1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

2,541 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,541
Reviews: 761
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.33%
Wants: 2,878
Gots: 1,002 | FT: 66
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.30% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:

2007-Grim Reaper
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer

(Beer added by: ryantupy on 10-08-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Darkness Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,541 | Reviews: 761 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of rvdoorn


2.33/5  rDev -48.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 1 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 1

2008 vintage

Shared this beer with some friends during our epic imperial stout tasting with Surly Darkness, Darklord, Kate the Great, Abyss, Sexual Chocolate, Cigar City 110K OT Batch2, Speedway stout, Stormaktsporter regular and Kaggen! in the line-up.

Look: Beautiful. Dark as hell. Very nice thick tan head.

Smell: Beautiful aroma as well. This is so complex, it is impossible to describe everything, coffee, dark fruits, tobacco, alcohol, toffee, chocolate. WOW! In terms of smell equal in quality to the Kaggen!.

Taste: Well, what shall I say, this is really the first beer I ever had I wished I would not have tasted after smelling it. What an enormous disappointing taste. Sweet toffee, molasses, chocolate and sugars. Overpowering sweet. Incredible unbalanced and dull.

Mouhtfeel: Mouthfeel is great again. Thick, dense on palate.

Overall: In terms of taste, completely overrated. Nobody from our 6 people group could finish the glass. Look, smell and mouthfeel close to perfect though. The brewers should contact the Narke brewery for a course in tasty, balanced RIS brewing! The worst one of the evening. Hopeless and hopless

Serving type: bottle

08-03-2010 11:00:54 | More by rvdoorn
Photo of jampics2


4.78/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Review #400. Never thought I'd get here so quickly. I needed a good beer to celebrate this milestone, and I also needed a good buddy to drink it with. So, I brought this to Paul's in hopes that we could toast his new bachelor pad with a great beer. Batch from 2009, opened at about 9 months of age.

Poured into a snifter, this is a dark beer. The kind of beer that would make an appearance in a new Tim Burton film complete with a Danny Elfman soundtrack and really good claymation. Maybe it should have its own music video? The beer is thick, opaque, and has a tan head that leaves great lacing.

Smell is roasted malt driven, giving great chocolate and coffee notes. Some hops do surface, adding a earthy twist. There's even some vanilla, brown sugar, raisin, and dare I say blackstrap molasses in the mix. Just shy of perfect, it's a nice take and doesn't smell that evil after all.

Taste is absolutely one-of-a-kind. This is a great beer, perhaps deserving more respect than some others that get talked about more. It tastes like velvet feels - just so smooth, luxurious, and sexy that you just want to drape yourself in it from head to toe. Tons of well roasted malt give the impressions of really smooth cocoa powder and dark roast coffee. A sweetness exudes that never becomes cloying or makes drinking a 12oz snifter feel like a chore. Raisins and brown sugar become prevalent as it warms, perhaps the raisins were even soaked in a combination of Kahlua, Baily's and Canadian Maple Cream liquor. There's so many levels, each pleasant and just nothing like the sugar and soy sauce bomb I expected based on other massive American RIS's with evil sounding names. Some alcohol is there, but it's blanketed in flavor and just helps to remind me that, no, this isn't a dream. Yes, it's real. Even a touch of hoppiness at the end feels natural. This is a world class beer!

Mouthfeel is also perfect. It's thick and viscous, but not slick, syrupy, or oily. It's sugar doesn't add to the stickiness either. The carbonation is perfect, and the aftertaste isn't totally clean, but it's not stinging, alcohol-laden, or unpleasant in any way. Like George Costanza's track suit in a glass.

This was a great choice for #400. It was a perfect beer to share with a friend. As I write more and more of these reviews, one thing is becoming apparent to me. Beer is a wonderful thing, but the most important thing in keeping a diary like this is being able to remember the good times you had sharing the beers you're documenting. That's when the power of this fascinating beverage is at it's peak.

Serving type: bottle

07-28-2010 18:15:51 | More by jampics2
Photo of jdense


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

Tasted at the Slaintemehor animal call tastefest 7.23.2010.

