Darkness - Surly Brewing Company
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Ratings: 2,630 | Reviews: 763 | Display Reviews Only:
4.33/5 rDev -3.8%
Major thanks to GatorBeerNerd for this 2010 vintage bottle, poured into an oversized snifter. A huge mousselike initial head shrinks to a thick skim that sticks around for a while. A fair amount of lacing is left behind.
Intense roast in the nose, plenty of burnt and chocolate malts. The blackberry and alcohol combo lends a liqueur quality rather than a boozy presence. Thickish body with very modest carbonation and a slick feel. It's a surprisingly smooth drinker in spite of the impressive lingering bitterness (this must have been a hop monster fresh). Loads of roast and dark chocolate flavor and a nice dose of juicy citrus. Very warming but never boozy; sherry up front, blackberry liqueur or perhaps port in the finish.
Overall impression: A badass stout, definitely worth seeking out.
02-09-2011 01:43:57 | More by PDXHops
4.38/5 rDev -2.7%
750mL bottle poured into snifter - big thanks to poneill for sharing
Pours inky black with some frothed thinner light brown head with swirls of lacing and film around the glass.
Slight sweetness in the nose with cherry and raisins, charred malt creates roasted warmth, hint of alcohol.
Smack of dark fruit sweetness with cherry and raisin. Roasted malts with chocolate and molasses. Syrupy and rich and a slight char from the malty backbone. Little hop flair with pleasant juiciness and cherry fruit. Finishes with alcohol warmth and some lingering dry sweetness.
Full syrupy body, lower carbonation, sticky and chewy. Drinks really smooth and easy with a delicious silky body. Darkness creates a nice mix of fruit and chocolate tempered by alcohol heat and slight hop bitterness.
02-06-2011 08:35:26 | More by xnicknj
3.83/5 rDev -14.9%
2010 vintage, courtesy of backfat (thanks Dave!).This beer poured a midnight, oily black that didn't allow any light to pass. It smells of deep, dark roasted malt and that's about it. The coffee is subtle, the rest of it was expected. I hoped this beer was the equivalent to Darklord but I was wrong. It is coffee, sweet, chocolate and roast. This is cloyingly sweet. The balance is questionable at best. God, I wanted so much more. It is very smooth though and drinks like a champ. It's drinkable, yet too sweet. The complexities aren't there.
01-29-2011 12:11:08 | More by aasher
4.8/5 rDev +6.7%
It poured a delicious black and had a pretty steady head on it. The taste was amazing, it had a nice fig, roast, and chocolate. The mouthfeel was quite thin but it did not take away anything from the beer. After being poured it smells of a really sweet dark chocolate w/ a slight fig and raisin. Overall for being 10.3% ABV, it is easily drinkable, almost way too easy. Darkness was probably one of the most amazing stouts I have tasted so far. I am amazed at how good the fig taste goes with the dark chocolate and roast. I wish I had a Fig Newton to try with it.
01-29-2011 07:08:59 | More by PaulStoneAnchor
4.22/5 rDev -6.2%
Today is my 28th birthday! So in honor, I am going to do an epic Darkness tasting with some friends. 2008 / 2009 / 2010 vintages! I have been waiting so long to try these. Let's hope I'm not disappointed:
A: Super dark with a small tan head that fades quickly to a small bubbly lace atop the brew. Good.
S: Smells of some awesome cocoa and vanilla upfront blended with some great boozy chocolate quickly followed by licorice and some great earthy qualities. Very good.
T: Awesome flavors! Some nice chocolate raisin upfront blended with some great boozy vanilla and quickly followed by cocoa in the middle. Some nice espresso flavors on the backend. Amazing!
M: Super thick with a great carbonation. A nice creamy finish. Very good!
D: Once you get past the booziness, this goes down. Good.
A: Follows suit with the '08. Very dark with a small tan head that fades to more of a bubbly lace than the '08. Good.
S:Very mild scents on this one. The '08 smelled to great, but this is hard to find strong scents. Some earthy chocolate blended in. Ok.
T: Not as boozy as the '08. It's kind of like a watery hop on the backend. Some mild chocolate vanilla and cocoa upfront with some great creaminess in the middle. Good.
M: A watery thickness with a little more carbonation than the '08. A watery creamy finish. Good.
D: Goes down a little easier than the '08 with the better blend of booze, but the watery taste makes it slightly odd. Can't put my finger on it. Decent.
A: The best looking one of the 3 years. A 1 inch dark mocha colored head that fades at decent pace but never really goes away completely. Very good.
