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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

DarknessDarkness

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

2,262 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2262
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: 2,262 | Reviews: 752 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Mistofminn
Mistofminn

Minnesota

4.83/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this on cask at the 501 club with the guys from Surly to celebrate the Bronze medal at the GABF for Coffee Bender, which I also had.

Pours an opaque pitch black color with a one finger dark brown head. Retention of the head is much better around the outsides, as it shrinks in the middle but stays clinging to the glass. Nice lacing also.

The nose is dark coffee, roasted malts, bitter hops, toffee caramel and vanilla, bitter chocolate, dark dried fruits...and so much more. Extremely complex and it's a treat to drink this in.

The taste is just as good as the nose leads on. Dark roasted malts, sweet and bitter chocolate, bitter earthy hops, dried dark fruits, sweet caramel and vanilla, roasted coffee...the combinations of flavors seem endless and they just keep coming. I'm not kidding when I say I get a different taste with every sip.

Mouthfeel is thick, rich and creamy. Has an appropriate carbonation level. Had a significant bitter aftertaste.

Drinkability is amazing. This is a great brew and one I can't wait to have again. I can't wait for Darkness Day to purchase my limit in bottles. I would love to see how this is a couple years down the road, maybe even one day do a vertical. Surly does it again, but was there ever any doubt?

Serving type: cask

10-07-2009 06:58:19 | More by Mistofminn
Photo of umustdrink
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
Photo of GreesyFizeek
GreesyFizeek

New York

4.7/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2012 vintage courtesy of stillmatic2232 at the Ithaca Luminous release.

Pours a dark, abyss depths-like black. 2 inch head mocha head, good lacing in the glass.

Smells like dark roasted malt, some dark fruits, chocolate, and espresso.

The taste is similar. One of the biggest expressions of dark fruits- raisins, plums, dark tart cherries- I've had in a sout. The roasted malt and chocolate keep the dark fruit flavor from being too cloying. Some espresso bean flavors as well.

Thick, syrupy mouthfeel, sweet start, bitter finish. No alcohol presence, despite the imperial ABV.

Amazing stuff, really glad I finally got to try it.

Serving type: bottle

04-16-2014 21:45:39 | More by GreesyFizeek
Photo of chanokokoro
chanokokoro

Illinois

4.55/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a waxed 750 ml bottle into a Surly Brewing Company Darkness Russian Imperial Stout branded goblet/snifter

Pours black as pitch with a huge two finger medium tan head. Excellent retention and plenty of lacing. Tons of dark fruit notes, dark chocolate, and boozy alcohol on the nose. Opens with dark chocolate, bold black cherries, and plum and prune notes. Molasses and raisins midpalate. Finishes with some dark roast coffee, boozy alcohol, piney hops, resin, and continued mixed dark fruit notes. Smooth and silky huge, full body with somewhat syrupy on the finish. Low to low/moderate carbonation. I've found every vintage of Darkness to be excellent and the 2013 vintage is no different. One of the better brews to be found in the style.

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2014 04:28:11 | More by chanokokoro
Photo of GarthDanielson
GarthDanielson

North Carolina

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

2013 vintage (Brewcifer). Poured from a wax-topped bomber into a snifter, the beer is jet black, almost oily, with a thin, filmy, frothy half-inch head that settles into a filmy surface coating. Nose of black strap molasses, licorice, coffee, baker's chocolate, woody notes, and hints of vanilla. Flavors of rich, heavy molasses and smooth dark chocolate forward. Perfectly balanced. Oaky highlights, with vanilla notes, too. Roasted characteristics throughout, with coffee bitterness in and out of the palate, also. Very layered palate and deep throughout. Velvety smooth body, with a chocolate bitter and roasted aftertaste. Wow! The finish is slick, smooth, and fairly heavy on the linger of rich and heavy. Great beer! Wow!

