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Darkness | Surly Brewing Company

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
98
world-class
838 Reviews
BEER STATS
Reviews:
838
Ratings:
3,547
Avg:
4.42
pDev:
9.28%
 
 
Wants:
3,316
Gots:
1,381
For Trade:
109
DarknessDarkness
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.30%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
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
2015 - Bat
2016 - Cerberus

Added by ryantupy on 10-08-2006

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Reviews: 838 | Ratings: 3,547
Photo of MattyG85
4.92/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 750 ml bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice glass. 2011 bottle with a great looking zombie label. BRAAIIINS!

Appearance: Pours very dark and black with only a slight tint of dark brown. Decent three finger deep tan head that settles into a thin patchy layer. Decent amount of lacing on the glass.

Smell: Very rich and darkly sweet. Dark roasted caramel malts with toffee. Big aroma of dark chocolate. A pretty bold presence of dark fruits with raisins and dark cherries. Has some notes of coffee and oak chips lingering around. Also some hints of grassy hops underneath the sweetness. Smells great.

Taste: Just as dark and tasty as the smell leads. Big taste of dark chocolate with dark toasted caramel and toffee malts. Solid presence of coffee and a strong kick of dark fruit sweetness from raisins and dark cherries. Has a hint of oak chips. Finishes with a solid presence of grassy hops adding some balance to the sweetness. Everything comes together perfectly. This is quite delicious.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a moderate level of carbonation. Very roasty, thick, and creamy. A little heat is felt but this is pretty smooth.

Overall: An incredible Russian Imperial Stout. Very robust, complex, and tasty. A perfect blend of sweetness and bitterness. Well worth the hype. This is heaven.... or better yet hell in a bottle. :)

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Photo of JonnyBeers
4.92/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

2012 Bottle I received in trade about 10 months ago?

Really can't imagine a better RIS. I don't even think barrel aging would do this any benefit. It's just perfect the way it is. Only thing I could maybe point out is the sweetness, but compared to Dark Lord this is easy drinking in that regard. Smooth. Chocolate, toffee, roasty, smooth smooth smooth. I aged mine until it was over a year old. The abv at 10% is hardly noticeable. Well done Surly!

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Photo of hooliganlife
4.92/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

HUGE thanks to mnjeff

pour is not quite jet black but very dark cola, almost black, with a cocoa head. little to zero retention and lacing

so much going on, bourbon, cherry, molasses, light floral hops, sweet roasted malts, vanilla, and a bit of booze

even more in the flavor. this was quite complex with a mixture of so many flavors. again, herry, molasses, light floral hops, bitter citrus hops, sweet and bitter charcoal roasted malts, vanilla, a bit of booze, dark fruit, and a touch of brown sugar. mind blowing.

thick! the glass has a slick glaze in it. its almost enough to chew on.

this may be the best imp stout i have ever had. i want to drink the shit out of it but its 10.30 ABV (which is hidden well) and a 750ml bottle. it would be trouble, but "trouble loves me".

play on playa... this is it.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.92/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

What can I say really about this whole situation. I was lucky enough to acquire this bottle through a very fair trade from a good friend. When I see how much these things go for and the hype surrounding it, it is hard for me to justify it sometimes. I have found several instances where these beers are just complete letdowns. This here was not the case. It was absolutely wonderful and I really think it is worth its reputation. That being said, I new this would be the only bottle I would get so I saved it for a very special occasion and split it with a good friend at Barley's last night for my 30th Birthday. I figured it would be a fitting place, fitting time, and fitting company to open such a rare and sought after treat. Served in multiple sampling glasses at various temperatures up to room temp, this was definitely a wonderful experience. Bottle # 295.

Appearance - So we finally get to pour this one out. Opened the double dipped, wax topped cap and pour out this black as night liquid. Deep dark notes of black, to which no light could penetrate dropped into the glass with each tip. A mushrooming head of tan foam then came up over the top, reaching a height of at least two fingers before starting to break up into a rocky and cratered field. Even at its lowest mark it still carried about a fingers depth of lace with it and the side glass webbing was extremely nice. Overall this was a monster looking beer, however I cannot say it was a five, only because I have seen Dark Lord and the Abyss offer me a slightly fuller poor.

