Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

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DarknessDarkness

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
97
world-class

788 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 788
Hads: 3,217
rAvg: 4.39
pDev: 4.78%
Wants: 3,205
Gots: 1,176 | FT: 85
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.30% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: ryantupy on 10-08-2006

Starting in 2014, bottled Darkness will be aged in whiskey barrels. This listing is ONLY for Darkness that is NOT barrel-aged. For 2014 Darkness go here:  http://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/p ... 14/141724/ 

Labels:
2007-Grim Reaper
2008-Devil
2009-Mummy
2010-Vampire
2011-Zombie
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer
View: Beers (51) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 788 | Hads: 3,217
Photo of dukedevil0
5/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this on tap 3 times in Chicago, IL this winter so far at Hopleaf, Sheffield's and Local Option. Each time was served in a snifter or stemmed tulip.

A: DARK black with head ranging from khaki colored to copper brown to almost chocolate milkshake looking. Lots of lacing left on the glass on this one.

S: Smells of chocolate, coffee, toffee, dark fruits or raisins, maybe some slight blackberry or raspberry in there too. Lots of different smells in there.

T: Tastes even better than it smells! but still has the chocolate, coffee, toffee, dark fruits/raisins, molasses, maybe some slight blackberry or raspberry. So many flavors, it's like you could focus on one and love it, then focus on another and it's like you are drinking different beers, but all the flavors are great.

M: Super creamy, sticky (seriously some spilled over and my fingers were sticking to the glass like I had eaten cotton candy), syrupy. Low carbonation.

D: Unbelievably drinkable. You can barely tell that the alcohol is in there and what is there goes so well with the rest of the beer it makes you want even more. I was crushed when I ordered another and they came back with just a couple ounces because the keg was dry.

This is EASILY my favorite beer that I have ever drank up to this point. I get giddy when I go somewhere and see it on the beer list. I hope they bottle more of this and ship it to Chicago next year. I have to give this all 5's until I can find something that proves me wrong. (1,483 characters)

Photo of hardy008
5/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

When I had this on tap, it had a small tan head. When I poured the beer from the bottle into a tulip glass, it had a huge tan 2 finger head with excellent retention. Very impressive. Pitch black color, allows no light to pass through.

The nose on this is amazing. A nice combination of smeet malt, molasses, chocolate, raisins, coffee, and hops makes for a great aroma.

The flavor is just as amazing. The malt takes center stage and the beer is wonderfully sweet and somewhat hoppy at the same time.

As high as the alcohol is, it is amazing at how well it is hidden. Full bodied, rich, creamy, and nicely carbonated. Nicely drinkable for such a big beer. I wouldn't change a thing. (686 characters)

Photo of MNishCT77
4.99/5  rDev +13.7%
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 (1,171 characters)

Photo of Dawgboned37
4.99/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I love this beer! Poured 2013 (Brewcifer) vintage into a surly tulip glass. Moderate caramel head dissipated to thin layer of bubbles. The beer is very thick and viscous. The nose has complex scents of molasses, chocolate, roasted malts, licorice, and lingering vanilla. The taste follows the nose very well with pronounced dark chocolate, malt, and vanilla flavors accented by oak. Slight coffee bitterness, and even some hop flavors come through toward the end. Fantastic. (474 characters)

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.97/5  rDev +13.2%
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. (2,169 characters)

Photo of travloh
4.97/5  rDev +13.2%
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... (1,752 characters)

Photo of Beerking721
4.97/5  rDev +13.2%
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! (905 characters)

Photo of jt31914
4.97/5  rDev +13.2%
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. (866 characters)

Photo of zealot
4.97/5  rDev +13.2%
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. (1,563 characters)

Photo of MamaMeier
4.95/5  rDev +12.8%
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! (729 characters)

Photo of Damian
4.95/5  rDev +12.8%
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. (1,703 characters)

Photo of cbros
4.95/5  rDev +12.8%
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. (717 characters)

Photo of bobbypaulson
4.95/5  rDev +12.8%
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!!! (627 characters)

Photo of gratefulstu
4.95/5  rDev +12.8%
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. (1,692 characters)

Photo of Shango42
4.95/5  rDev +12.8%
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. (775 characters)

Photo of Ri0
4.94/5  rDev +12.5%
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. (812 characters)

Photo of tconboy
4.94/5  rDev +12.5%
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. (667 characters)

Photo of FLBeertender
4.94/5  rDev +12.5%
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. (489 characters)

Photo of JohnG190
4.94/5  rDev +12.5%
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! (599 characters)

Photo of challenja
4.94/5  rDev +12.5%
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! (1,071 characters)

Photo of Scoobydank
4.94/5  rDev +12.5%
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) (814 characters)

Photo of MattyG85
4.92/5  rDev +12.1%
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. :) (1,354 characters)

Photo of JonnyBeers
4.92/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

2012 Bottle I received in trade about 10 months ago?

Really can't imagine a better RIS. I don't even think barrel aging would do this any benefit. It's just perfect the way it is. Only thing I could maybe point out is the sweetness, but compared to Dark Lord this is easy drinking in that regard. Smooth. Chocolate, toffee, roasty, smooth smooth smooth. I aged mine until it was over a year old. The abv at 10% is hardly noticeable. Well done Surly! (450 characters)

Photo of hooliganlife
4.92/5  rDev +12.1%
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. (814 characters)

Photo of mikesgroove
4.92/5  rDev +12.1%
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! (4,992 characters)

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 788 ratings.