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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

797 Reviews

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Reviews: 797
Hads: 3,278
Avg: 4.42
pDev: 19.23%
Wants: 3,258
Gots: 1,185 | FT: 84
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/ 

2007-Grim Reaper
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer
View: Beers (53) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 797 | Hads: 3,278
Photo of Bitterbill
4.79/5  rDev +8.4%
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!

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Photo of curtiswvu
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
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.

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Photo of MichaelNeelsen
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Drank a 2011 "Zombie" 750ml bottle after aging 3 years, 2 months.

L: Poured like liquid silk. Pitch black, no light penetration. Mocha brown head dissipates and then reappears with each sip. The beer is very reflective - you can see yourself in it.

S: Raisins. Dark chocolate. Brown sugar. Dates. Fig. Smells like bourbon even though it's not barrel aged. Dark cherries.

T: As my friend who drank it with me put it, "Rich and sweet and right down the middle. There's no smoke and mirrors here."

F: Like liquid Robert Patrick. If you could drink the liquid T-1000 from Terminator 2, it would feel like this beer. Feels like wine without the dryness or tack. Glides over the tongue. Thin in the best way.

O: A real treat. It's not my favorite Russian Imperial, but it's really damn good - and a very unique experience to drink. I'll look to get a younger bottle and drink it without aging to compare. Highly recommended.

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Photo of lurpy1
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A long time coming on this one, fortunate to get 2 bottles from Four Firkins. One is being saved for a rainy day in 2013, the other to drink post-haste.

The pour is darker than a Spinal Tap album cover, with a substantial, sticky ocean-scum head that just goes and goes.

Smell...ooh la la, a lot going on here, but raisins, cherries, malt, and oats come to the fore. Goddamn.

If anything, the taste runs to the excessive, so much malt, fruit, boozy backdrop. Absolutely delicious. Why not a 5.0 for taste? Because it's almost too much, completely hit over the head with flavor.

Mouthfeel is perfect a thick, glossy sludge of a beer that doesn't coat the tongue too badly.

Awesome beer. Totally awesome. Glad I was able to get my hands on it.

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Photo of JackieTH
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Darkness 2010; on tap at MN Brew Review. .

Appearance: Rich dark brown, opaque, with a nice cap of carmelly-mocha head.

Smell: Rich dark chocolate, vanilla and molasses punctuated heartily by bitter citrus hops.

Taste: Dark roasted malt, rich dark chocolate, dark fruit, molasses, subtle bitter espresso, smoke, and a helping of bittering hops. Goodness. Darkness.

Mouthfeel: Rich, creamy, syrupy.

Drinkability: It's big on flavor, very dark & rich...and high ABV...give me more. Right now.

Note: Although 60-some breweries were on hand...my friends found it was very hard to dislodge me from the Surly booth once I got a taste of Darkness 2010.

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Photo of Mistofminn
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
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?

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Photo of Lordsloth
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
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. ;)

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Photo of rye726
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Sampled multiple times at the 2007 GABF. I don't like to review at beer fests, but this is one of the few that really stood out.

Pitch black color with a thick espresso brown head. Nice lacing and retention.

Wow, this stuff has more nose than most bourbon aged stouts. Sweet profile of caramel, black and chocolate malts. Lots of dark fruit with molasses, coffee, and fudge.

Rich burnt and roasted malts with lots of chocolate and coffee. Keeping the sweetness in balance are big earthy floral hops and bitter molasses.

Thick and chewy yet silky smooth over the palate. Perfect body and carbonation for the flavor profile.

Doesn't get much better than this. Near perfect. Could drink this one all night.

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Photo of ClockworkOrange
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
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!

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Photo of francisweizen
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I just recieved this one in a trade today, and was pretty excited to try/and review this very hyped brew from Surly Brewing Company.

This is a 2007 vintage that has been cellared/aged for one year since its original release on halloween of last year. Served at about 60 degree fahrenheit ambiant temperature. Slightly chilled in my trusty fridge and given time to settle so that the yeast has redistributed itself to the brown glass bottle floor.

P=5: The Blood red and black ink double wax dipped 750ml (Nice, those extra ounces come in handy, and I often wish more breweries would bottle in 750ml bombers as opposed to 22oz [660ml] bombers) bomber bottle is very cool looking indeed. Sturdy brown glass with a bitchin' label with the surly logo and a grim reaper on it. The bottle states that this is bottle # 264 although there is no further information about the beer stated except for the bottle size (750ml)

A=5: With a hard pour into a 20oz Imperial Pint Glass this beer is a real beauty to behold. Ink black with no light penetration and a massive espresso coloured head of foam that lasts and lasts with excellent retention, sheeting, and lacing