One finger light tan head, medium dissipation with some lacing. Dark brown opaque body, no visible carbonation. Big complex nose, there is a lot going on here, I picked up chocolate and cherry up front, a bit of coffee and caramel balanced against a stone fruit and bitter on the back end hop bill. Taste mirrors nose, pretty damn smooth, I picked up a milk chocolate cordial cherry taste with some bitterness on back end, not overwhelmingly so. Mouthfeel is medium, smooth, a bit sticky. Didn't want to hoard the bottle, what I had was damn good, looking forward to having this again.

Serving type: bottle

07-28-2010 00:01:42 | More by jdense
Photo of BEERchitect


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

An absolute pleaseure to finally have the opportunity to enjoy this beer. Absolute chocolatey notes with licorice and char blend beautifully in this molassas-rich Imperial Stout.

An very viscous pour of oily black liquid falls from the bottle- this is going to be one full beer. Completely opaque, the beer lathers into a thick, lightly browned, dense foam stance that seemingly never waivers. Both lacing and legging have a convincing say in the coatings left behind on the glass.

Robust aromas of both semi-sweet chocolate morsels and dry cocoa powder lead the way with a heafty sidekick of burnt cherries, licorice, rum, and fruitcake. Mouthwatering and seductive, the aromas are near flawlessness.

The chocolate-heavy tone continues in flavor, similar to fresh baked brownies and Hershey syrups. Background fruity notes of cherries, grapes, currants, and dates are accompanied by deep roasted coffee, char, and roasted marshmallows creaminess. Molassas sweetness brings these flavors together seamlessly while giving a soothing taste to the aggressive roast.

Full, viscous, creamy, and oily in mouthfeel, the beer has a slow transition from early thickness to a late sweet, warming, and bitter finish (bitterness is in form of both char and hops). This beer is obviously intended for after dinner compliments or in place of dinner alltogether.

A special thanks goes out to Shango42 for the unique opportunity to finally enjoy this beer. He gets my right arm if he ever requests it.

Serving type: bottle

07-27-2010 03:52:37 | More by BEERchitect
Photo of wagenvolks


4.47/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review number 999!!! Since most everyone saves Darkness for review 666, I thought I'd flip the script a little...

Major, major thanks to mikesgroove for sending this one my way. 2009 black wax-sealed 750ml bottle into a Unibroue tulip.

Black coffee body nears utter darkness on the pour--but not quite. Still, this beer is an absolute beauty in the glass. A towering, cascading, rich head of burnt custard brown foam slowly retreats to a fat cap of mottled bubbles, draping thick webs of lace along the inside of the tulip. Quite simply, the aroma is to die for. One part floral & earthy hops, 2 parts espresso, 5 parts black strap molasses, and 10 parts dark chocolate. Complexity is off the charts, as the background notes of citrus, gingerbread, plum, black cherry, and licorice could easily stand on their own and shun other Imperial Stouts.

Darkness hits the tongue with a powerful blend of roasted chocolate malts, sweet caramel and molasses, and tons of dark fruit (black cherry syrup, mandarin orange, and fig). Sweet, bordering on cloying, but the earthy hops, bitter chocolate and coffee close the deal and save the finish from becoming too sugary. Alcohol is all but a brief burn on the way going down...very well-hidden. Chewy, thick mouthfeel that coats the palate, yet has enough carbonation to keep the body from weighing and wearing down the tastebuds. All in all, a delectable, delicious brew from the good folks at Surly. There's a reason this beer is in the top 50. As if there was ever any doubt, consider the Darkness hype worthy.

Serving type: bottle

07-27-2010 03:10:14 | More by wagenvolks
Photo of Phyl21ca

Quebec (Canada)

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

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a large deep dirty brown color head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of roasted malt and black chocolate with some light liquorice and dry coffee notes is quite enjoyable. Taste is also a heavy mix between some roasted malt with light bitter notes with rich black chocolate notes and very subtle notes of liquorice and dry fruits. Sweetness is very well balanced and not nearly as cloying as Dark Lord. Body is full with good carbonation and warming notes are perceptible though nothing too heavy. Well done and still retaining some balance even though it is an extreme beer.

