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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
DarknessDarkness

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
98
world-class

824 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 824
Hads: 3,456
Avg: 4.42
pDev: 9.5%
Wants: 3,304
Gots: 1,311 | FT: 103
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States | website

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout | 10.30% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: ryantupy on 10-08-2006

Starting in 2014, bottled Darkness will be aged in whiskey barrels. This listing is ONLY for Darkness that is NOT barrel-aged. For 2014 Darkness go here:  http://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/p ... 14/141724/ 

Labels:
2007 - Grim Reaper
2008 - Devil
2009 - Mummy
2010 - Vampire
2011 - Zombie
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer
2015 - Bat
View: Beers (60) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Darkness Alström Bros
Reviews: 824 | Hads: 3,456
Photo of DwnTwnBwn
4.35/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed a '09 from a tulip glass.

A - Pours a dark black with a hunt of khaki. Head is decent 1 finger that falls to a nice ring around the glass.

S - Nice big sweet beer smell. Lots of roasted malt and dry dark chocolate.

T - The taste is a bit offsetting due to the large amount of hoppiness of this beer. The smells come through quite nicely. Plenty of dark fruits too. Wonderful.

M - Velvet smooth. Carbonation keeps the body light enough

O - Wonderful RIS, the hoppyness starts to detract from the flavor. Need to cellar a few.

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Photo of bbb099
3.96/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage (Mummy). Thanks a bunch to scottfrie for sharing this with me. Reviewed on 12-18-2010.

A - Jet black color with a brown colored head. Appears to be quite viscous.

S - Strong burnt, roasted malt aroma.

T - Pure roasty flavor accompanied by some molasses and woody taste. Some chocolate and alcohol on the way down.

M - Full bodied. Very thick. Moderate carbonation.

D - Leaves some alcohol burn, but does have a great taste that keeps you wanting more.

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Photo of Dawgboned37
4.99/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I love this beer! Poured 2013 (Brewcifer) vintage into a surly tulip glass. Moderate caramel head dissipated to thin layer of bubbles. The beer is very thick and viscous. The nose has complex scents of molasses, chocolate, roasted malts, licorice, and lingering vanilla. The taste follows the nose very well with pronounced dark chocolate, malt, and vanilla flavors accented by oak. Slight coffee bitterness, and even some hop flavors come through toward the end. Fantastic.

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

2008 Vintage and 2009 Vintage
Got 08 in a trade from Maltzilla. Thanks to pecorasc for opening the 09 for our 08-09 vertical. Poured into wine glass. Very cool looking 750ml bottle. Bright red wax for 08 and burgundy wax for 09.

A:Pours thick and super dark. Lots of bubbles around the edges. Light tan head. Really good head retention. The 08 reduces to a film, but that stays there till the last sip. The 09 does not have any film on top.

S: 08-Lots of dark fruit. Raisins and hint of prunes.
09-Much less dark fruit. I get some earthy tones in the 09 that have obviously faded in the 08.

T: 08-Wow. Not what I expected at all. Lots of dark fruit and sweetness. Then you get hit with a roasty finish. No coffee flavors, and just a hint of chocolate. Tons of raisins, prunes, and dates. Picking up molases and licorice as well. Might have a hint of soy though. Not what I expected, but still a great beer with very unique flavor.
09- I like this just a little better than the 08. Very different flavors. Get more alcohol and more complexity. Still get dark fruit, but I pick up more roasty, chocolaty flavors.

M: Mouthfeel is nice and smooth with just a little carbonation. Super creamy. Almost a 5.

D: very good drinkability. Alcohol lets you know its there, but doesnt hit you in the face. It is well masked.

Overall great beer, but I like the 09 a little better. The only score I would change would be to give the 08 a 4.0 for taste (A- overall). Very different flavors, but both good in their own way. Really enjoyed trying these side by side.

