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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

DarknessDarkness

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

2,246 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2246
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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Darkness Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,246 | Reviews: 752 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of bobbypaulson
bobbypaulson

Minnesota

4.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer rocks!!! In my opinion this is the best stout out there, that I've had the pleasure of tasting. I had it on fresh from a keg, aged from a keg, fresh from a bottle and aged from a bottle. Every way it is great!!! The beer pours a a deep dark black with a very dark frothy head, nothing see through about this beer. The smell is of coffe, chocolate roast, and some hops. The taste is amazing, everything you smell fills your mouth and coats. The finish of the beer is increibly smooth and the left over taste leaves you craving more. I'm glad I live in Minnesota and have a chance at this beer because it is the best!!!

Serving type: on-tap

10-23-2011 20:32:34 | More by bobbypaulson
Photo of Rampage1
Rampage1

Arizona

4.33/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is one imperial that definitely stands out from the others in the hop profile.

Appearance-- The color was a jet black with a head that was always slightly there and had nice carbonation.

Smell- The smell is what sets this beer apart from other RIS's- i smell beatiful hops in a nice floral way. I have never had a RIS that smells like a mellow IPA up front- never smelled so much hoppiness in a RIS- Awesome!

Taste- All i can say is less sweetness than Darklord but tons of chocolate. I liked that it was very balanced and not too sweet- very smooth!

Mouthfeel- This is really creamy - chocolate milk like.

Drinkablility--- I could drink a bunch of this. You would never know this is almost 11 percent- really easy to drink and very enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

05-17-2011 19:52:14 | More by Rampage1
Photo of Devi0us
Devi0us

California

4.38/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vintage poured into my trusted tulip.

A- Pours an oily pitch black with a 3 finger mocha head that fizzled down to about a half finger head. Sticky lacing left on glass throughout consumption.

S- Dark chocolate, coffee and malts. Somewhat of a hoppy smell to it also.

T- Similar to the nose, dark chocolate, coffee and malts hit you up front. There's a sweetness to this that balances everything out. Alcohol is not detectable at all.

M: Medium bodied. Smooth as liquid velvet. 

O: This right here is one of the best RIS that I've tasted. Smooth and not too sweet. This is beer that should be served to royalty. Can't wait to try this again.

Serving type: bottle

07-25-2011 06:50:19 | More by Devi0us
Photo of RobertDwight
RobertDwight

Iowa

4.75/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at the Blue Nile...I had it after a furious and some food so my palate was really saturated with flavors already. This brew is almost pitch black and has a really thick brownish head. This beer has so many complex smells and tastes that it is almost like an enigma. Espresso, coco-chocolate, dark fruits, balanced by a nice hoppiness. This has to be one of the best tasting beers I've ever had! This beer has the THICKEST and creamiest mouthfeel I have ever encountered in a beer, I'm serious. Its so thick that its almost like chocolate pudding. This is definitely not a session beer, but is best savored after a good meal. I really wish this wasn't a seasonal beer and was brewed all year round. Surly PLEASE give us more.

Serving type: on-tap

11-28-2006 06:25:57 | More by RobertDwight
Photo of smm
smm

Minnesota

3.8/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2009 bottle I picked up last year and have been saving for either something special or whenever October rolled around again.

Appearance: Black like night. Thin foamy tan head.

Smell: Sweet, very very sweet. Raisins and Alcohol, I was expecting some chocolate but there isn't any.

Taste: The taste is quite close to the smell, dark and fruity, a bit hoppy. The hoppiness really lingers which I wasn't expecting.

Mouthfeel: Amazing, very very mellow. Theres a bit of zip on the tip of the tongue from the hops, very low carbonation, but really well balanced. Leaves you with the feeling of having a tablespoon of syrup in your mouth.

Drinkability: I think one bottle will be enough for me. The abv doesn't really weigh it down while drinking it, but the sweetness is a bit too much.

I enjoyed the 2009, but I'd like to see how it has changed in 2010. If the sweetness dropped down a bit I would love it.

