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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

2,632 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,632
Reviews: 763
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.33%
Wants: 2,918
Gots: 1,018 | FT: 72
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.30% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:

2007-Grim Reaper
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer

(Beer added by: ryantupy on 10-08-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,632 | Reviews: 763 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by BillyB:
Photo of BillyB

New Jersey

4.63/5  rDev +2.9%

Russian Imperial Stouts are my favorite style, so I'm a bit biased.

I think what Surly is doing is very ballsy. Brewing big beers and canning them. The only other example I can think of that comes close to this is Oskar Blues Ten Fity. I tried this at GABF so it was on draft and from what I heard their not canning this one.

But to get to the point; Darkness is off the charts! Pours a jet black, opaque hue, with a thick tan head.

The roasty, toasty, coffee, caramel and slight whiskey aromas jump out at you.

Strong coffee, roasty malt and toffee flavors. Slight whiskey character, but very subtle.

So drinkable! Just so damn, drinkable! This may be the best russian I've tried since Stone or North Coast.

If you can get your hands on this beer, try it! You won't be dissappointed.

10-21-2007 22:32:18 | More by BillyB
More User Reviews:
Photo of tectactoe


4.43/5  rDev -1.6%

Thanks to Mike for sharing this one with me! 2011 version. Pours a midnight black color, only the very edges show some dark brown hints; thick, dark, and opaque. The head is a deep tan color, comprised of very fine bubbles and appears to be creamy as hell. It hangs around for a while before it complete vanishes, and it's pretty hard to bring any of it back by just swirling the glass. No real lacing left behind.

Right out of the gate, the aroma is super sweet. Dark currants and fruits, black licorice, toasted brown sugar, and bits of bittersweet chocolate. Some small, extra hints of vanilla reside in the back as well. Not much coffee on the nose (though there is a little bit) - the sweet fruits, sugar, and chocolate kind of steal the show. Booze is apparent, but masked well enough from the barricade of other flavors.

Many other people are calling out a big hop profile in the aroma, but I'm just not getting it. Some very faint char/ashiness that may be from the hop, but I'm grasping at straws, here. I'm just not picking up a big hop character on the nose (barely any at all, actually). This aroma reminds me quite a bit of Dark Lard, but lighter on the brown sugar and not quite as sweet.

A similar thing could be said about the taste. Darkness hits you with a sweetness first and foremost, just like Dark Lord did, but it's a little more tamed in this one. Sugary, burnt caramels, bittersweet cocoa, syrupy molasses, licorice - quite a lot going on here. There were actually a few sips that would remind me of the syrup used in fountain machines to make cola. Less dark fruit on the palate than in the aroma, but some currants and dates are there, sugar coated and sweet as hell.

I'm finally picking up a touch of hops, but still nowhere near enough to combat the sheer malty sweet intensity of this beer. The coffee comes out a little over halfway through and ride well into the aftertaste, leaving a nice roasted coffee bean flavor in my mouth. The sweet brown sugar also hangs in the aftertaste, probably for a little too long. Thick, heavy mouth, though not incredibly creamy or chewy, with lower end carbonation. Lacquers the mouth with a sticky, syrupy coating.

This is a damn fine brew, and I enjoyed it a little bit more than Dark Lord. But unfortunately it suffers from the same flaw of still being a bit too sweet. Darkness does a little bit better of a job taming the sweetness than Dark Lord, however. Lots of different flavors and aromas going on here, and this is a nicely crafted RIS - but the relentless sweetness (in my opinion) is holding it back from being "top of the list" for me.

EDIT: 7/19/2013

2012 Vintage shared thanks to Kevin R... Thanks! I liked this one even a bit more than the 2011 that Mike cracked with me earlier this year. Sweetness was evident, yet more controlled. Hoppier, with a better balance of ashy bitterness. More roasty, more drinkable, and even more enjoyable, even though I already like it in the first place. Great brew.

02-20-2013 13:05:43 | More by tectactoe
Photo of ricke


4.65/5  rDev +3.3%

2007 vintage.

A: Pitch black with decent pale beige head that leaves a lot of creamy lacings.

S: Wonderful aromas of roasted malts, dry coffee notes, rich fruity notes (plums, cherries, figs) and hints of spicy hops. Very balanced and very impressive.

T: The taste is nothing but fantastic - really balanced and spot on. Everything is where it's supposed to be. The flavors are very complex - sweetness from the malts, salt licorice and a bitter finish. Powerful roasted malty aromas and notes of luscious dark fruits, a hint of molasses, tannins, coffee, wood and leafy hops. The finish is somewhat dry and bitter with notes of licorice, leafy hops and malts.

M: Full-bodied with a fat and creamy malty mouthfeel. Gentle carbonation.

D: Almost unbelievably good. Very balanced. The composition is like a symphony - carefully orchestrated with everything at its proper place.

