Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Surly - Furious Review

Brewery: Surly (MN)
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.2%
Grade: A- 

As I've mentioned before, and will likely mention again, I recently spent three weeks traveling to nearly a dozen new states — first on vacation, then on a business trip. I encountered a lot of new breweries and beer that isn't available near my home. Some of these were huge breweries like New Belgium, who just happen to not distribute in New York, as well as much smaller breweries like Surly, who are so popular and growing so fast that they recently had to pull back from every market but the Twin Cities metropolitan area. I knew I would be flying out of Minneapolis, so I had had some faint hope that I might stumble across Surly beer along the way, though chances didn't look good. My day in Minneapolis was going to be spent primarily in an airport, and the night before, I was staying just outside of Fargo, North Dakota.

With a few hours to kill in Fargo, I Googled. Due to my, uh, close relationship with beer, one of the first things I do when travelling to a new area is search out the best beer distributor there. To my surprise and relief (I knew I was going to be pretty bored that night) there were actually a few within walking distance of my hotel. I turned to and started reading reviews, and... Willickers! Against all odds, it seemed that I was lodging with a half-mile walk of the only beer distributor in 100 miles that carried Surly products. (Bridgeview Liquor in Moorhead. Go there. Great place.) Talk about good luck. I took a walk that night, in the crisp Dakotan air, with a shit-eating grin on my face and a spring in my step.

Surly Furious is maybe the best possible variation on the maltier American IPA style — in fact, it appears maltier than I would normally be comfortable with, but it's done so well that I don't even care. The malts are smooth and gentle, not the rich, sweet sort that can ruin an IPA for me. The mouthfeel is on the thin side, which is good here, propped up by those complex malt flavors. The hops dominate throughout, especially on the backend. As for those flavors, this one is a nice mix of hop-types, hitting all the notes: fruity, piney, citrusy, earthy. Surly uses an absolutely stupid amount of hops for their dry-hopping, so it makes sense that this would come across as an all-encompassing hop-blend. When I enjoyed a few cans the night I bought it, the aroma was out of control, like a hop-candle. Now, more than a month later, it's already subdued quite a lot, though still pleasant. 

For a fruity, creamy, smooth example of an IPA with a respectable malt backbone, this is absolutely one of the best. It's not unique or groundbreaking, just very good. If you're ever in the Minneapolis area, this is definitely one you should look for.

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