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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

DarknessDarkness

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

2,250 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2250
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: 2,250 | Reviews: 752 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Fcolle2
Fcolle2

Illinois

4.44/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark black with no light making it through. Head is big, anoint two fingers, tan, and frothy. Head also retains nicely.

Aromas is really nice. Booze soaked raisins and chocolate malt are forward. More dark fruit of prunes and fig aromas come in near the mid section. Semi sweet malty finish.

Taste is great and follows the nose. Lots of booze soaked dark fruit flavors of loads of dates some figs and some raisins. Semi sweet at the start and midsection but is cut with a rich roasted chocolate flavor that helps balance the sweetness if the malt.

Mouthfeel is great. Super thick, sweet stickiness and light carbonation. Everything I want in a good imperial stout.

Serving type: on-tap

02-24-2014 00:45:31 | More by Fcolle2
Photo of bodhi185
bodhi185

Indiana

4.84/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

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

Serving type: on-tap

02-08-2014 20:32:08 | More by bodhi185
Photo of Jaycase
Jaycase

Illinois

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

'13 edition on tap @ firkin.

a: black. frothy, khaki head

s: light chocolate notes. Hints of roasted malts. Bit of licorice in the background

t: milk chocolate pervades throughout. light roasty notes.

m: very creamy. medium carbonation. body is spot on

o: First time having Darkness. Worthy of the hype imo. Only ding might be the aroma which was rather subdued. Mouthfeel is top notch. No reason to age this as it was great fresh.

Serving type: on-tap

01-22-2014 04:06:15 | More by Jaycase
Photo of JFresh21
JFresh21

Illinois

4.69/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Had this on tap side by side with Abraxas.

Deep black, the head was less chocolate in color than Abraxas.

The thickness of this beer is incredible. It is so drinkable and smooth. It doesn't have the overly sweet flavor of a Dark Lord.

World class beer. One draft is not enough! Cheers!

Serving type: on-tap

12-24-2013 18:21:45 | More by JFresh21
Photo of jsprain1
jsprain1

Minnesota

4.85/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A- Perfectly black, with a quarter finger cocoa head. Retention is decent.
S- The aroma is so deep and complex. A touch of sweetness with some chocolate to it, but it quickly goes into coffee grounds, smoke, and licorice.
T- Really,really good. Sweet up front. Milk chocolate is quickly overtaken by coffee, smoke, and licorice. Really complex. Sweet undertones, provide a base for complex flavors.
M- Full body, actually fairly silky clean consistency to it. Low carbonation, just enough to keep it going.
I know I am buying into the hype, but this is a really, really good beer. Definitely a must try.

Serving type: on-tap

11-19-2013 04:39:10 | More by jsprain1
Photo of mjpolzin
mjpolzin

Wisconsin

4/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lined up against a few other world class stouts at Great Taste of the Midwest 2013, this was good but it wasn't as good as I hoped it would be nor was it on par with a few other heavy hitting stouts that I tried that day.

The taste was a typical imperial stout type of taste (fruit, malts, chocolate, roastiness) but the hops and roasted malts overpowered things for me a little bit. I could see this being very good with some age on it but the 2012 vintage with almost a year on it was a little too harsh for me.

Serving type: on-tap

08-12-2013 00:43:08 | More by mjpolzin
Photo of MNishCT77
MNishCT77

District of Columbia

4.99/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On-tap at Pizzeria Paradiso DuPont Circle, unknown brew date, poured into a snifter glass, drank 3/28/13 over ~one hour.