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Photo of Scoobydank
4.94/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

L:Thick milk chocolate colored head. The color itself is a dark black oil with not an ounce of light shining through.
S:I pick up a burnt bacon type smell, which i love. A nice hop nose, but not over powering. Very light coffee bean. Just a tiny hint of a fruity raspberry comes peeking in.
T:A big time smokey coffee pops out right away. Which apparently is where I got the burnt bacon from. A sweet chocolate covered raspberry with just a touch of toffee. The hops pops out and stick around throuhg out the whole sip.
M:Thick round and fat for a nice warming feeling. Very little carbonation makes it very easy.
D:Great rIS. Very smooth and complex. It seems like the taste comes in layers adding to the complexity. I could easily drink multiple(unfrotunately and fortunately franksandbeans has my other bottle)

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Photo of JFresh21
4.68/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Had this on tap side by side with Abraxas.

Deep black, the head was less chocolate in color than Abraxas.

The thickness of this beer is incredible. It is so drinkable and smooth. It doesn't have the overly sweet flavor of a Dark Lord.

World class beer. One draft is not enough! Cheers!

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Photo of davod23
3.97/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Finally decided to open this bottle. 2008 vintage, poured into my Bruery tulip.

Surprise, surprise! Black, with a nice 2-finger tan head that retreats to a thin cap. Pour appears to be medium-bodied for an imperial stout.

Aroma... is odd. I'm not totally on board with it. Lots of malt there, looots of malt. There's a bit of a toasted character, some berry fruitiness, but malt dominates this beer, making it almost one-dimensional. I don't really care for this smell, other imperial stouts are vastly superior (IMO) in this department.

Taste, on the other hand, is really great. It's not often that you'll get such disparity between taste and smell. I'm glad for this. Malty, with slight bitterness on the back end. I am getting blackberry and cherry notes, roasted marshmallow, and a bit of toast here. Chocolate is barely a whisper, and coffee is almost non-existent. Very interesting take on the style, I've never had an imperial stout like this before.

Mouthfeel is outstanding, simply great. It's full-bodied, but doesn't quite reach thick. Perfect, medium level of carbonation. Silky, smooth, and creamy. Easily one of the best mouthfeels I've ever experienced.

Overall, this is quite good. I do wish that I had the opportunity to try this fresh, as I am guessing the hops add a lot to this beer, particularly with respect to the nose. As it is, it's still quite a nice and unusual stout. Recommended.

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Photo of optiontwo
4.77/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle acquired at this years darkness day, poured into tulip glass

Appearance: Darkness. Opaque. Beautiful two finger tan head. This is exactly how a RIS should look.

Smell: Wooo. Almost makes me fall back in my seat. Such an array of aromas I don't know where to start. Roasted malt, chocolate, slight coffee, then strong sweetness of fruits ranging everywhere from orange/lemon to strawberry jam and cherries. Amazing.

Taste: This may be the drink of the devil but it tastes like it's straight out of heaven. Dark chocolate, orange, and dark cherries are the first three things that hit me but there is soo much more going on here. Earthy tones and what I have to imagine are hop flavors hit after the initial sweet and roasted flavor. This has got to be the hoppiest imperial stout I've ever had and that's a good thing, a very good thing. The combination of malt sweetness and hop bitterness in this beer make the flavors so complex that each sip is an experience. Outstanding.

Mouthfeel: Perfect. Coats my mouth with the beer but not to the point where it's hard to swallow. The mouthfeel increases the enjoyment of this beer tenfold because it helps the flavors stay in your mouth that much longer. This is also exactly how a RIS should feel.

Drinkability: Surprising. I've had a good amount of imperial stouts and it's one of my favorite styles, but even my favorites test me when it comes to drinkability. I usually want to have more than one or two but can't bring myself to do it. With Darkness though, I could literally drink this all night until I stumble to bed. Very impressive.

Overall: The very best RIS I have ever had. Do whatever you can to get your hands on this miraculous beer. I love Surly.

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Photo of abecall98
4.4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Opened an 09 vintage with DwnTwnBwn and my friend Kevin.

A - wow, pours a pretty black, with a small tan head. The head coats the tulip glass nicely.

S - smells sweet, with some chocolate bitterness. You also can smell a nice burst of hops. Malt smell is very present too.

