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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

DarknessDarkness

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

2,254 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2254
Reviews: 752
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.56%


Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.30% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
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:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Darkness Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,254 | Reviews: 752 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of feloniousmonk
feloniousmonk

Minnesota

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

My Darkness sits in a Duvel tulip glass, the roasty brown espresso-tinged head filling the top, and the actual beer as black as the darkest night, saturated with sin. Tannish lace stays long on the glass. This bleak cast may scare away the timid, those less ready to tango with the Stygian side, but the nose entices me in, and am undaunted as I step into the dark.

A blast of coffee hits first, married with copious cocoa, bitter and sweet stand side by side, neither in dominance. Hints of dark rum, molasses, black pepper and anise are mixed in this aroma of this heady brew, and it only gets richer the more you drink it in the nose. Sweeter elements eventually take charge, but it's still a deep, almost spicy blend.

To taste: Massive mouthfeel, thick, gooey, and absolutely delicious. Chocolate is in full force, but matched once more with earthier aspects, the coffee, the spice, the slick black strap. Incredibly pervasive on the palate, this stout commands every inch of the senses, sending tasty tendrils up in each crack in the cavern of the mouth. Plenty of hops at play (80 IBUs), bobbing just below the malt.

Sip, gulp, swallow, and the parade of flavors begins again, dancing along the tongue, like some malefic ballet. Dark fruit sensations rise up and leave the mind searching for the connection. Dark cherries, berries, raspberry? ....but completely covered in a shell of chocolate. The lip smacks, the tongue scrapes up remnants of this rich elixir, not to miss a drop of deliciousness.

To state "full-bodied" would be an act of redundancy. This is huge, long, and out of the ordinary. Ends smooth and dryly, a pleasing finish, still loaded with flavor, never dying away completely.

Puts many a RIS to shame, though I'd love to sit down and do a comparison among others. To the great credit of Darkness, the alcohol content does not really stick out until nearing glasses end, and the less attractive aspect is that the beautiful dark, rich flavor leaves you craving more, ...although you probably shouldn't. (It's 9.5%, give or take.)

I entered the heart of Darkness, and peered into the abyss...found it satisfactory to my soul, and I believe I will take this midnight ride again and again...in moderation...

and to think, there is a bourbon barrel version on it's way...oh, sweet mercy!

Hey, Todd, which metal album should have been thundering in the background while I drink this?
And thank you for brewing this beer, to my knowledge the only Russian Imperial Stout from a Minnesota brewery, outside of the brewpubs.

Serving type: on-tap

10-30-2006 05:50:23 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of brendankeenan
brendankeenan

Minnesota

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at the Muddy Pig and the Happy Gnome on successive weekends. The name was indeed fitting. It was a dark black coffee color. The aroma was all chocolate and plums. The taste was well balanced between the fruity hops and toasted malts.

This beer is a great example of the type. It has a great flavor and nice mouthfeel. I highly recommend this beer. Be careful though, it kicks like a mule with its high abv.

Serving type: on-tap

11-27-2006 00:35:39 | More by brendankeenan
Photo of Pitmonkey
Pitmonkey

Minnesota

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I've been luke warm on Imperials in the past, I was floored tonight.

Served from tap into belgian stem-ware, don't recall which. Inky black, while the lighting at the Blue Nile wasn't exactly bright, I am confident there was no light coming through that beer. A light tan head which eventually diminished.

I didn't get a lot from the aroma, there was some malt there, and if my vocabulary was better or I was a more experienced reviewer, I might have something, but I kept trying for it and it never did become pronounced, but it may well have been overwhelmed by the intense flavors because I dove in pretty quickly.

Sweet, malty thickness, like a good 90% dark chocolate and a finish like a really well prepared espresso, bitterness lingering forever, essentially until I couldn't resist another sip.

Mouthfeel that sticky syrupy sweetness that never cloys, it dissipates into a lovely alcohol warmth and the aforementioned espresso.

I usually have an Imperial and I am done with the style but I just couldn't resist a second and was not disappointed.

I seriously have never enjoyed an Imperial more than this.

