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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

796 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 796
Hads: 3,274
Avg: 4.42
pDev: 9.5%
Wants: 3,252
Gots: 1,186 | 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
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Reviews: 796 | Hads: 3,274
Photo of Jeffo
4.13/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Originally reviewed a bottle of the 2010 only a few months after it had beer released. I found the beer excellent and scored it a 4.43. We compared that bottle to a 2009 vinatage and found that the hops had faded quickly and it had become much sweeter and less appealing. Thanks for those bottles rpstevens and oakbluff. I thought I'd re-review a newer vintage now that I've been around a little longer.

From a 750ml bottle into a snifter
Vintage: 2012
Red Wax

Note: We drank a 2012 and a 2008 back to back. The scores are for the 2012 with comparisons to the 2008.

APPEARANCE: A dark pour yields a 1+ finger, thicker looking tan head with good retention. Head slowly fades to a good cap and coats the sides of the glass. Black body with higher levels of carbonation evident. A splotchy wisp remains until the end and leaves some good lacing down the glass. A good looking beer for sure. The '08 looked exactly the same.

SMELL: Roasted aromas and lots of pure, dark chocolate too. Quite hoppy for sure, with lots of citrus and floral notes as well. This is definitely a bold and hoppy stout on the nose. The '08 smelt a bit stale in comparison, so perhaps some oxidization is starting to play a roll. Caramel, leather and soy sauce show up as well.

TASTE: Very nice stuff. Roasted and chocolate flavors with caramel and toffee sweetness at the swallow. Lots of bitterness at the fninsh, with plenty of hops as well. Citrus, floral notes and some bitter, dark chocolate linger on the palate, balancing the toffee and caramel sweetness. Bold and flavorful for sure. Good stuff. The '08 didn't have the oxidized staleness that I'd expected from the nose, but the hops had pretty much disappeared. Sweet caramel and toffee with leather and soy sauce. A touch of dark chocolate, but it's mostly sweet and soy flavors.

PALATE: Full body and medium levels of carbonation. Very creamy and full with enough weight for sure, goes down smooth and finishes rather sticky. Full, heavy, and creamy. Great feel. Like chocolate milk. The '08 is much the same, though perhaps a touch lighter. Still, this is a full, heavy, dominating mouthfeel.

OVERALL: Perhaps not as impressive as when I was just getting into craft beer, but this brew is definitely a top class example of the style. Fresh, Surly Darkness shows great balance between the sweet, syrupy malt base and the big hop profile. The 2012 was great. As it ages, however, the hops fade and the sweet toffee and soy sauce become too dominating for my palate. As such, the 2008 just wasn't all that enjoyable any more. In fact, we did a 2011-2008 vertical a couple years ago and only the relatively fresh 2011 was enjoyable while the others were simply too sweet. I would call this a top class stout, but wouldn't bother with it after the 6 month mark. Anyways, thanks to SliverX for the 2012, and to whomever sent that 2008 a couple years back.

EDIT: Had a chance to drink some of the 2007 and it to be less sweet and cloying than all the other vintages of this beer. The hops had faded, yes, but the sweet flavor was balanced by some alcohol qualities that made it much more palatable than the other vintages. Probably the best of vintage of this beer, but Darkness is still better as fresh as possible.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.6/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Vintage 2011: This poured out as a deep black color with a brown head on top. There is a nice retention with a good lacing as well. The smell of the beer is of dark berries with deep roasted malts chocolate and subtle vanilla and soy. The taste is the beer is really nice, bold roasted malts, some smoke and bit of dark chocolate, there is a touch of saltiness in there too. The mouthfeel is silky smooth with a creamy body and subtle carbonation. Overall it's excellent. I had been curious how it would compare to Dark Lord and this is much better in my opinion.

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Photo of FLBeertender
4.94/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This was the 2010 at an EPIC BEER TASTING at a fans house. Huge. I mean as big as a parade of elephants jaunting through the mall...and there was beer too.

