Monday, July 30, 2012

Surly SŸX

When I started this blog about a month and a half ago, I said I would also talk about craft beer.  Up until now, I've been fairly quiet on the subject.  Today, that will change.

Surly SŸX is Surly Brewing Co.'s sixth anniversary beer.  The description from the label reads:
Woah. Who would have thought? Another great year flew by, bringing us to the big SŸX. What better way to celebrate than to challenge ourselves with unfamiliar techniques and materials? Utilizing six wood species in a 'Honey Comb' shape for aging this year's anniversary beer. SŸX comes in at Alc. 15% by Vol. and is one to be savored with it's pale gold color, dry toffee and fruit character and warming afterglow finish.
Todd Haug
Last Monday morning, at about 10:30am, The Four Firkins announced the arrival of Surly SŸX at their store.  I got there at around 3:30pm, and they had already been sold out for two hours.  I then contacted Surdyk's, and they informed me they wouldn't be getting their delivery until Wednesday.  I took my chances and just showed up at about 2:30pm, but didn't find a single bottle in my mad dash through the store.  On my way out, I asked an employee, and they confided in me that the beer had been tucked into an odd, out of the way corner, in an attempt to waylay the anticipated horde of people that would be seeking out the elusive beer.

I was led back to the location of the corner where the beer had been hidden and was told "there is no limit on the number you may purchase".  I was tempted to purchase an entire case, but at $20 a bottle, I restrained myself to purchasing only four bottles.  They were still cold, so despite the heat outside, they arrived at my destination at well below 70۫f.

I managed to keep myself from immediately opening a bottle, and waited until Friday, when my wife and I would have time to actually take our time with the beer and savor it properly.

After a nice, relaxing dinner, we came home and opened the bottle.  I was immediately hit by the strong, flowery smell of the hops.  I poured the beer into two glasses.  The beer was far too cold to begin with, and the only odor was a very flowery hop character.  The flavor was sweet, almost on the edge of cloying, but the strong hop flavor kept it just bitter enough to keep from being too sweet.

There was definitely a strong alcohol flavor to it, and the beer was too strong in general to drink quickly.  This was actually quite beneficial, because we were able to experience the way the flavor changed over about three hours.

As the beer warmed, the sweet flavor became more complex, and the alcohol flavor faded away.  The flowery hops were present throughout the entire session, but helped to compliment the malty flavor well as the beer grew closer to room temperature.  Eventually, the beer actually took on a bit of a sour characteristic, which I didn't expect, but wasn't entirely unpleasant.  

Beth, my wife, compared it to a barley wine.  Overall, I didn't get much of the wood character that I was expecting, but I really did enjoy drinking the beer.  I think I might enjoy the beer a bit more in cooler weather, and plan to cellar the remaining three bottles to see how the beer changes over time.

I love to see breweries trying new things with their beer, and while I wouldn't rank this beer in my top 10 all time favorites, I definitely think it's a great beer, and recommend trying it if you can get your hands on a bottle.

Not entirely certain what I'm going to write about next week, but I hope you'll join me to find out where I go next.

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