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.
“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.