Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

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2,899 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,899
Reviews: 778
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.33%
Wants: 3,030
Gots: 1,104 | 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:
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

(Beer added by: ryantupy on 10-08-2006)
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Ratings: 2,899 | Reviews: 778 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ChrisPro
4/5  rDev -11.1%

Photo of BillHilly
4/5  rDev -11.1%

Photo of ArchEnemyBrew
4.5/5  rDev 0%

Photo of scottwurst
4.5/5  rDev 0%

Photo of stevec32
4/5  rDev -11.1%

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

2011 vintage.

pours a jet-black tone while yielding a strong, creamy mocha-colored head. outstanding retention and lacing. nose offers lots of roasted malt and chocolate, with secondary notes of anise and coffee. very nice.

wow, flavor is right behind the aroma, backing it up with huge, bold characteristics of roasted malt, chocolate, anise, coffee, and a hint of dark fruits. maybe even a twang of smoke in the background. deliciously complex. medium-full mouthfeel with adequate carbonation.

overall this a superb RIS, no doubt about it. very, very well done. just wish it were easier to get a hold of.

(originally reviewed: 06-07-2011)

Photo of DNICE555
4.72/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Halloween Bash 2010. The VIP at the party was the Surly Darkness. Shared with the LArse, Zapps, and Cpie. I cannot think of a better way to starting out an enchanted evening. This review should probably be #666 but I will probably be 666 but the time I get to that number. Shout to SpeedwayJim for this bottle.


I made my way through the chophouse, the spider web, the grim reaper, and the bloody black roses to my beer fridge. I took the bottle in hand, scurried to the bar and quickly placed it down. There was a strange energy surrounding the bottle. As I got closer to it I felt more and more empty inside. The mummy on the front had me begging Zapps to stay close and protect me. I grabbed Jlynn's heavy duty bottle opener of the orange dish. Stabbing at the bottle cutting through the wax left me out of breath. Finally I reached the cap and quickly pried it open before I was thrown backwards by an unkown force. Looking up at the bottle I could see spirits escaping which reminded me of the micronized Ghostbusters ghost trap. I broke out my proton pack and quickly secured them in the containment unit. Cautiously making my way back to the bottle I secured some tulips. I poured the thick sludge into my tulip and noticed a low carbonation level and the consistency of a Transylvanian Moat. A tan almost brown head jumped out of the moat like vampires of the night hunting for their prey. Finding myself in a trance like state I quickly looked away. I finally gathered the courage to take a sniff with my eyes closed. Roasted bat malts, plum witches dances around my noise hairs. After two years of lifting weights in my beer fridge the hops are still going strong. I picked up this evil liquid and took a sip. Feeling slightly possesed I could sense tons of different malts. The most impressive fruit profile of any stout I've ever had. So many flavors coming through. Despite the robust chocolaty coffee notes, the fruit dominated. What an interesting demon. Very low carbonation despite the exorcism. The demons sucked the bubbles out. As with any massive 10.3 ABV stout this one is a sipper. It's not meant to be chugged like a coors light. The drinkability is amazing. Alcohol is very well hidden. Mouthfeel is smooth as a witches broom handle. Unless I go to MN on darkness Day or trade another precious KTG this will probably be my only Darkness. What an impressive brewery. Very glad I got to try this one. Happy Halloween.

Photo of sparx1100
4.5/5  rDev 0%

Photo of lonewolfcry
4.5/5  rDev 0%

Photo of jarrgal
4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

Photo of litheum94
4.73/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2 for 1 review! Did a side by side of the 2010 and 2011 vintage. The 2011 definitely wins for label (the Zombie is awesome!).

2011 Vintage:
Pours a dark black, coal colored body. Tan head, not much besides some pools of bubbles.

Milk chocolate, sweet plums, slight whiskey barrel, even though this isn't BA.

Sweet milk chocolate, espresso bean and some oakiness. Smooth and creamy. Light hopping, some woodiness. Dark fruit sweetness.

This is an awesome, smooth, delicious stout. I can't believe this isn't barrel aged.

2010 Vintage:
Black body, with a small, tan head that leaves a pool of bubbles.

Aromas of dark chocolate, chicory and espresso beans. Some boozy, warming aromas.

Dark chocolate, bitter and sweet. Woody bitterness and espresso. Warming booziness, with some whiskey like tones.

Not quite as smooth, but a great stout.

The fresher vintage was a little better to me, but this is just a great stout. Do not miss this one!

Photo of Pahn
5/5  rDev +11.1%

Photo of Ncpogs
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%

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

A huge thanks goes out to Bobby91w for this one.

