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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

DarknessDarkness

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

2,242 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2242
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
Ratings: 2,242 | Reviews: 752 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of marksto
marksto

Florida

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

One of the triumpherant of Imperial Stouts highly rated enough to appear in the BA top 10. Sampled at the recent Tampa BA gathering, thansk to whoever brought it.

Pours jet black with a light hocolate-colored head. A small ring of foam clings to the sides of the glass. Has a very perfumy aroma. Roast malt, chocolate, alcohol, coffee, and dark fruit (cherry) all evident. Has a thick and viscous mouthfeel. Flavor has a blend of cocoa, raisins, and black coffee and roast. I find the roast to be a bit overpowering, as it leaves a tang and slight harshness on the palate.

Overall, certainly a very good RIS, but I found Dark Lord superior to this one.

Serving type: bottle

09-21-2008 19:00:28 | More by marksto
Photo of jwolfie70
jwolfie70

California

4.7/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A fantastic beer, which may be worth the hype (I only say may, because the hype is so crazy right now).

Pours a dark black (yes there is such a thing as dark black), with a miniscule brown head. Smell is of vanilla, chocolate, hints of coffee (but not overpowering), malt sweetness and milk.

Taste is a concentrated version of the smell. The mouthfeel is thick and the beer definitely coates the glass well.

Recommended.

Serving type: bottle

09-18-2008 06:25:24 | More by jwolfie70
Photo of Overlord
Overlord

California

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

THIS IS FOR THE '07 VERSION. I WOULD NOT GIVE A PERFECT SCORE TO THE '08, AND I HAVEN'T TRIED THE '09 YET.

How do you review a beer like this? With so many positive reviews, anything you say is going to seem like "piling on", or "following the herd." That being said, this is one of the two or three finest beers I've ever had.

Pours quite black, even when held to the light. Large dark tan foam head (surpisingly large given the ABV). Aggressive chocolate, vanilla, and roasted aromes with a shocking amount of piney hoppiness.

Taste is more chocolate, crazy vanilla, dark fruit/plums?/raisins?/figs?/berries?. Maybe a slight bit of burnt coffee. Also, a balancing amount of earthy hops. This surprised me more than anything else. Sensationally flavorful, rich thick mouthfeel, absolutely sublime.

Serving type: bottle

08-23-2008 08:26:32 | More by Overlord
Photo of Atron67
Atron67

Wisconsin

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

so this beer is really just a punch in the face. has a strong hop character, whihc is generally what I hear it referred to as why it stands out in the crowd. I disagree but for a slightly different reason. it has a hop character but for an RIS i would definitely not call it dominant (at this age it might have mellowed though its not that old, 2008) but it does have, which is unusual for most RIS's is that it has a solid fruit character which is very solid and very complex. it hits you on the tonuge and doesnt let go.

out standing beer from surly and thanxs for the chance to try. not top ten but delicious

Serving type: bottle

08-09-2008 22:46:18 | More by Atron67
Photo of Beerking721
Beerking721

Minnesota

4.97/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this at the Surly Darkness Release at Blue Nile:

This is my favorite Surly product - hands down! OMG... this is a brew that will exceed expectations and have you wanting more.

A = A fairly dark and syrupy complexion with blonde hued foamy head that can be refreshed over and over again.

S = A complex blending of deep roasted malts and wonderful citrus and spice components. The citrus is more of blood orange and tangerine which works well with the dark chocolate texture.

T = Wow... pure velvet smoothness with chocolate, coffee, and a hint of toffee sweetness.

M = A viscous warmer with high ABV, smooth and rich without the "palate shock" tendancies present with some of the other big dark brews on the market.

D = Amazing simply for what it is. Psychologically, you'll want as much as you can get of this highly prized and limited production masterpiece.

An "A+" rating from the Beerking!

Serving type: on-tap

07-24-2008 15:50:52 | More by Beerking721
Photo of rallison
rallison

California

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

Thank you Carlos for opening this one (after so many previous attempts at making this tasting happen!).

Great pour with a great, lasting head on this beauty.

Delicious grapefruit/citrus bitterness is still a large component of this beer, despite the bottle having some age on it. I've had hoppy imperial stouts before (Rogue, Victory, etc), but none that came off so citrusy....an interesting choice and one that I find to work extremely well. Great roast character with complementing dark chocolate and a lingering bitterness. Light alcohol presence on the end. Some dark fruits seem to be present as well - specifically raisins.

