Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
DarknessDarkness

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
97
world-class

788 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 788
Hads: 3,218
rAvg: 4.39
pDev: 4.78%
Wants: 3,208
Gots: 1,178 | FT: 85
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/ 

Labels:
2007-Grim Reaper
2008-Devil
2009-Mummy
2010-Vampire
2011-Zombie
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer
View: Beers (51) | 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: 788 | Hads: 3,218
Photo of therobot
4.33/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage served on tap at Groveland Tap.

A: Black as Satan's soul, nice amount of dark brown head and lacing

S: Strong roasted smell, some sweet chocolate, slight coffee, and a little booze

T: Roasted malty liquid goodness, chocolate is quite present, with a slight coffee follow-up, and a subtle sweet finish.

M: Quite thick moderate carbonation, love it.

D: Highly drinkable, @ 10.3%, it was masked extremely well. It is a big beer, very filling, with a lot of substance.

Overall I think this lived up to the hype, it is truly an excellent beer. (558 characters)

Photo of surlyseth
5/5  rDev +13.9%

Saved this one for my 35th B-day.
Took it out of the fridge a half-hour prior to opening.
Poured in a Duvel tulip.

A: Thick jet black body with a khaki-carmel-frap-looking head. The pour yields a "slow-burn" head which takes time to accumulate. Minimal lacing.

S: Hoppy, but not necessarily like an IPA. Not floral or citrusy. It's more oily and piney...Like I opened up an old chest in the attic.

T: Amazing. Drying coffee up front, sticky-sweet caramel, and finishing with a hoppy, bold tobacco. The taste of this cannot be overstated. So many RI Stouts come up dry and short. Soft and simple. Or they overdo the sweetness. Darkness has a sourness that powers through the chocolate cloying effect. This is a chocolate stout that is fleeting. It plays hide-and-seek all over the tongue.

M: Phenomenally robust. Fully festive. Hoppy as hell to balance the sticky sweetness. My lips are adhered to themselves and my mouth coated, yet the hops scream for another sip.

D: Sip it and you will be rewarded by it's hidden, sweet, dark fruits that become more brilliant as the darkness comes to pass into the dawn of inebriation!

This beer lives up to the hype. (1,160 characters)

Photo of Maction
4.26/5  rDev -3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: In a snifter, this has impenetrable blackness. It looks like a candle in the glass, with a gelatinous chocolate mousse head.

S: Smells sweet, some perfume-y hops, unsweetened chocolate, espresso, butterscotch

T: A huge, rich, complex flavor, sweet then dry, very long and complex. Bitter herbs, then bitter cocoa, then creamy coffee, then sweet tea.

M: Chewy but not thick, hefty but not cloying

D: Very satisfying, a tiny bit boozy as it warms. I would have to be in a special mood to get through 22oz of this... perhaps in my library, in front of a roaring fire, my pipe and slippers at hand, my faithful hound dozing by the hearth. (641 characters)

Photo of kbanks13
4.4/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Opened this bottle that I got from a trade with plumcrazyfx (Thanks!) to celebrate qualifying for National Collegiate Powerlifting Championships.

2010 vintage poured into a snifter

Looked black as night with a short layer of light brown head. About what I'd expect, though I have to admit that, for some reason, it looked more sinister than most stouts as it sat in my glass. The smell was fruity and fudgey, think brandy soaked cherries and rich dark chocolate. Almost thought of a Black Forest cake. Slightly astringent though and not as sugary sweet as that analogy would lead on. No hops to speak of. The taste was incredible. Lots of the aforementioned chocolate and dark cherries, but also a noticeable brown sugar/caramel component and a smooth coffee flavor. Not a very sweet beer, but not bitter or tart either, just right. Barely noticeable hops, but that was perfect. Just enough to add some balance. Feel was velvety smooth and thick like motor oil, just like a stout this big should be.

I was, overall, very impressed and can definitely say that the hype around this beer is well founded. I don't think I'll be getting my hands on another bottle any time soon, but if I ever do, I hope it will be as enjoyable as this one was. (1,242 characters)

Photo of bjohn84
4.83/5  rDev +10%
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. (669 characters)

Photo of drowland
4.36/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12/23/10. Huge thanks to DalzAle for this one! Shared at the QC get-together, I believe. Sweet raisins and dark fruits with licorice, dark candy sugar, a touch of booze, and plenty of chocolate. Sweet chocolate up front with plenty of coffee and dark fruits in there as well. Very nice! (286 characters)

Photo of EGledhill
4.85/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thought I'd crack this bitch open for a Thanksgiving desert. Split the bottle with the girlfriend. Big thanks for the BA who made this possible. Poured into Darkness snifter.

A. what the fuck would you expect? Dark. 2 finger tan head that faded to a thin ring and laced the glass. Looks say "try and chug me bitch. I'll destroy you."

S. Smell was definitely on point. Vanilla, Chocolate dominate this with a faint hops and booze smell.

T. Taste like some tasty boozed up pudding. Just like the smell, Vanilla and chocolate lead the way. Dark fruit, caramel sweetness, hops and booze hit on the finish. Sweet and tasty.

