Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Whale A Week: Surly Nein

Earlier this year for A Whale A Week I did a series on the Surly Anniversary beers starting with Surly Three.  I know, I know, I'm a Surly Fanboy...but hey they're my local brewery putting our sought-after beers that I can actually find!

A quick recap of what came before:  The Surly Anniversary beers have been quite a mixed bag over the years, but I appreciate the brewers stretching their brewing chops to try new things.  One was a Quad/Doppelbock concoction that I never got to try.  I assume it was good.  Two was a cranberry milk stout that I first tried at a charity benefit--very tasty and tart.  That one made it to a small bottling run, but I've never actually seen one in person.  Three was a braggot made with a huge amount of honey and I reviewed it HERE.  Four was the first of these that I loved from the get-go and is reviewed HERE.  Five was their first sour beer and is reviewed HERE.  Syx was a 15% multi-wood aged monster, and is HERE Seviin was a Belgian strong ale finished off with brett and was reviewed HERE.  Eight was a strong oat wine aged in High West Rye Whiskey barrels and is reviewed HERE.  And now...

Surly Nein

I did get to try a preview sample of Nein at All Pints North this year but decided to wait on this post until I had a bottle in my hands.  Nein is a 10% ABV monster Hefeweizen brewed with oak smoked malt, fermented with German Hefe yeast, and aged in charred oak barrels.  Apparently the idea for the beer came after a brewer's trip to Bamberg Germany (take me next time!), the home of smoked beers.  The 750 ML bottle is dipped in yellow wax and has the most intricate bottle art of a Surly beer yet.  The art is done by Erica Williams--a wonderful local Minneapolis artist who also did the Darkness 2014 bottle.  Check out her website HERE for some other awesome organic and ominous art!  Nein beer just came out this month so reviews are still trickling in. Currently it has a score of 87 on Beer Advocate and 97 on RateBeer, but both have under 20 reviews so far.

For this tasting I had over fellow homebrewer and neighbor Steven Mathistad on the spur of the moment.  He's always willing to come over on short notice for beer!  Also, my wife Sarajo and our cat Freya helped out.

Freya scopes out the competition

Eric: Strong smoked malt--oak or hickory aroma.  Subtle bacon on the back of the tongue.  Some herbal and almost fruity esters as swirled and as it warms up.  Hint of Band-aid phenol.  Some alcohol present for sure.  Sweetness.  Some tannin/oak character as well. Hefe yeast character not as strong as expected.
Steven: Slight smoky aroma.  Some roastiness.  Not as much here as I expected to find.

Eric: Deep ruby to amber-brown color.  Clear at edge of glass but difficult to see all the way through this.  Almost no head on mine when poured and dissipated quickly to nothing.
Steven: Dark brown color.  Virtually no head.

Eric: The oak is strong in this one!  Slight malty sweetness at first, but quickly fades to dry middle.  As it warms up I get a hammy flavor mixed with banana...somewhat strange.  Strong smoke and firm bitterness and tannin presence.  Alcohol warming for sure.  Body is medium.  The end is very dry--clean and crisp rather than astringent.  Not sure if bitterness is from hops or from oak and smoke, but I do get a bit of citrus as it warms more.
Steven: Bitter smoky malt flavor.  Not quite a fruity flavor...but close.

Eric: Not bad.  Not as complex as I expected from such an unusual combination of ingredients.  I think the intensity of the smoke phenols really overwhelms the German hefe yeast character.  Still a good beer that I'd recommend trying.  I like Surly Smoke much better.  3.75
Steven: Not very complex (lacking in different flavors).  Dry with an even dryer finish.  Not getting much "Hefe" character.  3.75
Sarajo: This made me think of honey baked ham.  3.75

Overall Score: 3.75

Photo info:  Not very complex this week.  Taken on my iPhone, Freya was very interested in her new big cat bartop rival!

No comments: