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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

DarknessDarkness

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

2,262 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2262
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
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Ratings: 2,262 | Reviews: 752 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of GreesyFizeek
GreesyFizeek

New York

4.7/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2012 vintage courtesy of stillmatic2232 at the Ithaca Luminous release.

Pours a dark, abyss depths-like black. 2 inch head mocha head, good lacing in the glass.

Smells like dark roasted malt, some dark fruits, chocolate, and espresso.

The taste is similar. One of the biggest expressions of dark fruits- raisins, plums, dark tart cherries- I've had in a sout. The roasted malt and chocolate keep the dark fruit flavor from being too cloying. Some espresso bean flavors as well.

Thick, syrupy mouthfeel, sweet start, bitter finish. No alcohol presence, despite the imperial ABV.

Amazing stuff, really glad I finally got to try it.

Serving type: bottle

04-16-2014 21:45:39 | More by GreesyFizeek
Photo of chanokokoro
chanokokoro

Illinois

4.55/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a waxed 750 ml bottle into a Surly Brewing Company Darkness Russian Imperial Stout branded goblet/snifter

Pours black as pitch with a huge two finger medium tan head. Excellent retention and plenty of lacing. Tons of dark fruit notes, dark chocolate, and boozy alcohol on the nose. Opens with dark chocolate, bold black cherries, and plum and prune notes. Molasses and raisins midpalate. Finishes with some dark roast coffee, boozy alcohol, piney hops, resin, and continued mixed dark fruit notes. Smooth and silky huge, full body with somewhat syrupy on the finish. Low to low/moderate carbonation. I've found every vintage of Darkness to be excellent and the 2013 vintage is no different. One of the better brews to be found in the style.

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2014 04:28:11 | More by chanokokoro
Photo of GarthDanielson
GarthDanielson

North Carolina

4.66/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2013 vintage (Brewcifer). Poured from a wax-topped bomber into a snifter, the beer is jet black, almost oily, with a thin, filmy, frothy half-inch head that settles into a filmy surface coating. Nose of black strap molasses, licorice, coffee, baker's chocolate, woody notes, and hints of vanilla. Flavors of rich, heavy molasses and smooth dark chocolate forward. Perfectly balanced. Oaky highlights, with vanilla notes, too. Roasted characteristics throughout, with coffee bitterness in and out of the palate, also. Very layered palate and deep throughout. Velvety smooth body, with a chocolate bitter and roasted aftertaste. Wow! The finish is slick, smooth, and fairly heavy on the linger of rich and heavy. Great beer! Wow!

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2014 01:36:38 | More by GarthDanielson
Photo of jzeilinger
jzeilinger

Pennsylvania

4.46/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark molasses colored with a thick creamy head that subsides to an even, frothy layer that's clingy and with a lot of legs.

S - Black anise, licorice, deep roasted caramel/toffee malt, molasses, light bourbon.

T - Dark molasses and dark roasted chocolate, cocoa, dark roasted caramel cream, toasted sherry/bourbon/oak.

M - Thick, rich, full bodied, sticky, and viscous.

O - Outstanding and seek out.

Serving type: bottle

03-18-2014 23:18:51 | More by jzeilinger
Photo of JohnG190
JohnG190

New York

4.94/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pours pitch black with a thick mocha head. Great lacing. So much happening on the nose - lots of dark chocolate, vanilla and stone fruit with hints of roasted malt and smoke. Outstanding aroma! Palate follows the nose, dark chocolate, vanilla, cherries, and dark fruity notes. The malt and smoky notes are even more apparent on the tongue. Body is ridiculously smooth with a medium body and light carbonation. Overall, if there are any faults in this stout I can't discern them. This is not only the best non-BA stout I've had, it's the finest example of a Russian Imperial Stout I've had, period!

Serving type: bottle

03-17-2014 14:39:32 | More by JohnG190
Photo of rjp217
rjp217

Massachusetts

5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2012 bottle poured into a couple taster snifters....

Pitch black pour with a beautiful one finger head and perfect brown head with a sticky lace retention. So much chocolate and cherry in the aroma and taste. There's a beautiful coffee and caramel finish in the taste. Full body and low carbonation with a silky smooth finish. This beer is absolutely sublime. It's a chocolate coffee marshmallow dream. The 2 years created a perfect symmetry. Epic!

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2014 00:29:40 | More by rjp217
Photo of MDDMD
MDDMD

Pennsylvania

4.34/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A-dark brown black color with a decent light brown head and good lacing

S-chocolate, molasses, coffee, dark fruit, vanilla

T-dark roasted malt, chocolate, toffee, coffee, dark fruit, little vanilla, little on the sweet side

F-full body with light to moderate carbonation, smooth and creamy

O-well-rounded stout, just a little on the sweet side for me

Serving type: bottle

02-27-2014 00:58:38 | More by MDDMD
Photo of dgilks
dgilks

Australia

3.83/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Inky, oily, deep and penetrating black. Big, creamy tan head. Very nice.

