Posted 2 years ago | Beer, Reviews

Surly Brewing SurlyFest


Surly Brewing has been bucking the traditional Oktoberfest release for ten years now. The brewery’s SurlyFest may still present a decent malt backbone, but it’s the addition of rye and a healthy dry-hopping that has turned the typical seasonal on its ear. Instead of rich flavors that one would expect in your stein, this particular brew presents a more refreshing and lively character that would be just as tasty in the Summer heat as it would trying to slip into your lederhosen.

The combination of malted rye, rye caramel malt, and unmalted flaked rye gives SurlyFest a distinct peppery/spicy character, as well as a rustic, overall trait. If that’s not enough for you to realize this beer is different, a healthy amount of Pacific Northwest-grown Sterling hops (both in the kettle and dry-hopped) gives the brew an additional piney, citrusy flavor that should do the trick. The brew certainly isn’t what I would call “hoppy,” but that dry-hopping gives SurlyFest a bit of an IPL-like character — as well as an interest-piquing bite — as everything is carried to a long lasting finish on the crisp mouthfeel.

I can be a bit of a curmudgeon at times and really just want a traditional brew at the proper time of year. That said, I can fully enjoy a release like SurlyFest that takes a decent departure from tradition, packing enough change in its coppery depths to stand out from the crowd. The peppery rye, personally, would have been enough for me to keep things different and the additional dry-hopping almost takes that brew into a completely different realm. I could go for a couple of steins of this refreshing brew.

This is a review of a promotional sample.


SurlyFest pours a hazy, rusty amber in color with a small cap of beige foam. The head displays decent staying power throughout the life of the beer.

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