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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
DarknessDarkness

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

2,529 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,529
Reviews: 761
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.33%
Wants: 2,872
Gots: 1,000 | 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:
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:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Darkness Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,529 | Reviews: 761 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of auroracrisis
auroracrisis

Kentucky

3.85/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass. Got this one from Mistofminn in a trade, thanks again!

Poured black and thick with a big head. The head was probably three inches on my first pour and as the brew was drank down it had little lacing. I think the lacing was due to the glass it was in which had been in the dishwasher.

Smell was a bit underwhelming. Earthy hops and roasted coffee with sweet chocolate. I was hoping for something that just jumped out of the glass at me but it wasn't happening for some reason.

Taste was unlike any RIS I have ever had. Opened up with lots of earthy hops which moved into sweet chocolate and roasted coffee. As the beer warmed I could taste a bit of alcohol but not much.

Mouthfeel was alright. I'd say light to medium body for an RIS. Wasn't bad but wasn't great.

Drinkability was good. Not something I could drink pitcher after pitcher of but it was solid. I had no problem finishing the 22oz on my own.

Overall, I would say this one was a great beer but didn't live up to the hype. Maybe it's better on tap? Not saying it's a bad beer but it's not mind blowingly good or anything. I enjoyed it though. Thanks Brad!

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2009 06:48:03 | More by auroracrisis
Photo of brewanddrink
brewanddrink

Minnesota

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

i was number 326th in line for this years darkness and i was there the year before also. Just the fact that i waited three and a half hours to get it makes it taste even better. It pours thick in the glass with little head at first then forms a thin layer that emits a lovely aroma of dark fruit, sweet malt and a little hops. The taste is bold and full of strong malt with raisins and a linger of chocolate. It is a very nice beer for a cold winter night just after a long day of snow boarding.

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2009 03:16:38 | More by brewanddrink
Photo of hardy008
hardy008

Minnesota

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

When I had this on tap, it had a small tan head. When I poured the beer from the bottle into a tulip glass, it had a huge tan 2 finger head with excellent retention. Very impressive. Pitch black color, allows no light to pass through.

The nose on this is amazing. A nice combination of smeet malt, molasses, chocolate, raisins, coffee, and hops makes for a great aroma.

The flavor is just as amazing. The malt takes center stage and the beer is wonderfully sweet and somewhat hoppy at the same time.

As high as the alcohol is, it is amazing at how well it is hidden. Full bodied, rich, creamy, and nicely carbonated. Nicely drinkable for such a big beer. I wouldn't change a thing.

Serving type: bottle

12-05-2009 03:26:45 | More by hardy008
Photo of Arbitrator
Arbitrator

California

3.7/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Chilled bottle, 2009 vintage, into a glass. Shared at a tasting. Received in a generous trade from KeefD. Thanks, Keith!

I was a little concerned about this beer being awful, since largadeer compared it to Dark Lord, which I can't stand. I expected a drainpour.

A: Pours a perfectly pitch black in the glass, letting no light through, even at the edges. The bottle is well-chilled, and a vigorous pour yields no head, but as it warms, swirling and agitation produce a nice, frothy mocha-colored head that rises to a finger in thickness. Sadly, it falls quickly into a light collar and a swirl of bubbles on the brew. No lacing.

S: Barry (bring) made a comment that this smells like stir-fry and sesame oil, and as the beer warmed, I saw great hints of that. It also had a strong burnt (not roasted, but burnt) malt flavor that imparted elements of smoke and a light ashiness. Chocolate was also quite strong. There were no hops in the nose.

T: The beer goes through oscillations as it warms. When cold, it is mostly charred and smoky. At a little higher temperature, it is burnt and acrid, with a little citrus in the finish. Slightly higher, and it develops a soy sauce / stir fry profile. As it approaches room temperature, the flavors meld into a nicer combination. Yes, there's a soy sauce / sesame oil flavor to it. Yes, there's still an acrid / burnt ash flavor in there. It's also strongly sweet, with chocolate, molasses, and a dark fruit variety (currants? Maybe figs). There is an underlying hop bitterness throughout, and it's more apparent in the finish where it manifests as a citrus burst and some earth. At room temperature, these seemingly clashing flavors merge into a pretty enjoyable profile. It's not the best imperial stout I've had, but it's quite well crafted. I have to say, though: no one in the room understood why people kept saying this beer is very hoppy; this bottle was not.

