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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: 3,257
rAvg: 4.4
pDev: 4.77%
Wants: 3,238
Gots: 1,182 | 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 (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: 3,257
Photo of robbyc1
4.35/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.11.09

On draft @ bavarian lodge
Nochange in ratings it's great, much more hops, very dry, much like last years - but a very drinkable stout.

On draft at the Binny's South Loop tap area. Almost gone...

Deep dark, oily black with a slight tan head, looks like it could be a Belgian Strong Dark or Stout.

Deep malt nose with some hoppiness.

Taste as deep malt with chocolate notes, not overdone, but zingy with a nice hop bite to offset the sweetness of the malt.

Full but not heavy, well balanced with low but fine carbonation.

Very drinkable for this style, nothing overpowers or is out of balance, but I perfectly balanced stout. Wish they delivered their cans to Chicagoland, maybe some day. (702 characters)

Photo of BeerTruth
3.88/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

younger35 was kind enough to pick up a bottle of this for me. A great trader and a great frined, even though he's a Raiders fan. Thanks a bunch man, you're a true beer advocate.

750 ml multi-color wax dipped bottle poured into a snifter. 2008 vintage. Served at about 50 degrees.

Pours a complete onyx black with a powerful two finger dark brown head that remains for quite sometime. After a good five minutes or so and lots of clingy spiderweb lacing on the sides of the glass, a creamy layer of goodness rests atop the black hole underneath. Smell...whoa hops. Sticky pine, bitter pink grapefruit, and raw gritty earth up front in the nose. Underneath all those hops is the dark stuff. Coffee grinds, sweet molasses, and heavy roasted malts add to the complex aroma. So much going on in the nostrils, time for a sip. Taste begins with burnt caramel, candy sugar, and smokey dark chocolate. Some booze, figs, and oily hops midway. Not nearly as much hop flavor on the tongue than were in the smell, but they're still there. Finishes with a gooey brownie batter, raspberries, and spruce. Do I dare say there's too much going on for the taste buds to function? Perhaps. Big, bold, and chewy feel with a full body and subtle carbonation. The one problem I find with the mouthfeel is the powerful bittering hop sting. Overall the 10% abv is hidden quite well, but Darkness is still a sipper. Needless to say, this is a super complex, big ass beer and definitely one of a kind. Good? Of course. Exceptional? That may be a stretch. Surly continues to produce some crazy beers, what's next??? Thanks again Dan. (1,606 characters)

Photo of beachbum1975
3.12/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

2008 vintage: hand dipped gold wax with a layer of unseen black wax underneath - thanks go out to Faro for this particular trade!

This marks my first review of the 2008 Darkness, but in time there will be more reviews added, once there has been a year or so of cellaring done. Great, ominous label. Drank this on 11/10/2008 with soundbarrier, newtonty and a couple other non-BA friends. Served at the recommended 55 degrees.

Pours jet black with a surprisingly high viscosity when poured into my large tulip glass. Medium tan ¼ inch head after a semi-aggressive pour and leaves a nice, dark brown halo throughout the drink.

Floral and earthy hops all VERY evident in the nose. Smells of red and black cherries, alcohol, light chocolate, possibly light vanilla and a huge sweetness mixed with other dark fruits like figs. My initial thought is VERY sweet, too sweet and unbalanced. BIG hops presence, (much like Victory's Storm King), but even stronger! I am a hop head and I had a hard time getting through the overall sweetness so I didn't really taste any of the expected RIS attributes like: coffee, smoke, bitterness, dryness, char, chocolate, etc.

Please don't fill up my inbox with nasty beermails! Maybe I got a bottle from the bottom of a barrel, you never know... For what it's worth, I LOVE Surly's other offerings, but if you were lucky enough to acquire or trade a couple of the 08's, drink one now if you want to make a comparison after aging it for some time, but I can't say it enough - this one definitely needs some time to mature and balance out. More reviews to come... (1,595 characters)

Photo of IBUnit63
4.7/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From hero27 via LNBA BIF - sweet haul, man - thanks!...750 bottle #174 (2007), black over maroon wax into Reidel Vinum Cab glass...

