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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

811 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 811
Hads: 3,342
Avg: 4.41
pDev: 9.52%
Wants: 3,280
Gots: 1,215 | FT: 92
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 (55) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Darkness Alström Bros
Reviews: 811 | Hads: 3,342
Photo of NoLiberty
4.23/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours at EBF into a plastic sampling glass after a long wait in line. Hopefully it's worth the effort. Color is a beautiful thick dark, black. Wonderful thick, frothy, milkshake-like head.
The aroma starts with a piney hoppiness, followed by an all spice note, then leads into dark chocolate, come bitter cocoa, coffee and a strong roasted basement brings it all together. A warm alcohol presence heightens the flavor and invites more drinking.
The taste has a front palate of sweet malty chocolate cake, then moves to solid finish of hops and peppery spice from the alcohol.
The body is rather light for the depth and strength of the beer, and with a nice carbonation that creates a continuous agitation of flavors this has an overall soft and inviting feel. Well balanced and pleasing. The alcohol warmth slows down the drinking a bit but the flavors are so nice and the body so soft that this is definitely a keeper...if i could ever get another glass.

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Photo of poopypine
4.16/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I love this beer. Talking about the 2008 edition. This is a simple review from a simple man.
The appearance is jet black as night inky tar pit. Wow.
Smell is nice but and mellow.
Taste is just divine, I give it a 4 because I feel the sweetness comes a little strong.
The mouthfeel is smooth thick goodness. A heavy beer to say the least.
Drinkability is a 4 instead of 5 because in my mind it is not intended as an all-nighter. This is a finishing beer. Like a fine port. The strong willed can put down a bottle and will feel the part. But for me it is a wonderful strong ale that is complex in all aspects.

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Photo of SykDoc
4.62/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this at a stout event courtesy of brdc and company, much thanks to them.

Poured from a bottle into a flute. It pours a very thick deep brown that is opaque when held to the light, except at the edges. A 1-2 inch mocha colored head forms and is short-lived with minimal lacing.

The aroma is assertive and complex with sweet components of caramel and molasses and something that seemed to me like cotton candy/corn syrup. The usual chocolate culprit is also present as is a later coffee note. Very unique and very good.

The taste also highlighted a sweet caramel taste which includes molasses and chocolate. The bitter coffee and hoppy components were not as intense to me but still present and a nice balance.

The mouthfeel seem to have a medium carbonation and significant thickness that was quite smooth. There was a sticky finish that lingered with some of the bitter tastes.

Overall, this is an extremely drinkable beer and one of my favorites from the night. I will continue my search for me and hope to make it to the Darkness event next time. This was at the top with Dark Lord at our event.

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Photo of Oxymoron
4.11/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

There are few years that get as much hype. Pours a midnight black color with some decent viscosity. Very dark with a chestnut brown colored head. Good retention and lacing through the whole tasting.

Nose to the floor, the aroma has a mostly sweetness to it. The malt comes out with some stronger coffee and roast aromas. Some stronger astringency notes that gives a harshness to it. Some coffee and lactic/milky notes as well. The lactic may be a bit much and giving that sweeter aroma. Some lighter honey notes with a mild spiciness. The yeasty notes are noticeable as well. Some prunes and cherries really come out but mix with a odd hoppy earthiness to it. Some fusel notes as well.

The taste is similar. Very sweet upfront if not more so than the nose. This hides some of the nice astringent roast flavors that come out. Though as it warms, the roast does come out. The coffee aspect backs off but there as the lactic/milky side comes out. Almost like a oatmeal thing but too sweet. Some bitter dark chocolate notes that balance nicely. The hops are really noticeable and lend more of an earthy and citrus mix. Really distracts from the beer. Would have liked more bitters to help with the sweetness. Noticeable yeasty notes and alcohol, but not necessarily fusels. Nice sherry and cherry/fig notes as well. Some peppery notes. A little bit of butyric on the backend as well. Overall good but super sweet.