M: Full body with a velvety feel from its low carbonation. It's slightly warming, but there is no real booze to it.

D: As I said above, it's not the best imperial stout I've had, but I think it's solid. I expected it to be awful, and it turned out to exceed my expectations. I seemed to be the only one at the tasting who enjoyed it even this much, which surprised me. Normally I'm the Negative Nancy at these tastings.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2009 08:20:46 | More by Arbitrator
Photo of jeffthecheff
jeffthecheff

Connecticut

3.5/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Shared at the "Black Friday" tassting 2009. Thanks fbm115 for the bottle.

The beer is black. It's Darkness. The head is a dark brown but it dies to just a lace around the glass.

The aroma is very hoppy with only a hint of dark flavor in the back. Doesn't really live up to the Darkness title, as it it more bright and hoppy. Pine and citrusy orange peel come through with DIPA strength.

The flavor is mostly hoppy, with a syrupy, dark chocolate flavor hiding in there. There is a burnt, bitter finish from both the hops and the roast. Fruity hop flavors come through as orange and cranberry, reminding me of a chocolate covered fruits. There is a bit of a garlicy flavor as well from the overboard of hops.

The mouthfeel is thick, resiny, and oily. Slightly chalky finish. Slight warming feeling from the alcohol. This beer is hurt by the overboard of hops for the drinkability. Overall it seemed like there was too much going on, but I'd like to see how this tastes with some age on it when those hops calm down.

Serving type: bottle

11-30-2009 21:41:43 | More by jeffthecheff
Photo of surlyseth
surlyseth

Minnesota

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

Saved this one for my 35th B-day.
Took it out of the fridge a half-hour prior to opening.
Poured in a Duvel tulip.

A: Thick jet black body with a khaki-carmel-frap-looking head. The pour yields a "slow-burn" head which takes time to accumulate. Minimal lacing.

S: Hoppy, but not necessarily like an IPA. Not floral or citrusy. It's more oily and piney...Like I opened up an old chest in the attic.

T: Amazing. Drying coffee up front, sticky-sweet caramel, and finishing with a hoppy, bold tobacco. The taste of this cannot be overstated. So many RI Stouts come up dry and short. Soft and simple. Or they overdo the sweetness. Darkness has a sourness that powers through the chocolate cloying effect. This is a chocolate stout that is fleeting. It plays hide-and-seek all over the tongue.

M: Phenomenally robust. Fully festive. Hoppy as hell to balance the sticky sweetness. My lips are adhered to themselves and my mouth coated, yet the hops scream for another sip.

D: Sip it and you will be rewarded by it's hidden, sweet, dark fruits that become more brilliant as the darkness comes to pass into the dawn of inebriation!

This beer lives up to the hype.

Serving type: bottle

11-25-2009 05:18:04 | More by surlyseth
Photo of bmanning
bmanning

North Carolina

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

Thanks to beerdavis for this 09 bottle - shared with Traquairlover.
Pours black with a 2 finger tan/light brown head.
I'm caught off guard with huge citrus and floral aromas - is this a stout or an IPA? There are also background aromas of coffee, chocolate, licorice, toffee, and caramel.
Taste is very odd, but in a good way. This beer has qualities of both an Imperial IPA and a Russian Imperial Stout. There is grapefruit mixed with chocolate, lemon with coffee, orange with caramel. These are very odd combinations together, but they surprisingly work well together.
Mouthfeel is thick and coats very well.
Overall this is a very different stout than I'm used to because the floral and citrus notes are in the forefront right now with the stout flavors in the back. I'm going to give my 2nd bottle a year in the cellar and see how it develops.

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2009 16:57:12 | More by bmanning
Photo of bsp77
bsp77

Minnesota

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

Serving glass: Poured from magnificent 750ml bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Exceedingly dark brown that might as well be black with a thick mocha head that mostly recedes, but only after several minutes.

