Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

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DarknessDarkness

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
99
world-class

3,197 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,197
Reviews: 813
rAvg: 4.49
pDev: 9.35%
Wants: 3,195
Gots: 1,173 | FT: 87
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: 3,197 | Reviews: 813
Photo of tjthresh
4.9/5  rDev +9.1%
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.

Photo of Douglas88
4.9/5  rDev +9.1%
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.

Photo of Lunch
4.9/5  rDev +9.1%
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.

Photo of pheggeseth
4.9/5  rDev +9.1%
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

Photo of JWD
4.9/5  rDev +9.1%
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!!

Photo of reebtaerG
4.91/5  rDev +9.4%
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.

Photo of MattyG85
4.92/5  rDev +9.6%
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. :)

Photo of JonnyBeers
4.92/5  rDev +9.6%
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!

Photo of hooliganlife
4.92/5  rDev +9.6%
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.

Photo of mikesgroove
4.92/5  rDev +9.6%
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!

Photo of NuclearDolphin
4.92/5  rDev +9.6%
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!

Photo of DanaC277
4.94/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Dark, alcohol, yummy goodness, stout heavy!

Photo of Ri0
4.94/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

poured 750ml bottle into chalice. 2013 release.

A - Dark, like black with a beautiful 2.5 finger caramel colored head. Nice retention with a thick collar and good amounts of tan lacing.

S - Earthy hops with pleasant dark fruits, lots of milk and bitter chocolate, roasty malts and some molasses and brown sugars to sweeten it.

T - This is one delicious RIS with hefty amounts of bitter and milk chocolate, earthy hops, caramel, brown sugar, molasses. The roasted malts are a real treat and there is a pleasant dark fruit flavor that blends well with it all.

M - Thick, viscous and creamy with a velvety smoothness to it. The carbonation is spot on for the style.

O - I can't think of a better RIS that I have had. This is an incredible beer, but the price may keep me from obtaining more than one a year.

Photo of tconboy
4.94/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

BREWCIFER - Lord of Darkness

Thanks to Bru for the Christmas present.

Appearance: lives up to it's name. Nice pillowy caramel head fades quickly to a surrounded light film.

Smell: Oh boy! Chocolate, coffee, sweetness.

Taste: The complexity! Rather fantastic, hence the perfect rating. The dried tart cherries and raisins are there and blend with that coffee, chocolatey (don't you red-underline me!) treat that we anticipated (see smell).

Mouthfeel: As you would expect from an RIS. Moderate carbonation. Dangerously smooth finish.

Overall: A wonderful treat. Wish this wasn't such a rare gem. Not my favorite style, but enjoyed this beer with the best of them.

Photo of FLBeertender
4.94/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This was the 2010 at an EPIC BEER TASTING at a fans house. Huge. I mean as big as a parade of elephants jaunting through the mall...and there was beer too.

This edition was strong on the nose and palate, I remember wincing on the first sip. Deep bitter cocoa and molasses with hints of vanilla and clove. It went down smooth and I was sad that my 2 oz pour was only. Rich coffee flavors with layers of toffee mirrored by sweet caramel and a tar-like drip...not perfect, but close enough.

Photo of JohnG190
4.94/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pours pitch black with a thick mocha head. Great lacing. So much happening on the nose - lots of dark chocolate, vanilla and stone fruit with hints of roasted malt and smoke. Outstanding aroma! Palate follows the nose, dark chocolate, vanilla, cherries, and dark fruity notes. The malt and smoky notes are even more apparent on the tongue. Body is ridiculously smooth with a medium body and light carbonation. Overall, if there are any faults in this stout I can't discern them. This is not only the best non-BA stout I've had, it's the finest example of a Russian Imperial Stout I've had, period!

Photo of challenja
4.94/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served On Tap at a Surly Tap Takeover at Church Key DC.

A: Dark charcoal with mocha head lacing.
S: This is one aromatic beer that has bourbon booze character with madagascar chocolate malts, red berries, strawberry jam, semi sweet cocoa nibs and light Colombian perk coffee.
T: Starts of smooth, bourbon burnt sugar followed up by a luscious strawberry puree (that means stop reading and go and buy it!) soft 60 percent dark cocoa, nice sappy malts. This beer had multilayered range that begs for more. (In fact I bought 2 more)
M: Very Creamy and silky smooth. Medium carbonation gets cut by the milky nature of this behemoth. The bourbon carries nicely and the oaked nature is outstanding. Not overbearing like other brews.
O: A delicious, delicious stout! I drank 3 for the review, ok 2 then before I left I got another one to ponder on talking beer shop with Thomas. I can't wait to get my hands on this in bottle. Sadly I have to order online, no one stocks it in DC!! DAMN IT!!!.