The body is a bonus. Very thick and chewy. A lot of depth overall with a creamy texture. So do you buy the hype? Not really. The sweetness is a huge distraction and the finishing hops are too strong. But one thing I will give this beer though, it will age nicely. See you in a few years.

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Photo of ATLbeerDog
4.73/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Three months old - Pours a beautiful pitch black that is completely opaque. A heavy two inch dark tan/caramel head proudly crowns this masterpiece. The large head very slowly and reluctantly recedes. Smells of chocolate, coffee, licorice, alcohol and hops complete the nose. Tastes of dark chocolate, coffee grinds, raisins, tobacco and "licorice...yeah black licorice" add to the amazing complexity. One of many amazing aspects of this beer is the mouthfeel which I can only describe as complete milkshake. An intense hop presence separates this puppy from the other top RIS's in the world. It does not get any better than this. Big, bold, beautiful...if this beer doesn't make your pecker hard, you are likely gay and need to go back to wine.

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Photo of tjthresh
4.9/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours midnight black with plenty of brown head. Nose of soy sauce, and all of the hops that I have been told that are in this beer. The flavor is different to say the least. It starts of with some maple, then slips into a big date or fig finish. I get all the hops in the finish as well. Full body but it seems to be easily drinkable. Gosh...believe the hype.

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Photo of CrellMoset
4.16/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Darkness, bottle courtesy of a ratebeer trade, and split at my 1-year Anniversary Tasting with a few friends. My portion poured into a tulip.

Appearance: Pours a thick, pitch-black, dark beer, oily, heavy, glug glug glug into the glass. The head is light cocoa, tan, with great retention - it's swiss cheese like, bubbly, sticky, foamy in places, meringue-like in others. The lacing is three-dimensional in places, sticky, strewn all over the sides of the tulip. Just a great looking beer.

Aroma: Huge, pungent cocoa and soy, with plenty of hops, too - citrusy, lightly grassy, which would be overpowering in any brew other than this one. Hints of coconut, too. There are lots of sweet, nondescript malty notes, though plenty of solid roasted, toasted notes as well. This beer's least enjoyable aspect - it's not doing a lot for me.

Taste: Oh wow. What a fantastic taste. Tons of residual sweetness with every roasted and toasted malty note imaginable - butterscotch, caramel, toffee on the light end, coffee, cocoa, toast, molasses, deep brown sugar on the darker end - and only a kiss of soy sauce. A few dark fruits notes, raisin being most prominent, round out the malty sweetness. Anise is prominent as well and melds well with a somehow prominent amount of hop bitterness and citrusy, leafy hop notes, orange-zest like in places, slightly minty in others. It's very complex and well-rounded, and only loses the half-point due to the overwhelming amount of residual sugars - it's just slightly too sweet.

Mouthfeel: Thick and somewhat even, though there is a fair amount of unevenness here. What is here is creamy and milky, however, a good fit for the tasting notes here. It leaves a bit of a syrupy, sticky feel in the mouth too. However, this one improves drastically as it warms, evenening out as the carbonation dies. Creamy and mellow.

Drinkability: This is a good beer ... it's just not quite as good as I thought it would be, and though I try not to take off points for expectations, I may have in a few spots here. There's plenty of good here - it's big, it's bold, it's complex, it's pleasantly well-hopped, and the alcohol's well-hidden. On the other hand, the alcohol's pretty high, the aroma is a little lackluster, and it's pretty crazy sweet. The verdict: it's a winner. Is it worth $16? Probably. Would I try it again? Yes. If you get the chance to trade for it, should you? Definitely.

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Photo of tmoneyba
4.6/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle shared by ajsdad06.

A - Poured a clear dark brown color with a large frothy brown head that lasted with excellent lacing.

S- Moderate to heavy roasted chocolate, caramel, hops and alcohol aroma.

T - Heavy bittersweet roasted malty flavor with a heavy bittersweet and small alcohol bite finish of long duration.

M - Full body with a smooth texture and flat carbonation.

D - This is a standout beer and one of the top rated active bottled beers by style.