Huge body with medium to low carbonation - very suitable. Rich and nicely coating.

Excellent beer. Very unique (and this is not an easy thing to be in the RIS category) with the delicious citric hop presence. I'd take a keg of this ;)

Serving type: bottle

07-23-2008 07:02:06 | More by rallison
Photo of seaoflament
seaoflament

California

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

Huge thanks to Floydster for helping me out with a bottle of this rare beer. Split this bottle last night with a few good friends (Joey, Ryan, Tony +1). The bottle number had mostly rubbed off during shipping, I think there is a 1 and a 6. 2007 release.

Not the darkest stout I've seen but the beauty was in the inch+ of head, the excellent retention and lacing. Soapy spider legs on the sides of the glass (Surly pint glass of course!)

The beer has an impressive roasted aroma, not overdone which I like, and also has a pronounced bitterness. The bitterness is both in a roasted/smokey type and also the citrus hops which are fading into the background. As the beer warmed up there was more caramel, cocoa, and chocolate.

The taste was a little more complex than the aroma (probably because this one has been sitting for a few months already). First I get the roasted malts, dark fruits (dates, raisins), some brown sugar; then I start getting more heavily roasted flavors in the form of burnt malts. There is some coffee and chocolate near the finish and anise in the aftertaste. The hops come in near the end with some earthiness and a bit of citrus bitterness.

The mouthfeel of this beast was probably what impressed me the most, really smooth and silky. The beer just felt graceful on the palate. For such a high abv. stout monster, this beer really drinks well.

I hope to get a fresh bottle of this at the next release because I think that I might have missed some of the hop essence that makes this beer grand.

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2008 16:06:14 | More by seaoflament
Photo of hoppymeal
hoppymeal

Michigan

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

Bottle #230. Pours black with a good size dark tan, light brown head that recedes slowly, with just a bit of lacing. Aroma is very citrusy and hoppy, oranges and tangerines, like a citrusy cotton candy. Some roasty, smoky and chocolatey notes as well, these are in the background but work extremely well with the hoppiness in the foreground. Taste is very similar to the aroma with the citrusy hops being the main player, but a very nice roasty and at times, rich chocolatey maltiness in the background. The flavors work very well together and alternate back and forth. Mouthfeel is medium to heavy in body, very soft and full feeling, creamy carbonation is soft on the tongue, some light tingling and a bit of dryness towards the end from the hoppiness. Really, an outstanding and unique beer. I've had hoppy imperial stouts before, but this particular combination works very well together. Tastes as though it will continue to age very well, though it is extremely drinkable at present.

Serving type: bottle

06-26-2008 02:23:41 | More by hoppymeal
Photo of mikesgroove
mikesgroove

South Carolina

4.93/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

What can I say really about this whole situation. I was lucky enough to acquire this bottle through a very fair trade from a good friend. When I see how much these things go for and the hype surrounding it, it is hard for me to justify it sometimes. I have found several instances where these beers are just complete letdowns. This here was not the case. It was absolutely wonderful and I really think it is worth its reputation. That being said, I new this would be the only bottle I would get so I saved it for a very special occasion and split it with a good friend at Barley's last night for my 30th Birthday. I figured it would be a fitting place, fitting time, and fitting company to open such a rare and sought after treat. Served in multiple sampling glasses at various temperatures up to room temp, this was definitely a wonderful experience. Bottle # 295.

Appearance - So we finally get to pour this one out. Opened the double dipped, wax topped cap and pour out this black as night liquid. Deep dark notes of black, to which no light could penetrate dropped into the glass with each tip. A mushrooming head of tan foam then came up over the top, reaching a height of at least two fingers before starting to break up into a rocky and cratered field. Even at its lowest mark it still carried about a fingers depth of lace with it and the side glass webbing was extremely nice. Overall this was a monster looking beer, however I cannot say it was a five, only because I have seen Dark Lord and the Abyss offer me a slightly fuller poor.

Smell - The aroma was to die for, literally. Everyone of these big RIS are much different then the one before, and everyone one is so unique, but I think once you take a whiff of this one it becomes very clear that this is in a whole different category. Gone are you rum soaked dark fruit and bourbon barrel, oak infused aromas, this was an entirely different beast. Rich and very sweet cocoa aromas are bringing themselves up to greet you first, with a gentle nudge of alcohol underneath. Wonderfully rich coffee then comes in to deliver the next blow. It was more of a roasted coffee bean aroma to be honest, like when you first open up that drawer at starbucks. A veritable assault of floral hops then comes out of nowhere. Grapefruit and pineapple hints mixing in with molasses and vanilla, what was this. As it warmed that sweet and creamy chocolate and coffee just really stole the show, with drops of vanilla just making this one drip with sweetness.

