Darkness - Surly Brewing Company
Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
Ratings: 2,626 | Reviews: 763 | Display Reviews Only:
2.17/5 rDev -51.8%
On tap at the Map Room in Chicago.
I have to agree with Beachbum1975. The beer I tried was not well-balanced. Too sweet with an almost dried malt extract (carmelized) nose and taste. Good mouthfeel and color was incredibly deep copper black.
I can't see the beer I tried aging well because there wasn't enough bitter hop counterbalance.
After everything I read I really expected this beer to be a lot more than what I had on tap.
In contrast, I had Black Albert the next day on tap and it was everything I hoped for.
11-15-2008 02:34:04 | More by wisrarebeer
2.2/5 rDev -51.1%
2008 vintage shared with my tasting group
A- Just what you'd expect from a RIS. Very dark and little head/retention
S- Meh. This smells licorice-y with some dark fruits in the background. Also picking up some roasty notes
T- First thing that comes to mind is "Licorice Juice." I'm not digging this at all. I was glad to have guys in my group who enjoyed this as I didn't have to pour mine down the drain.
M- Decent carbonination with some chewiness which I like but the flavor makes this impossible to enjoy.
O- Was this beer too aged? Maybe, I'm sure there are plenty of people that will enjoy this beer, I'm just not one of them. I want to try a fresh bottle to see differences
01-28-2012 15:22:32 | More by pschul4
2.23/5 rDev -50.4%
Appearance: 2007 vintage, bottle #263, and what an awesome bottle it is; great packaging here. The beer itself has a pitch black body with two fingers of thick brown froth. Rings of lace cling to the rim of the glass as the head slowly falls. Off to a good start.
Smell: Smoky, meaty, a bit burnt actually. Make that burnt sugar. Citrusy hops are still noticeable despite the age of the bottle, almost a year at this point. This must have been a beast when it was fresh. There's an undercurrent of molasses that's fairly pleasant, but this is somewhat rough on the whole.
Taste & mouthfeel: Molasses, charcoal, pervasive roasty bitterness. There's a spiciness that appears mid-sip, bringing to mind anise or fennel. Thick as hell; this is like drinking a pint of whole milk. Whole milk that someone tossed a piece of charcoal into, that is. The finish is charred and extremely hoppy for the style, with a lingering, somewhat acrid aftertaste that sticks to the tongue even after you've brushed your teeth and gargled with mouthwash. This is certainly complex, but I can't say that I'd ever want to drink it again.
Drinkability: Interesting stuff, but finishing an entire glass is a chore.
Notes: My least favorite beer from Surly so far, I'm sorry to say. It's unique, and possibly even worth trying given the chance, but it's not worth all the hoopla.
10-01-2008 00:45:56 | More by largadeer
2.33/5 rDev -48.2%
Shared this beer with some friends during our epic imperial stout tasting with Surly Darkness, Darklord, Kate the Great, Abyss, Sexual Chocolate, Cigar City 110K OT Batch2, Speedway stout, Stormaktsporter regular and Kaggen! in the line-up.
Look: Beautiful. Dark as hell. Very nice thick tan head.
Smell: Beautiful aroma as well. This is so complex, it is impossible to describe everything, coffee, dark fruits, tobacco, alcohol, toffee, chocolate. WOW! In terms of smell equal in quality to the Kaggen!.
Taste: Well, what shall I say, this is really the first beer I ever had I wished I would not have tasted after smelling it. What an enormous disappointing taste. Sweet toffee, molasses, chocolate and sugars. Overpowering sweet. Incredible unbalanced and dull.
Mouhtfeel: Mouthfeel is great again. Thick, dense on palate.
Overall: In terms of taste, completely overrated. Nobody from our 6 people group could finish the glass. Look, smell and mouthfeel close to perfect though. The brewers should contact the Narke brewery for a course in tasty, balanced RIS brewing! The worst one of the evening. Hopeless and hopless
08-03-2010 11:00:54 | More by rvdoorn
2.35/5 rDev -47.8%
Thanks to mynie for the opportunity to try the infamous Darkness, 2008 750ml bottle, decided to have this one fresh as opposed to letting it age for a bit since I heard it's rather hoppy for a RIS.
Pours a dark brown/black color, some light being able to show ruby colors near the edge, very large tan head that fades slowly to leave some good lacing.
Smell is as anticipated, surprisingly (for a RIS once again) hoppy at first, some malt and smoke in the background, not quite to style but not unpleasant.
Taste takes the normal route and ditches the hoppiness that might have been expected after the aroma, instead it is cloyingly sweet, lots of chocolate and vanilla, also seems like there's other sugars that are added to make it much sweeter than it should be, very syrupy and sticky but not overly viscous.
