One aspect of our craft beer culture that has always fascinated me is the way beers are distributed. One key factor of experiencing something new is having the opportunity to do so. So, more often than not, the first beers you know are the ones you see on television and on your grocery store shelves. The latter can be great in some areas of the country and not so much in others. Maybe you travel somewhere and see a beer you've never even heard of before, or maybe you just hear about someone else's experience. Then maybe you wonder how many awesome beers you're missing out on and how to get them. Festivals, beer-centric road trips, cross-country trading and friendly bottle shares are all fantastic ways to try beers you would otherwise never know existed. If you're lucky, you'll discover new favorite beers and breweries in the process.
And that brings me to Surly. I've been lucky enough to try a handful of Surly's offerings, all of which are fantastic. Most of these beers came to me in trades with fellow BeerAdvocate members, and all of them are beers I never would have had the chance to try because I haven't been anywhere close to Minnesota. Of all of the great Surly beers I've tried, Abrasive Ale truly stands out. I tasted it for the first time a few years ago and quickly gave it one of my all-time highest ratings. I was recently browsing the forums at BA when I saw a thread devoted solely to Abrasive Ale because it was in season (this was March-ish). Score, right? I started racking my brain for what kind of trade bait I had on hand to send out in exchange for some when I saw a link posted in the thread. The link was to France 44, who just happened to have four-packs of Abrasive Ale in stock to ship. Double score. I was so excited, I incorrectly typed in my credit card number. Once everything was straightened out, I sat back and waited for Abrasive's arrival.