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Photo of ncvbc
3.01/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Dark and beautiful with a creamy tan head and very solid retention. Sticky chunks of lacing down the glass. Smell is interesting. Creamy dark chocolate with a touch of roast, along with an evident hop presence underneath. It brings forth a spicy scent. Pretty rich of molasses. Taste is just over-the-top sweet for my liking. Again, big time molasses and in an overwhelming fashion. Some dark fruits as well. A slight hint of roast and definite hops again attempt to find balance but just help to forget about the sweet for a second. In the mouth it's creamy and smooth, not too bad by any means. Sadly, this is not one that I enjoyed so much. I'm just glad it wasn't wasted, as I shared it with a couple people. Maybe after a year or more, this one would lose some of its sweetness and find a bit more balance. Cheers to Bill for sending yet another Surly brew my way!

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Photo of Kegatron
4.58/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml wax topped bottle into an oversized Duvel tulip glass. Thanks go to bulldogp04 for the trade. I had previously had samples of the '07 batch both from the bottle and keg (@ EBF '08) and was anxiously waiting to see what this latest batch brings to the table.

An aggressive pour into the glass yields an inky black that more than lives up to its namesake. This thing is just is an absolute impenetrable pitch dark with 2 fingers of fantastic looking thick and creamy burnt mocha colored head. This simmers down into a thin yet sturdy layer of retention that fires up magnificently when swirled, just absolutely COATING the sides of the glass with frothy swathes of lacing. This is just beautiful looking in my glass. The first thought that crosses my mind as I initially sniff this, is how exceedingly fresh, floral, and hoppy this aroma is. Fortunately, this is just the beginning of a most excellent bouquet, as the aroma's hop profile gives way to some powerful Stout qualities. Baker's chocolate, roast, smoke, coffee, molasses, dark fruits, and finally some light heat. Damn, there is a ton packed into this nose!

The taste is large and in charge on the palette, with a beefy mix of smoky and sticky tasting blackstrap molasses, chocolate covered cherries, brown sugar, roasted malts and coffee that blend into a firmer feeling hop bitterness in the backend. I will say that as this warms and sits and the carbonation lowers, the hop profile lessens as well, leaving behind a sweet, tangy, warm, and slightly bitter viscous mess that I'm just loving every minute of! The mouthfeel is huge and chewy feeling (definitely up there with Dark Lord and Expedition Stout on the thickness scale) with a massive creamy body up front that works itself into a more prickly feel in the middle, before it slides into a oily and viscous feel in the back. The ABV that is present in the body is hefty and warming but it never gets boozy or stinging at all. As a matter of fact, it feels just right considering the huge amount of flavors that are at work here.

This beer kind of gives new meaning to the phrase "demon in a bottle", as this beastly beer possessed my soul from the get go and didn't let go until the last drop was drained from the glass. Powerful feeling and complex, this is up there in rarified top RIS status for me. I will say that this definitely came off as much sweeter than other top picks in the style but I didn't mind at all. There was enough bitterness to keep it in check, plus I really liked how this aspect differentiated it from some of the other top Imperial Stouts out there. This was awesome stuff that I'm really happy to have finally been able to sit down and enjoy a full bottle of it.

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Photo of russpowell
4.36/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Cheer to Buebie, thanks Brian!

Pours a brown tinged mahogany with 2+ fingers of fluffy mocha colored head. Superior head retention & lacing

S: Hints of cherry & oak, plus cocoa powder

T: Dark fruit & chocolate & a touch of licorice up front, plus charred grains on the edge of the throat. Rich dark chocolate & dryness dominate as this warms, along with grainy bitterness on the roof of the mouth. Finishes dry with cocoa powder, a touch of vanilla, cherry, raisins & just a hint of Bourbon

MF: Slick, oily, sticky with low, near nil carbonation

Drinks a might bit, slow, the dryness & complexity slow me down some. Still, a very good RIS indeed. Well done Surly!

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Photo of DefenCorps
2.86/5  rDev -35.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

I received bottles from beerbeagle, Viggo and scoobydank. Thanks for this, guys! Split it with johnmichaelsen last night.

