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Review: Surly Brewing Company’s Winterize is an exquisitely flavorful lager for the season

The Twin Cities-based brewery has struck gold with a new beer once again.
Image by Ethan Lambert
A can of Surly Winterize poured into a pint glass.

The winter lager is among the best beers the brewery has released yet and certainly the best of their lagers currently in production.

Winterize is comparable to Surly’s Hell lager, an already exceptional lager that works because of a more hoppy flavor than your typical domestic lager. However, with Winterize, it is made even greater by the subtly sweet flavors added to it.

Winterize contains 6% alcohol, considerably higher than a typical lager, in terms of ABV it is closer to the ABV of an IPA (Surly’s flagship IPA, Furious, contains 6.7% alcohol, for comparison). However, you can not taste the increased alcohol content at all — Winterize fits comfortably in the flavor profile of a craft lager.

Winterize brings more to the table with the inclusion of its understated caramel flavor, which balances the hoppy flavor that defines many of Surly’s most popular releases, yet neither is overpowering, tasting like a perfect blend of rich flavors.

With the Hell lager, you are getting the hop flavor but without a noticeable amount of sweetness added and that extra bit of flavor is what makes Winterize an improvement.

The taste of alcohol in the beer is buried underneath the sweetness, as it feels tertiary to the sweetness and the hoppiness. The overall bready flavor of the beer is barely noticeable and proves Surly found a surprisingly unique balance in flavors.

The sweet flavors in the beer are not overbearing by any means, they linger on the palate after drinking rather than hitting your tongue as you drink the lager. It has a complex flavor profile that will still be welcoming to light drinkers while still giving a nice flavor profile for craft beer pundits to pick apart.

Winterize achieves the happy medium between something light that any beer drinker can approach while also boasting a rich flavor profile for craft beer lovers.

While Winterize might only be around for a few months in 2023 and into 2024, it is such a remarkable beer (and decidedly, not super winter-themed in terms of taste) that it might just make you wish it was available all year round.

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