A: 4.75 - black, no clarity (wouldn't it be ironic if there was any? ), soft vertical bubbles and substantial legs, one finger frothy tan head that resolves into subtle glass lacing;

S: 5 - chocolate, coffee, vanilla beans, some dark raisin/fruits in the background to boot

T: 5- minimal hop bitterness on the front of the tongue that quickly dissipates into rich and substantial dark chocolate and coffee flavors, vanilla bean and minor molasses sweetness on the back of the tongue

M: 5 - incredible smooth, silky mouthfeel, thickly coats the mouth and lingers for days; this is the epitome of mouthfeel for RIS

O: 5 - I never though that I would try this beer considering that it is only released one day/year in Brooklyn Center, MN with very limited local distribution but thank goodness for the CBC 2013 in Washington D.C.; like all of Surly beers, this one lives up to the extreme hype and is overall the most complex RIS that I have ever tried; I have never tried Dark Lord or Marshal Zhukov but I cannot imagine it being better than this

Serving type: on-tap

03-29-2013 14:13:21 | More by MNishCT77
Photo of dirtylou
dirtylou

Washington

4.34/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

on-tap, brouwers

I believe this was the first time I've had this outside of a festival setting - 12oz pour in a snifter, ebony body, light tan lace. Definitely sticky-sweet and less hopped than I recall from past years, but still not without some nice pine resin traces. Rich, decadent and very smooth. A good RIS, but one whose legacy seems to have faded...

Serving type: on-tap

10-02-2012 03:17:48 | More by dirtylou
Photo of Holland
Holland

Illinois

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

A: dark, thick, with minimal head but some nice lacing and a bit of tan foam sitting on the top.

S: caramel sweetness, roasted notes that don't quite hit the coffee roasted smell, chocolate, some earthy hops that balance it nicely

T: for my tastes, this is balance. Maybe a bit sweet, but the hops and roasted notes pair so well with the caramel and chocolate and toffee without overtaking it and turning it into the earthy Storm King or the like.

M: thick as can be, but isn't lacking in carbonation too much at all.

O: my favorite non-barrel aged stout so far. Just amazing combination of flavors and smells made this stand out on a night when we had some amazing stouts.

Serving type: on-tap

09-18-2012 16:11:54 | More by Holland
Photo of vandemonian
vandemonian

Maryland

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

I had the 2011 Darkness (I guess it was about a year old) at ChurchKey in DC at their Surly event. Darkness is a delicious bourbon-barrel ages Imperial stout with notes for coffee. As good as most of the great beers of this style.

A: Black with a 2 cm head that lasts. 4.5

S: The smell was malty with some coffee. This is a very strong smelling beer. 4

T: A strong malty flavour with come coffee. There are also some sweet, dark fruit flavours from the crystal malt. Maybe some bourbon barrel flavour too. Some burnt sugar at the end. 4.5

M: Foamy. 4

O: 4

Serving type: on-tap

07-16-2012 02:48:02 | More by vandemonian
Photo of BostonHops
BostonHops

Massachusetts

4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage.

pours a jet-black tone while yielding a strong, creamy mocha-colored head. outstanding retention and lacing. nose offers lots of roasted malt and chocolate, with secondary notes of anise and coffee. very nice.

wow, flavor is right behind the aroma, backing it up with huge, bold characteristics of roasted malt, chocolate, anise, coffee, and a hint of dark fruits. maybe even a twang of smoke in the background. deliciously complex. medium-full mouthfeel with adequate carbonation.

overall this a superb RIS, no doubt about it. very, very well done. just wish it were easier to get a hold of.

(originally reviewed: 06-07-2011)

Serving type: on-tap

06-14-2012 22:01:52 | More by BostonHops
Photo of challenja
challenja

Virginia

4.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served On Tap at a Surly Tap Takeover at Church Key DC.

A: Dark charcoal with mocha head lacing.
S: This is one aromatic beer that has bourbon booze character with madagascar chocolate malts, red berries, strawberry jam, semi sweet cocoa nibs and light Colombian perk coffee.
T: Starts of smooth, bourbon burnt sugar followed up by a luscious strawberry puree (that means stop reading and go and buy it!) soft 60 percent dark cocoa, nice sappy malts. This beer had multilayered range that begs for more. (In fact I bought 2 more)
M: Very Creamy and silky smooth. Medium carbonation gets cut by the milky nature of this behemoth. The bourbon carries nicely and the oaked nature is outstanding. Not overbearing like other brews.
O: A delicious, delicious stout! I drank 3 for the review, ok 2 then before I left I got another one to ponder on talking beer shop with Thomas. I can't wait to get my hands on this in bottle. Sadly I have to order online, no one stocks it in DC!! DAMN IT!!!.