This edition was strong on the nose and palate, I remember wincing on the first sip. Deep bitter cocoa and molasses with hints of vanilla and clove. It went down smooth and I was sad that my 2 oz pour was only. Rich coffee flavors with layers of toffee mirrored by sweet caramel and a tar-like drip...not perfect, but close enough.

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Photo of VeganUndead
4.85/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Enjoyed a 2012 vintage with a friend after letting it age for 2 months, this is the second best imperial stout I've ever had imo, only falling short to Abyss. Really excited about the 2011 I've got in the cellar, going to have to think of an excuse to open that some day. Cheers

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Photo of MNishCT77
4.99/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of BrownNut
4.14/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 release. Served near to room temp in a tulip.

A - 4.25 - Pours dark brown, opaque black in glass. Substantial tan head that endures.

S - 4.5 - Wonderful malty, chocolatey, fruity nose. Like chocolate covered cherries. Also smells like some kind of candy bar element that is complementary to chocolate, whether sweet biscuit or caramel or something related, I can't place. There's a lot more going on here. It's not barrel aged but still there's a barrel liquor aroma going on. Reminds me of the nose of a scotch or a cognac just in terms of the complexity.

T - 4.0 - Powdery chocolate, mocha, cocoa, chocolate syrup. Sweet, mild, and particularly round in that respect. But alongside that round chocolate is something more pointy and bitter, which also leaves a dry finish and slightly raw tongue alongside the sweet and sticky chocolate aftertaste. Presumably it's hops given the tongue abrasion. Unexpected and interesting, that. Overall the taste is substantially less complex than the nose. The alcohol is more prevalent than in many of its ABV peers, but I'm a fan of more booze.

M - 4.0 - Creamy, yet not as thick as I've come to expect from RISs. I'd call it medium, maybe a bit north of there, though there is some stickiness in the end.

O - 4.25 - Good. The nose is fantastic and so I suppose there's just some disappointment when the body does not exactly follow suit. There's a round sweetness and a woody dry bitterness, which make an interesting pair, but it wants something more to elevate it, and a stiffer backbone to offset some of the sweetness. Still, it is somewhat unique. Probably not enough that I'd trade for it again, however. The hunt continues.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.83/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2012 vintage.
*sigh* Another overhyped beer.

Looked like a stout should: dark brown-black pour, with a small tan head that sank to a ringlet and left some splashes of lace on the glass. Aroma was typical as far as stouts go, dark roasty malts, some cocoa bitterness, with notes of herbal hops and anise. Same story on the palate, dark malts, dark chocolate, herbal hops, light woody notes, and a touch of dark fruits and licorice; slightly lingering resiny bitterness in the aftertaste. Good, but not very full in flavor like a good stout should be. I'm not really understanding the hype over this beer...you get about the same effect as you would from a Storm King, and I can get that off the shelf any day of the week. Not full-bodied, but on the heavier side of medium. A decent stout, but pretty standard overall.

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Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.03/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

the beer pours jet black with a thin tan head. the nose is caramel, alcohol, bandaid (subtle) & sugar. the taste is definitely all chocolatey malt forward with booze. the mouhfeel is definitely full bodied rich chocolatey stout, but easy drinking and smooth, very slight bitterness. this beer is definitely an approachable, drinkable ris that most people would enjoy

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Photo of alysmith4
4.86/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Whoa, what a beer! Had this as part of a 30+ mini-whale share that I went to. It was the second beer I tried, and ended up being the best of the night for me. Appearance and mouthfeel are good, but smell and taste were both awesome! Definitely on the sweet side for a RIS, but still well-balanced. And it's surprisingly non-BA, as all those wonderful barrel flavors seem to come through as it warms. Would have this beer again, and again, and again.

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Photo of dptaylor
4.73/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Oh man, what a delight to try such a rare RIS.

My good friend works at a liquor store in the Twin Cities, so naturally he had a 2012 "Werewolf" bottle aging in the basement for the entire winter. We spontaneously decided to crack it open after what had already been a long night of drinking beforehand, so I apologize if anything seems biased and I obviously didn't take any notes. I drank the beer. I loved the beer. The wax around the cap that looks like blood was pretty cool, but a bit of a pain to cut through. Onwards!

