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Darkness (2006 - 2013) - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Darkness (2006 - 2013)Darkness (2006 - 2013)

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

2,655 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,655
Reviews: 764
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.56%
Wants: 2,921
Gots: 1,031 | FT: 72
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.30% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Starting in 2014, Darkness will be aged in whiskey barrels.

Labels:

2007-Grim Reaper
2008-Devil
2009-Mummy
2010-Vampire
2011-Zombie
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer

(Beer added by: ryantupy on 10-08-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Darkness (2006 - 2013) Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,655 | Reviews: 764 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mjyoung
4.03/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Split with scottfire and bbb099. Thanks to scottfrie.

2009 release

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.

mjyoung, Dec 19, 2010
Photo of scottfrie
4.13/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle into Delirium Noël snifter. 2009 vintage. Split with mjyoung and bbb099. Huge thanks to thecaptain073 for trading me this one.

A: Pours jet black with a thin, dense, dark brown head that faded into a bubbly collar and left a web of thin lacing down the glass.
S: Big roasted notes of dark malts and molasses. There is a fair amount of alcohol vapor. I pick up sweet notes of dark fruits as well.
T: Very sweet and sugary with big notes of molasses, brown sugar, and chocolate covered berries. There is a sweet fruitiness to this beer that I just can't tack down. Finish is syrupy and sweet and the aftertaste is lightly roasted and bitter.
M: Alcohol adds some warm viscosity to the mouth. Body is full and thick, but not as thick as possible. Goes down sweet and smooth and is even a little spritzy in the finish.
D: Don't get me wrong, this was an amazing beer and deserves a very high score. It's one of the better RIS I've had, but I was actually expecting a little more given all the hype around it. I would drink this as often as I could if I was able to, but I think even something like Ten FIDY in a four pack off the shelf is pretty damn comparable.

scottfrie, Dec 19, 2010
Photo of teamizm
3.75/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 bottle. Big thanks to Cardinal79 for bringing this to the bottle share.

A - pours a pitch black, much like the namesake with a 1 finger pillowy head.

S - roasty and dry nose with espresso and bitter chocolate. Some hops as well.

T - very roasty, surprisingly much drier than I expected. Nice floral hops as well - fairly unexpected.

M - For such a sought after beer, its a little thin. It lacks a bit of complexity, but I did enjoy the dryness.

D - It's a big beer, but fairly drinkable. This isn't necessarily a dessert beer as it isn't cloyingly sweet, could actually pair with a sweet bbq.

teamizm, Dec 14, 2010
Photo of Bmuncy
5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2010 version

Appearance: It's weakest, which doesn't say much as I've still given it a 5. Near Jet-Black and one of the darkest brews I've ever seen. It's rich and frothy mocha head teases you to take a drink, no begs you. Slight lace retention, though unimpressive. If there is a weak point in this beer, lace retention would be it. However, I feel it's not a very important aspect.

Smell: Devastatingly powerful. One whiff knocks you onto your hills. Deep, milk chocolate and espresso welcomes the nostrils with undertones of vanilla, cherry and hops.

Taste: Strong hints of chocolate, coffee and slight vanilla notes. A very warming beer invites you to a wonderland of flavor. Sweet and roasty chocolate. If Willy Wonka Brewed beer, this would be it.

Mouthfeel. Thick, strong, syrupy, full. These are are appropriate adjectives.

Drinkability: The scariest thing about this beer isn't the vampire on the label, it's the drinkability of this beer. At 10.x% ABV, this titan of flavor and smoothness' scariest attribute is how quickly you can down it. Without realizing it, I drank half the bottle in only a few gulps.

I've never given a perfect score to any beer, not even an A+. I've always waited for that one beer that would destroy every sense of reality that I had to give out such an honor... but here it is... Surly Darkness.... and it does not disappoint.

