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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

2,544 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,544
Reviews: 761
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.33%
Wants: 2,883
Gots: 1,004 | FT: 67
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: 2,544 | Reviews: 761 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of NYCWheatFanSC

New York

4.1/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes taken at Greg's epic Wall St. tasting - thats how we do baby!

A - Pitch black, with a medium tan that recedes rather quickly - especially for the style.

S - SUPER hoppy, to the point of being one dimensional. If I'm going to drink a RIS I want to know thats what I'm drinking. If my RIS is going to be hoppy, I desire a balance.

T - Very hoppy despite the age. Indeed, overly hop forward. A bit smoky underneath with lots of roasted malts and some cherries. An interesting approach no doubt, but not what I personally desire. If I'm going to have 600 calories in my glass, I want to taste every one of them! Nonetheless, very glad I tried it and one I will seek out again.

M - Somewhere between medium and full bodied.

D - Again, an interesting and innovative approach to the style. As of now the jury is still out, so I must seek this out again.

Serving type: bottle

03-05-2010 05:18:46 | More by NYCWheatFanSC
Photo of camp0474


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

2009 Darkness poured into a tulip whiskey snifter

A: Dark tan head, frothy at first. Deep reddish purple color, very close to black.

S: Dried dark fruit and molasses. Maybe prune or black cherry. Smells sweet. Many complex smells that are hard to pin down.

T: Dark fruit with a bit of malt. Very sweet. Dark cherry or plum. No trace if hops until they punch through in the finish. The hop oils linger on the tongue after you swallow. Wouldn't be Surly without the hops, makes this beer even better. Hints of alcohol, not a surprise at this ABV. Multiple layers of complex flavors from start to finish.

M: Thick and chewy. Very fine carbonation bubbles.

D: Good drinkability for a beer this strong. Not an everyday beer but a very enjoyable experience, especially in cold weather.

Definitely worth the time and trouble to seek out this limited beer. Glad I picked up mutiple bottles when I did.
Another great unique beer from Surly.

Serving type: bottle

03-01-2010 21:54:13 | More by camp0474
Photo of herman77


4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 bottle. Poured into a Glencairn whisky glass.

A: Dark, dark purple, pretty much black. Reddish tan head. Some sticky lacing.

S: Lots of dark, dried fruits. Molasses. Too much going on for me to comprehend.

T: Tons of dark, rich fruit. Very sweet up front. Malty sweetness. Dates, dark cherries? No sign of hops, then it comes out of nowhere and attacks the tongue in the finish. I can pretty much feel the residual hop oils after I swallow. There is a lot going on in this RIS.

M: Full bodied for sure. Thick, chewy and smooth. Carbonation is odd, but in a good way. Little "micro bubbles."

D: Great for a cold night. For how rich it is, it has great drinkability. It defiantly sneaks up on you though.

*2010 Vintage*
A: Black as can be. Moderate dark brown, bubbly head. Decent lacing. 4.5

S: Rich dark chocolate. Dark fruits, cherries, molasses, vanilla. Some roasted malt and a hint of citrus hops. A little bit of alcohol in the background too. 4.5

T: Sweet roasted malts. Dark bittersweet chocolate and dark fruits. More vanilla and thick molasses. Its sweet for sure, but not overly sweet. The roasted malt and hops balance it out very well. Some citrus, pine hops and bitter roasted coffee come on near the finish. Doesn't seem as hoppy as last year's and not as sweet. Still just as good. 4.5

M: Fuller body, not quite as thick as I thought it would be. Low carbonation. 4

D: Very good drinkability. There is a touch of booziness, but it still goes down fairly easy. Good balance, tasty. 4.5

Serving type: bottle

02-28-2010 03:56:06 | More by herman77
Photo of chefmikeanderson


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

A: Rich dark viscous motor oil. one finger size head thats a tannish brown.

S: huge chocolate raisins has some bright bitterness coming though. lots of roastiness with deep dark fruit tones. has some citrus faint lemon oragne

T: Really like the citrus of the hops contrasting with the large roasted malt. chocolate orange light raspberry truffle type flavor. after each sip i take i want another and another. once it starts to warm a little coffee comes out with some darker more bitter chocolate. i keep thinking of a chocolate covered strawberry with a dab of bitterness. really really tasty.