Pours a black coffee brown with a maple/peanut butter-colored head (1 finger) that comes and goes, leaving sparse bubbles in the middle of the glass. Very viscous...sparse to decent lacing but solid trails up and down the glass.

One word...bountiful. Hearty malt candy sweetness with salty roasted peanuts and extremely deep caramel and chocolate malt. Alcohol wraps up in the thickness of it all. Is there enough room for hops? A cool bitterness of grass and slight pine detected. Aroma mellows slightly after pouring and with time.

This, for all its depth and complexity, is much drier on the palate than on the nose. Grass hop profile comes about with slight pine in the back. Salty peanut brittle forward malt taste. I know the sweetness...I know there's alcohol, but it's quite contained. Bittersweet chocolate emerges and strengthens with warmth. Absolutely love the dryness of this.

After a while the alcohol gets a little warm but it works in Beautiful Chemistry with the dry, chocolate coffee texture along with solid hop wilderness. Slowly slides down the palate in its extreme viscosity. Finish is slow and sultry. In spots there's slight emptiness but the holes get filled in right quick.

Oh, it's a sipper alright, but a damn fine one at that. One of the ultimate examples of balance in overabundance and utter depth. One of the best! (1,484 characters)

Photo of beckje01
4.45/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First review from 1-16-2007 This was from the Darkness's first batch. A: 4 S: 3 T: 3.5 M: 4 D: 3

A- Black with a low caramel head which is very thick, has some good lacing as well.

S- Fruity hops with some malt but very much in the background.

T- Starts with a bit of hop then a big hop hit, then a hint of vanilla. I can find some caramel and lots of underlying levels are there and get a hint of them but the hops are distracting.

M- Thick and smooth with some activity in my mouth, very nice really.

D- Easy if you like the hops pretty balanced but there is so much more in this beer that I just can't quite get to because of the hops. If you can find this you should have at least two, maybe not in the same night but at some point.

____

This is for the 2008 version that came out in October.

A- Black no light getting through this one, tan head with wonderful lacing.

S- Wow just a wonderful nose full of malts just so nice.

T- Nice malty some hops in there that really work well together, hints of caramel but very good.

M- Good thickness very smooth, work great with the flavors.

D- Very drinkable and very dangerous because of it.

This is my second review of this beer its much better then the first version put out. They have really improved the taste, hence why its only getting a 4 for taste if they can improve this much in this short of time they can improve much more. (1,396 characters)

Photo of gford217
4.45/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Review #400 so let's make it Darkness. Bottles courtesy of a couple of super generous traders in Surly country poured into a snifter.

Not surprising, it's dark...pours jet black with hints of mahogany as it comes out of the bottle. The head is tan and three fingers high before receding to an inch-thick cap that lingers throughout with tons of lacing.

While not typical of the style, I found the aroma fascinating. The first smell was of floral hops, especially pine, along with some citrus. As it warmed, some of the dark malts and chocolate came out, but still with a heavy hop presence. It smells damn near like a DIPA. Crazy.

The taste steers back toward an RIS, but not all the way there. The initial taste is a quick citrus hop kick that tingles the tongue before the dark roasted malts and bakers chocolate melt the tingling away to a thick malty coating. The finish is a tad dry with a slight hop bitterness as well. The sweetness of dark fruits comes out much more as it warms, but again this is probably the hoppiest tasting RIS I'be had.

The mouthfeel is truly exceptional. Very, very creamy but with the perfect amount of carbonation to help the flavors pop.

Well, this may not be the best RIS I've had, but it is probably the most original. I'd heard it was hoppy, but I just had no idea. Big thanks again to Brian and Brent for opportunity to try this gem. (1,376 characters)

Photo of roadhouse
4.65/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had on tap at the Bavarian Lodge on 11/05/08.

Appeared pitch black in color with a thin tan head. It sank down to a thin skim but could be revived with a bit of a swirl. Not much lace left behind however.

