Monday, June 5, 2017

Surly Eleven

Sorry, doubters, I got all that wax off with
a minimum of effort.
Surly Eleven.

On Thursday, May 18, I was part of the final volunteer crew to dip the wax on the bottles of the 11th Anniversary Surly beer that has been cleverly titled Surly Eleven. I did several jobs that day, including unboxing un-waxed bottles, waxing bottles, and boxing waxed bottles. My turn at waxing ended when I dripped a bit on my fingers. Still have a blister, though it no longer hurts. Next time: gloves. (Update: blister's healed. Thanks for asking.)

During the session, I told a friend that this was all my fault. The first anniversary beer ever bottled was Surly Two, the one I did the label art for, and that was also the second bottle from Surly, ever. Darkness 2007 had been wax-dipped. When Omar delivered a bottle to me with a naked cap, I asked, “What, no wax?” He returned to the brewery with the news that they had to be waxed, by my imperial fiat, or course, and the bottles were released with red wax atop. All the anniversary beers have been wax-dipped ever since. My friend said: “So, it’s your fault we get to hang out with friends, help out our favorite brewery, and get a bottle to take home? Boo hoo.”
Don't look for this bottle in stores, it was for
my personal amusement. 

We finished the last of eight palletes of bottles in 3 1/2 hours, and had the option of just taking a random bottle, or giving a special twist to one with our own hands. Well, you know what I did. Some doubted that this excess of wax would prove my un-doing and be impossible to open. Well, ha! I say to they, and I did get it off, with no further bandages to my fingers necessary. Took some effort, a few grunts, some finesse, but it was worth it.

And I waited these 3 days because a request was made from Surly that we not review the beer online until it was released for sale. I’m drinking this Sunday night, and will post it Monday morning, and you’ll get your chance to buy some soon thereafter. Spoiler alert: it’s good.

Edit: And guess what? " I wrote the above two weeks ago. I was under the impression it was being released the following Monday, and I was wrong. So, it was not an act of procrastination, the most inactive kind of act there is, that stopped me from sharing these notes, it was to comply with the wishes of the brewery. But I can wait no longer! It's being released tomorrow, Monday the 5th of June. Publishing this now will certain not keep anyone from going out and buying it tomorrow. Unless they hate good beer.

Thoroughly hazed, mahogany-hue, bright ruby red at the edges, with a generous creamy, lace-leaving head. Looking nice.

In the nose: Right away we now we’re dealing with a Belgian Quad, the special malt is there, that undoubtable yeast. Earthy, sweet, fruity, with a multitude of other associations coming into the fold. Citrus and spice, dark fruit, pepper, Raisins, cherries, cinnamon. Not saying they put those in there, of course, just that it’s coming out of the aroma. So inviting, so far….

So beautiful.
Let’s drink! Mmmm. Wow. I can’t find the ABV anywhere on the bottle (10%, it turns out) , but it hits like a doozy right off the bat, though I can’t imagine anyone calling this “hot.” Well, some will, I’m sure. Alcohol strength is a big part that shows early on, but there is so much flavor here that slowly unfolds that this one has to be tried, at the very least. Smooth entry on the palate, with lush, rich malt flavors climbing on board right away. Slight, ever-so slight tart/funk character, a mass of dark fruit flavors, spices, etc, but never a chore to chase past the tongue and down the throat. Wow.

I mean it, Wow. A Belgian quadruple ale blended with a brett-fermented wheat ale. And it works. It works exactly as it should. It’s as if these brewers actually know what they’re doing. Imagine that.

I’m not surprised that artist Adam Martin chose the 2-faced Roman god Janus for his illustration, as this is the first anniversary beer by the two-headed head brewers Jarrod Johnson and Ben Smith, after the departure of original head brewer Todd Haug. And they are doing his legacy proud. So much flavor, but so well balanced and blended. It’s big, and you’re not guzzling pints, of course, but should be serving this at the end of an evening with a friend, or just enjoy one solo with enough time, like I am. And you should definitely sock a few away for later years, as I most certainly will.

Cheers to 11, Surly!

No comments:

Pipeworks Ninja vs. Unicorn Double India Pale Ale

Pipeworks Ninja vs. Unicorn Double IPA. Pipeworks Brewing, Chicago, IL. 8 % ABV. Lightly hazed, bright golden hued, vast, lush white head...