Heavily alcoholic nose. Very big. Sweet and very rich. Moderate roast and coffee.

Big. Sugar, sugar, sugar. Chocolate is there as is some roast and caramel.

Full body with moderate carbonation. Okay.

I just can't do these beers anymore. It is just a big diabetes bomb of sugar and alcohol. Seriously lacking in complexity and character to round out the malt and add balance.

Serving type: bottle

02-24-2014 10:51:00 | More by dgilks
Photo of AgentMunky
AgentMunky

California

4.36/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

2010 edition. Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a snifter. Many thanks to the guys at Ale Arsenal for sharing.

A: Blood-dark red. Viscous. No head.

S: Smell is amazing. Loads of coffee. Licorice. Aggressive bitterness. Hops?

T/M: This is nutzo good! Kinda balanced, which is shocking. Very thin bodied. Hint of coffee. Hops. Roasty. Actually tastes like a stout. Lingering aftertaste is nutty and delicate. Dry. I love the roasted malt here.

O: Great imperial stout. Delicious and highly recommended.

Serving type: bottle

02-13-2014 18:17:34 | More by AgentMunky
Photo of gueuzedreg
gueuzedreg

Colorado

4.54/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

'13 into a CS snifter. First Surly.

A- This is the darkest beer that I have ever had. Coffee colored pinky sized head with good retention down to a large sized lacing ring with big legs.

S- Charred dark fruits, molasses, toffee, chocolate. Real rich and dark bold smell. This is my second favorite base RIS behind Zhukov. Brilliant.

T- Totally follows the nose. Reminds me of Portsmouth Impy. Charred dark fruits are upfront>chocolate>molasses.

M- Very thick and creamy. Rich and decadent. Great smooth M.

O- I am very impressed with this base RIS. Brilliant.

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2014 23:09:56 | More by gueuzedreg
Photo of vic21234
vic21234

Illinois

4.59/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

750ml poured into a snifter from cellar temperature. 2011 Vintage.

A- Pours black, as expected. A nice finger's worth of khaki colored head sticks around awhile before slowly fading to the side. Some lacing is noted along the sides of the glass as well.

S- Chocolate and dark malts are heavy on the aroma, along with an overall sweet character.

T- Very nice RIS. Starts off with dark malts before giving way to tons of sweet chocolate notes. There is still some hop presence at the backend even after going on 3 years old, though the malts dominate this one I'd say.

M- Thick and chewy, easy drinking for a RIS, good carbonation.

This is a great beer for sure. I tend to prefer BA stouts but this is a great sipping one as well. Drinks heavy and thick.

Serving type: bottle

02-05-2014 01:01:37 | More by vic21234
Photo of Alieniloquium
Alieniloquium

Florida

3.93/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter. 2011 bottle. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Black with nice lacing. Small khaki head.

Smell - Roasted chocolate. Sweet caramel in there too. Fruity with some licorice.

Taste - Sweet, for sure. More than I expected. It blends well with the roasted malts, though. Licorice and dark fruits. Ashy bitter malt finish.

Mouthfeel - Heavy and sweet. Medium carbonation.

Overall - Lots of sugar in this guy. Not to Dark Lord levels, but sweet. It's what Dark Lord should be.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2014 20:04:38 | More by Alieniloquium
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 Ri0
Ri0

Wisconsin

4.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

poured 750ml bottle into chalice. 2013 release.

A - Dark, like black with a beautiful 2.5 finger caramel colored head. Nice retention with a thick collar and good amounts of tan lacing.

S - Earthy hops with pleasant dark fruits, lots of milk and bitter chocolate, roasty malts and some molasses and brown sugars to sweeten it.

T - This is one delicious RIS with hefty amounts of bitter and milk chocolate, earthy hops, caramel, brown sugar, molasses. The roasted malts are a real treat and there is a pleasant dark fruit flavor that blends well with it all.

M - Thick, viscous and creamy with a velvety smoothness to it. The carbonation is spot on for the style.

O - I can't think of a better RIS that I have had. This is an incredible beer, but the price may keep me from obtaining more than one a year.

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2014 18:48:05 | More by Ri0
Photo of sully11277
sully11277

Illinois

4.66/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A- Jet black with a nice brown head that sticks around for the whole thing.

S- You get a lot of an alcohol burn then you get a nice sweetness. You get a lot of cocoa and vanilla. You get a lot of roast. there are so many smells coming off this beer they blend very well.

T/M- You get a lot of sweetness upfront, you get a lot of dark chocolate then you get more of a milk chocolate and vanilla. It is very smooth which i was shocked by because of the alcohol burn you get from the smell.