Serving type: on-tap

10-31-2007 04:13:33 | More by Pitmonkey
Photo of Bighuge
Bighuge

Minnesota

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Inky black. Big thick crop of dark brown foam on top. Great staying power too. Spotty patches of brown lace coat the glass as I drink. The aroma is thick with raw, resinous hops. (Very similar to the way Alpha Klaus smelled the very first time I had it years ago.) Also chocolate notes and roasted malts and heavily roasted coffee bean. The flavor exhibits great complexity and depth. Baker's chocolate. Black licorice and hop oils mingle nicely. Intense coffee flavors and mocha/java notes. Fruit nuances are dark in nature....black berry and boysenberry come to mind. And there's a huge bitterness. A big double punch of roasted bitterness and hop bitterness....love this raw ass bitterness. And throughout, there's a nice charred edge to round everything off. The body is medium-full to full. Somewhere in that range. This doesn't have that "motor oil" viscosity, but it really doesn't need it. This is damn impressive the way it is. It's lightly carbonated and the alcohol really isn't that noticeable. It seems to blend in with the bitterness and is hidden to an extent in that capacity. There's a nice oily/greasy feel after drinking which I find appealing. The taste lingers long after I'm done. This is very drinkable. Growler would be no problem.

Serving type: on-tap

11-02-2007 00:35:03 | More by Bighuge
Photo of Lordsloth
Lordsloth

Wisconsin

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Served in a small (5 or 6 oz.) Guinness glass at McKenzie's in Minneapolis.

A- "Blacker than the Blackest Black- times infinity", as one of my favorite sayings goes. A thick foam head with tenacious lacing as the beer goes down.

S- A roasted chocolatey, hop filled nose.

T- It has an amazing, deep flavor. Chocolate, Toast, and a big hop taste that comes quickly and fades back. There was something of a bite like a warm coke(I like warm coke), I thought. Amazingly smooth, as well.

M- Thick! A medium to heavy viscosity in the mouth, and no bad aftertaste to speak of.

D- Highly drinkable. It's a sipper, but you keep on sipping. I can see myself having a few glasses.

My first review- be kind. ;)

Serving type: on-tap

12-19-2007 17:38:30 | More by Lordsloth
Photo of goindownsouth
goindownsouth

Pennsylvania

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Many, many thanks to BA mikesgroove for sharing the bottle with me on 06/11/08.

Poured into a short glass and allowed to warm slightly. Deep and rich in appearance, black as can be. Beige head with sturdiness and a lacing that lingered throughout the glass.

Aromas of strong coffee flavors intertwined with bittersweet cocoa goodness - fantastic balance of the two. Hints of some heat )good Rum), dark molasses, and warm spices play in concert.

Thick and robust on the palate. Absolutely splended in the mouth. Chocolate, coffee and spice in full form, working and playing off one another. Plemty of hops action to add an unsuspecting balance to those who are not ready. Savoring this brew in the mouth brings out additional noted of dark fruits covered in high quality chocolate. Fantastic staying power with these flavors.

Full bodied in every conceivable way. Big, but not in an annoying way.

IMHO, this is the quintessential Russian Imperial Stout. The balance and variances make this one for the ages. One not only to seek out and savor, but one to celebrate.

I am honored to have been fortunate to had the opportunity.

Thanks, bro.

Serving type: bottle

06-11-2008 21:56:15 | More by goindownsouth
Photo of ejquin
ejquin

Illinois

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2008 Vintage, just picked up today. Drove up from Chicago

A: Black wih a beautiful fluffy white head that fades and clings to the glass all the way down.

S: Chocolate, and coffee, you get the roasted malts of a stout with some cherries, but a really nice hop fruity spiciness

T/M: Mouthfeel is wonderful, smooth and creamy. The thing about Darkness is that for a RIS, everything is so clean, so crisp, so drinkable, yet loaded with flavor. Starts off with the dark chocolate fading to cherry liquor, and a nice dose of hop spiciness comes through right at the end, just enough so you know it's there and balances the beer perfectly

Serving type: bottle

10-26-2008 02:24:40 | More by ejquin
Photo of Greggy
Greggy

Minnesota

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a hefty ultra fluffy and creamy dark tan/brown head. As it recedes, it leaves some great lacing. The body is pitch black.