M: Get a nice slick mouth feel that completely covers. really nice carbonation that blows up if you leave it in your mouth to long. It makes you drink it. after swallowing a couple times the bitterness comes through and dries my mouth out making me want to have another sip even more.

D: 10.3% isnt exactly the biggest beer but this beer just disappears after every sip. super super smooth and lucious. bitterness compliments the big malts really well. i could down this whole bottle in 30 minutes

Serving type: bottle

02-24-2010 02:17:21 | More by chefmikeanderson
Photo of seniorcleaver


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

This was an '09 bottle, thanks to chefmikeanderson for the taste.
A- nice dark pour with thin 1 finger layer of tan head.
S- lots of dark fruit, sweet caramel and roast malts
T- Nice balance of sweet and roasty, hints of chocolate in the finish, some fig and raisin up front. Pretty smooth beer not too much roughness for such a young bottle.
M- Good mouthfeel, not to thick but still plenty of body to this beer.
D- LIke most RIS its more of a sipper. but i could easily finish a whole bottle of this tasty beer.

Overall a very good beer, I have been looking forward to trying this one for a while. I would drink this one again in a heart beat.

Serving type: bottle

02-24-2010 02:10:57 | More by seniorcleaver
Photo of dfillius


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

Enjoyed in a snifter. Thanks go out to Loyal for hooking a brother up, and to Boozemart for stocking it! Enjoyed a golden waxed bottle on 12/12/09

A: I love the label art. Moderate pour yields one finger of dark brown head with great retention and a pretty, Guinness-esque cascade. Tight foam with superb retention. Opaque black liquid. This beer looks ideal and sets the bar high for others.
S: Coffee, cherry, citrus hop, earthy oakiness and some ethyl alcohol at the end.
T: Lots of flavor in here. Coffee, chocolate, strong vanilla, some estery alcohol, raisin, peach, plum. The alcohol is thankfully restrained. This beer tastes very sweet, like candy but is definitely not cloying. Very near perfect.
M: Very smooth, silky even. Some warmth never turns to heat. Perfect.
D: Way high. One of the best RISs I've had. I liked better than Abyss and Oak Aged Yeti. Where's the alcohol? I'd track this down again and I'm glad I bought another bottle to share with friends and family in CA.

Serving type: bottle

02-24-2010 01:56:46 | More by dfillius
Photo of rpstevens

New Hampshire

4.3/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes that I found laying around. Thanks to Maximum12 for this from Secret Santa 09. Poured from a bottle into my Darkness tulip. The beer pours pitch black with a thick mocha head. The head faded pretty quickly and left some oily lacing on the sides of the glass.

The smell is very complex inviting. Licorice, dark roasted espresso, dark chocolate, roasted malts, vanilla sweetness leads to some dark fruits (cherries and raisins mostly). The dark fruits are fleeting and they lead to a blast of citrus hops, very strange for a beer like this.

The taste mirrors the smell, lots of roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and that incredible citrus hop finish. Between the acrid roasted coffee and dark chocolate and the hoppy profile there is are fleeting notes of vanilla and cherry sweetness. An interesting flavor combination for sure.

The beer is thick, more carbonated than expected and has a nice dry finish from the hop profile. The alcohol is definitely present, but adds to the flavors more than it takes away. After one glass the alcohol becomes more apparent for sure, reminding me that this is a heavy-hitter. The flavors make this a beer I wish was more readily available, I would like to drink this more often.

Serving type: bottle

02-22-2010 05:25:14 | More by rpstevens
Photo of squaremile


4.9/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

'09 pour at the Feb Portland BA tasting at Beer Mongers. This might be the most balanced RIS I've ever had. Hops are present in the nose and in the first part of the taste, with an amazing roaste, chocolate, and coffee synthesis immediately following. Incredibly unique and pleasurable. This absolutely delivers on the hype. Awesome beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-22-2010 02:40:59 | More by squaremile
Photo of ShadesOfGray


4.68/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Got from TATTORSA, thanks again! Poured from a 22oz cool looking bottle into my Corsedonk snifter. Vintage, I believe...2009. Red wax sealed. Started drinking at about 44 degrees. Figured I'd crack this one today for my B-day.

