Reviewed: Surly Sleek IPA
Product description: Purring with aromatics from hefty Simcoe dry-hopping, Sleek’s grapefruit, pine, and melon flavors race across the tongue. Dynamic hop taste. Zero drag. Sleek. Hops: Warrior, Simcoe. Malt: 2-Row, Acidulated Malt, Oat Malt, Carafoam, Flaked Oats, Simpson’s Golden Naked Oats. 6.5% ABV
Surly Brewing Co – Surly Sleek IPA – 12oz can served in nonic pint – 6.5% ABV
Sampled from a 12oz can, Sleek IPA right off the bat doesn’t look like your typical Surly canned IPA. It’s in a 12oz format instead of 16oz and lacks the eccentric Surly design language to which we are accustomed. That’s because Sleek IPA, along with Kitsch Hoppy Lager (review forthcoming), are two all-new beers for 2018 that made their debut in Surly’s “Hop Pack,” a mixed 12-pack of 12oz cans that includes Furious and Xtra Citra Pale Ale. I love the retro design. However, if it was all alone on store shelves, it may be hard to recognize immediately as a Surly product.
Into the glass, Sleek IPA is clear golden in color with surprisingly poor head retention, especially for a hoppy style. I got a photo as quickly as I could of the beer after pouring, and you can see that within seconds, it has collapsed to about half size and looks more like soap bubbles than beer foam. Fortunately, the beer gets way better from here.
There’s a beautiful, complex nose of green melon, peach, canned pear, cantaloupe, lime, honey, and chamomile. It’s bright and summery – a far cry from the woodsy, piney aroma of Surly Furious. The flavor is similar with a refreshing mix of honeydew melon, lime peel, and sweeter fruit juice like white grape and white peach. In the background is a touch of honey mint, which comes across as slightly medicinal, but it doesn’t stick out in the long run. Sleek IPA ends up clean from start to finish with higher bitterness at a 7/10 and balancing sweetness at a 6/10. Thanks to the oats addition, the palate is smooth and glides across with substantial body. Though it looks like a “lighter” IPA, the body is full and bitterness is robust. It’s a thick, filling beer once you get into it.
Sleek IPA wholly lacks the abrasive bitterness and caramel malt of old-school IPAs. Though the can design is retro, the beer inside is a perfect example of a modern, clear IPA. It’s refreshing, juicy, and clean in a way that New England-style IPAs cannot touch. I love it. Though it needs some fine-tuning with the carbonation, I would take a pint of this over Furious any day of the week.
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