Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
DarknessDarkness

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BA SCORE
97
world-class

789 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 789
Hads: 3,220
rAvg: 4.39
pDev: 4.78%
Wants: 3,207
Gots: 1,175 | FT: 84
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 (51) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 789 | Hads: 3,220
Photo of bainard
4.03/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Onyx with a 1/2" tan head. Really nice look to this brew. Looks like a big RIS.

S - Smoke, fruit (grapefruit and peach, maybe?), and roast. Some coffee. The candi sugar starts to become VERY prevalent.

T - Though it opens very well, with flavors of vanilla and coffee, it starts almost too tart and too sweet, as if the candi sugar is dragging an otherwise great beer down. The warming gives you an idea of why the Belgian sugar is used in this brew. It's extremely unique and forward, but it could definitely use some mellowing.

M - The creaminess here is something most other brews would beg for.

D - The alcohol is there, of course, but it doesn't feel like a 10.3% beer. It's a really nice beer and worth every penny, but I believe this vintage just seemed too young to really appreciate right off the bat. I have a bottle that I'll be cellaring, and I'm quite sure this review will improve after I enjoy that. (922 characters)

Photo of LordAdmNelson
4.02/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2010 Vintage.

Poured opaque black (like all big stouts) with moderate tan head. Nose is unexpectedly full of citrus hops (I knew this was hoppy, but damn). Citrus hops overlay the chocolate/roasted malts underneath. Flavor is big, with serious citrus and pine hops rushing over a big sweet stout base. Carbonation is a bit high on this guy, with corresponding thinness of body. Easy drinker, though, due to the carbonation.

This was a bit of a let-down for me... I was looking for a life-changing event, but this was not it. Struck me as more of a black IPA, which is good. The carbonation made the really nice and robust flavor difficult to access, it kind of diluted the flavor or washed it away too quickly. As it warmed, the beer really has a unique and wonderful flavor, but some of the details are a bit off, in my opinion. (831 characters)

Photo of AgentZero
4.01/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the Darkness release part at Sheffields in Chicago.

A - In a heavy glass chalice, looked thick like oil in the dark bar. A small tan head which was barely present by the time I got to mine. Nice lacing throughout the course of the drink, very attractive beer.

S - I think this is the strangest smelling stout I've ever smelled. I half thought I had the wrong beer for a while. Get some deep coffee and chocolate, with some undertones of vanilla and a touch of raisins. The strange part of all of it was the distince hops smell on the end of the nose. Very odd.

T - Is this really an RIS? It's either a really interesting take on one or it's just not. Don't get any of the classic stoutish taste on this. Very creamy and chocolatey with a nice splash of vanilla in the middle. Faint IPA-ish taste at the end due to the hops, how very different. I like it, but not at all what I was expecting.

M - Smooth and creamy, leaves the mouth cleanly with a mild hoppy bite at the end. Full bodied, but not heavy like I would expect a heavy stout to be.

D - Can't believe it's 10%+. Way too easy to drink, sessionable stout. Even those who have a hard time drinking stouts could get this one down with no problem. (1,217 characters)

Photo of katan
4.01/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at busters

A- pours dark as motor oil black. Head formation is about 1 cm in size and well retained. Mocha in color.

S- dominated by a bittersweet chocolate and just a hair of noble hops. Very light on the roasted smoked or coffee scents

T- starts off reletively light with only a light malt hit. Builds with some bitter background and only a hint of hops. wow that finishes sweet, with a load of caramel, toffee and vanilla flavors. I really taste the hops in the aftertaste.

M- extremely thick and creamy. Very sticky and clingng. A feel of molasses.

D- I could only have one of these at a time. Very potent and a flavor profile so intense that having another would be wasted.

Truly a RIS. Up there with dl or speedway stout. (743 characters)

Photo of MrVonzipper
4/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage
Black. Pretty viscous. A little oily. Nice fluffy khaki head with pretty good retention and spotty lacing.

Pretty nice nose with sweet toasted brown sugar and mild dark fruit.

Flavor follows the nose. Pretty sweet. Notes of brown sugar, molasses, dark malt and brownie-like chocolate.

Mouthfeel is pretty full bodied, smooth with creamy medium carbonation.

Overall it's a good beer but a little bit of a disappointment. I for some reason was hoping for a bit more, and more depth. Good flavor and characteristic but leaves a little more to be desired. (572 characters)

Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a large deep dirty brown color head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of roasted malt and black chocolate with some light liquorice and dry coffee notes is quite enjoyable. Taste is also a heavy mix between some roasted malt with light bitter notes with rich black chocolate notes and very subtle notes of liquorice and dry fruits. Sweetness is very well balanced and not nearly as cloying as Dark Lord. Body is full with good carbonation and warming notes are perceptible though nothing too heavy. Well done and still retaining some balance even though it is an extreme beer. (631 characters)

Photo of waltonc
4/5  rDev -8.9%
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. (594 characters)

Photo of lackenhauser
4/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to scoobydank for this awesome bottle as part of the BA Vets BIF.

