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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

2,602 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,602
Reviews: 762
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.33%
Wants: 2,908
Gots: 1,017 | FT: 71
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
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Ratings: 2,602 | Reviews: 762 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Franchise


4.45/5  rDev -1.1%

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!

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


4.45/5  rDev -1.1%

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.

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

New York

4.05/5  rDev -10%

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.

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


4.08/5  rDev -9.3%

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.

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


4.78/5  rDev +6.2%

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.

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


4.13/5  rDev -8.2%

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.

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


3.7/5  rDev -17.8%

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.

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

North Carolina

4.88/5  rDev +8.4%

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.

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


4.55/5  rDev +1.1%

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.

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


4.18/5  rDev -7.1%

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!

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


3.9/5  rDev -13.3%

~ 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.

05-04-2010 02:53:14 | More by indiapaleale
Photo of BARFLYB


4.7/5  rDev +4.4%

Review#666. Thanks goes out to Kbutler for the bottle, one that has been on my radar for a bit. I enjoyed this with friends at The Compound poured into appropriate glasses.

Brown/black liquid shoe polish coming out of the bottle, deep space black when condensed in the glass. The name does not lie. Darkness builds a fort of dark tan, bordering on mocha brown, head on top that's kinda bubbly and not terribly together, there are nice streaks of lace on the way down. Muddled spray paint lace notches.

This has a good amount of everything that's associated with the style. First off a big bag of chocolate(bittersweet) pieces nessled in with espresso scents. A dark fruit component with some berries mixed in with a roasted malt base that does not quit. Some molasses and some bittering hops close this out.

I was worried about Darkness being to hoppy, I heard the 08' was bordering on Storm King territory which is not my bag. I get a nice amount of hops with some grapefruit and slight pine, but it's not at a killer level. The hops are actually under a sea of roasted malts(and many others) giving off chocolate, black coffee and oats from the farm. A nice amount of sweetness with brown suga & some licorice in the middle. Some molasses and blackberry finished off with a mix of everything above.

This is a thick stout, but not as thick as other heavy hitters. I would say it's full bodied but not very syrupy and gooey. It goes down smooth with a mix of sweet and bitter from the hopping. It does not coat the mouth for long but makes a lasting impression aftertaste wise. Hey wait, this is approaching 11%, I would not have guessed it if it was not printed on the bottle, expertly cloaked, but not 100% out of the picture.

Well Darkness exceeded my expectations and I had a smile on my face the whole time. I usually take my sweet time with big rizzes, but this was drank with the quickness, probably because it's not a overly gooey RIS. I wish I had more and can see why alot of people on this site hoard this beer, one that is not all that incredibly rare at this point, it's just damn fine stuff that demands some respect.

05-02-2010 15:05:00 | More by BARFLYB
Photo of DanOLeary


4.65/5  rDev +3.3%

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

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

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

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

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

04-24-2010 03:43:09 | More by DanOLeary
Photo of PeprSprYoFace


4.18/5  rDev -7.1%

Reviewed from my notes from last night. Shared with friends

Pours a super deep black. Motor oil looking. Pretty thick. Very thin head but dissapated to nothing. No real lacing.

Aroma of dark fruits and tons of caramel/burnt sugars. Very malty and sweet smelling. Smells great

The taste is as it smells but the dark fruits are the main players in the flavor. Lots of sweet malt. Gets to be a little too much after a while.

Mouthfeel is super heavy. Light carb. A little too heavy for me.

Overall a very tasty beer in small amounts but I couldn't drink alot at all. Very heavy and very malty. But I am glad I finally got to taste this beer.

04-23-2010 20:55:55 | More by PeprSprYoFace
Photo of Cresant


4.58/5  rDev +1.8%

Poured this 750 mL brown bottle into a Duvel glass. Wax was dark chrome. The body was the color of darkness. The huge tan head was creamy and dense, it fought back.

Smell was grainy and fruity. There was a bright, clean, fresh aroma. I did not detect coffee or chocolate, which I expected. Well hidden alcohol.