S:Some creamy sweet chocolate upfront with some earthiness in the middle. Not much on the backend. Good.
T: Kind of a soapy chocolate with some faint vanilla in the middle. The worst of the bunch IMO. Decent.
M: A medium body with a decent carbonation. Kind of a dry finish. Decent
D: Goes down good.
All in all, so glad I got to try these. '08 was definitely my favorite. It was so BIG and intense and boozy blended with the strongest flavors. If you hunt one of these IMO, try to go for the '08. The '09 would be my second, and the '10 would be my last. Continue brewing great beer Surly.
01-29-2011 02:11:33 | More by steve8robin
3.58/5 rDev -20.4%
The 2010 Vampire
Poured into 3 ounce tasting glasses. Poured a very viscous black. Gave it a violent pour and it lead to a very faint, mocca head. It smelled immediately of cinnamon and raisins. The taste didnt hold any cinnamon but the raisins continued to shine, almost tasted like burnt raisins. Very sweet. The sweetness continued to shine and amplify with every sip. The barreling didn't really come through with this one for me, expected more oak. Mouthfeel is okay, very carbonated. I think a year of cellaring will make this one into a hell of a beast. Drinkability was nice, but again a little less carbonation and I could have drank a lot more. Looking forward to tasting some older vintages.
01-28-2011 21:49:49 | More by vissai
4.68/5 rDev +4%
The Mummy. My first time with the Darkness..Thanks Craig.
Darkness is Spreading!! Black and unholy. Iniquitous roastiness, some vile smoke, depraved chocolate, nefarious hop bitterness, a corrupt nuttiness. It fills me with wickedness, my glass shudders from the weight of the moment. Omar, you are a sick man..Exceptionally drinkable. The year has been kind to this beer.
01-19-2011 03:01:10 | More by dragonWhale
3.23/5 rDev -28.2%
Appearance: Pours oily, dark, and menacing with a fat cocoa colored head which fades into a thin cap. Looks awesome.
Aroma: Boozy, hoppy, sweet, mildly roasty. Alcoholic esters. Dark fruit and baker's chocolate. Not tremendously appealing to be honest.
Taste: Dark dried fruit, alcohol, faint roast. Sweet and hoppy, significant but not overpowering bitterness. Smoothness mid palate. Dark chocolate.
Mouthfeel: Nice and rich without being heavy. Good amount of medium but not prickly carbonation.
Drinkability: My 1/3 of a bottle is a good amount. Not
loving it, but not difficult to drink by any means.
01-15-2011 07:11:07 | More by MrFootstones
5/5 rDev +11.1%
This is the best stout I have ever had. A stellar concoction. Roasty, chocolatey, nutty, oaty, brown sugary, just flat out delicious. Love it every year. Each year is a littel different, but ut never disappoints. I am glad that I have two bottles sitting around. Can't do any better than this.
01-10-2011 00:51:46 | More by sacrelicio
3.7/5 rDev -17.8%
Ah, Surly Darkness. Second time around. Wasn't really a big fan of the '08 and '09, but trying to keep an open mind. Served this chilled, in a sniter, from a 750 ml bottle. I allowed this to warm a bit before sampling.
Appearance: Darkness pours out a deep dark black hole black. This is one black beer! You could hold a flash light to this thing and not see through it. The name fits it perfectly. A rather gentle pour yields about three quarters of an inch of coffee brown head. Head lasts for a bit. Head slowly faded into a thickish gob of foam. A rather generous amount of webby lace was left behind.
Smell: A beast of a brew. Alcohol hammers the nose first and just about clears the sinuses. Slight hints of chocolate, cofee, and molasses. Dark fruit- Prune? maybe some fig and raisin. Some hops are noticeable. Smells like it is sweet.
Taste: Here we go. Taste somewhat mimics the smell. Alcohol seems a bit more subdued. Again, a bit hoppy. Chocolate is there, coffee isn't. Hints of raisin and prune. Somewhat sweet. Finishes with more alcohol.
Mouthfeel: Mouthfeel is chewy and thick. Full bodied with lower carbonation.
Drinkability: Notthe most drinkable beer I've ever had. Alcohol and sweetness are a bit much. Give me a Kate over this any day!
01-09-2011 20:01:48 | More by jaxon53
4.53/5 rDev +0.7%
Poured from 2010 Vintage wax capped 750ml bottle into Tulip.
A. Poured a very thick 2 finger dark tan head. Very thick head. Excellent retention. Very thick lacing left. Color is all black. Head last forever. This is what the an Imperial Stout should look like.