S=5: When I cracked the top off of this the smell instantly penetrated my nasal cavity. Deep rosated malts, dark russian rye bread, chocolate, dark black unsweetened coffee, condensed milk, earthy green hops, and a melange of other 'dark' flavors

T=4.5: The taste is awesome and smooth as hell. A great blend of green earthy hops, fresh russian rye bread, chocolate syrup/chocolate milk, toffee, with a bit of coffee, vanilla, sweet condensed milk and caramel thrown in for good measure. The yeast is a nice one here with some very English buttery undertones and the front palate and back palate combine nicely to make this a real cigar sipper of a brew. The burnt coffee, and dark fruit/currant flavors really build up when this one warms up to room temperature. I am now beginning to see that the hype is justified. However, the taste profile is not quite Courage 83' or 2004 Dark Lord. Perhaps it's a bit better, fresh, on tap, or on cask, or maybe even from a can [one can wish]. However, this is near perfect for a russian imperial stout. Alcohol is muted and melded, but it makes itself known in the intense, acrid dry finish. Kind of like day old cold pressed espresso discards

M=5: The mouthfeel is extremely satisfying. Thick, chewy, and coating with an exponential warmth about it as well. However it is not quite the beast in the mouth that dark lord is. It could be a bit thicker with more mid body depth, if I am to be completely honest. Still, thick and rich, this is the epitome of a great imperial stout

D=5: This is where this one really shines. This is a big RIS for sure, but the flavors are melded together very well and in the end the drinkability is really excellent for a 10%+ abv brew. Th e fantastic aroma, interesting flavor profile, and satisfying mouthfeel really all pull together to make this a greatly drinkable RIS.

O=4.9: Overall this is pretty much a 4.9 brew. It is one inch away from a 5 in either taste or mouthfeel and it really fires on all cylinders. I can't wait to try this fresh, as even though I did not sample the 2007 batch fresh in the bottle, on tap, or on cask, I can tell that the hop flavors have been somewhat muted and mellowed, and the mouthfeel may have thinned a bit as well. I can see this being a 5 under the right circumstances, and I may have to take the flight over to MN this halloween to find out for myself.

PC: Surly is probably my favorite new brewery (I only discovered them earlier this year). They make interesting limited seasonals like this (as well as One, Two, etc), Great regular seasonals (such as Cynic, Fest, Bitter Brewer, etc), and killer year round brews (such as furious and bender). I look forward to trying more of their beer be it in cans, bottles, on tap, or on cask. I also look forward to trying the Smoke and some of their more obscure tap/cask only products. Whilst hardly life changing, or the best beer that I have ever had, this is an incredibly solid product, and considering that this brewery has only been open for a few years they really have quite the winner here. I look forward to toasting them on many occasions in the future. In the meantime a BIG thanks to Akorsak for hooking me up with this beauty. The check (or the cable car) will be in the mail this week.

This brew really reminded me why I love Russian Imperial Stouts so much...Probably my all time #3 Imperial Stout after 2004 Dark Lord and 1983 Courage Russian Imperial

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Photo of eduardolinhalis
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

750ml bottle poured in a snifter glass. Vampire bottle from 2010. Gray wax. Consumed in 2012. I've bought this one at the last time that I was in California.

A: First of all, beautiful bottle art, label printed on the glass. Pours a deep black color forming a medium beige head. Good retention and many lacings left

S: Sweet and roasty. Winy and fruity. Dark chocolate, coffee, roasted malts and wood

T: Follows the nose. Sweet chocolate upfront, roasted malts, dark chocolate, coffee, wood and earthy hops in the end

M: Creamy molasses body. Low carbonation and nice bitter end

O: Very drinkable. Excellent beer

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Photo of hrking
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow popped a bottle last night for GBS#169 and wow all I can say is try this beer. The flavors just keep coming. Creamy smooth desert stout with fudge chocolate goodness.Dark Lord bow down to the Darkness. This is hands down one of the best stouts I have ever tasted! Alcohol well hidden and dangerously drinkable. This is a must try for any beer connoisseur! 98 vintage..

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Photo of SeanBond
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
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.

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Photo of SDRedDevil
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%

Got to try 2013 and 2012 side by side at Toronado for a Surly Lunch. Both were amazing with the 2013 having a bit less sweetness and more balance imo. Both were jet black deliciousness though!

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Photo of bodhi185
4.82/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Smallbar in Chicago.
A: Jet black with a pretty thin head for the heft of the beer.
S: Raisin, molasses, with a little chocolate and a little alcohol pickup.
T: Supremely bitter black molasses russian imperial flavor that drinks pretty dry and insanely balanced.
M: Actually pretty thin for the style in my opinion, but lingers for days.
O: Bitter, biting, big big beer. Worth the wait...thank you Minnesota for sharing with Chicago again.