Pours a very dark, thick black with about a late building head...dark brown...and about a fingers worth. Head slowly dissapates and leaves great thick frothy lacing.

Aroma is wonderful. Lots of chocolate, maltiness, smokey coffee, and inviting bitters. Wow, the aroma is making my mouth water.

MMM. Excelent RIS. Like a DIPA meets RIS. Again, heavy chocolate flavors...followed by DIPA type sweet hops. Some sweet dark fruits are noticable, dark sugars, coffee, possibly even licorice?...finishing with a great tangy yet sweet flavor that sits on your tongue for quite some time.

What a wonderful RIS...I'll say it again. Thick, yet creamy and smooth. Very little carbonation which is ideal for this beer. Alcohol is well hidden at times, and very warming at other times which I found intriguing.

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2010 04:22:11 | More by ShadesOfGray
Photo of cpetrone84


4.53/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 Bottle from trade from Hayesez (thanks Erik, awesome trader!)

A-an aggressive pour produces huge espresso colored head that is extremely thick and creamy. the retention is very good and it completely coats the glass as it slowly works down the glass. the beer is just one shade from pitch black and lets a hint of a red hue through with a maglite shined on it. very attractive beer!

S-the nose is average in strength. there is a light aroma of chocolate, molasses and tobacco that is taken over by the smell of sweet dark fruits. there is some dark cherries and raisins. the end brings a fair amount of hops, it actually has quite a hop profile. mostly citrusy hops

T/M-this is extremely thick, creamy, and chewy, very good feel. the body is quite full as it rolls down the throat. the taste is quite nice and bold. it brings dark chocolate up front, the dark cherry and raisins come in to complement the chocolate, some citrus hops and light bitterness fade in at the finish.

D-this is extremely drinkable and very tasty. great feel and so creamy. it has bold flavors in the taste and really shows no presence of alcohol.


Review of the 2008 and 2009 side by side


A-pours jet black liquid with dark tan colored head
S-the nose is nice, molasses up front, notes of dark chocolate, caramel and toffee undertones. the back has some fruity sweetness, raisins and cherries with notes of booze. still a faint citrus hop note, can't be but seems to be.
T-the taste is quite sweet, not a ton of roasted malts happening here. a good bit of molasses, notes of anise and dark chocolate. lots of sweetness in the back, cherries, plums, touch of raisin. hops aren't really present here.
M-full body, just a little thin, but so smooth and creamy, low carbonation but tight to hold the body. silky on the throat.
D-quite sweet but ever so smooth. one of the best feels on beer you can imagine. booze is gone, just present in nose, none in the taste.

2009 is pretty much the same with more hop profile in the taste. hasn't really evolved in a year.

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2010 22:18:07 | More by cpetrone84
Photo of kenito799

New York

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

22 oz bomber poured into a pint glass.

Rich oily deep black brew slithers into the glasswitha small cap of tan foam, taunting you.

Aroma is rich and chocolately, sniffing inky coffee and malty depths.

Superb drinking experience...mouthcoating, masaaging the palate with a strikingbalance of full rich dark cocoa, chocolate, smooth malt and yet a lightness on the palate that makes you take sip after sip and want more, perhaps due to the euphoria of a near perfect beer. Many tahnks to tizzod for the beer trade.

Serving type: bottle

02-07-2010 00:01:25 | More by kenito799
Photo of BarrytheBear


3.93/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

09' Mummy vintage into my go-to stout approved snifter

Dark pour with a beautiful cinnamon colored fluffy head: nice

Smells perplexing with an initial whiff of powdery cocoa, currant, and a hefty dose of vegetative hops. There is a prevalent scent that I cannot wrap my senses around. It's alternately pleasantly sweet and sickening so. My beak hovers over the glass in a vain attempt to understand.

