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Chicagoist's "Beer of the Week": Surly "Smoke" Baltic Porter

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jan 23, 2008 6:57PM

2008_01_botw4.jpgWe chronicled our Saturday night earlier this week, and we need remind no one that it was colder than a witch's tit in a brass bra all day long.

We arrived at Sheffield's with about twenty minutes to spare, and decided that a hearty beer was needed to both whet the appetite and warm the bones. We'd been dying to try out some selections from Minnesota's Surly Brewing for a while. The folks at Sheffield's had a porter on draft, so we placed the order.

Talk about jumping off the goddamn deep end. What we wound up getting was "Smoke," a Baltic-style porter that was a Spinal Tap-esque none more black in color. Calling it "smoke" was an understatement. Smoked malt dominated the flavor profile, from the nose to the finish. We picked up major notes of coffee, dark chocolate, and deep fruits like black cherry on the palate. Yeasty esters and a slight alcohol tinge were also prominent on the nose. The mouthfeel of this beer was silky, almost like a stout rather than a porter. "Smoke" wound up being the beginning of a night that ended with us somehow getting out of the cab and giving the driver a few bucks extra for having to be out hustling fares on the ice planet Hoth.

Surly beers have limited availability in the area. Besides Sheffield's, you can find them at Map Room, Hopleaf, Kuma's Corner, Small Bar on Division, Clark Street Ale House and the Local Option. They're worth a try, and at $6.00 for a goblet at Sheffield's, Surly "Smoke" Baltic Porter, Chicagoist's "Beer of the Week," is a veritable steal.