its name—a subtle, smoky something.  In the glass, there are hints of vanilla—probably from the oak aging—and dark fruit flavors appear as the beer warms.

Surly Smoke 2012

The wax seal is clearly imprinted with the vintage.

And yet, the smokiness overpowers much of the complexity that I would expect to be present from a beer this “big” (at 8.2% ABV).  The smoke flavor taste appears more dominant than my previous experiences, and yet it’s still restrained and pleasant.  The level of smokiness is not on par with a Rauchbier, for whatever that’s worth.

At about $15 a bottle, it’s borderline too expensive to recommend a second purchase.  Perhaps the 2011 vintage—at two years of age—would be a better bet?

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