Poured into a 12oz mug at basement room temperature (~65-70F)

A: Flawless black opaque with below average amounts of lacing. This is not an especially carbonated beer. I definitely enjoyed it's appearance though, you will not be able to shine light through this one, and the head has that awesome darkened "chocolate" appearance which you see on other heavy stouts and especially cream sugar stouts like Tallgrass Buffalo Sweat, etc.

S: Dark, earthy, chocolate, mocha, toffee, lots of toffee at the end too. Not much hop aroma that I remember (note: remember)

T: The complete, utter lack of alcohol taste is the most notable thing about this beer. It is 10.30ABV and yet it DOES NOT taste or burn like booze whatsoever. Deep, chocolately coffee notes and a sickly sweet fruitiness (prunes? raisin? some kind of dark fruit) intermingle with caramel, vanilla, they packed almost every usable stout every flavor into this RIS and with success. My ONLY gripe, is that it is a little too sweet for me. I would prefer the creaminess to be upped a little bit and the sweetness toned down, as it's slightly too "fruity" and sweet. The beer IS hopped, despite what I'm about to say, but to me the finish has a tiny itty bitty microscopic bitter note at the beginning and end, but I'd say it's safe to say it's almost pretty much hop-free to my worn out taste buds.

M: It's a tiny bit thinner than you'd think it is, and not very carbonated. But the MASSIVE body makes up for it completely. The aftertaste is addictive, you will want another sip!

In short, the best RIS I've ever tried. Tastes better than most stouts at half the ABV I've tried!

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Photo of hoplover82
4.82/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I am so happy to have a bottle of this wonderful RIS. A friend of mine brought one down from MN. Thank you so much Sarah-Jane. This was the only bottle they had left in the store by the way.
A-This beer pours black with brown-ish/rudy highlights when held up to the light. The foam is huge and has amazing retention and lacing for a beer like this.
S-The aroma is huge with notes of mocha at first, yet VERY complex with toffee, chocolate, some earthy leather, some mild roastiness, woodsy, dark stone fruits, and man that sweet mocha really sticks out like no other RIS I've had. Truly an amazing aroma, (one of the most complex).
T-The flavor is just as impressive and complex with the mocha standing in the front lines. Fresh toffee follows along with prunes and sweet camamel. There is that earthiness woody-like note in the flavor as well as a mild earthy hop flavor note. Very impressive indeed.
M-The beer has such a slick, creamy sweetness but the bitterness level is just perfect to keep it from being cloying. Huge body and a long sweet, mocha like finish.
O- This beer that is called Darkness is most likely the best RIS I've ever had. I am once again so pleased to have had a chance to try this great beer. Thanks again Sarah-Jane

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Photo of tectactoe
4.45/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to Mike for sharing this one with me! 2011 version. Pours a midnight black color, only the very edges show some dark brown hints; thick, dark, and opaque. The head is a deep tan color, comprised of very fine bubbles and appears to be creamy as hell. It hangs around for a while before it complete vanishes, and it's pretty hard to bring any of it back by just swirling the glass. No real lacing left behind.

Right out of the gate, the aroma is super sweet. Dark currants and fruits, black licorice, toasted brown sugar, and bits of bittersweet chocolate. Some small, extra hints of vanilla reside in the back as well. Not much coffee on the nose (though there is a little bit) - the sweet fruits, sugar, and chocolate kind of steal the show. Booze is apparent, but masked well enough from the barricade of other flavors.

Many other people are calling out a big hop profile in the aroma, but I'm just not getting it. Some very faint char/ashiness that may be from the hop, but I'm grasping at straws, here. I'm just not picking up a big hop character on the nose (barely any at all, actually). This aroma reminds me quite a bit of Dark Lard, but lighter on the brown sugar and not quite as sweet.

