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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

DarknessDarkness

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

2,262 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2262
Reviews: 752
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.56%


Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.30% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Darkness Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,262 | Reviews: 752 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of DK_CPA
DK_CPA


5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The taste look, smell, and taste of this beer opens up your imagination. You can recollect the taste in your smelling and tastebud memories. There is a rush of Dopamine hormones when you drink it.

Absolutely the sing most perfect beer. It is highly coveted and very tradeable. The artwork and collectability increases its value.

Serving type: bottle

09-21-2012 15:38:28 | More by DK_CPA
Photo of AndyAvalanche
AndyAvalanche

Massachusetts

5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2012 version of the Werewolf looking monster poured into a Duvel tulip style glass. Liquid comes out midnight black, can't see through it anywhere on the glass and it doesn't even seem to get lighter. During the pour there's some lighter brown edges on the stream. Coffee with cream colored head that erupts up to the top of the glass. Mostly small bubbles but a few larger ones at the top that blub up. Head stays around a long time and there's TREMENDOUS lacing here, stuff clings to the glass for life. Great looking beer, sets the standard, looks like what many wish they did.

Oh wow, does this smell great. Take the absolute best individual parts of an imperial chocolate stout, coffee stout, hoppy stout, a fruity stout and mesh them all into one absolutely perfectly and this would be your result. Could be the slightest bit stronger, but still would rate it a 4.9999 out of 5 based on how well balanced everything is. Everything works here, huge malt backbone with both dark and sweet fudgy chocolate, black roasted coffee, some earthy dark fruits, and some floral hops. Great balance, perfect smell.

Taste is even better than the aromas if that's at all possible. Starts off sweet with more milky than bitter chocolate, but both present, coffee also isn't as strong. Then there are some nice dark dehydrated fruit flavors like fig and plum, but not overbearing. Plenty of bitter hoppy flavors there of pine and sweet clementine citrus (kind of like a chocolate orange, but actually tastes good). Hops provide a nice fresh flavor too, I'm impressed with how well the hops lasted in this one. There's also an almost minty vanilla flavor at the end. Not the burning vanilla you get from barrel aged stouts though.

Mouthfeel is, you guessed it, perfect. Full bodied because the flavor lingers for awhile, but it tastes so good you wished it would last even longer. This beer is perfectly smooth, with a nice carbonation level and no bite from the alcohol or carbonation, slightly tickles the tongue though. Starts sweet with a nice clean, fresh bitter finish. Crazy drinkable, any stout lover or beer lover could finish off a bottle no problem. A sipper, but dangerous enough to drink faster than you might intend. Thanks N-Dawg for bringing this one to me! This beer really has all the perfect qualities one would want in a beer and blends them together.

Serving type: bottle

10-25-2013 23:59:25 | More by AndyAvalanche
Photo of rjp217
rjp217

Massachusetts

5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2012 bottle poured into a couple taster snifters....

Pitch black pour with a beautiful one finger head and perfect brown head with a sticky lace retention. So much chocolate and cherry in the aroma and taste. There's a beautiful coffee and caramel finish in the taste. Full body and low carbonation with a silky smooth finish. This beer is absolutely sublime. It's a chocolate coffee marshmallow dream. The 2 years created a perfect symmetry. Epic!

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2014 00:29:40 | More by rjp217
Photo of MNishCT77
MNishCT77

District of Columbia

4.99/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On-tap at Pizzeria Paradiso DuPont Circle, unknown brew date, poured into a snifter glass, drank 3/28/13 over ~one hour.