Smell - The aroma was to die for, literally. Everyone of these big RIS are much different then the one before, and everyone one is so unique, but I think once you take a whiff of this one it becomes very clear that this is in a whole different category. Gone are you rum soaked dark fruit and bourbon barrel, oak infused aromas, this was an entirely different beast. Rich and very sweet cocoa aromas are bringing themselves up to greet you first, with a gentle nudge of alcohol underneath. Wonderfully rich coffee then comes in to deliver the next blow. It was more of a roasted coffee bean aroma to be honest, like when you first open up that drawer at starbucks. A veritable assault of floral hops then comes out of nowhere. Grapefruit and pineapple hints mixing in with molasses and vanilla, what was this. As it warmed that sweet and creamy chocolate and coffee just really stole the show, with drops of vanilla just making this one drip with sweetness.

Taste - Now, we dive in to get a taste of what this wonderful liquid could be hiding. The first thing you notice is uber sweet chocolate and coffee. Just that wonderful taste that you want to have in a big stout, but the second that you get used to it, it gets cut like a knife, infused with grapefruit and orange peel. Puckering the lips as fresh grass and lemon hints seal it up and dry the mouth instantly before falling down the back of your through and opening up the scarred taste buds to welcome rush of vanilla. Beautifully complex, the rich notes of smoke and molasses intermingle and marry a wonderful peat like darkness that just sits there for a second before it too passes, getting whisked away and leaving behind only the faintest hint of grapefruit like bitterness soaked in vanilla and coffee. A wonderful voyage of unexpected tastes and bright surprises, wit ha virtually hidden alcohol content that makes it oh so smooth.

Mouthfeel - An speaking of smooth, wow, this was one smooth stout. A little bit less full then the rest of the big boys, but again this was a different type of monster, something entirely different then you milk shake like consistency you would typically associate with the style. This had a light, more carbonated feel to it. A much drier beer, especially in the finish, the flavors exploded out of it more then soaked in and sat there. As it warmed up it really did get a good deal thicker, but still stuck to its roots, setting it apart from the heard.

Drinkability - As for an almost 11% ABV Russian Imperial Stout, this was something I could have drank all night long. It was just tremendous in its complexity with a unrivaled smoothness. The alcohol was nowhere to be found, and the dry, hoppy finish only encouraged me to go back and try it again, and again, and again. It was a sad moment when this bottle was finished, as I really wanted just a little bit more. It was like beer crack for me, really just that good.

Overall I would have to say this really lived up to the hype for me. It was a phenominal beer, much different then anything I had before it, and was a nice breath of fresh air in the category. I was impressed by the floral hoppiness that was brought into this, especially in the finish as it really hid the alcohol well and let you have a nice, and not super filling experience out of it. Overall would I like another bottle, absolutely! Would I travel to Minnesota to get it, if the wife would let me, in a heartbeat!

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Photo of NuclearDolphin
4.92/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a 16oz Tulip Glass. After a year of waiting, I was finally able to get my hands on a bottle of Darkness.

Appearance - True to it's name, it pours a pitch black color with the brownest and one of the fluffiest heads I have ever seen. Head is about 3 fingers thick and leaves behind alot of lacing.

Smell - Very rich chocolate smell with butterscotch, rum and toffee. Very healthy burnt malt smell adds more to the aroma along with a slight coffee smell. I don't think I've ever enjoyed the smell of a beer this much!

Taste - I've had beers with chocolate before, but this is by far the most chocolatest beer I've ever had! Rich flavorful chocolate mixed in with very strong caramel and scotch/rum flavors. The burnt malts are also very noticeable which helps add more to the flavor. Amazingly enough, the alcohol taste is masked so well that you can't even tell there is any in here!

Mouthfeel - Body is very thick and heavy, but it's also a very smooth beer to drink. The fact there's virtually no carbonation in this beer also helps it out alot.

Overall - Holy crap, I loved this beer! It was worth being put on the second tier waiting list in order to purchase it. It's a shame this isn't a year round beer because I know this would be a huge seller. Those who are looking for the one of the best Imperial Stouts around need look no further. With it's rich flavor and smoothness, Darkness is one of the best Russian Imperial Stouts around!

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Photo of SquareBrew
4.91/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

Holy crap!! 2013 bottle. Been cellared well. Phenomenal. Not so sweet like dark lord (which I still love). So complex. Possibly the best beer I've ever had

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Photo of reebtaerG
4.91/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured 2011 bottle into snifter

A-Pours deep black with a thin brown head. Very good lacing!

S-Aroma of chocolate, coffee, dark fruits and roasted malts.

T-Licorice with chocolate in the front for taste and coffee, dark fine malts and some caramel to follow. Yummy!