O- This beer is amazing. all the flavors blend so great together I can not wait to see how this ages.

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2014 18:38:20 | More by sully11277
Photo of kevanb
kevanb

Illinois

4.71/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

750ml bottle, 2013 vintage, purchased at Binny's Grand in Chicago (much to my surprise) and poured into a 2012 Darkness tulip. I've heard rumors that the batch sent to Chicago was different than the batch released at Darkness Day in 2013, but I have nothing to substantiate this, that being said, this bottle was quite different than the draft offering I had at Northdown Cafe not a few weeks earlier.

The beer pours a super deep jet black color, wonderful opacity and just a touch of cola brown color when hit by the light. A thick, taut, caramel colored head rises from the beer, not instantaneously, taking its time to thicken and settle before receding slowly and gracefully leaves a few nice spots of lace behind. The aroma is roasty, dark brunt grain with some toasted coffee bean before a rush of chocolate, also a touch charred gives way to a plethora of fruit flavors, cherry, plum, prune and fig, with a bit of brown sugar and raisin as well as some molasses and toffee. The flavors however, are on point, loads of rich chocolate, bittersweet that brings out the fruit flavors impeccably well, huge amounts of cherry and plum with some backing raisin and licorice that leads to a rich malt and brown sugar sweet finish, but boy does the roast get cut down on the tongue. I'm used to this beer exerting some bitterness and hoppyness, especially when this fresh, but this bottle is so rounded and smooth. The body on this bottle is perfection, incredibly rich, soft, smooth, velvety, all of the synonyms for those words apply. It coats the mouth so gently and eloquently that it's almost unnoticed while asserting itself so well. The finish is wonderfully creamy, soft and has a perfect level of warming as it goes down.

Verdict: I always thought of Darkness as a rather unique and inventive take on the style as it was assertively bitter and always had a distinctive piney hop flavor to me, however this bottle changes everything. It's incredibly rich, smooth and balanced. The complexity is astounding and this is deserving of all accolades. Perhaps there is some truth to the notion that the recent distribution was slightly different than the release day batch, but whatever was in my bottle was superb and I want more.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2014 04:41:42 | More by kevanb
Photo of timc100
timc100

Illinois

4.35/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

2013

Did not have the menacing pour I anticipated - dark, brown light showing through. Sits black in the glass with a dark mocha head. Sticks to the glass but not overly retentive, minimal alcohol legs.

Aroma of heavy roast, dark chocolate, some vanilla coffee. Some dark fruits as well, but not very distinctive. Nice, but not very vibrant.

Taste is huge. Big chocolate, heavy roast, some vanilla and dark cherry - slight molasses. Decently bitter but cut with a nice sweetness. Full, smooth well rounded body.

Very good RIS - not the best I have had, but certainly something worth getting a few bottles of.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2014 03:47:03 | More by timc100
Photo of zhanson88
zhanson88

California

4.06/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage.

Appearance: Pours out a deep, dark brown that appears black in the glass. About 3/4" of dark tan head forms, which has pretty good retention and very nice lacing. Pretty good start to this beer.

Smell: Smells pretty roasty, but not overly so, with light coffee bitterness and stronger dark and milk chocolate sweetness intermingling.

Taste: Roast bitterness and milk chocolate sweetness all the way. Good balance of the two. Lingering bitterness from the roast. Not the most complex beer, but what is there is very solid.

Mouthfeel/Overall: Mouthfeel is just under full, with an excellent level of carbonation. Overall, a very good non barrel aged stout. It gives up a bit of complexity but is very well put together, and has an excellent sweet/bitter balance. Definitely a recommend.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2014 01:55:50 | More by zhanson88
Photo of tconboy
tconboy

Minnesota

4.94/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

BREWCIFER - Lord of Darkness

Thanks to Bru for the Christmas present.

Appearance: lives up to it's name. Nice pillowy caramel head fades quickly to a surrounded light film.

Smell: Oh boy! Chocolate, coffee, sweetness.

Taste: The complexity! Rather fantastic, hence the perfect rating. The dried tart cherries and raisins are there and blend with that coffee, chocolatey (don't you red-underline me!) treat that we anticipated (see smell).

Mouthfeel: As you would expect from an RIS. Moderate carbonation. Dangerously smooth finish.

Overall: A wonderful treat. Wish this wasn't such a rare gem. Not my favorite style, but enjoyed this beer with the best of them.

Serving type: bottle

01-11-2014 00:08:45 | More by tconboy
Photo of spinrsx
spinrsx

Ontario (Canada)

4.13/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber from the end of year Ottawa Tasting

Appearance - Dark brown colour with a small size frothy light brown head. I can't make out the amount of carbonation showing and there is some great lacing. The head lasted for around 5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, oats

Taste & Mouth - There is a below average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, chocolate, and vanilla. There is also some coffee, roasted/toasted nuts, and some oats.