The initial taste matches the nose quite well. Sweetness is kept in check by a medley of light chocolate, currant, and a dark fruit/berry medley - plums? Leafy plantlike hops add a nice finishing shot. Served right out of the cellar at 55, this was quite appealing. As the beer warms, it becomes more muddled. Sweetness begins to overpower this beer and it's more difficult to separate the enjoyable initial layers. Borders on cloying.

Initially, on the tongue, this beer is a bit oily, but once it hits the back of the throat it's a stouty milkshake, almost chewy.

The drinkability on this beer decreases as it warms. While not overpowering, the alcohol creeps in as the bottle dwindles.

Serving type: bottle

02-03-2010 00:59:15 | More by BarrytheBear
Photo of Pecorasc


4.25/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2008, split two ways with Boothbeer into wine glasses. 750mL red waxed bottle with a great looking demonic character holding a skull. Not the typical Surly artwork, but impressive.

A- Pitch black at center with ruby to brown highlights when held to light. Latte colored head with large bubbles that reverse gravitate into a thick and creamy collar. Intricate lacing is formed as the heavy foam dissipates. No signs of carbonation are visible through this murky sludge.

S- Restrained licorice, dark fruits, a medley of boxed chocolates, and heat from the alcohol. Underneath these different aromas is a persistent sugary sweetness. While complex, this is lacking in intensity; I expected more.

T- Up front- intense sweetness accompanied by various dark fruits: prunes, dates, plums, and figs. There is a gradual progression that leads to a combination of roasted barley and dark fruits. At the end there is a only the roasted aftertaste balanced by a sugary sweetness- a combination reminiscent of molasses. Leaves a good amount of sugary residue on the mouth and lips. Moderate alcohol burn. Intense... more than made up for my disappointment with the aroma.

M- Very viscous and milky with little carbonation. The consistency reminds me of a warm glass of Ovaltine. If there was one aspect of this beer that I would equate with the name "Darkness", it would be the mouthfeel.

D- This is a sipper, but not because of the alcohol. The sweetness and viscosity make this one to be consumed in limited quantities.

Notes: Drank this side-by-side with the '09, but did not review that vintage. The intensity of the dark fruits and sugary sweetness in the '08 separated that year from the '09. Additionally, the '09 had a hop bitterness than was not present in the '08.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2010 02:03:09 | More by Pecorasc
Photo of boothbeer


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

2008 Vintage and 2009 Vintage
Got 08 in a trade from Maltzilla. Thanks to pecorasc for opening the 09 for our 08-09 vertical. Poured into wine glass. Very cool looking 750ml bottle. Bright red wax for 08 and burgundy wax for 09.

A:Pours thick and super dark. Lots of bubbles around the edges. Light tan head. Really good head retention. The 08 reduces to a film, but that stays there till the last sip. The 09 does not have any film on top.

S: 08-Lots of dark fruit. Raisins and hint of prunes.
09-Much less dark fruit. I get some earthy tones in the 09 that have obviously faded in the 08.

T: 08-Wow. Not what I expected at all. Lots of dark fruit and sweetness. Then you get hit with a roasty finish. No coffee flavors, and just a hint of chocolate. Tons of raisins, prunes, and dates. Picking up molases and licorice as well. Might have a hint of soy though. Not what I expected, but still a great beer with very unique flavor.
09- I like this just a little better than the 08. Very different flavors. Get more alcohol and more complexity. Still get dark fruit, but I pick up more roasty, chocolaty flavors.

M: Mouthfeel is nice and smooth with just a little carbonation. Super creamy. Almost a 5.

D: very good drinkability. Alcohol lets you know its there, but doesnt hit you in the face. It is well masked.

Overall great beer, but I like the 09 a little better. The only score I would change would be to give the 08 a 4.0 for taste (A- overall). Very different flavors, but both good in their own way. Really enjoyed trying these side by side.

Serving type: bottle

01-31-2010 22:04:42 | More by boothbeer
Photo of JohnGalt1


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

Big thanks to Jake65 for helping out the RIS tasting a couple of weeks back.. Thanks Jake!!!

