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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
DarknessDarkness

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
97
world-class

795 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 795
Hads: 3,255
rAvg: 4.4
pDev: 9.77%
Wants: 3,238
Gots: 1,183 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Darkness Alström Bros
Reviews: 795 | Hads: 3,255
Photo of MDDMD
4.35/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A-dark brown black color with a decent light brown head and good lacing

S-chocolate, molasses, coffee, dark fruit, vanilla

T-dark roasted malt, chocolate, toffee, coffee, dark fruit, little vanilla, little on the sweet side

F-full body with light to moderate carbonation, smooth and creamy

O-well-rounded stout, just a little on the sweet side for me (354 characters)

Photo of dgilks
3.86/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Inky, oily, deep and penetrating black. Big, creamy tan head. Very nice.

Heavily alcoholic nose. Very big. Sweet and very rich. Moderate roast and coffee.

Big. Sugar, sugar, sugar. Chocolate is there as is some roast and caramel.

Full body with moderate carbonation. Okay.

I just can't do these beers anymore. It is just a big diabetes bomb of sugar and alcohol. Seriously lacking in complexity and character to round out the malt and add balance. (451 characters)

Photo of Josh012012
4.75/5  rDev +8%

First tasted fresh 2013 Darkness. I felt that this was far too sweet and rough around the edges it did not live up to the hype and I gave it a 4.0 rating.

A few months later I had the opportunity to try 2010 and 2011 Darkness at a Rare Beer Fest. For me, the two year old 2011 was the best beer I have had to date at a rating of 4.9 and the 2010 might have just been slightly over the hill at 4.6. (399 characters)

Photo of Fcolle2
4.43/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark black with no light making it through. Head is big, anoint two fingers, tan, and frothy. Head also retains nicely.

Aromas is really nice. Booze soaked raisins and chocolate malt are forward. More dark fruit of prunes and fig aromas come in near the mid section. Semi sweet malty finish.

Taste is great and follows the nose. Lots of booze soaked dark fruit flavors of loads of dates some figs and some raisins. Semi sweet at the start and midsection but is cut with a rich roasted chocolate flavor that helps balance the sweetness if the malt.

Mouthfeel is great. Super thick, sweet stickiness and light carbonation. Everything I want in a good imperial stout. (673 characters)

Photo of AgentMunky
4.38/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

2010 edition. Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a snifter. Many thanks to the guys at Ale Arsenal for sharing.

A: Blood-dark red. Viscous. No head.

S: Smell is amazing. Loads of coffee. Licorice. Aggressive bitterness. Hops?

T/M: This is nutzo good! Kinda balanced, which is shocking. Very thin bodied. Hint of coffee. Hops. Roasty. Actually tastes like a stout. Lingering aftertaste is nutty and delicate. Dry. I love the roasted malt here.

O: Great imperial stout. Delicious and highly recommended. (505 characters)

Photo of gueuzedreg
4.54/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

'13 into a CS snifter. First Surly.

A- This is the darkest beer that I have ever had. Coffee colored pinky sized head with good retention down to a large sized lacing ring with big legs.

S- Charred dark fruits, molasses, toffee, chocolate. Real rich and dark bold smell. This is my second favorite base RIS behind Zhukov. Brilliant.

T- Totally follows the nose. Reminds me of Portsmouth Impy. Charred dark fruits are upfront>chocolate>molasses.

M- Very thick and creamy. Rich and decadent. Great smooth M.

O- I am very impressed with this base RIS. Brilliant. (575 characters)

Photo of bodhi185
4.82/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Smallbar in Chicago.
A: Jet black with a pretty thin head for the heft of the beer.
S: Raisin, molasses, with a little chocolate and a little alcohol pickup.
T: Supremely bitter black molasses russian imperial flavor that drinks pretty dry and insanely balanced.
M: Actually pretty thin for the style in my opinion, but lingers for days.
O: Bitter, biting, big big beer. Worth the wait...thank you Minnesota for sharing with Chicago again. (449 characters)

Photo of vic21234
4.57/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

750ml poured into a snifter from cellar temperature. 2011 Vintage.

A- Pours black, as expected. A nice finger's worth of khaki colored head sticks around awhile before slowly fading to the side. Some lacing is noted along the sides of the glass as well.

S- Chocolate and dark malts are heavy on the aroma, along with an overall sweet character.