Smell: Very fruity aroma for a RIS, with a strong citrus hop bitterness. Some floral notes (roses?) are apparent as well as something akin to raw meat. The roasted aroma is quite low, with just a slight touch of chocolate.

Taste: Same as the aroma, it is very fruity, both due to the malts (plum, figs) and the hops (citrus). The citrus is especially off-putting, but in a good "wow I didn't realize that could work" way. Also notice some rich molasses, licorice and chocolate, with a nice mild bitterness at the end.

Feel: Low carbonation, full chewy body that is exceptionally smooth.

Drinkability: I really can't tell this is over 10% at all. Despite how thick it is, it is very easy to drink. Overall, not a typical RIS at all considering the lower roasted character and the citrus hops, but quite exceptional.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2009 04:53:37 | More by bsp77
Photo of trbergman
trbergman

Illinois

4.75/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served on tap at Prairie Moon in Evanston. 10oz pour.

A - Pitch black with a quarter inch of brown head that quickly fades, leaving nice lacing on the way down.

S - Chocolate, coffee, licorice, citrusy hops.

T - Sweet, roasted, and bitter all at once. Plenty of chocolate, caramel, and vanilla, with notes of hazelnut. There are also flavors of roasted grain, smoke, and coffee. Hops sneak through the rich malt structure with flavors of orange zest and grapefruit, as well as aggressive bitterness.

M - Viscous and rich; creamy, full body.

D - Potent, but delicious. A good contemplative sipper.

Serving type: on-tap

11-22-2009 04:46:47 | More by trbergman
Photo of vacax
vacax

California

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

Having a nice glass of 2009 Darkness. The pour was gloppy at first without bubbles, but then a rush of carbonation appeared and formed a large charred oak head that cascaded to the top of the glass. Rich, dark foam has good retention and leaves a good amount of lace as well. Hard to find a finer looking brew. The aroma is a heady mixture of sweet roasted malts and some sticky hoppy accents. Heavy herbal notes, soy, anise, licorice and earthy hops. French roast coffee with five sugar cubes.

Tastes of sweet grapes, prune, bit of chocolate, and plenty of roasty and herbal elements. Earthy, sticky, cookielike, and doughy finish. Full bodied, a bit chewy, silky, medium carbonation. I had heard the 2009 was a return to "hoppy goodness," but I actually prefer the 2008 version without so many herbal flavors in it.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2009 03:43:46 | More by vacax
Photo of CRichardsMN
CRichardsMN

Minnesota

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

2009 Vintage - Bottle and Tap (Little to no Difference)

Appearance:
Pours out nearly black with a beautifully creamy, short dirty brown head that leaves a huge amount of lacing, almost a sheet.

Smell:
Sweet and very heavily roasted caramel is almost completely masked by something very odd in a Russian Imperial Stout, HOPS. It almost made me put the glass back down as was a bit afraid, but I persevered and continued on. The brew is also heavily scented with alcohol. (The rating is as high as it is as the hops intervention actually grew on me as I continued through the glass).

Taste:
Huge beer. Syrupy sweet of roasted caramel, chocolate and alcohol with a very big presence of hops typical of nearly all Surly beers. Finishes slightly bitter. Unique, but good balance.

Mouthfeel:
Buttercream smoothness with a very light carbonation. One of the heaviest beers I've gotten to try. Awesome.

Drinkability:
Really strong beer, 10.30% will floor nearly anyone. I loved the experience of this beer and recommend it to anyone that can get their hands on this rarity. Split the bottle though because you really get burnt out by the end of a glass. (We split our bottle 3 ways and that was about perfect)

Comment:
Have only heard rumors of this one up until this year where my lovely wife con-ed a friend out of one of his bottles (Sorry AJ). If I had more than one of these, I would have aged it. Maybe with next year's release...