This stout comes in number 3 all time. SOrry Old Ras..you got knocked down again!

Serving type: on-tap

03-21-2012 17:43:37 | More by challenja
Photo of starrdogg
starrdogg

District of Columbia

3.58/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap at ChurchKey. 2011 vintage. Thanks to the folks over there for bringing in all of the great Surly beer!

It pours black with a pretty significant brown head and nice lacing. The smell isn't quite what I expected, there is very little roast or coffee and instead the aroma is more sweet and chocolate with a little bit of alcohol. The taste is also much sweeter than I was hoping for. Chocolate is the primary flavor here and there even seems to be a hint of dark fruit. For my palate though, it's just a little too sweet and could've used some more roast to balance it out a little. Mouthfeel was medium bodied, not as full as your average RIS, but very smooth. I was really hoping that my second experience with Surly Darkness would be more impressive than the first, but this beer and I just aren't on the same page. It's not a bad beer, but I really don't understand why everyone goes crazy over it, it's too sweet and doesn't have a whole lot else going on.

Serving type: on-tap

03-17-2012 14:17:04 | More by starrdogg
Photo of smakawhat
smakawhat

Maryland

3.55/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

4 oz. pour into a small snifter at Churchkey DC. Vintage 2011.

A real nice dark cocoa brown head is presented, falls slowly. Manages to leave a real nice whispy puck and collar while finishing. Body color gives a slightly good oily sheen, but nothing filimy, and the body color is nearly jet black (I'll go walnut black)

Nose hits with mild char, faint milk chocolate, incredibly soft bodied and silky smelling, like whipped up mocha. Unfortunately there's something also medicinal on this as well.

Taste goes to sweetened coffee, and warming hot cocoa. A very noticeable taste of confectioners sugar, maybe even some maple. It's nicely balanced though between all these palate flavors, maybe even some faint hop bitter on the finish. Palate matches the sense of smelling velvet and rich silk. But incredibly sweet tasting though and mostly just "noticeably sweet" which makes it a bit one dimensional.

Overall though, it reminds me too much of CBS on tap but nowhere as impressive, and has that noticeable sugar sweetness which gets to me a bit. It's an impressive beer, but I just don't enjoy drinking this at all compared to others I've had.

Serving type: on-tap

03-14-2012 00:25:14 | More by smakawhat
Photo of russwbeck
russwbeck

Virginia

4.55/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2011 Run on-tap at a Surly event at Churchkey in DC.

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: The aroma starts continues the wonderful experience that is Surly Darkness. Roast mixes with the chocolate and molasses in amounts that you'd expect from a good RIS. A slight booze character ties is all together.

T: Deep, dark, delicious chocolate just dominates the taste. Overall it is sweet, but not cloyingly so as sometimes experience with big Russian Imperial Stouts. The roast really helps out here. It is subtle but as the beer warms and the booze sticks out its head, the roast lends a nice balance.

MF: Darkness rests really thick on the palate, yet still boasts a nice amount of carbonation. The finish is not as dry as I had anticipated, but a warming alcohol sensation is noted. This is just so drinkable it's on a different level compared to other big stouts.

O: This rare Surly offering blows me away each time I have it. Really stands alone without the help of barrel aging. A must try for big beer lovers anywhere.

Serving type: on-tap

03-13-2012 22:43:26 | More by russwbeck
Photo of timtim
timtim

District of Columbia

4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pitch black with a coffee-and-cream colored head that held and left pretty lace. nose was chocolate cake, coffee, sweet chocolate covered malt balls, blueberry, blackberry, more dark fruit, a hint of booze and a healthy hoppiness. taste was nicely rounded with a strong sweetness that harmonized with and was balanced by coffee acridness and bitter hoppiness. dark fruit, malt and milky chocolate in the middle. full, velvety body. sticky and chewy at times it seemed as well. great beer. well done. couldn't pass up the opportunity to taste this one, and glad i didn't.

