Blue Collar Brew Review – Surly Abrasive Ale

surlybrewing-logoI decided to take a leisurely jaunt to Plainfield and visit Binny’s beer joint. Traffic seemed to comprised of about 85% females all with different and erratic driving habits. There was however, one or two fist waving guys in a hurry for some reason and a gramma and grampa in their 15-year-old Lincoln out for a ride “in the country” doing 38mph with nothing but their heads visible from the side. I just took my time because I was on a beer run and I didn’t want anything to spoil my fun for later.

I traipsed through the aisles for some minutes looking for a beer called Latitude Adjustment from Upland Brewing. No luck. And I’ve learned that Oskar Blues Death By Coconut won’t be out for a few weeks yet. I was in limbo again with nothing on my mind and not really in the mood for anything.

abr-fourThen I spotted it. On top of a few cases was a black and gold can and a name I remembered from one of my own reviews. Surly Abrasive. It stopped me in my tracks. I remembered the video I included in the recent Heady Topper review. It was a comparison of Heady Topper and Surly Abrasive by Chris Quinn of the Beer Temple in Chicago. Chris knows his shit when it comes to beer. That pushed me over the edge. Here’s a link to that video.

I grabbed a nice tripel for Sunday to accompany Saturday’s Abrasive and burned a nice hole in my wallet at the register. I now had the country’s other choice for the best double IPA in a can. I could hardly wait.

I knew I was in a good place and that the only surprise down the road would be the taste of this highly acclaimed beer called Abrasive.

Too much yakkin’ and not enough drinkin’. Let’s go.

abr-foamI could smell the hops as soon as I popped the can open. The beer poured with a really nice golden orange color. The liquid was crystal clear and the carbonation was rather vigorous. The foam rose up about an inch and looked to be loosely knit like a white gardening styrofoam piece. The aroma was incredible. The beer had that signature hop aroma that was had in the Heady Topper and The Crusher in weeks past. Tonight’s going to be another good night.

The first sip was absolutely amazing. A nice big mouthfeel and loads of fruity hop flavors at the swallow. Grapefruit, mango, orange, really nice. There was a wonderful balance between the hops and malts, the sign of a well crafted beer.

The hop flavors of themselves were a bit different though. This time I tasted more of the grapefruit peel than the fruit itself. The other fruit flavors floated on top of that. This could very well be a collusion between Alesmith, Bell’s, and Surly. Actually it’s more like a set of identical triplets, where they all look generally the same, but there are small differences and nuances between the three. Or, it could be pure coincidence.

Abrasive is packaged in four 16-ounce cans. This is the perfect size and grouping, based on the ABV. The price reflects the quality and perhaps the amount of hops and recipe knowhow that went into brewing the enormous taste of the beer.

Surly Abrasive is one of those sandbagging beers that will blow your mind by its initial taste and then cuddle and comfort your taste buds in a fat Lay-Z-boy until you finally fall asleep. The taste will fool you. Take it slow with the sips. The taste will lull you into a sense of bliss and comfort. Otherwise, you’ll be in trouble and out of beer. Surly Abrasive ranks at the top as does Surly Darkness. That’s gotta tell you something right there about the Surly Brewing.


We can now add Surly Abrasive to the list of outstanding world-class Imperial IPAs. Hopslam, Heady Topper, The Crusher should make room for Abrasive. Arctic Panzer Wolf is there, but with a crisper, sharper, cleaner taste. The aforementioned beers are those tropical fruit, sweet hop, adult juicebox beers. And we love every one of them.

I found a four-pack of Surly Abrasive at Binny’s in north central Illinois. it’s out now. Surely you would be able find some near you. If not locate an old friend who could send you some. If you get to drink an Abrasive, you will be drinking the DNA of all of those other beers as well. Can’t get a hold of Heady Topper? Try an Abrasive. The tastes are seemingly interchangeable.

Thanks again to John in New England for being the root cause of another tasty Saturday night.

abrasive-labelThe SixPackTech summary for Surly Abrasive Ale:

Style: Double/Imperial IPA
Taste: Over the top tropical fruit hops. Over the top goodness.
Smoothness: Easy trip from start to finish.
Drinkability: It’s scary how drinkable this beer is.
Bang for the buck: You get what you pay for. Big time.
Amount paid: $17.99 per four-pack of 16-ounce cans.
Get it again? Absolutely!
ABV: 9%
Brewer’s website
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: (The wife has kindly taken a pass tonight. She caught a cold and turned into sneeze and snotgun.)

RateBeer rates.

If you’re into a bit of British humor and beer, Here’s a review by that one guy, what’s ‘is name. [7:43]



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