Surly is a local brewery that is known for its hop packing. I was less than thrilled with in my first experience (Furious for a non-IPA fan) but even that grew on me with it's complexity. Very solid brewery.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2009 00:58:41 | More by CRichardsMN
Photo of mikey711
mikey711

New Jersey

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

Enjoyed this one over a long sunday. Received from fbm115 and reviewed from notes. this was the 09 bottle

A: Syrupy black, with no light able to get through that had an espresso like frothy head about half an inch thick that sat atop. The head retention was great and the walls were covered with spider webbing.

S: Heavy milk chocolate aroma up front followed by a far amount of roastiness, then a super burst of citrus hops which caught me by surprise.

T: Again it starts out with the sweet chocolate then leads into a bitter roastiness and a bitter hoppy finish. Some nices mocha notes were present as well and much of the coffee and espresso flavor came out as it warmed. My main criticism was the lemon hoppiness which felt odd

M: Big bold flavors, with plenty of body to spare. It did get slightly heavy at times, but there was no booziness and lots of creaminess to rectify that.

D: I remember asking myself while I was drinking this, is this an A beer? I was able to finish the bomber myself over the course of the day, but wish that I had someone to share it with at times. I also was not super keen on the amount of hoppiness in this stout. Something I would surely have

Serving type: bottle

11-18-2009 17:24:50 | More by mikey711
Photo of jdklks
jdklks

Nevada

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

Thanks to Steve (fbm115) for the opportunity to try this. I've been waiting to mark it off my list. It doesn't disappoint.

This is a good looking brew: dark with amber edges, and a light fluffy brown head that graces the surface as softly as silk. The smell is, well, different; different, that is, in terms of imperial stouts. The big standout here is HOPS! Hops in a major way. They mix interestingly (not badly, but not necessarily well either) with your typical RIS characteristics: dark, roasted malts, with a dark fruit sweetness (cherries), chocolate, and alcohol. The hops add a citrusy "flair" that is, as before, interesting.

The taste is as interesting as the smell, but better. It takes a little getting used to, but all the complexity of a good RIS is here. It's sweet and majorly chocolatey, with a just a little roastiness. There are hints of caramel, brown sugar, and molasses. overall, very sweet. To throw excessive amounts of hops in the beer almost seems stupid at this point, but it somehow pulls it off. there is a citrus hop flavor up front that is immediately subdued by the more traditional stout flavors mentioned above. The hops do remain present throughout, though, and are most notable in the oily mouthfeel and the bordering-on-hop-bitterness finish and aftertaste. I taste DIPA, and I taste RIS. This is a beer experiencing an identity crisis, something that perhaps a little maturation could help. overall, its very intriguing and very interesting; on top of that, its actually pretty damn good.

The mouthfeel is silky smooth and extraordinarily well-carbonated. nice and thick as well.

Serving type: bottle

11-18-2009 04:48:07 | More by jdklks
Photo of WYVYRN527
WYVYRN527

Minnesota

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

2009 Vintage... Could not wait any longer... This has been tempting me.

A: Pours black with a tan head that doesn't want to go away. The foam sticks to every part of the glass it touches. One cannot see through this beer. This is Darkness.

S: Roasty as the fires of hell. Coffee, molasses, chocolate, licorice, and slight boozines dominate the aroma, followed by some slight hop notes.

T: At first, the malt comes with a blast of chocolate, espresso, caramel, molasses, and anise. Dried dark fruit and caramel are in the center. It finishes dry with a slightly bitter hop profile. Simply the best release of this beer to date.

M: Full bodied and viscous, this beer has it all. Body, flavor, and a mind of it's own.

D: If it weren't so limited and so strong, I would drink this all night. The best Russian Imperial Stout I have ever tasted. I can't wait to see what they taste like in a few years.

Serving type: bottle

11-17-2009 07:39:03 | More by WYVYRN527
Photo of Jmoore50
Jmoore50

Nevada

4.2/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Sparklepants for this awesome brew.

The appearance of this one is superb. Super high SRM, like pushing the limits on this one, dark as night. The head is caramel colored and sticks around for some fun. Great small bubbles, head foam is dense. The legs on this one are beautiful, alcohol residue as well as heavy lacing. Great look on an epic brew.

