Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
DarknessDarkness

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BA SCORE
97
world-class

789 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 789
Hads: 3,221
rAvg: 4.39
pDev: 9.79%
Wants: 3,208
Gots: 1,175 | FT: 84
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/ 

Labels:
2007-Grim Reaper
2008-Devil
2009-Mummy
2010-Vampire
2011-Zombie
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer
View: Beers (51) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 789 | Hads: 3,221
Photo of roadhouse
4.65/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had on tap at the Bavarian Lodge on 11/05/08.

Appeared pitch black in color with a thin tan head. It sank down to a thin skim but could be revived with a bit of a swirl. Not much lace left behind however.

Aroma was a lot more mild than I would have expected compared to some other RIS but there was plenty of chocolate, molasses, coffee, a sugary sweetness, and a surprising hop presence.

The taste had a huge molasses, candi sugar, and chocolate sweetness at the beginning then towards the middle it begin to dry up a bit and some coffee flavors came out but before they could really set themselves down a big citrusy and piney hop presence broke through and mingled with all the other flavors, leaving a pleasant hoppy and milk chocolate linger.

Mouthfeel was thick, full, and viscous. Very creamy and velevety. Just the way I like them.

The thing that surprised me most about this one besides the hops was just how drinkable it was. I could easily have had four more glasses of this stuff with no problems at all. I'm glad I had the chance to try it, I can only hope it's a beer that eventually gets some distribution. (1,128 characters)

Photo of spointon
4.45/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this one on tap at the 2008 Illinois release party at the Bavarian Lodge in Lisle.

A= This stout poured a very dark brown/black color with a beautiful 3/4" creamy brown head. Retention was good, and the head eventually left some spotty lacing on the glass.

S= Naturally this was served a bit too cold, so it took a while for the aromas to open up. Eventually I found a complex yet somewhat subdued profile of chocolate, dark ripe fruits, some roasted malts, sherry, and a surprisingly large hop presence.

T= From front to back, this was one complex and satisfying beer. The huge sweet malt base started this one off in a good way with a heady blend of flavors such as dark fruits (cherries, raisins), treacle, brown sugar, and molasses. The middle was completely dominated by a surprising hop bitterness that seemed out of character in this beer, yet worked well with the other flavors. Following on the heels of the hops was a bitter one-two punch of dark chocolate and roasted coffee notes. The finish dried a bit and left a pleasant alcohol spiciness on my tongue and warmth in my belly. Each sip begged the next to follow.

MF= This is a big full-bodied brew. Mouth feel was viscous without being syrupy. Carbonation was adequate to carry the heavy load, yet soft and creamy on the tongue.

D= Though I cannot say that this has toppled my favorite beers in this style, it was a real joy to drink. I found this beer to be all about the matchup of complexity vs. subtlety. It was sweet without being cloying, bitter without being too dry, high alcohol but not too hot or astringent. A great beer and one I will gladly drink again! (1,647 characters)

Photo of Crosling
3.77/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown out of the bottle and appears black in the glass. Well looking tan head lasts well. Aroma is mainly awful, smells mainly of socks and super citrusy hops, no malt complexity. Flavor, however, is different and quite complex. Fully flavored with an incredible malt complexity. Sweet dark fruits, with layers of chocolate, roast and coffee character. Nice mouth feel. Very nice Imperial Stout. (406 characters)

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Release night at the Bavarian Lodge. 11oz pour arrives a deep jet black with an inch of creamy head and some spotty lacing on the glass. Aromas start with deeply roasted dark malts colliding with chocolate cream. Mellow coffee moves into some dark fruits and hops.

First sip brings a big roasty dark maltiness upfront with notes of sweet milk chocolate, roasted coffee and some dark fruit edges. There's a smooth creaminess here as it flows down. The hops kick in on the finish and become quite noticeable with a good bitterness. The malts win in the end though, leaving a sweet aftertaste and a slight stickiness on the palate.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a mellow carbonation. Not nearly as thick as many imperial stout's at this ABV, but that makes it somewhat more drinkable as well. While this isn't my favorite RIS, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and the fact that it's quite hoppy as well. Glad I got a chance to sample this on tap. (945 characters)

Photo of MrMcGibblets
4.35/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on tap at the bavarian lodge in lisle, this was pitch black with a nice creamy brown head and lasting lacing. smells and tastes of dark milk chocolate, espresso, and dark dried fruit. alcohol is well-hidden. huge malt sweetness with bitterness and roastiness providing balance. finishes semi-sweet. very thick, almost reminds me of a slightly lighter-bodied and less hoppy dark lord. sweet malts are so dense they leave a stickiness on your lips. surprisingly drinkable for such a big beer. (490 characters)

Photo of Duffman
4.78/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thick, black, oily, viscous, this beer truly deserves its name. A dense, mocha-colored vibrant head adds considerable life and beauty to the appearance of this beer, which is absolutely exceptional.