Aroma was a lot more mild than I would have expected compared to some other RIS but there was plenty of chocolate, molasses, coffee, a sugary sweetness, and a surprising hop presence.

The taste had a huge molasses, candi sugar, and chocolate sweetness at the beginning then towards the middle it begin to dry up a bit and some coffee flavors came out but before they could really set themselves down a big citrusy and piney hop presence broke through and mingled with all the other flavors, leaving a pleasant hoppy and milk chocolate linger.

Mouthfeel was thick, full, and viscous. Very creamy and velevety. Just the way I like them.

The thing that surprised me most about this one besides the hops was just how drinkable it was. I could easily have had four more glasses of this stuff with no problems at all. I'm glad I had the chance to try it, I can only hope it's a beer that eventually gets some distribution. (1,128 characters)

Photo of spointon
4.45/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this one on tap at the 2008 Illinois release party at the Bavarian Lodge in Lisle.

A= This stout poured a very dark brown/black color with a beautiful 3/4" creamy brown head. Retention was good, and the head eventually left some spotty lacing on the glass.

S= Naturally this was served a bit too cold, so it took a while for the aromas to open up. Eventually I found a complex yet somewhat subdued profile of chocolate, dark ripe fruits, some roasted malts, sherry, and a surprisingly large hop presence.

T= From front to back, this was one complex and satisfying beer. The huge sweet malt base started this one off in a good way with a heady blend of flavors such as dark fruits (cherries, raisins), treacle, brown sugar, and molasses. The middle was completely dominated by a surprising hop bitterness that seemed out of character in this beer, yet worked well with the other flavors. Following on the heels of the hops was a bitter one-two punch of dark chocolate and roasted coffee notes. The finish dried a bit and left a pleasant alcohol spiciness on my tongue and warmth in my belly. Each sip begged the next to follow.

MF= This is a big full-bodied brew. Mouth feel was viscous without being syrupy. Carbonation was adequate to carry the heavy load, yet soft and creamy on the tongue.

D= Though I cannot say that this has toppled my favorite beers in this style, it was a real joy to drink. I found this beer to be all about the matchup of complexity vs. subtlety. It was sweet without being cloying, bitter without being too dry, high alcohol but not too hot or astringent. A great beer and one I will gladly drink again! (1,647 characters)

Photo of Crosling
3.77/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown out of the bottle and appears black in the glass. Well looking tan head lasts well. Aroma is mainly awful, smells mainly of socks and super citrusy hops, no malt complexity. Flavor, however, is different and quite complex. Fully flavored with an incredible malt complexity. Sweet dark fruits, with layers of chocolate, roast and coffee character. Nice mouth feel. Very nice Imperial Stout. (406 characters)

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.25/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Release night at the Bavarian Lodge. 11oz pour arrives a deep jet black with an inch of creamy head and some spotty lacing on the glass. Aromas start with deeply roasted dark malts colliding with chocolate cream. Mellow coffee moves into some dark fruits and hops.

First sip brings a big roasty dark maltiness upfront with notes of sweet milk chocolate, roasted coffee and some dark fruit edges. There's a smooth creaminess here as it flows down. The hops kick in on the finish and become quite noticeable with a good bitterness. The malts win in the end though, leaving a sweet aftertaste and a slight stickiness on the palate.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a mellow carbonation. Not nearly as thick as many imperial stout's at this ABV, but that makes it somewhat more drinkable as well. While this isn't my favorite RIS, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and the fact that it's quite hoppy as well. Glad I got a chance to sample this on tap. (945 characters)

Photo of MrMcGibblets
4.35/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on tap at the bavarian lodge in lisle, this was pitch black with a nice creamy brown head and lasting lacing. smells and tastes of dark milk chocolate, espresso, and dark dried fruit. alcohol is well-hidden. huge malt sweetness with bitterness and roastiness providing balance. finishes semi-sweet. very thick, almost reminds me of a slightly lighter-bodied and less hoppy dark lord. sweet malts are so dense they leave a stickiness on your lips. surprisingly drinkable for such a big beer. (490 characters)

Photo of Duffman
4.78/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thick, black, oily, viscous, this beer truly deserves its name. A dense, mocha-colored vibrant head adds considerable life and beauty to the appearance of this beer, which is absolutely exceptional.