Jet black with a decent sized head. very tight and confined bubbles. Heavy dried fruit aroma. Very "india ink" like smell to it. Fruity and very malty flavors dominate. Again dried fruit, very plum like. Raisen quality to the flavor. Sticky sweetness and a trace of toffee. Lacks some of the heavy roasted notes and the strong hop bite I am used to in a RIS. Sticky and creamy mouthfeel. A damn good RIS. I like mine a bit more astringent overall flavor wise. Still damn enjoyable and well worth trying.

Oh my wife just commented the label would make a great tattoo. (641 characters)

Photo of SacoDeToro
4/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at 2007 GABF. Poured by Omar himself.

The beer poured a deep coal black with a nice dark brown head.

The aroma of the beer was full of dark roasted malts, dark chocolate, and ash. Some tobacco in the aroma as well.

The flavor of the beer was focussed on roasty malts to the point of being slightly ashen. Mid-palate could've used a little more molasses/dark fruit sweetness. The hops seemed slightly citrusy and pretty up front. The finish had a faint tobacco note as well.

The mouthfeel was full, but was not too heavy. It finished pretty dry for a RIS. The carbonation seemed dialed in well.

This beer is good, but overhyped IMO. There are much better imperial stouts out there that eclipse Darkness in both complexity and drinkability. KtG, DL, and BCS are few that come out ahead IMO. (801 characters)

Photo of antoines15
4/5  rDev -8.9%

I would like to start bu saying that I liked this more than I liked this year's version of Dark Lord. Had it on tap at Tribes and have never hsad it before. I won't stick to the formt of beer reviews but still get my point acrdoss. It was very sweet at first but the finish semmed a bit more roasty, wich reallu balanced it out for me, Iam srill not sure of i like dthis beer or not after a fw 'buzzed" minutes to think abut it, I would give it B as a score. NOt bad but not anything to kill yorself tryin gto get. O'Malley! (524 characters)

Photo of Sammy
3.98/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Caught up with this at the Blue Nile in Minny. Black with huge off-beige head. Hoppy RIS.Sourness in first sip. The bitterness builds up, flows over the sugary finish. Integrated coffee, sugar to make it coffee liquor acceptable?ABove average mouthfeel. Better as warms up, was served a bit on cold side. (304 characters)

Photo of mdvatab
3.98/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received 2010 bottle in a trade, split with BA friend barfwin in celebration of my son's birth.
Poured from 750 ml bottle into snifter.

Aroma: Rich molasses, fudge brownie, and dry, roasty dark chocolate. A very mild herbal hop note chimes in. Also picking up some anise.

Appearance: Dark tan, 1 finger sudsy head. One of the most substantial collars of foam that I've seen on an imperial stout. Not a requirement, but definitely a nice touch! Leaves sudsy lacing behind. Oh--and the body of the beer matches the name--pitch black!

Flavor: Rich chocolate, molasses, and fruity grape notes up front. Fig and dark, candied fruits. A touch of smoke. More grape. A balanced bitterness at the end.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and chewy. Nice, fine, silky medium-high carbonation.

Overall: A delicious RIS--don't get me wrong--but fell just a tad bit shy in the complexity department. A solid 4, maybe even 4.5. Not sure how well this one was treated over the past year (shipping/storage conditions), which may have had an impact. Looking forward to trying another 2010 in the future, and also 2011! (1,094 characters)

Photo of CooperEllis
3.98/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

22oz into 6oz tasting glass. 2010 release. Thanks to afksports.

Dark - unable to tell if it is deep brown or black but the head is a fair tan; no lacing.

Cocoa nib in the front, full roasted malt takes over.

Flavor is a robust roasted malt which becomes very sweet; the finish is perfect bit I wish there was more complexity in the initial flavor. This isn't a slight so much as enhanced expectation based on reputation. This is certainly an above average RIS.

The mouthfeel is perfect. The carbonation, weight of the brew, taste and viscosity are all well matched.

I would certainly drink, and would drink it over damn near all the off the shelf options to which i have frequent access.

(57th) (701 characters)

Photo of urwithdave
3.98/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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

D- A little more time would've helped this one out. The alcohol was still very hot. (626 characters)

Photo of mjyoung
3.98/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Split with scottfire and bbb099. Thanks to scottfrie.

2009 release

A: Pours very dark and rich, with a nice head that seems solid enough to eat at first but recedes quickly. Gorgeous lacing as it slowly recedes. Doesn't appear to be as thick as I was expecting, but that's not a bad thing.

