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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
DarknessDarkness

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
99
world-class

3,067 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,067
Reviews: 796
rAvg: 4.49
pDev: 9.35%
Wants: 3,146
Gots: 1,142 | FT: 82
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 (42) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,067 | Reviews: 796
Photo of ChuckThat
1/5  rDev -77.7%

Photo of jl1394
1.24/5  rDev -72.4%

Photo of Mike
1.96/5  rDev -56.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

Tastes of soap and raisins

Photo of chippo33
2/5  rDev -55.5%

Photo of huddyball
2/5  rDev -55.5%

Photo of StoughtonGuy
2/5  rDev -55.5%

Photo of wisrarebeer
2.2/5  rDev -51%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

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.

Photo of pschul4
2.27/5  rDev -49.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

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

Photo of largadeer
2.29/5  rDev -49%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

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.

Photo of Wgjg0813
2.36/5  rDev -47.4%

Photo of deltatauhobbit
2.44/5  rDev -45.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

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.

Photo of cpz28
2.48/5  rDev -44.8%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

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.

Photo of Mavajo
2.49/5  rDev -44.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

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.

Photo of suckaj
2.5/5  rDev -44.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

majorly disappointed with this, was overly malty

Photo of AlaskanYoung
2.5/5  rDev -44.3%

Photo of rvdoorn
2.52/5  rDev -43.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 1 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 1

2008 vintage

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

Photo of jaycar06
2.75/5  rDev -38.8%

Photo of imthaschmidt
2.75/5  rDev -38.8%

Photo of DefenCorps
2.86/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

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.

Photo of Queequegtashtego
2.92/5  rDev -35%

Photo of BearsOnAcid
2.96/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

2010 vintage

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.

2008 vintage.

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.

Photo of rayjay
2.99/5  rDev -33.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2008 bottling. This was the beer I wanted very badly to love, but it just didn't work out between us :-(

Assets:
-creamy and dark brown, with a dark brown head and great retention; very inviting
-excellent creamy carbonation
-mouthfeel is heavy but still quite drinkable

Negative factors:
-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
-muted nose
-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.

Photo of IllHaveAnother1
3/5  rDev -33.2%

Photo of tbone64
3/5  rDev -33.2%

Photo of Lasering
3/5  rDev -33.2%

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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
99 out of 100 based on 3,067 ratings.