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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
DarknessDarkness

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

2,966 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,966
Reviews: 788
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.33%
Wants: 3,072
Gots: 1,129 | FT: 83
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 (43) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,966 | Reviews: 788 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of 0110x011
3.66/5  rDev -18.7%
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 crossovert
3.67/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

2008 Vintage. 750ml black and gold waxed and capped brown bottle. 55 degrees. Not my 1000th review but my 1000th beer tried!

It pours a thick black with a voluptuous tan head. The head is sandier and not as dark as most Russian Imperial Stouts. It holds like a marvel for a 2 year aged brew of this strength. It refuses to recede but as it does it coats my snifter with thick lacing.

The smell is absolutely wonderful. I was at a brewery today smelling the fest wort, and this one has a lot of that fresh wort smell, that honey-oatmeal like malt sugar smell. Also in there is chocolate, coffee, slight roastiness, rum, and that classic stout smell with a bit of fruitiness. There are raisins and dark cherries in it as well as some caramel and a slight nuttiness. The sweetness can be smelled though there is also a cutting bitterness and sharpness sin the smell. The alcohol is present merely as an addition to the complexity of this brew.

This one is pretty intense in the mouth, a sweeter, fruitier RIS. It smacks you initially with some caramel covered cherries and raisins, then another wave of vinous raisin/grape, and finally a bitter coffee/chocolate finish. The alcohol flashes itself, though not completely, it is a palate exhauster form start to finish.

Though a bit cloying, the mouthfeel is pretty epic for the style, it is smooth and thick with a present but not overbearing alcoholic burn. This is the "liqueur" beer as it holds a bit more sweetness and complexity tan your average Russian imperial stout.

Overall if they were to tone down the sweetness on this one it would reach epic levels of enjoyability, the nose is right on.

Photo of Arbitrator
3.67/5  rDev -18.4%
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.

Photo of beertooth
3.68/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

2009 vintage 22oz red and black waxed bottle with a red and white two color screen print of a mummy on it. I split this with Ben(madorb) while we carved pumpkins. I poured my portion into a Cantillon Belgian tumbler.

A pitch black oil slick in a glass. The head and retention are both amazing. It looks like melted coffee ice cream and is leaving the stickiest lacing I've ever seen.

The nose is full of burnt sugar, dark fruits soaked in simple syrup, roasted malts, bitter chocolate, piney hops, a little alcohol. Think sticky and sweet.

The first sip is tooth destroyingly sweet. Liquid bitter chocolate, coffee beans, burnt malts, syrupy dried figs and prunes. I'm not picking up on the alcohol, but I know it's there because I'm starting to feel it. I can taste the hops more as it warms, but it's also getting stickier and cloying.

Mouthfeel is thick and creamy with a low level of carbonation.

I'm really hoping the syrupy sweetness really mellows out in the cellar because otherwise this will turn into a sugary mess. I'm still happy to have tried this year's vintage.

Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.68/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1200th rating! Draft (08 version). Pours black with only a small ring of head. Aroma of sweet malt and some bitter hops as well. Rather indistinct aroma actually. Flavor is very sweet and malty, but not the roasted malt that I'm used to in imperial stouts. It was a very odd experience, and I thought this seemed more like an ASA to me. Overall it was alright, but certainly on the sweet side. I would like to try this again though.

Photo of morimech
3.71/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 Vintage

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of mullenite
3.73/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 Bottle I think

Tall dark tan head with really decent retention. Probably one of the best looking stouts I've seen.

Sweeter fruit flavors, not so much dark fruit but lighter fruits. There is a very slight roasted note lingering in the background of the smell that comes through a bit more in the taste.

Aside from the sweet fruits and roasted malt there is a very slight tartness on the back of the tongue and some port like qualities.

Thinner body but it's not bad. The carbonation was in the middle of all the stouts we sampled.

Photo of jaxon53
3.73/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ah, Surly Darkness. Second time around. Wasn't really a big fan of the '08 and '09, but trying to keep an open mind. Served this chilled, in a sniter, from a 750 ml bottle. I allowed this to warm a bit before sampling.

Appearance: Darkness pours out a deep dark black hole black. This is one black beer! You could hold a flash light to this thing and not see through it. The name fits it perfectly. A rather gentle pour yields about three quarters of an inch of coffee brown head. Head lasts for a bit. Head slowly faded into a thickish gob of foam. A rather generous amount of webby lace was left behind.

Smell: A beast of a brew. Alcohol hammers the nose first and just about clears the sinuses. Slight hints of chocolate, cofee, and molasses. Dark fruit- Prune? maybe some fig and raisin. Some hops are noticeable. Smells like it is sweet.

Taste: Here we go. Taste somewhat mimics the smell. Alcohol seems a bit more subdued. Again, a bit hoppy. Chocolate is there, coffee isn't. Hints of raisin and prune. Somewhat sweet. Finishes with more alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Mouthfeel is chewy and thick. Full bodied with lower carbonation.

Drinkability: Notthe most drinkable beer I've ever had. Alcohol and sweetness are a bit much. Give me a Kate over this any day!

Photo of bamadog
3.73/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I have resisted the Darkness for too long. I've had a long, unproductive and otherwise kind of crappy day, so I figure I need to do a little sumpin' sumpin' for myself on a day like this. Review is from notes taken on 9/21/2012 and poured from the bottle (2009 mummy) to a snifter.

Appearance: Pour looks a little thick and viscous on the pour, definitely warrants some "glugs," but I feel that I've seen thicker, most notably Hunahpu, but that's THE exceptional beer; body is of course black and opaque; starts with a 1/2 finger dark, creamy tan head that fades to a loose, incomplete head with a full swath of lacing dripping slowly down the sides of the glass.

Smell: Upon cracking this, there is a strong, smoky, soy sauce blast in the nose; it eventually settles a little bit and there is some pretty big and roasty maltiness there with a touch of burnt coffee, possibly espresso; I would swear there is a touch of vanilla lying about in there, as well as a touch of sweet, yet slightly tart, cherries; just a touch of alcohol lingers, but it seems really well blended in the nose.

Taste: You know, it's good, but I'm really not blown away like I was hoping to be. I'm actually reminded a little bit of 2010 DL -- big, smoky and almost salty/soy sauce (not in a bad way); bit of a buttery sweetness hanging out in the back and there is some slick, syrupy semi-sweet chocolate; touch of roastiness. I have to wonder if it's past its prime?

Mouthfeel: Body is indeed thick and heavy, but it's fairly slick and leaves just a little bit of grit on the teeth; thick, but loose and slightly sticky coating is left all over the roof of the mouth; belly does register some warmth.

Overall: I would be willing to try it again if it comes in to my possession, but it will be drank immediately instead of giving it the opportunity to age and develop. Sometimes cellaring works well and you get a whole new product, and sometimes, you get disappointed. Sipper, with big alcohol, may be tough to get through the whole bottle on my own, but I'll figure out how to make do.

Photo of Graffy
3.73/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Photo of jamato3000
3.75/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of obiwan_k3n00bi
3.75/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of DerekQXQX
3.75/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of bashiba
3.75/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of Riggsenater
3.75/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of kbuzz
3.75/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of wardenclyffe
3.75/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of Hendrick24
3.75/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of HoldenDurden
3.75/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of Roland
3.75/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of mendvicdog
3.75/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of ianroodt
3.75/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of tcsparkx
3.75/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of kalebharris
3.75/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of mwbrady12
3.75/5  rDev -16.7%

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,966 ratings.