Seductively aromatic. I imagine that if the finest velvet had an aroma it could well be this beer. Nutty, chocolaty, with dried fruits (notably cherry) and rich creamy notes. Amazingly complex and well-balanced, even for a russian imperial stout.

Exquisite and luxurious. Rich malted notes contrast wonderfully with the mild hop bitterness coming through. While fruitier than most imperial stouts it is not pointedly so, like Bell's Expedition Stout for example. Raisins, sherry, cream, cinnamon, the flavors come in waves and continue to reveal themselves.

The body is extraordinarily well-rounded and deep. Thick, smooth, and sumptuous the mouthfeel is truly exemplary. A long, lasting, and richly clinging finish is a fine finish to this highly drinkable stout. While I don't doubt that there are betters beers and that I have many comparably favored beers left to discover I have yet to come across a beer this refined and enjoyable. (1,140 characters)

Photo of tuo
4.7/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Jet black with a nice tan head that makes for nice lacing on the glass. Thought it would be more viscous after tasting.

S: Nice roasty malt notes with a slight hops aroma. just a touch of coffee.

T: Great roasty malt flavor with creamy dark chocolate taste. Sweeter then anticipated but very good. It also has a nice coffee flavor.

MF/D: Very thick with a low carb on it. Low alcohol taste, not much of an alcohol presence for the 10.3% ABV. As hearty and thick as this beer is I would not call it a sipper, you could drink this beer like it was 5% ABV.

One of the best beers that has ever crossed my lips. I wish they would brew this year round. (653 characters)

Photo of drbeef
4.39/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

By blackberry so this will be short.
Beautiful pitch black with dark tan head.
Dark chocolate. A little roasty. Hops on the finish with a lingering chocolate. Good mouth like nyquil coating.
Great beer. Lots of hops in this dark intense beer. Get If you have the chance
Smells bitter-sweet and pretty hoppy
A Ltyle roast. Very sweet like dark chocolate with a hoppy bitter finish and lingering sweet chocolate in around the mouth with a little alcohol.

Mouth is great. Thick like bywuil (491 characters)

Photo of Greggy
4.78/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a hefty ultra fluffy and creamy dark tan/brown head. As it recedes, it leaves some great lacing. The body is pitch black.

S- On the nose I get immense notes of chocolate, coffee, cream, some nice dark fruit, a bit of sweet graham cracker, as well as a nice hoppiness.

T- Starts out with a luxurious thick smooth creamy chocolate with a great hop presence but it is extremely well balanced. I also get notes of coffee, cream, butterscotch, and graham cracker. The finish seems to go on and on with some residual sweetness.

M- By far the thickest feeling beer I have ever had. NO carbonation and ultra thick.

D- This is of course high alcohol but for a Russian Impy, this goes down WAY to smooth. Very drinkable for what it is. (739 characters)

Photo of CHSLBrew
4.13/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Happy Gnome, St. Paul, MN. Poured into a tulip goblet.

A-Deep brown head with low retention. Deep black and opaque beer. Moderate lacing.

S-Complex. A deep maltiness, roasted. Some dark-fruitiness esters. Also some alcoholic tones.

T-Instantly dark fruits greeted by a lingering alcoholic warmth and flavor. The fruitiness, though dark, tastes light on the palate. Deep chocolatiness comes throughn, with some roasty and coffee-like malts. Bitterness is dwarfed by the monstrous malt, but present.

M-An automatic warmth with this high ABV brew. Thick and full bodied, but velvety in my mouth. Low carbonation. A persistent lingering warmth makes this brew ideal for a cool fall evening.

D-Drinkability on a beer like this is difficult. It's easy to drink, and I'll have another in the future, but I'd be hard-pressed to drink a couple pours of this in a sitting. It's an enjoyable beer all-around, and I'll certainly keep my eyes open for this on-tap while it lasts. (981 characters)

Photo of hopdog
4.58/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Acquired in trade with footbalm (thanks!). Vintage was the year before they starting bottling.