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2014 01:36:38 | More by GarthDanielson
Photo of Brenden
Brenden

Ohio

4.61/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Super-rich, heavy, thick, viscous, oily-looking; this is looking like one big beer. It's as black as darkness itself. The beer raises up a heavy medium-brown head that looks like it may be almost as thick as the liquid. It takes lots of time to recede and ends up a chunky patch resting on top and, while not clinging to the sides, is still maintained at half a finger for the entirety. Patching is almost beastly.
Every bit as robust and rich as I'd hoped it would be, this beer just pours out so much deliciousness it's scary. Working off a deep roast with just the right note of char to it, coffee grounds and chocolate come through. It's not enough just to say chocolate, though; there's every note in here from cocoa powder to nibs to baker's chocolate to creamy milk chocolate. Not to go too far, it's accompanied by some very ripe sweet/tart currant notes as well as contributions worthy of the especially rich, near-perfect Doppelbocks in thick molasses and almost anise-like notes, just for added depth. This is truly one of the best aromas one could smell from an RIS.
The taste follows suit; again, it's all about richness, depth and complexity. Robust malts contribute their drying char along with coffee grounds and the chocolate, which holds almost all the same complexity as in the nose with the exception that the milk chocolate and sweeter notes come out more strongly. Molasses and anise make their appearances as char kicks into the finish, some leafy hops as well as a boozy note running alongside.
Rich, thick, full-bodied with an appropriate heaviness, this beer hits the mark. It has just enough alcoholic heat to warm without thinning with a viscosity coating the tongue. The finish is semi-dry, some leafy hops and ultra-smooth chocolate easing the finish to linger beautifully.

Serving type: can

03-26-2014 18:57:09 | More by Brenden
Photo of jzeilinger
jzeilinger

Pennsylvania

4.46/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark molasses colored with a thick creamy head that subsides to an even, frothy layer that's clingy and with a lot of legs.

S - Black anise, licorice, deep roasted caramel/toffee malt, molasses, light bourbon.

T - Dark molasses and dark roasted chocolate, cocoa, dark roasted caramel cream, toasted sherry/bourbon/oak.

M - Thick, rich, full bodied, sticky, and viscous.

O - Outstanding and seek out.

Serving type: bottle

03-18-2014 23:18:51 | More by jzeilinger
Photo of JohnG190
JohnG190

New York

4.94/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pours pitch black with a thick mocha head. Great lacing. So much happening on the nose - lots of dark chocolate, vanilla and stone fruit with hints of roasted malt and smoke. Outstanding aroma! Palate follows the nose, dark chocolate, vanilla, cherries, and dark fruity notes. The malt and smoky notes are even more apparent on the tongue. Body is ridiculously smooth with a medium body and light carbonation. Overall, if there are any faults in this stout I can't discern them. This is not only the best non-BA stout I've had, it's the finest example of a Russian Imperial Stout I've had, period!

Serving type: bottle

03-17-2014 14:39:32 | More by JohnG190
Photo of rjp217
rjp217

Massachusetts

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

2012 bottle poured into a couple taster snifters....

Pitch black pour with a beautiful one finger head and perfect brown head with a sticky lace retention. So much chocolate and cherry in the aroma and taste. There's a beautiful coffee and caramel finish in the taste. Full body and low carbonation with a silky smooth finish. This beer is absolutely sublime. It's a chocolate coffee marshmallow dream. The 2 years created a perfect symmetry. Epic!

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2014 00:29:40 | More by rjp217
Photo of MDDMD
MDDMD

Pennsylvania

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

A-dark brown black color with a decent light brown head and good lacing

S-chocolate, molasses, coffee, dark fruit, vanilla

T-dark roasted malt, chocolate, toffee, coffee, dark fruit, little vanilla, little on the sweet side

F-full body with light to moderate carbonation, smooth and creamy

O-well-rounded stout, just a little on the sweet side for me

Serving type: bottle

02-27-2014 00:58:38 | More by MDDMD
Photo of dgilks
dgilks

Australia

3.83/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Inky, oily, deep and penetrating black. Big, creamy tan head. Very nice.

Heavily alcoholic nose. Very big. Sweet and very rich. Moderate roast and coffee.

Big. Sugar, sugar, sugar. Chocolate is there as is some roast and caramel.

Full body with moderate carbonation. Okay.

I just can't do these beers anymore. It is just a big diabetes bomb of sugar and alcohol. Seriously lacking in complexity and character to round out the malt and add balance.

Serving type: bottle

02-24-2014 10:51:00 | More by dgilks
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 AgentMunky
AgentMunky

California

4.36/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

2010 edition. Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a snifter. Many thanks to the guys at Ale Arsenal for sharing.

A: Blood-dark red. Viscous. No head.

S: Smell is amazing. Loads of coffee. Licorice. Aggressive bitterness. Hops?