'09 bottle...

Thick on the pour.. dark dark brown head.. the brew is of course black... swirls give nice dark legs... great retention

Nose has tidal waves of dark malts ... fairly abundant hops that mesh well with dark chocolate and French Roast.. Honestly, no complaints.

The bitterness from the hops is apparent and combines with some drying dark malts and moves into nice RIS characteristics.. fudgey brownies.. grassy and mild citrus hops are pretty much there throughout the flavor.. coffee remnants that have a bit of dark malt bite... dry finish has some citrus hops and drying cocoa and bits of coffee....

Body is pretty dialed in.. carbonation seems maybe a bit high.. but it may be too warm at this point..

Reminds me alot of the 110K.. but the hops seemed more aromatic and somehow balanced.... pretty damn good beer.

Thanks again Jake!!

I wish I had taken better notes.... This is the 2nd bottle of the '09 I've had.. the '08 seemed a bit muddy the couple of times I tried it before, but it also seemed like it needed some time to find the stride.


Serving type: bottle

01-27-2010 09:41:31 | More by JohnGalt1
Photo of pdoran10


4.05/5  rDev -10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Served on tap at darkness day 2009 at Hell's Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis. Have procrastinated a long time on reviewing this beer.

When I ordered it, I was presented with a 10oz goblet of very dark brown beer, with a luxurious looking half inch of head. The smell is right away of toasted malt with dark chocolate, can't quite put my finger on some of the other flavors, but very complex. I was surprised when I tasted it, very thick and syrupy. I taste toasted malt right away, much like the smell. After that passes, I get an explosion of other flavors, chocolate, expresso, I might even taste some fig in there. It took me a few sips to get a grasp for all that was going on. Good taste, but a lot of toasted malt and a bit of alchohol taste are going on. I was not a big fan of the mouthfeel of this one. I'm all for thick imperial stouts, but somehow this one was much more syrupy than I liked, it felt a little to sticky sweet in my mouth. The drinkability is good enough. Some alchohol presense, and a bit syrupy, but it can't be all bad as I still had two and considered a third. Good beer, didn't live up to my expectations though.

Serving type: on-tap

01-23-2010 10:27:01 | More by pdoran10
Photo of scifan

North Carolina

4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle coutersy of NYCWheatFanSC. Pours like what you would exept from a big imperial stout. Thick black liquid pours from the bottle in a "gulb gulb" fashion. A very aggresive pour creates a large frothy head that is a very dark brown. Nice lacing appears as this massive brew settles down a bit.
Smells way different than any RIS I've ever smelled. Big juicy citrusy hops are the first thing to reach my nose. Very intriguing. They interact much better than expected with dark bakers chocolate, and sweet dark fruity malts. Just a light roasty lurks in the background.
The first sips reveal dark roasted malts, quickly followed by a big citrus hops. The hops have tropical notes to them mango, peach, and alot of orange is coming through. It's almost like a big black IPA in terms of the hoppiness. It has a nice roasty finish that leaves me wanting another sip. Mouthfeel is spot on for the style smooth and creamy with the perfect amount of carbonation. There's not a hint of alcohol in this if not for a slight warming sensation I wouldn't know if it was there at all. I don't think I'll have a problem finishing this bottle at all. Very imteresting and complex beer. Glad I had the chance to try it.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2010 05:36:21 | More by scifan
Photo of sisuspeed

New Hampshire

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

2009 Bottle

Thanks go out to my Grandparents for this one. They managed to secure me two bottles of this release. Awesome.

Chipped off the wax and poured this into a tulip glass. Served at cellar temperature. Extremely dark body. No light getting through this one. Complete darkness. Above the body a thin tan head clings mostly to the sides of the glass, leaving spider-webbed lacing. Looks beautiful and sinister at the same time.

Aroma contains lots of earthy, grassy hops mixed with chocolate malts and anise. Hints of sticky sweet molasses. Probably one of the hoppier RIS aromas I've had the pleasure to nose.