T - starts off like thick molases. Some brown sugar sweetness hits you, and then some roastiness comes in for the fun. A sudden burst of hops finishes the taste.

M - very creamy, and sticky. The carbonation level could be a little higher though.

D - a very drinkable beer. It's flavorful without being overpowering, so I can keep drinking it. The abv is well hidden too.

O - this is a great beer. A hoppier imperial stout that has a lot more flavors to balance this beer out, well done. Should be seeked out for stout fans.

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Photo of Trevor11
5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I enjoyed the 2015 vintage at the Local Option brewpub on 1/22/2016. This Russian Imperial stout was incredibly rich with dark chocolate yet balanced with raisiny sweetness. There is a vampire bat on the front label to add to its creepy, dark aura.

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Photo of marksto
4.29/5  rDev -2.9%
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.

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Photo of schroederm
4.58/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

In a snifter:

it looks like there's a frappacino on my beer. There are seriously four fingers of thick, soapy light chocolate brown head. It had a jet black body, no light getting through on the first pour. Sheets that stick for days on the glass. This looks nothing short of fantastic. Deep dark chocolate aromas hit like a freight train and little notes of grapefruit and cherry join in. Tons of hoppy character: citrus and pine are obvious. A hint of alcohol is there, but not much. Essentially, this smells like a double imperial ipa stout.A strong malt backbone of chocolate goodness supports a ton of fruity citrus bitter. Alcohol is not obvious in the least. Notes of cherry and plum. There are no words for this mouthfeel. Well, that's a lie, there are: its like a mouth full of cream. Light, fluffy; but yet thick and velvety. Carbonated to a d. Its wonderful just to keep in your mouth. it would be guttonous to drink a gallon of this. But if I could get a gallon of this, I would drink a gallon of this. Still, it has
tons of flavor and the ABV will get to you.

This beer is just full of soul. No demonic connotation implied, but this thing has character. If you can get your hands on it, do so.

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Photo of mjyoung
3.98/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Split with scottfire and bbb099. Thanks to scottfrie.

2009 release

A: Pours very dark and rich, with a nice head that seems solid enough to eat at first but recedes quickly. Gorgeous lacing as it slowly recedes. Doesn't appear to be as thick as I was expecting, but that's not a bad thing.

S: Very strong smell of roasted molasses, overwhelming any other flavors.

T: Dark chocolate, roasted malt, and molasses. Very warm, with the alcohol following all the way down. Once you get past the initial powerful hit, you pick up some brown sugar and a sweet, full-bodied fruitiness. The molasses and malt definitely overpowers everything else. It would have been interesting to try this both fresh, and with another year in the bottle.

M: A bit thinner than I was expecting, but still a slky, viscous feel that sits quite well.

D: It's unfortunately a bit hard to rate this beer as objectively as I would like (my earlier find this evening is clouding my judgment). It is quite good, although a little bit more harsh than I would like. Another year in the bottle would have been interesting. It doesn't quite measure up to the hype, but don't get me wrong. I'd drink it again at the drop of a proverbial (or literal) hat.

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

Poured into a Darkness snifter at Cafe 28 in Mpls. Beautiful 1 inch head of bubbly tan that left only a bit of lacing down the glass.

The aroma is milk chocolate, espresso, vanilla, and only a bit of tart cheeries.

The taste is a perfect reflection of the aroma. Despite the 10% ABV, this is not hot in the least.

This is oily and smooth with medium carbonation. Despite the smoothness, it's a little dry on the finish, which I think is a good thing. It doesn't linger too long, which entices you for another sip.

This is the perfect dessert drink. Was the perfect accompaniment to the molten chocolate cake I had at Cafe 28.

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Photo of TK5150
4.55/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2008 bottle.

A-Pours nice and thick. Black in color, with a small brown head.

S-Upon first smell I get a little bit of American citrus and piney hops. I then get a lot of chocolate, and dark fruits. Kind of like chocolate covered cherries/blackberries/figs/plums. A very nice nose.

