Posted on May 3rd, 2017

Three Beers, One Yeast Strain, and a Dash of Pynchon

Beer Release

Over the next few months, Surly will be rolling out three beers. All three will be unique, but they will share the same yeast strain. And if you have an appreciation for great American writers, all the better.

The strain is Hefeweizen Ale Yeast. For all three, you can expect some of the traditional clove and banana notes that come with it. That’s where the tradition ends and Surly gets to work.


The first release will see the return of Dampfbier. The German equivalent of a steam beer (“Dampf” equals “steam”), Dampfbier use an all-barley malt bill. Whereas a traditional steam beer like a California Common uses a lager yeast, the aforementioned Hefe yeast is featured here. This unique brewing style was once very popular in an isolated region that is the present-day Germany/Czechoslovakia border, mostly because it was about the only beer they could brew there. Surly’s version is also dry-hopped with Glacier hops, nudging a little hoppiness into the mix, along with some orange-tangerine aromatics.

“We always try to use a yeast strain on more than one beer,” says Head Brewer Jerrod Johnson. “It allows us to experiment on things and make more than one style of beer.”

One of these is Yoyodyne, a Surly-fied version of a traditional Hefeweizen. It takes a classic Surly hop schedule, marries it to a Hefe, then dry hops it. While some of the trademark Hefe flavors are there, “It’s definitely not a banana bomb,” says Johnson.

As for the name: Yoyodyne is an aerospace/propulsion systems/defense contracting conglomerate in the universe of Thomas Pynchon, the great and reclusive American novelist.

yoyo (Pynchon, as depicted on The Simpsons)

Jerrod and fellow Head Brewer Ben Smith both adore Pynchon, hence the name. Yoyodyne dots the American popular culture landscape, appearing in everything from the Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai to Joss Whedon’s Angel. If you’re a fan of the good, weird stuff, this propulsive wheat beer might be your new bicycle.

The third is Inherent Weiss. This imperial Hefeweizen, its name a nod to one of Pynchon’s most celebrated works, is brewed to twice the normal strength and aggressively dry-hopped with Cascade, Chinook, and Centennial hops. Clocking in at 9.0% ABV and pouring a cloudy, pale gold, Inherent Weiss will overwhelm you with notes of clove, banana, and wave upon wave of dank hop aroma.

On a barely related note, please enjoy Joaquin Phoenix’s Doc Sportello getting the shit kicked out of him in the Inherent Vice trailer:

Dampfbier will be on draft beginning the week of May 1st. Yoyodyne starts pouring the week of May 8th May 15th. Inherent Weiss will be on draft and in 750 mL bottles starting the week of July 12th.