The smell is hoppy, interesting. Molasses and licorice, with HUGE roasted grains. Some ABV is present, also some burnt coffee smells as well. What is going on with the hop character in the smell? I am not liking it, gives off a citrus-grapefruit characteristic that kind of clashes with these darker fruit smells. Toffee and caramel, sweet dark candy is very present as well.

The taste is good, but not blended very well. There are very strong characteristics of roasted and black malts. There are also roasted coffee flavors as well, but not coming from actual coffee, most likely coming off of the malt. This coffee malt gives it an earthy flavor as well. Black licorice and a lot of the ABV are noticed. The ABV is nice because it brings out the roasted malts more and also some chocolate. Why are hops coming through so strong?!? Citrus bitterness is such a strong characteristic in this one that it stands out from everything else. I went to the Surly website and they say that they 'add a touch of hops to make it tastier'. NO! It makes it a totally confused RIS. Chocolate is strong in the brew as well as caramel and toffee. I cannot believe the hops in this, really misunderstanding the direction the brewers wanted to go with this one. Starts on such a good direction and the hops throw a wrench in the clogs. Weird.

The mouthfeel is great and creamy. Lots of hot ABV flavors help you out as well as the roasted malts. Perfect carbonation, really great.

The drinkability is really good for a few bumps in the road. This is still a really good beer but. . . overrated. Maybe it is just me and how I like my RIS', but this much hops in a RIS? Sure you add them for bitter aspects, but if they dry hopped this with a bunch of hops then they are very brave in doing so. I think that the hops bring the beer down and distract from the other great flavors in this beer.

Thanks again to Sparklepants for sending me this. Knocked out another 'big RIS' that I have always wanted to try.

J

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2009 21:06:49 | More by Jmoore50
Photo of callmemickey
callmemickey

Pennsylvania

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

2009 bottle signed by Omar and Todd. (thanks for the hook up supercolter!) Poured into a tulip glass

A: Pitch black body. Massive dark brown-khaki head. Lasted for a few minutes before crashing into a thin, frothy skim. Rather dense lacing up and down the glass.

S: So many things are going on here. Molasses, chocolate, coffee, citrus hop bitterness, caramel. With each inhale the molasses seems to grow more dominating. If that was toned down just a bit everything else would come together flawlessly.

T: Sweet milk chocolate, brown sugar and molasses are prevalent up front. Slight undertones of coffee and dark chocolate. Lively bitterness throughout. Some fig and raisin like fruityness.

M: Surprisingly thin at first. Not exactly "watery" though. But it didn't have the weight and consistency I was expecting though. No booze burn. As the beer warmed more heft was apparent.

D: I originally poured this into two glasses to share with the lady, but I stole what was left of her half after I finished mine. The sweetness, in the end, killed me as it wasn't as easy to get through the last few ounces as it was with the first dozen or so

All in all a top notch stout that shows you can do big bold flavors without making it a flammable bourbon barrel aged brew. Reminds me of an amped up Victory Storm King Stout.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2009 05:07:11 | More by callmemickey
Photo of mdwalsh
mdwalsh

Iowa

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

Had this bottle Darkness Nigh (Darkness day was full of Smoke and Oak Bender). Paired Amazing with a triple chocolate pie.

A: Black. More opaque than me. Nice brown two finger head with beautiful lace. Needs more texture and longevity though.

S: Very strong of Molasses, some cooked sugar, but no roast. Also no hops, just carmelized malt. Phenominal.

T: Tastes. Black. No roast though. Smooth, dark, sweet. Cooked sugar again, more molasses. Dark Chocolate, no Alcohol.

M: Creamy. Perfect carbonation. Super smooth.

D: Excellent, but not something to have too many of.

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2009 02:29:56 | More by mdwalsh
Photo of PrinceDarren
PrinceDarren

Illinois

4.18/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

This is an excellent RIS that is deserving of high praise, however, I'm not sure it is on the same level as the oft-compared Dark Lord. Just to make sure, I tried a little DL later in the evening (my friend was kind enough to open a bottle). Nope, no comparison, DL reigns supreme.