This stout comes in number 3 all time. SOrry Old Ras..you got knocked down again!

Photo of Scoobydank
4.94/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

L:Thick milk chocolate colored head. The color itself is a dark black oil with not an ounce of light shining through.
S:I pick up a burnt bacon type smell, which i love. A nice hop nose, but not over powering. Very light coffee bean. Just a tiny hint of a fruity raspberry comes peeking in.
T:A big time smokey coffee pops out right away. Which apparently is where I got the burnt bacon from. A sweet chocolate covered raspberry with just a touch of toffee. The hops pops out and stick around throuhg out the whole sip.
M:Thick round and fat for a nice warming feeling. Very little carbonation makes it very easy.
D:Great rIS. Very smooth and complex. It seems like the taste comes in layers adding to the complexity. I could easily drink multiple(unfrotunately and fortunately franksandbeans has my other bottle)

Photo of MamaMeier
4.95/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Dark, rich mocha color - cannot see through the glass. Thick 2-3 finger head. Looks tasty!
S - Smells of caramel, chocolate and some bitterness with the hops. Smell is smoother than other Imperials....
T - Can I say Heaven without being too cliche? Taste is smooth, hints of citrus with the hops, but not overpowering. Lots of dark chocolate and malts. A little bitter, but perfect amount.
M - Carbonation was typical - creamy and smooth. Goes down easy.
D - Split the bottle with my husband and some neighbors - let's just say I would have licked the bottom of the glass if I could have. Overall a delicious beer that was worth the price (I paid a bit over retail...eek!) and the wait! By far one of the best I have tried!

Photo of Damian
4.95/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Drank from a 1 pint 9.4 fl. oz./750ml bottle
2010 vintage (Vampire)
Served in a snifter
Acquired in a trade with Douglasjamjak

Review #666

The beer poured near pitch black and super oily. A two-finger, super tight, creamy and bubbly head of saddle brown froth topped the liquid. Impressive retention. Sheets of patchy lacing coated the glass.

The aroma was astounding. Super deep, dark and sweet. Tons of roasted malts and brown sugar notes. Loads of vanilla. Slightly boozy. It was difficult believing that this beer was not Bourbon barrel aged. Good amount of powdered cocoa. Some dark fruit sweetness was also noticeable. Touch of anise. Freshly brewed coffee notes came through as well.

The taste was just as amazing as the nose. A boatload of roasted malts appeared on the front end. As in the aroma, there was a distinct, boozy, Bourbon-like sweetness. Brown sugar and vanilla notes were nearly overwhelming. Tons of rich, smooth, dark chocolate. Good dose of molasses. Some dark fruit notes. A bit of anise. The finish was moderately boozy and slightly roasty, with a hint of char. A fair amount of citrusy hops came through as well (just enough to balance out the sweetness). Espresso notes were also noticeable.

The beer was silky smooth. Slick, creamy and plush with a fine, moderate effervescence. Nearly full bodied for style. After each sip, the liquid left a sticky film on my lips. The only thing preventing me from giving the mouthfeel a "5" was that the beer could have been a bit more viscous.

Simply put Darkness is an outstanding beer. It really won me over with its consistency across all categories. You would be hard pressed to find a more well rounded version of the style.

Photo of cbros
4.95/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2008 Vintage poured into a snifter.

Pours an absolutely beautiful jet black with a nice 2/3 finger tan lace. The head quickly dissipated to a nice lacing. In a perfect world the head would have stayed around a little bit longer, but oh well. The smell was a combination of toasted coffee, alcohol and bourbon. This combination jumped out of the bottle as soon as I opened. A wonderful smelling beer that certainly got my anticipation up for the actual tasting. A great tasting beer that was exactly what the smell said it would be.

I have held on to this beer for over 3 years and I finally decided 'what the hell' and opened it. This is probably one of the top 3 or 4 beers that I have had the pleasure of trying.

Photo of bobbypaulson
4.95/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer rocks!!! In my opinion this is the best stout out there, that I've had the pleasure of tasting. I had it on fresh from a keg, aged from a keg, fresh from a bottle and aged from a bottle. Every way it is great!!! The beer pours a a deep dark black with a very dark frothy head, nothing see through about this beer. The smell is of coffe, chocolate roast, and some hops. The taste is amazing, everything you smell fills your mouth and coats. The finish of the beer is increibly smooth and the left over taste leaves you craving more. I'm glad I live in Minnesota and have a chance at this beer because it is the best!!!