S- On the nose I get immense notes of chocolate, coffee, cream, some nice dark fruit, a bit of sweet graham cracker, as well as a nice hoppiness.

T- Starts out with a luxurious thick smooth creamy chocolate with a great hop presence but it is extremely well balanced. I also get notes of coffee, cream, butterscotch, and graham cracker. The finish seems to go on and on with some residual sweetness.

M- By far the thickest feeling beer I have ever had. NO carbonation and ultra thick.

D- This is of course high alcohol but for a Russian Impy, this goes down WAY to smooth. Very drinkable for what it is.

Serving type: bottle

11-05-2008 02:56:31 | More by Greggy
Photo of Duffman
Duffman

Minnesota

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thick, black, oily, viscous, this beer truly deserves its name. A dense, mocha-colored vibrant head adds considerable life and beauty to the appearance of this beer, which is absolutely exceptional.

Seductively aromatic. I imagine that if the finest velvet had an aroma it could well be this beer. Nutty, chocolaty, with dried fruits (notably cherry) and rich creamy notes. Amazingly complex and well-balanced, even for a russian imperial stout.

Exquisite and luxurious. Rich malted notes contrast wonderfully with the mild hop bitterness coming through. While fruitier than most imperial stouts it is not pointedly so, like Bell's Expedition Stout for example. Raisins, sherry, cream, cinnamon, the flavors come in waves and continue to reveal themselves.

The body is extraordinarily well-rounded and deep. Thick, smooth, and sumptuous the mouthfeel is truly exemplary. A long, lasting, and richly clinging finish is a fine finish to this highly drinkable stout. While I don't doubt that there are betters beers and that I have many comparably favored beers left to discover I have yet to come across a beer this refined and enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

11-06-2008 02:43:26 | More by Duffman
Photo of NittanyBeerFan
NittanyBeerFan

Pennsylvania

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to treyrab for including me on this tasting. 2008 Vintage.

Holy crap is really all I can say about this beer.

A: Pours like a thick used 5W-30 blend. The beer, when poured slightly aggressively pours extremely smoothly and then develops a nice 1cm head. The head slowly dissipates to a thin film and laces beautifully all the way down the class.

S: If you were blindfolded, you would think that you were about to dip into an imperial IPA from the smell of this. Rich in hops with an evidence of balance with malts, you can really feel the bitterness in this. I would have liked to have smelled a little bit more chocolate and fruits in it, though. That's the only thing that keeps this from being a 5 on smell.

T: WOW complexity. Dark fruits come right up to the front of the flavor. Immediately following the fruits are the chocolate roasted and caramel malts. Finishes with a nice creamy taste. The cream really rounds out this beer. I think there may be some oats in there to add to the creamy texture. Surprisingly, there is not even a hint of booze, despite the nearly 11% ABV.

M: There's still a little carbonation in this beer which puts it in front of Dark Lord for me. Way lighter in texture than it looks, and it slides beautifully down the palate.

D: The 11% is the only thing that keeps this from being a 5. I can't see myself finishing a whole one of these, not that I wouldn't want to!

Serving type: bottle

11-15-2008 01:33:33 | More by NittanyBeerFan
Photo of treyrab
treyrab

California

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Vintage.

Thanks to Hophead22 and scoobydank for this one! Shared this with jac5084 and nittanybeerfan last night.

A: Pours like sludge into the glass as it fills and creates a hearty head with a rather aggressive pour. Not the darkest beer I have seen, but there is only minor brown around the edges. Complete opaque though.

S: Smells like a damn DIPA! Actually, smells very similar to Stone XI Anniversary. I think it had my nose scratching its head. Tons of floral, cascade? hops in the nose then to the roast and coffee.

T: As Emeril would say...BAM! This is complete complexity with so many vast flavors. Tons of sweet, dark fruits come bursting through with nice raspberry, cherry, and raisin notes. After that, coffee, chocolate and cocoa hit you in the face. The hops are not bittering, but they are fresh and extremely flavorful.