M-Soft carbonation and full body. Pleasant bittersweet chocolate aftertaste and some alcohol.

O-Wow glad I had some of this 2011 also had the 2013 on tap at churchkey which just almost as awesome, got to love the vintage flavors.

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Photo of tjthresh
4.9/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours midnight black with plenty of brown head. Nose of soy sauce, and all of the hops that I have been told that are in this beer. The flavor is different to say the least. It starts of with some maple, then slips into a big date or fig finish. I get all the hops in the finish as well. Full body but it seems to be easily drinkable. Gosh...believe the hype.

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Photo of Douglas88
4.9/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Oh the waiting was painful, this beer is amazing and I wanted to try it for years. 750 ml bottle thanks to footbalm, 2008 edition. Pours a pure black color with a large creamy brown head. The aroma was amazing; huge dark fruits, sweet molasses, caramel, chocolates and rich coffee. Sweet plums especially in the amazing nose. The flavor was amazing as well; initial dark fruits give way to a fizzy and bitter hops. The core of this beer though is a rich chocolate, roasted malt and super decadent coffee mix.The flavor is more than just balanced, you can detect tons of hops, tons of fruit and tons of sweetness. The mouthfeel is very creamy and full. The beer leaves a sludgy leg running down the glass. Amazing. One of the best things I've ever drank. Re-rate: had the 2009 edition at the massive Imperial Stout tasting in Boise. Just as good, rich fruits and aggressive flavors. Still, one of my favorites.

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Photo of Lunch
4.9/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Review #100

Served from a 750ml bottle (2009), obtained via trade with Bulkman (a very generous trader and BA, thanks man!), into my two Darkness snifters (graciously picked up at Surly by kbutler1, thanks man!)at cellar temperature (12/25/09). I have been waiting some time to try this and I must say that it did not disappoint in the slightest.

A: Pours a very thick motor oil black with a one finger mocha colored head with great retention and lacing. Exceptional looking Imperial Stout with a head that would just not go away at all.

S: WOW! What a unique and complex aroma we have here. First roasted chocolate malts jumped out along with some dark fruits, including blueberry, some molasses as well in addition to some smokiness and coffee. Perhaps a hint of piney hops in there too. Not exactly sure what I was expecting from the aroma, but this one truly blew me away with its complexity and depth.

T: And i thought the smell was unique and complex. The tastes brings about a whole new meaning to complex. Everything from roasted chocolate malt, dark fruits, blueberry, smoke, caramel, molasses, coffee, bitter dark chocolate, currant, toffee, licorice and vanilla. Truly amazed at the depth of flavor in this Imperial Stout. The finish has a slight bitterness brought on by some piney hops.

M: Velvety thick and creamy with an appropriately low and creamy carbonation. A slight hint of alcohol in the finish, but really only when it is fairly warm.

D: Very drinkable for such a rich and full-flavored beer, but heaviness of the flavors, even though they are exceptional, will weigh you down at some point. The 10.3% abv. seems to be about as hidden as it possibly could while providing just a hint of warming as the beer is allowed to breathe.

Overall this is has got to be one the best and most unique Imperial Stouts out there. Not one particular flavor or tone dominates another allowing for exceptional complexity and uniqueness. Thanks again to Chuck for being so generous and helpful in allowing this experience to take place. And let's not forget Kevin for providing the Darkness snifters to fully round out this experience. A Must Try.

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Photo of pheggeseth
4.9/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #069. Obtained by my own two hands at the release event in December. Poured into my goblet of the same name.

A: pours viscous, heavy, with a coffee colored head that appears out of nowhere, frothy and attractive, lacing everywhere

S: buttery/nutty creaminess, next alcohol (as it warms) but starts out as banana and strawberry, malt in the middle and back with hops

T: creaminess upfront, hop bitterness in the back, intense roasted malt in the middle, intense dark chocolate, the creaminess rides subtly above everything

M: THICK, lively but subtle carbonation, smooth, terrific

D: intense, but oh so drinkable, definitely worth it

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Photo of JWD
4.9/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Huge thanks go to phidelt for this one, very excited to try this one as it was #1 on my list of have to trys, so here we go,

A- as you would expect pitch black with a medium tan head, not the dark brown dark lord or abyss head though.

S- very similiar to dark lord with less sweetness, lot of smells here, sweet raisins, chocolate, roasted coffee, and some hop aroma as well. seems like its right where it needs to be a good balance.