Serving type: bottle

10-30-2010 23:56:01 | More by smm
Photo of iLovehops23
iLovehops23

Minnesota

4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big up's to Dennis Brothers for the hook on the darkness. This was a 2010 shared with friends at a birthday party. This was one of my top wants. I'm glad I was able to knock this off my list.

A- AS BLACK AS THE INSIDE OF A COFFIN ON A MOONLESS NIGHT. FOR REAL THIS BEER MAKES CHARLIE MURPHY LOOK LIKE AN ALBINO.

S- Hoping for the complexities to really show. I get a lot of malts and a faint hint of dried fruits maybe a figs or prunes.

T- Lot of malts and again the flavor of figs. I wouldn't consider it bad, just nothing amazing.

M- Very thick. Like drinking a milkshake. This was the best aspect of the beer.

D- The darkness is very delicious and dark just want to say i think very highly of surly beer because the come thru time and time again with soild and wounderful tasting product.

Serving type: bottle

02-27-2011 23:17:52 | More by iLovehops23
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 BigTomZ
BigTomZ

Virginia

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

2008 vintage.

Pours a nice black with a nice thick tan head that left lots of lacing.

Smells roasty and sweet. Molasses, dark fruits, roasted malts, chocolate, coffee.

The taste followed the nose for the most part. There was a little brown sugar and licorice that was not really evident in the nose. This was pretty sweet but done in a good way.

This brew was thick and viscous with just enough carbonation to keep it pleasant.

I drank the whole bottle by myself without any problems and could have drank another if I had more.

Serving type: bottle

09-07-2010 22:59:30 | More by BigTomZ
Photo of Patchmaster
Patchmaster

Indiana

3.95/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Scored this bottle thanks to newk340. This was a 2010 shared with the family over the holidays. This had been one of my top wants. I'm glad I was able to knock this off my list. I wish I could say I was blown away. Unfortunately the Darkness didn't lead up to the hype that I was expecting.

A- Pours jet black as a normal head would dark brown with a small head.

S- I expected more layers from this. I was hoping for the complexities to really show. I get a lot of malts and a faint hint of dried fruits maybe a prunes???

T- Lot of malts and again the flavor of prunes. I wouldn't consider it bad, just nothing amazing.

M- Very thick. Like drinking a milkshake. This was the best aspect of the beer.

D- Overall this is a great beer. I might just stick with the Old Raspy and not have to worry about the trade. Darkness is a great representation of a RIS. The hype train has grabbed on and won't let go.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2011 04:47:06 | More by Patchmaster
Photo of dvsbizzyb
dvsbizzyb

California

4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Beer is similar to black ink with a small brown head that leaves a thick sticky lacing on the glass.

Smell - Very subtle to the nose. Scents of chocolate, toffee, licorice, and roasted malt.

Taste - Full flavored with a complex malty flavor to it. Sweet fruits, chocolate with a coffee character. The closer the beer got to room temperature the better this beer got.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full body and low carbonation. Very creamy and smooth.

Overall - Reminiscent of a Dark Lord, but a little thinner. This is a beer I want to stock up on for sure.

Serving type: bottle

07-31-2011 06:47:39 | More by dvsbizzyb
Photo of bainard
bainard

Illinois

4/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Onyx with a 1/2" tan head. Really nice look to this brew. Looks like a big RIS.

S - Smoke, fruit (grapefruit and peach, maybe?), and roast. Some coffee. The candi sugar starts to become VERY prevalent.

T - Though it opens very well, with flavors of vanilla and coffee, it starts almost too tart and too sweet, as if the candi sugar is dragging an otherwise great beer down. The warming gives you an idea of why the Belgian sugar is used in this brew. It's extremely unique and forward, but it could definitely use some mellowing.

M - The creaminess here is something most other brews would beg for.

D - The alcohol is there, of course, but it doesn't feel like a 10.3% beer. It's a really nice beer and worth every penny, but I believe this vintage just seemed too young to really appreciate right off the bat. I have a bottle that I'll be cellaring, and I'm quite sure this review will improve after I enjoy that.

Serving type: on-tap

11-18-2008 05:31:43 | More by bainard
Photo of Cedromar
Cedromar

Massachusetts

3.95/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

C'est la vie.