A: Jet black with an inch-thick dark brown head. Looks very impressive with some lacing.

S: Spicy hops right out of the gate, spicy enough to make me think of a papad (matpe bean flour and black pepper roasted together). Definitely pine-like in hop character. Dark bitter chocolate in the back with a LOT of roasted malt aroma, roasted and acridly bitter. The hops lend a unique twist to this beer but there isn't enough of a backbone to pull this off.

T: Opens up WAY too sweet, artificially so (is this beer approved for phenylketonurics?), malted milk balls. Hops come through with a piney bitterness but not enough to balance the sweetness. At the risk of belaboring a point, this beer is all too sweet, lacking in any real complexity. In addition, there's a rather strange acrid malt bitterness that just does not work

M: Light in body, almost too light. Carbonation is good but the finish is too sweet for my liking.

D: Poor, I'm having a hard time finishing this. In fact,I couldn't finish the 8-10oz I poured for myself.

Notes: I really wanted to like this beer but it's an imperial stout in the vein of the sweeter ones - DWF WWS, Dark Horizon (both beers being superior) and in some respects, the Mikkeller Black. If you like these beers, you'll go apeshit over this but honestly, I'm not really a fan.

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Photo of JWD
4.9/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Huge thanks go to phidelt for this one, very excited to try this one as it was #1 on my list of have to trys, so here we go,

A- as you would expect pitch black with a medium tan head, not the dark brown dark lord or abyss head though.

S- very similiar to dark lord with less sweetness, lot of smells here, sweet raisins, chocolate, roasted coffee, and some hop aroma as well. seems like its right where it needs to be a good balance.

T- I loved this, just like the smell it has the balance is exceptional. Starts out a little sweet then hits you with chocolate and coffee and finishes with a little hop bitterness. My favorite RIS so far!!!

M- Thinner than expected, but i have had dark lord very recently so this is expected.

D- I could drink this everyday as the huge variety of smells and flavors are all a little subdued but work flawlessly together.

Great beer and i am thrilled to have had the opportunity to try, now we just need a barrel aged version!!

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Photo of Proteus93
4.35/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of CrellMoset... shared along with dkachur.

A: Black as a stout will be, with a fairly light tan head. Very bubbly and sticky.

S: Quite an incredible scent. Big, doughy malts... I get something almost like fresh gingerbread batter. Some chocolate in there.

T: A nice, big, roasted malt... it's quite sweet and chocolatey. Again, I get some hints of gingerbread from it, which is quite nice. On the finish, a little hint of licorice comes out. It takes a little while and some warmth to come out, but it's nice.

M + D: Very rich and sticky... big molasses like consistency. To date, I don't believe I've come across something quite this thick. It can get quite sweet after a while, but it's certainly a very good flavour and aroma. Quite pleased with this one, and it moves away from a trend of a couple weaker offerings.

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Photo of grandq
4.27/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Giving this a try from the bottle thanks to the generosity of Mully.

Glugs a viscous black from the bottle. Giving this the usual vigorous pour I give to RIS's, a dark tan head mushroom clouds into a massive, pillowy and slowly dissipating dark tan head. Great scent - west coast fruity hops and berry, mixed with molasses, raisin, and leather. Flavor is a bit of a surprise, very mild and fruity. A dash of coffee opens up to the aforementioned berry and citrus, surrounded by milk chocolate, prickly spice, and a splash of grapefruit before bittering away from the tastebuds. Concludes like I took a swig of hot cocoa and chased it with an IPA. No bad thing, might have to try that.

Thick as anticipated but not as monstrous as others. I'm actually a little disappointed in this aspect, a little thin for my liking, i think it could cling to the tongue a bit more. Sorta skim chocolate milk-esque, which I don't have fond memories of. Still, the lighter mouthfeel results in a pretty quaffable concoction, though it gets a bit cloying at warmer temps.