Photo of gratefulstu
4.95/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I waited in line for 5 hours for a few bottles of this years release. I had never tried it before but had heard lots of great things about it. I'm a big fan of the other Surly products so I had to try this one. I questioned if it could really live up to the hype, but had to find out for myself.

Appearance: The appearance is as black as black can be. The only bit of color it has it the dark tan head.

Smell: The first bit of aroma I smelled was all hops. I expected roasted malt but was hit with hops first. Wonderful, delicious hops. Upon my second whiff...the dry roasted dark malt characteristic I expected of a stout came through the hops. Next was hints of vanilla and maybe some cherry.

Taste: At first the taste was much more subtle than I expected. I was expecting it to be either really dry or really sweet. I found it to be a nice balance between the two. The sweet malt had hints of dark cherry and chocolate. If finished with a sharp dry hop finish. The alcohol taste was not overpowering at all.

Mouthfeel: I think the mouthfeel of this beer maybe the most unique I have ever experienced. It was truly thick and creamy. Had relatively low carbonation, which was perfect. It did seem to have a very slight chalkiness to it when swallowing ,but was not noticeable enough to be a negative.

Drinkability: This is definitely the most drinkable RIS I have ever had. The smooth, creamy mouthfeel was like velvet. The alcohol was not overpowering, maybe even understated (hard to believe with 10+ ABV).

This beer is Great. No doubt about it. It has some very complex characteristics. With each sip you get a different taste. Cherry, vanilla, chocolate, coffee...and hops.

Photo of Shango42
4.95/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Serving type-tap poured into a tulip snifter.

A-Bold dense blackness. Dark tan head. Lots of lacing.

S-Chocolate sweetness, dark scotch-like malts, caramel, toffee. Absolutely delicious on the senses.

T-1st sip...speechless. So smooth, so sweet, so perfect. Dark chocolate and toffee, scotch-like malt with very light coffee notes. Wonderfully full body. The balance for this high octane, big stout is unparalleled. The alcohal is definitely present because it warms going down, but it is not overpowering. Some late hops make an appearance but it just continues to balance and compliment the brew. I've simply never had a better beer.

M-Thick, chewy, low carbonation, full bodied.

D-Could drink one of these every day and I would be in beertopic bliss. It sets the bar.

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.97/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

750 ml wax-dipped bottle poured into a snifter.
10.3% ABV, 2010 Vampire design.

A - The thick pile of bubbles which rests on the beer displays an oily rainbow color swirling on it's surface. Coincidentally, it coincides with the thick, syrupy used oil-looking beer fills the snifter for a pitch-black darkness light cannot penetrate. Even with the high alcohol level, the head maintains its stature for quite some time, slowly lowering to leave a smattering of light bubbles on the snifter.

S - Sticky burnt molasses, lightly charred oak, and bitter dark chocolate are conjured up from a thick malt bill which incorporates more subdued notes of cold coffee, roasted malt, and cocoa. Hops provide just a miniscule drop of citrus and earthiness into the mix with an old, dusty basement sense pulling through. Even with two years on it, this beer still has some warming alcohol perception on the nose.

T - Darkness' rich malt level isn't surprising in flavor but what is, is the lack of bold roasted, almost burnt notes that the aroma exhibits. The taste compounds are much sweeter and subtler with smooth Hershey milk chocolate, a touch of black licorice, and soft molasses finishing out the back end. Dry cocoa and seemingly absent hops balance the malt sweetness' flavor as does just a hint of alcohol.

M - To describe this beer as full bodied would be quite the understatement. Smooth as black velvet (don't sue me Alanna Myles!) Darkness is almost creamy feeling with a rich, throat-coating finish that carefully teeters on the verge of sweetness and balance. All this while maintaining warming, soothing alcohol and an insatiable draw.

O - I recall Darkness having one of the hoppiest aromas of any Russian Imperial Stout I've encountered while being sweeter than all get-out. Suffice it to say, age has done this beer an incredible favor; rounding out some of the rougher edges for an insanely crave-able, lustful, sinfully delicious stout. For every bottle you hoped would age well and failed, Darkness makes up for, rewarding your patience with big dividends. This chocolaty, roasted malt-rich brew exceeds expectations of greatness and completely satisfies.

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
99 out of 100 based on 3,197 ratings.