Seductively aromatic. I imagine that if the finest velvet had an aroma it could well be this beer. Nutty, chocolaty, with dried fruits (notably cherry) and rich creamy notes. Amazingly complex and well-balanced, even for a russian imperial stout.

Exquisite and luxurious. Rich malted notes contrast wonderfully with the mild hop bitterness coming through. While fruitier than most imperial stouts it is not pointedly so, like Bell's Expedition Stout for example. Raisins, sherry, cream, cinnamon, the flavors come in waves and continue to reveal themselves.

The body is extraordinarily well-rounded and deep. Thick, smooth, and sumptuous the mouthfeel is truly exemplary. A long, lasting, and richly clinging finish is a fine finish to this highly drinkable stout. While I don't doubt that there are betters beers and that I have many comparably favored beers left to discover I have yet to come across a beer this refined and enjoyable. (1,140 characters)

Photo of tuo
4.7/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Jet black with a nice tan head that makes for nice lacing on the glass. Thought it would be more viscous after tasting.

S: Nice roasty malt notes with a slight hops aroma. just a touch of coffee.

T: Great roasty malt flavor with creamy dark chocolate taste. Sweeter then anticipated but very good. It also has a nice coffee flavor.

MF/D: Very thick with a low carb on it. Low alcohol taste, not much of an alcohol presence for the 10.3% ABV. As hearty and thick as this beer is I would not call it a sipper, you could drink this beer like it was 5% ABV.

One of the best beers that has ever crossed my lips. I wish they would brew this year round. (653 characters)

Photo of drbeef
4.39/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

By blackberry so this will be short.
Beautiful pitch black with dark tan head.
Dark chocolate. A little roasty. Hops on the finish with a lingering chocolate. Good mouth like nyquil coating.
Great beer. Lots of hops in this dark intense beer. Get If you have the chance
Smells bitter-sweet and pretty hoppy
A Ltyle roast. Very sweet like dark chocolate with a hoppy bitter finish and lingering sweet chocolate in around the mouth with a little alcohol.

Mouth is great. Thick like bywuil (491 characters)

Photo of Greggy
4.78/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a hefty ultra fluffy and creamy dark tan/brown head. As it recedes, it leaves some great lacing. The body is pitch black.

S- On the nose I get immense notes of chocolate, coffee, cream, some nice dark fruit, a bit of sweet graham cracker, as well as a nice hoppiness.

T- Starts out with a luxurious thick smooth creamy chocolate with a great hop presence but it is extremely well balanced. I also get notes of coffee, cream, butterscotch, and graham cracker. The finish seems to go on and on with some residual sweetness.

M- By far the thickest feeling beer I have ever had. NO carbonation and ultra thick.

D- This is of course high alcohol but for a Russian Impy, this goes down WAY to smooth. Very drinkable for what it is. (739 characters)

Photo of CHSLBrew
4.13/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Happy Gnome, St. Paul, MN. Poured into a tulip goblet.

A-Deep brown head with low retention. Deep black and opaque beer. Moderate lacing.

S-Complex. A deep maltiness, roasted. Some dark-fruitiness esters. Also some alcoholic tones.

T-Instantly dark fruits greeted by a lingering alcoholic warmth and flavor. The fruitiness, though dark, tastes light on the palate. Deep chocolatiness comes throughn, with some roasty and coffee-like malts. Bitterness is dwarfed by the monstrous malt, but present.

M-An automatic warmth with this high ABV brew. Thick and full bodied, but velvety in my mouth. Low carbonation. A persistent lingering warmth makes this brew ideal for a cool fall evening.