T- I loved this, just like the smell it has the balance is exceptional. Starts out a little sweet then hits you with chocolate and coffee and finishes with a little hop bitterness. My favorite RIS so far!!!

M- Thinner than expected, but i have had dark lord very recently so this is expected.

D- I could drink this everyday as the huge variety of smells and flavors are all a little subdued but work flawlessly together.

Great beer and i am thrilled to have had the opportunity to try, now we just need a barrel aged version!!

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Photo of NizzleEGizzle
4.9/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2015, poured from bottle into a snifter.

L: thick, black, and viscuous. Pretty. Little head.

S: gadzoiks! brownie, chocolate, vanilla. fudgy and intoxicating.

T: vanilla, and complex notes normally associated with aged stouts (prune/plum, raisin, tobacco).

F: extremely full-bodied. Lacks a creaminess I want to make this a 5/5.

O: exceeded my expectations! probably the best not BA stout I've ever had. by a long margin.

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Photo of DaveAnderson
4.89/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I was looking for something to drink tonight, and it suddenly occurred to me that I have never reviewed a Surly beer. Which is odd enough, since I am sure I spend more money on Surly than I do on any other brewery. And on top of that, I haven't cracked a bottle of 2012 Darkness yet -- and didn't even sample it on Darkness Day. So...

...2012 Darkness it is! I chilled one down, then cut through the thick red wax, and popped the cap. I have Darkness tulips, but prefer the wider, deeper (and laser-etched) Duvel glass, so I poured vigorously into the Duvel.

It's black. Light does not penetrate this beer. The room seems dimmer, now that I have poured it. And I don't know why I'm always surprised by this, but Darkness produces rather large bubbles. The head is on the thin side, with the afore-mentioned big bubbles, but lasts a long time, and leaves little to no lacing.

Good Lord, this smells fantastic. If there's a hoppier RIS, I have never encountered it. There are tropical fruits, stone fruits, crazy levels of dark chocolate, orange, grapefruit...I just keep burying my nose in this glass.

But enough of that. This needs to be tasted. And wow. I expect this to be sweet, but it really isn't. It has all of the flavors promised by the nose, and more. It finishes with such a satisfying resin and bitterness. It's so soft, yet not sticky.

I'd like to end by offering a wholly subjective ranking of 2007-2012 Darkness, each of which I have had multiple times, and each of which I have had this past year. My order of preference is: 2007, 2009, 2012, 2010, 2011, 2008. Capsule reviews: 2007 was sublime. 2011 did not age well -- think soy sauce. 2008 was too sweet. 2009 was great fresh, as well as every year since. 2010 was super-drinkable fresh, and is still good, and 2012 is too young to know where it's headed.

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Photo of CharlesDarwin
4.88/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at Cafe 28. First off, I have to say my intents were to go in and slam this beer. I’d had enough with Imperial Stouts in the Top 50 (this may seem hypocritical considering my past endeavors to further a certain example of the style). My injurious intents would soon be quickly assuaged by a single glass of beer...A friend and I headed to Cafe 28, where I had called ahead to ensure the presence of Darkness and to get reservations. They anticipated my arrival with a table and a couple pours.

The beer came to the table in a narrow chalice and it carried a luxurious finger of the most elegantly soapy, soft creamy dark-oak head. It was almost mahogany itself, gently sliding around on the top with large laces following the beer down the glass. The black gold itself absorb all light and possibly other objects with gravity, with just the slighest blood red corners. Beautiful. I put the chalice to my nose and was blown away by a bold, unique aroma. It’s a tough one to finger, because it was so original and something I’d not experienced. There were lots of reduced plums, raisins, dark cherry syrup, Ecuadorian estate chocolates and toasted wheat kernels. It was rather piquant and electrifying, with a real warming phenolic nose, but it wasn’t boozy or chemical-like, instead a real refined almost sherry or perfume signature. Whatever it was, it was like no aroma I’d wafted. Unfortunately, the pour was a little on the cold side, so the aromatics were slightly restrained and my the time the beer reached warmer climes, my olfactories had been saturated.