A: 4.75 - black, no clarity (wouldn't it be ironic if there was any? ), soft vertical bubbles and substantial legs, one finger frothy tan head that resolves into subtle glass lacing;

S: 5 - chocolate, coffee, vanilla beans, some dark raisin/fruits in the background to boot

T: 5- minimal hop bitterness on the front of the tongue that quickly dissipates into rich and substantial dark chocolate and coffee flavors, vanilla bean and minor molasses sweetness on the back of the tongue

M: 5 - incredible smooth, silky mouthfeel, thickly coats the mouth and lingers for days; this is the epitome of mouthfeel for RIS

O: 5 - I never though that I would try this beer considering that it is only released one day/year in Brooklyn Center, MN with very limited local distribution but thank goodness for the CBC 2013 in Washington D.C.; like all of Surly beers, this one lives up to the extreme hype and is overall the most complex RIS that I have ever tried; I have never tried Dark Lord or Marshal Zhukov but I cannot imagine it being better than this

Serving type: on-tap

03-29-2013 14:13:21 | More by MNishCT77
Photo of BeerFMAndy
BeerFMAndy

Wisconsin

4.98/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

750 ml wax-dipped bottle poured into a snifter.
10.3% ABV, 2010 Vampire design.

A - The thick pile of bubbles which rests on the beer displays an oily rainbow color swirling on it's surface. Coincidentally, it coincides with the thick, syrupy used oil-looking beer fills the snifter for a pitch-black darkness light cannot penetrate. Even with the high alcohol level, the head maintains its stature for quite some time, slowly lowering to leave a smattering of light bubbles on the snifter.

S - Sticky burnt molasses, lightly charred oak, and bitter dark chocolate are conjured up from a thick malt bill which incorporates more subdued notes of cold coffee, roasted malt, and cocoa. Hops provide just a miniscule drop of citrus and earthiness into the mix with an old, dusty basement sense pulling through. Even with two years on it, this beer still has some warming alcohol perception on the nose.

T - Darkness' rich malt level isn't surprising in flavor but what is, is the lack of bold roasted, almost burnt notes that the aroma exhibits. The taste compounds are much sweeter and subtler with smooth Hershey milk chocolate, a touch of black licorice, and soft molasses finishing out the back end. Dry cocoa and seemingly absent hops balance the malt sweetness' flavor as does just a hint of alcohol.

M - To describe this beer as full bodied would be quite the understatement. Smooth as black velvet (don't sue me Alanna Myles!) Darkness is almost creamy feeling with a rich, throat-coating finish that carefully teeters on the verge of sweetness and balance. All this while maintaining warming, soothing alcohol and an insatiable draw.

O - I recall Darkness having one of the hoppiest aromas of any Russian Imperial Stout I've encountered while being sweeter than all get-out. Suffice it to say, age has done this beer an incredible favor; rounding out some of the rougher edges for an insanely crave-able, lustful, sinfully delicious stout. For every bottle you hoped would age well and failed, Darkness makes up for, rewarding your patience with big dividends. This chocolaty, roasted malt-rich brew exceeds expectations of greatness and completely satisfies.

Serving type: bottle

10-30-2012 23:04:19 | More by BeerFMAndy
Photo of zealot
zealot

New York

4.97/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had this on tap several times while it was available, but I opened bottle #107 to ring in the New Year.

Pour was very black, and it may have been the wax or some other influence, but I think there was just a hint of a reddish hue on the edges of the brew. Rich, tiny, mocha bubbles covered the surface and stuck around for a while. Beautiful.

The smell is incredible. Sweet, hoppy, chocolate. Maybe a hint of citrus - not centennials or cascades I'm sure, but some pine and another exceptional aroma that I can't quite place, but DAMN!.

The taste is really where I am really blown away every time. Hops, chocolate, marshmallowy creaminess. It's like this beer has some sort of beer MSG in it making it tastier than anything ever made. The bottle version, I noticed, had a little more of an alcohol accent to it, but that might also be because I served it at the appropriate temperature, whereas the bar served it freezing cold. On-tap I was totally unable to detect any alcohol presence whatsoever. I had this next to a Flying Dog Imperial Porter one night, and the hop difference was astounding.

