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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
DarknessDarkness

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

2,691 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,691
Reviews: 766
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.33%
Wants: 2,932
Gots: 1,037 | FT: 76
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.30% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
Starting in 2014, bottled Darkness will be aged in whiskey barrels.

Labels:
2007-Grim Reaper
2008-Devil
2009-Mummy
2010-Vampire
2011-Zombie
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer

(Beer added by: ryantupy on 10-08-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,691 | Reviews: 766 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by bamadog:
Photo of bamadog
3.7/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I have resisted the Darkness for too long. I've had a long, unproductive and otherwise kind of crappy day, so I figure I need to do a little sumpin' sumpin' for myself on a day like this. Review is from notes taken on 9/21/2012 and poured from the bottle (2009 mummy) to a snifter.

Appearance: Pour looks a little thick and viscous on the pour, definitely warrants some "glugs," but I feel that I've seen thicker, most notably Hunahpu, but that's THE exceptional beer; body is of course black and opaque; starts with a 1/2 finger dark, creamy tan head that fades to a loose, incomplete head with a full swath of lacing dripping slowly down the sides of the glass.

Smell: Upon cracking this, there is a strong, smoky, soy sauce blast in the nose; it eventually settles a little bit and there is some pretty big and roasty maltiness there with a touch of burnt coffee, possibly espresso; I would swear there is a touch of vanilla lying about in there, as well as a touch of sweet, yet slightly tart, cherries; just a touch of alcohol lingers, but it seems really well blended in the nose.

Taste: You know, it's good, but I'm really not blown away like I was hoping to be. I'm actually reminded a little bit of 2010 DL -- big, smoky and almost salty/soy sauce (not in a bad way); bit of a buttery sweetness hanging out in the back and there is some slick, syrupy semi-sweet chocolate; touch of roastiness. I have to wonder if it's past its prime?

Mouthfeel: Body is indeed thick and heavy, but it's fairly slick and leaves just a little bit of grit on the teeth; thick, but loose and slightly sticky coating is left all over the roof of the mouth; belly does register some warmth.

Overall: I would be willing to try it again if it comes in to my possession, but it will be drank immediately instead of giving it the opportunity to age and develop. Sometimes cellaring works well and you get a whole new product, and sometimes, you get disappointed. Sipper, with big alcohol, may be tough to get through the whole bottle on my own, but I'll figure out how to make do.

bamadog, Sep 22, 2012
More User Reviews:
Photo of BEERchitect
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An absolute pleaseure to finally have the opportunity to enjoy this beer. Absolute chocolatey notes with licorice and char blend beautifully in this molassas-rich Imperial Stout.

An very viscous pour of oily black liquid falls from the bottle- this is going to be one full beer. Completely opaque, the beer lathers into a thick, lightly browned, dense foam stance that seemingly never waivers. Both lacing and legging have a convincing say in the coatings left behind on the glass.

Robust aromas of both semi-sweet chocolate morsels and dry cocoa powder lead the way with a heafty sidekick of burnt cherries, licorice, rum, and fruitcake. Mouthwatering and seductive, the aromas are near flawlessness.

The chocolate-heavy tone continues in flavor, similar to fresh baked brownies and Hershey syrups. Background fruity notes of cherries, grapes, currants, and dates are accompanied by deep roasted coffee, char, and roasted marshmallows creaminess. Molassas sweetness brings these flavors together seamlessly while giving a soothing taste to the aggressive roast.

Full, viscous, creamy, and oily in mouthfeel, the beer has a slow transition from early thickness to a late sweet, warming, and bitter finish (bitterness is in form of both char and hops). This beer is obviously intended for after dinner compliments or in place of dinner alltogether.

A special thanks goes out to Shango42 for the unique opportunity to finally enjoy this beer. He gets my right arm if he ever requests it.

BEERchitect, Jul 27, 2010
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.35/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to shrek086 for sending me this long time want!

2010 vintage with the vampire artwork.

Pours an opaque black with a 3 inch puffy dark khaki head that settles to a dense small cap. A latticework of lace lines the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, dark fruits, cocoa powder, and an alcohol aroma. Taste is of dark roasted malt, slightly sour dark fruits, bittersweet chocolate, and some roasted coffee bean flavors. A mild roasty bitterness lingers on the palate with each sip. There is a bit of a soy sauce quality in both the smell and taste but it's not at all unpleasant. This beer has a smooth and creamy mouthfeel with a lower level of carbonation. Overall, this is a very good RIS that deserves its status as a highly acclaimed beer. I am very happy I finally was able to snag one of these.

UCLABrewN84, Oct 31, 2011
Photo of tectactoe
4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

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.

tectactoe, Feb 20, 2013
Photo of ricke
4.65/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

ricke, Oct 29, 2009
Photo of t2grogan
5/5  rDev +11.1%

t2grogan, Tuesday at 05:13 PM
Photo of jono0101
5/5  rDev +11.1%

jono0101, Dec 06, 2013
Photo of brownbeer
4.5/5  rDev 0%

brownbeer, Feb 14, 2014
Photo of Schlais
4.5/5  rDev 0%

Schlais, Dec 06, 2011
Photo of Spaten454
4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

Spaten454, Jun 14, 2014
Photo of Dabeel
4/5  rDev -11.1%

Dabeel, Jun 05, 2013
Photo of delaced21
4/5  rDev -11.1%

delaced21, Mar 03, 2014
Photo of SkiBum22
4.3/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 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.

SkiBum22, Jul 15, 2012
Photo of farundrpar
5/5  rDev +11.1%

farundrpar, Dec 13, 2011
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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!

BeerAdvocate, Aug 12, 2008
Photo of newk340
4.5/5  rDev 0%

newk340, Feb 04, 2012
Photo of orbitalr0x
4.22/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

orbitalr0x, Nov 06, 2008
Photo of beaversfan12
5/5  rDev +11.1%

beaversfan12, Nov 03, 2013
Photo of NWer
5/5  rDev +11.1%

NWer, Dec 06, 2013
Photo of DaftPatrick
5/5  rDev +11.1%

DaftPatrick, Nov 29, 2011
Photo of Sam_Gladieux
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%

Sam_Gladieux, Apr 27, 2014
Photo of csmartin6
4.5/5  rDev 0%

csmartin6, Jan 22, 2014
Photo of warnerry
4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

warnerry, Oct 27, 2013
Photo of DWolf
5/5  rDev +11.1%

DWolf, Dec 31, 2011
Photo of Todd
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%

Todd, Apr 08, 2014
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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,691 ratings.