On the tongue, the texture was immediately astounding. It was so thick and creamy, yet not sticky. Sweet, but not cloying. Smooth and drinkable, yet not watery. Warm and glowing, but not too hot. Hoppy, but was not dry and parching. Some amazing alchemical processes had occurred hear. Brewing magic under the hand of a wizard had formulated a brew so prefect and desirable I couldn’t believe I was drinking it. I kept muttering, "best beer ever" and "damn near perfect." The flavor cascaded with everything and Imperial Stout drinker looks for. Mounds of freshly brewed Blue Mountains dark roast, Dagoba fair-trade dark chocolate, charred oak barrel edges, Italian cherry skins, Tahitian vanilla beans, drops of fresh organic farm cream and Italian espresso and then the dark fruits really came in. Moist rainier cherries, dried succulent wild bog cranberries, fresh raspberries from the stem, a hint of musky Thimbleberries, a cacophony of Bilberry syrup and Blueberry reduction, with a hint of sour cherries and final bit of pomegranate arils. On top of this, an electric wave of bright hops.

Again, the character of the hops so unique as to be something I have a tough time likening it to. It had a real shining lime zest and gin quality. High, thin and mercurial. These bold citrus oils danced over the brewing cauldron of darker flavors, complementing and intertwining magically. Then, the longest draw of a smack I could imagine. It kept going and morphing, with roads of Marcona almonds, toasted earth, light goat cheese rind and ground oak dust. From the sauna floor rose juniper branches and hints of sea oats. The real phenomenal effect of this beer was the ethereal combination of every desirable effect. Each aspect played off of every other one in near perfect harmonic balance. The aroma was different from the flavor and the hops had great interplay and the texture was just plain perfect. It reminded me much of the great singular and touchable quality of Westy 12, with all the individualisms and character of the world’s most perfect Imperial Stout. This is the solar center paradigm shift of Imperial Stouts for me.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.88/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2011 Vintage. Thanks to Spencer for this bottle! Poured in to CBS snifter.

A - Poured ink black. Half a finger of medium brown head with good retention.

S - Roasted malts, smoke and a noticeable hop presence up front. A big semi-sweet chocolate aroma and a touch of licorice round out the nose.

T - Extremely robust flavour up front. Starts out with huge roast and semi-sweet chocolate flavours with a touch of smoke. Some sweet molasses and a fairly prominent hop profile enter in the middle. The finish is full of sweet chocolate and has a lingering bitterness. The ABV is very well hidden. The perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness.

M - Full body. Thick and viscous. Light carbonation.

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Photo of peabody
4.88/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours out a really dark black with no light coming through. One finger of small dark brown suds.
Raisin bread smell. Very doughy with hints of fruits, mango and pepper.
Taste is like sweet mango with sugar malts and raisin bread with just a hint of chocolate and a tinge of coffe aftertaste.
This is a well balanced and very refined drink.
Mouthfeel is wonderful and leaves just a tad of sugar behind. Love how it goes from sweet to salty then coffee bitter to dry sugar. This is a great RIS.
Drinkability is so high here because you cannot taste any alcohol or feel any in the back of the throat.

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Photo of Erdinger2003
4.88/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle 237

Poured into Darkness glasses bought at Darkness Day. Pours a great brown/tan head with a great lacing and great retention. Black in color letting no light in whatsoever. Smell is hoppy with a good coffee background. The first smell when putting glass to nose was chocolate, then the hoppy/roasty flavor balanced out. The mouthfeel was unbelievably smooth and full bodied. Overall, I loved it. Was a great experience from sitting in the cold to drinking it.

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Photo of umustdrink
4.88/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Sampled at Happy Gnome's Firkin Fest

A - Completely opaque pitch black color. Smooth dark brown head retains at a half inch, its darker around the edge of the glass. Thin sheets of lacing.

S - Dark roasted coffee with sharp piny hops. Dark fruits, cream and light vanilla playin in the background.

T - An oily slick bitterness with a sweet dark roasted maltiness starts out the taste. Dark malts get even darker while a sweet cream contrasts simultaneously. Lots going on here and I probably only skimmed the surface... I need more.

M - Thick consistency with a good amount of carbonation.

D - Excellent balance of sharp hoppiness and deep roasted maltiness make for a very unique and flavorful experience. More please.

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Photo of accordselux
4.88/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2008 release.

Like Travloh, I couldn't wait. My friends and I waited in line for this and the reward needed to be immediate! Drank it tonight as an after-dinner sipper.

I let the bottle warm up a bit from the fridge cut open that wax, and served it in goblets.

A: A wonderful example of an RIS. It poured well and left a caramel covered head that soon settled. It was pitch black, I held it up to a light and squinted and could see nothing. The foam left no rings as it was drunk, it slowly settled back into the beer.

S: The first thing we smelled as we opened it was a strong, sweet molasses smell, combined with a fruit note. It was overpowering the other smells, but as we let it breathe, I got the chocolate smell as well. The only reason it's a 4.5 is because the sweet smell was overpowering for quite a while.

