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Darkness (2006 - 2013) - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Darkness (2006 - 2013)Darkness (2006 - 2013)

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

2,656 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,656
Reviews: 764
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.56%
Wants: 2,921
Gots: 1,032 | FT: 73
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.30% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Starting in 2014, Darkness will be aged in whiskey barrels.

Labels:

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

(Beer added by: ryantupy on 10-08-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Darkness (2006 - 2013) Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,656 | Reviews: 764 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Mavajo
2.42/5  rDev -46.2%
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.

Mavajo, Oct 04, 2010
Photo of AlaskanYoung
2.5/5  rDev -44.4%

AlaskanYoung, Dec 31, 2013
Photo of jaycar06
2.75/5  rDev -38.9%

jaycar06, Feb 11, 2014
Photo of imthaschmidt
2.75/5  rDev -38.9%

imthaschmidt, Dec 25, 2012
Photo of DefenCorps
2.8/5  rDev -37.8%
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.

DefenCorps, Jan 10, 2009
Photo of younger35
2.93/5  rDev -34.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

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.

2008 Edition.

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!

younger35, Oct 27, 2008
Photo of BearsOnAcid
2.95/5  rDev -34.4%
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.

BearsOnAcid, Mar 24, 2010
Photo of rayjay
2.95/5  rDev -34.4%
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.

rayjay, Dec 20, 2008
Photo of ncvbc
2.95/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

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!

ncvbc, Jan 17, 2009
Photo of ShanePB
2.98/5  rDev -33.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

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.

ShanePB, Mar 08, 2011
Photo of IllHaveAnother1
3/5  rDev -33.3%

IllHaveAnother1, Nov 30, 2011
Photo of tbone64
3/5  rDev -33.3%

tbone64, May 25, 2014
Photo of Lasering
3/5  rDev -33.3%

Lasering, Feb 20, 2014
Photo of taylor714914
3/5  rDev -33.3%

taylor714914, Apr 27, 2014
Photo of rpaul2012
3/5  rDev -33.3%

rpaul2012, Dec 16, 2011
Photo of calivessel
3/5  rDev -33.3%

calivessel, Mar 23, 2014
Photo of RichBeer
3/5  rDev -33.3%

RichBeer, Nov 16, 2011
Photo of bpgpitt10
3/5  rDev -33.3%

bpgpitt10, Dec 19, 2011
Photo of LockeSD
3/5  rDev -33.3%

LockeSD, Nov 22, 2011
Photo of barleywinefiend
3/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a deep black with decent carbonation and a small brown head. Nose is rather funky here. Dried fruits, alcohol, roastiness, cocoa. taste is dried fruits like prunes, raisines, figs and some cocoa with a subtle roasted malt. Mouthfeel is thinner than expected and I have no idea where th high ABV is? Not feeling this brew at all.

barleywinefiend, Jul 23, 2009
Photo of HOPSareKey
3/5  rDev -33.3%

HOPSareKey, Jul 04, 2014
Photo of Martin2D
3.1/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

Thanks to fbm115 for sharing this one.

A - Pitch black with a smallish tan head with lacing

S - Roasty, fruity, possibly some coffee

T - I couldn't be caught more off guard by the flavor. It is super sweet, almost like unfermented wort. There are wort like malt flavors, roasty, coffee. These are followed by a huge hop bouquet. Almost IPA like in its hop quality

M - Medium-high carbonation and medium-high in body.

D - I wouldn't be able to drink much of this. Decent beer, not my cup of tea.

Martin2D, Nov 08, 2009
Photo of beachbum1975
3.13/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

2008 vintage: hand dipped gold wax with a layer of unseen black wax underneath - thanks go out to Faro for this particular trade!

This marks my first review of the 2008 Darkness, but in time there will be more reviews added, once there has been a year or so of cellaring done. Great, ominous label. Drank this on 11/10/2008 with soundbarrier, newtonty and a couple other non-BA friends. Served at the recommended 55 degrees.

Pours jet black with a surprisingly high viscosity when poured into my large tulip glass. Medium tan ¼ inch head after a semi-aggressive pour and leaves a nice, dark brown halo throughout the drink.

Floral and earthy hops all VERY evident in the nose. Smells of red and black cherries, alcohol, light chocolate, possibly light vanilla and a huge sweetness mixed with other dark fruits like figs. My initial thought is VERY sweet, too sweet and unbalanced. BIG hops presence, (much like Victory's Storm King), but even stronger! I am a hop head and I had a hard time getting through the overall sweetness so I didn't really taste any of the expected RIS attributes like: coffee, smoke, bitterness, dryness, char, chocolate, etc.

