Surly Brewing Abrasive Ale

By: Daniel Marcoux


We’ve all done it, and we’re not proud of it.  Whether it’s a book, a person, or movie, we all have come to a conclusion on it without actually knowing a single thing about it.  Unfortunately, that’s what happened with me and this brew, Abrasive Ale.  When I hear the word “abrasive,” I immediately think of sand paper, that annoying person who hangs out in your group nobody likes, and Gordon Ramsey.  Naturally, when that term is applied to a beer, I’m thinking it’s going to be too malty, too alcoholy, and too painful to finish.  I’m hoping that the good people of Surly Brewing Company, from the hypothermic state of Minnesota, disprove my initial thoughts of this brew.  Only one way to find out, let’s do the numbers…

Surly_Abrasive_AleFirst Impression:  Unlike Heady Topper, I like how this beer explicitly says, “Beer for a glass, from a can.”  Apparently, Surly doesn’t need to rely on the can to impart taste on its beer…

Pour:  As I cracked this can open, Surly is already scoring points.  The brew poured a perfect hazy golden color with a pretty awesome head for a beer this big.  I like the unfiltered look of this “Ale” (it’s really an IPA), and the smell I’m getting off of it while pouring is majestic… mangoes, peaches, sweet citrus… oh my dear God.  This smells like Hawaii.

Taste:  First sip, I get a lot of floral hops up front, then the beer transitions into those fruity notes that I got from the smell.  A lot of tropical tastes going on in here, it’s like a fruit salad in my mouth.  Sweet oranges, mango, passion fruit are the most recognizable tastes for me.  The hop presence is there all the way; if I had to guess I’d think citra, centennial, and warrior hops would be the ones giving off the big fruit flavor of this beer.  The malt is there at the end, balancing out the bitterness with a little sweetness.  The carbonation of this beer is just a touch under-carbonated for my liking, especially when it comes to fruity IPAs, but I really don’t think it detracts from how good this beer is.  It’s incredibly easy to drink, I can see myself sippin’ on a four pack of these at the beach, after a lawn mow, or if the sun happens to rise on any given day.  This beer is awesome.

What’s really incredible about this brew is the ABV: 9%!  As far as double IPAs go, this comes in at a percent better than Heady Topper and tastes as good, if not better… actually, probably better.  It’s so easy to drink and has amazing flavor.  I don’t know how the people at Surly did it, but this beer is a perfect IPA for those who love a big hop punch, without a heavy malt body… anything but abrasive.  Pair that with the tropical taste you can only get out of a trip to a volcanic island, and you have a winner.

Final Impression:  Abrasive so good for a double IPA and perfect for any occasion.  I’m afraid that after drinking this, every other thing I put into my mouth will be as disappointing as Caddy Shack II.  What ever you do, don’t judge this book by its cover.

Grade: A+

ABV: 9%

IBU: “120ish” (per Surly’s website)

Surly Brewing Abrasive Ale