Poured a dark black color with brown edges and an averaged sized off white head. Aromas of strong pine, chocolate, smoke, and some dark fruits. Lots of hops in the aroma. Tastes of dark fruits, pine, chocolate, coffee, roasted malts and more hops.

One of, if not the most hoppy Imperial Stouts I've had (which for me is not a bad thing). I would even go as far to call this a dark IPA! Had a light alcohol finish. Nice smooth and easy drinking body.

Notes from and tasted on 1/5/07. (581 characters)

Photo of gratefulstu
4.95/5  rDev +12.5%
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. (1,692 characters)

Photo of jmalex
4.45/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Shared on 10-28 with BAs leftmindedrighty and DarkerTheBetter. Thanks for offering it up, Aaron!

2008 release

APPEARANCE: Pours deep black with a small, dark tan head. It drops to a medium collar with a few bubbles swimming around the surface.

SMELL: Definitely an aggressive, citrusy hop character. Behind it is what you'd expect from a stout like this - deep roastiness and some dark chocolate. The hops really take the forefront and try to block everything else out. Any alcohol smell is minimal.

TASTE: Hits up front with a tremendous sweetness. Big on chocolate with some licorice behind. In a mirror of the aroma, the hops are now the ones trying to squeeze through but just don't make it. The finish does end with a lingering bitterness however.

MOUTHFEEL: Thick and chewy and only slightly slick. Carbonation is medium to low. Pretty much on point.

DRINKABILITY: By far the most striking thing about the beer is how easy it goes down. The alcohol is near undetectable, and at such a high ABV, dangerous. I had no problem finishing my glass.

What a treat for my 250th review! I'm glad I was able to enjoy this with 2 other BAs who can appreciate this beer just as much. (1,183 characters)

Photo of JoeMayo
4.6/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

When reviewing beers of this magnitude, I try to ignore the hype behind them as much as possible. However, often they deserve their hype and Darkness definitely earned all of its hype.

A- Pours a very rich, viscous black. A thick fluffy head cascades down to a ring of foam around the glass. The name certainly suits the beer.

S- Wow! There is so much more hoppiness than I would have ever expected in a RIS. Sweet citrusy aromas of grapefuit and orange are accented by mild pine. Malty caramel notes hit the nose after the initial kick of the hops. A slight alcoholic scent and mild vanilla notes are also present.

T- This beer is extremely complex. Its slightly sweeter than I would have anticipated. The sweetess is noted in a citrusy aspect and is partially from the alcohol. Orange and a sweet creamy flavor bring out the best of the "stout part" and the "IPA part" of this beer. A mild pine flavor is noted without overpowering the other subtleties of the beer. Notes of bourbon, molasses, and vanilla are found in the heavy malty backbone of this wonderful beer. A slightly roasty caramelized sugar flavor is noted in the aftertaste.

M- One of the thickest stouts I've ever had. Its almost syrupy, while maintaining a good level of carbonation. The finish is sweet an lingering, yet has a nice crispness as well.

D- You need to sip on this one, but it is all things dark combined in this absolutely incredible brew. (1,427 characters)

Photo of Fatduck
4.83/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Drinking my first of the darkness at Common Roots Cafe. I cant
bring myself to open any of my bottles yet. They even have darkness goblets to present the beer.

Pours pitch black with a small head, it would be more but the sever poured very gently. Leaves a good tan lacing all the way down the glass. It smells sweet, and of roasted and burnt malts, maybe even a little maple syrup. Taste is out the window, this thing taste too good to describe. It taste like it looks and smells, great. Chewy and smooth, it warms you as soon as it crosses your lips. This beer is a must for anyone who lives or is in the twin cities area, amazing, purely amazing. (651 characters)

Photo of mynie
4.66/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle art looks like a D&D handbook from 1983. Maybe a zine from some kids who really, really like the old Heavy Metal books. Not to say that this kind of stuff affects my review, but already this RIS takes a distant fourth behind Kate, Abyss, and Dark Lord (which at least looks like a Magic: The Gathering card).