M/D: Exceptionally creamy mouthfeel with the perfect amount of carbonation. Doesn't go down like used oil like Darklord.

Overall, this is a fantastic RIS. One of the best without a doubt!

___

Updated review based on 2010 vintage. In short, the 2010 vintage is great, but does not have the complexities that the 2008 had. It is incredibly milky, thick, and smooth, but does not have the toffee or hop elements the 2008 had. Great, but not as good as the 2008.

Serving type: bottle

11-15-2008 21:19:36 | More by treyrab
Photo of Bitterbill
Bitterbill

Wyoming

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got this bottle in a trade with incutrav. Thanks Travis!

This pours from the 750ML waxed bottle, close to room temp, as dark as dark can be. Pitch black and no highlights of any kind when I held the glass up to a light. I poured it rather vigorously and am rewarded with about a one finger head of tan foam. Head retention was good and there was some lacing.

The smell has all sorts of things going on. Lots of sweetness on the nose with big caramel, big notes of sherry and roasted malt, and lots of chocolate with some vanilla, maybe a touch of some dark fruits like raisin and plum. This is a great "smeller"; one of the best I've encountered to date.

The taste...can it live up to what I just experienced with the smell? We shall see.
First sip and I'll be...danged. No dryness here at all. Lots of caramel malt sweetness starts the session off followed by lots of milk chocolate, a touch of dark chocolate that adds just the right amount of bitterness, and big sherry notes along with that roasted malt goodness. The vanilla shows up mostly near the finish as does the dark fruitiness which gives me a light bit of tartness that's a plus for this RIS...man, this is one hell of a complex brew bordering on the over the top in complexity but there is nothing in the flavour that I can say detracts or is overused. It's just outstanding, plain and simple, and the abv is *very* well hidden.

It definitely has a fullish mouthfeel and the carbonation is lightly but rightly done. Silky smooth.

Drinkability? 1 at a sitting would be all that I can handle but that *1* is turning out to be a disappearing act that most magicians would drool over. I kid you not!

Big thanks again to Travis for giving me the chance to try my first Surly in a bottle. What a treat!

Serving type: bottle

03-01-2009 18:43:16 | More by Bitterbill
Photo of wcudwight
wcudwight

North Carolina

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thank You Jeff!!!! The epitome of what a BA should be, you keep raising the bar.
Served in a Darkness snifter, also included in the trade.
The beers name describes the color perfectly. It just doesn't get any more dark. Huge thick mocha milkshake head, both in texture and color. Head will outlast the beer. I'm sure I'll be washing the sticky lacing off of the glass when the Heels' game is over.
Wonderful aroma. Rich roasted charred smell is what stands out first. On further review I get rich over-ripe dark fruits, and a unique rum aroma.
I've never tasted any other RIS like it. Rich dark roasted malts give a coffee flavor. Fresh ripe dark fruits. Blackberries. Huge hoppiness for the style. A bit of alcohol warmth. Flavor coats the mouth and last forever.
The mouthfeel is thinner than other big RISs, but imo that's a good thing. It's still thick, syrupy and smooth.
Great beer. I'm priviledged and grateful that I had the chance to try it.

Serving type: bottle

03-28-2009 02:05:18 | More by wcudwight
Photo of BuckeyeNation
BuckeyeNation

Iowa

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #211. 2007 release. Necrosis black that crowds the sides and bowl of the glass so completely that light doesn't stand a chance in hell. Nothing is visible except... Darkness. The coffee colored cap looks as though it won't fade completely until sometime tomorrow, and there's a surprising amount of lace that can only be described as eye candy. I'm well aware that glassware shouldn't be taken into account when assigning an appearance score, but Darkness in a Darkness snifter is perfection.

Believe it or not, the hops can still be appreciated in the nose after almost a year. I guess that means they were added with a heavy hand back in '07. They're far from numero uno, though. As expected, ridiculously roasted malt is a rompin' and a stompin' all over the joint. Dark chocolate is at least twice as strong as black coffee. I've smelled better, but the nose is good. Damn good.

Believe the hype. My first impression is that Darkness tastes like no other RIS. I'm not sure I'll be able to explain why that is... but it is. My second impression is that a tremendous amount of green hop flavor and bitterness has survived. This stuff just might give Old Crustacean a run for its money when fresh.