An interesting take on the RIS, but I think I'd stick with Kate and Dark Lord for the top picks, I'd even reach for an Old Rasputin first. Glad I got to try it, but it doesn't even come close to the hype it has, maybe if it didn't taste like someone added a few cups of sugar to it it wouldn't have been as much of a chore to drink even a glass of it. Maybe a different vintage will change my mind down the road.
Edit (3/6/10): Remove Kate from top pick, 2010 was just as much of a cloyingly syrupy sweet mess.
12-12-2008 21:29:45 | More by deltatauhobbit
2.4/5 rDev -46.7%
Doesn't even live up to its name, let alone the hype:
Went to Darkness Day 2009. I had the 2008 on draft before and thought it was pretty good, so I wasn't expecting anything less.
A- Not black, but brown with amber highlights...not very dark and not at all reminiscent of an imperial stout
S- wonderful piney hops. Wow does this ever smell good. It's so piney.
T- Unbalanced, cloyingly sweet mess. Where's the roasty chocolate flavors? What's with this nutty caramel taste domination? It hides its ABV well.
M- Over-carbonated big time, thin bodied and fizzy, not at all viscous.
O- Don't waste your time and money. This is an unbalanced imperial brown ale. What's with the hype? Surly does make some good beers (Abrasive and Wet), but this is not one of them.
06-16-2011 23:40:20 | More by cpz28
2.42/5 rDev -46.2%
Pours black as night with a brown head. Definitely looks the part of a big RIS.
The nose is lackluster - strong to be sure, but not pleasant. Tons and tons of malt with a plum character. Not really appealing.
The taste is much of the same. Loaded with roasty caramel malt and a charateristic that makes me think of plums. This isn't bad, per se, but definitely not tasty to me. When I try a beer of Darkness' acclaim, I expect some nice complexities and layers. I got none of that. This thing honestly tasted like a thicker, cloying version of Old Rasputin to me.
Mouthfeel was nice and thick and creamy. Sticky.
All in all, massive disappointment. even though this bottle was from the most recent vintage, I didn't get any of the hops that others are mentioning. I wish I had, since it might have balanced this mess out. I don't imagine I'll be trying this one again. Took me almost 5 hours to finish the bottle, and I was sick to my gut afterwards. Yeck.
10-04-2010 14:23:46 | More by Mavajo
2.8/5 rDev -37.8%
I received bottles from beerbeagle, Viggo and scoobydank. Thanks for this, guys! Split it with johnmichaelsen last night.
A: Jet black with an inch-thick dark brown head. Looks very impressive with some lacing.
S: Spicy hops right out of the gate, spicy enough to make me think of a papad (matpe bean flour and black pepper roasted together). Definitely pine-like in hop character. Dark bitter chocolate in the back with a LOT of roasted malt aroma, roasted and acridly bitter. The hops lend a unique twist to this beer but there isn't enough of a backbone to pull this off.
T: Opens up WAY too sweet, artificially so (is this beer approved for phenylketonurics?), malted milk balls. Hops come through with a piney bitterness but not enough to balance the sweetness. At the risk of belaboring a point, this beer is all too sweet, lacking in any real complexity. In addition, there's a rather strange acrid malt bitterness that just does not work
M: Light in body, almost too light. Carbonation is good but the finish is too sweet for my liking.
D: Poor, I'm having a hard time finishing this. In fact,I couldn't finish the 8-10oz I poured for myself.
Notes: I really wanted to like this beer but it's an imperial stout in the vein of the sweeter ones - DWF WWS, Dark Horizon (both beers being superior) and in some respects, the Mikkeller Black. If you like these beers, you'll go apeshit over this but honestly, I'm not really a fan.
01-10-2009 15:27:29 | More by DefenCorps
2.93/5 rDev -34.9%
Had a pint of this on the Friday night (10/24/08) before the actual bottle release at Stub & Herbs. After gorging on Surly Coffee Bender all night, I didn't really enjoy my glass of Darkness. Hoping this was just due to the fact that Coffee Bender is gods gift to man and any beer following it, probably isn't going to be that great. So I tried it the night of the release with my buddy after sleeping off the buzz from the morning and afternoon festivities. Drank from my brand spanking new Darkness snifter.
Appearance- Glugs a jet black hue that allows zero light to permeate any part of the beer. Fairly decent one finger dark brownish tan head forms leaving a small creamy cap and collar with loads of sticky lacing. Thickest beer I've seen since Dark Lord.
Smell- Tons of well roasted malt give a burnt perception that lends to the copious amounts of coffee and bakers chocolate that jump out of the glass. Tinges of light alder smoke and dark fruits (prunes, raisins and even dark cherries) are detectable as the hoppyness of this Imperial Stout is taken to a whole new level. A definite sweetness in the form of dark toffee and caramel and even some murky black molasses. So much going on in here I think you can pretty much smell whatever you want.