Serving type: on-tap

03-13-2012 12:50:48 | More by timtim
Photo of Jimmys
Jimmys

Pennsylvania

4.4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

served on-tap at Churchkey in DC for the Surly invasion. 2011 vintage. review from notes.

A: pitch black body with perhaps some ruby highlights around the edges. brown head with a cloaking lace. good retention.

S: black licorice. coconut. brown sugar. caramel. i know this wasnt barrel aged, but there are minor oak/bourbon notes.

T: coffee, espresso, chocolate molten-lava cake all at once. the roast/coffee flavor lingers long into the finish. residual sugar as well. and smoke.

M: fine carbonation on a very full sweet body.

D: this is one super sweet RIS, but super tasty. for only being the 2011 vintage, im surprised on how there is essentially no heat. great dessert beer or could be a great steak beer.

Serving type: on-tap

03-13-2012 01:56:42 | More by Jimmys
Photo of WillCarrera
WillCarrera

Ohio

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

On-tap at Bangers and Lace in Chicago. Poured into a snifter.

A- Pours pretty damn dark, black with a finger of creamy coffee colored head, eventually settles down to a thin collar, good lacing.

S- Sweet aroma, lots of fruit, chocolate, not as much smoke or burnt malt as I expected, rounded out by sweet booze.

T- Very sweet overall. Has a decadent center of raisins, cherries and slightly spicy, warm alcohol. Finishes with a more pronounced charred malt with coffee and melted dark chocolate, lingering sweetness. Hop bitterness provides a nice base but is totally outclassed by the big, sweet malts on this beer.

M- Full-bodied, creamy, chewy, rich, coats the palate with a slightly syrupy, thick feel.

O- An impressive, forbidding beer with huge flavors. Definitely among the best of the Russian Imperial Stouts.

Serving type: on-tap

01-24-2012 04:03:04 | More by WillCarrera
Photo of stealth
stealth

Minnesota

3.8/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had Darkness on-tap at Darkness Day 2011. Lots of chocolate and dark fruits in the aroma. Some coffee. Extraordinary aroma. First taste was heavenly - tons of chocolate, fruit. I thought chocolate covered figs. Sticky sweetness overtook everything as I worked through each glass, however, and detracted quite a bit from the overall experience. Have some bottles aging in hopes that the sweetness gets a bit subdued. "Did you expect it to be that sweet" was the most common thing I overheard at DD this year.

Serving type: on-tap

01-12-2012 11:35:09 | More by stealth
Photo of CaptainNomihodai
CaptainNomihodai

Illinois

4.72/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sepia inky dark appeance with only slight carbonation with an unremarkable nose but followed by a velvety smooth, lushous abundance of pleasantly dark slightly bitter flavors pursued by a vague sweetness, not overbearing or fruity, just a pleasant finish to a highly sip-able beer perfected for a cold winter's night: boozy without burn, sweet and slightly dry.

Serving type: on-tap

01-01-2012 00:49:15 | More by CaptainNomihodai
Photo of ForWhatAlesYou
ForWhatAlesYou

Minnesota

4.9/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Darkness 2011 on tap at Stout's Pub in Falcon Heights, MN. Poured into a Delirium Tremens snifter (per my request).

A: Beautiful inky black with one of the most dense heads I have ever seen. Lace is a timeline of pure savoring bliss.

S: Bitterness over dark fruit. Light pipe tobacco, alcohol, candi sugar, tamarind.

T: Yes. This is what beer is all about. While it drinks like an aged port it holds up the beer end with dark malt profile. So complex in flavor, I am sure a million descriptors are necessary. Raisin, rum, merlot grape, currant, leather, charcoal, dates and figs, coffee-like bitter, pumpernickel, sherry, a little hazelnut or pecan, molasses, cherry tobacco...I keep finding new elements here as the beer warms and airs out.