Taste was cherries, and stone fruits. A bit lactic/milky. Rich. Lightly bready. Muted hops. Sweet, but not too much. Again I did not pick up chocolate or coffee, however, this is one of the easiest drinking RISs I've ever had. Very well hidden alcohol.

Mouthfeel was luxurious. Rich and silky smooth. Overall I would describe this beer as ripe fruit wrapped in velvet. Dangerously drinkable.

04-23-2010 13:32:22 | More by Cresant
Photo of pepsican


4.47/5  rDev -0.7%

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

04-19-2010 22:15:22 | More by pepsican
Photo of emmasdad


3.9/5  rDev -13.3%

Pours thick, oily and black, so black no light passes through, with a nice mocha head. Big aromas on the nose: hops, chocolate, roast, coffee and licorice. The first taste brings a suggestion of hops, followed quickly by warming alcohol. Roasted malt, dark fruit and chocolate covered espresso beans. Finishes thick and rich, with a nice kick of alcohol heat. A very good beer.

04-16-2010 01:40:30 | More by emmasdad
Photo of ChadQuest


3.9/5  rDev -13.3%

Drove over an hour into Chicago where thanks to the Craft Brewers convention there was a firkin being tapped that i was able to partake in.

Got my tulip for $7 which i thought very reasonable, and the head was just under a finger but tightly packed and coffee colored. black body under.

This is a sweet one through and through, there is just a small hint of roast and alcohol trying to hold the sweetness in check. It's not cloying, don't get me wrong, just absolutly on the sweet end of the spectrum. I got alot of milk chocolate, with a pretty syrupy sensation, not only on the mouth feel but the flavor as well, which was not really detrimental but just differant.

This was medium heavy thickness, but honestly thinner then i was expecting for such a stout.

The finish was a bit thin and had me sipping it every 3 seconds, i would never guess this was over 10%, no way, way to drinkable. i could have 40oz of this easily.

Glad i made the trip to enjoy this beer with some of my too seldom seen friends in the city.

04-10-2010 07:35:44 | More by ChadQuest
Photo of NorthsideFred


4.28/5  rDev -4.9%

Had it on tap at Jake Melnick's, (thanks to the Craft Brew Convention).

A: Looks great. Black with a 1/2" thick dark brown head.

S: Sweet and roasty.

T: Very smooth; the alcohol is very well hidden. Quite sweet. Based on some of the other reviews on here, I expected it to be hoppy, but my pour wasn't hoppy at all.

M: Not as thick as most RIS I've had.

D: Very smooth. You would never guess that this is over 10% ABV! Very drinkable; although, I suspect the sweetness would get to you after awhile.

Overall a great beer, and one that I'd order again!

04-08-2010 20:22:49 | More by NorthsideFred
Photo of jt31914


4.97/5  rDev +10.4%

'08 Bomber aged for a year and a half or so.

A: Couple fingers of head, dark black color with coffee colored lacing/head. Not too carbonated except at the top of the beer; no bubbling in the body of the brew.

S: Strong! I could smell it from five feet away; it is a wonderfully sweet aroma of chocolate, coffee, licorice, and barley that is balanced by oats. The oat and barley are dominant and there is a mellow alcohol melded in.

T: Super sweet and malty with licorice, chocolate, and barley on the palate. This is balanced by the oats and bitter coffee on the finish. The alcohol is super smooth and pleasant, and this beer reminds me of a better, sweeter, and more drinkable version of GI's BCS.

M/D: It just sits in your mouth and you never want to swallow. Super smooth, creamy and drinkable.

This is the new best beer I've ever had... by a decent margin.

04-05-2010 15:04:27 | More by jt31914
Photo of urwithdave


3.98/5  rDev -11.6%

Tnx to gtreid for sharing this one at our stout throw down! 09 bottle poured into my cigar city snifter.

A- Midnight black in color. A solid 1' 1/2" dark brown head that has pretty decent retention. Nice lacing.

S- Big molasses and booze. Malts and a slight hint of hops.

T- Very sweet molasses and dark chocolate. Some dried fruits, mainly prunes. The alcohol takes the spotlight and kind of drowns out the other flavors. There is a bit of earthly hops.

M- Kind of thin, almost oily. I would have def preferred a little more thickness.

