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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
DarknessDarkness

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

2,525 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,525
Reviews: 761
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.33%
Wants: 2,871
Gots: 999 | FT: 66
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 Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Darkness Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,525 | Reviews: 761 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of cfh64
cfh64

Texas

4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

09-05-2013 12:50:35 | More by cfh64
Photo of GJ40
GJ40

North Carolina

4.26/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Sampled a 22oz bottle from 2012.

A - Deep black with a sturdy head. Clings nicely to the glass. The inside of the cap was oddly bubbled and spotted. Not sure why.

S - Dark chocolate, molasses and brown sugar. Inviting.

T - Moderately sweet with a dark chocolate lead followed closely by brown sugar and raisins. No significant bitterness or roastiness. Smooth and balanced.

M - Creamy and smooth with a low, well behaved carbonation.

O - A little sweet for me but tasty and worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

05-26-2014 20:03:26 | More by GJ40
Photo of thagr81us
thagr81us

South Carolina

4.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks goes out to beeruser for sharing this one with me! 2009 (Mummy) Vintage! Served from bottle into a Mikkeller taster flute. Poured pitch black with a half finger brown head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of roasted malt, dark chocolate, alcohol, and subtle vanilla. The flavor was of roasted malt, dark chocolate, sweet alcohol, dark fruit, subtle vanilla, slight smoke, and very subtle molasses. It had a heavy feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a pretty good brew. The flavor and aroma on this one were quite complex and inviting. The booze was still present after all this time, but it was quite nice with the other notes in the flavor. I was really glad I got the chance to finally tick this one officially as I have only had very small samples in the past. A definite must try for any beer fan.

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2011 02:34:09 | More by thagr81us
Photo of Maction
Maction

Illinois

4.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: In a snifter, this has impenetrable blackness. It looks like a candle in the glass, with a gelatinous chocolate mousse head.

S: Smells sweet, some perfume-y hops, unsweetened chocolate, espresso, butterscotch

T: A huge, rich, complex flavor, sweet then dry, very long and complex. Bitter herbs, then bitter cocoa, then creamy coffee, then sweet tea.

M: Chewy but not thick, hefty but not cloying

D: Very satisfying, a tiny bit boozy as it warms. I would have to be in a special mood to get through 22oz of this... perhaps in my library, in front of a roaring fire, my pipe and slippers at hand, my faithful hound dozing by the hearth.

Serving type: on-tap

11-09-2009 18:52:47 | More by Maction
Photo of Flyer
Flyer

Wisconsin

4.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to Lisalucy for the Chirstmas gift, for which she waited in line for five hours. Ah, I've raised her well. A delicious and decadent imperial stout, and yet surprisingly un-complex for the style. Malty, with molasses and chocolate notes. It was utterly lacking in that soy sauce-like quality that can detract from even the best imperial stouts, which made it smooth and drinkable and yet would have to be regarded as a by-product of that lack of complexity. Not the cascade of intensity I associate with the style, but a great beer nonetheless.

Serving type: bottle

02-27-2008 03:28:41 | More by Flyer
Photo of alcstradamus
alcstradamus

Washington

4.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

My original review was deleted due to the system crashing. I don't remember exactly what I said, but here are my general thoughts. I had the '08 a few months ago and wasn't necessarily liking it a whole lot. Thought it had a lot going for it but in the end was just too sweet. The '09 is a completely different beast though. Big and very hoppy, with the sweetness merely adding complexity rather than dominating. My original rating was a 3.9 B+, but I have updated it to reflect the '09

Serving type: bottle

10-26-2009 11:03:08 | More by alcstradamus
Photo of JamesMN
JamesMN

Minnesota

4.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2013 vintage.

Appearance: Pitch black body sits below tan foam.

Aroma: Alcohol warmth, toffee, dark malt.

Taste: Starts with light grassy bitterness mixed with sweet dark malt and currants. The bitterness never gets intense and the malt really shines here. There's actually nothing harsh about the flavor which is odd coming from Surly but genius in that it makes for an unbelievably smooth flavor. Effortless finish and hint of caramel liqueur on the back end. Aftertaste of dark malt and hops. I was expecting a lot of chocolate and coffee flavor but the real standout seems to be a deep caramel character alongside the roasted malt. Robust and yet subtly restrained flavor all around.