Serving type: bottle

07-12-2010 19:14:04 | More by Phyl21ca
Photo of lackenhauser


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

Thanks to scoobydank for this awesome bottle as part of the BA Vets BIF.

Jet black with a decent sized head. very tight and confined bubbles. Heavy dried fruit aroma. Very "india ink" like smell to it. Fruity and very malty flavors dominate. Again dried fruit, very plum like. Raisen quality to the flavor. Sticky sweetness and a trace of toffee. Lacks some of the heavy roasted notes and the strong hop bite I am used to in a RIS. Sticky and creamy mouthfeel. A damn good RIS. I like mine a bit more astringent overall flavor wise. Still damn enjoyable and well worth trying.

Oh my wife just commented the label would make a great tattoo.

Serving type: bottle

07-10-2010 01:55:52 | More by lackenhauser
Photo of abecall98


4.4/5  rDev -2.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-08-2010 01:49:03 | More by abecall98
Photo of imagineiii


4.65/5  rDev +3.3%
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%.

Serving type: bottle

07-02-2010 00:15:18 | More by imagineiii
Photo of UA8


4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

08 Darkness

Pours a pitch black motor oil color with with a thin caramel color head.

Scents of dark molasses, dried black cherries, and cafe mocha, There's even more going on here but I'll just say that it's damn nice.

Echos the nose however it is a touch sweeter than I would have expected. Perfect blending of the flavors though likely increased by the age. Wonderful.

Viscous and smooth with a perfect carbonation that whisks the beer across the palate and conveys the flavors perfectly.

This is one hell of a RIS which I have to say is one of the few hyped beers that actually live up to its rep. Fantastic RIS I wish I could obtain more easily. Great part was everyone sharing it all agreed that it was a fantastic beer.

Serving type: bottle

07-02-2010 00:14:16 | More by UA8
Photo of kingcrowing


4.65/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

750ml gold waxed bottle. 2008 vintage, poured into a dogfish head snifter. Huge thanks to UA8 for sharing this!

Pours dark, really dark. What do you expect? Nice big brown fluffy head and some nice thin lacing. Nose is sweet and strong with maple syrup and dark fruit.

Taste is fairly sweet but it's also got the nice roasty coffee flavor along with some nice light carbonation makes it really smooth. Lots of dark fruit, really complex.

This beer is totally worth the hype unlike some of the other "dark" beers that have been hyped up.

Serving type: bottle

07-02-2010 00:06:35 | More by kingcrowing
Photo of alleykatking


4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 22oz bottle. Many thanks go out to Luke (Lukafer) who cracked this one open at the last tasting. Good luck in Indy Luke!

A- Pours a heavy motor oil black color. One finger light brown head that shows a little bit retention before dying down. Light lacing on the sides of the glass as I drink this gem down.

S- Interesting enough this beer has a nice hop profile in the front end. Piney and citrus both which shine. Darker toasted malts with this as well brings forth a light burnt aroma. Nice bittersweet chocolate aroma with a hint of coffee in the ending. The hops still though throw me off but not in a bad way. Interesting and make my mouth water when I sniff the glass.

T- First thing I notice off the bat is hops and more hops...both piney and citrusy. Nice roasted malts in the front after the hops. Almost a perfect roasted burnt taste. Bittersweet chocolate notes with a fudge like charater to it. Bready flavors with a coffee taste that lingers around. The alcohol in this is settle and sometimes hard to miss. Overall, great flavors!

M- Heavy mouthfeel. Carbonation is great for the beer and style. Hops and light burnt malts are left on the palate with some coffee notes and light chocolate in the aftertaste. Flavors are bright and clean. Beer blended very well but flavors pop out individually. Not very drying on the palate at all.

D- This beer is worth all the praise. I would love to make it out to Darkness Day this year. I am glad I have a extra bottle in the cellar and got to try this one out. This beer is going to become one of my favorite.