D-Drinkability on a beer like this is difficult. It's easy to drink, and I'll have another in the future, but I'd be hard-pressed to drink a couple pours of this in a sitting. It's an enjoyable beer all-around, and I'll certainly keep my eyes open for this on-tap while it lasts. (981 characters)

Photo of hopdog
4.58/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Acquired in trade with footbalm (thanks!). Vintage was the year before they starting bottling.

Poured a dark black color with brown edges and an averaged sized off white head. Aromas of strong pine, chocolate, smoke, and some dark fruits. Lots of hops in the aroma. Tastes of dark fruits, pine, chocolate, coffee, roasted malts and more hops.

One of, if not the most hoppy Imperial Stouts I've had (which for me is not a bad thing). I would even go as far to call this a dark IPA! Had a light alcohol finish. Nice smooth and easy drinking body.

Notes from and tasted on 1/5/07. (581 characters)

Photo of gratefulstu
4.95/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I waited in line for 5 hours for a few bottles of this years release. I had never tried it before but had heard lots of great things about it. I'm a big fan of the other Surly products so I had to try this one. I questioned if it could really live up to the hype, but had to find out for myself.

Appearance: The appearance is as black as black can be. The only bit of color it has it the dark tan head.

Smell: The first bit of aroma I smelled was all hops. I expected roasted malt but was hit with hops first. Wonderful, delicious hops. Upon my second whiff...the dry roasted dark malt characteristic I expected of a stout came through the hops. Next was hints of vanilla and maybe some cherry.

Taste: At first the taste was much more subtle than I expected. I was expecting it to be either really dry or really sweet. I found it to be a nice balance between the two. The sweet malt had hints of dark cherry and chocolate. If finished with a sharp dry hop finish. The alcohol taste was not overpowering at all.

Mouthfeel: I think the mouthfeel of this beer maybe the most unique I have ever experienced. It was truly thick and creamy. Had relatively low carbonation, which was perfect. It did seem to have a very slight chalkiness to it when swallowing ,but was not noticeable enough to be a negative.

Drinkability: This is definitely the most drinkable RIS I have ever had. The smooth, creamy mouthfeel was like velvet. The alcohol was not overpowering, maybe even understated (hard to believe with 10+ ABV).

This beer is Great. No doubt about it. It has some very complex characteristics. With each sip you get a different taste. Cherry, vanilla, chocolate, coffee...and hops. (1,692 characters)

Photo of jmalex
4.45/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Shared on 10-28 with BAs leftmindedrighty and DarkerTheBetter. Thanks for offering it up, Aaron!

2008 release

APPEARANCE: Pours deep black with a small, dark tan head. It drops to a medium collar with a few bubbles swimming around the surface.

SMELL: Definitely an aggressive, citrusy hop character. Behind it is what you'd expect from a stout like this - deep roastiness and some dark chocolate. The hops really take the forefront and try to block everything else out. Any alcohol smell is minimal.

TASTE: Hits up front with a tremendous sweetness. Big on chocolate with some licorice behind. In a mirror of the aroma, the hops are now the ones trying to squeeze through but just don't make it. The finish does end with a lingering bitterness however.

MOUTHFEEL: Thick and chewy and only slightly slick. Carbonation is medium to low. Pretty much on point.

DRINKABILITY: By far the most striking thing about the beer is how easy it goes down. The alcohol is near undetectable, and at such a high ABV, dangerous. I had no problem finishing my glass.

What a treat for my 250th review! I'm glad I was able to enjoy this with 2 other BAs who can appreciate this beer just as much. (1,183 characters)

Photo of JoeMayo
4.6/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

When reviewing beers of this magnitude, I try to ignore the hype behind them as much as possible. However, often they deserve their hype and Darkness definitely earned all of its hype.

A- Pours a very rich, viscous black. A thick fluffy head cascades down to a ring of foam around the glass. The name certainly suits the beer.

S- Wow! There is so much more hoppiness than I would have ever expected in a RIS. Sweet citrusy aromas of grapefuit and orange are accented by mild pine. Malty caramel notes hit the nose after the initial kick of the hops. A slight alcoholic scent and mild vanilla notes are also present.

T- This beer is extremely complex. Its slightly sweeter than I would have anticipated. The sweetess is noted in a citrusy aspect and is partially from the alcohol. Orange and a sweet creamy flavor bring out the best of the "stout part" and the "IPA part" of this beer. A mild pine flavor is noted without overpowering the other subtleties of the beer. Notes of bourbon, molasses, and vanilla are found in the heavy malty backbone of this wonderful beer. A slightly roasty caramelized sugar flavor is noted in the aftertaste.