Mouthfeel: Full in body, nearing the point of syrup. Super smooth with good drinkability for the style.

Final Thoughts: Had all but given up trying to get a bottle of Darkness. Pricy at $25 a bomber but worth it for a once a year release. Great example of the style. Would I drink it again? Yes.

Serving type: bottle

11-02-2013 00:37:37 | More by JamesMN
Photo of NorthsideFred
NorthsideFred

Illinois

4.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had it on tap at Jake Melnick's, (thanks to the Craft Brew Convention).

A: Looks great. Black with a 1/2" thick dark brown head.

S: Sweet and roasty.

T: Very smooth; the alcohol is very well hidden. Quite sweet. Based on some of the other reviews on here, I expected it to be hoppy, but my pour wasn't hoppy at all.

M: Not as thick as most RIS I've had.

D: Very smooth. You would never guess that this is over 10% ABV! Very drinkable; although, I suspect the sweetness would get to you after awhile.

Overall a great beer, and one that I'd order again!

Serving type: on-tap

04-08-2010 20:22:49 | More by NorthsideFred
Photo of DoubleJ
DoubleJ

California

4.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml of Darkness is coming my way! I knew one day I would be able to get a bottle of my own, but I didn't expect it so soon. I got this in a trade back in November. From a 2009 Vintage, on to the beer:

The cap has been taken off, so there is no turning back. It is black as black can be, no amount of lighting is gonna get through. The espresso colored head on top has a finger's worth of thickness and retention, and it has good retention. Thing rings of lacing cling to the glass. It's a very resiny smelling imperial stout. There's a lot of it. Some of the pure hoppiness still exists, and among other aromas are molasses, unsweetened chocolate

Unlike other imperial stouts, Darkness is plenty hoppy. Not resiny like the smell, just hop juice. Yeah, hop juice. Sweet tropical juice, orange, some citrus tang. Quite honestly, it resembles more of a yummy DIPA than a stout. But around its edges are yummy notes of chocolate fudge. More and more malty imperial stout hit the taste buds are more beer is consumed. The alcohol is buried extremely well, and it's not thick or viscous, rolls off the tongue with ease...creamy. Mmmm. It's leaving some tasty hoppy-sweet nectar as it dries around my lips.

I'm not as huge of a fan of hoppy imperial stouts as others geeks, but I do like Darkness and its hoppy profile. Needless to say, I'm very happy to have called a bottle of it my own.

Serving type: bottle

03-25-2010 05:42:59 | More by DoubleJ
Photo of eclipse54
eclipse54

Minnesota

4.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A 2010 bottle sent from inlimbo77; thank you! Split at a tasting on 01/03/2012, and reviewed from notes taken then.

Body is pitch black with a viscous appearance and a deep brown head that is darker than many other beers' body; minimal retention and moderate lacing, though not surprising. Aroma is of vanilla, chocolate, caramel, brown sugar, faint roasted malt, date, raisin, and a touch of plum. Very well balanced. Tastes of vanilla, dark cherries, milk chocolate, caramel, cane sugar, and slight roasted malts. Surprisingly smooth and complex. Mouthfeel is thick in texture, but it goes down smoothly with a creamy finish that thinly coats the mouth. Overall, a great RIS. It has a lot going on flavor-wise, but does well to balance them into a single, cohesive offering. This was the highlight of the tasting.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2012 18:44:03 | More by eclipse54
Photo of afksports
afksports

New York

4.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I've been fortunate enough so far to have acquired two bottles of the 2010 Vampire vintage through trades. I'm an Eagles fan, so when DeSean Jackson decided to stick a dagger in the Giants' hearts, I knew it was time for this Surly beast.

The appearance is absolutely hands-down amazing. Dark, huge tan head, brilliant lacing that clings to the glass. The only huge stout that's looked better has been Deschutes' Abyss. Which I suppose is fitting, because those are dark too.