T- Very nice RIS. Starts off with dark malts before giving way to tons of sweet chocolate notes. There is still some hop presence at the backend even after going on 3 years old, though the malts dominate this one I'd say.

M- Thick and chewy, easy drinking for a RIS, good carbonation.

This is a great beer for sure. I tend to prefer BA stouts but this is a great sipping one as well. Drinks heavy and thick. (762 characters)

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.92/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter. 2011 bottle. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Black with nice lacing. Small khaki head.

Smell - Roasted chocolate. Sweet caramel in there too. Fruity with some licorice.

Taste - Sweet, for sure. More than I expected. It blends well with the roasted malts, though. Licorice and dark fruits. Ashy bitter malt finish.

Mouthfeel - Heavy and sweet. Medium carbonation.

Overall - Lots of sugar in this guy. Not to Dark Lord levels, but sweet. It's what Dark Lord should be. (510 characters)

Photo of SeanBond
4.8/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Surly is finally back in Chicago, and this is my first time trying Darkness, so I'm pretty excited. I usually prefer BBA stouts to regular ones, so I'll be interested in seeing how this stacks up to both.

The beer doesn't pour as dark as I expected; for something called "Darkness," I figured this would be pitch black, but it's more like a very deep brown. There's a decent amount of carbonation, so you get more head than some other comparable stouts.

The smell is pretty great; complex with berry hints, definitely different than what I'm used to.

Now to the taste: Awesome! Also not at all what I was expecting. There's a lot going on here, with the berry nose also being present in the taste. There's no coffee that I can taste here, but there's a hint of hops; not as much as something like Goose Island's Nightstalker, but enough to make it interesting. Very sweet, reminds me a little of the BCBS Backyard Rye from this year.

Consider me impressed. There's enough flavor here that I'd have bet you this one was barrel-aged. Smooth, and extremely tasty. Probably the best non-BA stout I've ever had. I'm surprised to say this, but this one really lives up to the hype.

Awesome job from Surly; I hope this one isn't too hard to get next year. (1,255 characters)

Photo of Ri0
4.94/5  rDev +12.3%
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. (812 characters)

Photo of sully11277
4.65/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A- Jet black with a nice brown head that sticks around for the whole thing.

S- You get a lot of an alcohol burn then you get a nice sweetness. You get a lot of cocoa and vanilla. You get a lot of roast. there are so many smells coming off this beer they blend very well.

T/M- You get a lot of sweetness upfront, you get a lot of dark chocolate then you get more of a milk chocolate and vanilla. It is very smooth which i was shocked by because of the alcohol burn you get from the smell.

O- This beer is amazing. all the flavors blend so great together I can not wait to see how this ages. (592 characters)

Photo of kevanb
4.7/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

750ml bottle, 2013 vintage, purchased at Binny's Grand in Chicago (much to my surprise) and poured into a 2012 Darkness tulip. I've heard rumors that the batch sent to Chicago was different than the batch released at Darkness Day in 2013, but I have nothing to substantiate this, that being said, this bottle was quite different than the draft offering I had at Northdown Cafe not a few weeks earlier.

The beer pours a super deep jet black color, wonderful opacity and just a touch of cola brown color when hit by the light. A thick, taut, caramel colored head rises from the beer, not instantaneously, taking its time to thicken and settle before receding slowly and gracefully leaves a few nice spots of lace behind. The aroma is roasty, dark brunt grain with some toasted coffee bean before a rush of chocolate, also a touch charred gives way to a plethora of fruit flavors, cherry, plum, prune and fig, with a bit of brown sugar and raisin as well as some molasses and toffee. The flavors however, are on point, loads of rich chocolate, bittersweet that brings out the fruit flavors impeccably well, huge amounts of cherry and plum with some backing raisin and licorice that leads to a rich malt and brown sugar sweet finish, but boy does the roast get cut down on the tongue. I'm used to this beer exerting some bitterness and hoppyness, especially when this fresh, but this bottle is so rounded and smooth. The body on this bottle is perfection, incredibly rich, soft, smooth, velvety, all of the synonyms for those words apply. It coats the mouth so gently and eloquently that it's almost unnoticed while asserting itself so well. The finish is wonderfully creamy, soft and has a perfect level of warming as it goes down.