Shared with friends.

Pours almost completely black and opaque, but has some very small ruby edges. A thin layer of light brown head forms on top and quickly dissipates. The head has poor retention, but left a little bit of lacing behind.

The nose is pretty nice. It seems fairly hoppy actually. Kind of citrusy, herbal, and spicey. Some roasty malts, and a bit of fruit as well are available on the nose.

The taste is ok, but a bit of a let down for this cowboy. A bit of hops, and some flavors I'm having trouble putting my finger on. It seemed kind of earthy to me, fruity, and a bit woody. It was really interesting. I was getting some molases as well. I was going to give it a 4 for taste, but I'm going to bump it to 4.5 since I think they've achieved something really new here. So many RIS's have the exact same flavor profile, but this at least has something new to offer and I really appreciate that.

The mouth is full bodied, and fairly creamy. It was lightly carbonated.

Drinkability is moderate to high. It was tasty, and the booziness was masked and incorporated well enough. Overall, I'm pretty pleased but slightly disappointed.

Photo of marine1975
4.5/5  rDev 0%

Photo of cnbrown313
5/5  rDev +11.1%

Photo of Stum-pub
4.5/5  rDev 0%

Photo of Wolberjs
4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

Photo of Anonymous1
4/5  rDev -11.1%

Photo of chcfan
5/5  rDev +11.1%

Photo of Tschnab
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Sampled several times at ACBF, the folks pouring from the table got to know me pretty well. Reviewed from notes...

A- pours an ink-black with a chocolate, mocha like head that starts at about half the cup and shrinks down to a solid two inches. This is one of the best looking beers I have ever seen.

S- dark chocolate and coffee, and some oakiness and earthiness as well.

T/M- whoa, the dark chocolate definitely comes through, but is nuanced with licorice, winter fruits, raisins. A slight suggestion of smoke as well, perhaps in the form of some tobacco like qualities. The taste is incredibly complex. It's a little hot, but nothing too boozy. The mouthfeel is medium to thick, not as thick as I would prefer but still nice.

O- this really is one of the best RIS beers I have ever had, and maybe the best I've had period. I have seen the darkness, and it was indeed enlightening.

Photo of dcloeren
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

"Rick James used to call me and my brother Darkness. This was back before Wesley Snipes when we was tha darkest niggas on tha planet." - Charlie Murphy

Thanks to my boy JR for sharing this bottle with me.

2011 vintage

Poured pitch black with 2 fingers of dark tan head. Pretty solid retention that slowly receded to a thin bubbly film... no lacing.

Very sweet aromas of dark fruits, berries, figs all covered in chocolate with a little bit of caramel and coffee to round it out. Smells heavenly. The aroma literally explodes out of the glass as it is being poured.

Taste follows the nose. Sweet sweet chocolate covered fruits and figs. Very slight coffee taste, perfectly roasted malt, and a little bit of caramel. Delicious and decadent.

Full bodied with a minimal amount of carbonation. Not extremely thick but it coats every inch of my mouth with each sip. Top notch mouthfeel.

This was an amazing stout. I loved every bit of it. This beer was just a power house without being over the top with anything. If this beer was a linebacker, it would be Brian Urlacher. Just a bad mother fucker and knows it but doesn't have to go around telling everyone how good he is. Top notch for sure. Big thanks again to JR for sharing this bottle.

Photo of Mike
4/5  rDev -11.1%

Photo of DangerDawg
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%

Photo of Gosox8787
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Waxed and capped bomber bottle chilled and split with a friend. 2012 vintage poured into two 30th Anniversary Sierra Nevada tulip glasses.

Appearance: Midnight black on color. Pours a rather aggressive, two finger, dark brown head. Pretty good retention.

Aroma: The citrusy, juicy hops take the forefront on the aroma. After the initial hop burst, roasted coffee and chocolate fudge notes take hold. Some underlying caramel and only a touch of booze. A lot going on here.

Taste: Chocolate fudge, caramel and dark fruit notes take hold upfront. The hop notes are much lighter here than in the aroma, but provide a nice bitterness and some juiciness. Some light coffee is there as well. Really complex and tasty. Nice balance of roast and sweetness. Nicely balanced.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and creamy with a nice level of carbonation. Very smooth.

Overall, a really exceptional RIS with great balance and complex malt tones. The combination of the dark fruit, chocolate fudge and coffee makes for a great stout. One of the best, if not the best, non barrel aged stouts around. Tons of flavor, well balanced and not too boozy.

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,899 ratings.