Taste- Ohhh... The aforementioned sweetness in the nose really starts out strong. The burnt coffee and baker's chocolate are muted a bit but still present. Corn Syrup, caramel and dark brown sugar give way to a more earthy molasses before my tongue is destroyed by the hops. Full of raw pine and lemon grass that produces a very herbal hop bitterness that tries to cut the sweetness. Fail. Dark cherries and perhaps even a touch of vanilla finishes the beer along with a very cloying sweetness. The alcohol is covered super well though.
Mouthfeel- Very thick and viscous with nice smooth creamy feel. The carbonation is light and prickly and very nice.
Drinkability- Overall I can definitely see the reason why people love this brew. It's very unique and I haven't tasted anything like this before but it's just not for me. I don't mind a little sweetness in a nice big brew but I think Darkness is just plain cloying and hard to drink. This is all very disappointing too because the nose is pretty inviting and I've been waiting quite some time to sample this. Not Surly's best beer but glad to have to opportunity to try anyways!
10-27-2008 19:01:03 | More by younger35
2.95/5 rDev -34.4%
Incredibly sweet, cloying beer. I had trouble finishing my sample. It was like drinking molasses and hoppy wort. I did not think this beer was worthy of its praise to begin with. Now I have no doubt that this beer is pure hype.
Darkness poured out black with a nice head produced from its big hopping addition for an imperial stout. Reminds me of Stone's RIS.
It's still hoppy after a year plus in this bottle. Seems to have faded them into an earthy smell. Light sweetness and dark malts blend into the aroma.
This beer has a lot of balance going for it. Light hops, chocolate, roasted barley, and balanced sweetness make it very easy to drink at this age. There's moderate carbonation to it as well.
This beer still reminds me of a well aged Stone RIS though.
03-24-2010 19:33:21 | More by BearsOnAcid
2.95/5 rDev -34.4%
2008 bottling. This was the beer I wanted very badly to love, but it just didn't work out between us :-(
-creamy and dark brown, with a dark brown head and great retention; very inviting
-excellent creamy carbonation
-mouthfeel is heavy but still quite drinkable
-bizarre sweetness that just doesn't work, like a double foreign export stout
-weird hop use, citrus rind-y like Simcoe; just doesn't work
-I was expecting way more bitterness
-drinkability suffers from the "off" flavors (no actual defects)
My numbers seem critical even to me, but since 2.0 is "not impressed" and I'm definetely not impressed, i gave it a 2.5. I'm not down on Surly at all; I love their other offerings.
12-20-2008 00:42:06 | More by rayjay
2.95/5 rDev -34.4%
Dark and beautiful with a creamy tan head and very solid retention. Sticky chunks of lacing down the glass. Smell is interesting. Creamy dark chocolate with a touch of roast, along with an evident hop presence underneath. It brings forth a spicy scent. Pretty rich of molasses. Taste is just over-the-top sweet for my liking. Again, big time molasses and in an overwhelming fashion. Some dark fruits as well. A slight hint of roast and definite hops again attempt to find balance but just help to forget about the sweet for a second. In the mouth it's creamy and smooth, not too bad by any means. Sadly, this is not one that I enjoyed so much. I'm just glad it wasn't wasted, as I shared it with a couple people. Maybe after a year or more, this one would lose some of its sweetness and find a bit more balance. Cheers to Bill for sending yet another Surly brew my way!
01-17-2009 01:32:01 | More by ncvbc
2.98/5 rDev -33.8%
Vintage 2009, black wax. Poured into a tasting glass, courtesy of an anonymous BA at Imminent Liquidation. Thanks for the opportunity!
A: Darkness is no understatement - pitch jet black with a very minimal mocha colored head. Quick dissipation, not bad.
S: Nice aromatics, some lactose, sweet notes of milk chocolate, roasted caramel malt elements. Well balanced, nothing dominating or show stealing. All in all, it's still a nice display of flavors.
T: Holy hell, this is not as inviting as the aroma. Really sweet milkiness up-front that is palate coating and sticky. It won't go away. I can't get any other flavors to compete with this taste left in my mouth. Some overly sweet chocolate notes try to break through but it's not enough. Where's the roast? The malt base? SOMETHING! Nothing. Disappointing.
M: Pretty thin for the style, definitely does not have the creaminess or full-bodied mouth feel I am looking for. The carbonation is on the lower end, which helps this from becoming a complete mess.
I'm not quite sure if it was just this vintage or if something went wrong in this bottle but it tasted soured, but I don't think there were any reports of infection, so I'm just assuming this was how it was meant to be. I'd gladly taste another vintage to see what the heck was going on here. Thanks again though to whoever brought the bottle, not your fault, but just a let down for a beer I've almost traded a lot for -- or even dropped some $$ for on the 'bay.
03-08-2011 16:26:04 | More by ShanePB
Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,626 ratings.