Dismiss Notice
Hello, is it beer you're looking for?

Learn more about beer. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for as low as 68% off the single issue price.

Subscribe now →

Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

797 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 797
Hads: 3,277
Avg: 4.42
pDev: 9.5%
Wants: 3,256
Gots: 1,184 | 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/ 

2007-Grim Reaper
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer
View: Beers (53) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Darkness Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 797 | Hads: 3,277
Photo of MartyIU13
4.53/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Very smooth. Not as thick and sweet as Dark Lord (don't know if that's good or bad). Great artwork on the bottle and a very pleasant delight! Got to have some at Dark Lord Day 2015 and also just today.

 201 characters

Photo of Immortale25
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2013 vintage was big, bold and roasty in the front, but somehow smooth and restrained in the finish. Still some substantial hop bitterness after two years of aging. Mouthfeel was slightly creamy but not particularly silky. Very robust body though. Excellent overall and saw little room for improvement.

 306 characters

Photo of alarmclock314
4.78/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

25.4oz bottle, 2013 "Brewcifer" release. Cool red wax and artwork, might even keep the bottle around. Pours black with a dense foamy brown head. Nice rings of lacing on the glass. Smells of cocoa, coffee, and roasted malt. Great complex flavors that follow the smell exactly. There's a unique hop presence on the end of the palette which is both earthy and fruity. Very balanced. Low carbonation and smooth mouthfeel. The bold flavors mask the alcohol entirely. Overall, this is a great RIS.

 500 characters

Photo of macher0
4.63/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2013 bottle to tulip.

A. Poured black and thicker than most. A nice amber, fine bubble head had excellent retention. This is a great looking beer. Spotty laces remain on the glass.

S. Typical RIS smell, dominated by char. Other notes of dark malts, roasted coffee, oats, hops, and a little heat.

T. The taste is much more balance than the nose. The char from the nose does not dominate at all. The malts and coffee blend very well with the hop bite. A little milky notes at the end.

M. Very smooth, silky, high carbonation, FULL body.

O. One of the best non-barrel aged stouts being brewed - very well crafted. I enjoyed this during a share and this stood out. The taste was amazing and it was a very attractive beer. I certainly recommend this, and I would likely reach out to find another one.

 801 characters

Photo of YodersBeerEmporium
4.42/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed the 2013 vintage recently at a bottle share. Been wanting to try this for quite a while… Very nice stout, poured very thick and black with nice brown lacing. Nice deep chocolate nose and a very nice chocolate and burnt toffee flavor. Very excited I was able to try and would track it down again for sure!!

 318 characters

Photo of mikevanatta
4.65/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours blacker than motor oil, and tastes of raisins, dates, figs, chocolate, and a slight tinge of booze. Incredible amount of depth for a non-barrel aged beer.

 160 characters

Photo of pat61
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is the Zombie version bottled 10-22-11 and retrieved from the cellar 6-27-14. Review from notes. L: Pours pitch black under a 1” tan foam cap that slowly dissipates to a thick film. S: Chocolate, sherry, prune. T: Rich caramel, hints of sherry and prune, chocolate, espresso. F: Very creamy with medium carbonation and a full body. O: An excellent desert beer that improves and develops with age.

 403 characters

Photo of SquareBrew
4.91/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

Holy crap!! 2013 bottle. Been cellared well. Phenomenal. Not so sweet like dark lord (which I still love). So complex. Possibly the best beer I've ever had

 157 characters

Photo of mnredsoxfan69
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

10 oz. tap pour at the brewery. Magnificent! One of the truly great beers in the world. This is what others want their RIS to be. Black as night with a thin, tan head. Aromas of coffee, cocoa, roasted malts and molasses with more of the same in each sip. Viscous mouth feel, low carbonation and warming alcohol on the palate. Very malty, sweet but not cloying. Legendary.

 371 characters

Photo of Joey2timer
4.4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2013 bottle. Great beer, lots of chocolate and a little bit of coffee notes. Some wet cardboard and cinnamon notes as well, so I would not suggest sitting on these for too long

 176 characters

Photo of MissSmisje
4.61/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

L: motor oil with a thin tan head
S: chocolate malt, bitter chocolate, dried dark fruits, particularly cherries and raisins
T: roasted coffee, bitter coffee, fidgety, dried dark fruits - cherries, raisins, dates, gently fruity tartness in the finish.
F: good chewy thick feel
O: excellent. Intense flavor.

