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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
DarknessDarkness

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

2,546 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,546
Reviews: 761
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.33%
Wants: 2,884
Gots: 1,006 | FT: 67
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: 2,546 | Reviews: 761 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of craytonic
craytonic

District of Columbia

4.25/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage / 2011 Vintage (on tap at Churchkey DC).

Appearance: Motor oil black, decent head and lacing.

Smell: Roasted malt, dark chocolate, dark fruits - particularly prune juice, grape juice, and plum, dark rum, espresso, molasses, licorice, vanilla, and hops.

Taste: Slightly too sweet, lots of roasted malt of course, prune, grape, and plum juice, espresso, molasses, dark chocolate, dark rum, licorice, vanilla, tobacco juice, and hops.

Mouthfeel: It is a big beer, but not the thick oily syrup that is Dark Lord. Very well carbonated.

Drinkability: Good, the 2011 batch was a big improvement over 2010.

Serving type: on-tap

03-04-2009 19:01:03 | More by craytonic
Photo of Sparky44
Sparky44

Illinois

4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

03-23-2013 22:16:08 | More by Sparky44
Photo of lucas1801
lucas1801

Massachusetts

4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

03-21-2013 15:55:07 | More by lucas1801
Photo of Drunkonmusic
Drunkonmusic

Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

08-23-2012 02:57:42 | More by Drunkonmusic
Photo of BeerMeBrah
BeerMeBrah

Florida

4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

04-03-2014 04:38:09 | More by BeerMeBrah
Photo of AbeFroman
AbeFroman

California

4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

01-29-2013 02:32:44 | More by AbeFroman
Photo of mpayne5
mpayne5

Indiana

4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

04-27-2014 16:43:13 | More by mpayne5
Photo of GatorLCA
GatorLCA

Florida

4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

03-30-2014 18:46:16 | More by GatorLCA
Photo of xpimptastikx
xpimptastikx

Texas

4.25/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I think subconsciously I've been saving my lone Darkness for Halloween. 2008 bottle acquired in a trade.

A - Pours an almost pitch black stream that settles like tar in the glass. Not much of a head, just a thin sheet of mocha head that lasts forever.

S - smells pretty sweet, but not as bad as fresh Dark Lord. A small bit of roasted malts, chocolate, and a touch of dark fruit rounds it out.

T - Roasted chocolaty malts with a hint of prunes. Definitely less sweet than the smell, but any bit of hops is pretty much gone. Aftertaste of cigars and coffee.

M/D - This is thick and frothy beer. A great mouthfeel, but it is way to thick to be extremely drinkable. One bottle is going to take me a while to finish, but I'm enjoying every sip.

Serving type: bottle

10-31-2009 23:52:58 | More by xpimptastikx
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
Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,546 ratings.