I had this at the EBF last Feb and recall thinking it similar to Stone RIS (a solid compliment). Not at all the case from the bottle a couple months earlier. I'd like to try this straight from the source at release as I think the hops truly make this beer. Not quite as complex as I'd hoped but still top notch.

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Photo of WeisGuy
4.46/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Lucky to catch this on-tap at Cafe Twenty-Eight (highly recommend the restaurant, by the way)

a - pours deep dark and black, amazingly dense tan head that lasts forever and leaves great lacing, nice reverse cascade of bubbles with every drink, beautiful looking beer

s - very "bright" aroma with lots of citrusy hops apparent in the nose along with more traditional RIS aromas of dark, bittersweet chocolate and dark fruits

t - very complex on the palate with lots of dark, bittersweet chocolate, coffee and deeply roasted malt mixed with citrus and hoppy bitterness on the finish, the alcohol is remarkably masked, fairly sweet, but much less so than many big imperial stouts such as Dark Lord, faintly reminiscent of Stone IRS in its hoppyness and balance

m - medium-to-full bodied with moderate carbonation, not the viscous mess that many big imperial stouts become, this is one area where Darkness really excels, enough body to satisfy as an imperial stout, but not overly thick

d - an intense stout no doubt, but subtle and relatively drinkable at the same time, much more drinkable than many of the top tier imperial stouts such as Dark Lord and Abyss, fairly easy on the palate while bringing a whole lot of flavor, and the alcohol is well-masked

Overall, a stellar imperial stout and another very fine effort from Surly. Well worth seeking this one out if nothing else than for its uniqueness amongst its peers in the imperial stout category.

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Photo of schellsbeer
4.7/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes taken from sampling party early December 2008.

2008 vintage.

Thanks Greggy for the chance to taste this wonderful beer.

Sorry Surly Darkness....but Three Floyd's Dark Lord has you beat...just barely though.

A - Wonderful. Dark black with bitter dark chocolate covered cherry look. Fantastic. Swirl the glass...where the beer meets the top of the glass, a wonderful red color can be noticed. Incredible.

S - Fresh. Raisins. Molasses. Black Cherries. Chocolate. There is so many things going on in this beer, who can describe them all.

T - I think this beer needs to sit for about 1 year....that is why I have my own bottle cellaring under the stairs waiting for next November to roll around. Fruit. Strong Alcohol taste. Cherries. Chocolate. Much better when served at room temperature. Fantastic brew.

M - Thick. Filling. Creamy. I want this beer to last all night but...Dang it doesn't.

D - High Alcohol. Available once a year only in Minnesota...low point but only slightly.

One of my top five beers to date. Fantastic. Almost perfection in a bottle. Close. Will re-review next November.

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Photo of brentk56
4.85/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2008 bottling

Appearance: Pours a viscous black with chocolate edges and a creamy mocha head; sheets of lace remain in the chalice once the foam has subsided

Smell: Coffee, dark chocolate, berry fruit and a hint of cigar smoke; the citrus hops are mysterious, sometimes making their presence felt and other times indiscernable

Taste: Milk chocolate and Cuban coffee up front, with a developing berry element arriving shortly thereafter; by mid-palate, however, there is a building citrus hop flavor that becomes relentless after a while; after the swallow, the Cuban coffee returns and mixes with dark chocolate; plenty of citrus on the finish as well; the cigar flavors re-appearing in the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: By far, the thickest beer I have ever tasted, with moderate carbonation; a bit of warmth in the gullet after the swallow

Drinkability: New Year's eve, and it is time to break out this special occasion beer; for me, it lived up to the hype; unlike other hoppy stouts where the bitter flavors battle with the malt, in this beer, the blending of the contrasting flavors is unique

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Photo of PatronWizard
4.56/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A big thanks to trader imperialking for allowing me to get this bottle without offering up an appendage I may some day need.

Been patiently aging it for 2 months and my fucking patience is dead. A special visit from far-away friends and fellow BAs OlieIPA and Aimstatus is the final straw. Darkness dies tonight!