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Photo of hoplover82
4.82/5  rDev +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

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Photo of jamescain
4.82/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review #200

2008 vintage poured into a sniffer, another BIG thanks to Dajtai007 for sharing this one.

Appearance: Just as the name describes, Darkness, it pours a pitch black inky looking beer with a dark brown head about a centimeter thick that fades into a ring around the glass.

Aroma: Dark chocolate, vanilla, spicy notes, licorice and dark fruits, wonderful aroma, complex and not jumbled together.

Taste: Just like the aroma wonderfully complex, dark chocolate, dark fruit, prunes, molassas, coffee and roasted grains.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth with minimal carbonation and a thick body, a sipper, yet still easy and pleasant to drink.

Overall: Time has done very good things to this beer. After trying this one and the 2009 vintage, I'm not going to touch my 2010 for at least 2 years.

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Photo of neorunner
4.82/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Blind Beer #5 - Thanks to Dougofthefuture in Round 6 of the Blind Beer BIF

Friend refurbished an old office and turned it into a man cave. Copper clad bar, recliners, two draft taps, and a flat screen TV. What better way to break it in than with a tasting. So I decided to grab a 22oz bottle from my stash of blind beers and cart it along with some other tasty for the event.

Eight participants total in this tasting and after a couple bottles we decided we should taste the blind beer before our palettes were too fatigued. Beer poured jet black with nice creamy dark tan head. Aroma is chocolate and malt with a slight fusel tinge. This is an imperial stout, no doubt about it. Pass the bottle around and everyone takes a pour. The aroma on this beer is great, I could sniff it all night long. Flavor is velvety chocolate deliciousness. I immediately start thinking its a bottle of Stone 12th Anni. I would have went with Darkness, but no wax on the bottle. Mouth feel is smooth and viscous in body and little to no hop acidity in the back of my mouth. Everyone unanimously enjoyed this beer.

The reveal: Darkness 2011! A want and a very tasty treat. I'm glad I was able to share it with a bunch of friends as I would have been under the table trying to drink that on my own. Not that I wouldn't have tried. Taking the wax off was a slick move and a great way to throw me off the trail.

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Photo of jera1350
4.82/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at The Blue Nile.

Used motor oil color and consistency. Cocoa powder brown head that is quite thick and has staying power.

Rich malt and stronger than usual hop presence for the style. Chocolate, lightly smokey with a bit of coffee. The hops are mostly grassy with just a touch of citrus.

Delicious rich chocolate malt with notes of coffee and smoke. Light vanilla presence and generously hopped. The hops are lightly citric and also add some grassy notes. Big and robust flavor all around. The sweetness is up there a ways, but it's not too much in my opinion.

Velvety feeling and full bodied. Just slithers down the palate.

I could have one of these every day for the rest of my life and die a happy man. This is surely a top notch RIS and one that I will consume as much as possible. Worth all of the hype.

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Photo of bjohn84
4.83/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Reviewed a 2011 bottle.. cellered for 4 months.. poured into a darkness snifter

A - Jet black with a red hue towards the top. Thin tan head with excellent lacing

S - Cocoa nibs come first, berries and fruits

T - Chocolate covered fruits up front. Strawberries, cherries, Molasses, raisins. Bold burn from the alcohol numbs the tongue after the swallow, but doesn't overpower the robust flavor. Dry bitterness tends to come through on the back end

M - Fairly low carbonation and very full bodied. Quite a bit of stickiness in the mouth

O - Very complex RIS with new flavors coming through the longer I sip on it. Very filling, but drinks and goes down very smooth.

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Photo of tobin999
4.83/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

a: darkness sums it up black with a milk chocolate head

s: dark fruits, chocolate, roast/ burmt malt.

T: same as smell with some vannila and mild bitterness

M: nice creamy body not overly sticky

O: big fan of this local brew and I'm glad i have some more

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Photo of MPLS
4.83/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

After coming up empty glassed at 3 locations I scoured the forums and got another tap serving (had one at Darkness day in a plastic cup) of 2009 Darkness

A: The Bartender poured it marvelously, big 6 cm coffee colored head that slowly faded into Darkness...okay, a little cliche. The usual strapping black body was present too. I couldn't complain about the glassware, a brand new Darkness snifter glass that I used to own until I broke it.

S: Smoked chocolate, sweetness, alcohol masked in the nose.

T: Palate boner - delicious dark chocolate, roasted espresso beans, big citrusy hops. Seemingly much more balanced than the '08, though I question the evolution of beer geek palates. Oddly enough this serving fared better than what I had at Darkness Day. The complexity increases as it warmed and is good incentive to cup the snifter with my warm palms.

M: Thick and moderately creamy. It can keep up with the big boys without being oatmeal.

