Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

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DarknessDarkness

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BA SCORE
99
world-class

3,188 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,188
Reviews: 809
rAvg: 4.49
pDev: 9.35%
Wants: 3,196
Gots: 1,172 | FT: 85
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.30% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: ryantupy on 10-08-2006

Starting in 2014, bottled Darkness will be aged in whiskey barrels. This listing is ONLY for Darkness that is NOT barrel-aged. For 2014 Darkness go here:  http://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/p ... 14/141724/ 

Labels:
2007-Grim Reaper
2008-Devil
2009-Mummy
2010-Vampire
2011-Zombie
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer
View: Beers (50) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,188 | Reviews: 809
Photo of davedahl
4.85/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I've only had Darkness once - and it was the last 2oz from a keg at Binny's in Chicago's south loop. Talk about a tease.

The apperance was dark black everywhere - not even a hint of color at the edges. Thin layer of dark black rich head of tight bubbles.

Nose is a very complex combination of malt, spice and pepper.

Taste is lots of fruit and sweet malts, even some milky creaminess to it. Aftertaste of more dark cherries and chocolate.

Mouthfeel is amazing. Milky slick coating with a slight alcohol hint.

This badboy just went on my "wants" list. Yum.

Photo of TK5150
4.55/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2008 bottle.

A-Pours nice and thick. Black in color, with a small brown head.

S-Upon first smell I get a little bit of American citrus and piney hops. I then get a lot of chocolate, and dark fruits. Kind of like chocolate covered cherries/blackberries/figs/plums. A very nice nose.

T-Big chocolate. Milk chocolate as well as dark chocolate lead the way. Then the fruits rush in and i get the chocolate covered fruits taste which was great. I got little to no hoppiness on the palate which was a little disappointing, and not what i was expecting. In the finish i tasted robitussin...that medicinal cherry taste. It became more prevalent the more i drank, but doesnt hurt the beer too much. This was one VERY SWEET beer, which I am not usually a fan of, but the flavors mostly made up for that downfall.

M-Full bodied, nice and thick. coated the mouth very well. Silky smooth with low carbonation.

D-Good. The medicinal taste at the end without the hop balance took away from the drinkability some. No trace of alcohol helped.

Overall, this is one of my favorite beers. A little too sweet to drink a full bottle by yourself, but great to split with a friend. A great dessert beer.

Photo of DrJay
4.55/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Biergotter Tasting - Day 2. Big thanks to grub for bringing out this bad boy.
Black, nearly opaque, with dark brown edges. A fluffy brown cap appeared after the pour, producing sticky, clumpy lace all the way down the glass. Great aroma, a combination of floral and citrus hops (mostly grapefruit and orange) with roast and burnt malts. Notes of cocoa and dark chocolate, biscuit, and anise wafted in and out. Solid bitterness, more grapefruit hop character, with lots of chocolate, caramel, and toffee. Quite sweet overall. Plenty of dark malts gave it a moderate roast flavour. Full bodied, kind of on the heavy side, with lowish carbonation, very fine bubbles, creamy texture, alcohol warmth, and just a bit sticky. Super delicious and much more balanced than I was expecting.

Photo of OlieIPA
4.56/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2008 Darkness and enjoyed in the company of Amy, Victor, and Lisa. Thanks for sharing this beer Victor!!!!

A: While pouring this beer quite aggressively into my glass, it appeared to boast all the qualities of a good looking stout: Viscous, black, and a huge frothy tan colored head. This beer left a large quantity of lacing around my snifter glass as well, even after I had guzzled down it's delicious contents.

S: The initial whiff is quite shocking, a very hoppy-like aroma mixed in a powdery chocolate/cocoa characteristic. This mix of piney and bitter hops, along with the dark sweetness, reminded more of an American Double rather than a RIS.

T: Unique....unique...unique! An extremely sweet tasting stout, but settled down by the ample amount of hops used in this beer. I pick up chocolate, pines, vanilla bean, maple, gingersnaps (yes, I said gingersnaps), caramel, peanut butter, and so much more.

M: Full-body with almost no indication of carbonation. The flavors cling somewhat to the palate, but not to the point where the hop bitterness becomes a bit overwhelming.