Even though the malt backbone is massive, this beast isn't anywhere near as thick and syrupy as Dark Lord (which might make it more drinkable). Some of the bitterness could also be coming from barley that has been fire-roasted to within an inch of its life. The result is a flavor profile that includes chocolate liquor, blackstrap molasses and large splashes of Sambuca and espresso.

If Darkness was limited to those flavors, it would still be exceptional beer. The fact that candied citrus peel and resiny pine sap are added to the mix puts it over the top for this hophead. I can see how some might not like the emphasis on the little green cones, but then this is Surly... what the hell did you expect?

With each eager gulp, I am making Darkness prove every one of the final three scores. Believe me, it more than lives up to the challenge of a critical palate, especially since the flavors become even better integrated as the beer picks up a few degrees. The alcohol provides warmth (not heat) and plenty of power. This is massive beer for massive beer lovers.

My first inclination was to give the mouthfeel a less than perfect score. However, as the middle portion of the bottle approaches, it will not be denied. The melted ice cream-like viscosity that was almost there initially is now there in spades. Carbonation is on the generous side, but it's so soft and so well-buried that it adds just the right amount of energy and lift.

Darkness is a masterful creation from a masterful brewer. I allowed a few doubts to creep in prior to cracking the crown, but I doubt no more. In an amazingly short period of time, Surly has entered the upper echelon of craft breweries with such all-out masterpieces as Furious, Bender and CynicAle. Darkness is simply the shiny, juicy cherry on top. A huge thanks to feloniousmonk, the consummate BA, for the best extra in the history of extras.

*originally reviewed on 10-08-2008

Serving type: bottle

10-27-2009 00:30:04 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of samie85
samie85

Illinois

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on-tap earlier tonight at Sheffield's(Chicago). Reviewed from notes.

A- Poured into a tulip. Pours a really deep brown color with a dark khaki head.

S- Smells really caramel-ly at first. Also, dark fruit(raisin, cherries?), toffee, a piney, earthy hop smell and a bit of ethanol.

T- The dark fruit is the first thing I taste followed by the chocolate, roasted malt and finishes with a sweet and bitter hop taste as well as a bit of sweet alcohol.

M- Really smooth and creamy, yet pretty well carbonated. Thick body.

D- It's pretty easy drinking considering the ABV, although very much a sipper. The alcohol got to me after awhile. The taste really lingers on your palate for awhile after drinking it. Overall a great, unique beer and I'm glad I got the chance to try it.

Serving type: on-tap

11-05-2009 04:11:40 | More by samie85
Photo of pmccallum86
pmccallum86

Minnesota

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage

Pours a deep dark midnight black with a cocoa coffee colored head. The head dissipates slowly into the night leaving lacing along the snifter.

The smell is of dried fruits, hops, roasted malts, cocoa, butterscotch and many other things I cannot identify. Very complex and pleasant.

Taste is like no other RIS I have ever tried. Chocolate, coffee, butterscotch, raisins, roasted malts, etc. As it warms a tobacco flavor becomes present. Very interesting taste that changes with the temperature.

Mouthfeel is thick and viscous, maybe a little chewy. Definitely a thick full body. Very nice on a cool winter's night.

Drinkability is good, very smooth and pleasant to slowly sip on.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2009 23:32:07 | More by pmccallum86
Photo of alleykatking
alleykatking

Indiana

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 22oz bottle. Many thanks go out to Luke (Lukafer) who cracked this one open at the last tasting. Good luck in Indy Luke!

A- Pours a heavy motor oil black color. One finger light brown head that shows a little bit retention before dying down. Light lacing on the sides of the glass as I drink this gem down.

S- Interesting enough this beer has a nice hop profile in the front end. Piney and citrus both which shine. Darker toasted malts with this as well brings forth a light burnt aroma. Nice bittersweet chocolate aroma with a hint of coffee in the ending. The hops still though throw me off but not in a bad way. Interesting and make my mouth water when I sniff the glass.

