Michael: Cold calling is a necessary evil. I’ve been doing it for a few months, now, and despite a bit of a tenure, was shocked off the phone today. I won’t bore you with the details, but needless to say a pint of something by Surly, specifically their Abrasive Ale, seemed like an all-too-fitting end to my workday.
I have truly enjoyed all the Surly beers I’ve had. From the highly sought after Darkness, to a surprisingly enjoyed brown ale in their Bender to the beautiful pop of hops in Furious, I’ve been constantly impressed. For a four pack, these beauts ran me $15, so I was pretty expectant of another fine selection.
The amazing and overwhelming impression comes from the nose. As I type, the beer sits 18 inches from my snout, emitting enough hops to make my head spin. Its more basic in color than in taste, a pretty normal, disguisingly soft orange with a dwindling off-white head. The taste is where it became abrasive. It was like scratching an itch with a bit of sandpaper or killing an ant with a sledge hammer. But it was, well, good. There was a stinging, sour core to each gulp, with bookends of bitter, citrusy hops. While this is definitely not much of a sessionable selection and probably one I can only handle every once and a while, it was an enjoyably unique brew. Grade: B+
John: The background for this beer photo is sandpaper! Why? Because Abrasive comes from the sight of the old abrasive factory that houses the current brewery of Surly. This is a local brewery and a good one so I feel behind in reviewing this great beer. I’m embarrassed to say a beer that I’ve hand carried to Chicago to get to beer drinkers in that city but failed till now to drink it myself. Surly hit the Twin Cities with a resounding “We are here” and ever since has become a Twin Cities favorite. This beer pours a nice reddish, amber with a great head that stays. Hops jump out of the can on the way to your nose. You’d expect that from a Double IPA but this is pronounced. After the initial hops the malts kick in to provide a very well balanced beer. Hops, caramel and a solid malt backing is what sets this apart from other IPAs I like. The bitterness is just right and hangs with you for a while. The mouthfeel is rich, oily and memorable. Medium to thick. A bit of carbonation doesn’t spoil a thing. I’d put this DIPA up against Pliny the Elder, Southern Tier 2XIPA and not far behind Hopslam. Grade: A
Overall Grade: A-