Taste - Now, we dive in to get a taste of what this wonderful liquid could be hiding. The first thing you notice is uber sweet chocolate and coffee. Just that wonderful taste that you want to have in a big stout, but the second that you get used to it, it gets cut like a knife, infused with grapefruit and orange peel. Puckering the lips as fresh grass and lemon hints seal it up and dry the mouth instantly before falling down the back of your through and opening up the scarred taste buds to welcome rush of vanilla. Beautifully complex, the rich notes of smoke and molasses intermingle and marry a wonderful peat like darkness that just sits there for a second before it too passes, getting whisked away and leaving behind only the faintest hint of grapefruit like bitterness soaked in vanilla and coffee. A wonderful voyage of unexpected tastes and bright surprises, wit ha virtually hidden alcohol content that makes it oh so smooth.

Mouthfeel - An speaking of smooth, wow, this was one smooth stout. A little bit less full then the rest of the big boys, but again this was a different type of monster, something entirely different then you milk shake like consistency you would typically associate with the style. This had a light, more carbonated feel to it. A much drier beer, especially in the finish, the flavors exploded out of it more then soaked in and sat there. As it warmed up it really did get a good deal thicker, but still stuck to its roots, setting it apart from the heard.

Drinkability - As for an almost 11% ABV Russian Imperial Stout, this was something I could have drank all night long. It was just tremendous in its complexity with a unrivaled smoothness. The alcohol was nowhere to be found, and the dry, hoppy finish only encouraged me to go back and try it again, and again, and again. It was a sad moment when this bottle was finished, as I really wanted just a little bit more. It was like beer crack for me, really just that good.

Overall I would have to say this really lived up to the hype for me. It was a phenominal beer, much different then anything I had before it, and was a nice breath of fresh air in the category. I was impressed by the floral hoppiness that was brought into this, especially in the finish as it really hid the alcohol well and let you have a nice, and not super filling experience out of it. Overall would I like another bottle, absolutely! Would I travel to Minnesota to get it, if the wife would let me, in a heartbeat!

Serving type: bottle

06-13-2008 10:22:35 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of goindownsouth
goindownsouth

Pennsylvania

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Many, many thanks to BA mikesgroove for sharing the bottle with me on 06/11/08.

Poured into a short glass and allowed to warm slightly. Deep and rich in appearance, black as can be. Beige head with sturdiness and a lacing that lingered throughout the glass.

Aromas of strong coffee flavors intertwined with bittersweet cocoa goodness - fantastic balance of the two. Hints of some heat )good Rum), dark molasses, and warm spices play in concert.

Thick and robust on the palate. Absolutely splended in the mouth. Chocolate, coffee and spice in full form, working and playing off one another. Plemty of hops action to add an unsuspecting balance to those who are not ready. Savoring this brew in the mouth brings out additional noted of dark fruits covered in high quality chocolate. Fantastic staying power with these flavors.

Full bodied in every conceivable way. Big, but not in an annoying way.

IMHO, this is the quintessential Russian Imperial Stout. The balance and variances make this one for the ages. One not only to seek out and savor, but one to celebrate.

I am honored to have been fortunate to had the opportunity.

Thanks, bro.

Serving type: bottle

06-11-2008 21:56:15 | More by goindownsouth
Photo of JDV
JDV

Texas

3.9/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Huge, huge thanks to miketd for his generousity in hauling this beer down to Texas and sharing it with us!! I've been looking forward to this one for many months.<Br>
Pours dark black with a short lived tan head. Smell is chocolately, some faint cake like sweetness and some really roasty sharp, bitter hops in the nose. Some dryness. Taste is dry, roasty, and very hoppy for the style, and a bit more than I'd like. Somewhat of a meaty, roasty flavor too. Slick, oily mouthfeel. Very good, for sure, with no hint of the ABV, but not my favorite Imperial Stout.

Serving type: bottle

06-09-2008 17:07:11 | More by JDV
Photo of johnnnniee
johnnnniee

New Hampshire

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

Pours a solid black with a good size tanish head that sticks with us for a while. Smell is the usual suspects, coffee, chocolate, a bit smokey, but with some grassy hop aroma in the distance. Taste is a bit hoppy with roast coffee, chocolate, some dried fruits. Full body, oily/creamy mouthfeel, ample carbonation. Left a slight ash aftertaste in my mouth. Great RIS I wish it were more widely available.