I'm serious about the marshmallowy creaminess. It coats your mouth, and the hops add just enough chewiness to it that it lingers both in the lining of your mouth and the glass. My glass was brown for twenty minutes after I had finished my glass.

In an effort to expose my family to good beer, I opened this for them, and was hoping that they would hate it. Totally selfish, I wanted the whole bottle. I could drink the entire thing easily. Get it. Drink it.

Serving type: bottle

01-05-2008 22:06:09 | More by zealot
Photo of Beerking721
Beerking721

Minnesota

4.97/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this at the Surly Darkness Release at Blue Nile:

This is my favorite Surly product - hands down! OMG... this is a brew that will exceed expectations and have you wanting more.

A = A fairly dark and syrupy complexion with blonde hued foamy head that can be refreshed over and over again.

S = A complex blending of deep roasted malts and wonderful citrus and spice components. The citrus is more of blood orange and tangerine which works well with the dark chocolate texture.

T = Wow... pure velvet smoothness with chocolate, coffee, and a hint of toffee sweetness.

M = A viscous warmer with high ABV, smooth and rich without the "palate shock" tendancies present with some of the other big dark brews on the market.

D = Amazing simply for what it is. Psychologically, you'll want as much as you can get of this highly prized and limited production masterpiece.

An "A+" rating from the Beerking!

Serving type: on-tap

07-24-2008 15:50:52 | More by Beerking721
Photo of travloh
travloh

Minnesota

4.97/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I was able to make it a little over 24 hours without doing it. On this cold October night I just cannot resist. I must. Halloween approaches and the dark bottle with satan on the label beckons...I give in to sin...

I slice the wax top and pop the top. The first thing I get with a hearty whiff of the cap is chocolate. Rich, dark, sweet smelling. The pour into the Darkness snifter reveals the nectar of the devil. Temptation. Pure temptation. Black like night.

That chocolate is of course ever present in the nose, but an orchestra of smells accompanies it. Coffee, brown sugar, cherries, cocoa. Someone call an exorcist, I am nearly possessed.

The semi aggressive pour produces that delayed storm in the black liquid. The bubbles awaken and energize, and send a frothy head upward that seems to come out of nowhere. It keeps pushing upward to the lip of the glass and halts. Its dark, of course, but it has a yellowish twinge to it, too. As it ever so slowly recedes it leaves its tracks on the sides of the glass. Lacing on steroids, it would seem.

The first swallow and my conversion is complete. "Gimme Shelter" by the Rolling Stones plays in the background as my descent into madness hits full stride. Chocolate, cappuccino, sweet bread, cupcakes with frosting. What I imagine a cuban cigar would taste like, only better. The stuff the devil offers you in Hell's waiting room. The second sip reveals more. A tangyness on the tongue, almost makes it numb. Then the alcohol kicks in to remind you this is still beer. I am under the spell of Darkness...

Why did I stand in line and pay $100 for 6 of these? One sip tells me that I would have paid $200. I wish I had 6 more.

This stuff is so good it truly is sinful. All Hail Darkness...

Serving type: bottle

10-27-2008 01:59:28 | More by travloh
Photo of jt31914
jt31914

Michigan

4.97/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

'08 Bomber aged for a year and a half or so.

A: Couple fingers of head, dark black color with coffee colored lacing/head. Not too carbonated except at the top of the beer; no bubbling in the body of the brew.

S: Strong! I could smell it from five feet away; it is a wonderfully sweet aroma of chocolate, coffee, licorice, and barley that is balanced by oats. The oat and barley are dominant and there is a mellow alcohol melded in.

T: Super sweet and malty with licorice, chocolate, and barley on the palate. This is balanced by the oats and bitter coffee on the finish. The alcohol is super smooth and pleasant, and this beer reminds me of a better, sweeter, and more drinkable version of GI's BCS.

M/D: It just sits in your mouth and you never want to swallow. Super smooth, creamy and drinkable.

This is the new best beer I've ever had... by a decent margin.