S. Chocolate, roasted malt, some coffee. I pick up some dark fruit, interestingly enough. Not overpowering and very balanced. Not as big a smell as I was expecting.
T. Wow. This beer is delicous. Super balanced and very easy to put down. Has quite a bit of chocolate flavor. Some coffee, but just enough to add flavor and complexity. Maybe one of the smoothest Imperial Stouts I have had so far.
M. Full bodied. Really nice mouthfeel. Low carbonation. Finishes with a lingering sweetness.
D. Extremely drinkable. This is an excellent beer. Super smooth and very flavorful at the same time. Had a nice chocolate flavor for me that I really like. I was expecting a lot and I was not disappointed.
01-08-2011 21:55:44 | More by siradmiralnelson
3.75/5 rDev -16.7%
had on tap at Jake Melnick's - Chicago
A nice dark black stout. The bar wasn't too lit so I couldn't hold it up to the light to see if brown/red hues coming through but it was still a nice looking beer. About 1 fingers worth of brown head.
not as strong as I thought it would be. I was expecting some deep coffee and chocolate notes but I was pretty surprised. I get some dark fruits, like prunes, deep roasted malts and a little hop aroma. I was hoping for something a little stronger, more prevalent.
a little disappointing here. Perhaps I just had too high expectations for a one day release beer? A very deep roasty beer, some dark fruit (mainly prune) taste to it. It was fairly sweet as well. Perhaps subtle chocolate notes in there. A little bitterness towards the end then kinda drys out the mouth a little.
definitely full bodied. Good amount of carbonation. A slight slick feel but relatively smooth going down. As said previously, a slight dry aftertaste as well but enjoyable on the mouth.
I wouldn't give this too high. Just an above average RIS for me honestly. Combine it with the price, availability, the hype and the overall flavor, I doubt I'd be seeking this out again. I have a bottle of 2010 at home and I'll probably let that age for a year or so and see what a difference cellaring the beer does.
01-07-2011 19:09:29 | More by cetherid
4.78/5 rDev +6.2%
Shared a 2010 bottle with speedwayjim, capra12, billyshears. Thanks to speedwayjim for sharing!!!
Poured a stunning thick black with a thin tan head into a Darkness glass. This brew smells of vanilla, hops, and even licorice or good and plenty. The hops really add a nice element to this RIS. The beer is thick and wonderful, pretty sweet but the hops add such a nice element. Has a nice tingle to it, this one was my fav of the tasting.
--- edit --- 2012-01-01
vintage 2011: 4.5 - 4.5 - 5.0 - 4.5 - 5.0
decided to pop open my first 2011 bottle for the giant game. pried open the waxed cap and filled my 2010 surly snifter. poured a silky shiny black with a generous frothy mocha frappacino like head that hung out for a while after it built like a guiness. the head was milky and chunky and bubbled away slowly, but was there for the duration. looks awesome. much like last year, i get a bit of a hoppy vanilla. some roastiness, but milked over. the hops give it an almost charred smell. BAM - there's that flavor. what a fricken beer. i forgot how much i love this beer. a bit on the sweeter side than i had remembered, but the hopping gives the roastiness some balls. really enjoyable.
--- edit --- 2012-11-18 (fresh!!!)
vintage 2012: 4.5 - 4.5 - 5.0 - 4.5 - 5.0
removed the wax, decapped and filled my new darkness snifter. brew poured a deep dark ominous, yet slightly watery black. as the beer settled in my glass it embodied the name of the beer. a finger and a half of off white-acino looking head appeared on the surface. as the head dissipated it left thick foamy lacing on the glass. inviting and menacing! wonderful black malt with a solid amount of roast and a great hop to balance things out. some bitter coffee and chocolate notes on the nose as well. nice hoppy stout (actually kind of reminds me of hoppy stout from greenport harbor). a bit of char. really just a phenomenal beer. big bold and roasty with a slight amount of char on the feel. overall, one of my favorite stouts. great year after year.
01-06-2011 18:23:15 | More by cosmicevan
4.55/5 rDev +1.1%
22oz bottle - Capped & Waxed - 2010 Vintage - Poured into my Darkness snifter...
Pours thick and viscous, black. Three fingers of thick, dark tan head slowly forms and recedes even slower, leaving a lot of lacing behind...
Aroma is very rich and deep. Roasted malts on top of a dark fruit sweetness. Semi-sweet, slightly bitter bakers chocolate add richness that is cut by some roasted, coffee bitterness and a little bit of smoke. Beer has layers of underlying sweetness, prunes and/or figs. Complex, but subtle and delicious...