Serving type: on-tap

06-06-2008 23:12:07 | More by johnnnniee
Photo of andreasmwatt
andreasmwatt

Colorado

3.35/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance - Very dark nice looking beer. Way excited when I poured it.

Smell - Pretty bland actually. Not a whole lot of sense.

Taste- I know everyone loves this beer but I don't love it actually I can live without it. I like dark beer and this one just was not my thing.

Mouthfeel - Felt very nice on the palate.

D - Wuite Quaffable, like I said b4 just not my kind of beer.

Serving type: bottle

06-06-2008 03:38:27 | More by andreasmwatt
Photo of Georgiabeer
Georgiabeer

Georgia

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

***Update***
2nd bottle of Darkness, compliments of RustyDiamond. Bottle 445. Poured black with a thin head that sticks around. Smells of chocolate pudding, roasted cocoa nibs, and with winey notes at the end. The taste was still a bit hot, but with nice long cocoa liquor tastes. Long chocolatey taste with some bitter hop presence. Mouthfeel was super smooth and creamy. A pleasure and I enjoyed it more the second time around.

***Original Review***
This beer was a treat compliments of Cashew70 at the Brick Store Pub. I had already had Kate the Great, Dark Lord, Speedway, the Abyss, and Ten Fidy among others and I was interested in how this stacked up. I'd previously enjoyed some of Surly's other beers on tap and had high expectations. Definitely a solid beer, but given how unbelievably difficult it is to obtain, I probably won't go to quite those lengths to procure some more, but I'm extremely glad I had a chance to taste it. Like the other great Russian Imperial Stouts, this one pours black as night with a tan head that sticks around. Maybe not quite as thick and rich looking a fresh Ten Fidy on tap, but very nice. The first aromas are of burntt roasted grains, followed by chocolate, coffee, and a nice dark but fresh fruitiness reminiscent of plums. The alcohol is well hidden and the beer is well integrated. The taste is also surprisingly fruity with more of that nice plumminess, big flavors of roasted grains and chocolatey malt, and a tad of soy sauce flavor, as well as a bit of fresh cream. The mouthfeel is not as massive as Dark Lord, or as thick, nor is it as creamy as Ten Fidy, in fact, there is a bit of slickness to to the mouth here. A very good, complex RIS. Not as massive as DL nor as creamy and luscious as Ten Fidy on tap, or as assertive as Speedway, nor as complex as Kate the Great. Stylistically, I would put his somewhere between the winey chameleon-like complexity of Kate the Great, and the massive onslaught of Dark Lord. Forr me it probably takes 4th place behind KTG, DL, and Ten Fidy on tap., but at this level I really think it's probably all about the direction one likes to see a beer go and one's personal taste.

Serving type: bottle

06-03-2008 21:25:34 | More by Georgiabeer
Photo of tpd975
tpd975

Florida

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

2007 version

This is one I had been chasing for quite sometime. A big thanks goes out to rate beerian ibrew2or3 for sharing this one.

A: First and foremost its one bad ass looking bottle. Pours a deep dark black hue with a nice bubbly one finger head on my pour. There were spots of lacing noted.

S: Nice hoppy aromas right from the start. There were hints of roasted malts and chocolate along with bitter coffee. It had a somewhat green aroma beneath the roast. The ABV makes itself known in the nose as well.

T: This is a hoppy ass stout. Tons of bitter hops noted as soon as it hit my tongue. Beautifully roasted chocolaty malt does come thru as does a hint of vanilla, a nice dose of smoke, and a touch of dark fruit. A slight alcohol burn lingers after each gulp. That being said it don't ever really come together though.

M: Full in body, rich and somewhat syrupy.

D: The beer is sort of sharp on the tongue. I could of had more than my 1/6 of the bottle but this is one to be shared.

Overall: It's a good beer but overall I was a bit let down. I thank ibrew for the chance to try. Would love to get a bottle of my own to age for a bit.

2008 vintage is a syrupy mess. Don't bother.

Serving type: bottle

05-21-2008 15:10:33 | More by tpd975
Photo of brewdlyhooked13
brewdlyhooked13

Ohio

4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed at the May 1st BA gathering at Catskellar. Huge kudos to pimpp for sharing this one.