Serving type: bottle

04-05-2010 15:04:27 | More by jt31914
Photo of Scoobydank
Scoobydank

Minnesota

4.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

L:Thick milk chocolate colored head. The color itself is a dark black oil with not an ounce of light shining through.
S:I pick up a burnt bacon type smell, which i love. A nice hop nose, but not over powering. Very light coffee bean. Just a tiny hint of a fruity raspberry comes peeking in.
T:A big time smokey coffee pops out right away. Which apparently is where I got the burnt bacon from. A sweet chocolate covered raspberry with just a touch of toffee. The hops pops out and stick around throuhg out the whole sip.
M:Thick round and fat for a nice warming feeling. Very little carbonation makes it very easy.
D:Great rIS. Very smooth and complex. It seems like the taste comes in layers adding to the complexity. I could easily drink multiple(unfrotunately and fortunately franksandbeans has my other bottle)

Serving type: bottle

03-04-2008 01:01:44 | More by Scoobydank
Photo of gratefulstu
gratefulstu

Minnesota

4.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I waited in line for 5 hours for a few bottles of this years release. I had never tried it before but had heard lots of great things about it. I'm a big fan of the other Surly products so I had to try this one. I questioned if it could really live up to the hype, but had to find out for myself.

Appearance: The appearance is as black as black can be. The only bit of color it has it the dark tan head.

Smell: The first bit of aroma I smelled was all hops. I expected roasted malt but was hit with hops first. Wonderful, delicious hops. Upon my second whiff...the dry roasted dark malt characteristic I expected of a stout came through the hops. Next was hints of vanilla and maybe some cherry.

Taste: At first the taste was much more subtle than I expected. I was expecting it to be either really dry or really sweet. I found it to be a nice balance between the two. The sweet malt had hints of dark cherry and chocolate. If finished with a sharp dry hop finish. The alcohol taste was not overpowering at all.

Mouthfeel: I think the mouthfeel of this beer maybe the most unique I have ever experienced. It was truly thick and creamy. Had relatively low carbonation, which was perfect. It did seem to have a very slight chalkiness to it when swallowing ,but was not noticeable enough to be a negative.

Drinkability: This is definitely the most drinkable RIS I have ever had. The smooth, creamy mouthfeel was like velvet. The alcohol was not overpowering, maybe even understated (hard to believe with 10+ ABV).

This beer is Great. No doubt about it. It has some very complex characteristics. With each sip you get a different taste. Cherry, vanilla, chocolate, coffee...and hops.

Serving type: bottle

11-03-2008 18:02:59 | More by gratefulstu
Photo of Shango42
Shango42

Minnesota

4.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Serving type-tap poured into a tulip snifter.

A-Bold dense blackness. Dark tan head. Lots of lacing.

S-Chocolate sweetness, dark scotch-like malts, caramel, toffee. Absolutely delicious on the senses.

T-1st sip...speechless. So smooth, so sweet, so perfect. Dark chocolate and toffee, scotch-like malt with very light coffee notes. Wonderfully full body. The balance for this high octane, big stout is unparalleled. The alcohal is definitely present because it warms going down, but it is not overpowering. Some late hops make an appearance but it just continues to balance and compliment the brew. I've simply never had a better beer.

M-Thick, chewy, low carbonation, full bodied.

D-Could drink one of these every day and I would be in beertopic bliss. It sets the bar.

Serving type: on-tap

07-29-2009 04:08:00 | More by Shango42
Photo of MamaMeier
MamaMeier

Minnesota

4.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Dark, rich mocha color - cannot see through the glass. Thick 2-3 finger head. Looks tasty!
S - Smells of caramel, chocolate and some bitterness with the hops. Smell is smoother than other Imperials....
T - Can I say Heaven without being too cliche? Taste is smooth, hints of citrus with the hops, but not overpowering. Lots of dark chocolate and malts. A little bitter, but perfect amount.
M - Carbonation was typical - creamy and smooth. Goes down easy.
D - Split the bottle with my husband and some neighbors - let's just say I would have licked the bottom of the glass if I could have. Overall a delicious beer that was worth the price (I paid a bit over retail...eek!) and the wait! By far one of the best I have tried!