T/M: This is nutzo good! Kinda balanced, which is shocking. Very thin bodied. Hint of coffee. Hops. Roasty. Actually tastes like a stout. Lingering aftertaste is nutty and delicate. Dry. I love the roasted malt here.

O: Great imperial stout. Delicious and highly recommended.

Serving type: bottle

02-13-2014 18:17:34 | More by AgentMunky
Photo of gueuzedreg
gueuzedreg

Colorado

4.54/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

'13 into a CS snifter. First Surly.

A- This is the darkest beer that I have ever had. Coffee colored pinky sized head with good retention down to a large sized lacing ring with big legs.

S- Charred dark fruits, molasses, toffee, chocolate. Real rich and dark bold smell. This is my second favorite base RIS behind Zhukov. Brilliant.

T- Totally follows the nose. Reminds me of Portsmouth Impy. Charred dark fruits are upfront>chocolate>molasses.

M- Very thick and creamy. Rich and decadent. Great smooth M.

O- I am very impressed with this base RIS. Brilliant.

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2014 23:09:56 | More by gueuzedreg
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 vic21234
vic21234

Illinois

4.59/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

750ml poured into a snifter from cellar temperature. 2011 Vintage.

A- Pours black, as expected. A nice finger's worth of khaki colored head sticks around awhile before slowly fading to the side. Some lacing is noted along the sides of the glass as well.

S- Chocolate and dark malts are heavy on the aroma, along with an overall sweet character.

T- Very nice RIS. Starts off with dark malts before giving way to tons of sweet chocolate notes. There is still some hop presence at the backend even after going on 3 years old, though the malts dominate this one I'd say.

M- Thick and chewy, easy drinking for a RIS, good carbonation.

This is a great beer for sure. I tend to prefer BA stouts but this is a great sipping one as well. Drinks heavy and thick.

Serving type: bottle

02-05-2014 01:01:37 | More by vic21234
Photo of Alieniloquium
Alieniloquium

Florida

3.93/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter. 2011 bottle. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Black with nice lacing. Small khaki head.

Smell - Roasted chocolate. Sweet caramel in there too. Fruity with some licorice.

Taste - Sweet, for sure. More than I expected. It blends well with the roasted malts, though. Licorice and dark fruits. Ashy bitter malt finish.

Mouthfeel - Heavy and sweet. Medium carbonation.

Overall - Lots of sugar in this guy. Not to Dark Lord levels, but sweet. It's what Dark Lord should be.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2014 20:04:38 | More by Alieniloquium
Photo of SeanBond
SeanBond

Illinois

4.81/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Surly is finally back in Chicago, and this is my first time trying Darkness, so I'm pretty excited. I usually prefer BBA stouts to regular ones, so I'll be interested in seeing how this stacks up to both.

The beer doesn't pour as dark as I expected; for something called "Darkness," I figured this would be pitch black, but it's more like a very deep brown. There's a decent amount of carbonation, so you get more head than some other comparable stouts.

The smell is pretty great; complex with berry hints, definitely different than what I'm used to.

Now to the taste: Awesome! Also not at all what I was expecting. There's a lot going on here, with the berry nose also being present in the taste. There's no coffee that I can taste here, but there's a hint of hops; not as much as something like Goose Island's Nightstalker, but enough to make it interesting. Very sweet, reminds me a little of the BCBS Backyard Rye from this year.

Consider me impressed. There's enough flavor here that I'd have bet you this one was barrel-aged. Smooth, and extremely tasty. Probably the best non-BA stout I've ever had. I'm surprised to say this, but this one really lives up to the hype.

Awesome job from Surly; I hope this one isn't too hard to get next year.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2014 16:32:34 | More by SeanBond
Photo of Ri0
Ri0

Wisconsin

4.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

poured 750ml bottle into chalice. 2013 release.

A - Dark, like black with a beautiful 2.5 finger caramel colored head. Nice retention with a thick collar and good amounts of tan lacing.

S - Earthy hops with pleasant dark fruits, lots of milk and bitter chocolate, roasty malts and some molasses and brown sugars to sweeten it.

T - This is one delicious RIS with hefty amounts of bitter and milk chocolate, earthy hops, caramel, brown sugar, molasses. The roasted malts are a real treat and there is a pleasant dark fruit flavor that blends well with it all.

M - Thick, viscous and creamy with a velvety smoothness to it. The carbonation is spot on for the style.

