Sweet ending to a long wait

It took quite a bit to find Surly 2 on tap. My favorite place said they had it and would put it on tap after they ran out of Bender. So I drank a lot of Bender. Finally, on Saturday after noon I walked in and they answered yes to my repetitive query. I had even tried to go to other locations and was denied a taste. I was getting somewhat worried about the taste due to comments that had been made. I avoid reading the other reviews until I finish mine so I have no bias. On to the review – I actually liked it. It did taste very fruity and had a cough syrup reminiscence but I could drink one at a sitting. There is no way I would have a second at the same sitting. Almost like finishing a dinner with port. In fact, I think that is the way I will use it next time. I know there will be a next time since Washington Square finally put it on tap and it will take longer to go through that keg than they did with the Bender. Another good thing was the fact that there is not a beer aftertaste.

2 much for me!

Sorry Surly, but not a fan. Most people that I have talked to about this seem to either love or hate this one.  I was sadly one of the haters.  I was really excited to try a cranberry beer and loved the idea of a local bog, but…alas….I will stay clear of this cranberry beer in my future.  Not sure how to even describe my thought process when sipping this bev: too tart, too strong, and too much for me.

What the heck!

I’ve barely had homebrew mistakes that tasted worse than this. Didn’t like the fruit at all (although I have no problem with fruit beers and I really enjoy a lot of Lambics) and the taste was overall confusing. Not in a good way, more in a, “what is all this shit in this?” kind of way. The aftertaste made me want to rinse my mouth out. You could see me with a bitter squint on my face saying “tschk tschk” with my tongue. We found this at the Blue Nile — good service, but $7 for a glass of this? Seriously? Decided to go to the Happy Gnome to try it again just in case I was nuts. They were sold out. Went to the Muddy Pig and it wasn’t on yet. Then before we left, waitress said they just tapped it. So we ordered one. Then (whom I believe to be Muddy Pig owner) Mark Van Wie came to us and told us pretty sternly that we can’t have it until “Wednesday at 6.” Our waitress followed later to apologize. Why wait? This beer sucks. 

Soooo good

Ok I tried this at Winterfest last weekend. It was good, but I thought I would probably pass on it the next time around. Then my wife and I had dinner at Cafe 28 tonight (owned by Linda Haug, wife of Surly head brewer Todd), and I thought, well I better give it a second shot, when I hadn’t had 20 beers already.

And I’m so glad I did. It had some of the same hop characteristics as Darkness, of course reduced by the cranberries and dark malts. Some have said its a one-and-your-done beer, but I could easily have had two or three. This is one of my favorite Surly beers. I can’t wait to pick up one of the bottles and throw it in my basement for a year or two.

A sipper…

Deep and dark in appearance with some reddish hues. Deep mocha-colored head that stuck around for a bit. I’m smelling some rich dark and toasty malts as well as cranberries.  The taste is a mix of dark roasty, toasty malts and a huge, tart cranberry presence. I’m actually detecting some hops here too. I’m enjoying this beer, though I will admit that I’m a big fan of cranberries.

A tasty offering from Surly – probably not my favorite, but still tasty.

Two of 2 is one too many

I tried Surly 2 in small sample size at Winterfest last friday towards the end of the night. I was getting pretty toasted so the different beers were beginning to merge into one glorious happy generic beer. Then Surly 2 came through and it was like someone stabbed a straw through my throat and began pouring cranberry-flavored cough syrup in. I quickly asked for a tea-bagged furious.

Then on Monday Rebekah and I met up with Erin, Ben, and Josh at the Blue Nile for an official sampling. This time I enjoyed it. I think partly because I didn’t have a bunch of other beers fresh on my tongue, but also because I was able to get past the initial shock of flavor. I ended up finishing Erin’s as well, and I’d say two of 2 is 1 too many.

sour patch kids?

I feel like a big negative nancy because I’ve started brew52 with mostly bad reviews of beers I don’t like, I think things will turn around when we exit winter beer season soon.

This is another one of those negative reviews, and even though it’s Surly, I can’t give the beer good marks. This beer is awful. On the way down it makes the back of your jaw tingle like sour patch kid, not something I’m looking for in a beer.

We tried this at the Blue Nile and thank god Erin and I only shared one, rather than each getting our own. The Rush River Unforgiven Amber Ale was excellent though 🙂


A is for Al, who served me Surly Two at Blue Nile this evening. A pleasant fellow, to be sure.

B is for Better, which Two got as it warmed. It’s also for Body, of which Two has plenty. Oh, and Balance, which it has, too.

C is for Cranberry, which was definitely present, but not overpowering.

D is for Dessert, which is when I’d like to have another sometime.

E is for Evil, which is what I thought of the first sip. I had just brushed my teeth.

F is for Finish- tart and still roasty. Favorable.