M- One of the thickest stouts I've ever had. Its almost syrupy, while maintaining a good level of carbonation. The finish is sweet an lingering, yet has a nice crispness as well.

D- You need to sip on this one, but it is all things dark combined in this absolutely incredible brew. (1,427 characters)

Photo of Fatduck
4.83/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Drinking my first of the darkness at Common Roots Cafe. I cant
bring myself to open any of my bottles yet. They even have darkness goblets to present the beer.

Pours pitch black with a small head, it would be more but the sever poured very gently. Leaves a good tan lacing all the way down the glass. It smells sweet, and of roasted and burnt malts, maybe even a little maple syrup. Taste is out the window, this thing taste too good to describe. It taste like it looks and smells, great. Chewy and smooth, it warms you as soon as it crosses your lips. This beer is a must for anyone who lives or is in the twin cities area, amazing, purely amazing. (651 characters)

Photo of mynie
4.66/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle art looks like a D&D handbook from 1983. Maybe a zine from some kids who really, really like the old Heavy Metal books. Not to say that this kind of stuff affects my review, but already this RIS takes a distant fourth behind Kate, Abyss, and Dark Lord (which at least looks like a Magic: The Gathering card).

Pours brilliantly into a long-stemmed chalice, though. Perfectly opaque blackness (like the soul of a really evil dude) with an amazingly large and retentive head.

I was told that this was the hopheaviest of all American RISes, and even with the glass two and a half feet away from my face right now I can smell some firm, dry hops. Closer to my face, the beer smells strong and gigantically raw. Maybe this should have been left to age for a few months? (I *will* try another in early 09, and update if necessary.) Anyhow, there's an alcohol burn in there, nodes of thick red wine, tons of ultrasweet malt. Espressoish, fresh cacao, with some hints of vanilla. Really nice, lots of complexity, but the alcohol strength is just a wee bit overwhelming and it'll probably only get better with age.

Tastes perfect. Just perfect. The hoppiness is what jumps out at you, since it's so unexpected. It does such a great job of complimenting the beer's huge sweetness that it almost seems to be a part of a the sweentess. Can this be? Can black be a part of white? Can love be a part of hate? Of course. I guess.

The overall effect is less like a traditional Impy stout and more like some kind of combination of deliciously harsh alcohol and a mocha cappuccino with like ten shots of espresso in it.

You know what it's like? It's like Big League Chew. It doens't taste anything like the gum, no, but it's similar to it in that it just tastes too good that you don't let yourself enjoy it properly. I always swallow Big League Chew, since it tastes so good for some weird reason I want to swallow, and then I get a stomach ache. No stomach ache, here, but it's been like 7 sips and I still am slurping it down, unable by the force of this strange compulsion to hold this in my mouth long enough to savor it. I want to consume it. I want to pound this like chocolate milk.

The body is creamy, thick and fizzy. Never quite come across a body like this in a bottled beer. Delicious. Tastes like something that could be healthy. I--if I didn't know this had alcohol in it I could almost see myself giving it to a kid. (2,430 characters)

Photo of iconoklaztor
4.56/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I couldnt resist it anymore! I would also like to say I had a pint of masala mama prior to this so take this review for what it is!

This brew pours into my official Darkness Snifter...a huge black body with a massive tan head. The head has amazing retention. But what does this beast smell like?

The smell is very sweet, boozy, and a slight woody smell. It is very very intriguing! It is very rich and complex and not at all hoppy IMO

I'm almost am afraid to try this. I'd hate for it to be a let down but also for it to ruin my guts! Fuck it...lets try it!!! Wow, my god. Its rich and sweet but not boozy. Its incrediably smooth! I cant believe its that drinkable! Holy hell! I must try more! It has a very nice cherry, plum, and slight vanilla flavor! Man this is good!