Serving type: bottle

02-14-2011 17:17:35 | More by MamaMeier
Photo of cbros
cbros

North Carolina

4.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2008 Vintage poured into a snifter.

Pours an absolutely beautiful jet black with a nice 2/3 finger tan lace. The head quickly dissipated to a nice lacing. In a perfect world the head would have stayed around a little bit longer, but oh well. The smell was a combination of toasted coffee, alcohol and bourbon. This combination jumped out of the bottle as soon as I opened. A wonderful smelling beer that certainly got my anticipation up for the actual tasting. A great tasting beer that was exactly what the smell said it would be.

I have held on to this beer for over 3 years and I finally decided 'what the hell' and opened it. This is probably one of the top 3 or 4 beers that I have had the pleasure of trying.

Serving type: bottle

10-21-2011 00:09:45 | More by cbros
Photo of bobbypaulson
bobbypaulson

Minnesota

4.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer rocks!!! In my opinion this is the best stout out there, that I've had the pleasure of tasting. I had it on fresh from a keg, aged from a keg, fresh from a bottle and aged from a bottle. Every way it is great!!! The beer pours a a deep dark black with a very dark frothy head, nothing see through about this beer. The smell is of coffe, chocolate roast, and some hops. The taste is amazing, everything you smell fills your mouth and coats. The finish of the beer is increibly smooth and the left over taste leaves you craving more. I'm glad I live in Minnesota and have a chance at this beer because it is the best!!!

Serving type: on-tap

10-23-2011 20:32:34 | More by bobbypaulson
Photo of challenja
challenja

Virginia

4.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served On Tap at a Surly Tap Takeover at Church Key DC.

A: Dark charcoal with mocha head lacing.
S: This is one aromatic beer that has bourbon booze character with madagascar chocolate malts, red berries, strawberry jam, semi sweet cocoa nibs and light Colombian perk coffee.
T: Starts of smooth, bourbon burnt sugar followed up by a luscious strawberry puree (that means stop reading and go and buy it!) soft 60 percent dark cocoa, nice sappy malts. This beer had multilayered range that begs for more. (In fact I bought 2 more)
M: Very Creamy and silky smooth. Medium carbonation gets cut by the milky nature of this behemoth. The bourbon carries nicely and the oaked nature is outstanding. Not overbearing like other brews.
O: A delicious, delicious stout! I drank 3 for the review, ok 2 then before I left I got another one to ponder on talking beer shop with Thomas. I can't wait to get my hands on this in bottle. Sadly I have to order online, no one stocks it in DC!! DAMN IT!!!.

This stout comes in number 3 all time. SOrry Old Ras..you got knocked down again!

Serving type: on-tap

03-21-2012 17:43:37 | More by challenja
Photo of Damian
Damian

Massachusetts

4.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Drank from a 1 pint 9.4 fl. oz./750ml bottle
2010 vintage (Vampire)
Served in a snifter
Acquired in a trade with Douglasjamjak

Review #666

The beer poured near pitch black and super oily. A two-finger, super tight, creamy and bubbly head of saddle brown froth topped the liquid. Impressive retention. Sheets of patchy lacing coated the glass.

The aroma was astounding. Super deep, dark and sweet. Tons of roasted malts and brown sugar notes. Loads of vanilla. Slightly boozy. It was difficult believing that this beer was not Bourbon barrel aged. Good amount of powdered cocoa. Some dark fruit sweetness was also noticeable. Touch of anise. Freshly brewed coffee notes came through as well.