T-Big chocolate. Milk chocolate as well as dark chocolate lead the way. Then the fruits rush in and i get the chocolate covered fruits taste which was great. I got little to no hoppiness on the palate which was a little disappointing, and not what i was expecting. In the finish i tasted robitussin...that medicinal cherry taste. It became more prevalent the more i drank, but doesnt hurt the beer too much. This was one VERY SWEET beer, which I am not usually a fan of, but the flavors mostly made up for that downfall.

M-Full bodied, nice and thick. coated the mouth very well. Silky smooth with low carbonation.

D-Good. The medicinal taste at the end without the hop balance took away from the drinkability some. No trace of alcohol helped.

Overall, this is one of my favorite beers. A little too sweet to drink a full bottle by yourself, but great to split with a friend. A great dessert beer.

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Photo of Martin2D
3.13/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

Thanks to fbm115 for sharing this one.

A - Pitch black with a smallish tan head with lacing

S - Roasty, fruity, possibly some coffee

T - I couldn't be caught more off guard by the flavor. It is super sweet, almost like unfermented wort. There are wort like malt flavors, roasty, coffee. These are followed by a huge hop bouquet. Almost IPA like in its hop quality

M - Medium-high carbonation and medium-high in body.

D - I wouldn't be able to drink much of this. Decent beer, not my cup of tea.

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

2008 vintage. poured into my duvel tulip. its quite dark, shows some deep ruby notes as the glass is emptied. head dissipates over time. nose of light chocolates, maple, and aged malty notes. if there is booze in this its entirely covered by all the candy notes. taste is mostly of sugary malts and chocolate covered raisins, and even some berry fruits. however, its balanced by just enough bitter chocolate notes and perhaps even the remnants of what was once a well hopped beer. i can pick out a couple notes that are similar to the only other surly beer ive had (ill save you the details, but it wasn't a pleasant experience). must be a house yeast. this beer is incredibly complex on the palate but extraordinarily well balanced. everything is in check, unlike darklord. mouthfeel is very pleasant. carbonation is very fine but ample. spot on mouthfeel. so unbelievably drinkable for 10.3%.

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

2010 Vintage

Pours black with a creamy brown head, it looks rich. Lots of lacings on the sides of the glass as I swirl it. Smells of roasted dark chocolate, sweet, but not overly. Tons of roasted malt, then creamy chocolate, dark cherry favor, and some traces of hops on the finish. The mouth is creamy as this beer is very well balanced. The flavor hides the alcohol perfectly. I would drink this beer again (it is a sipper) due to it's well balanced flavor. Not too dry, bitter or too sweet, this was an excellent RIS.

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

2009 release, big thanks to rpohagan for this one. Poured into a delerium tulip/snifter.

A- Pours a deep black, dare I say Darkness. Deep tan to mocha 1-finger head leaving spotty lacing.

S-Very sweet smelling. Molasses and chocolate. Very different from the 2008 I sampled fresh last year, which was quite hoppy.

T-Mmmm mmm mmm. This is a fine one. Very sweet with subtle soy sauce notes (it's pretty young at this point, but I'm still getting some.) Some bitter roasted malts and definitely a fair amount of sweet molasses-like flavor. The sweetness gives way to a decent hop profile for a stout of this magnitude.

MF- Nice and creamy with subtle carbonation and very full-bodied. Really well done on the mouthfeel. The sweetness doesn't leave a cloying flavor/feeling.

D- Like I said with the mouthfeel, nice and sweet, but doesn't become cloying at all. Alcohol is completely masked and I could have probably finished the bomber no problem (but I split it with a friend because you can't just crush Darkness alone.)

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Photo of RocPorterFanatic
4.2/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours dark brown/almost black. Blood red around the edges. 2 fingers of smooth creamy head.

S - Very bready, pumpernickel like. Slight hunt of burnt toast. Good amount of chocolate coming in.

T - Alot of chocolate, followed by roast and lactose sweetness. Sweetness could be confused with dark Karo syrup.

M - Very creamy and cloying. No agressiveness to break up the sweetness.

O - Great brew. Stands up to its competition of Darklord and Sexual Chocolate, but does not destroy them.