Serving type: bottle

06-22-2010 05:39:21 | More by alleykatking
Photo of BS68280

South Carolina

3.58/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Big thanks to Joseph for opening this one up (finally getting the review up here). Poured into my DFH signature glass. I had this after DL and I have to say they are two different beasts, but i was fairly underwhelmed by this one.

A: Pours just as black as I have seen, with a foamy khaki tan head.

S: Way more hops than i was expecting out of an RIS. Earthy hops, with hints of dark fruits behind it. It smells alot more like black IPA than an RIS.

T: Right along with the smell. No surprises here. The earthy hops lead the way and kind of took away from what otherwise was a great RIS. Dark chocolates, and dark fruits follow, but i can't get over that much hops in my RIS.

M: Full bodied, thick.

D: Didn't really love this one, I don't think i could finish a bottle off myself.

Serving type: bottle

06-20-2010 20:32:03 | More by BS68280
Photo of Kadonny


4.4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle gotten via trade with NuBrewm, 2009 version. I can't thank him enough for this rare beer. Poured from 750 bottle into a snifter glass.

A: A thick jet black that yields no light. A really cool brownish orange head rises above the black liquid and leaves full glass lacing. Wonderful looking beer.

S: Roasted malts with big aroma of chocolate, dark fruits and a nice amount of earthy hops. A bit of sweetness is picked up too.

T: Roasted flavors that slide right into huge chocolate flavors. I picked up milk chocolate and fudge flavors much more so than any dark chocolate flavors. Some dark fruit flavors come in with some plum, cherry and fig coupled with the earthy pine hops. The hops get subdued by the deep caramel malt sweetness that finishes out the beer. No bitterness and the sweetness really holds in the mouth. Very complex beer.

M: Full, coating, sweet, thick with minimal alcohol heat.

D: Medium. I really had enough after finishing the 750. The sweetness started to wear on me a bit.

Overall an amazing beer that is deserving of the hype, but I found it a bit sweeter than I would have liked. Next time I'm trying it fresh. I love the hops and hopefully they will shine a bit more. Still a super complex beer that I was super happy to try. Thanks NuBrewm!

Serving type: bottle

06-14-2010 13:58:31 | More by Kadonny
Photo of Franchise


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

This offering pours a deep dark black leaving a thick tan head in it's wake. Wow the smell is super strong I haven't even put my nose to the glass and i can smell the strength of this beer.

Nose is malty, roasted nuts, coffee, very herbal deep pitted dark fruits, super sweet smelling tons of aromatics. The taste is syrupy, cherries, sweet prunes, dark pitted fruits, raisins coffee, super malty with a minimal hops presence but just enough to balance that maltiness.

I'd pair this beer with dessert or game meat like venison as the sweetness with really play with the savor aspect of the beer. If choosing dessert I'd go with something black forest cake that the bitterness would play well with this sweet beer!

Serving type: bottle

06-10-2010 22:43:56 | More by Franchise
Photo of kirkpjr


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

Given to me by a generous soul at DLD for nothing more than the locals in my cooler. Split amongst friends for the LOST series finale. 2009 vintage I'm assuming, even though the wax looks black to me.

A: Oily black darkness fills the glass. One finger of chocolate-mocha head that retains fairly well. Not as thick as I might expect, but still very full looking.

S: Dark fruits, maybe cherry and fig, on top of an overwhelming chocolate and malt sweetness. Fairly complex, but not too many scents I can pull out and name.

T: Dark chocolate, roasted malts, and a sweetness that lingers around on the palette. Some coffee and raisin flavors. A little soy actually plays in, although not necessarily in a bad way.

M: Fairly thick and creamy. Moderate to low carbonation. Rich and full in body.

D: Rich, sweet, and filling. This was a great beer, but I'm glad I had friends to share this with. Would love another to add to the cellar.