10-29-2009 22:47:24 | More by ricke
Photo of jono0101


5/5  rDev +11.1%

12-06-2013 18:04:21 | More by jono0101
Photo of brownbeer


4.5/5  rDev 0%

02-14-2014 02:05:20 | More by brownbeer
Photo of Schlais


4.5/5  rDev 0%

12-06-2011 05:06:00 | More by Schlais
Photo of Spaten454


4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

06-14-2014 20:46:42 | More by Spaten454
Photo of Dabeel


4/5  rDev -11.1%

06-05-2013 19:49:03 | More by Dabeel
Photo of delaced21


4/5  rDev -11.1%

03-03-2014 20:39:56 | More by delaced21
Photo of SkiBum22

New York

4.3/5  rDev -4.4%

2011 Vintage

A - The pour is fittingly black with at least a finger of thick brown head. The lacing really coats the glass nicely with a creamy head that seemingly lasts forever.

S - Very sweet aromas of dark fruits, berries, figs all covered in chocolate with a little bit of caramel and coffee to round it out.

T - Deep, dark, delicious chocolate just dominates the taste. Overall it is sweet, but not overly sweet as sometimes experienced with big Russian Imperial Stouts.

M -Mouthfeel is pretty full bodied, smooth with creamy medium carbonation.

O - A great non-barrel aged stout. There were times that I noticed barrel like qualities. Overall another great brew from Surly.

07-15-2012 21:14:23 | More by SkiBum22
Photo of farundrpar


5/5  rDev +11.1%

12-13-2011 19:45:43 | More by farundrpar
Photo of BeerAdvocate


4.5/5  rDev 0%

Review is from the February 2007 issue of Beeradvocate Magazine.

Only 12 barrels were made, and we've been blessed with a 1/2 gallon, sent directly from the brewery on ice packs. Kickass!

Aptly named, this is one hell of a black brew. Its dark crown is rich, creamy, tightly formed, and coffee colored. Looks like a freshly frothed coffee. Blackberries, strong sherry, velvety dark chocolate, perfume of soft dried fruits. Thick, viscous, chewy, round, smooth and creamy. Semi-spicy alcohol is caught in the center, surrounded by char and smoke, and grasped by a fi st of sweetness. Malty sweet, but not cloying; molasses, dark brown sugar, charred raisins, juicy, ripe black cherries in a sharp, dark berry middle, and an exotically acrid dark-roasted coffee bite. Hop bitterness rises from the depths, along the sides of the tongue, stabbing at the palate here and there with some leafy and oily notes. Smoky-char linger in the fi nish, with a residual, deep, dark sweetness. Alcohol creeps, lurks and eventually strikes a warming blow to the skull.

Dark Lord Imperial Stout, kneel before Darkness! All hail Darkness! The best American-made Russian Imperial Stout we've ever had!

08-12-2008 17:47:30 | More by BeerAdvocate
Photo of newk340


4.5/5  rDev 0%

02-04-2012 20:59:12 | More by newk340
Photo of orbitalr0x


4.22/5  rDev -6.2%

Release night at the Bavarian Lodge. 11oz pour arrives a deep jet black with an inch of creamy head and some spotty lacing on the glass. Aromas start with deeply roasted dark malts colliding with chocolate cream. Mellow coffee moves into some dark fruits and hops.

First sip brings a big roasty dark maltiness upfront with notes of sweet milk chocolate, roasted coffee and some dark fruit edges. There's a smooth creaminess here as it flows down. The hops kick in on the finish and become quite noticeable with a good bitterness. The malts win in the end though, leaving a sweet aftertaste and a slight stickiness on the palate.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a mellow carbonation. Not nearly as thick as many imperial stout's at this ABV, but that makes it somewhat more drinkable as well. While this isn't my favorite RIS, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and the fact that it's quite hoppy as well. Glad I got a chance to sample this on tap.

11-06-2008 04:27:03 | More by orbitalr0x
Photo of beaversfan12


5/5  rDev +11.1%

11-03-2013 17:31:01 | More by beaversfan12
Photo of NWer


5/5  rDev +11.1%

12-06-2013 00:00:48 | More by NWer
Photo of DaftPatrick


5/5  rDev +11.1%

11-29-2011 03:38:39 | More by DaftPatrick
Photo of Sam_Gladieux


4.75/5  rDev +5.6%

04-27-2014 22:37:14 | More by Sam_Gladieux
Photo of csmartin6

New York

4.5/5  rDev 0%

01-22-2014 03:52:58 | More by csmartin6
Photo of warnerry


4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

10-27-2013 14:58:51 | More by warnerry
Photo of DWolf


5/5  rDev +11.1%

12-31-2011 02:36:27 | More by DWolf
Photo of Todd


4.75/5  rDev +5.6%

04-08-2014 13:53:34 | More by Todd
Photo of Callmecoon


4.5/5  rDev 0%

11-21-2011 05:05:49 | More by Callmecoon
Photo of bishopdc0


4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

11-17-2013 20:23:33 | More by bishopdc0
Photo of mtribble


5/5  rDev +11.1%

02-28-2014 01:50:26 | More by mtribble
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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,632 ratings.