It wasn’t even below zero yesterday, so we felt just fine as we drank a glass of Surly 60 Below while standing in the frozen hellscape that used to be the vegetable garden. 60 Below is a punchy (6.5 percent ABV) rye IPA, and there’s a pumpernickel loaf’s worth of spicy rye bite in each can, counterbalanced somewhat by a malty warmth that suggests stewed plums. Something about the soulful rye-ness of the beer fits with winter. It has a flinty, scrape-your-ribs brightness, not a put-your-sandal-clad-feet-up-by-the-grill lightness. This is a beer with enough presence to complement some big, classic, roasty winter dishes — bring on your beef stews, your pasties, your shepherd’s pies, your lamb tagines.
The beer’s name comes from the night of Feb. 2, 1996, when Tower, Minnesota recorded the state’s lowest-ever temperature, that eponymous subzero nightmare. (Fun fact: It was the lowest temperature ever recorded in the United States east of the Great Plains.) Accordingly, Surly is holding a launch party this Friday, Feb. 2, at the Vermilion Club in Tower. EDITOR’S NOTE, Jan. 30, 2018: The launch party has been cancelled, as per a message from Surly. After that, 60 Below will crop up exclusively in mixed Surly 12-packs (along with Hell Lager, Furious IPA, and Xtra-Citra Pale Ale) hitting the shelves the week of Feb. 19.