S: Very strong smell of roasted molasses, overwhelming any other flavors.

T: Dark chocolate, roasted malt, and molasses. Very warm, with the alcohol following all the way down. Once you get past the initial powerful hit, you pick up some brown sugar and a sweet, full-bodied fruitiness. The molasses and malt definitely overpowers everything else. It would have been interesting to try this both fresh, and with another year in the bottle.

M: A bit thinner than I was expecting, but still a slky, viscous feel that sits quite well.

D: It's unfortunately a bit hard to rate this beer as objectively as I would like (my earlier find this evening is clouding my judgment). It is quite good, although a little bit more harsh than I would like. Another year in the bottle would have been interesting. It doesn't quite measure up to the hype, but don't get me wrong. I'd drink it again at the drop of a proverbial (or literal) hat. (1,225 characters)

Photo of davod23
3.97/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Finally decided to open this bottle. 2008 vintage, poured into my Bruery tulip.

Surprise, surprise! Black, with a nice 2-finger tan head that retreats to a thin cap. Pour appears to be medium-bodied for an imperial stout.

Aroma... is odd. I'm not totally on board with it. Lots of malt there, looots of malt. There's a bit of a toasted character, some berry fruitiness, but malt dominates this beer, making it almost one-dimensional. I don't really care for this smell, other imperial stouts are vastly superior (IMO) in this department.

Taste, on the other hand, is really great. It's not often that you'll get such disparity between taste and smell. I'm glad for this. Malty, with slight bitterness on the back end. I am getting blackberry and cherry notes, roasted marshmallow, and a bit of toast here. Chocolate is barely a whisper, and coffee is almost non-existent. Very interesting take on the style, I've never had an imperial stout like this before.

Mouthfeel is outstanding, simply great. It's full-bodied, but doesn't quite reach thick. Perfect, medium level of carbonation. Silky, smooth, and creamy. Easily one of the best mouthfeels I've ever experienced.

Overall, this is quite good. I do wish that I had the opportunity to try this fresh, as I am guessing the hops add a lot to this beer, particularly with respect to the nose. As it is, it's still quite a nice and unusual stout. Recommended. (1,414 characters)

Photo of LeonTrotsky
3.96/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

Bottle #27 consumed from my Darkness tulip.

A: Delicious. It pours jet black with a creamy brown head, exactly the way a stout should look
S: Sweet dark chocolate and fruity hops with a hint of coffee. It actually smells kind of like dark chocolate covered raspberries.
T: The taste is like the smell, but the hops are much more intense. It has a sort of harsh bitterness to it.
M: Scrumtrulecent. Thick but not cloying. Like the appearance, it is how a stout should feel in ones own mouth.
D: It took me quite a while to finish the glass and I didn't want another one. Good thing I was sharing the bottle; I wouldn't have enjoyed finishing it myself

I had Darkness on tap several times this year and enjoyed it much more. Maybe it was just my imagination but the hop bitterness from the bottle was much harsher (not in an enjoyable way) than on tap. The friend I shared it with has a bottle she is aging for at least a year and I think that bottle will be much tastier. It could use a good year in the bottle. (1,012 characters)

Photo of AwYeh
3.96/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

2010 vintage, poured into snifter. Thanks to readbaron for trading me this.

A: Pours an opaque pitch black, no hints of even a dark brown around the edges, with three fingers of foamy, oatmeal-thick brown head capping off the glass. Outstanding retention and lacing; this is a great looking beer.

S: Thick and rich, this one is a malt overload. Tons of roasted malts, with lots of chocolate, hints of sweet espresso, and the tangy musty smell of dark dried fruits- raisins, prunes, and currants. Hints of ethanol as the beer warms (though these don't show up in taste).

T: Lots of flavors at play here, with the chocolate from the nose emerging immediately. Tangy, fruity flavors are in control for the rest of the way, with a long, lingering, slightly acidic, sweet finish. With warmth, a chocolate flavor comes into play on the finish as well.

M: Extremely smooth- possibly the smoothest beer I've ever tasted. Medium-bodied with light carbonation, Darkness has a slightly creamy finish which makes the flavor even more enjoyable.

D: A good beer and an enjoyable glass, even if the balance lies a bit too much in favor of the beer's intense, sweet fruit flavors. Alcohol is well hidden and the smoothness made the first half of my glass disappear quickly, though things were bordering on cloying for the second glass. (1,324 characters)

Photo of bbb099
3.96/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage (Mummy). Thanks a bunch to scottfrie for sharing this with me. Reviewed on 12-18-2010.

A - Jet black color with a brown colored head. Appears to be quite viscous.

S - Strong burnt, roasted malt aroma.