D: I actually don't pick up any of the alcohol content, and the flavor is quite interesting (in a good way), therefore making for a good time....anytime.

Overall: I was actually expecting this beer to be overhyped, but it definitely lived up to the world class standards presented here on BA. Not your typical RIS, to say the least, and displays a multi-faceted array of flavors that my palate got excited over. If I had to sum up this beer in a few words, it would be: Unique, smooth, and yummy! A smile beer and a must try. Cheers!

Photo of deltatauhobbit
2.44/5  rDev -45.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Thanks to mynie for the opportunity to try the infamous Darkness, 2008 750ml bottle, decided to have this one fresh as opposed to letting it age for a bit since I heard it's rather hoppy for a RIS.

Pours a dark brown/black color, some light being able to show ruby colors near the edge, very large tan head that fades slowly to leave some good lacing.

Smell is as anticipated, surprisingly (for a RIS once again) hoppy at first, some malt and smoke in the background, not quite to style but not unpleasant.

Taste takes the normal route and ditches the hoppiness that might have been expected after the aroma, instead it is cloyingly sweet, lots of chocolate and vanilla, also seems like there's other sugars that are added to make it much sweeter than it should be, very syrupy and sticky but not overly viscous.

An interesting take on the RIS, but I think I'd stick with Kate and Dark Lord for the top picks, I'd even reach for an Old Rasputin first. Glad I got to try it, but it doesn't even come close to the hype it has, maybe if it didn't taste like someone added a few cups of sugar to it it wouldn't have been as much of a chore to drink even a glass of it. Maybe a different vintage will change my mind down the road.

Edit (3/6/10): Remove Kate from top pick, 2010 was just as much of a cloyingly syrupy sweet mess.

Photo of grub
4.43/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 Biergotter Tasting, Day 2: Stouts and Belgians. i contributed this one, purchased at the brewery.

750ml bottle topped with bronze wax. 2008 vintage. sampled nov 28/08.

pours deep black, completely opaque. a huge fluffy dark brown head forms, lasting forever and leaving huge chunks of lace behind.

aroma is great. big hops up front - orange, grapefruit, pine. big bready malt base. biscuit. cracker. light alcohol. anise. dark and bittersweet chocolate. light coffee. big floral character too.

taste is great. just under medium bitterness level. milk and dark chocolate. anise. big caramel and toffee sweetness. bread and biscuit. the citrusy hops are still there, but a bit more subdued than in the aroma. light alcohol. bit of smoke. some dark fruit too.

mouthfeel is great. silky smooth medium-low carbonation level. large body.

drinkability is good. nice balance and great depth, with a bit of lingering sweetness. excited to see how this one will change with time.

Photo of Hophead101
4.08/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

drank on 12.4.08 at Clark St Ale House with friends from work.

I finally got a chance to taste the nectar known as the Darkness. There is so much hype around this beer, you can imagine my extreme joy when I walked into this bar and saw this on tap. Since I can't get it in PA - this was a pleasant surprise.

Of course, as the name says, it pours a dark brown, basically black beer. Had a nice tan head and the lacing on the glass was great. The smell was crisp and sweet, woodsy and smoky. There was a twinge of alcohol in the nose as well.

the taste is simply WOW. very malty, very sweet and you can absolutely taste the alcohol (which is 10%+). there is the roasted malt taste and the earthy and woodsy tastes as well. Mouthfeel was surprising nice with a bit of a sharp alcohol taste.

Photo of goethean
4.55/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I've had this twice on tap now, and I still find it a bit curious, especially when compared to FFF Dark Lord. Dark Lord has a huge, huge viscous mouthfeel, somewhat like Bell's Expedition Stout. Darkness is not as thick or heavy, but it has a very looong, rich mouthfeel. You just can't gulp it. Each sip just keeps on going and going. As a homebrewer, I think that Dark Lord's weight is due to the heavy use of oats, crystal malt, and a high mash temperature. But as to what makes Darkness have such a long mouthfeel, I'm genuinely flummoxed.

Photo of 0110x011
3.66/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black into a Darkness snifter. One finger, dark tan head lasts a good while, with spotty lacing. Nose is an interesting mix of chocolate, earth, plum, raisin and piney hops. Surprisingly sweet and fruity on the palate. A bit of chocolate and vanilla, and pine from the hops, but the overall flavor is dominated by an almost cloying, sugary sweetness. Mouthfeel is very nice, creamy and soft. ABV is nearly invisible. The sweetness makes one glass enough for me.