Serving type: bottle

06-07-2010 02:49:21 | More by kirkpjr
Photo of mikeyv35

New York

4.05/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Date: 05/25/2010
Type: 750ml. Bottle
Vintage: 2009
Glassware: Usual Portsmouth Tulip

Poured a nice charcoal black w/ a 1/2 finger light brown creamy head w/ minimal lacing. Nose was fantastic, w/ aromas of chocolate malts, light coffee, black licorice, slight smokiness, and a touch of earthy peat. Taste was excellent as well, w/ notes of dark chocolate, vanilla bean/marshmallow, and a finish of substantial hop bitterness. This brew contained a flavor in the middle that took me awhile to pinpoint, eventually I realized it was burnt toffee mixed w/ star anise. Mouthfeel was pretty viscous and oddly pillowy at the same time. The only negative on this brew for me was the sweetness, that got to me after only a 12oz. glass. To be honest, it kind of sadened me because it overshadowed the amazing complexity of this fine brew.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this brew, but could only handle drinking a 4-8oz. pour. The next time I crack one of these bad boys open, it will be w/ other BA friends.

Serving type: bottle

05-27-2010 02:14:55 | More by mikeyv35
Photo of PittBeerGirl


4.08/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Darkness '08 and Darkness '09 side by side. Thanks Brian and Chris!

A- Body is a thick, dark, almost black hue. Pours with a small foamy off white head which dissolves to a thin collar and leaves traces of lacing behind in the glass.

S-Earthy hops, a hint of alcohol, a hint of cocoa and roasted malt, and anise. Decent balance and slightly mild.

T- There is a faint herbal/earthy hop accent initially with a mild roasted malt backbone. Chocolate and anise flavors come rushing through for the finish and are more prominent than the initial flavors. Mild impressions of the initial flavor linger.

M- low carbonation with a syrupy medium to heavy weight body that is slightly thin.

D- Overall- I REALLY like this beer. Its very good overall. The '08 and the '09 were very similar in overall profiles so I didn't comment on individual differences because I noticed few, if any. I'd still like to try this beer fresh when the hoppy notes tend to really shine. ABV was pretty well hidden here as well.

Serving type: bottle

05-26-2010 14:22:41 | More by PittBeerGirl
Photo of cbutova


4.78/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Reviewed from notes from an epic tasting with BCBCS. Thanks to Chico1985 and whoever traded it to him. Certainly one of the coolest (painted!) bottles ever.

A- If this beer was not pitch black I think another name would be appropriate. A light tan/beige head builds up and retains fairly well. It leaves thick lacing made up of fine bubbles. A nice ring and random cloud float on the beer.

Before smell and taste, it is worth mentioning that this was one of the most complex beers I have ever had.

S- Extremely roast malt up front. A cherry/dark fruit scent blends into the nose nicely. Molasses comes in pretty strong. I also get hints of pine, cocoa, dark fruits, earthy hops, caramel and even some citrus. A tiny bit of alcohol as well. The aroma itself has nice strength. There was also something I couldnt quite identify but it reminded me of my homebrew, maybe overly roasty?

T- A great balance of a ton of flavors. Very roasty malt with dark chocolate up front with molasses. Cherries and dark fruit make the main flavor of this one like a chocolate covered cherry. A tiny hint of alcohol hits the tongue but doesn't even come close to affecting the great flavor. A lot of earthy, grassy and pine hops round out the stout flavors. Sweets come into play but it doesn't bother me. The caramel malt shines its head later on and makes this one taste a lot like a Barelywine RIS. Very complex and balanced well. It never got old after an hour of sipping on it.

MF- Very creamy but not hugely thick, reminds me of KtG in a way. A very nice amount of warmth on the palate for a big RIS. Low carbonation but that is desired in this style. Roast caramel coats the palate. Needs more straight up thickness but the creaminess saves from being way off.

DB- Obviously rare and probably decently expensive. For how many flavors and the great time I had drinking this I would say it's worth it. Very complex Barleywine-like RIS with a great balance of a many different flavors.

Serving type: bottle

05-22-2010 14:56:39 | More by cbutova
Photo of Chico1985


4.13/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 bottle split between myself, cbutova and atremains. This has been one of my most anticipated beers. Also my first offering from Surly. Received in a trade from cdflem, much thanks!