 306 characters

Photo of aleigator
4.13/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Darkness '12

Pours a motor oil black color, with a dark brown, stable head, with lots of bubbles in it. Leaves back a viscous film after swirling, revealing the beers thickness. It is actually that viscous, that it leaves spots of lacing on the glass after taking a sip.

Offers sweet aromas of molasses, toffee and caramel on top. This gets balanced by coffeeish earth, charred coal, dried fruits and warming chocolate dipped alcohol. This gets hold together by even more charred malts and toasty bakers chocolate.

Offers the most silk mouthfeel. Incredibly smooth, soft on the palate, with a diverse, fuller body. Low carbonated, with rich roasty flavors to it.

Tastes of dark, roasty malts, accompanied by sweet toffee and smooth chocolate. Turns then sweeter, due to caramel and molasses, with a good amount of roast shining through. Provides boozy, earthy coffee, wrapped up by sweet liquor pralines, resulting in a very sweet finish, driven by milk chocolate and smooth cream.

Has a very sweet but gently balanced appearance, preventing the beer from becoming cloyingly sweet. As for its depth, roasted coffee adds a lot of character to the beer, competing with smooth chocolate and sweet fudge.

 1,206 characters

Photo of blockdude
4.62/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Had the '012 this past night and i've been wanting to sample this for the longest time. First off, if there is any imperial stout out there that shows barrel aging is not not necessary to make a damn good beer this is it. This was medium bodied and the nose was pretty bourbon heavy. The beer had noticeable bourbon to it but did not match the amount I got on the nose. I have to say, this was incredibly smooth and had so much complexity that I could care less if it was barrel aged or not. One sip, I tasted bourbon, chocolate, and maple syrup, while another sip I tasted coconut and raisins. This beer does have a good amount of hype but for someone who is not one to seek out imperial stouts, I was impressed.

 713 characters

Photo of kkleu357
4.36/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On draft at Cooper’s Tavern. Only $6 a glass. I've had Darkness 2014 a few times, from the bottle only though. This was on draft and lacked the nice bourbon oak taste that I remember. Still, was pretty darn good. More of the chocolate and raisin flavor came through. And hell, at $6 a glass, that was one awesome deal.

 320 characters

Photo of Treyliff
4.57/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2013 Vintage poured into a tulip glass

A- pours motor oil thick jet black in color with a thick and creamy dark tan head that retains long after the pour, leaving some lacing behind

S- tons of dark & tart cherry aroma up front that smells like the filling of a cherry pie. Underneath the cherry notes are complex layers of chocolate malt that add aromas of dark chocolate, caramel, molasses, brown sugar pie crust, even a hint of cinnamon. Just a hint of oxidation

T- the dark cherry flavors up front follow the nose and add a light tartness, complex flavors of dark chocolate malt, molasses, burnt brown sugar, coffee, fig, date & raisin. More black cherry on the finish with lingers of dark fruit and molasses

M- thick and heavy body with low carbonation leads to a thick and chewy mouthfeel that continues into a creamy velvety finish

O- a supper that is loaded with dark fruit flavors and aromas, perfect mouthfeel makes it a pleasure to drink

 958 characters

Photo of Tucquan
4.57/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Had this on 2015-04-29 in Portland, OR at Apex on tap

A - Dark opaqur brown with a 1-finger brown head and great lace

S - Rich dark roasted grain, chocolate, molasses, earthy spice.

T - Dark and milk chocolate, dark roast, some char, molasses, prune, some coffee, vanilla.

M - Thick body and light carb. Creamy as can be.

O - Absolutely delicious. One of the best Imperial stouts I've ever had.

 402 characters

Photo of simcoeluv
3.04/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Not barrel-aged.

Had heard a lot about it, so was disappointed.

I could go through the list, but bottom line it was sugar sweet.

Poured it out without finishing.

 164 characters

Photo of KnowYourCraft
4.63/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: pours brown and leaves a small espresso colored head, in the glass it looks like glossy motor oil.