Bmuncy, Dec 10, 2010
Photo of ritzkiss
4.33/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

650ml 2010 vintage, silver wax - big thanks to viggo for generously bringing this and sharing.

Pours a not quite jet black, viscous brew, a creamy finger and a half of mocha head which sticks around for the duration. Nice.

Nose initially reveals a nice roast, chocolate, coffee character blended with a fresh leafy hop kick, beautifully integrated. Then rich mocha, hints of smooth espresso (not the acrid stuff from Starbucks!), dark chocolate and milk chocolate, cocoa powder, clean earthy roasted malts, hint of molasses, vanilla. The mouthfeel on this is standout, so smooth and creamy without ever being syrupy, aided by just the right hop bite and dryness. Not too sweet, just so fine. Alcohol so well hidden. Perhaps not the most complex of the big beers but this is perhaps the most balanced, drinkable of the big RIS's I've had - which is a real talent. Thanks a ton Eric!

ritzkiss, Dec 08, 2010
Photo of bobsy
4.33/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Impressively waxed bottle - thanks to Eric for sharing!

Jet black viscous pour with a mocha head that stays the course. Smooth aroma of chocolate and coffee with light vanilla. Relatively simple flavour has chocolate and medium coffee roast along with hints of smoke. While the flavour is very pleasant, there are a few things that really stand out for me in this brew. Firstly, its incredibly balanced. Secondly, the mouthfeel is exceptional - full and smooth. Finally, for its weight it might just be the most drinkable imperial I've come across.

bobsy, Dec 08, 2010
Photo of TCMike
3.93/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a mug. It's called Darkness for a reason, this stuff is black. It had a 3 finger caramel head which took quite a while to dissipate.
The smell was different. I picked up an olive, wine, plum like smells.
The taste was that of a thick, and powerful potion, with a middling bitter at the end. It was good, but not one to drink in mass quantities. It's one that I'll try again at the next release.

TCMike, Dec 05, 2010
Photo of HoldensHomebrew
3.88/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 Vintage

A-Black thick oil liquid black. Just as a Good Imperial Stout should be. VERY long lasting light brown head.

S- Milk chocolate and roasted malts dominate.

T-Chocolate and roast blend but not what I expected from this very hyped beer. I was left wanting, it is a decent stout but nothing exceptional.

M-Medium full bodied, would have preferred a more viscous fluid to chew on.

D-Was good, not great. Expected more, was left wanting. It doesn't compare to some of the other great Imp Stouts wondering out there. Wish for a more balance smooth flavor with it also being more intense.

HoldensHomebrew, Nov 30, 2010
Photo of Bendurgin
4.1/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Andy shared this one for his 100th tick! This one is the 2009 vintage poured into a tulip. The beer pours pitch black into a tulip with a big creamy looking tan head that sits atop the beer retaining itself very nicely. The aroma is very chocolatey initially with big roasty aromas lingering in the background with dark fruit and a bit of charred kind of smoke characteristics. The taste follows the smell pretty well. Really enjoyable roasty flavors with chocolate undertones. The beer is slightly sweet with a bit of hoppy bitterness in the finish. All around very enjoyable. The mouthfeel is very thick and chewy. Light carbonation and a robust body make it great. Definitely an great one but at a big 10.3 this one hides the alcohol very well, but still ends up being a sipper.

Bendurgin, Nov 29, 2010
Photo of andrewinski1
3.93/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from 2009, but drank today. Poured into a tulip. A large, tiny bubbled light brown head fills the glass. It's about 3 inches and doesn't settle down for a while.

There is an overwhelming aroma of chocolate. A bit of hop aroma is noticed, but it is quite secondary.

The taste starts out sweet and chocolatey. The roasted flavor is relatively mild here. Most bitterness that is detected is in the finish and I would attribute it to a hoppy bitterness.

The mouthfeel is full and smooth. This is a thick brew. The carbonation is appropriately smooth, and not prickly.