The taste was just as amazing as the nose. A boatload of roasted malts appeared on the front end. As in the aroma, there was a distinct, boozy, Bourbon-like sweetness. Brown sugar and vanilla notes were nearly overwhelming. Tons of rich, smooth, dark chocolate. Good dose of molasses. Some dark fruit notes. A bit of anise. The finish was moderately boozy and slightly roasty, with a hint of char. A fair amount of citrusy hops came through as well (just enough to balance out the sweetness). Espresso notes were also noticeable.

The beer was silky smooth. Slick, creamy and plush with a fine, moderate effervescence. Nearly full bodied for style. After each sip, the liquid left a sticky film on my lips. The only thing preventing me from giving the mouthfeel a "5" was that the beer could have been a bit more viscous.

Simply put Darkness is an outstanding beer. It really won me over with its consistency across all categories. You would be hard pressed to find a more well rounded version of the style.

Serving type: bottle

03-25-2012 04:40:06 | More by Damian
Photo of FLBeertender
FLBeertender

Florida

4.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This was the 2010 at an EPIC BEER TASTING at a fans house. Huge. I mean as big as a parade of elephants jaunting through the mall...and there was beer too.

This edition was strong on the nose and palate, I remember wincing on the first sip. Deep bitter cocoa and molasses with hints of vanilla and clove. It went down smooth and I was sad that my 2 oz pour was only. Rich coffee flavors with layers of toffee mirrored by sweet caramel and a tar-like drip...not perfect, but close enough.

Serving type: bottle

04-06-2013 09:00:48 | More by FLBeertender
Photo of Ri0
Ri0

Wisconsin

4.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

poured 750ml bottle into chalice. 2013 release.

A - Dark, like black with a beautiful 2.5 finger caramel colored head. Nice retention with a thick collar and good amounts of tan lacing.

S - Earthy hops with pleasant dark fruits, lots of milk and bitter chocolate, roasty malts and some molasses and brown sugars to sweeten it.

T - This is one delicious RIS with hefty amounts of bitter and milk chocolate, earthy hops, caramel, brown sugar, molasses. The roasted malts are a real treat and there is a pleasant dark fruit flavor that blends well with it all.

M - Thick, viscous and creamy with a velvety smoothness to it. The carbonation is spot on for the style.

O - I can't think of a better RIS that I have had. This is an incredible beer, but the price may keep me from obtaining more than one a year.

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2014 18:48:05 | More by Ri0
Photo of tconboy
tconboy

Minnesota

4.94/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

BREWCIFER - Lord of Darkness

Thanks to Bru for the Christmas present.

Appearance: lives up to it's name. Nice pillowy caramel head fades quickly to a surrounded light film.

Smell: Oh boy! Chocolate, coffee, sweetness.

Taste: The complexity! Rather fantastic, hence the perfect rating. The dried tart cherries and raisins are there and blend with that coffee, chocolatey (don't you red-underline me!) treat that we anticipated (see smell).

Mouthfeel: As you would expect from an RIS. Moderate carbonation. Dangerously smooth finish.

Overall: A wonderful treat. Wish this wasn't such a rare gem. Not my favorite style, but enjoyed this beer with the best of them.

Serving type: bottle

01-11-2014 00:08:45 | More by tconboy
Photo of JohnG190
JohnG190

New York

4.94/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pours pitch black with a thick mocha head. Great lacing. So much happening on the nose - lots of dark chocolate, vanilla and stone fruit with hints of roasted malt and smoke. Outstanding aroma! Palate follows the nose, dark chocolate, vanilla, cherries, and dark fruity notes. The malt and smoky notes are even more apparent on the tongue. Body is ridiculously smooth with a medium body and light carbonation. Overall, if there are any faults in this stout I can't discern them. This is not only the best non-BA stout I've had, it's the finest example of a Russian Imperial Stout I've had, period!