A similar thing could be said about the taste. Darkness hits you with a sweetness first and foremost, just like Dark Lord did, but it's a little more tamed in this one. Sugary, burnt caramels, bittersweet cocoa, syrupy molasses, licorice - quite a lot going on here. There were actually a few sips that would remind me of the syrup used in fountain machines to make cola. Less dark fruit on the palate than in the aroma, but some currants and dates are there, sugar coated and sweet as hell.

I'm finally picking up a touch of hops, but still nowhere near enough to combat the sheer malty sweet intensity of this beer. The coffee comes out a little over halfway through and ride well into the aftertaste, leaving a nice roasted coffee bean flavor in my mouth. The sweet brown sugar also hangs in the aftertaste, probably for a little too long. Thick, heavy mouth, though not incredibly creamy or chewy, with lower end carbonation. Lacquers the mouth with a sticky, syrupy coating.

This is a damn fine brew, and I enjoyed it a little bit more than Dark Lord. But unfortunately it suffers from the same flaw of still being a bit too sweet. Darkness does a little bit better of a job taming the sweetness than Dark Lord, however. Lots of different flavors and aromas going on here, and this is a nicely crafted RIS - but the relentless sweetness (in my opinion) is holding it back from being "top of the list" for me.

EDIT: 7/19/2013

2012 Vintage shared thanks to Kevin R... Thanks! I liked this one even a bit more than the 2011 that Mike cracked with me earlier this year. Sweetness was evident, yet more controlled. Hoppier, with a better balance of ashy bitterness. More roasty, more drinkable, and even more enjoyable, even though I already like it in the first place. Great brew.

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Photo of beerandcycling88
4.32/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another one from the bottle share. Part of a 2010, 2011 and 2012 vertical review is of the 2011.

A Very nice dark brown body that is topped off with a mocha head.

S Lots of chocolate both dark and milk with some smoke.

T Some more smoke with more chocolate and some slight hops and coffee. Very tasty.

M Very thick and creamy.

Overall this is an excellent RIS that I'm glad I got the opportunity to try. The 2011 was my favorite of the 3 with the 10 having a bit too much smoke and the 12 having more hops then what I prefer in a RIS.

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Photo of MNmurray
4.87/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

This beer is the reason I joined BA. I was always interested in the hype surrounding Surly and wanted to learn more about reviewing. Here now is my first review of perhaps by favorite stout.

2012 Werewolf bottle

Appearance: Dark, thick and heavy. Pours slower than normal and has a great chocolate head.

Smell: Malt, cherries, chocolate, and toffee.

Taste: Pungent and robust. Immediate taste off coffee and bittersweet fruit. Very rich and tasted better slightly warmer near the end. Absolutely awesome.

Mouthfeel: Thick and heavy, goes down smooth and leaves a chocolate aftertaste.

Overall: Incredible, one of my favorites for a reason. You can obviously taste the alcohol content but it is covered up by flavors both intense and subtle. Definitely a sipper, and one to be sought after.

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

2012 edition. 750ml bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance: black as night with a big head that lasts a while

Smell: dark chocolate, roasted malts, coffee, dark fruits, cherries, and raisins.

Taste: rich full flavor of chocolate, coffee, molasses, cherries, licorice. Very complex.

Mouthfeel: smooth, creamy, heavy body. Amazing.

Overall: This beer is amazing fresh and I certainly have some in my cellar for aging, can't wait to see how these develop. If this got the barrel aged treatment it might just be the best in beer in the world.

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Photo of mfavoino
4.32/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Another shared bottle with Treebs. 2011 bottle with Zombie artwork.

A: Motor oil black with a lingering espresso head. Perfect stout appearance.

S: Bitter chocolate, alcohol, and dark roasted malts. A slight hop presence as well.

T: Sweet chocolate bombarded my palate and the roasted malts took over. Alcohol is there along with a very light coffee taste.

M: Thick, creamy, and smooth. Booze heat as it goes down.

O: A very good RIS, just isn't quite on par with some of the others that I've tried recently. I'd like to give a fresh one a try in the future.

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Photo of Etan
3.91/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2012 bottle shared by Oscar. Thanks!

A: Pours a dark cola color with a small tan head.