Appearance - pours black and inky, very viscous. It carries a thin mocha head that manages to throw some stray lacing around.

Aroma - sweet at first, darkly roasted malts, and a smoky, meaty aroma. More malt comes through as it settles.

Taste - the malts are chewy and sweet out of the gate, lots of dark fruit and fairly well masked abv heat. Loads of chocolate syrup and espresso fill the mouth after the swallow. Great balancing with the hop/char bitterness. Long finish lets you taste it for a minute or two after it's gone.

Mouthfeel - very smooth, heavy and clingy. 5.0

Drinkability - awfully strong, but a stunning beer and an ideal sipper.

Serving type: bottle

05-02-2008 04:58:26 | More by brewdlyhooked13
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genog

Ohio

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

bottle shared with franksnbeans the night before dark lord day.

Poured a very dark black color with large bubbling tan head. Very pretty monster indeed.

Smell was rather subtle for surly. Smokey with some dark chocolate, coffee notes. Faint hint of the hoppy character so well played by Surly Brewing.

Taste was a little richer than the aroma with a faint sweet maltiness at the beginning followed by a roasty coffee flavor. Very nice balance on this beer.

Mouth feel was oily but at the same time there was a creamy lingering feel. Very nice carbonation for my preference on this style. Can't wait for next years.

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2008 19:23:38 | More by genog
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SQNfan

Illinois

3.9/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

On tap: Dark in color with a roasted coffee and chocolate nose. This continues into a palate that I hoped carried a little more density. While a very nice beer I came out with the feeling that some barrel aging would smooth and fill out the midpalate.

Serving type: on-tap

04-24-2008 20:57:40 | More by SQNfan
Photo of kkipple
kkipple

South Carolina

4.05/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Cashew70 earns my undying respect for bringing a bottle of this to the now legendary Spring '08 Brick Store tasting. We did a side by side with a 2007 Dark Lord. Never thought I'd get to do that. Thanks, Cashew!

Pours a very dark black-brown, with a small head comprised of fat bubbles. Sinister to be sure, but nothing we haven't seen before. It absolutely does not stick to the glass like ye ole DL.

Smells surprisingly... hoppy. You have to wait till this warms up a little, but Darkness has a definite hop edge of pine that fights through the strong burnt, charred grain, chocolate and coffee denseness. Oh yes, there's alcohol and some sweet molasses / sugar lurking there too. Darkness certainly smells like a winner, but the only unusual thing here is the level of hops present.

Ahh, now we're talking! Super roasty, and the big (for a RIS) citrus hop bite equates to a bold, brash, wild beer with a lotta punch. The hops are dirty and rough, and it's altogether boozy and heavy. This is the kind of stuff Klingons would drink out of corroded metal canisters while stranded in deep space.

Mouthfeel is slick, heavy and lowly carbonated. Finishes hoppy, roast-bitter and oily sweet. It lacks the cake-batter thickness of it's nemesis from Munster, but it's good even so.

Drinkability? Well, pretty low. This is good, but quite honestly, does not live up to the (unfair) hype. Darkness is quite solid, but there are a lot of great Imperial Stouts coming out of the US and this one is certainly not worth the insane premium it commands. If you have a bottle, count yourself lucky and share with friends. They'll owe you!

Oh yeah, was it better than Dark Lord? No. Dark Lord still holds the tarnished, sickly crown for this sort of thing.

Serving type: bottle

04-10-2008 21:36:19 | More by kkipple
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bgramer

Washington

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

We opened bottles 287 and 568.

I admit I was a little worried about this beer. Is it over hyped, does it live up to expectations, will this be underwhelming, etc????

Thankfully, this beer meets and exceeds all the hype I've heard. Wow - Poured this into my goblet and it's black with faint dark brown highlights at the edges of your glass if you hold it up to the light. There's a light tan head that's a finger high but dissipates quickly. There's plenty of lacing.

The aroma is very sweet, malty, and hoppy - all sorts of complexity. I smell and taste chocolate, licorice, malty goodness (roasted) some caramel, coffee, creamy, and dark fruit-ey, - and definitely hops but not in a hop-bomb sort of way.

The mouthfeel - it's a little less syrupy than I'd expect from the aroma, but the body is still medium and full. It's very balanced on the finish - leaving a minor warmth letting you focus on the complexities of flavors.

I truly am impressed. This is one of the great ones, worthy of it's ranking here. Now, I have to go find more!!!! It will be very interesting to see how it cellars.