D- A little more time would've helped this one out. The alcohol was still very hot.

04-05-2010 03:49:41 | More by urwithdave
Photo of oglmcdgl


4.78/5  rDev +6.2%

Bottle split with onix1agr. Thanks to kbutler for the hook up.

A- pitch black and oily that's for sure with a finger of coffee colored creamy head. The cap vanishes into the deep after a bit. Deep ruby glow when brightly lite from behind.

S- dark brown sugar and bakers chocolate. Pumpernickel bread. Dark berries and some spice. Deep roasted malts and maybe some molasses.

T- there is a lot going on in the dark. Tons of dark roasted coffee and bittersweet chocolate. Brown sugar and blackberries. There some grapefruit in there too and it really picks up the fruit aspect, balances out the peppery roast, and brightens up the dark malty sweetness. Maple pepper bacon? No, but there is a very mild savory quality and it really works for me. Touch of heat.
M- thick and chewy, oil and syrup. Coats the mouth so completely but has just the right amount of carb to cut the soup. The slightest linger, I almost want a bit more.

D- with such a complex flavor profile and abv I wouldn't say its a session beer but damn if this is not easy going.

04-05-2010 03:48:48 | More by oglmcdgl
Photo of beerwolf77


4.38/5  rDev -2.7%

Thanks to darklordlager for sending this my way after simply mentioning that I'd never tried it. Talk about a true beer advoacate.

2009 vintage

Split with Andy during our epic beer tasting. Poured into my pint glass the beer is a the true definition of a blackhole. A waterfall of cascading bubbles rain down over nearly half the glass. The thick dark mocha head rises to a full three fingers before receding to leave a emense lace ring.

The aroma is very sweet with loads of citrus fruit and pine. The usual RIS suspects are present as well. Dark chocolate, coffee, roast malt and hints of campfire. I actually get a touch of peanut butter too.

The flavor is a huge blast of choclate covered grapefruit. I like hoppy stouts but this is insane. Once past the hops you get a fair amount coffee, molasses, roasted malt and a hint of smoke.

Full thick body. Very used motor oil like. Light if any carbonation.

Overall a hop bomb RIS. The drinkability suffers for me with the two opposing flavors. I would love to try one with some age on it. Maybe mellow out those hops a bit.


After having this on cask at GTMW (one of hte first samples I grabbed) I'm bumping my scores up for this. It was truly sublime with some age on it.

03-31-2010 02:46:32 | More by beerwolf77
Photo of Huhzubendah

District of Columbia

4.72/5  rDev +4.9%

Thanks to ahalloin for sharing this at my most recent tasting.

2008 vintage. Eerie photo of the devil on the label. Eek!

A: Very dark, big beige head and great lacing.

S: Big roasted malts with a very present hop profile, much more so than I am accustomed to. This beer smells awesome.

T: Hops are surprisingly present and delicious. Rich roasted malt with bitter chocolates. Wow, this is amazing beer. This beer stands among the best imperial stouts I've had the pleasure of drinking.

M: Really smooth. ABV hidden extremely well.

D: I need to attend Darkness Day to really test this beer's drinkability :)

03-30-2010 22:20:10 | More by Huhzubendah
Photo of morimech


3.7/5  rDev -17.8%

2009 Vintage

Appearance- Not quite black but a dark brown during the pour, appears dark black in the glass. A large brown head with excellant retention. Moderate amount of spotty lacing is left on the glass.

Smell- A large hoppy nose. Resiny and citrus fruit mostly. A little dark malt in the background. Smells more like a DIPA than a RIS.

Taste- Again this is dominated by the hops. Sticky and fruity. Bitterness is high even with several months on this bottle. Malt is a secondary player giving some roasted and chocolate notes. Alcohol does not really play a major role in the taste.

Mouthfeel- Not as big and thick as other RIS's. Still has good carbonation and texture.

Drinkability- With each passing year it seems Darkness becomes less of a style dominator. More of a Black IPA at this point. Hope Surly goes back to the 2007 recipe for 2010. I would take an Old Rasputin or Storm King over this.

03-26-2010 21:52:22 | More by morimech
Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,602 ratings.