The flavor on this heavy stout is a mix of sweet malts and grassy, sometimes peppery, hops. The hops are more aggressive than many RISs, but complement the sweetness quite well, making this a very drinkable RIS. Diving into the flavor more one can pick out a good helping of chocolate malt and molasses. Anise is present as well, giving a sweet and spiced level of complexity to the beer. What is really surprising, however, is how well the alcohol is hidden. Besides some warming and a little bit of a kick once in awhile, it is almost unnoticeable. Overall, the flavor is a good mix of hops and a ton of dark/chocolate malt.

Mouthfeel is super smooth. Thick and velvety. Almost milkshake like. Low carbonation and warming alcohol. This beer's body is dead on for a RIS.

Drinkability is quite high. Especially for a beer of 10.3% ABV. Currently splitting this bottle with another BA and it is disappearing pretty quickly. So smooth and the well hidden alcohol. This beer is a sipper, but a quick sipper.

Overall, a truly exceptional RIS. One of the best beers I've ever had and a great example of the style. I'm really glad I have another one in the cellar and I'm excited to see how it ages. Great job Surly!

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2010 00:17:03 | More by sisuspeed
Photo of abuliarose

New Hampshire

4.65/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

09 vintage, poured into a wide-mouthed snifter revealing black body with a dense and thick milk chocolate head. Looks like a milkshake at the top. Strong lacing. As far as RIS's go, this is tops. Smells hoppier than I've ever had an RIS smell, especially in terms of floral notes. Underneath that there are meaty, roasted raw chocolate notes. All good smells.

Tastes sweet, malty and boozy. Nice thick roasted and chocolaty malt character with some vanilla to it. Quite bitter as well, which works well with the sweetness to cut through it and add gains in drinkability. Very smooth for its harshness. Carbonation is small and and tingly to a tongue-numbing point. I mean that in the best way. Quite warming. Heavy-bodied, but oh so smooth. For its sweetness, I find it quite drinkable.

This is a top-notch RIS.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2010 00:02:50 | More by abuliarose
Photo of punkrkr27


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

2008 bottle. Lots of rich sweet yet bitter black strap molasses character with a shot of espresso. There's some milk chcoclate that comes out in the middle and it finishes with a long bitter black coffee finish. There was a hint of soy I didn't care much for though. The body is sticky and full with moderate carbonation.

Serving type: bottle

01-18-2010 21:42:07 | More by punkrkr27
Photo of SpeedwayJim

New York

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

Sampled at hoppymcgee's tasting 1/16. '09 vintage (mummmy). A 4oz. pour into an 8oz. pint glass. Reviewed from notes.

A: A gentle pour yields a .5 finger fine chocolate head with good retention. Quite carbonated for an RIS. Beer is a nice motor oil black though not quite as thick. Lacing is spider-web like. Doesn't get any better than this...

S: Nose is citrus hops which makes me a little confuzzled... from an RIS? Chocolate, roasted malts are present but pushed far into the background. Grapefruit is present as well as cocoa.

T: Opens slighlty hoppy, chocolate, prunes, citrus, grapefruit, soy sauce, and surprisingly, not boozy at all. Hop character fades at the end, giving way to a more traditional RIS profile. Finish is a bit of roasted coffee bean sourness even though the coffee is absent from the rest of the experience.

M: Medium bodied, coarse, carbonated, and not as oily or viscous as I expected. The feel works well here to integrate the flavors though. Finish is a bit sticky and sweet with a lingering hoppiness that dissipates rather quickly.

D: I don't know how but the hop character works amazingly well for this beer. Very well balanced and perfectly executed, this one was the highlight of the night for me. What keeps it from being a 5 for me here is that I feel like I gotta be ready for this one. However, there's no doubt the hype is deserving of this beer here.