After looking at it for what seemed like hours (and was really seconds) I gave it a sniff. Not that impressive. Chocolate and coffee malts came through, but despite the big head this didn't have a big nose. Its taste was also subdued. Not to say I didn't love it, because it was exactly how it should taste, but it didn't blow me away like the appearance.

Surly's Russian Imperial Stout still fills the mouth well with its full-body, and honestly I've always been scared of Russians and vampires, but I'd still return to this one - especiallyi f it were off the shelf and didn't require trading.

I'd also love to see how it ages. Probably upside down or in a coffin or something.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2010 00:02:42 | More by afksports
Photo of tjkinate
tjkinate

Nebraska

4.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Was part of a 08-11 Darkness Vert! I found the 09' and 10' were my favorites, 08 was still good, but slight oxidation was detectable during the tasting.

This review will be a combo of my two favorite years.

A: Single fingered head that exhibited solid retention that slowly reduced to a thin film leaving some lacing in its wake. As the name suggests, this brew is completely black.

S: The 10' still had a slight hop profile while the 09' was full of toffee and raison scents. Molasses follows on both and was fairly potent.

T: Similar to the scent, the 10' had some bitterness from the hops and was balanced well by the sweet molasses that followed. The 09' was sweet, not too sweet for a 6 or so ounce tasting, but I would definitely struggle drinking a whole bottle. As the scent indicated the flavor was primarily comprised of toffee and dark fruits. The alcohol was not detectable in any vintage.

M: Medium/heavy bodied, nice and creamy, well carbonated.

O: A fantastic brew from my home state brewery. I suggest others do a vert if they can, was surprising how much this brew changed over time.

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2011 20:21:50 | More by tjkinate
Photo of SkiBum22
SkiBum22

New York

4.3/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage

A - The pour is fittingly black with at least a finger of thick brown head. The lacing really coats the glass nicely with a creamy head that seemingly lasts forever.

S - Very sweet aromas of dark fruits, berries, figs all covered in chocolate with a little bit of caramel and coffee to round it out.

T - Deep, dark, delicious chocolate just dominates the taste. Overall it is sweet, but not overly sweet as sometimes experienced with big Russian Imperial Stouts.

M -Mouthfeel is pretty full bodied, smooth with creamy medium carbonation.

O - A great non-barrel aged stout. There were times that I noticed barrel like qualities. Overall another great brew from Surly.

Serving type: bottle

07-15-2012 21:14:23 | More by SkiBum22
Photo of badboyrsl84
badboyrsl84

California

4.3/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark as a darkness should be poured. Nice 2 inch thick mocha head.

Smell - burnt malt, smoked wood, hints of chocolate. Milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Very smooth smelling brew.

Taste - not as much smoked malt in the taste and more chocolate. Smooth chocolate with a hint of bitterness from chocolate in the aftertaste. No hint alcohol in any of this.

Overall - it lives up to the hype some what and is a solid example of RIS

Serving type: bottle

06-25-2011 03:09:48 | More by badboyrsl84
Photo of rpstevens
rpstevens

New Hampshire

4.3/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes that I found laying around. Thanks to Maximum12 for this from Secret Santa 09. Poured from a bottle into my Darkness tulip. The beer pours pitch black with a thick mocha head. The head faded pretty quickly and left some oily lacing on the sides of the glass.

The smell is very complex inviting. Licorice, dark roasted espresso, dark chocolate, roasted malts, vanilla sweetness leads to some dark fruits (cherries and raisins mostly). The dark fruits are fleeting and they lead to a blast of citrus hops, very strange for a beer like this.

The taste mirrors the smell, lots of roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and that incredible citrus hop finish. Between the acrid roasted coffee and dark chocolate and the hoppy profile there is are fleeting notes of vanilla and cherry sweetness. An interesting flavor combination for sure.

The beer is thick, more carbonated than expected and has a nice dry finish from the hop profile. The alcohol is definitely present, but adds to the flavors more than it takes away. After one glass the alcohol becomes more apparent for sure, reminding me that this is a heavy-hitter. The flavors make this a beer I wish was more readily available, I would like to drink this more often.