Verdict: I always thought of Darkness as a rather unique and inventive take on the style as it was assertively bitter and always had a distinctive piney hop flavor to me, however this bottle changes everything. It's incredibly rich, smooth and balanced. The complexity is astounding and this is deserving of all accolades. Perhaps there is some truth to the notion that the recent distribution was slightly different than the release day batch, but whatever was in my bottle was superb and I want more. (2,233 characters)

Photo of timc100
4.33/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

2013

Did not have the menacing pour I anticipated - dark, brown light showing through. Sits black in the glass with a dark mocha head. Sticks to the glass but not overly retentive, minimal alcohol legs.

Aroma of heavy roast, dark chocolate, some vanilla coffee. Some dark fruits as well, but not very distinctive. Nice, but not very vibrant.

Taste is huge. Big chocolate, heavy roast, some vanilla and dark cherry - slight molasses. Decently bitter but cut with a nice sweetness. Full, smooth well rounded body.

Very good RIS - not the best I have had, but certainly something worth getting a few bottles of. (612 characters)

Photo of Jaycase
4.64/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

'13 edition on tap @ firkin.

a: black. frothy, khaki head

s: light chocolate notes. Hints of roasted malts. Bit of licorice in the background

t: milk chocolate pervades throughout. light roasty notes.

m: very creamy. medium carbonation. body is spot on

o: First time having Darkness. Worthy of the hype imo. Only ding might be the aroma which was rather subdued. Mouthfeel is top notch. No reason to age this as it was great fresh. (436 characters)

Photo of zhanson88
4.07/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage.

Appearance: Pours out a deep, dark brown that appears black in the glass. About 3/4" of dark tan head forms, which has pretty good retention and very nice lacing. Pretty good start to this beer.

Smell: Smells pretty roasty, but not overly so, with light coffee bitterness and stronger dark and milk chocolate sweetness intermingling.

Taste: Roast bitterness and milk chocolate sweetness all the way. Good balance of the two. Lingering bitterness from the roast. Not the most complex beer, but what is there is very solid.

Mouthfeel/Overall: Mouthfeel is just under full, with an excellent level of carbonation. Overall, a very good non barrel aged stout. It gives up a bit of complexity but is very well put together, and has an excellent sweet/bitter balance. Definitely a recommend. (803 characters)

Photo of tconboy
4.94/5  rDev +12.3%
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. (667 characters)

Photo of spinrsx
4.12/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber from the end of year Ottawa Tasting

Appearance - Dark brown colour with a small size frothy light brown head. I can't make out the amount of carbonation showing and there is some great lacing. The head lasted for around 5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, oats

Taste & Mouth - There is a below average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, chocolate, and vanilla. There is also some coffee, roasted/toasted nuts, and some oats.

Overall - Really smooth and enjoyable to drink. A great balance of flavours and something that I would drink a lot if it was regularly available to me. (634 characters)

Photo of spoony
4.52/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From a 650 ml bottle (2013 batch) into a snifter.

A-A gentle pour produces about a finger of medium brown foam. The retention is so-so and in less than a minute I am left with a patchy cap. The cap hangs around for a bit before dissipating to a collar. The beer underneath is pretty nearly black and opaque with a little bit of sheen.

S-The aroma is sweet and complex with suggestions of molasses and a warming background of alcohol. I detect some dark fruit, a touch of licorice-like spice, and nice roasted flavors. There is dark, semi-sweet chocolate, as well. The heavy-roasted bitterness is well integrated into the sweetness and the result is inviting.

T-Ultra-rich and creamy with a taste that includes many of the same flavors I smelled. Dark berry fruit, lightly bitter semi-sweet chocolate, molasses, and a little kick of spice. The alcohol is rolled in really well and gives a bit of fruity sweetness and warmth. Complexity is off the charts. Each sip reveals a new flavor.

M-The body is moderate to full and the carbonation is average for the style.