2009 Vintage acquired in trade, but I can't remember with whom. If you see this and we did the trade, shoot me a BM and I'll edit accordingly.

I've been fortunate to try the '07 and '08 Darkness and am now sampling the '09.

Well, this is one is a disappointment. '07 is plain and simply, the tits and '08 is like a bowel movement after having the spiciest indian food you've ever eaten.

Appearance is good, pitch black with a two finger head that wuickly fades to small bubbles.

Smell is dark fruits with a nice hoppy backbone.

Taste is again good, not great. The hop bite is there first, followed closely by the not-as-overpowing sweetness that plagued the '08 edition.

Mouthfeel is the best part of the '09 edition. Silky smooth all they way down into my belly.

The overpowering sweetness really hurts the drinkability of this brew.

In short, Darkness and I have a love hate relationship, much like the re-launch of Doctor Who. '07 is Tennant, the 10th Doctor, arguably the best. '08 is Eccleston, the 9th Doctor, far too cheeky for its own good, and the '09 is Matt Smith, the 11th Doctor, there's promise, but right now it has some pretty big shoes to fill to be the best.

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2010 03:30:43 | More by Cedromar
Photo of KAF
KAF

Iowa

4.1/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on draught at the Autumn Brew Review in Minneapolis, MN. Very dark in color with a caramel/tan head. Aroma of molasses, liqourice, and slight creamed coffee. More flavor revealed in every sip. Sweet cocoa chocolate flavor with some dark fruits also present. This was a real treat.

Serving type: on-tap

10-19-2007 20:56:45 | More by KAF
Photo of travloh
travloh

Minnesota

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

I was able to make it a little over 24 hours without doing it. On this cold October night I just cannot resist. I must. Halloween approaches and the dark bottle with satan on the label beckons...I give in to sin...

I slice the wax top and pop the top. The first thing I get with a hearty whiff of the cap is chocolate. Rich, dark, sweet smelling. The pour into the Darkness snifter reveals the nectar of the devil. Temptation. Pure temptation. Black like night.

That chocolate is of course ever present in the nose, but an orchestra of smells accompanies it. Coffee, brown sugar, cherries, cocoa. Someone call an exorcist, I am nearly possessed.

The semi aggressive pour produces that delayed storm in the black liquid. The bubbles awaken and energize, and send a frothy head upward that seems to come out of nowhere. It keeps pushing upward to the lip of the glass and halts. Its dark, of course, but it has a yellowish twinge to it, too. As it ever so slowly recedes it leaves its tracks on the sides of the glass. Lacing on steroids, it would seem.

The first swallow and my conversion is complete. "Gimme Shelter" by the Rolling Stones plays in the background as my descent into madness hits full stride. Chocolate, cappuccino, sweet bread, cupcakes with frosting. What I imagine a cuban cigar would taste like, only better. The stuff the devil offers you in Hell's waiting room. The second sip reveals more. A tangyness on the tongue, almost makes it numb. Then the alcohol kicks in to remind you this is still beer. I am under the spell of Darkness...

Why did I stand in line and pay $100 for 6 of these? One sip tells me that I would have paid $200. I wish I had 6 more.

This stuff is so good it truly is sinful. All Hail Darkness...

Serving type: bottle

10-27-2008 01:59:28 | More by travloh
Photo of bjohn84
bjohn84

Minnesota

4.85/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Reviewed a 2011 bottle.. cellered for 4 months.. poured into a darkness snifter

A - Jet black with a red hue towards the top. Thin tan head with excellent lacing

S - Cocoa nibs come first, berries and fruits

T - Chocolate covered fruits up front. Strawberries, cherries, Molasses, raisins. Bold burn from the alcohol numbs the tongue after the swallow, but doesn't overpower the robust flavor. Dry bitterness tends to come through on the back end

M - Fairly low carbonation and very full bodied. Quite a bit of stickiness in the mouth

O - Very complex RIS with new flavors coming through the longer I sip on it. Very filling, but drinks and goes down very smooth.