It pours black. Really, it does. Poured hard to create a big, frothy, chunky ass light brown head. Chunks of lace. Not wisps; chunks. The head is an alien landscape of spider webs.

Sniff has ... HOPS! Are you kidding me? Oh blessed day to find a big strong kick ass stout with HOPS! And I haven't had a hop all damn day. Awesome. I hope the mouth picks up what the nose is putting down. OK, the hops aren't smelling super strong, I'm just excited that they are there at all. A slight piney scent that makes me happy.

The taste is quite simply the most unique flavor I have ever encountered in a beer. I taste peanut butter and jelly. Slight chocolate flavor and the pine is there also. Mint chocolate chip ice cream flavors. Tons of flavors. Way damn complex. Sorry - this is friggin good! Reminds me of a Stone XI, only betterer and betterer.

I love to shit on the overhyped beers, but I have nothing bad to say here. This is truly awesome and I hope someday down the road I can have it again. I would drink it fresh to preserve as much of the hop flavor as possible, which collides superbly with the traditional stout flavors.

Smooth texture, but the bitterness keeps it from being silky.

Overall: absolutely awesome

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Photo of calise1122
4.58/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I tried, I really did.

After waiting so long, I wanted this night to be perfect and I gave it my doggone best. Waited months to share this with someone who would appreciate it. Bought some nice cheeses that I thought would work well, even spent time and energy to carefully align them on a cheese board so that Darkness would realize that I like to keep things clean and presentable.

I wanted to set up a nice play list, I wanted this to be memorable, I wanted this to be special....

But this demon beer wouldn't have any of it. It spent hours upon hours over the past few months coaxing at me... and when I finally open it the anarchist was let loose:

Computer shuts down, there goes my play list. So I scramble to open up the lap top and try to get hypemachine or Pandora going, figuring that at least that would offer a nice musical background... but this goddamn beer somehow ruined my internet connection. The cheese wasn't right and the room was uncomfortably hot... as if Lucifer here brought the brimstone from the depths of hell with him. What in holy heaven was going on, why after so much time did Darkness feel the need to treat me with so little respect.

Then I took a deep breath, focused, closed my eyes and it all came together. You don't control the Darkness... you don't "create" an environment that works. He dictates his own situation. This beer decides the temperature, it will let you know what music your listening too. It will tell you if and when you should have some damn cheese. Darkness doesn't want Martha Stewart... It won't be manipulated onto a christmas platter with bells and whistles... IT demands YOU to respect IT.

So I gave in. Screw the computer... we went with Comcast Music Channel 814. And you know what... almost as if great change in direction.. channel 814 had Vampire Weekend: Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa playing, too fitting. I prepared myself to completely let go of the situation, finally popped the cap off, jumped in the back seat and let Darkness do some driving:

From the back seat I just can't see thru Darkness. I tilted my head in every conceivable direction to try and see thru this black hole of a monster, but no shot. It is not worth the effort. He has such a big frothy and thick dark tan head. I suppose that is what happens when you spend your days in fire, brimstone and constant heat.

I can smell him easily from back here and you can tell he has lived a bit of life this one. Once a raging alcoholic, he seems to have simmered down a bit (or at least drink a better bourbon). The aromas of chocolate and vanilla come first, but as he jets down this dark highway towards hell I more and more get dark fruits; cherries, raisins, prunes.

He stops the car, turns around and demands me to bow down and kiss his feet. At this point, as Loser by Beck is now blasting from channel 814... I don't think twice. He tastes like chocolate and a homemade dark cherry/blackberry jam. You would think that he would be big, strong, over-the-top... but under all the upside down skulls and long swaying black robes there is a true sweet side to him. Maybe the year or so that he spent on earth softened him up a bit, but as I find myself on my hands and knees kissing the feet of this "monster", I can't help but to relax a bit. Maybe it's all a farce. Maybe, just maybe, when push comes to shove... he is a nice man. As the ride goes on the chocolate and coffee kind of succeed to the sweetness and dark fruit.