If this were available for $6.99 at BevMo, I'd say it were a tasty, unique beer. But considering the acclaim and rarity, I think it strays too far from the style.

Photo of gorby10826
5/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

By far the best stout I have ever had. Definitely a great one if you like them on the sweet side. Tried at Firkin in Libertyville, IL.

A: Very Dark. Black.

S:Complex, Chocolate, roasted malt, sweetness, fruit

T: Very sweet. Candi sugar. Molasses. Chocolate. Fruit. Hops.

M: Very smooth. Thick. Good level of carbonation.

D: Would drink it all day long if I could! Very easy if you like it sweet.

Overall: Seriously the best I have had in the last 3 years where I have tried hundreds of different beers. Wish I could get it easier!

Photo of TurdFurgison
4.62/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at the Local Option, served in a Maudite glass. The beer was dark brown/black color with dark tan froth on top. Lots of wet lacing on the glass. The smell alone tells me this beer isn't over hyped, it smells insanely good. Rich and sweet, no burnt or roasted aromas, maybe some hops citrus but not as much as I'd have expected after hearing how hoppy this beer was last year. The taste is also nearly perfect. Huge malt sweetness, a little bitterness but not much, some citrus flavors too, I can't recall ever tasting a RIS quite like this. The body is substantial while not being as thick as Dark Lord, just about right for the flavors. Absolutely drinkable, the >10% ABV isn't noticeable from the taste. Worth the effort to find, this is great stuff.

1/02/09 edit:
I had this in bottle form, side-by-side against Sexual Chocolate, Dark Lord, and Kate the Great. In this contest Darkness came out the favorite for all 3 drinkers. The citrus flavors were the deciding factor, it seemed like this was a RIS with DIPA genes. I'll plan to attend future Darkness days to get as many bottles as I can.

Photo of caskstrength
4.55/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap over a few weeks in several locations, Mpls Nov 2008.

Thick, black, sticky. Got some on the outside of the glass, was sticking like syrup.

Sweet, spicy, fruity (in a good way) smell. Lots of dark fruit, dark sweetness. More sweet than spicy. Very inviting on the nose.

Did I mention sweet? Alcohol barely noticed. Smooth, velvety, perfect on the tongue. Is there a better mouthfeel than this beer? Hops are there too, for sure. Dark fruits work with the molasses type sweetness. Almost cloying in 2008, less so 2009 (and other years I've heard)

I really like this beer. First impression was it's too sweet, subsequent tastings I started to appreciate the sweetness more, didn't notice it as much. It is what it is. A sweet, flavorful monster of a beer, liquid velvet, and quite the feather in surly's cap.

2009: less sweet, more hops.

2010: May be my favorite of the last 3 years. Flavors all seem in the right place.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.35/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Vintage.

Appearance: Pours an inky black body with a large, frothy, light tan head.

Smell: Roasty, burnt malt nose with strong notes of dark chocolate liqueur, coffee, smoky creosote, and pine needles.

Taste: Roasty, dark, chocolaty maltiness displays both depth and richness. A few spoonfuls of frothed cream pairs with a flavor of strong coffee. Bracing amount of sweetness present. Vinous fruity character. Touch of creosote. Strong pine and citrus hoppiness though not unreasonably so. The bitterness makes a decent attempt, but, for me, it doesn't ever even begin to overtake the malt sweetness. Darkness finishes with a strapping roastiness and more unyielding sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Decidedly full-bodied with a creamy mouthfeel. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Excellent melding of full flavors wrapped up in a dense, creamy body. I wasn't disappointed. Nice work, Surly.

Photo of optiontwo
4.77/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle acquired at this years darkness day, poured into tulip glass

Appearance: Darkness. Opaque. Beautiful two finger tan head. This is exactly how a RIS should look.

Smell: Wooo. Almost makes me fall back in my seat. Such an array of aromas I don't know where to start. Roasted malt, chocolate, slight coffee, then strong sweetness of fruits ranging everywhere from orange/lemon to strawberry jam and cherries. Amazing.