Serving type: bottle

02-15-2012 04:38:57 | More by bjohn84
Photo of Lordsloth
Lordsloth

Wisconsin

4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Served in a small (5 or 6 oz.) Guinness glass at McKenzie's in Minneapolis.

A- "Blacker than the Blackest Black- times infinity", as one of my favorite sayings goes. A thick foam head with tenacious lacing as the beer goes down.

S- A roasted chocolatey, hop filled nose.

T- It has an amazing, deep flavor. Chocolate, Toast, and a big hop taste that comes quickly and fades back. There was something of a bite like a warm coke(I like warm coke), I thought. Amazingly smooth, as well.

M- Thick! A medium to heavy viscosity in the mouth, and no bad aftertaste to speak of.

D- Highly drinkable. It's a sipper, but you keep on sipping. I can see myself having a few glasses.

My first review- be kind. ;)

Serving type: on-tap

12-19-2007 17:38:30 | More by Lordsloth
Photo of accordselux
accordselux

Minnesota

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

2008 release.

Like Travloh, I couldn't wait. My friends and I waited in line for this and the reward needed to be immediate! Drank it tonight as an after-dinner sipper.

I let the bottle warm up a bit from the fridge cut open that wax, and served it in goblets.

A: A wonderful example of an RIS. It poured well and left a caramel covered head that soon settled. It was pitch black, I held it up to a light and squinted and could see nothing. The foam left no rings as it was drunk, it slowly settled back into the beer.

S: The first thing we smelled as we opened it was a strong, sweet molasses smell, combined with a fruit note. It was overpowering the other smells, but as we let it breathe, I got the chocolate smell as well. The only reason it's a 4.5 is because the sweet smell was overpowering for quite a while.

T: Great. This was aggressive, but very well balanced. The dark coffee/chocolate flavors of the malt, highlighted by a sweet molasses/fruit taste. Hops were present but well integrated into the flavor. A LOT of flavor profiles I can't even begin to describe, but I can say, it's a lot more complex, and dare I say better than the Bourbon County Stouts and Old Rasputins I've had recently in preparation.

M: Very smooth. GD Yeti was very thick and oily feeling to me, and while Darkness felt substantial, it was very smooth to drink. The best sensation of all is the warmth you feel in your throat and chest after drinking, the similar feeling I get after drinking a liquor like scotch. Very nice warmer on the coldest day of the year so far in Minnesota.

VERY smooth to drink, which leads me to...

D: I can see why people are warned on Surly's site. The ABV creeps up on you. The beer is so enjoyable, and the flavors mask the alcohol so well, that you can sip for quite a while.

I was worried I wouldn't make the cut, but was #617. I was worried the beer was overhyped, but it's not. This is incredible. I wish I had sprung for the 6 bottles instead of the 4 I bought, but hopefully someone else got the chance to enjoy it.

Cheers to whoever the lucky party is!

Serving type: bottle

10-27-2008 03:56:40 | More by accordselux
Photo of stouts4me
stouts4me

Illinois

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

darkness 2011 straight from the gates of SURLY, on saturday October 23rd.
Pours a deep dark dark brown, not black, but surely no light gets through. 1/4" light brown foam on top.
The nose is very nice, smell is smooth if that makes sense.
first sip is awesome, just as u would expect from these pro's. Nice, smooth not overpowering ; cocoa, plum a little booziness, definitely not a bad or overpowering booze taste.
Mouthfeel is very good, smoothly flowing over the tastebuds.
Overall u expect this to be great and u won't cry foul, u will enjoy each delicious mouthful.

Serving type: bottle

10-24-2011 02:12:24 | More by stouts4me
Photo of dtmets84
dtmets84

New York

3.3/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2011 vintage. Shared the bottle with DTMets84.

I have been waiting to dabble in darkness for sometime now and what is a better excuse then no work monday? Yahoo for labor day.

Appearance: Pours a dark dark black with an inch head.
Head is the color of khaki jeans?

Smell: Sweet? Black tuesday again?! Roasty as well.

Taste: Lots of something I can not put my finger on yet but it is not something that appeals to me. Its Dark Lord again.

Mouthfeel: My first surly brew ever and I am too letdown to discuss the mouthfeel.