S: First off comes a sweet citric hoppiness. The hop notes mix with dark chocolate and roasted grain. It's actually smelling quite sweet, which I wasn't expecting.

T: Light charred bread, sweet milk chocolate, a bit of sticky pine resin and grapefruit hoppiness, cocoa, sugary grain.

M: Thick-bodied, low carbonation.

O: An enjoyable beer, although it was a bit sweeter than I was expecting, and a bit sweeter than I would have liked.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
4.28/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Type: 750-ml bottle
Glass: Oversized wine glass
From: My cousin Sam
Price: N/A
Misc.: 2012 batch (Werewolf); Original art on bottle by Brent Schoonover; Beautiful bottle, but red wax (I think) on the bottle neck was tough to get off.

Poured a black color with 2-3 fingers of thick, frothy, khaki tan head. Healthy layer of the khaki tan lacing on the side all the way down. Good retention on the top, some parts heavy and bubbly, others a bit thinner.

Smelled a big whiff of alcohol first. Once the dust cleared, I got dark cherry, plum, dark red wine (sherry?), raisin, toffee, caramel and chocolate. Surprisingly just a back whiff of coffee or coffee beans. Not too strong.

Tasted better and stronger than the smell. Also unlike the smell, the alcohol was hidden. I got toffee, dark cherry and chocolate, mostly, but so smooth. Also sherry (I think), blackberries, caramel and light coffee notes. Very, very good.

Medium body (surprisingly). Sticky-to-slick texture. Average-to-soft (below average) carbonation. Long, smooth, warming finish.

A very, very good Russian Imperial Stout. Really hit the spot. Would love to try a few more of these bottles again.

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Photo of ChugginOil
4.05/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Review #500

2011 Zombie bottle

Pours very black, dark as night with an eager finger of light brown head. Stringy and spotted lacing.

The nose has a ton of anise and bitter chocolate. If I take a huge whiff, the abv comes through slightly. Cocoa and licorice.

The flavors are heavy on bakers chocolate and anise. The is some sweetness involved but the dry roasty flavors take over. Roasty, dark, slightly sweet, and full of anise. Solid for the style but I had hoped for more.

The mouthfeel is sticky and rich, mixed with those dry bakers chocolate flavors. Sweet, roasty and dry. This is the best part of this beer.

Overall, I expected much more going into this because I have had many off the shelve beers that are just as good, if not better. Too much hype behind this one. Solid top tier stout but not near the best or even near it.

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Photo of inlimbo77
4.42/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml, 2012 vintage
The Bruery tulip

A: Pours pitch black. Finger light tan head. Big lacing. Some ABV feet.

S: Smells of sweet soy sauce. Dark dark chocolate. Cocoa puffs. Some alcohol.

T: Dark chocolate bitterness up front. Some of that cocoa puffs. Dark roast coffee. Some of that blueberry sweetness. Some alcohol burn. It's a really nice brew.

M: Full bodied. Not crazy vicous.

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4.75/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Surly Darkness 2012

Appearance: Surly’s most exclusive beer pours a midnight black. No light gets through this beer at all. The head is a massive three fingers, and is a great-looking khaki color. As it descends, the head leaves swaths of lacing intricate lacing. Alcohol legs are present, but that is to be expected at 10.3% ABV. Really, it just looks like an especially dark Russian imperial stout, but the crazy lacing and head really push it over the top.

Aroma: Huge, roasty coffee aromas flow out of the glass from across the room. They are followed quickly by dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and a fantastic creaminess. Amidst all the organized chaos, a molasses sweetness runs under the entire aroma. The alcohol just barely comes in at the tail end. This beer smells crazy good and enormous.

Taste: Follows the nose, except with huge chocolate notes taking the forefront completely. The roasty coffee comes in as an aftertaste, but cannot quite fight off the dominating milk, dark, and baker’s chocolates, and the burnt sugar sweetness that comes with it. Thankfully, hops come in at the very end and do their best to balance the taste. They cannot quite do it, but the effort is very much appreciated. The alcohol makes its presence known along with some dark fruits at the tail end of the taste. A little more balance would be great, but as it is, this beer is off-the-charts amazing.