M. pretty thick. not overly coating like a ten fidy but a damn solid mouthfeel.

D. If I had access to this regularly, you'd have to peel my ass of the bar floor in a darkness induced coma. drinks smooth hit with a bang.

Overall. Believe the hype. It's that fucking good. I try to share my beers with the girlfriend but I wound up taking down half her glass when she walked away from it. I should've never shared with her. (1,048 characters)

Photo of tconboy
4.94/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

BREWCIFER - Lord of Darkness

Thanks to Bru for the Christmas present.

Appearance: lives up to it's name. Nice pillowy caramel head fades quickly to a surrounded light film.

Smell: Oh boy! Chocolate, coffee, sweetness.

Taste: The complexity! Rather fantastic, hence the perfect rating. The dried tart cherries and raisins are there and blend with that coffee, chocolatey (don't you red-underline me!) treat that we anticipated (see smell).

Mouthfeel: As you would expect from an RIS. Moderate carbonation. Dangerously smooth finish.

Overall: A wonderful treat. Wish this wasn't such a rare gem. Not my favorite style, but enjoyed this beer with the best of them. (667 characters)

Photo of JFresh21
4.68/5  rDev +6.6%
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! (288 characters)

Photo of Penguin3200
4.68/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Cracked a bottle of the 2010 Darkness tonight. Wanted to get a fresh review done from the bottle and try throughout the year. Will also be getting a draft or two in the coming weeks as it hits the TC pubs.

Appearance: 5.0 - Bottle rocks, and pours direct from the 57 degree cellar, thick into my snifter. Head of about 1 inch and some lacing after it settles. Dark, ominous and a thin head.

Smell: 4.5 - Loads of caramel and hot damn I would say crushed blueberries on the nose, and a some of the alcohol coming through. Some hops, but not nere what the '09 had.

Taste: 4.5 - Hits with a sweet chocolaty and caramel note, then the hops and alcohol come calling. Ends with a smokey malt and toasted grain finish. This finish keep s going...like a fine wine...Love this.

Mouthfeel: 5.0 - This eer hits it for me with the mouthfeel, light and airy almost, but still coats and leaves a finish that keep going and going. This is perfection.

drinkability: 5.0 - Not an over the top alcy bomb, and just has a finish that keeps you wanting more and more. Bravo Omar and Todd!! (1,077 characters)

Photo of fdkayti
4.6/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On-Tap at The Firkin

A- A solid black wall o' stout. A brown head sits on top and isn't showing signs of leaving. Thick, spiderweb-like lacing all the way down the snifter.

S- Semi-sweet chocolate and rich spices. Good roasty malts come through as well as a slight whiff of alcohol.

T- Chocolate milk on steroids. Deliciously malty with a subtle hop spiciness. Dark fruits (black cherry?) bring up the rear. A sweetness comparable to molasses.

MF- Wow. About the same consistency as chocolate milk, too. Super creamy, low carbonation. Feels great. Did I say how creamy this is?

O/D- Really, really enjoying this. Alcohol is hidden much better in the taste than in the smell, making this drinkable with a subtle reminder. A real treat, I want this everyday. (761 characters)

Photo of DanOLeary
4.62/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Aroma: Very rich dark fruits fill the nose with some sweet chocolate. A trace of alcohol spice rounds out the fruit and sweetness, though the alcohol isn't as prevelant as expected. No hop aroma. 

Appearance: Black as midnight death. Head pours a billowy bread crust brown, though fairly quickly fades to a ring at the edge of the glass with some light lace.

Flavor: Initial plum sweetness quickly transitions to chocolate with an orange peel twang. Molasses lingers lightly in the middle but gives way to more chocolate, though this time it comes off as dark and bitter as the alcohol spice kicks in. Finish is drying from the alcohol, but not hot. Plum stickiness retains well in the end on the lips and back of the throat.

Mouthfeel: Full body with light carbonation. Most of the body is defined by the dark fruit character in the beer, creating the feeling of light molasses and sticky dried fruit. Alcohol bites the back if the throat with light burn in the finish. 

Overall: The aroma and flavor of this beer provide an exclusive look into the complexities of dark fruit and sweet chocolate created by a well crafted Russian Imperial Stout. The alcohol provides a nice warming and spicy presence and the orange peel was a surprising twist. While I describe the beer as full bodied, I would expect this style to hold more of a chewy character. Instead you're presented with sticky sweetness that somewhat artificially fills the palate. By the end of my review the head had completely disappeared as well.       (1,524 characters)

Photo of blackenmn
4.58/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served from tap into a snifter:

Appearance and Smell:Served nice looking black with a very inviting looking frothy brown head which had nice retention and gripped the glass nicely. Smelled of burned sweet chocolate, and caramel with a bit of floral scent.

Taste and Mouthfeel:Tasted of very roasty dark chocolate and creamy caramel with what almost seems like burned vanlla hiding inside this. Really had a sweet silky feel to it, very unique. Alot of citrus like hop pressence on the end of this thing with just a touch of ABV showing its head really kept this brew interesting to the senses. A very well crafted brew with plenty of complexity which really touched on many different levels.