Serving type: bottle

09-03-2012 01:16:33 | More by dtmets84
Photo of doubleshovels
doubleshovels

Minnesota

4.75/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep darkness in a tulip glass lulls one into a haze from one whiff of its very distinct dope aroma. I cracked a smile and started laughing as soon as it got close to my nose, surely love at first scent. Darkness also has a deep rainbow of flavors to back up its out of the ordering aroma and a mouthfeel that’s open to one more before we go.

Serving type: on-tap

11-29-2006 02:58:31 | More by doubleshovels
Photo of Shango42
Shango42

Minnesota

4.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Serving type-tap poured into a tulip snifter.

A-Bold dense blackness. Dark tan head. Lots of lacing.

S-Chocolate sweetness, dark scotch-like malts, caramel, toffee. Absolutely delicious on the senses.

T-1st sip...speechless. So smooth, so sweet, so perfect. Dark chocolate and toffee, scotch-like malt with very light coffee notes. Wonderfully full body. The balance for this high octane, big stout is unparalleled. The alcohal is definitely present because it warms going down, but it is not overpowering. Some late hops make an appearance but it just continues to balance and compliment the brew. I've simply never had a better beer.

M-Thick, chewy, low carbonation, full bodied.

D-Could drink one of these every day and I would be in beertopic bliss. It sets the bar.

Serving type: on-tap

07-29-2009 04:08:00 | More by Shango42
Photo of SurlyMe
SurlyMe

Minnesota

4.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2010 vintage poured into snifter

Appearance - Pours like used motor oil; rich, dark and creamy. A semi-hard pour yields a nice cinnamon colored head which thins as you drink.

Smell - Notes of hops just as the bottle was cracked, once poured chocolate creamy stouty goodness fills the nose, little bit of coffee scent

Taste - chocolate and roasted flavors up front that lead to a very nice lingering finish, tiny bit of smoke flavor and some hops. The sweetness is always there but not too much.

Mouth - very full in body, perfectly carbonated, extremely velvety smooth, slides right down...

Drinkability - simply amazing, want to keep on putting it down which is dangerous with the ~10% abv...

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2010 02:46:10 | More by SurlyMe
Photo of mrseano
mrseano

Minnesota

4.72/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2010 vintage, received 11/10 from friend and opened 3/11.

A: Dark, dark black pour. No light shining through this beast. Deep color quickly surprised friends with whom I shared the beer.

S: Roasted, caramelized, hint of the strong alcohol within the beer. Smells of strong coffee.

T: Awesome chocolate-infused coffee. Strong, developed taste that lingered on the tongue.

M: Smooth and filling. Very full-bodied and felt like a meal in a bottle. Alcohol hidden within roast coffee taste and smooth mouthfeel.

O: I have just begun reviewing after many years of sampling and consuming beer, but this is currently my favorite beer I have the chance to experience. Received in beer trade from Great example of Imperial Stout and wowed me from first drink.

Serving type: bottle

03-29-2011 05:04:36 | More by mrseano
Photo of VeganUndead
VeganUndead

Virginia

4.86/5  rDev +8%
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

Serving type: bottle

03-30-2013 19:15:17 | More by VeganUndead
Photo of Gary779
Gary779

South Africa

4.3/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage - Zombie

A: As the beer pours, it has a black-brown colour. It has a strong coffee coloured head that develops quite nicely and has great retention. Leaves nice chunky lace as well.

S: Quite hoppy, with clear aromas of coffee and cocoa. The hops aroma has elements of middle eastern herbs. Upon a swirl, the beer gives off a very sweet aroma, filled with dark fruits and vanilla.

T: There is an initial sweetness that tells you a lot of the final gravity of the beer (it IS a heavy beer). A lot of molasses and dark fruits, like dates and plums. Aside from that the taste is just BIG and complex. Alcohol became too prominent after the beer warmed up to room temperature.

M: Beer is heavy and very smooth. It has a certain oilyness that works wonderfully. Carbonation is silky smooth.

O: I was expecting better, but this is nonetheless a brilliant beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-28-2012 19:04:16 | More by Gary779
Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,246 ratings.