T - Pure roasty flavor accompanied by some molasses and woody taste. Some chocolate and alcohol on the way down.

M - Full bodied. Very thick. Moderate carbonation.

D - Leaves some alcohol burn, but does have a great taste that keeps you wanting more. (471 characters)

Photo of erz316
3.96/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into guinness pint glass. 2009 vintage

the bottle pours a kind of stealth head: at first it seems to be making no head, so then I pour a bit harder, and we get a bit of progress; then the whole thing explodes with this slow moving, creeping foam. I think at the most it was three fingers, it retains well enough. the colour of the foam is a solid tan colour, and the texture is very creamy. the body is indeed dark, but some light does get through the bottom. the nose is simply malts with bitter hops, quite hoppy actually. the taste is quite like the nose: a very hoppy RIS with a huge malty keel. aside from the hops, it is pretty standard tasting for my palate. a bit of something sweet, like cherries, on the aftertaste. the feel is good, pretty thick, but not as much as dark lord. (802 characters)

Photo of Cedromar
3.95/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

C'est la vie.

2009 Vintage acquired in trade, but I can't remember with whom. If you see this and we did the trade, shoot me a BM and I'll edit accordingly.

I've been fortunate to try the '07 and '08 Darkness and am now sampling the '09.

Well, this is one is a disappointment. '07 is plain and simply, the tits and '08 is like a bowel movement after having the spiciest indian food you've ever eaten.

Appearance is good, pitch black with a two finger head that wuickly fades to small bubbles.

Smell is dark fruits with a nice hoppy backbone.

Taste is again good, not great. The hop bite is there first, followed closely by the not-as-overpowing sweetness that plagued the '08 edition.

Mouthfeel is the best part of the '09 edition. Silky smooth all they way down into my belly.

The overpowering sweetness really hurts the drinkability of this brew.

In short, Darkness and I have a love hate relationship, much like the re-launch of Doctor Who. '07 is Tennant, the 10th Doctor, arguably the best. '08 is Eccleston, the 9th Doctor, far too cheeky for its own good, and the '09 is Matt Smith, the 11th Doctor, there's promise, but right now it has some pretty big shoes to fill to be the best. (1,199 characters)

Photo of Patchmaster
3.93/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Scored this bottle thanks to newk340. This was a 2010 shared with the family over the holidays. This had been one of my top wants. I'm glad I was able to knock this off my list. I wish I could say I was blown away. Unfortunately the Darkness didn't lead up to the hype that I was expecting.

A- Pours jet black as a normal head would dark brown with a small head.

S- I expected more layers from this. I was hoping for the complexities to really show. I get a lot of malts and a faint hint of dried fruits maybe a prunes???

T- Lot of malts and again the flavor of prunes. I wouldn't consider it bad, just nothing amazing.

M- Very thick. Like drinking a milkshake. This was the best aspect of the beer.

D- Overall this is a great beer. I might just stick with the Old Raspy and not have to worry about the trade. Darkness is a great representation of a RIS. The hype train has grabbed on and won't let go. (910 characters)

Photo of jwinship83
3.93/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

taken from notes. served 2 9oz pours at two brothers "for the love of hops." plastic cups both times. moderately priced at 6$ each.

A- this one pours a viscous black colored body with a very small coffee colored head which lasts only a second. it might be the plastic cups, but none of the beers served that day left any decent lacing to speak of. this one was no exception.

S- dark roasted malts and a lot of sweetness. sweeter than most stouts. reminds me of raisins and plums. some coffee/hops at the end. milk chocolate throughout.

T- the taste was as sweet as the smell. kind of off putting to be honest. lots of chocolate and raisins. more hops at the end than the average stout. that was kind of cool.

M- thick and full bodied. chewy and palate coating. a nice low level of carbonation really works in this one's favor.

D- easy enough to drink but i dont think i could have had more than two without wanting to switch to something else. nice to see this one on tap again in this area. it had been a while. not the greatest stout of the fest, but nothing to pass on either (1,086 characters)

Photo of ChadQuest
3.93/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

Glad i made the trip to enjoy this beer with some of my too seldom seen friends in the city. (1,024 characters)

Photo of 1Adam12
3.92/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2011 vintage split with a buddy of mine. First thing that stuck out at me was how thin this poured. After all of the arguing about which is better between dark lord and darkness, I was expecting it to look thicker. Black in color, but thin. Nice nose, lots of malt, roasts and chocolate. Taste was sweet, coffee, loads of chocolate jumped out at me. Bitter taste as well. Mouthfeel was thin. It coated the mouth, but it was very thin. Also, the flavors really didn't linger. Overall, this was a very tasty beer that I would drink again in a heartbeat, however IMO there is absolutely no debate on which is better between this and DL. (633 characters)

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 789 ratings.