Please don't fill up my inbox with nasty beermails! Maybe I got a bottle from the bottom of a barrel, you never know... For what it's worth, I LOVE Surly's other offerings, but if you were lucky enough to acquire or trade a couple of the 08's, drink one now if you want to make a comparison after aging it for some time, but I can't say it enough - this one definitely needs some time to mature and balance out. More reviews to come...

beachbum1975, Nov 10, 2008
Photo of StoutSlayer
3.13/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Going to the 2008 Darkness release last weekend I went on a mission to taste one of the best beers I would have had to date. That definitely happened, but unfortunately it wasn't Darkness. After finally being let in the brewery at 12pm, we were able to get our Darkness quickly- a kudos to all at Surly for making this process very easy, enjoyable, and fun. You can tell they actually care about their customers. After getting my bottles, there was plenty of more fun to be had, and Surly was offering a wide variety of other styles to be tasted, including a Coffee Bender and T-Bag Furious. The latter was without a doubt, one of the most interesting, great tasting beers I have had to date. My only complaint is that I couldn't take 6 bottles of this wonderful brew home so I could properly review it! Anyway, after I got back home I could not wait to taste one of my Darkness bottles, and admittedly my expectations were high especially after tasting many great inventive flavors of theirs. So I pulled out 2 Darkness Snifter Glasses and poured them generously with Darkness for my Dad and myself. And here's what I thought...

Appearance- As you would expect from its namesake, out of the bottle came a viscous, jet black stream, almost as if they were to make chocolate milk using exclusively 90% pure cocoa dark chocolate. However it was not as thick as the "motor oil" a reporter on T.V. had described it. This then supported a beautiful, coffee colored head that had a creaminess I really enjoy. All in all it was extremely inviting.

Smell- The smell definitely served to build on the impressions from the pour, and to me this was the best part of the beer. I got an awesome aroma with a heavy mix of chocolate, coffee, Dark molasses, and cherries. There was an interesting level of hops aroma too that I wasn't expecting. Everything came together great and let you know that, "Hey, I'm a BIG beer."

Taste- As I brought the glass to my lips I took a generous sip and whoooa... I was getting a great coffee, dark chocolate, toasted malt, and even substantial hops flavor, when it came on slow but started to get louder and stronger until... SWWEEET!!! In rushed a tidal-wave of molasses, maraschino cherry, and syrupy flavors that seemed to overtake everything. The more bitter flavors previously described were still present, trying to fight back, but to me were simply no match for the sweetness army that was launching wave after wave of attack on my taste buds. This became stronger as i continued to drink, until by the end of my glass I could only describe this beer as sweet. It seemed as though the Devil was actually a very sweet man indeed. However do not be fooled! The ABV is hidden remarkably well and sneaks up on you. My dad and I split the bottle and both of us could definitely feel its strength.

Mouthfeel & Drinkability- Although the mouthfeel lends itself to the beer as a whole (smooth and silky) I can't say this is an extremely "drinkable" beer. This is considering if you define drinkable as a beer you could have one after another of while still really enjoying it, which I do. The multitude of ingredients, flavors, and really -sweetness-, would keep most from consuming more than one 750ml bottle by themselves. And to be totally fair I don't think it's really supposed to. I think I would actually enjoy this beer more if it had been released in a 12oz bottle, enough to experience it's great complexity, but not be overpowered by it.

In the end this is a beer that everyone should have the chance to try. It definitely pushes the envelope of beer, at least for me, but can be very overpowering. Surly makes some wonderfully inventive and downright delicious beer, but this is not one of my faves.

StoutSlayer, Oct 28, 2008
Photo of MrFootstones
3.23/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

2010 Vintage

Appearance: Pours oily, dark, and menacing with a fat cocoa colored head which fades into a thin cap. Looks awesome.

Aroma: Boozy, hoppy, sweet, mildly roasty. Alcoholic esters. Dark fruit and baker's chocolate. Not tremendously appealing to be honest.

Taste: Dark dried fruit, alcohol, faint roast. Sweet and hoppy, significant but not overpowering bitterness. Smoothness mid palate. Dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Nice and rich without being heavy. Good amount of medium but not prickly carbonation.

Drinkability: My 1/3 of a bottle is a good amount. Not
loving it, but not difficult to drink by any means.

MrFootstones, Jan 15, 2011
Darkness (2006 - 2013) from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,656 ratings.