Serving type: bottle

04-04-2008 14:00:40 | More by bgramer
Photo of maximum12
maximum12

Minnesota

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

Every time I have a Darkness, I wait for it to let me down. Just a little.

Still waiting. This is the best beer I've ever had, period. Exclamation point. Semaphore. Whatever.

I had my first shortly after its Halloween release, & had the pleasure of consuming three of them that early November night. I've had several since, the latest at Firkin Fest & two short pours at the Acadia Cafe grand re-opening this past Friday.

Darkness pours black as the heart of Charon with, always, a beautiful but not overwhelming head. Smells like...Darkness. Nothing smells like it. Or tastes like it. Chocolate & beer & malt & all sorts of Russian goodness. After our last my wife commented that she might not brush her teeth for a few days to retain that lingering feel of pure heaven on the back of the tongue.

Drinkability is ridiculously off the scale for a beer this strong & dark. It is, however, definitely a sipper. I could put away one an hour for, oh, maybe half a day, but that'd be my limit.

Amazing. I can't wait for my next - I'm hoping there'll be a Darkness pour at the upcoming Happy Gnome dinner in mid-April. That, & my wife and I will be arm-wrestling to see who watches the kids for the anticipated Halloween 2008 release.

Serving type: on-tap

03-31-2008 03:46:46 | More by maximum12
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umustdrink

Minnesota

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

Sampled at Happy Gnome's Firkin Fest

A - Completely opaque pitch black color. Smooth dark brown head retains at a half inch, its darker around the edge of the glass. Thin sheets of lacing.

S - Dark roasted coffee with sharp piny hops. Dark fruits, cream and light vanilla playin in the background.

T - An oily slick bitterness with a sweet dark roasted maltiness starts out the taste. Dark malts get even darker while a sweet cream contrasts simultaneously. Lots going on here and I probably only skimmed the surface... I need more.

M - Thick consistency with a good amount of carbonation.

D - Excellent balance of sharp hoppiness and deep roasted maltiness make for a very unique and flavorful experience. More please.

Serving type: cask

03-18-2008 02:35:32 | More by umustdrink
Photo of walshclimb
walshclimb

Nevada

3.8/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had a 3 oz pour at Firkin Fest, Minneapolis. Very interesting overall, but I think it needs to age more. Appearance is black with a thick tan head and continuous bubbly lace. Smells big and hoppy - pine and citrus. Big sweet malt flavor with a little less hop overtone than expected from the smell. Aftertaste is malty with hint of bitterness. Mouthfeel is very syruppy coating your tongue and keeping the sweet maltiness around. Overall, I am not sure. I enjoyed it, but I don't know how much more than a 3 oz pour I would want. Interesting, but needs to age maybe to mellow out. I would love to try it again in 6 months.

Serving type: cask

03-16-2008 23:25:21 | More by walshclimb
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Avryle

New York

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

Finally found my notes from an RIS/Barleywine tasting session in January 2008 (Kudos to DrSeamus for bringing this one)

A: Solid black with no light penetrating. Dark tan head with some small lacing.

S: Hoppy nose? RIS? Citrus hops right up front on the nose then roast.

T: Bitter, roasted malt in the beginning. Mystery flavor in the middle that no one's able to put their finger on. Its there for only a brief moment but oh, so good. Its kind of a caramel-y burnt sugar, but that's not it exactly. There's a definite boozy appearance but appropriate for the style

M: Heavy bodied, slightly syrupy with a decent amount of carbonation.

D: This ran the RIS gauntlet against aged Stone, aged Avery Czar, and Siberian Night. While an excellent & distinctive RIS, I think much of the hype comes from the limited availability. Don't get me wrong, its REALLY good, but it wasn't the favorite of the night.

Serving type: bottle

03-16-2008 15:30:40 | More by Avryle
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pheggeseth

California

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

Bottle #069. Obtained by my own two hands at the release event in December. Poured into my goblet of the same name.

A: pours viscous, heavy, with a coffee colored head that appears out of nowhere, frothy and attractive, lacing everywhere

S: buttery/nutty creaminess, next alcohol (as it warms) but starts out as banana and strawberry, malt in the middle and back with hops

T: creaminess upfront, hop bitterness in the back, intense roasted malt in the middle, intense dark chocolate, the creaminess rides subtly above everything

M: THICK, lively but subtle carbonation, smooth, terrific

D: intense, but oh so drinkable, definitely worth it

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2008 21:34:32 | More by pheggeseth
Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,242 ratings.