Before getting onto the real appearance I will say this is my favorite bottle design ever. So awesome. The beer itself, is, yes, dark. You could say the glass is filled with...darkness. Charlie Murphy territory is indeed tread upon. The head is very thick, coffee brown, retains decently, leaves some nice lacing.

Strange scent at first, hard to pin down exactly what I'm smelling but I realize, cherries. Definitely dark chocolate and cherries. Lots of roasted malt and caramel. Smells very sweet and rich.

Taste I get much of the above, chocolate-covered cherries are the first thing that come to mind. Though this has some age on it now (7-8 months?) there is still a boatload of hops, getting more fruit notes there. A bit of booze. This is a very strange beer, almost brandy-esque. The hops and sweetness seem to take over the stoutness too much for my taste, especially towards the end. Almost feels like a chocolate barleywine.

Mouthfeel is more creamy than thick, almost in a KtG way but not near that level. A little too hoppy, dangerously close to IPA-ness. Booze is noticeable but not a problem.

I'm glad I split this because the sweetness may have killed it over time. Definitely not what I expected, I liked it but if it were a little more stout and a little less barleywine-tasting this I would've liked it more, still I love the chocolate/cherry here. A stout like no other.

Serving type: bottle

05-21-2010 13:31:07 | More by Chico1985
Photo of mullenite


3.7/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 Bottle I think

Tall dark tan head with really decent retention. Probably one of the best looking stouts I've seen.

Sweeter fruit flavors, not so much dark fruit but lighter fruits. There is a very slight roasted note lingering in the background of the smell that comes through a bit more in the taste.

Aside from the sweet fruits and roasted malt there is a very slight tartness on the back of the tongue and some port like qualities.

Thinner body but it's not bad. The carbonation was in the middle of all the stouts we sampled.

Serving type: bottle

05-16-2010 17:28:01 | More by mullenite
Photo of zoso493

North Carolina

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

Poured from a 2009 vintage 750 ml bottle into a Dogfish Head signature glass.

Appearance: Right off the bat, I can tell that this is one of the thicker stouts I've ever poured. Immediately, the beer pours a viscous, compact motor-oil black that just sludges its way out of the bottle. Atop the beer is a bubbly two-finger head that loses its height quickly, but still retains a slight presence on top of the beer for awhile.

Smell: This is a stout? At first sniff, it seems not. The first thing you get out of the nose, at least in this 2009 vintage, is an immense and glorious whiff of hops. These are not just piny hops, however, as you would normally expect in a stout, but a whole array of piny, sugary, and even citric hops. It's tempting to just enjoy the beautiful scent of caramel-coated hops and forget about the rest of the scent, but there is even more to be found.

While the hops are blatantly the most prominent and intriguing facets of the smell, there is a delightful backdrop of syrupy, gooey dark malts lurking somewhere in the background. This dark malt is so good that if it were the only scent in the nose, I would consider awarding the perfect score. All in all, an absolutely breathtaking nose.

Taste: If the nose had somehow left you skeptical as to the quality of Darkness, the taste puts all doubts to rest. Again, the hops are the first thing I'll discuss, not because they are necessarily the mot obvious taste, but because they form the feature that make this beer like no other RIS. As in the nose, there is a wonderful citric and resinous pine sap taste that is quite unexpected but extremely welcomed by a hophead.

Enough about the hops, though. The impressive malt backbone deserves some attention of its own. Just in case you thought this was a black IPA (or whatever the hell they're called now), the malt reminds you that, yes, you're drinking an imperial stout, and a world-class one at that. The fudge-like malts are prototypical of an imperial stout, but still delicious all the same. Without typing too much, I think the taste of the malts can be summarized as a rum-soaked chocolate cake.

Mouthfeel: Upon first sip, I had reservation about awarding this the perfect score, but now I know that Darkness is well-deserving. Despite the appearance, this is not an exceptionally thick stout, though I will admit it is thicker than average. Where this beer stands out, however, is the silkiness of the mouthfeel. The flavors all tied together so beautifully that I'm certain this is one of the smoother RIS's that I've had.