Taste: This may be the drink of the devil but it tastes like it's straight out of heaven. Dark chocolate, orange, and dark cherries are the first three things that hit me but there is soo much more going on here. Earthy tones and what I have to imagine are hop flavors hit after the initial sweet and roasted flavor. This has got to be the hoppiest imperial stout I've ever had and that's a good thing, a very good thing. The combination of malt sweetness and hop bitterness in this beer make the flavors so complex that each sip is an experience. Outstanding.

Mouthfeel: Perfect. Coats my mouth with the beer but not to the point where it's hard to swallow. The mouthfeel increases the enjoyment of this beer tenfold because it helps the flavors stay in your mouth that much longer. This is also exactly how a RIS should feel.

Drinkability: Surprising. I've had a good amount of imperial stouts and it's one of my favorite styles, but even my favorites test me when it comes to drinkability. I usually want to have more than one or two but can't bring myself to do it. With Darkness though, I could literally drink this all night until I stumble to bed. Very impressive.

Overall: The very best RIS I have ever had. Do whatever you can to get your hands on this miraculous beer. I love Surly.

Photo of EGledhill
4.85/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thought I'd crack this bitch open for a Thanksgiving desert. Split the bottle with the girlfriend. Big thanks for the BA who made this possible. Poured into Darkness snifter.

A. what the fuck would you expect? Dark. 2 finger tan head that faded to a thin ring and laced the glass. Looks say "try and chug me bitch. I'll destroy you."

S. Smell was definitely on point. Vanilla, Chocolate dominate this with a faint hops and booze smell.

T. Taste like some tasty boozed up pudding. Just like the smell, Vanilla and chocolate lead the way. Dark fruit, caramel sweetness, hops and booze hit on the finish. Sweet and tasty.

M. pretty thick. not overly coating like a ten fidy but a damn solid mouthfeel.

D. If I had access to this regularly, you'd have to peel my ass of the bar floor in a darkness induced coma. drinks smooth hit with a bang.

Overall. Believe the hype. It's that fucking good. I try to share my beers with the girlfriend but I wound up taking down half her glass when she walked away from it. I should've never shared with her.

Photo of nrbw23
4.28/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours black with very impressive large thick brown colored head. Head has great retention and leaves a nice amount of lacing.

S- First thing I could really pick up on was a citrus like hop smell. Pretty surprised by that and then I could smell chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, dark fruits and a touch of alcohol.

T- Overall quite a few things going on here. Pretty sweet but yet also has some bitterness going on. Starts off with a lot of chocolate and dark fruits and then the hops kick it. Very interesting and could not find any alcohol in here at all.

M- Full in body and pretty chewy. Fairly low in carbonation.

D- It was very easy to drink and highly recommended. This has to be the most hoppy RIS ever made which made this one pretty interesting and different.

Photo of tedpeer
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Bomber poured into a Darkness tulip.

A - Pours a viscous dark black, with a huge mocha head that subsided to a thin layer. No lacing.

S - Strong dark fruits, sweet.

T - Intense flavor. Fruit. Coffee. Chocolate. slight alcohol warmth in the finish.

M - Thick, mouth coating. Smooth. Lightly carbonated.

D - Very balanced for such a large beer.

Photo of shroompod
4.06/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark! This has the best head retention of any RIS I've ever seen.

Aroma of citrus hops , dark chocolate and sweet caramel.

This beer is sweet. A lot of dark candy sugar tastes. Molasses, raisins, caramel, and figs. The sweetness comes at the expense of darker flavors I enjoy (coffee, chocolate & bitterness). Hops are their, but somewhat subdued.

Mouthfeel is thick , carbonation is good.

Overall an exceptional RIS that's too sweet for me.

Photo of jjanega08
4.63/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

served at the blue nile in mpls
a= very dark and truely black with a small dark head. looks good and tasty
s= malty bitterness is there with some fruit notes of plum and fig
t= amazing. really gives you a buzz. some hops are actually present with some nice plum flavor. truely unique with the surlys twist to it
m= good and heavy with a dry finish excellent
d= very high except for the wicked buzz you get! amazing beer! this is the first of this style that i have ever had and i was very impressed! it had such a great surlys taste to it of just fresh beer! i love it so much!