T- First thing I notice off the bat is hops and more hops...both piney and citrusy. Nice roasted malts in the front after the hops. Almost a perfect roasted burnt taste. Bittersweet chocolate notes with a fudge like charater to it. Bready flavors with a coffee taste that lingers around. The alcohol in this is settle and sometimes hard to miss. Overall, great flavors!

M- Heavy mouthfeel. Carbonation is great for the beer and style. Hops and light burnt malts are left on the palate with some coffee notes and light chocolate in the aftertaste. Flavors are bright and clean. Beer blended very well but flavors pop out individually. Not very drying on the palate at all.

D- This beer is worth all the praise. I would love to make it out to Darkness Day this year. I am glad I have a extra bottle in the cellar and got to try this one out. This beer is going to become one of my favorite.

Serving type: bottle

06-22-2010 05:39:21 | More by alleykatking
Photo of curtiswvu
curtiswvu

Illinois

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured in a sniffter via Fountainhead at their Exceptional Beers Night.

Appearance- Midnight black with a milk chocolate head, perfect looking RIS.

Smell: coffee, chocolate and maybe a hint of bacon.

Taste- Fantastic up front and on the finish. Very smooth ...scarry smooth...iii wannnntttt mooorrrreee.

Mouthfeel- Suprisingly not as viscous as I anticipated but a full monster stout. Could be heavier actually.

Drinkability- In a land of one and done RIS I might be able to session this one until I fell off my stool.

Serving type: on-tap

11-23-2010 21:12:17 | More by curtiswvu
Photo of PaulStoneAnchor
PaulStoneAnchor

California

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

It poured a delicious black and had a pretty steady head on it. The taste was amazing, it had a nice fig, roast, and chocolate. The mouthfeel was quite thin but it did not take away anything from the beer. After being poured it smells of a really sweet dark chocolate w/ a slight fig and raisin. Overall for being 10.3% ABV, it is easily drinkable, almost way too easy. Darkness was probably one of the most amazing stouts I have tasted so far. I am amazed at how good the fig taste goes with the dark chocolate and roast. I wish I had a Fig Newton to try with it.

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2011 07:08:59 | More by PaulStoneAnchor
Photo of CheezyBlaster
CheezyBlaster

Massachusetts

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2011 batch.

This looks and smells . . . amazing! I don't even want to drink it. Perfectly toasted-to-lightly-burnt malts; let me be clear, this is the finest iteration of this characteristic I have ever encountered. Obvious bit of coffee/cocoa to go along and a small encounter of mingling dark berries/cherries.

But holy crap, this is unbelievable! Best mouthfeel ever. Perfect blend of velvet and viscous. Unbelievably creamy. I don't think the style could get better than this. Tastes like . . . wow. Just perfected; sweet, dark, whipped butter, licorice, malt . . . ohhh the malt. The malt.

I've got nothing left to say. I was lucky to get this from a friend in Minnesota. Haven't had better, can't really imagine better either. The only drawback might be the drinkability. I don't think I could have more than a bomber, maybe less . . . but that's not what I want from this style anyhow. I'll say it again: amazing!

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2011 00:33:49 | More by CheezyBlaster
Photo of hoplover82
hoplover82

Texas

4.81/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I am so happy to have a bottle of this wonderful RIS. A friend of mine brought one down from MN. Thank you so much Sarah-Jane. This was the only bottle they had left in the store by the way.
A-This beer pours black with brown-ish/rudy highlights when held up to the light. The foam is huge and has amazing retention and lacing for a beer like this.
S-The aroma is huge with notes of mocha at first, yet VERY complex with toffee, chocolate, some earthy leather, some mild roastiness, woodsy, dark stone fruits, and man that sweet mocha really sticks out like no other RIS I've had. Truly an amazing aroma, (one of the most complex).
T-The flavor is just as impressive and complex with the mocha standing in the front lines. Fresh toffee follows along with prunes and sweet camamel. There is that earthiness woody-like note in the flavor as well as a mild earthy hop flavor note. Very impressive indeed.
M-The beer has such a slick, creamy sweetness but the bitterness level is just perfect to keep it from being cloying. Huge body and a long sweet, mocha like finish.
O- This beer that is called Darkness is most likely the best RIS I've ever had. I am once again so pleased to have had a chance to try this great beer. Thanks again Sarah-Jane

Serving type: bottle

03-02-2013 01:27:34 | More by hoplover82
Photo of SeanBond
SeanBond

Illinois

4.81/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Surly is finally back in Chicago, and this is my first time trying Darkness, so I'm pretty excited. I usually prefer BBA stouts to regular ones, so I'll be interested in seeing how this stacks up to both.