Drinkability: For starters, there is absolutely no trace of alcohol in this beer, and for that, I applaud the brewers at Surly Brewing Company. Nevertheless, I've taken a good hour and a half to get through this bottle, which is the only thing keeping me from giving it the perfect score.

Surly Darkness is a magnificent beer without a shadow of a doubt. It is an immensely bold and extremely complex stout, but what sets it apart for me is the uniqueness of the flavors. I can comfortably say that this is without a doubt completely unlike any RIS I've ever had. The way the hops are incorporated into the massive malt-profile is truly a work of art, and for that I take my hat off to the brewers at Surly.

Serving type: bottle

05-10-2010 03:09:52 | More by zoso493
Photo of klikger


4.55/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2-3 oz taste poured into a tulip glass

A - Dark, yes. Darkness? Meh. Not much head to speak of; moderate lacing.

S - Dark chocolate and coffee beans

T - Right off the bat, I'm tasting raisins and loads of espresso. Midway through, the piny hops kick in and prove to be a perfect complement to the dark chocolate finish. These tastes blend together unbelievably well and create an extremely memorable RIS - this lives up to the hype, indeed.

M - Black velvet, with the perfect level of carbonation for the style.

D - I'd drink a bottle by myself right now if I could (admittedly, I might have a change of heart halfway through...). This is extremely well-balanced for my palate, as the hops more than offset the sweetness from the malts and chocolate.

I've been looking forward to trying this for a long time, and I was still blown away. I easily prefer this to Dark Lord, and if it weren't for BCBCS, I'd say this is the best stout I've had. I'll be driving to Minnesota this fall, without a doubt.

Serving type: bottle

05-06-2010 12:56:00 | More by klikger
Photo of levifunk


4.18/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had at Madison, WI BA Tasting #2

appearance - very dark, light brown head

smell - citrus hops, much more hoppy than anticipated. caramel sweetness and coffee.

taste - very rich/dense. there are two big flavors: hops and sweetness. interesting thats these two flavors come at the same time rather than one following the other. keeps it very balanced. other flavors would include coffee and cocoa.

mouth - syrupy and creamy. very heavy

overall - great beer. This is VERY different than DL, much more hoppy and less intensive sweetness. Its somewhere inbetween DL and DORIS. Very drinkable though!

Serving type: bottle

05-05-2010 18:24:31 | More by levifunk
Photo of indiapaleale


3.9/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

~ 2008 Vintage ~
Pour - super dense, rich and thick like motor oil as it drains into a glass leaving a relatively thin velvet-y head. I got a kick out of how viscous this stuff was and the "legs" it left inside the glass as it poured. Damn, this is not for the faint of heart. Be warned.

Aroma - big bready, malty, chocolatey, licorice-y, caramel-y and overall molasess-y. Some alcohol heat comes through in the nose as well. This just smells like it could cause cavities or cause a person's blood sugar to spike.

Taste - MALTY MALT MALT! Wow, this is like drinking malt extract with licorice and brown sugar mixed in. This is borderline cloying its so sweet and dense. I guess you need a literal ton of malt to brew a beer of this magnitude and it certainly does taste that way. Some flavors that I thought were oxidization were just caramel malt and alcohol heat. Even after 18 months in the cellar this is still hot. Brown bread dough soaked in rum and then mixed into a potent stout should sum things up nicely. If you like malty brews this is going to please you, if you want more than strong and dark you might be a bit let down. I need to have some of this fresh to see what those hops (85 IBUs!!!) might do for this brew.

Overall - sweet, very sweet. This is a malt lover's dream and a little more one-sided than I had hoped. It almost reminded me of a super-strong Baltic Porter as it had some licorice and anise notes that were very similar. In the end I'd say it lived up to the hype when it comes to the strength and complexity but was not as drinkable as I had hoped.

Would I buy more of it? - I was fortunate it enough to receive this bottle from a very generous beer loving friend in the Midwest. If I lived within a few hours of Surly I'd certainly make the pilgrimage each year just for the fun of it.

Serving type: bottle

05-04-2010 02:53:14 | More by indiapaleale
Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,541 ratings.