I tried the Surly giant on tap last night at the 3rd annual Bavarian Lodge Darkness night. Pours "almost" black, not nearly as viscous as expected. Has a pleasant, hoppy, chocolate aroma. Tastes of coffee, dark fruit such as cherry, maybe a little raspberry and a definite hop character.

This is very dry. Almost too dry. It left a chalky after-taste on the tongue. I heard that Omar felt this year's batch was more dry than last year's. While I cannot comment on the year-to-year comparison, I have to wonder if the recipe or process was a little off in this year's batch. I didn't feel like it should be so dry.

In all, this was a great pour that I was happy (hoppy?) to try, but alas, this is more akin to North Coast's Old Rasputin RIS than the might Three Floyds' DL.

Would I drink it again? Yes, I sure hope so.

Serving type: on-tap

11-13-2009 01:28:13 | More by PrinceDarren
Photo of mjl21
mjl21

California

4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Acquired via trade...thanks Bill. 2009 version with the mummy artwork. 750 ml bottle poured into a snifter. No abv info is given.

A-Pours black with a massive two finger bubbly sandy colored head. The head has great staying power and rests at about half its initial layer. Tons of lace is left in between each sip. This beer is truly great looking.

S-Completely different than what I was expecting. From its appearance I thought it would be a roasted malt monster. Instead it has a huge citrus hop profile that is more akin to a good IPA. There is some roast malt and some earthiness to be found, but it stays in the background. Coffee aromas did come out after it had been sitting in the glass for a decent period of time.

T-Citrus hops and chocolate are both very strong at the start. It has some sweetness and acidic citrus zing midway through each sip. The citrus flavors return on the finish. The aftertaste is all dark malts with chocolate and roasted malt flavors.

M-A lot lighter in the body than I expected. It is very smooth from the massive head and has a nice carbonation level.

D-This is an extremely drinkable beer that completely veers from the traditional roasted malt/vanilla RIS. Well worth seeking out.

I really enjoyed this beer. I would love to try one with some age to see what happens as the hops fade.

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2009 00:08:21 | More by mjl21
Photo of Vonerichs
Vonerichs

Illinois

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

Dark brown to black. It was served in a snifter with an impressive head and cascading lacing through the finish.

The smell was dark fruit, sweet malt, and a light chocolate.

Delicious. Very sweet malt with a hint of dark berries, a little currant. There are touches of chocolate and dark roast coffee, but both are minimal.

Mouthfeel is creamy, but not too thick. Finish is dry and slightly bitter in a chocolate or coffee kind of way.

The alcohol was detectable, but not 10% detectable. This is a sipper, but damn tastey.

This is one of the better RISs out there, no doubt.

Serving type: on-tap

11-12-2009 03:24:12 | More by Vonerichs
Photo of Florida9
Florida9

Illinois

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

A: Served in a snifter with about a finger and a half of foamy, dark tan head with excellent retention. Decent lacing. Dark black in color, though as the beer dropped I noticed some light shining through the edges revealing a maroon reddish hue to the beer.

S: Plums, prunes, raisins, figs, and shit like that. Sweet and slightly alcoholic.

T: Very sweet malt on the front receding to a wonderful array of dark fruit and dry cocoa. Maybe a little coffee and some dark roasted malts, but these are not center stage.

M: Thickish, but not cloying or oppressive. Low carbonation.

D: Very good. Not the best RIS I've ever had, but I can see what the fuss is about. A very good, high quality beer that tastes great and drinks easily.

Serving type: on-tap

11-12-2009 03:09:25 | More by Florida9
Photo of Maction
Maction

Illinois

4.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: In a snifter, this has impenetrable blackness. It looks like a candle in the glass, with a gelatinous chocolate mousse head.

S: Smells sweet, some perfume-y hops, unsweetened chocolate, espresso, butterscotch

T: A huge, rich, complex flavor, sweet then dry, very long and complex. Bitter herbs, then bitter cocoa, then creamy coffee, then sweet tea.