Its very drinkable and very dangerious! If possible I would drink this all the time! Now I only wonder what my 07 taste like??? (903 characters)

Photo of StoutSlayer
3.2/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Going to the 2008 Darkness release last weekend I went on a mission to taste one of the best beers I would have had to date. That definitely happened, but unfortunately it wasn't Darkness. After finally being let in the brewery at 12pm, we were able to get our Darkness quickly- a kudos to all at Surly for making this process very easy, enjoyable, and fun. You can tell they actually care about their customers. After getting my bottles, there was plenty of more fun to be had, and Surly was offering a wide variety of other styles to be tasted, including a Coffee Bender and T-Bag Furious. The latter was without a doubt, one of the most interesting, great tasting beers I have had to date. My only complaint is that I couldn't take 6 bottles of this wonderful brew home so I could properly review it! Anyway, after I got back home I could not wait to taste one of my Darkness bottles, and admittedly my expectations were high especially after tasting many great inventive flavors of theirs. So I pulled out 2 Darkness Snifter Glasses and poured them generously with Darkness for my Dad and myself. And here's what I thought...

Appearance- As you would expect from its namesake, out of the bottle came a viscous, jet black stream, almost as if they were to make chocolate milk using exclusively 90% pure cocoa dark chocolate. However it was not as thick as the "motor oil" a reporter on T.V. had described it. This then supported a beautiful, coffee colored head that had a creaminess I really enjoy. All in all it was extremely inviting.

Smell- The smell definitely served to build on the impressions from the pour, and to me this was the best part of the beer. I got an awesome aroma with a heavy mix of chocolate, coffee, Dark molasses, and cherries. There was an interesting level of hops aroma too that I wasn't expecting. Everything came together great and let you know that, "Hey, I'm a BIG beer."

Taste- As I brought the glass to my lips I took a generous sip and whoooa... I was getting a great coffee, dark chocolate, toasted malt, and even substantial hops flavor, when it came on slow but started to get louder and stronger until... SWWEEET!!! In rushed a tidal-wave of molasses, maraschino cherry, and syrupy flavors that seemed to overtake everything. The more bitter flavors previously described were still present, trying to fight back, but to me were simply no match for the sweetness army that was launching wave after wave of attack on my taste buds. This became stronger as i continued to drink, until by the end of my glass I could only describe this beer as sweet. It seemed as though the Devil was actually a very sweet man indeed. However do not be fooled! The ABV is hidden remarkably well and sneaks up on you. My dad and I split the bottle and both of us could definitely feel its strength.

Mouthfeel & Drinkability- Although the mouthfeel lends itself to the beer as a whole (smooth and silky) I can't say this is an extremely "drinkable" beer. This is considering if you define drinkable as a beer you could have one after another of while still really enjoying it, which I do. The multitude of ingredients, flavors, and really -sweetness-, would keep most from consuming more than one 750ml bottle by themselves. And to be totally fair I don't think it's really supposed to. I think I would actually enjoy this beer more if it had been released in a 12oz bottle, enough to experience it's great complexity, but not be overpowered by it.

In the end this is a beer that everyone should have the chance to try. It definitely pushes the envelope of beer, at least for me, but can be very overpowering. Surly makes some wonderfully inventive and downright delicious beer, but this is not one of my faves. (3,736 characters)

Photo of younger35
3.03/5  rDev -31%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had a pint of this on the Friday night (10/24/08) before the actual bottle release at Stub & Herbs. After gorging on Surly Coffee Bender all night, I didn't really enjoy my glass of Darkness. Hoping this was just due to the fact that Coffee Bender is gods gift to man and any beer following it, probably isn't going to be that great. So I tried it the night of the release with my buddy after sleeping off the buzz from the morning and afternoon festivities. Drank from my brand spanking new Darkness snifter.

2008 Edition.

Appearance- Glugs a jet black hue that allows zero light to permeate any part of the beer. Fairly decent one finger dark brownish tan head forms leaving a small creamy cap and collar with loads of sticky lacing. Thickest beer I've seen since Dark Lord.
Smell- Tons of well roasted malt give a burnt perception that lends to the copious amounts of coffee and bakers chocolate that jump out of the glass. Tinges of light alder smoke and dark fruits (prunes, raisins and even dark cherries) are detectable as the hoppyness of this Imperial Stout is taken to a whole new level. A definite sweetness in the form of dark toffee and caramel and even some murky black molasses. So much going on in here I think you can pretty much smell whatever you want.
Taste- Ohhh... The aforementioned sweetness in the nose really starts out strong. The burnt coffee and baker's chocolate are muted a bit but still present. Corn Syrup, caramel and dark brown sugar give way to a more earthy molasses before my tongue is destroyed by the hops. Full of raw pine and lemon grass that produces a very herbal hop bitterness that tries to cut the sweetness. Fail. Dark cherries and perhaps even a touch of vanilla finishes the beer along with a very cloying sweetness. The alcohol is covered super well though.
Mouthfeel- Very thick and viscous with nice smooth creamy feel. The carbonation is light and prickly and very nice.
Drinkability- Overall I can definitely see the reason why people love this brew. It's very unique and I haven't tasted anything like this before but it's just not for me. I don't mind a little sweetness in a nice big brew but I think Darkness is just plain cloying and hard to drink. This is all very disappointing too because the nose is pretty inviting and I've been waiting quite some time to sample this. Not Surly's best beer but glad to have to opportunity to try anyways! (2,405 characters)