Sweet, but not too much so. Dark fruits, mildly bitter, intense chocolate flavors when you lick your lips. Smoky and dry in the finish. Complex, rich, delicious. This beer kicks the crap out of bottled Dark Lord any day...
Full bodied, thick but not painfully so. Incredibly smooth and flavorful, all meld together perfectly...
01-05-2011 03:25:02 | More by hawks10
3.95/5 rDev -12.2%
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.
01-02-2011 04:47:06 | More by Patchmaster
4.53/5 rDev +0.7%
This beer has been easily in my top 5 wants for a couple of years. I was finally able to land not one but 2 bottles from a great trader. This bottle is the 2010 version. The beer was served cold and will be allowed to warm up. First impressions really came up short but I reminded myself the beer is far too cold. So here is hoping my patience is rewarded. In the end my patience was rewarded. The beer has a lot of hype to live up too. My verdict this beer easily stands up to at least 85% of the hype.
Appearance: I am a sucker for beer that pours a straight black. An occasional ruby highlight manages to penetrate but not for long. The head of the beer s a dark burnt tan coloration. The head resolved into a thin ring of burnt tan foam. Lacing rings my glass as the beer is consumed.
Smell: After waiting for 20 minutes for the beer to warm up the beer started to shine. Darkly roasted and lightly charred aromas start to rise out of the glass. Dark fruits figs, prunes and dates combine with a flash of citrus, citrus zest, tiny amounts of smoke and yes even a suggestion of candied pine cones. Well played!
Taste: The flavor has dark roasted and a bit burnt on the malt. A bit of powdery cocoa lots and lots of dark fruits stewed together definitely figs and date. The citrus cuts across the flavor pleasingly. Brown sugar and molasses wrap around a brief pine cone flavor. The char of the malt keeps the malty nature of this beer in check.
Mouthfeel / Drinkability: The body of the beer is full. In spite of the full body the beer wears a wonder bra. The mouth feel is no where near as thick as I was hoping for. Made me wonder where all the curves went. Light carbonation breaks the body up a bit. Dam near a perfect beer! I love the roasted and fruit notes. Alcohol is present in all layers of the beers experience but for me only tends to accentuate the beers strong points.
01-01-2011 10:41:51 | More by nlmartin
4.45/5 rDev -1.1%
TEMP: Chilled to approx 38 degrees, allowed to warm, as drinking
Huge thanks to thehand for sharing a 2008,'09, & '10 vertical, recently.
This will be a review of the 2010 bottle.
This one pours thick and black, as expected, from it's name. It has a very nice head of milk chocolate colored foam, about a finger thick, that just stays and stays. The lacing is almost non-existant, surprisingly (but it still looks damn-near perfect).
Tons of chocolate and roastiness dominate. Very mild hints of coffee. Light traces of hops. Mild touches of smoke and some dark fruit sweetness.
It begins with some dark fruit sweetness and a good deal of chocolate. An almost lacto-like sweetness appears and then sinks away again. Then comes a hint of smoke/char, which brings on the big, dry, roastiness, which mostly dominates the flavor profile. The finish has a good hint of hop bitterness to it.
Overall a fairly well balanced stout. I like it.
This is nicely full-bodied, but not thick, like I'd hoped for. It has a mild-to-medium level of carbonation, which works for it, as far as smoothness goes. It lacks a good deal of creaminess though, which I was certainly hoping for.
This is more silky than chewy.
Okay, for 10.30%abv, this is dangerously smooth and drinkable. This is where Darkness shines for me. I'd love to have 4 to 6 bottles that could be consumed over the course of an evening.
12-30-2010 23:43:08 | More by coldmeat23
4.08/5 rDev -9.3%
On tap at the Local Option on 15 Dec 2010
A - Thick black appearance with a two finger tan head.
S - Dark Chocolate, Espresso, dominated by roasted malts.
T - Dark Chocolate and coffee, with good hop notes. Slightly bitter aftertaste.
M - Medium, expected a little bit more from such a "big" beer.
D - Very good beer, but not sure it quite lived up to the hype.
12-29-2010 16:06:44 | More by laza1979
4.28/5 rDev -4.9%
I've been fortunate enough so far to have acquired two bottles of the 2010 Vampire vintage through trades. I'm an Eagles fan, so when DeSean Jackson decided to stick a dagger in the Giants' hearts, I knew it was time for this Surly beast.
The appearance is absolutely hands-down amazing. Dark, huge tan head, brilliant lacing that clings to the glass. The only huge stout that's looked better has been Deschutes' Abyss. Which I suppose is fitting, because those are dark too.