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Photo of icefisherman
4.68/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First off this is some dark stuff so the name fits. Black thick liquid with a small tanish head. Smells most delicios kinda chocolaty almost like the black death coffee we get at work. Taste has so much going on it is hard to nail it down every sip is something new from caramel to dark fruits to slight piney hops. Mouthfeel was nice smooth with a little bite I liked it, it was rough around the edges. As for drinkability man oh man all night if I could and didn't have to work in the morning. Well hidden 10 percent deffinatly a beer worth tracking down on tap.

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Photo of grandq
4.27/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Giving this a try from the bottle thanks to the generosity of Mully.

Glugs a viscous black from the bottle. Giving this the usual vigorous pour I give to RIS's, a dark tan head mushroom clouds into a massive, pillowy and slowly dissipating dark tan head. Great scent - west coast fruity hops and berry, mixed with molasses, raisin, and leather. Flavor is a bit of a surprise, very mild and fruity. A dash of coffee opens up to the aforementioned berry and citrus, surrounded by milk chocolate, prickly spice, and a splash of grapefruit before bittering away from the tastebuds. Concludes like I took a swig of hot cocoa and chased it with an IPA. No bad thing, might have to try that.

Thick as anticipated but not as monstrous as others. I'm actually a little disappointed in this aspect, a little thin for my liking, i think it could cling to the tongue a bit more. Sorta skim chocolate milk-esque, which I don't have fond memories of. Still, the lighter mouthfeel results in a pretty quaffable concoction, though it gets a bit cloying at warmer temps.

I had this at the EBF last Feb and recall thinking it similar to Stone RIS (a solid compliment). Not at all the case from the bottle a couple months earlier. I'd like to try this straight from the source at release as I think the hops truly make this beer. Not quite as complex as I'd hoped but still top notch.

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Photo of AylwinForbes
4.72/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Unlike the similarly cultish Dark Lord, the Darkness is at least obtainable. Surprisingly, we have been supping it locally for a few weeks now; I was worried it would have disappeared the first tapping night.

Anyway, to the beverage. Exceptionally dark, black as night, tho tempered by a tinge of burnt umber. The head is relatively thin with slight foaminess and is dark brown.

The aroma is arresting; a warm, complex but balanced combination of hop, espresso roast, dark chocolate, malt.

The smoothness is shocking: no hard edges or strong statements, but a gorgeous, luxurious, rich but subtle concoction. Not overly sweet like perhaps the Goose Island Bourbon Stout inclines to. The espresso bite reigns it in there. You don't want to pour this over ice cream; you want to savour and sip it.

This has a complex flavour profile that would put many much more expensive wines to shame, yet we are drinking for a fraction of the cost.

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

On tap at the brewery. Pours classic RIS: opaque black with a dark tan head. Smell is amazing, with a rich combo of chocolate and coffee, and tons of cherries and other ripe, dark fruit I can't quite place. Taste is complex progression of what's on the nose, and is just super delicious. Many layers of flavor. Fairly sweet, but with an offsetting bitterness that is nearly perfect for the style. A huge, rich beer that is masterfully constructed. One of the best RIS beers I've ever had.

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Photo of darthvohn
4.54/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Glass Used: Snifter
Release: 2013-Brewcifer

Appearance: Black as a starless night with a finger thick chocolate milk foam. The head seemed to melt down leaving a film of foam surrounded by a solid ring around the glass.

Smell: Heavy on the raisin and (for me) fresh dates followed by milk chocolate and strong coffee. The alcohol makes it's presence known as well.

Taste: Roasted malts are up front with the dark fruits following close while the chocolate and coffee bring up the rear. A very flavorful RIS which I would definitely put in my top 3. While I could smell the alcohol in the aroma, its hidden well on the palate.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth with a sticky finish. Roasted bitterness is there in the right quantity.

Overall: A delicious surprise in my last trade with Pintofbrown. Pretty damn amazing RIS which I feel the hype is deserved. Cheers!

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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
98 out of 100 based on 824 ratings.