Serving type: bottle

03-17-2014 14:39:32 | More by JohnG190
Photo of mikesgroove
mikesgroove

South Carolina

4.93/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

What can I say really about this whole situation. I was lucky enough to acquire this bottle through a very fair trade from a good friend. When I see how much these things go for and the hype surrounding it, it is hard for me to justify it sometimes. I have found several instances where these beers are just complete letdowns. This here was not the case. It was absolutely wonderful and I really think it is worth its reputation. That being said, I new this would be the only bottle I would get so I saved it for a very special occasion and split it with a good friend at Barley's last night for my 30th Birthday. I figured it would be a fitting place, fitting time, and fitting company to open such a rare and sought after treat. Served in multiple sampling glasses at various temperatures up to room temp, this was definitely a wonderful experience. Bottle # 295.

Appearance - So we finally get to pour this one out. Opened the double dipped, wax topped cap and pour out this black as night liquid. Deep dark notes of black, to which no light could penetrate dropped into the glass with each tip. A mushrooming head of tan foam then came up over the top, reaching a height of at least two fingers before starting to break up into a rocky and cratered field. Even at its lowest mark it still carried about a fingers depth of lace with it and the side glass webbing was extremely nice. Overall this was a monster looking beer, however I cannot say it was a five, only because I have seen Dark Lord and the Abyss offer me a slightly fuller poor.

Smell - The aroma was to die for, literally. Everyone of these big RIS are much different then the one before, and everyone one is so unique, but I think once you take a whiff of this one it becomes very clear that this is in a whole different category. Gone are you rum soaked dark fruit and bourbon barrel, oak infused aromas, this was an entirely different beast. Rich and very sweet cocoa aromas are bringing themselves up to greet you first, with a gentle nudge of alcohol underneath. Wonderfully rich coffee then comes in to deliver the next blow. It was more of a roasted coffee bean aroma to be honest, like when you first open up that drawer at starbucks. A veritable assault of floral hops then comes out of nowhere. Grapefruit and pineapple hints mixing in with molasses and vanilla, what was this. As it warmed that sweet and creamy chocolate and coffee just really stole the show, with drops of vanilla just making this one drip with sweetness.

Taste - Now, we dive in to get a taste of what this wonderful liquid could be hiding. The first thing you notice is uber sweet chocolate and coffee. Just that wonderful taste that you want to have in a big stout, but the second that you get used to it, it gets cut like a knife, infused with grapefruit and orange peel. Puckering the lips as fresh grass and lemon hints seal it up and dry the mouth instantly before falling down the back of your through and opening up the scarred taste buds to welcome rush of vanilla. Beautifully complex, the rich notes of smoke and molasses intermingle and marry a wonderful peat like darkness that just sits there for a second before it too passes, getting whisked away and leaving behind only the faintest hint of grapefruit like bitterness soaked in vanilla and coffee. A wonderful voyage of unexpected tastes and bright surprises, wit ha virtually hidden alcohol content that makes it oh so smooth.

Mouthfeel - An speaking of smooth, wow, this was one smooth stout. A little bit less full then the rest of the big boys, but again this was a different type of monster, something entirely different then you milk shake like consistency you would typically associate with the style. This had a light, more carbonated feel to it. A much drier beer, especially in the finish, the flavors exploded out of it more then soaked in and sat there. As it warmed up it really did get a good deal thicker, but still stuck to its roots, setting it apart from the heard.

Drinkability - As for an almost 11% ABV Russian Imperial Stout, this was something I could have drank all night long. It was just tremendous in its complexity with a unrivaled smoothness. The alcohol was nowhere to be found, and the dry, hoppy finish only encouraged me to go back and try it again, and again, and again. It was a sad moment when this bottle was finished, as I really wanted just a little bit more. It was like beer crack for me, really just that good.

Overall I would have to say this really lived up to the hype for me. It was a phenominal beer, much different then anything I had before it, and was a nice breath of fresh air in the category. I was impressed by the floral hoppiness that was brought into this, especially in the finish as it really hid the alcohol well and let you have a nice, and not super filling experience out of it. Overall would I like another bottle, absolutely! Would I travel to Minnesota to get it, if the wife would let me, in a heartbeat!