The beer doesn't pour as dark as I expected; for something called "Darkness," I figured this would be pitch black, but it's more like a very deep brown. There's a decent amount of carbonation, so you get more head than some other comparable stouts.

The smell is pretty great; complex with berry hints, definitely different than what I'm used to.

Now to the taste: Awesome! Also not at all what I was expecting. There's a lot going on here, with the berry nose also being present in the taste. There's no coffee that I can taste here, but there's a hint of hops; not as much as something like Goose Island's Nightstalker, but enough to make it interesting. Very sweet, reminds me a little of the BCBS Backyard Rye from this year.

Consider me impressed. There's enough flavor here that I'd have bet you this one was barrel-aged. Smooth, and extremely tasty. Probably the best non-BA stout I've ever had. I'm surprised to say this, but this one really lives up to the hype.

Awesome job from Surly; I hope this one isn't too hard to get next year.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2014 16:32:34 | More by SeanBond
Photo of ClockworkOrange
ClockworkOrange

Pennsylvania

4.83/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to DarkerTheBetter for sharing this amazing beer. Sampled side by side with 2006 Dark Lord. Pours an opaque black with a thick, dark tan head about a finger thick. Smells of rich roasted coffee, bitter cocoa, and fruity hops. Initial taste is a huge hop blast followed by bittersweet chocolate, cappuccino, vanilla, molasses and yet more hops. Full bodied with medium carbonation. Coats the tongue. If this was the only RIS left on Earth, I would be completely content. Looking forward to drinking this again and soon. Cheers!

Serving type: growler

02-09-2007 20:08:22 | More by ClockworkOrange
Photo of Mebuzzard
Mebuzzard

Colorado

4.83/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I've been waiting for this one.
A deep, dark pour. Close to Abyss in total darkness. Small, but dense off brown head, nice chunking action. A bit creamy.
Aroma is full of cocao and coffee. Some anise and dark plum or prune. Not overpowering in the nose, makes mouth water.
Taste focuses more on the chocolate side rather than coffee. A rich cocao powder taste, yet is smooth. Dark chocolate, some coffee and anise, roasted malt and some caramel. Hints of toasted bread in the back.
Drinks very well, alcohol isn't detected. Nice feel. Great beer.

Serving type: on-tap

10-17-2007 19:40:28 | More by Mebuzzard
Photo of Mistofminn
Mistofminn

Minnesota

4.83/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this on cask at the 501 club with the guys from Surly to celebrate the Bronze medal at the GABF for Coffee Bender, which I also had.

Pours an opaque pitch black color with a one finger dark brown head. Retention of the head is much better around the outsides, as it shrinks in the middle but stays clinging to the glass. Nice lacing also.

The nose is dark coffee, roasted malts, bitter hops, toffee caramel and vanilla, bitter chocolate, dark dried fruits...and so much more. Extremely complex and it's a treat to drink this in.

The taste is just as good as the nose leads on. Dark roasted malts, sweet and bitter chocolate, bitter earthy hops, dried dark fruits, sweet caramel and vanilla, roasted coffee...the combinations of flavors seem endless and they just keep coming. I'm not kidding when I say I get a different taste with every sip.

Mouthfeel is thick, rich and creamy. Has an appropriate carbonation level. Had a significant bitter aftertaste.

Drinkability is amazing. This is a great brew and one I can't wait to have again. I can't wait for Darkness Day to purchase my limit in bottles. I would love to see how this is a couple years down the road, maybe even one day do a vertical. Surly does it again, but was there ever any doubt?

Serving type: cask

10-07-2009 06:58:19 | More by Mistofminn
Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,254 ratings.