Known for big beers that defy and challenge style profiles, Surly’s #Merica! is one of the brewery’s more direct beers: a pre-Prohibition lager brewed for hot days with hot dogs. Pre-Prohibition is a reference to the added ingredient of flaked corn, once used in American lagers as a flavor additive. Many breweries today use corn as a cheap barley alternative instead of highlighting its flavor. Surly’s #Merica did well in our recent pilsner blind tasting, so we figured, since we’re celebrating the 4th, we’d give it a closer look.
The beer itself pours a light golden straw color with a big foamy head, consistent with the style. Aromatically it’s a familiar mix of earthy grains, hay, and biscuit malt, all of which form the backbone to this easy drinking style. Though slightly sweet up front, the corn is used to give a starchy flavor that builds more body and finishes dry and—for a lager anyway—a tad bitter. The flaked corn is nicely balanced within and gives true character to the beer. When used as a barley alternative, corn often gives a cloying sweetness, whereas here it gives depth of body and a crisp, super distinct finish.
It’s still a light-body lager with the intent to refresh, and that’s where it works best. Sipped over the course of an hour, #Merica! gets warm and loses its charm. Enjoyed chilled with salty BBQ-style foods, it’s a goldmine pairing that takes the edge off the hot sun and heavy cuisine. First and foremost, #Merica! is a summer beer.
While a certain proclaimed king of beverages may be shilling a similarly named product this summer, it’s worth noting that #Merica! was first released on July 4, 2015 to celebrate punk band Dillinger Four’s 21st anniversary, making the jump to distribution in 2016.
Brewery: Surly Brewing Co.
City: Minneapolis, MN
Availability: 16 oz. cans
Loren Green is a Minneapolis writer covering beer, music, and all kinds of fun. Follow him on Twitter at @lorenmgreen.