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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
DarknessDarkness

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

2,840 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,840
Reviews: 774
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.33%
Wants: 2,986
Gots: 1,096 | FT: 80
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.30% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
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

(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 Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,840 | Reviews: 774 | Display Reviews Only:
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
Photo of jokermanboy
3.25/5  rDev -27.8%

jokermanboy, Apr 14, 2014
Photo of jtladner
3.25/5  rDev -27.8%

jtladner, Mar 23, 2014
Photo of TexIndy
3.25/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

400th review! 2008 Edition. Poured from a 750ml wax dipped bottle into a pint glass. Cool label. and wax job. Was pitch black in color even against a light. Amazing lacing. It had a large brown head that ever so slowly settled into a constant thick foam.

The aroma was surprisingly sweet. It wasn't the dark fruit sweet that you find (and I don't like) in most RIS's. Rather it was more like an amped up milk stout. Also heavy on liquid dark chocolate aroma. Some hops hidden way in the back but overwhelmed by the sweetness. So glad it wasn't dark fruit aroma but the aroma could have used some more hops to offset the sweetness. The taste was very similar to the taste. Completely unexpected to be so sweet. Almost cloying at first and then completely cloying by middle. Slight bitter at the end but not nearly enough to offset it. Alcohol is felt by warm stomach but completely hidden in the taste. That is an area where most (I'm looking at you Dark Lord) RIS's fail. They are too dominated by alcohol where this one hides it perfectly. Mouthfeel is thick and creamy. Good carbonation. Too sweet of an aftertaste.

Overall, a disappointment especially when factoring what I traded to get it. For me, it was WAY too sweet. Even after it really warmed up, it was still off the chart. It's only 4 months old so can't be over-aged and can't imagine further aging would cut the sweetness any more. No real hop presence as-is and that would fade over time. Really disappointed in this one. Love all the Surly's that I've had but this one is a miss for me. Still can't get over that it's because of being too sweet - like sugar water. If you'd said too raisiny or too much alcohol I'd have believed that but not this. May try another batch in the future but probably one and done for me unless a unique circumstance applies.

TexIndy, Feb 17, 2009
Photo of dfhhead25
3.25/5  rDev -27.8%

dfhhead25, Aug 26, 2013
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.25/5  rDev -27.8%

westcoastbeerlvr, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of gueuzegossage
3.25/5  rDev -27.8%

gueuzegossage, Feb 03, 2014
Photo of LSUPT
3.25/5  rDev -27.8%

LSUPT, Aug 08, 2013
Photo of Bierguy5
3.28/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750 ml wax-top bottle. Pitch black liquid. Thich tan head that lasts for quite some time, and surrenders some great looking patchwork of lace.

Loads of citrusy hops up front, big and juicy. Ripe fruit, chocolate, and alcohol come out in the nose. Interesting combo.

What sticks out to me up front is the amount of sweetness, a bit cloying for me. SOme chocolate comes in, but gets overtaken by a huge blast of citrusy hops. SOme warming from the alcohol.

Maybe a bit thin. Lower carbonation. Intesesting, but not my taste. Too much sweetness, with too much hop flavor.

Bierguy5, Dec 21, 2008
Photo of dtmets84
3.3/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2011 vintage. Shared the bottle with DTMets84.

I have been waiting to dabble in darkness for sometime now and what is a better excuse then no work monday? Yahoo for labor day.

Appearance: Pours a dark dark black with an inch head.
Head is the color of khaki jeans?

Smell: Sweet? Black tuesday again?! Roasty as well.

Taste: Lots of something I can not put my finger on yet but it is not something that appeals to me. Its Dark Lord again.

Mouthfeel: My first surly brew ever and I am too letdown to discuss the mouthfeel.

dtmets84, Sep 03, 2012
Photo of DarthKostrizer
3.35/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2011 Vintage thanks for sharing MrVonzipper

Look: Very dark pretty much black body with a 1/4 tan head and ok retention and some spotty lacing

Smell: The nose for me really doesn't work. It is a combination of chocolate dark fruits a touch of vanilla sweetness and piney hops

Taste: Again just not a fan of the taste. It starts of slightly sweet with some chocolate caramel and vanilla and finishes with a piney bitterness that just does not work for me

Mouthfeel: Medium body with medium to mild carbonation and bitter

Overall: This beer reminds me more of a cda than a RIS. The flavors are all over the place and just do not mix well for me. Definitely not worth seeking out

DarthKostrizer, Jun 05, 2012
Photo of andreasmwatt
3.35/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance - Very dark nice looking beer. Way excited when I poured it.

Smell - Pretty bland actually. Not a whole lot of sense.

Taste- I know everyone loves this beer but I don't love it actually I can live without it. I like dark beer and this one just was not my thing.

Mouthfeel - Felt very nice on the palate.

D - Wuite Quaffable, like I said b4 just not my kind of beer.

andreasmwatt, Jun 06, 2008
Photo of akorsak
3.38/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A bottle of the 2008 release, shared with Deuane and Ffejherb.

A: The stout is admirably dark, a pitch black monster that has an off-white head that doesn't linger for long.

S: The stout is bold, thick and syrupy with an ancho chile smokiness. The thick malts reveal chocolate and caramel over time.

T: Chocolate nuttiness leads off the ale, dark and thick with a graham cracker-like finish. The ancho chile flavor is present, giving the stout a buffalo wing-like taste. Syrupy flavors are intense, sweet with a near-cloying presence. Coffee and cocoa see the stout away and they may be the best features of the bottle.

M: Syrupy, the stout borders on cloying at times. The cocoa powder is nice but it doesn't last long enough to make a difference.

D: To paraphrase, did I really shave me legs for this? I am underwhelmed and ranked this one behind the Coronado bourbon RIS, Dark Hollow and Full Sail Black Gold. Don't believe the hype!

akorsak, Nov 17, 2008
Photo of billshmeinke
3.38/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip. Thanks to biniek13 for trading it to me. 2009 vintage.

Two finger beige head. Pitch black body. Great retention that leaves nice lacing behind.

Smells of tootsie rolls. Dark fruits (plumbs and raisins). Nose reminds me quite a bit of Chokolat by Southern Tier.

Taste is similar. Tootsie rolls, sugar, plumbs, prunes, brown sugar, a touch of dark chocolate, subtle black berries and raspberries, candied dark fruits, and a hint of roastiness/smokiness on the back end. Too much fake sugary like flavor for me.

Thick and full bodied. Low carbonation. Quite smooth, and luscious. Perfect RIS mouthfeel.

A bit cloying, but the alcohol is well hidden. One bottle wasn't exactly easy to put down. Really similar to Chokolat which is much easier to trade for. It also gets a bit better after it warms.

billshmeinke, Aug 22, 2010
Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,840 ratings.