D: Oh man, deliciousness. I am tempted to find an excuse to drink another serving tomorrow, pending it's availability. It's more than just hype with the beer, a real pleasurable experience.

Watch yo ABVz

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Photo of Powderhornphil
4.83/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2011 vintage. About 11 months old.

This pours dark. And by dark I mean black. No light penetrates with a dark mocha head. Really a great looking stout. Leaves a nice lacing on the glass. Swirling the glass viscous motor oil appearance.

Smell is of dark fruits some roasted grain. Light Licorice. A little caramel sweetness as it warms.

Waves of flavors on this one. Tastes of Sweet malts. Burnt sweet cherries. Light licorice and I am thankful it's not too strong, just enough. Dark chocolate fruit notes on the finish. Slight chocolate cake batter. A nice residual sweetness on the finish. Alcohol is well hidden.

Nice creamy mouth feel. Is full without being too heavy.

Overall an impressive imperial stout. I can't think of a non-barrel aged imperial stout with more going on that this.

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Photo of Floydster
4.83/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

750 ml bottle with both red and black wax covering the cap, acquired in a trade with LeonTrotsky, one of the lucky people in Minnesota to get some of these, thanks a lot for giving me the chance to try this brew, review #475, 2007 vintage

Bottle #35, ironically drank while watching a pretty bad movie called "Darkness," took me about two hours to get through this bottle by myself, but I gave my roommate and girlfriend each about two ounces, took me a while as this is the first beer I have drank in a few weeks and I did not want it to hit me too hard, rather enjoy its distinct taste, less than six hundred were made in this first batch of bottling

Poured into my Dofish Head snifter with a pure black color and a very impressive 3/4 inch foamy mocha head that stuck around for four to five minutes, was not as thick as I would have liked but still not a thin or weak stout by any means, good retention and left sticky light brown lacing along my entire glass, appearance was nice because of the super dark color and creamy texture

Smell was pretty much perfect, dark chocolate, milk, floral hoppiness, several different varieties of fruit including citrus and berries, coffee, sweet cream, oak, wide variety of malty aromas, and a small amount of oatmeal and grains

Taste was great, the first instant of the first sip seemed like it was an india pale ale, it was such a hop bomb right off the bat that I could not believe it was a Russian imperial stout, it reminded more of Stone's 11th Anniversary with its color and taste, this was probably because I was drinking it too cold at first, the dryness of this beer was astonishing though nevertheless, once the hoppy character wore off after a few seconds, I got a lot of burned chocolate and espresso tastes, as it warmed more sweetness came to the surface that consisted of caramel, creaminess, milk chocolate, and some dark fruit, the hoppiness stayed there the whole time though, nice spiciness throughout and crazily smooth, strong oak tastes throughout to go along with the burnt tastes caused by the hoppiness and dark chocolate malt, this beer was very complex and had a lot of different things going on as it continued to get warmer and warmer, by the end it was so easy to drink, and the hops and malt were balanced out so well, very enjoyable overall

Body was thick but I expected it to be even more so, not comparable to Dark Lord in this sense, but that is not a bad thing, great mouthfeel with a perfect amount of carbonation, leaves a nice sensation on the tongue, taste lasted several minutes

Could have drank three bottles of this if I had all day to sit, and drink expensive and rare beer, very very drinkable, alcohol is hidden well and could definitely sneak up on you if you are not careful, over ten percent alcohol is strong stuff regardless, not too filling on the stomach because it is not overly sweet or strong tasting, goes down very easily because of its unparalleled smoothness

Very different from other highly rated imperial stouts I have tasted from this site, where Dark Lord is super thick and syrupy, and Kate the Great is sweet and warming, Darkness is soothing and surprisingly dry, making all of these beers very different overall, one thing they all have in common is that they are sippers or dessert beers that take a good amount of time to get through, and that they pack a serious punch as far as ABV goes, I cannot say any of these three are better than one another because they differ so much

This deserves all the hype that it has gotten and I feel honored to try a beer like this, especially after seeing how much it has sold in online auctions recently, I never would have been able to afford if it was not for this generous trader, awesome RIS that is very unique because of its in your face hoppiness, glad Surly bottled this masterpiece, I have not tasted a bad beer from them yet, Darkness was amazing and I hope to get some of next year's batch if it is available in bottles again, highly recommended if anybody wants to give up a bottle, fantastic drinking experience

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Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.83/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2011 vintage.

A: 1/2" light brown head with a nice lacing over black liquid.

S: Pine hops and toasted malt.

T: Pine and citrus hops up front with caramel, chocolate and roasted barley flavours.

M: Medium to thick viscosity and a medium level of fine carbonation.

O: A beautiful beer: bitter yet semi-sweet, great mouthfeel and very tasty and enjoyable.

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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
98 out of 100 based on 797 ratings.