After looking at it for what seemed like hours (and was really seconds) I gave it a sniff. Not that impressive. Chocolate and coffee malts came through, but despite the big head this didn't have a big nose. Its taste was also subdued. Not to say I didn't love it, because it was exactly how it should taste, but it didn't blow me away like the appearance.
Surly's Russian Imperial Stout still fills the mouth well with its full-body, and honestly I've always been scared of Russians and vampires, but I'd still return to this one - especiallyi f it were off the shelf and didn't require trading.
I'd also love to see how it ages. Probably upside down or in a coffin or something.
12-29-2010 00:02:42 | More by afksports
3.53/5 rDev -21.6%
2009 vintage: Pours out black, you know the story. A dark fruit aroma, plum, prune, fig, raisin.
Taste, reminiscient of dark lord, but a little thinner. Sweet, dark sugar. This really is right up the alley of a traditional RIS, sweet, not super thick, no coffee, chocolate seemed to be on the lacking side for any kind of stout. Boozy, didn't pick up any vanilla, lots of wood, probably oak, oak was all over this.
Was comparable to tenfidy also. Not my favorite RIS, but definitely solid. But I'd rather have coffee bender, abrasive, furious or wet. This would be no big deal if it was in a can.
12-27-2010 03:58:05 | More by Beerandraiderfan
4.35/5 rDev -3.3%
Poured pitch black with a nice 2 finger head. A great looking beer.
The smell of this beer is of dark fruit and molasses.
The taste is of smooth dark late but not overbearing. I thought it would be a little fuller than it was. Still great just not what I expected.
The mouthfeel was awesome. This beer does not taste like a 10.3% beer at all. It is without a doubt one of the easiest beers to drink (of this style) that I have ever had.
Serving type: bottle
12-23-2010 23:58:21 | More by mcgwire756
4.35/5 rDev -3.3%
After drunkenly trading a Dark Lord for this, and then this for an Abyss at DLD 2010, I'm finally trying Darkness. Poured fresh into a snifter at Jake Melnick's Corner Tap:
A - Black, with a little brown showing at the edges. Billowing beige head of 2 fingers is retained well and leaves elaborate lacing on the inside of the glass. Very unusual for an RIS, but it looks great.
S - Strong, assertive nose features fresh coffee beans, dark fruits, and molasses. A subtle hint of dark chocolate as well. I'd like a candle with this scent. Only Dark Lord and BCBCS smell better.
T - Everything from the nose, in delicate balance. A bit of anise in the aftertaste. Very very tasty.
M and D - Smooth, medium to full body, with decent carbonation, maybe a touch more than is usual for the style. A little syrupy but not cloying, this is one to sip and savor. Excellent brew.
12-22-2010 20:46:55 | More by AJacob81
4/5 rDev -11.1%
Poured opaque black (like all big stouts) with moderate tan head. Nose is unexpectedly full of citrus hops (I knew this was hoppy, but damn). Citrus hops overlay the chocolate/roasted malts underneath. Flavor is big, with serious citrus and pine hops rushing over a big sweet stout base. Carbonation is a bit high on this guy, with corresponding thinness of body. Easy drinker, though, due to the carbonation.
This was a bit of a let-down for me... I was looking for a life-changing event, but this was not it. Struck me as more of a black IPA, which is good. The carbonation made the really nice and robust flavor difficult to access, it kind of diluted the flavor or washed it away too quickly. As it warmed, the beer really has a unique and wonderful flavor, but some of the details are a bit off, in my opinion.
12-22-2010 03:40:01 | More by LordAdmNelson
4/5 rDev -11.1%
22oz into 6oz tasting glass. 2010 release. Thanks to afksports.
Dark - unable to tell if it is deep brown or black but the head is a fair tan; no lacing.
Cocoa nib in the front, full roasted malt takes over.
Flavor is a robust roasted malt which becomes very sweet; the finish is perfect bit I wish there was more complexity in the initial flavor. This isn't a slight so much as enhanced expectation based on reputation. This is certainly an above average RIS.
The mouthfeel is perfect. The carbonation, weight of the brew, taste and viscosity are all well matched.
I would certainly drink, and would drink it over damn near all the off the shelf options to which i have frequent access.
12-19-2010 22:15:45 | More by CooperEllis
4.03/5 rDev -10.4%
Split with scottfire and bbb099. Thanks to scottfrie.
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.
12-19-2010 05:09:50 | More by mjyoung
Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,630 ratings.