Serving type: bottle

06-13-2008 10:22:35 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of hooliganlife
hooliganlife

Missouri

4.93/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

HUGE thanks to mnjeff

pour is not quite jet black but very dark cola, almost black, with a cocoa head. little to zero retention and lacing

so much going on, bourbon, cherry, molasses, light floral hops, sweet roasted malts, vanilla, and a bit of booze

even more in the flavor. this was quite complex with a mixture of so many flavors. again, herry, molasses, light floral hops, bitter citrus hops, sweet and bitter charcoal roasted malts, vanilla, a bit of booze, dark fruit, and a touch of brown sugar. mind blowing.

thick! the glass has a slick glaze in it. its almost enough to chew on.

this may be the best imp stout i have ever had. i want to drink the shit out of it but its 10.30 ABV (which is hidden well) and a 750ml bottle. it would be trouble, but "trouble loves me".

play on playa... this is it.

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2009 03:02:22 | More by hooliganlife
Photo of MattyG85
MattyG85

Minnesota

4.93/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 750 ml bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice glass. 2011 bottle with a great looking zombie label. BRAAIIINS!

Appearance: Pours very dark and black with only a slight tint of dark brown. Decent three finger deep tan head that settles into a thin patchy layer. Decent amount of lacing on the glass.

Smell: Very rich and darkly sweet. Dark roasted caramel malts with toffee. Big aroma of dark chocolate. A pretty bold presence of dark fruits with raisins and dark cherries. Has some notes of coffee and oak chips lingering around. Also some hints of grassy hops underneath the sweetness. Smells great.

Taste: Just as dark and tasty as the smell leads. Big taste of dark chocolate with dark toasted caramel and toffee malts. Solid presence of coffee and a strong kick of dark fruit sweetness from raisins and dark cherries. Has a hint of oak chips. Finishes with a solid presence of grassy hops adding some balance to the sweetness. Everything comes together perfectly. This is quite delicious.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a moderate level of carbonation. Very roasty, thick, and creamy. A little heat is felt but this is pretty smooth.

Overall: An incredible Russian Imperial Stout. Very robust, complex, and tasty. A perfect blend of sweetness and bitterness. Well worth the hype. This is heaven.... or better yet hell in a bottle. :)

Serving type: bottle

11-06-2011 07:04:55 | More by MattyG85
Photo of NuclearDolphin
NuclearDolphin

Minnesota

4.93/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a 16oz Tulip Glass. After a year of waiting, I was finally able to get my hands on a bottle of Darkness.

Appearance - True to it's name, it pours a pitch black color with the brownest and one of the fluffiest heads I have ever seen. Head is about 3 fingers thick and leaves behind alot of lacing.

Smell - Very rich chocolate smell with butterscotch, rum and toffee. Very healthy burnt malt smell adds more to the aroma along with a slight coffee smell. I don't think I've ever enjoyed the smell of a beer this much!

Taste - I've had beers with chocolate before, but this is by far the most chocolatest beer I've ever had! Rich flavorful chocolate mixed in with very strong caramel and scotch/rum flavors. The burnt malts are also very noticeable which helps add more to the flavor. Amazingly enough, the alcohol taste is masked so well that you can't even tell there is any in here!

Mouthfeel - Body is very thick and heavy, but it's also a very smooth beer to drink. The fact there's virtually no carbonation in this beer also helps it out alot.

Overall - Holy crap, I loved this beer! It was worth being put on the second tier waiting list in order to purchase it. It's a shame this isn't a year round beer because I know this would be a huge seller. Those who are looking for the one of the best Imperial Stouts around need look no further. With it's rich flavor and smoothness, Darkness is one of the best Russian Imperial Stouts around!

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2011 03:06:16 | More by NuclearDolphin
Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,262 ratings.