M: Chewy but not thick, hefty but not cloying

D: Very satisfying, a tiny bit boozy as it warms. I would have to be in a special mood to get through 22oz of this... perhaps in my library, in front of a roaring fire, my pipe and slippers at hand, my faithful hound dozing by the hearth.

Serving type: on-tap

11-09-2009 18:52:47 | More by Maction
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Traquairlover

Virginia

3.6/5  rDev -20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle poured into a snifter. 2009 vintage. Thanks to bmanning for sharing this bottle with me. I had a hard time with this review. This beer was much, much different than I expected (or indeed expect from any RIS). Although I can see why some BA's love it so much, I would be very put off if other breweries try to replicate the style of this beer. It really seemed like a DIPA that used roasted malts and a longer than usual boil to simply be darker than usual, but still remain essentially an IPA like drinking experience. It wasn't different enough from expectations to give it bad scores exactly, but I did not find it a great example of an RIS.

A = Dark mahogany, coppery tan medium sized head with a mix of foam, small bubbles and a few large bubbles. Decent retention.

S = Strong, strong citrus smells of grapefruit rind and lemons, hiding under that is some burnt coffee, very light smels of roasted coffee beans and cocoa powder, after a good swish I pick up uncooked bread dough. Even with those other scents though, the entire experience is one of floral "C" hops with everything else playing second fiddle. It seems like it must have been heavily dry hopped or something. Rather than simply using hops for their bittering properties and letting bitterness from hops meld with forceful malt flavors such as coffee, chocolate, tobacco, etc., this beer seems to simply be all about hops smells and flavors.

T = The tastes of this just continue the jarring mental disconnect I get between what this beer looks like, what I look for in an RIS and what I am in fact getting. There is just a crazy mix of flavors, though, it's like drinking a mocha coffee drink that has been randallized using Pacific NW piney/citrusy hops varietals, bringing flowers, grapefruit, lemons zest, light resiny pine. Hidden behind all this are more of the flavors I would expect to stand out more. There is definitely the coffee and chocolate notes one often finds and also some dark fruits. All in all it is kind of like a black IPA on steroids rather than a strong bitter stout.

M = Medium-heavy full body, decent carbonation to keep the beer interesting and flowing in the mouth, good mouthcoating.

D = This just wasn't all that drinkable for me. I enjoy both sweet imperial stouts and bitter imperial stouts. I really do not particularly care for extremely strong C hops flavors clouding up the issue though. I drank my glass, but really did not particularly want another one. I may see about trying this again if it has been aged some, but I do not think I will seek out a fresh bottle.

Serving type: bottle

11-08-2009 15:34:45 | More by Traquairlover
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homebrew311

Illinois

4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

served in a snifter at the Small Bar

A: The name of the beer pretty much says it all

S: hoppy earthiness sits atop a syrupy sweet malt backbone with roasted notes along with dark cherries. There is a lot going on here, and I must say it all seems to be working

T: The sweetness was the first thing I noticed in the taste as the dark fruitiness comes out along with rich dark chocolate. All of this is balanced by piney and bitter hops which provide for a deep earthy flavor. Everything is in balance. Simply delicious.

M: chewy viscous texture that is velvety in the mouth while leaving a stickiness

D: I wish I could drink a lot more of this, this beer is ridiculously drinkable for its high abv. The sweetness is nicely balanced with the hoppy profile and it makes for an incredibly complex RIS. Can't wait to get my hands on a few bottles of this!

Serving type: on-tap

11-08-2009 06:18:32 | More by homebrew311
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Martin2D

New Jersey

3.1/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

Thanks to fbm115 for sharing this one.

A - Pitch black with a smallish tan head with lacing

S - Roasty, fruity, possibly some coffee

T - I couldn't be caught more off guard by the flavor. It is super sweet, almost like unfermented wort. There are wort like malt flavors, roasty, coffee. These are followed by a huge hop bouquet. Almost IPA like in its hop quality

M - Medium-high carbonation and medium-high in body.

D - I wouldn't be able to drink much of this. Decent beer, not my cup of tea.

Serving type: bottle

11-08-2009 01:39:50 | More by Martin2D
Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,529 ratings.