Aroma: Huge rush of chocolate, followed closely with roasted coffee, and tart cherry.
When there is a head I can detect vanilla as well.

Taste: Instantly hit with that roasted coffee, that is quickly balanced by chocolate, then this beer turns and hits you with some tart cherry and chocolate only. The finish hits you with char first and then molds into an awesome blend of tart cherry, roasted coffee, chocolate, and a good amount of vanilla. All the flavors mold together wonderfully and every flavor complements other flavors. This is probably the best tasting non barrel aged imperial stouts I have had so far.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thick feel; a little sticky which actually works with this beer quite well, very smooth and drinkable. The flavor lingers a little but it is slightly muted leaving you craving for more.

Overall: This is an excellent imperial stout and Surly has executed it very well. This is definitely a new favorite for me and I need more!

 1,075 characters

Photo of JasonHaviland
3.28/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

EBF Sample -- not for me. Way too boozy for me, too hot on the finish with strong astringency. I was really looking forward to this one, but it fell flat. Look and smell were fine, but I didn't feel like it was well integrated with the bold flavors and interesting nuances I was hoping for. Will try again, but won't seek this one out.

 335 characters

Photo of SierraFlight
4.36/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Shared at Hunahpu’s day 2014 in the massive bottle share, poured into souvenir taster. Opaque black body with a resilient tan cap that leaves webbing all over the little glass. Aroma features roasted malt, coffee, raisin, unsweet chocolate, dried cherries, and a surprising bit of soy and citrus. Taste is roasty malt and dried fruit sweetness, coffee and cocoa bitterness. On the lower end of the full body spectrum, thick and creamy texture, soft but appropriate carbonation, warming boozy finish.

 501 characters

Photo of sordyl
3.56/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This was the 2013 Chicago distribution when Surly came into the market. Opened for a bottle share, smelled and looked great but the tastes really was not exceptional at all.

 174 characters

Photo of stortore
4.48/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013 750 ML bottle into a a snifter.

Pours a small but tight head, dissipates pretty quickly. Smells of roasted malts, chocolate, a little coffee. Big, rich taste, malty but not as roasty as many other RIP's. Chocolate very prevalent, pretty sweet for the style. Good body but maybe a little thinner feel than I expected.

This is a great beer and grab it if you have the chance. Looking forward to the BA 2014 version.

 425 characters

Photo of MichaelNeelsen
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Drank a 2011 "Zombie" 750ml bottle after aging 3 years, 2 months.

L: Poured like liquid silk. Pitch black, no light penetration. Mocha brown head dissipates and then reappears with each sip. The beer is very reflective - you can see yourself in it.

S: Raisins. Dark chocolate. Brown sugar. Dates. Fig. Smells like bourbon even though it's not barrel aged. Dark cherries.

T: As my friend who drank it with me put it, "Rich and sweet and right down the middle. There's no smoke and mirrors here."

F: Like liquid Robert Patrick. If you could drink the liquid T-1000 from Terminator 2, it would feel like this beer. Feels like wine without the dryness or tack. Glides over the tongue. Thin in the best way.

O: A real treat. It's not my favorite Russian Imperial, but it's really damn good - and a very unique experience to drink. I'll look to get a younger bottle and drink it without aging to compare. Highly recommended.

 923 characters

Photo of RushLimbmalt
5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2012 vintage I have had every vintage of this brew. Every single one has been stellar. Do yourself a favor and find some. This is an awesome Russian Imperial Stout

 163 characters

Photo of richj1970
4.53/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 750 ml bottle into snifter. 2013 vintage.

A: Pours pitch black with no light penetration at all. Geneerous 3 finger dense mocha head that lasted forever and left 360 degree lacing.

S: Roasted malts, bitter dark chocolate, molasses, and vanilla. Maybe a bit of tobacco and oak.

T: Toasted bread, dark chocolate, caramel, and raisins. Maple sryup sweetness. Alcohol is apparent just at the end.

M: Full bodied with a nice creamy texture. Fairly highly carbonated for an imperial stout.

O: Truly wonderful stout. Nice complexity of flavors and aromas. Something I need to trade for again.

 618 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
98 out of 100 based on 797 ratings.