O - I can't think of a better RIS that I have had. This is an incredible beer, but the price may keep me from obtaining more than one a year.

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2014 18:48:05 | More by Ri0
Photo of sully11277
sully11277

Illinois

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

A- Jet black with a nice brown head that sticks around for the whole thing.

S- You get a lot of an alcohol burn then you get a nice sweetness. You get a lot of cocoa and vanilla. You get a lot of roast. there are so many smells coming off this beer they blend very well.

T/M- You get a lot of sweetness upfront, you get a lot of dark chocolate then you get more of a milk chocolate and vanilla. It is very smooth which i was shocked by because of the alcohol burn you get from the smell.

O- This beer is amazing. all the flavors blend so great together I can not wait to see how this ages.

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2014 18:38:20 | More by sully11277
Photo of kevanb
kevanb

Illinois

4.71/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

750ml bottle, 2013 vintage, purchased at Binny's Grand in Chicago (much to my surprise) and poured into a 2012 Darkness tulip. I've heard rumors that the batch sent to Chicago was different than the batch released at Darkness Day in 2013, but I have nothing to substantiate this, that being said, this bottle was quite different than the draft offering I had at Northdown Cafe not a few weeks earlier.

The beer pours a super deep jet black color, wonderful opacity and just a touch of cola brown color when hit by the light. A thick, taut, caramel colored head rises from the beer, not instantaneously, taking its time to thicken and settle before receding slowly and gracefully leaves a few nice spots of lace behind. The aroma is roasty, dark brunt grain with some toasted coffee bean before a rush of chocolate, also a touch charred gives way to a plethora of fruit flavors, cherry, plum, prune and fig, with a bit of brown sugar and raisin as well as some molasses and toffee. The flavors however, are on point, loads of rich chocolate, bittersweet that brings out the fruit flavors impeccably well, huge amounts of cherry and plum with some backing raisin and licorice that leads to a rich malt and brown sugar sweet finish, but boy does the roast get cut down on the tongue. I'm used to this beer exerting some bitterness and hoppyness, especially when this fresh, but this bottle is so rounded and smooth. The body on this bottle is perfection, incredibly rich, soft, smooth, velvety, all of the synonyms for those words apply. It coats the mouth so gently and eloquently that it's almost unnoticed while asserting itself so well. The finish is wonderfully creamy, soft and has a perfect level of warming as it goes down.

Verdict: I always thought of Darkness as a rather unique and inventive take on the style as it was assertively bitter and always had a distinctive piney hop flavor to me, however this bottle changes everything. It's incredibly rich, smooth and balanced. The complexity is astounding and this is deserving of all accolades. Perhaps there is some truth to the notion that the recent distribution was slightly different than the release day batch, but whatever was in my bottle was superb and I want more.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2014 04:41:42 | More by kevanb
Photo of timc100
timc100

Illinois

4.35/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

2013

Did not have the menacing pour I anticipated - dark, brown light showing through. Sits black in the glass with a dark mocha head. Sticks to the glass but not overly retentive, minimal alcohol legs.

Aroma of heavy roast, dark chocolate, some vanilla coffee. Some dark fruits as well, but not very distinctive. Nice, but not very vibrant.

Taste is huge. Big chocolate, heavy roast, some vanilla and dark cherry - slight molasses. Decently bitter but cut with a nice sweetness. Full, smooth well rounded body.

Very good RIS - not the best I have had, but certainly something worth getting a few bottles of.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2014 03:47:03 | More by timc100
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 zhanson88
zhanson88

California

4.06/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage.

Appearance: Pours out a deep, dark brown that appears black in the glass. About 3/4" of dark tan head forms, which has pretty good retention and very nice lacing. Pretty good start to this beer.

Smell: Smells pretty roasty, but not overly so, with light coffee bitterness and stronger dark and milk chocolate sweetness intermingling.

Taste: Roast bitterness and milk chocolate sweetness all the way. Good balance of the two. Lingering bitterness from the roast. Not the most complex beer, but what is there is very solid.

Mouthfeel/Overall: Mouthfeel is just under full, with an excellent level of carbonation. Overall, a very good non barrel aged stout. It gives up a bit of complexity but is very well put together, and has an excellent sweet/bitter balance. Definitely a recommend.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2014 01:55:50 | More by zhanson88
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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,262 ratings.