Serving type: bottle

02-22-2010 05:25:14 | More by rpstevens
Photo of garbercury
garbercury

Pennsylvania

4.3/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Huge shout out to Beerwolf77...You da man Todd!!! Shared with Reed415, poured into snifter...

A---Dark, opaque with lacing and retention, like black ink...

S---Excellent aspect of this brew. Smell of roasted malt, hops, and chocolate, coffee, complex.

T---Malts and hops are really balanced. Hops really linger in the finish with some chocolate malt going on...

M---Silky smooth and heavy...nice.

D---To the dome homeboy, to the dome...

Serving type: bottle

11-27-2010 02:19:33 | More by garbercury
Photo of bmanning
bmanning

North Carolina

4.3/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to beerdavis for this 09 bottle - shared with Traquairlover.
Pours black with a 2 finger tan/light brown head.
I'm caught off guard with huge citrus and floral aromas - is this a stout or an IPA? There are also background aromas of coffee, chocolate, licorice, toffee, and caramel.
Taste is very odd, but in a good way. This beer has qualities of both an Imperial IPA and a Russian Imperial Stout. There is grapefruit mixed with chocolate, lemon with coffee, orange with caramel. These are very odd combinations together, but they surprisingly work well together.
Mouthfeel is thick and coats very well.
Overall this is a very different stout than I'm used to because the floral and citrus notes are in the forefront right now with the stout flavors in the back. I'm going to give my 2nd bottle a year in the cellar and see how it develops.

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2009 16:57:12 | More by bmanning
Photo of Gary779
Gary779

South Africa

4.3/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage - Zombie

A: As the beer pours, it has a black-brown colour. It has a strong coffee coloured head that develops quite nicely and has great retention. Leaves nice chunky lace as well.

S: Quite hoppy, with clear aromas of coffee and cocoa. The hops aroma has elements of middle eastern herbs. Upon a swirl, the beer gives off a very sweet aroma, filled with dark fruits and vanilla.

T: There is an initial sweetness that tells you a lot of the final gravity of the beer (it IS a heavy beer). A lot of molasses and dark fruits, like dates and plums. Aside from that the taste is just BIG and complex. Alcohol became too prominent after the beer warmed up to room temperature.

M: Beer is heavy and very smooth. It has a certain oilyness that works wonderfully. Carbonation is silky smooth.

O: I was expecting better, but this is nonetheless a brilliant beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-28-2012 19:04:16 | More by Gary779
Photo of Chaz
Chaz

Minnesota

4.3/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark, very dark and opaque to the eye as it is poured from the tap. Develops a dark tan head, tight, uniform, and very pleasing to the eye. The head along with the lace ("the stickiest of the icky") rings the glass and never seems to let go. The hops are definitely here in the nose, but are blanketed by notes of fruit (ripening plums, Concorde grapes) and a mildly-pungent yeast. Just a touch of lactic sourness on first sip, alongside hop bitterness, notes of green apple and iodine. A rich, smooth, oatmeal stout-like quality pervades the mouthfeel, and carbonation is appropriate for the style. The yeast character remains consistent as this warms, and there are both vegetal and medicinal qualities here as well. Very well realized: the alcohol is boozy and warming yet unobtrusive, and the hops are biting yet not overly assertive, and are woven intricately into the aromatics. Malty and full-bodied yet by no means sweet in the cloying sense. Near the end of the glass (and as near to actual room temperature as I can get without busting out my handy thermometer) I'm getting cocoa, vanilla, and a touch of sour cherry. Final thoughts: while the alcohol is stated to be 9.5% ABV, it is extremely well hidden here and Darkness drinks a little bit "lighter" than a beer going nose to nose with 10%. A very complex brew and definitely a sipper: if I get the chance to do so, I'd like to try this neck and neck with the Le Coq from Belgium some day, as it brings to mind some fond memories and notes of comparison to that brew. Reviewed at Blue Nile.