Photo of accordselux
4.88/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2008 release.

Like Travloh, I couldn't wait. My friends and I waited in line for this and the reward needed to be immediate! Drank it tonight as an after-dinner sipper.

I let the bottle warm up a bit from the fridge cut open that wax, and served it in goblets.

A: A wonderful example of an RIS. It poured well and left a caramel covered head that soon settled. It was pitch black, I held it up to a light and squinted and could see nothing. The foam left no rings as it was drunk, it slowly settled back into the beer.

S: The first thing we smelled as we opened it was a strong, sweet molasses smell, combined with a fruit note. It was overpowering the other smells, but as we let it breathe, I got the chocolate smell as well. The only reason it's a 4.5 is because the sweet smell was overpowering for quite a while.

T: Great. This was aggressive, but very well balanced. The dark coffee/chocolate flavors of the malt, highlighted by a sweet molasses/fruit taste. Hops were present but well integrated into the flavor. A LOT of flavor profiles I can't even begin to describe, but I can say, it's a lot more complex, and dare I say better than the Bourbon County Stouts and Old Rasputins I've had recently in preparation.

M: Very smooth. GD Yeti was very thick and oily feeling to me, and while Darkness felt substantial, it was very smooth to drink. The best sensation of all is the warmth you feel in your throat and chest after drinking, the similar feeling I get after drinking a liquor like scotch. Very nice warmer on the coldest day of the year so far in Minnesota.

VERY smooth to drink, which leads me to...

D: I can see why people are warned on Surly's site. The ABV creeps up on you. The beer is so enjoyable, and the flavors mask the alcohol so well, that you can sip for quite a while.

I was worried I wouldn't make the cut, but was #617. I was worried the beer was overhyped, but it's not. This is incredible. I wish I had sprung for the 6 bottles instead of the 4 I bought, but hopefully someone else got the chance to enjoy it.

Cheers to whoever the lucky party is! (2,090 characters)

Photo of KeefD
4.6/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 release.

Pours a VERY thick black color into a Darkness glass. Nice, thick and creamy chocolate milk head springs to life that fades rather quickly but leaves some lovely sheets of lacing. A quick swirl of the glass sees the return of dark tan foam. This brew is so dark, light cannot be seen through it, even at the edges. Darkness is right.

Aroma is unbelievable. Dark chocolate, booze, cherries, coffee, burnt caramel. Roasty, toasty, and inviting on this cold Minnesota night.

Taste is unlike any RIS I've ever had. Incredibly sweet, plenty of chocolate, and the biggest hop presence of any beer of this style I've yet to come across. The hop bitterness is surprising for this style, but a welcome treat for this hop-head. Cherry flavor shows up. It's almost like a liquid, boozy Cherry Mash candy bar mixed with bright citrus hop oils and bitter roasted coffee beans, although the coffee flavors are not as prevalent as I expected.

Mouthfeel is thick and creamy like no other. It almost has a melted chocolate milkshake consistency, smooth, silky, heartwarming.

The high ABV makes itself known in the nose but is well hidden on the tongue. It can also be felt in the head as the bottle slowly fills the glass and then makes it's way into my happy belly. Despite the high ABV, it's highly drinkable and dangerously so.

I don't know if it's just the hype or if it's because I'm proud of the best (IMO) brewery in my state, but this is quite possibly the best RIS ever made, or at least better than any that's come across these lips. I'm just going to have to be patient with the aging of another bottle until next year, as it will be hard to keep myself from drinking more.

Surly, you've made us proud. And it was well worth the wait. (1,752 characters)

Photo of travloh
4.97/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I was able to make it a little over 24 hours without doing it. On this cold October night I just cannot resist. I must. Halloween approaches and the dark bottle with satan on the label beckons...I give in to sin...