G is for Good God, when will this end?

N is for Now.

Think “dessert beer”… enjoy in patient moderation.

“Surly, two years old/ not ev’ryone’s cup of tea / as this beer will prove.” Haiku #4, you’re welcome. I had the first taste of this when I tapped it on the 23rd of January, (at the Blue Nile) and I sipped it and raised my glass and smiled. The bar was surrounded by throngs of Surly fans, and I didn’t want to spoil their enthusiasm. It didn’t win me over with the first slip down my lips, unlike Surly Furious or Darkness.

(I’ve heard this from other folks since then, that the first sip is not the best.) By night’s end, though, when I got a chance to relax and take my time, I was won over. Deep black, with crimson tinges, cocoa-tan head, with purple tints. Fruity nose, matched with roasted malts. Lightly sweet, with a side order of tart.Taste: there’s the tannins. I heard Todd Haug talk about why cranberries have that tannin feel we know from red wine, but I forgot most of what he said. Damn. Something in the bogs, I guess. There’s a flash of sweet, met with a smack of tart, a fun little jitterbug on the palate, followed by some black and chocolate malt flavors. A very unusual brew, closest I’ve encountered has been Bell’s Cherry Stout…never heard of one done with cranberries. It’s probably been done, heck, just about everything’s been done with fruit and beer by now, but I haven’t had it, yet. More I drink, more I like, not too sweet, not too dark, not too rich, not too tart…an intriguing blend, very fresh and lively, a labor of love to commemorate two fun years of great beer. I can certainly see how opinions here will divide on this one, and the extreme flavors, and high alcohol will surely temper enthusiasm. It’s not a session brew, and maybe would be best enjoyed as a dessert brew. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with “one and you’re done”…although I could go for another. But, just one more. So, don’t knock this for what it’s not. You can only enjoy it for what it is.

In the minority?

Well, by the looks of the reviews so far I might be in the minority on this beer. My wife and I stopped in at the Happy Gnome for lunch and had a couple of glasses.  When I was reading about the beer beforehand I had been thinking “cranberries? That sounds awful.”  But I couldn’t have been more wrong, this is an outstanding beer!! Because of the tartness it reminded me of something from Belgium.  Not overly sweet, very, very good!!

Over the Edge

To me Surly is a brewery that prides itself on pushing the limits of brewing, trying new things.  Unfortunately, on the quest of greatness, sometimes we stumble, pick ourselves up again, brush off the dirt and move on.  This beer is one that Surly tripped over and needs to brush off and move on.  Oh yeah don’t forget to burn the recipe.

 The initial taste of this beer was not too bad, tart cranberries, and a hint of chocolate almost a nice crispness to it, then once you get your first drink down, a nasty tart and bitter aftertaste.  Not a hoppy bitter but that “mom can I try one of the cranberries”  before she cooks them on Thanksgiving day bitter.   After around 5 drinks I was struggling to get this beer down, with 3/4 of the beer left I downed my beer in 2 to 3 big drinks so I didn’t have to suffer the aftertaste anymore.  I have this bad habit of not being able to throw away beer once it is served to me and I want to give each beer a fair shake and at least drink one entire beer to form my conclusions. 

 If you can’t find this beer on tap, don’t worry you are not missing out.  I rated this beer a one just because Surly was gutsy enough to put this on the market.

Kool-Aid Man

Surly always seems to take their beers to the farthest extreme possible. It gives me a chance to try a variety of tastes that I wouldn’t normally look for. Surly Two was too fruity and overpowering for my taste, I didn’t even bother drinking a full beer. Erin was nice enough to let me try hers.

The initial taste reminded me of the old kool-aid commercials when the kool-aid man would bust through the wall saying, “Oh Yeah!” Except the wall in this case is my mouth and the kool-aid man is full of cranberry beer. You get the picture right?

Cool-Aid Man

Two For Ones?

On tap at Stub and Herb’s.  I got mine served to me in a tulip glass.  The color was a nice dark brown almost black body with thin off-white head that kinda reminded me of the Darkness. Not a real strong foretaste but the mid and after was of heavy cranberry flavors.   It really kinda reminded of mixing a New Glarus Belgian Red with something like the Darkness.

I’m guessing this one will be another divided beer as I bet there will be those who are not into a sweeter tasting beer.  I really enjoy New Glarus Belgian Red and Raspberry Tart so this was a fun and tasty beer for me.

Surly Two

I had the Surly Two at the January 23rd tapping at the Blue Nile and enjoyed every sip of the first one. It was made with loads of cranberries so that was the dominant smell. Not a lot of hops aroma, but there rarely is in a fruit beer like this. I ordered a second one but I wish I wouldn’t have. Just one was perfect, and would have gone great with the right food (pork), but a second glass was just too much.