This is a really big, kind of sweet stout. A very good offering.

andrewinski1, Nov 29, 2010
Photo of SurlyMe
4.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2010 vintage poured into snifter

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

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

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

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

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

SurlyMe, Nov 29, 2010
Photo of boomer31
4.33/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Kind of dumb luck this happened to be review 100. I've had the '08, '09 and '10 versions. Review for '10 release.

A - Pours a rich viscous black with a deep tan head. The head is amazing, thick with tiny bubbles. No brown around the edges. Black

S - This vintage is probably my least favorite overall and it starts with the nose. I get roast and chocolate. Some sweeter fruit notes as it warms. No hops which I miss from '08.

T - Coffee, chocolate and some bitterness in the back, probably from the chocolate malts. As it warms the sugars start to coat your tongue and the fig and molasses come out. Hints of alcohol as it warms going down

M - Rich and viscous, much like it looks and tastes...very full bodied.

D - This is a sipper to be sure. There are a lot of flavors going on here and a 10%+ be carefull. This is very good, a bit sweet.

Overall I'd have to say this is not my favorit vintage but still very good. I miss the hops that the '08 version had. Again, a good beer, one I'll keep going back for

boomer31, Nov 27, 2010
Photo of garbercury
4.3/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Huge shout out to Beerwolf77...You da man Todd!!! Shared with Reed415, poured into snifter...

A---Dark, opaque with lacing and retention, like black ink...

S---Excellent aspect of this brew. Smell of roasted malt, hops, and chocolate, coffee, complex.

T---Malts and hops are really balanced. Hops really linger in the finish with some chocolate malt going on...

M---Silky smooth and heavy...nice.

D---To the dome homeboy, to the dome...

garbercury, Nov 27, 2010
Photo of oregone
4.35/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 bottle initially served at cellar temp (55) and revisited after 2 hours.

A: Quite dark. Distinguished itself in a heavy lineup. Thick and lo-carb of course, but produces a fair finger thickness tan head that slowly dissipates into a tightly knit ring.
S: Malt extract and stout reduction. Some volatile acids apparent, but not in an offensive way. Nothing exceptional, but smells delicious.
T: Malt extract again here, with a lightly burnt roast edge. Chocolate not as pronounced as expected, and there is a light sharpness from acidity and/or hops that keeps this fairly 'fresh.'
M: Lighter than anticipated. Not significantly heftier than alot of normal production stouts, which isn't a bad thing. Not palate fatiguing. Full bodied.
D: For a big beer, I could see this getting dangerous. Good enough to want more. Goes down almost too easily.

An excellent brew that I'd gladly trade for again. Worth seeking out.

oregone, Nov 25, 2010
Photo of John_M
4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Cafe 28 the other day. This was the 2010 Darkness and was vastly superior, I thought, to the bottled version I had some years back.

The beer pours a blackish brown color with an impressive looking, coffee colored, long lasting head. Head retention is very good in this beer, and there is considerable sicky lacing all around. The nose is equally attractive in this beer, showcasing dark chocolage, light coffee, vanilla, cherry and light licorise. The flavor profile replicates the nose, but if anything, is even more impressive. There is some nice, light hoppy bitterness in the finish, which really blends well with the licorise, cherry and vanilla. Also, the dark chocolate really comes through on the palate, making is a very delicious, easy to drink beer. Mouthfeel is full, with a very long finish. The beer is fairly soft on the palate, but comes across as very potent as well. This was a beer that seemed to improve and become ever more delicious as it warmed in the glass. Drinkability was pretty good, though you can certainly tell that the abv. was up there in this beer.

Very imperssive and an absolute treat to have on draft. Yummm....