Serving type: on-tap

11-08-2006 01:09:04 | More by Chaz
Photo of mfavoino
mfavoino

Washington

4.31/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Another shared bottle with Treebs. 2011 bottle with Zombie artwork.

A: Motor oil black with a lingering espresso head. Perfect stout appearance.

S: Bitter chocolate, alcohol, and dark roasted malts. A slight hop presence as well.

T: Sweet chocolate bombarded my palate and the roasted malts took over. Alcohol is there along with a very light coffee taste.

M: Thick, creamy, and smooth. Booze heat as it goes down.

O: A very good RIS, just isn't quite on par with some of the others that I've tried recently. I'd like to give a fresh one a try in the future.

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2013 18:34:41 | More by mfavoino
Photo of beerandcycling88
beerandcycling88

Washington

4.31/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another one from the bottle share. Part of a 2010, 2011 and 2012 vertical review is of the 2011.

A Very nice dark brown body that is topped off with a mocha head.

S Lots of chocolate both dark and milk with some smoke.

T Some more smoke with more chocolate and some slight hops and coffee. Very tasty.

M Very thick and creamy.

Overall this is an excellent RIS that I'm glad I got the opportunity to try. The 2011 was my favorite of the 3 with the 10 having a bit too much smoke and the 12 having more hops then what I prefer in a RIS.

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2013 03:28:12 | More by beerandcycling88
Photo of codysjb
codysjb

Florida

4.33/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer tasting 10/14/12
Motor oil black little head
Toffee, dark, caramel small coffe notes
Lots of carbonation, caramel, heavy very heavy.
Still just a massive amount of carbonation here almost over the top.
Good but not standing up to the cbs and dark lord were opening side by side.

Serving type: bottle

10-14-2012 21:47:36 | More by codysjb
Photo of Vonerichs
Vonerichs

Illinois

4.33/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown to black. It was served in a snifter with an impressive head and cascading lacing through the finish.

The smell was dark fruit, sweet malt, and a light chocolate.

Delicious. Very sweet malt with a hint of dark berries, a little currant. There are touches of chocolate and dark roast coffee, but both are minimal.

Mouthfeel is creamy, but not too thick. Finish is dry and slightly bitter in a chocolate or coffee kind of way.

The alcohol was detectable, but not 10% detectable. This is a sipper, but damn tastey.

This is one of the better RISs out there, no doubt.

Serving type: on-tap

11-12-2009 03:24:12 | More by Vonerichs
Photo of DwnTwnBwn
DwnTwnBwn

California

4.33/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed a '09 from a tulip glass.

A - Pours a dark black with a hunt of khaki. Head is decent 1 finger that falls to a nice ring around the glass.

S - Nice big sweet beer smell. Lots of roasted malt and dry dark chocolate.

T - The taste is a bit offsetting due to the large amount of hoppiness of this beer. The smells come through quite nicely. Plenty of dark fruits too. Wonderful.

M - Velvet smooth. Carbonation keeps the body light enough

O - Wonderful RIS, the hoppyness starts to detract from the flavor. Need to cellar a few.

Serving type: bottle

09-23-2010 23:17:25 | More by DwnTwnBwn
Photo of ritzkiss
ritzkiss

Ontario (Canada)

4.33/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

650ml 2010 vintage, silver wax - big thanks to viggo for generously bringing this and sharing.

Pours a not quite jet black, viscous brew, a creamy finger and a half of mocha head which sticks around for the duration. Nice.

Nose initially reveals a nice roast, chocolate, coffee character blended with a fresh leafy hop kick, beautifully integrated. Then rich mocha, hints of smooth espresso (not the acrid stuff from Starbucks!), dark chocolate and milk chocolate, cocoa powder, clean earthy roasted malts, hint of molasses, vanilla. The mouthfeel on this is standout, so smooth and creamy without ever being syrupy, aided by just the right hop bite and dryness. Not too sweet, just so fine. Alcohol so well hidden. Perhaps not the most complex of the big beers but this is perhaps the most balanced, drinkable of the big RIS's I've had - which is a real talent. Thanks a ton Eric!

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2010 17:21:04 | More by ritzkiss
Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,525 ratings.