The tank starts to empty and I realize I am going to miss this ride. It was a ride that served a purpose, it showed me that with age, bumps and bruises... people, beer, even demon gods can change. They can open up and become even more complex then they originally were, showing more character and personality. I step out almost wanting to get back in, but now is no longer my time.

Farewell Darkness, it's been swell.

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Photo of ahalloin
4.47/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found this on tap at Cafe Twenty-Eight. Outstanding find this holiday season.

Poured into a Darkness chalice. Almost pitch black with a very little bit of light getting in on the corners. The head was a tan color and clung to the glass as the beer disappeared.

Aroma is of dark molasses with a slight coffee roastiness.

Flavor is a molasses sweet nose breaking through to a coffee roastiness and slight hop bitterness. Notes of chocolate, figs, with slight hints of fermented fruits like raisins and plums.

Overall an incredible version of the style of RIS!

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Photo of yourefragile
4.38/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 750 mL bottle split with a friend

A: Pours a very thick, viscous black liquid with a fluffy, dense tan coffee colored head. Amazing retention, the head hangs around for the entire glass with sticky rings of lacing.
S: Dense, complex aroma, but not as strong as expected. Very sweet, dark fruit like raspberries, boysenberries and raisins, etc. Dark chocolate, roasted malt, faint citrus, light hops and alcohol all also come through.
T: First thing that hits me is the strong sweetness, that is slightly bitter. Dark, ripe fruits that persist through the finish, raspberry, blackberry, etc but they fade a little as the beer warms up. Then thisa much richer malty, chocolaty and creamy flavor. A light hop bitterness but most of the bitterness is more coffee and dark fruit flavored. Alcohol is very present, but not abrasive, just a friendly warming.
M: A very thick, creamy beer with very light carbonation keeps this from being too full bodied or chewy. After it warms up the finish is slightly fruity and chocolaty sweet
D: Every sip seems to tilt the flavors back and forth between slightly bitter fruitiness and sweeter malt/chocolate. Finish has a slight medicinal taste but overall the alcohol blends very nicely into the beer. An amazing RIS no doubt, but (while not the same beer) I still prefer something like The Abyss for example over this.

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Photo of Bierguy5
3.33/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750 ml wax-top bottle. Pitch black liquid. Thich tan head that lasts for quite some time, and surrenders some great looking patchwork of lace.

Loads of citrusy hops up front, big and juicy. Ripe fruit, chocolate, and alcohol come out in the nose. Interesting combo.

What sticks out to me up front is the amount of sweetness, a bit cloying for me. SOme chocolate comes in, but gets overtaken by a huge blast of citrusy hops. SOme warming from the alcohol.

Maybe a bit thin. Lower carbonation. Intesesting, but not my taste. Too much sweetness, with too much hop flavor.

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Photo of peabody
4.88/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours out a really dark black with no light coming through. One finger of small dark brown suds.
Raisin bread smell. Very doughy with hints of fruits, mango and pepper.
Taste is like sweet mango with sugar malts and raisin bread with just a hint of chocolate and a tinge of coffe aftertaste.
This is a well balanced and very refined drink.
Mouthfeel is wonderful and leaves just a tad of sugar behind. Love how it goes from sweet to salty then coffee bitter to dry sugar. This is a great RIS.
Drinkability is so high here because you cannot taste any alcohol or feel any in the back of the throat.

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Photo of rayjay
2.99/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2008 bottling. This was the beer I wanted very badly to love, but it just didn't work out between us :-(

-creamy and dark brown, with a dark brown head and great retention; very inviting
-excellent creamy carbonation
-mouthfeel is heavy but still quite drinkable

Negative factors:
-bizarre sweetness that just doesn't work, like a double foreign export stout
-weird hop use, citrus rind-y like Simcoe; just doesn't work
-I was expecting way more bitterness
-muted nose
-drinkability suffers from the "off" flavors (no actual defects)

My numbers seem critical even to me, but since 2.0 is "not impressed" and I'm definetely not impressed, i gave it a 2.5. I'm not down on Surly at all; I love their other offerings.

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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
98 out of 100 based on 811 ratings.