John_M, Nov 24, 2010
Photo of bigfurrynutz
5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Lucky to find on tap at Firkin. Been waiting a long time to try this one. Not disappointed at all. Nose of chocolate, coffee,floral hops, mile esters. Taste of chocolate and roasty malts. Nuce, creamy mouthfeel. Firkin got a half barrel and it s half gone today. With the Surly shortage in I'll, better get this while you can.

bigfurrynutz, Nov 23, 2010
Photo of curtiswvu
4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured in a sniffter via Fountainhead at their Exceptional Beers Night.

Appearance- Midnight black with a milk chocolate head, perfect looking RIS.

Smell: coffee, chocolate and maybe a hint of bacon.

Taste- Fantastic up front and on the finish. Very smooth ...scarry smooth...iii wannnntttt mooorrrreee.

Mouthfeel- Suprisingly not as viscous as I anticipated but a full monster stout. Could be heavier actually.

Drinkability- In a land of one and done RIS I might be able to session this one until I fell off my stool.

curtiswvu, Nov 23, 2010
Photo of stakem
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to CaptinRedBeard for opening this at his tasting on 11/13/10.

2010 bottle poured into a snifter appears black in color with some lighter brown coloration around the edges. A dark creamy brown head appears and retains fairly well. As it slowly recedes, it leaves a spotty amount of lace along the glass.

The aroma of this brew includes a pleasant blend of citrus hops that are a little herbal with chocolate and a sweet grainy scent. A minor indication of some yeast character is present but is faint in comparison to the chocolate maltiness and hops.

The taste of this brew includes citrus hops that have a bit of herbal quality as well. Quite a solid base of chocolate that is more of a bitter dark chocolate than milky sweet. The hops provide a bit of mineral touch that is earthy with a light indication of yeast.

This is a super smooth brew with a creamy full feel that is lightly carbonated. A pleasant alcohol warmth hits the back of the throat but not with the intensity you would expect from something with more than 10% abv. Once this brew warms it has some coffee bean quality that is also citrusy. This is a must try stout, awesome to try right now.

stakem, Nov 22, 2010
Photo of chalsk
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Was worried about cracking this so soon but I am glad I did. Pours a black color with a caramel colored head. Has an aroma of roast, candy sugar, and cherry. Has a roasty caramel taste with some cherry notes throughout and a nice velvety chocolate finish. Gentle bitter hit. Creamy mouthfeel. For this hoplover, this beer is pefect to drink now as the gentle bitters add a bit to the complexity. As it ages the hops will fade and with the beer already being mellow, not sure how much aging will add.

chalsk, Nov 22, 2010
Photo of BuckeyeOne
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Darkness snifter at Cafe 28 in Mpls. Beautiful 1 inch head of bubbly tan that left only a bit of lacing down the glass.

The aroma is milk chocolate, espresso, vanilla, and only a bit of tart cheeries.

The taste is a perfect reflection of the aroma. Despite the 10% ABV, this is not hot in the least.

This is oily and smooth with medium carbonation. Despite the smoothness, it's a little dry on the finish, which I think is a good thing. It doesn't linger too long, which entices you for another sip.

This is the perfect dessert drink. Was the perfect accompaniment to the molten chocolate cake I had at Cafe 28.

BuckeyeOne, Nov 20, 2010
Photo of yeahnatenelson
4.55/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Imbibed at the Bavarian Lodge in Lisle, IL 11/18/2010.

Appearance -- Pours jet black without one iota of highlight and one finger of mocha head that soon falls to a dirty halo. Wide bands of tan lace.

Smell -- Well-roasted malts in the forefront, nearly to the point of smelling burnt, along with dark chocolate, cherry bonbon, and faint woodsmoke. Lovely.

Taste -- Deep roasted malt, molasses, prune, cherry bonbon, coffee with cream, char, and a hint of woodsmoke. Hops are quite assertive, lending a cool herbal flavor to the finish. Lingering flavors of chocolate cherry, herbal hops and char.

Mouthfeel -- Full-bodied, though not terribly viscous, with gentler carbonation. Quite smooth. The mouthfeel on this is exceptional.