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2010 14:46:08 | More by SpeedwayJim
Photo of Beertracker


4.55/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Surly Darkness (2009) pours up quite viscous with barely enough effervescence to create a small, but uniformed camel-dark tan head that completely covers the nearly opaque bistre-garnet black body. The head retention is surprisingly good considering the alcohol. The aroma is expectately rich & complex with an array of roasted malts, burnt caramel, buttery toffee, dark chocolate & espresso notes combined with a light fruitiness reminiscent of cordial cherries, burnt rum-soaked raisins & blackened plums which layers nicely with the alcohol and slightly herbal hops to create an orchestra for the olfaction. The intense flavor starts off bold & rich with a blast of burnt caramel followed by a fruity, bittersweet dark chocolate/cocoa nib character that dominates the middle until the bitter roasted barley & earthy hops take over like Casey Jones driving a freight train straight to hell! Hint of Akvavit and/or Heering Cherry liqueur in the cheek warming finish. This heavy, full-bodied Imperial Stout shows some finesse, but becomes a bit chewy & syrupy towards bottles end. Surly Darkness is a frightful monster that will have mega-swillers running for their lives!

CHEERS! Beertracker

Trader's note: Thanks 2 beerhandy for hand delivering a bottle from Darkness Day.

Serving type: bottle

01-16-2010 07:30:00 | More by Beertracker
Photo of Onenote81

North Carolina

4.22/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks go out to monsterfat for this hookup in a trade long ago. Thanks so much for the opportunity, Jeff!

Vintage 2008. 500th Review!

Poured into a snifter. Wow, this is dense. Glugs out of the bottle thick and slow. This is the blackest beer I have ever seen. Held up to the light, nothing is coming through, not even at the edges. Oh man, what is this going to do to my stomach? Big warm chocolatey scents burst out of this beer. Wow! Slight sour note on the finish. Little soy sauce.

The body is my favorite part of this beer. I want to wrap myself up in this and go to sleep. This is the smoothest, creamiest beer. Carbonation is present, but it is overwhelmed by such a buttery creamy mouth. Man. The flavor reminds me of a melted chocolate bar in a drink. Seriously. This is pure chocolate. Mild tartness on the back end, but it is sweet and creamy. Bitterness is low. Slight smokiness in the aftertaste. Geez. This is good. Drinkability is very high as the alcohol makes itself a ghost in the flavor. I'm feeling its presence a bit, but I can't detect it in the flavor.

In all honesty, I didn't think I was going to like this beer. Even though it is so highly rated, I thought I would find it too much. It showed me a thing or two...

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2010 03:43:47 | More by Onenote81
Photo of DrDogbeer


4.55/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this beast a few times now, but this review is from a bottle. (which was a bit different from when I had it on tap, not as good IMO, but still awesome.) 2008 vintage. Pours a syrupy black into a tulip. Thin tan head. This one is dark! Smells of some ripe dark fruits and then the chocolate. Lots of chocolate. Taste is similar- lots of deep bitter chocolate with some light coffee aromas too. The winner here is the mouthfeel, though! A super-creamy delight. As close to a beer milkshake as you can get. This is outstanding. The alcohol is well hidden behind all the chocolate goodness, so it makes it very drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

01-12-2010 21:36:37 | More by DrDogbeer
Photo of bonsreeb85


4.85/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to jera1350 for hooking this one up in a trade!

1st beer of 2010, here we go...

Opaque, tar, jet fuel, take your pick. this beer earns it's name, both thick and black sporting a large mocha head that maintains despite the high abv.

THis is what I call COMPLEX!
THe nose presents a wonderful chocolate and roasted malt base. Ground coffee vanilla beans, some smoke, dark fruits and citrus hops also come to play. honestly if I were blindfolded I would guess that this was a DIPA of Barley wine. sweeter scent than expected.

The taste mirrors the nose making for the most interesting RIS I've ever had. the hoppiness really adds an interesting element to the chocolate/cofee/roasted malt vertabrae. the alcohol content is well masked and although this brew finishes dry, it is suprisingly sweeter than i could have guessed(all for the better IMHO)

The body is slightly thinner than expected but still enough body to satisfy. the CO2 runs on the lower side of things and makes for a slick and smooth overall feel.

One of the most interesting and unique (and pleasurable) beer experiences i've encountered. If you can get your hands on it, savor every drop! i want more! more I say!

Serving type: bottle

01-12-2010 02:00:52 | More by bonsreeb85
Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,544 ratings.