Pours brilliantly into a long-stemmed chalice, though. Perfectly opaque blackness (like the soul of a really evil dude) with an amazingly large and retentive head.

I was told that this was the hopheaviest of all American RISes, and even with the glass two and a half feet away from my face right now I can smell some firm, dry hops. Closer to my face, the beer smells strong and gigantically raw. Maybe this should have been left to age for a few months? (I *will* try another in early 09, and update if necessary.) Anyhow, there's an alcohol burn in there, nodes of thick red wine, tons of ultrasweet malt. Espressoish, fresh cacao, with some hints of vanilla. Really nice, lots of complexity, but the alcohol strength is just a wee bit overwhelming and it'll probably only get better with age.

Tastes perfect. Just perfect. The hoppiness is what jumps out at you, since it's so unexpected. It does such a great job of complimenting the beer's huge sweetness that it almost seems to be a part of a the sweentess. Can this be? Can black be a part of white? Can love be a part of hate? Of course. I guess.

The overall effect is less like a traditional Impy stout and more like some kind of combination of deliciously harsh alcohol and a mocha cappuccino with like ten shots of espresso in it.

You know what it's like? It's like Big League Chew. It doens't taste anything like the gum, no, but it's similar to it in that it just tastes too good that you don't let yourself enjoy it properly. I always swallow Big League Chew, since it tastes so good for some weird reason I want to swallow, and then I get a stomach ache. No stomach ache, here, but it's been like 7 sips and I still am slurping it down, unable by the force of this strange compulsion to hold this in my mouth long enough to savor it. I want to consume it. I want to pound this like chocolate milk.

The body is creamy, thick and fizzy. Never quite come across a body like this in a bottled beer. Delicious. Tastes like something that could be healthy. I--if I didn't know this had alcohol in it I could almost see myself giving it to a kid. (2,430 characters)

Photo of iconoklaztor
4.56/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I couldnt resist it anymore! I would also like to say I had a pint of masala mama prior to this so take this review for what it is!

This brew pours into my official Darkness Snifter...a huge black body with a massive tan head. The head has amazing retention. But what does this beast smell like?

The smell is very sweet, boozy, and a slight woody smell. It is very very intriguing! It is very rich and complex and not at all hoppy IMO

I'm almost am afraid to try this. I'd hate for it to be a let down but also for it to ruin my guts! Fuck it...lets try it!!! Wow, my god. Its rich and sweet but not boozy. Its incrediably smooth! I cant believe its that drinkable! Holy hell! I must try more! It has a very nice cherry, plum, and slight vanilla flavor! Man this is good!

Its very drinkable and very dangerious! If possible I would drink this all the time! Now I only wonder what my 07 taste like??? (903 characters)

Photo of StoutSlayer
3.2/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Going to the 2008 Darkness release last weekend I went on a mission to taste one of the best beers I would have had to date. That definitely happened, but unfortunately it wasn't Darkness. After finally being let in the brewery at 12pm, we were able to get our Darkness quickly- a kudos to all at Surly for making this process very easy, enjoyable, and fun. You can tell they actually care about their customers. After getting my bottles, there was plenty of more fun to be had, and Surly was offering a wide variety of other styles to be tasted, including a Coffee Bender and T-Bag Furious. The latter was without a doubt, one of the most interesting, great tasting beers I have had to date. My only complaint is that I couldn't take 6 bottles of this wonderful brew home so I could properly review it! Anyway, after I got back home I could not wait to taste one of my Darkness bottles, and admittedly my expectations were high especially after tasting many great inventive flavors of theirs. So I pulled out 2 Darkness Snifter Glasses and poured them generously with Darkness for my Dad and myself. And here's what I thought...

Appearance- As you would expect from its namesake, out of the bottle came a viscous, jet black stream, almost as if they were to make chocolate milk using exclusively 90% pure cocoa dark chocolate. However it was not as thick as the "motor oil" a reporter on T.V. had described it. This then supported a beautiful, coffee colored head that had a creaminess I really enjoy. All in all it was extremely inviting.