Drinkablity -- Wow, this RIS is pretty damn good. Quite possibly the best of the Midwest (sorry, Dark Lord). Rich and with great depth of flavor, but not sticky, cloying or out of balance. Hops are great, the mouthfeel is even better. Seek this out on tap.

yeahnatenelson, Nov 19, 2010
Photo of readbaron
4.4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at Sheffield's.

Pours black as night with nary a head to be seen.

Smells of chocolate, coffee, figs & cherries.

Initially tastes chocolatey, malty, creamy, with molasses and dark fruit sweetness. The heavy carbonation lends a hint of spiciness then you're hit with a hoppy and relatively smooth finish. As it warms other fruits show up - cherries most notably. It lacks the complexity and heaviness of a lot of imperial stouts.

For such a dark, thick beer, the mouthfeel is surprisingly light and fizzy - an altogether pleasant experience.

Highly, dangerously, drinkable. Goes down smoothly.

readbaron, Nov 18, 2010
Photo of TMoney2591
4.25/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter at The Barley House.

Who'd've thought that one of my personal whales would beach itself 'round here? Hey, I'm not gonna argue. Its pour verifies its name, as nothing but straight darkness sits in the glass, a finger-thick tan chapeau sitting jauntily on top. The nose comprises raisins, rum, blackened oats, figs, chocolate-covered strawberries, roasted malts, light molasses, and a very slight fusel scent streaming from the base. The taste holds notes of roasted malts, chocolate syrup, molasses, maple syrup, figs, oak, brown sugar, light orange flesh, and a touch of Belgian yeastiness. Honestly, the last two were a bit surprising, but definitely can't be considered detracting, as they add a refreshing complexity to a usually brutish style. The body is pretty hefty, with a light moderate carbonation and a chewy feel. Overall, I was not at all disappointed by this, though the one thing I would note is that it's a tad lighter and fizzier than I expected. But this was a minor issue at best, smothered by the overall tastiness.

TMoney2591, Nov 17, 2010
Photo of Vdubb86
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a snifter on-tap at the Barley House in Algonquin, IL

I was so happy that this beer actually found its way to Illinois. This beer is as advertised...Darkness is spreading in my glass. It is adorned by a finger of sandy brown foam with some nice lacing on the glass as it goes down. The smell is of a weaker bourbon, there is a citrus hop aroma, a bit of caramel and what seems to me to be the essence of Belgian yeast. The flavor is bourbon, brown sugar, caramel, hints of vanilla and clove as well to help with the nice complexity of this beer. I found the mouthfeel to be a little too carbonated for me, but that didn't mean it wasn't good. The drinkability is really good. Though it may be high in ABV you really can't tell too much on the palate. It's a really well made beer and I hope to get it again someday.

Vdubb86, Nov 17, 2010
Photo of sweemzander
4.15/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tap pour into a snifter at the Barley House in Algonquin.

(A)- Pours thick and pitch black. Produced a minimal tan head, but pretty decent retention. Subtle lacing.

(S)- Malty and rich. Has a heavy brown sugar/toffee sweetness wit hints of coffee and dark chocolate aspects. Some woody dry notes.

(T)- Very similar to the smell. Good malts and richness. The same sweet aspects in the smell, yet has an underlying spicy herbal woody notes. As it warms, some nice licorice flavors start showing themselves.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. Surprisingly, a bit thinner than I expected it to be; and not quite as rich or heavily roasted. Because of this, it is actually smoother; more balanced, and easier on the palate in my opinion.

(D)- A solid RIS for sure. It was really nice to see that it was not overly rich, sweet, or viscous as I was expecting; rather, it is far more sessionable because of that. If I could, I would do a whole bottle of this on my own if I felt like it. The drinkability and mouthfeel are where this beer truly shines. In terms of flavor, however, it might need some more time to age.

sweemzander, Nov 16, 2010
Darkness (2006 - 2013) from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,655 ratings.