I slice the wax top and pop the top. The first thing I get with a hearty whiff of the cap is chocolate. Rich, dark, sweet smelling. The pour into the Darkness snifter reveals the nectar of the devil. Temptation. Pure temptation. Black like night.

That chocolate is of course ever present in the nose, but an orchestra of smells accompanies it. Coffee, brown sugar, cherries, cocoa. Someone call an exorcist, I am nearly possessed.

The semi aggressive pour produces that delayed storm in the black liquid. The bubbles awaken and energize, and send a frothy head upward that seems to come out of nowhere. It keeps pushing upward to the lip of the glass and halts. Its dark, of course, but it has a yellowish twinge to it, too. As it ever so slowly recedes it leaves its tracks on the sides of the glass. Lacing on steroids, it would seem.

The first swallow and my conversion is complete. "Gimme Shelter" by the Rolling Stones plays in the background as my descent into madness hits full stride. Chocolate, cappuccino, sweet bread, cupcakes with frosting. What I imagine a cuban cigar would taste like, only better. The stuff the devil offers you in Hell's waiting room. The second sip reveals more. A tangyness on the tongue, almost makes it numb. Then the alcohol kicks in to remind you this is still beer. I am under the spell of Darkness...

Why did I stand in line and pay $100 for 6 of these? One sip tells me that I would have paid $200. I wish I had 6 more.

This stuff is so good it truly is sinful. All Hail Darkness... (1,752 characters)

Photo of ejquin
4.76/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2008 Vintage, just picked up today. Drove up from Chicago

A: Black wih a beautiful fluffy white head that fades and clings to the glass all the way down.

S: Chocolate, and coffee, you get the roasted malts of a stout with some cherries, but a really nice hop fruity spiciness

T/M: Mouthfeel is wonderful, smooth and creamy. The thing about Darkness is that for a RIS, everything is so clean, so crisp, so drinkable, yet loaded with flavor. Starts off with the dark chocolate fading to cherry liquor, and a nice dose of hop spiciness comes through right at the end, just enough so you know it's there and balances the beer perfectly (634 characters)

Photo of RustyDiamond
4.85/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2007 bottle #445. Shared with two other BA's recently. Poured into a Samilchlaus glass...off the charts black black pour with a snickers nougat colored head. And a little one that reduced to a shiny film atop the dark liquid. A somewhat winey aroma with a dash of chocolate pudding.
I was surprised to taste that the hops 'still' had so much flavor. Thick and viscous in body, sticky hop and plumy chocolate. The bitter hops and bitter chocolate played so nicely together. The image of chocolate raisins dipped in hop lava kept racing through my brain as I slowly enjoyed this. My mouth filled with fumes of phenol and lovely hops. Definitely full bodied and full figured yet not cloying at all. Sticky, resinous hoppy finish that seemed to never end. Crazy drinkable...I could have enjoyed all of the 750mLs myself in 1 setting. (829 characters)

Photo of Gueuzedude
4.12/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle Number 172, 2nd RB Tucson Tasting, Sampled September 2008
This beer pours with a frothy, thick textured, light brown colored head and is quite pitch black in color. The aroma has notes of chocolate and cocoa up front, but quickly gets to notes of dark roast and lightly acidic coffee. It has a lightly smoky aroma to it that is almost peat like at times and there is a roast plum fruitiness to it. This does not have as sweet / rich a malt base character to the aroma as I expected. This has a nice grain character that takes on umami laden notes that are a touch like teriyaki, but there is also some subtle licorice and mint notes. The roast character is definitely dominant in the nose, but there is other stuff going on that makes this quite the intriguing beer to be smelling.

As this beer first hits my tongue it feels very thick, chewy and is more sweet than the aroma suggested, but it is still roast malt dominated. There are flavors of coffee, bitter cocoa and burnt grain bitterness that lingers on in the finish with the amply bitter hop notes. Concentrated umami notes in the flavor of rich malt character and some notes that are picked up of a rich, savory, almost salty-smoke character as well as some flavors of burnt, dried plum.

This is subtle complex and it really grew on me as I worked my way through the beer; there is definitely lots of things going on in this beer and it is one of the better Imperial Stouts I have had in a while. (1,464 characters)

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 789 ratings.