Smell- The smell definitely served to build on the impressions from the pour, and to me this was the best part of the beer. I got an awesome aroma with a heavy mix of chocolate, coffee, Dark molasses, and cherries. There was an interesting level of hops aroma too that I wasn't expecting. Everything came together great and let you know that, "Hey, I'm a BIG beer."

Taste- As I brought the glass to my lips I took a generous sip and whoooa... I was getting a great coffee, dark chocolate, toasted malt, and even substantial hops flavor, when it came on slow but started to get louder and stronger until... SWWEEET!!! In rushed a tidal-wave of molasses, maraschino cherry, and syrupy flavors that seemed to overtake everything. The more bitter flavors previously described were still present, trying to fight back, but to me were simply no match for the sweetness army that was launching wave after wave of attack on my taste buds. This became stronger as i continued to drink, until by the end of my glass I could only describe this beer as sweet. It seemed as though the Devil was actually a very sweet man indeed. However do not be fooled! The ABV is hidden remarkably well and sneaks up on you. My dad and I split the bottle and both of us could definitely feel its strength.

Mouthfeel & Drinkability- Although the mouthfeel lends itself to the beer as a whole (smooth and silky) I can't say this is an extremely "drinkable" beer. This is considering if you define drinkable as a beer you could have one after another of while still really enjoying it, which I do. The multitude of ingredients, flavors, and really -sweetness-, would keep most from consuming more than one 750ml bottle by themselves. And to be totally fair I don't think it's really supposed to. I think I would actually enjoy this beer more if it had been released in a 12oz bottle, enough to experience it's great complexity, but not be overpowered by it.

In the end this is a beer that everyone should have the chance to try. It definitely pushes the envelope of beer, at least for me, but can be very overpowering. Surly makes some wonderfully inventive and downright delicious beer, but this is not one of my faves. (3,736 characters)

Photo of younger35
3.03/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had a pint of this on the Friday night (10/24/08) before the actual bottle release at Stub & Herbs. After gorging on Surly Coffee Bender all night, I didn't really enjoy my glass of Darkness. Hoping this was just due to the fact that Coffee Bender is gods gift to man and any beer following it, probably isn't going to be that great. So I tried it the night of the release with my buddy after sleeping off the buzz from the morning and afternoon festivities. Drank from my brand spanking new Darkness snifter.

2008 Edition.

Appearance- Glugs a jet black hue that allows zero light to permeate any part of the beer. Fairly decent one finger dark brownish tan head forms leaving a small creamy cap and collar with loads of sticky lacing. Thickest beer I've seen since Dark Lord.
Smell- Tons of well roasted malt give a burnt perception that lends to the copious amounts of coffee and bakers chocolate that jump out of the glass. Tinges of light alder smoke and dark fruits (prunes, raisins and even dark cherries) are detectable as the hoppyness of this Imperial Stout is taken to a whole new level. A definite sweetness in the form of dark toffee and caramel and even some murky black molasses. So much going on in here I think you can pretty much smell whatever you want.
Taste- Ohhh... The aforementioned sweetness in the nose really starts out strong. The burnt coffee and baker's chocolate are muted a bit but still present. Corn Syrup, caramel and dark brown sugar give way to a more earthy molasses before my tongue is destroyed by the hops. Full of raw pine and lemon grass that produces a very herbal hop bitterness that tries to cut the sweetness. Fail. Dark cherries and perhaps even a touch of vanilla finishes the beer along with a very cloying sweetness. The alcohol is covered super well though.
Mouthfeel- Very thick and viscous with nice smooth creamy feel. The carbonation is light and prickly and very nice.
Drinkability- Overall I can definitely see the reason why people love this brew. It's very unique and I haven't tasted anything like this before but it's just not for me. I don't mind a little sweetness in a nice big brew but I think Darkness is just plain cloying and hard to drink. This is all very disappointing too because the nose is pretty inviting and I've been waiting quite some time to sample this. Not Surly's best beer but glad to have to opportunity to try anyways! (2,405 characters)

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