Photo of rtepiak
4.13/5  rDev -8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

opaque. wonderful head. chocolate color... thick with little bubbles lots of lace. very high sugar content sticky on the outside of the glass when dries. quite thick. molasses, raisins and toasted apple pie. palate is toasted malt apple caramel sweet. head keeps coming back on agitation. goes down like mead. light hop chive like finish. a wonderful blend of all of this styles capacity but i could see the sweetness being a turn off for some. this may also be an extremely fresh keg. i would really like to see this cellared to bring out the more subtle notes. and i would kill to have it from a cask.

Photo of phattysbox
4.7/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

kplynch was kind enough to buy me two bottles at darkness day. We opened one of those bottles and shared among friends. Thanks Kevin!!

Poured into Corsendonk tulip glass. Jet black and very viscous, almost oily in appearance. Thick frothy coffee colored head that slowly retreats into a nice thin lace. Stickage all up and dpown the glass - awesome looking brew and dark indeed.

This is the strangest, but great, brew I have ever had. Part DIPA, porter and mostly RIMP...

Since it is a RIMP, you would expect roasted malts and chocolate in the nose. While its there, initially the brew smells like a west coast DIPA. Sweet floral hops pervade the nose - ripe tropical citrus friut and berries. This is followed by chocolate and vanilla notes. The nose is quite complex.

Tastes a smoothing sweet malt base. Vanilla and oak are very present with coffee and chocolate undertow. Of course the hops - in the back and really balance out the brew quite nicely. It changes however as it warms - reminding me of a porter in some sense. Very complex brew with lots going on. Mouthfeel is wet and velvety with meduim to low carbonation. The only thing I could say about this brew that might be considered negative - is its very sweet. This might be off-putting to some but not to me.

I still can't wrap my head around this brew - quite unique but simply fantastic!!

Photo of abfraser
4.39/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to waltonc for sharing a glass of this one. Cool looking bottle

A: Totally black with a smallish dark brown head.

S: This is some complex stuff. All the classic RIP aromas--roasted malt, chocolate, some coffee. But the real distinguishing factor here was a real dark fruit, almost like a fruitcake.

T/M: Deliciously creamy and full bodied. Great imperial stout flavors. Really like how the dark fruit flavors worked in here; it was very unique for the style. Everything was exceptionally well balanced, with nothing dominating or overpowering.

D: I could drink a lot of ton of this. Yet, I can barely get my hands on it, so it's gets a knock.

This was delicious, complex, and unique. Up there with the best of them.

Photo of waltonc
4/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Picked this up in a trade thanks to bigmar94.

A: Thick, black stout with a big tan head.

S: Dark roasted malts, coffee, and lots of fruit.

T: Again, dark roasted malts, lots of hops, and very sweet fruit flavor going on here. As abfraser said while we were drinking this, it's like a fruitcake stout. Very interesting and unusual taste.

M: Pretty thick and smooth, sticky from all the sugar.

D: Gotta ding Darkness on the drinkability front. I strained to drink a third of this bottle, but pushed myself and got it done. Not sure why it's not offered in smaller bottles. Pretty ridiculous.

Photo of brewcrew76
4.1/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Solid black with 2 fingers of creamy brown head that leaves sticky patchey lacing everywhere.

S - Milk chocolate, slight soy sauce, hints of smoke and roasty malts.

T - Similar to aroma. Milk chocolate, dark fruits, hint of soy sauce and licorice, some smoke and roasted malts.

M - Very creamy but slightly thin. The mouthfeel reminded me of a creamy porter.

D - The lighter body made this one too easy to drink, even at 10%+ ABV. Tasty.

Photo of pwoods
4.33/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On tap at Stub and Herb's. Notes via text.

Served in a pint.

Pours dark and pretty thick like last years. The smell is a bit sweeter and the hops and smoke seems less than last years. The taste is much sweeter and creamier. Hops are still at a good level but not quite a potent as before which is probably an improvement. The smoky/meaty character is much lower but still in the back. I liked the stronger smoke =. The body is much creamier and smoother than from the bottle last year. Above average drinkability but not as good drinkable at Ktg. Very good.

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
99 out of 100 based on 3,188 ratings.