T: Great. This was aggressive, but very well balanced. The dark coffee/chocolate flavors of the malt, highlighted by a sweet molasses/fruit taste. Hops were present but well integrated into the flavor. A LOT of flavor profiles I can't even begin to describe, but I can say, it's a lot more complex, and dare I say better than the Bourbon County Stouts and Old Rasputins I've had recently in preparation.

M: Very smooth. GD Yeti was very thick and oily feeling to me, and while Darkness felt substantial, it was very smooth to drink. The best sensation of all is the warmth you feel in your throat and chest after drinking, the similar feeling I get after drinking a liquor like scotch. Very nice warmer on the coldest day of the year so far in Minnesota.

VERY smooth to drink, which leads me to...

D: I can see why people are warned on Surly's site. The ABV creeps up on you. The beer is so enjoyable, and the flavors mask the alcohol so well, that you can sip for quite a while.

I was worried I wouldn't make the cut, but was #617. I was worried the beer was overhyped, but it's not. This is incredible. I wish I had sprung for the 6 bottles instead of the 4 I bought, but hopefully someone else got the chance to enjoy it.

Cheers to whoever the lucky party is!

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Photo of ForWhatAlesYou
4.88/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Darkness 2011 on tap at Stout's Pub in Falcon Heights, MN. Poured into a Delirium Tremens snifter (per my request).

A: Beautiful inky black with one of the most dense heads I have ever seen. Lace is a timeline of pure savoring bliss.

S: Bitterness over dark fruit. Light pipe tobacco, alcohol, candi sugar, tamarind.

T: Yes. This is what beer is all about. While it drinks like an aged port it holds up the beer end with dark malt profile. So complex in flavor, I am sure a million descriptors are necessary. Raisin, rum, merlot grape, currant, leather, charcoal, dates and figs, coffee-like bitter, pumpernickel, sherry, a little hazelnut or pecan, molasses, cherry tobacco...I keep finding new elements here as the beer warms and airs out.

M: Rich and lucious. Syrupiness isn't overbearing and carbonation is so tight that this is a physical pleasure to the palate as much as it is a (taste) sensory one.

D: Overall, easily the best of the style I've ever had. One of the best beers I have ever had. One of only a handful of brews I have ever had a guttural moan involuntarily emerge from my lips upon nearly every delicious sip. I don't give 5's easily, Surly has earned them.

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Photo of WYVYRN527
4.88/5  rDev +10.4%
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.

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Photo of squaremile
4.88/5  rDev +10.4%
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.

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Photo of gonzogambler
4.88/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My 2nd bottle from Darkness Day at the Surly brewery, #207.

This pours black as the ace of spades with a nice tan head. It couldn't be any more tempting. Nice lacing on the glass when drinking too.

Smells like dark chocolate and coffee with a slight whiff of hops.

The darkness is all I could want in an imperial stout. The taste is thick with chocolate, rising with a slight bite of hops, and then finishing with a subtle hint of bitter coffee. Mouth feel very well mixed between the smoothness of a stout and the bite of a hoppy beer.

The last bottle was consumed in an imperial stout tasting with some friends; that included: Darkness, Abyss, Speedway Stout, Poseidon, Sam Smith, Rogue, Yeti, Bourbon County, and Old Rasputin. The darkness was my favorite with the Abyss a close second. What really sets the Darkness apart is its unique hop flavors (like other surly beers) and how smoothly integrated all the flavors are making an outstanding beer.

I can't wait for next year! (not to mention all the other great beers from Surly in between)

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Photo of barnzy78
4.88/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2013 release, "Brewcifer", 750mL. I've had Darkness multiple times, but have never given it a review until now
A 4.75 - opaque and jet black with a tall, frothy light brown head that hangs around awhile leaving sticky lacing as it slowly dissipates
S 4.75 - huge roasty nose with plenty of dark chocolate, raisin, and fruity esters
T 5 - dark chocolate slathers the palate with cherry, raisin, coffee, roasted barley, oat, faint pine all melded together perfectly
M 5 - full bodied, sticky and sweet, velvety smooth and creamy, exceptionally balanced finish makes it incredibly easy to drink; it is boozy but not overly
O 4.75 - always has been a favorite beer of mine. Apparently they're now barrel aging it starting in 2014, but in my opinion it doesn't need to be. It's phenomenal the way it is. Maybe they should keep both options open.

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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
98 out of 100 based on 838 ratings.