O-This is a great beer. What I especially enjoyed is how the roasted flavors managed to meld and balance the sweetness and fruit flavors. Unlike many RISs, this brew is not a complete char bomb or a soy sauce bomb, but a great balance between the two styles. The flavors are intense and complex. Perhaps the best non-barrel stout I've ever had. (1,411 characters)

Photo of lwillitz
4.5/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brewcifer (2013) poured into Belgian Ale glass

A - 2 fingers of medium tan foam over a body of pitch black; not much lacing, but beautiful nonetheless

S - tons of dark fruit, notes of coffee and cocoa; very malty and very sweet

T - dark fruits are prominent, primarily cherry and raisin flavors; notes of coffee and chocolate; heavy malt flavors, quite sweet; piney hops add a pleasant balance; alcohol becomes conspicuous in the finish

M - smooth syrupy full body, medium/high carbonation, alcohol warmth

O - more fruity (and less chocolate/coffee) than I expected from a RIS, also sweeter than expected, still quite delicious (632 characters)

Photo of darthvohn
4.54/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Glass Used: Snifter
Release: 2013-Brewcifer

Appearance: Black as a starless night with a finger thick chocolate milk foam. The head seemed to melt down leaving a film of foam surrounded by a solid ring around the glass.

Smell: Heavy on the raisin and (for me) fresh dates followed by milk chocolate and strong coffee. The alcohol makes it's presence known as well.

Taste: Roasted malts are up front with the dark fruits following close while the chocolate and coffee bring up the rear. A very flavorful RIS which I would definitely put in my top 3. While I could smell the alcohol in the aroma, its hidden well on the palate.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth with a sticky finish. Roasted bitterness is there in the right quantity.

Overall: A delicious surprise in my last trade with Pintofbrown. Pretty damn amazing RIS which I feel the hype is deserved. Cheers! (865 characters)

Photo of JFresh21
4.68/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Had this on tap side by side with Abraxas.

Deep black, the head was less chocolate in color than Abraxas.

The thickness of this beer is incredible. It is so drinkable and smooth. It doesn't have the overly sweet flavor of a Dark Lord.

World class beer. One draft is not enough! Cheers! (288 characters)

Photo of B_Faust
4.13/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I have yet to open my 2013 but I did have a few bottles of the prior years. Very distinct in it's quality. Nose was great, mouthfeel was fantastic, and the flavor was over the top. Chocolate, raisin, coffee, hops, fruity, toasty and rich goodness. Warming alcohol, but little smell or flavor, not solvent-like other big RIS's. Just a great experience. I had my first few fresh, can't wait to open my 2013....don't know how long I can wait! Surly never fails to amuse me. (470 characters)

Photo of ironchefmiyagi13
4.62/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had the 2012 and 2013 next to each other.

2013 stole the show, hands down. The grade is reflective of that one.

Great color and head on both beers.

Aroma on the 2013 was much more powerful in terms of coffee, chocolate and hops. 2012 was sweeter smelling with a lot of dark fruit.

Flavor was much of the same differentiating factors. 2013 was balanced, hoppy, smooth and delicious. 2012 had a weird metallic 'twang' to it with every sip, and was just way too fruity and sweet with no hops or coffee/chocolate to add a little bitterness.

Overall, I was very disappointed with the results. While I am now glad I traded away my older bottles, I was expecting something a little more 'badass' in terms of a vintage showdown. Oh well, maybe my bottle just didn't age properly. Either way, the fresh bottle was outstanding and on par with my favorite RIS...Stone RIS. (869 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.25/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

my first darkness, as is common with many of my lucky rare beer scores, thanks to drlovemd87 for hooking this up for us last night. an impressive example of the style for sure, but a top 50 quality beer? I don't know. its rather straightforward as they go, excellent no doubt, but it reminds me of a great many other stouts like this out there on the market. rich creamy dark brown pour, sudsy mocha head, dense but not thick, attractive. the nose is muted dark roasted barley and unsweetened bakers chocolate. no alcohol at all, extremely impressive. the flavor, and I love this feature in this style, is all about the grain. I taste a few layers of varying roasted barley and chocolate malt, but no coffee, no vanilla, no bourbon barrel, no oak, none of that stuff. I do taste some dried cherry type notes in the finish, and as it warms even more fruit comes out, but this is a no frills example of the style, and I appreciate it for that. perhaps most impressive is that its massive alcoholic content is entirely absent from the smell and taste, its just not there. a real creeper, something to look out for when drinking darkness. I loved it with chocolate cookies, and could imagine a million other food pairings for it. expert quality stuff, but not different enough from some of the others for me to rate it off the charts. great beer though, they all are from surly.

edit: some age makes this epic, just cracked a 2011, and was amazed how much more mature and integrated and evolved the beer was from the fresh version, it really is one of the best in the game, with a chocolate and raisin complex coming to the fore. improving a few scores to reflect that. (1,666 characters)

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 795 ratings.