Overall - Really smooth and enjoyable to drink. A great balance of flavours and something that I would drink a lot if it was regularly available to me.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2014 17:50:28 | More by spinrsx
Photo of spoony
spoony

Colorado

4.54/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From a 650 ml bottle (2013 batch) into a snifter.

A-A gentle pour produces about a finger of medium brown foam. The retention is so-so and in less than a minute I am left with a patchy cap. The cap hangs around for a bit before dissipating to a collar. The beer underneath is pretty nearly black and opaque with a little bit of sheen.

S-The aroma is sweet and complex with suggestions of molasses and a warming background of alcohol. I detect some dark fruit, a touch of licorice-like spice, and nice roasted flavors. There is dark, semi-sweet chocolate, as well. The heavy-roasted bitterness is well integrated into the sweetness and the result is inviting.

T-Ultra-rich and creamy with a taste that includes many of the same flavors I smelled. Dark berry fruit, lightly bitter semi-sweet chocolate, molasses, and a little kick of spice. The alcohol is rolled in really well and gives a bit of fruity sweetness and warmth. Complexity is off the charts. Each sip reveals a new flavor.

M-The body is moderate to full and the carbonation is average for the style.

O-This is a great beer. What I especially enjoyed is how the roasted flavors managed to meld and balance the sweetness and fruit flavors. Unlike many RISs, this brew is not a complete char bomb or a soy sauce bomb, but a great balance between the two styles. The flavors are intense and complex. Perhaps the best non-barrel stout I've ever had.

Serving type: bottle

01-01-2014 08:30:35 | More by spoony
Photo of lwillitz
lwillitz

Florida

4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brewcifer (2013) poured into Belgian Ale glass

A - 2 fingers of medium tan foam over a body of pitch black; not much lacing, but beautiful nonetheless

S - tons of dark fruit, notes of coffee and cocoa; very malty and very sweet

T - dark fruits are prominent, primarily cherry and raisin flavors; notes of coffee and chocolate; heavy malt flavors, quite sweet; piney hops add a pleasant balance; alcohol becomes conspicuous in the finish

M - smooth syrupy full body, medium/high carbonation, alcohol warmth

O - more fruity (and less chocolate/coffee) than I expected from a RIS, also sweeter than expected, still quite delicious

Serving type: bottle

12-27-2013 13:37:35 | More by lwillitz
Photo of darthvohn
darthvohn

Texas

4.53/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Glass Used: Snifter
Release: 2013-Brewcifer

Appearance: Black as a starless night with a finger thick chocolate milk foam. The head seemed to melt down leaving a film of foam surrounded by a solid ring around the glass.

Smell: Heavy on the raisin and (for me) fresh dates followed by milk chocolate and strong coffee. The alcohol makes it's presence known as well.

Taste: Roasted malts are up front with the dark fruits following close while the chocolate and coffee bring up the rear. A very flavorful RIS which I would definitely put in my top 3. While I could smell the alcohol in the aroma, its hidden well on the palate.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth with a sticky finish. Roasted bitterness is there in the right quantity.

Overall: A delicious surprise in my last trade with Pintofbrown. Pretty damn amazing RIS which I feel the hype is deserved. Cheers!

Serving type: bottle

12-26-2013 01:39:30 | More by darthvohn
Photo of B_Faust
B_Faust

Minnesota

4.19/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I have yet to open my 2013 but I did have a few bottles of the prior years. Very distinct in it's quality. Nose was great, mouthfeel was fantastic, and the flavor was over the top. Chocolate, raisin, coffee, hops, fruity, toasty and rich goodness. Warming alcohol, but little smell or flavor, not solvent-like other big RIS's. Just a great experience. I had my first few fresh, can't wait to open my 2013....don't know how long I can wait! Surly never fails to amuse me.

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2013 01:47:08 | More by B_Faust
Photo of ironchefmiyagi13
ironchefmiyagi13

New York

4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had the 2012 and 2013 next to each other.

2013 stole the show, hands down. The grade is reflective of that one.

Great color and head on both beers.

Aroma on the 2013 was much more powerful in terms of coffee, chocolate and hops. 2012 was sweeter smelling with a lot of dark fruit.

Flavor was much of the same differentiating factors. 2013 was balanced, hoppy, smooth and delicious. 2012 had a weird metallic 'twang' to it with every sip, and was just way too fruity and sweet with no hops or coffee/chocolate to add a little bitterness.

Overall, I was very disappointed with the results. While I am now glad I traded away my older bottles, I was expecting something a little more 'badass' in terms of a vintage showdown. Oh well, maybe my bottle just didn't age properly. Either way, the fresh bottle was outstanding and on par with my favorite RIS...Stone RIS.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2013 05:52:40 | More by ironchefmiyagi13
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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,262 ratings.