Mouthfeel: This beer is silky smooth on the palate, and has a great, minimalist syrupy character that makes it a joy to drink. Unfortunately, the carbonation is extremely minimal. It would really benefit the beer to be a tad fizzier, which would help separate out all the complexity going on here. The alcohol also provides a very calculated warmth that remains exactly in the realm of pleasantness. The carbonation, though…

Overall: This beer was everything I could have hoped it would be. After the first two categories, I thought this might be my first perfect 20/20. Unfortunately, it was not to be due to the slightly imbalanced taste and the almost complete absence of carbonation. Still, this is worth the hype. I cannot wait to try the bottle I currently have aging in the cellar. Things can only go up from here, as I assume it will level out the sweetness. 19/20

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Photo of flexabull
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 bottle courtesy of maximum12, thanks again! This bottle has been on my wants since this beer was first released in 2007.

Pours a sludge black color with a giant brown head that turned a nice tan color. Looks great.

Aromas come off as slight smokey, with hints of charred malts, molasses, bakers chocolate, and black coffee.

Taste is very similar to the nose. Slightly smokey up front, with notes of charred malts, brown sugar, molasses, and other dark chocolate. It's a sweet base, but restrained well. Finish has a nice earthy hop bitterness, and a touch of alcohol.

Mouthfeel is smooth, with plenty of body, viscous, and thick.

Overall, a superb beer. Lived up to my expectations, and might have even surpassed them a bit. Another excellent offering from Surly.

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

2009 release acquired from pochman courtesy of BA Secret Santa 2009, so a big “Thank You” goes out to him. Poured from a 750ml bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color, with a large light brown head that fades very slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains roasted malts, dark fruit, licorice, chocolate, coffee and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a very hearty roasted malt character that is quickly followed by strong and sweet flavors of chocolate, coffee, licorice and dark fruit. There is no hint of the 10.30% ABV. The hops presence is very mild as you would expect but there’s enough to provide a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp, very smooth and quite viscous, heavy body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down dangerously easily, slightly filling, strong kick, very good representation of style, not only is it an excellent stout to drink for as long as you can handle it, it seems to have held up quite well for over 3 years.

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Photo of DocJitsu
4.38/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I nearly cut my finger off trying to get that red plastic off of the top of the bottle. That wouldn't been a good way to start. Once I finally got the top popped, the beer klugged out of the opening like motor oil. It's nearly black as coal and just as opaque. Except for the bottom edge of the glass, which when enough light does pass through, glints of cola brown are noted. The Irish coffee (not the cocktail--actual coffee in Ireland) foam-colored head is a stubborn, sticky, foamy one that certainly contributes to the sexiness of the beer. The nose is nice, but, surprisingly, not strong. Chocolate liqueur, lactose, mild smoky notes, and ripe banana are all present. The mouthfeel is nearly perfect. Creamy, smooth, viscous, and delightful. It never really dries up either, not even on the finish. I love the flavor of this one! Milk chocolate out of the gate. Alcohol shows up about midway and keeps things warm even after the finish. But the alcohol doesn't take away from the beer. If anything it helps temper the sweetness. This is reminiscent of the chocolate bourbon balls my Grandma used to make around Christmas time, only quite a bit less boozy. My Grandma could get a little carried away on the bourbon in her recipe. Dark ripe fruit, somewhere between a sweet cheery and a date, emerges late. It amazes me that more aroma doesn't blast out of this thing given the big flavor. This is a really nice Imperial Stout. One of the best that I've ever had.

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Photo of standardcherry
4.18/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottle served into a snifter.

A: Thick black beer with a large head.
S: Smells like dark fruits, chocolate and caramel.
T: Just like the nose, dark fruit, caramel, chocolate, molasses.
M: Thick but easy to drink. Lots of carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel.
O: Very interesting. Lots of big flavors, although fruit is not my favorite in a stout. Great beer though!

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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
98 out of 100 based on 796 ratings.