Drinkability:I really liked this brew, ALOT more character to this than I even expected. I'll definitely be visiting this again. (823 characters)

Photo of bainard
4.03/5  rDev -8.2%
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. (922 characters)

Photo of PrinceDarren
4.17/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

This is an excellent RIS that is deserving of high praise, however, I'm not sure it is on the same level as the oft-compared Dark Lord. Just to make sure, I tried a little DL later in the evening (my friend was kind enough to open a bottle). Nope, no comparison, DL reigns supreme.

I tried the Surly giant on tap last night at the 3rd annual Bavarian Lodge Darkness night. Pours "almost" black, not nearly as viscous as expected. Has a pleasant, hoppy, chocolate aroma. Tastes of coffee, dark fruit such as cherry, maybe a little raspberry and a definite hop character.

This is very dry. Almost too dry. It left a chalky after-taste on the tongue. I heard that Omar felt this year's batch was more dry than last year's. While I cannot comment on the year-to-year comparison, I have to wonder if the recipe or process was a little off in this year's batch. I didn't feel like it should be so dry.

In all, this was a great pour that I was happy (hoppy?) to try, but alas, this is more akin to North Coast's Old Rasputin RIS than the might Three Floyds' DL.

Would I drink it again? Yes, I sure hope so. (1,104 characters)

Photo of bmanning
4.28/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to beerdavis for this 09 bottle - shared with Traquairlover.
Pours black with a 2 finger tan/light brown head.
I'm caught off guard with huge citrus and floral aromas - is this a stout or an IPA? There are also background aromas of coffee, chocolate, licorice, toffee, and caramel.
Taste is very odd, but in a good way. This beer has qualities of both an Imperial IPA and a Russian Imperial Stout. There is grapefruit mixed with chocolate, lemon with coffee, orange with caramel. These are very odd combinations together, but they surprisingly work well together.
Mouthfeel is thick and coats very well.
Overall this is a very different stout than I'm used to because the floral and citrus notes are in the forefront right now with the stout flavors in the back. I'm going to give my 2nd bottle a year in the cellar and see how it develops. (847 characters)

Photo of Cedromar
3.95/5  rDev -10%
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. (1,199 characters)

Photo of Patchmaster
3.93/5  rDev -10.5%
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. (910 characters)

Photo of deadbody
5/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

HOLY COW. Had this on tap at Groveland Tap, and it was amazing. Pours a dark rich black with a nice creamy tan head, excellent lacing. Strong malt smell, amazing taste, thick and rich with a great bold body. Spectacular mouthfeel, thick and rich. Super drinkable. Really happy I picked up 2 bottles. (299 characters)

Photo of sully11277
4.65/5  rDev +5.9%
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. (592 characters)

Photo of pepsican
4.45/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

07 vintage on tap. Poured very dark brown, thin tan head. Has a strong hop aroma. Tastes extremely hoppy with all sorts of nice stout goodness hiding behind the initial blast of hops. Chocolate, espresso, oatmeal, roasted malts, dark fruits. You can tell there is a completely different beer hiding under everything. Hop flavor was similar to furious, which to me is a good thing. Finished thick and oily, nice and creamy. alcohol goes unnoticed. I can only imagine what this will turn into as the hops drop back and everything else comes forward. One of the most complex beers I've ever tried. (594 characters)

Photo of mrseano
4.68/5  rDev +6.6%
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. (756 characters)

Photo of gorby10826
5/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

By far the best stout I have ever had. Definitely a great one if you like them on the sweet side. Tried at Firkin in Libertyville, IL.

A: Very Dark. Black.

S:Complex, Chocolate, roasted malt, sweetness, fruit

T: Very sweet. Candi sugar. Molasses. Chocolate. Fruit. Hops.

M: Very smooth. Thick. Good level of carbonation.

D: Would drink it all day long if I could! Very easy if you like it sweet.

Overall: Seriously the best I have had in the last 3 years where I have tried hundreds of different beers. Wish I could get it easier! (536 characters)

Photo of Eldalonde
4.7/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

’08. Pours as black as any stout I’ve seen with a thick syrupy pour and a deep dark brown head. Smells of sweet caramel and chocolate, vanilla, oak, tobacco, and licorice. Lots of tobacco on the palate with chocolate and coffee really coming through. Honey and vanilla with some nice dark fruits like raisins and plums coming through. This is very oily, with a very heavy mouth feel. Long bitter finish. (407 characters)

Photo of blockdude
4.62/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Had the '012 this past night and i've been wanting to sample this for the longest time. First off, if there is any imperial stout out there that shows barrel aging is not not necessary to make a damn good beer this is it. This was medium bodied and the nose was pretty bourbon heavy. The beer had noticeable bourbon to it but did not match the amount I got on the nose. I have to say, this was incredibly smooth and had so much complexity that I could care less if it was barrel aged or not. One sip, I tasted bourbon, chocolate, and maple syrup, while another sip I tasted coconut and raisins. This beer does have a good amount of hype but for someone who is not one to seek out imperial stouts, I was impressed. (713 characters)

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 788 ratings.