M: Rich and lucious. Syrupiness isn't overbearing and carbonation is so tight that this is a physical pleasure to the palate as much as it is a (taste) sensory one.

D: Overall, easily the best of the style I've ever had. One of the best beers I have ever had. One of only a handful of brews I have ever had a guttural moan involuntarily emerge from my lips upon nearly every delicious sip. I don't give 5's easily, Surly has earned them.

Serving type: on-tap

12-24-2011 16:27:59 | More by ForWhatAlesYou
Photo of KDawg
KDawg

Illinois

4.18/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

had from tap and poureed into a small brandy snifter. Pours near black that is almost like a black hole

Big, bold, and pungent with very rich aromas of malts, warm caramel, spices and some bits of hops

full bodied with a great and smooth feel. Rich with powerful flavors of roasted malts, caramel, and some hops

Lived up to my expectations. This was one to savor, mostly because the alcohol was no joke either. There was a small touch of heat from it, but it wasn't too much

Serving type: on-tap

12-24-2011 05:11:43 | More by KDawg
Photo of kojevergas
kojevergas

Texas

3.73/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served on-draught into a stemgoblet in a cafe in a suburb of Minneapolis. I was extremely excited to try this per its reputation. Reviewed from notes.

**This review largely reflects the 2011 Darkness, but I did try the 2012 Darkness as well and found it more hop-forward

A: Pours a two finger beautiful tan colour head of excellent cream, thickness, and retention (considering the ABV). Colour is a solid black.

Sm: Brilliant mix of cream, coffee, chocolate, and nuts. A light strength aroma.

T: Heavy (yet subtle) chocolate, coffee, and wonderful cream lacing. Rich and complex. The alcohol does come through unfortunately, which jabs into the otherwise well-executed balance. It's surprisingly hop-forward for the style. Dark malt and caramel heavy. It's quite well built, though I don't think its ABV is warranted. It'd be better at a lower ABV so the flavours could come out. I do quite enjoy it otherwise.

Mf: Smooth, creamy, and wet, but too thick. More dryness and coarseness would be ideal; it feels more like a porter than a stout as is.

Dr: Hard to drink due to the ABV (and more importantly, how obvious it makes itself), but the mouthfeel makes it slide down easily. I like its subtlety. It's pricey and hard to find, but I do like it. I don't know that it's worth seeking out like some other Russian imperial stouts.

B

Serving type: on-tap

12-19-2011 01:01:12 | More by kojevergas
Photo of antoines15
antoines15

Indiana

3.53/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I would like to start bu saying that I liked this more than I liked this year's version of Dark Lord. Had it on tap at Tribes and have never hsad it before. I won't stick to the formt of beer reviews but still get my point acrdoss. It was very sweet at first but the finish semmed a bit more roasty, wich reallu balanced it out for me, Iam srill not sure of i like dthis beer or not after a fw 'buzzed" minutes to think abut it, I would give it B as a score. NOt bad but not anything to kill yorself tryin gto get. O'Malley!

Serving type: on-tap

12-08-2011 01:28:23 | More by antoines15
Photo of deebo
deebo

Minnesota

4.47/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This review from fresh 11 Darkness had on DD.
A-Black as night with a thick tan head that laces and lingers throughout.

S-Malt bomb. Sweet raisins and molasses are the most noted flavors.

T-Sweet with heavy malt bill. Stout meets Quad.

M-Alcohol well hidden. Nice medium body that isn't too heavy or oily like some RIS.

D-These are not meant for slamming but drinkability is good for the style-maybe I could have 2 if in the right mood.

O-Not a huge RIS fan, but this one has very good taste while also being drinkable. Enjoy having this on tap, but not likely to buy too many $18 bottles of this or any other RIS.

Serving type: on-tap

12-05-2011 00:16:58 | More by deebo
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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,250 ratings.