Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

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DarknessDarkness

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BA SCORE
97
world-class

788 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

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Reviews: 788
Hads: 3,218
rAvg: 4.39
pDev: 4.78%
Wants: 3,204
Gots: 1,176 | FT: 85
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.30% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: ryantupy on 10-08-2006

Starting in 2014, bottled Darkness will be aged in whiskey barrels. This listing is ONLY for Darkness that is NOT barrel-aged. For 2014 Darkness go here:  http://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/p ... 14/141724/ 

Labels:
2007-Grim Reaper
2008-Devil
2009-Mummy
2010-Vampire
2011-Zombie
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer
View: Beers (51) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 788 | Hads: 3,218
Photo of alysmith4
4.86/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Whoa, what a beer! Had this as part of a 30+ mini-whale share that I went to. It was the second beer I tried, and ended up being the best of the night for me. Appearance and mouthfeel are good, but smell and taste were both awesome! Definitely on the sweet side for a RIS, but still well-balanced. And it's surprisingly non-BA, as all those wonderful barrel flavors seem to come through as it warms. Would have this beer again, and again, and again. (449 characters)

Photo of dptaylor
4.73/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Oh man, what a delight to try such a rare RIS.

My good friend works at a liquor store in the Twin Cities, so naturally he had a 2012 "Werewolf" bottle aging in the basement for the entire winter. We spontaneously decided to crack it open after what had already been a long night of drinking beforehand, so I apologize if anything seems biased and I obviously didn't take any notes. I drank the beer. I loved the beer. The wax around the cap that looks like blood was pretty cool, but a bit of a pain to cut through. Onwards!

Poured into a 12oz mug at basement room temperature (~65-70F)

A: Flawless black opaque with below average amounts of lacing. This is not an especially carbonated beer. I definitely enjoyed it's appearance though, you will not be able to shine light through this one, and the head has that awesome darkened "chocolate" appearance which you see on other heavy stouts and especially cream sugar stouts like Tallgrass Buffalo Sweat, etc.

S: Dark, earthy, chocolate, mocha, toffee, lots of toffee at the end too. Not much hop aroma that I remember (note: remember)

T: The complete, utter lack of alcohol taste is the most notable thing about this beer. It is 10.30ABV and yet it DOES NOT taste or burn like booze whatsoever. Deep, chocolately coffee notes and a sickly sweet fruitiness (prunes? raisin? some kind of dark fruit) intermingle with caramel, vanilla, they packed almost every usable stout every flavor into this RIS and with success. My ONLY gripe, is that it is a little too sweet for me. I would prefer the creaminess to be upped a little bit and the sweetness toned down, as it's slightly too "fruity" and sweet. The beer IS hopped, despite what I'm about to say, but to me the finish has a tiny itty bitty microscopic bitter note at the beginning and end, but I'd say it's safe to say it's almost pretty much hop-free to my worn out taste buds.

M: It's a tiny bit thinner than you'd think it is, and not very carbonated. But the MASSIVE body makes up for it completely. The aftertaste is addictive, you will want another sip!

In short, the best RIS I've ever tried. Tastes better than most stouts at half the ABV I've tried! (2,168 characters)

Photo of hoplover82
4.82/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I am so happy to have a bottle of this wonderful RIS. A friend of mine brought one down from MN. Thank you so much Sarah-Jane. This was the only bottle they had left in the store by the way.
A-This beer pours black with brown-ish/rudy highlights when held up to the light. The foam is huge and has amazing retention and lacing for a beer like this.
S-The aroma is huge with notes of mocha at first, yet VERY complex with toffee, chocolate, some earthy leather, some mild roastiness, woodsy, dark stone fruits, and man that sweet mocha really sticks out like no other RIS I've had. Truly an amazing aroma, (one of the most complex).
T-The flavor is just as impressive and complex with the mocha standing in the front lines. Fresh toffee follows along with prunes and sweet camamel. There is that earthiness woody-like note in the flavor as well as a mild earthy hop flavor note. Very impressive indeed.
M-The beer has such a slick, creamy sweetness but the bitterness level is just perfect to keep it from being cloying. Huge body and a long sweet, mocha like finish.
O- This beer that is called Darkness is most likely the best RIS I've ever had. I am once again so pleased to have had a chance to try this great beer. Thanks again Sarah-Jane (1,246 characters)

Photo of tectactoe
4.45/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to Mike for sharing this one with me! 2011 version. Pours a midnight black color, only the very edges show some dark brown hints; thick, dark, and opaque. The head is a deep tan color, comprised of very fine bubbles and appears to be creamy as hell. It hangs around for a while before it complete vanishes, and it's pretty hard to bring any of it back by just swirling the glass. No real lacing left behind.

Right out of the gate, the aroma is super sweet. Dark currants and fruits, black licorice, toasted brown sugar, and bits of bittersweet chocolate. Some small, extra hints of vanilla reside in the back as well. Not much coffee on the nose (though there is a little bit) - the sweet fruits, sugar, and chocolate kind of steal the show. Booze is apparent, but masked well enough from the barricade of other flavors.

Many other people are calling out a big hop profile in the aroma, but I'm just not getting it. Some very faint char/ashiness that may be from the hop, but I'm grasping at straws, here. I'm just not picking up a big hop character on the nose (barely any at all, actually). This aroma reminds me quite a bit of Dark Lard, but lighter on the brown sugar and not quite as sweet.

A similar thing could be said about the taste. Darkness hits you with a sweetness first and foremost, just like Dark Lord did, but it's a little more tamed in this one. Sugary, burnt caramels, bittersweet cocoa, syrupy molasses, licorice - quite a lot going on here. There were actually a few sips that would remind me of the syrup used in fountain machines to make cola. Less dark fruit on the palate than in the aroma, but some currants and dates are there, sugar coated and sweet as hell.

I'm finally picking up a touch of hops, but still nowhere near enough to combat the sheer malty sweet intensity of this beer. The coffee comes out a little over halfway through and ride well into the aftertaste, leaving a nice roasted coffee bean flavor in my mouth. The sweet brown sugar also hangs in the aftertaste, probably for a little too long. Thick, heavy mouth, though not incredibly creamy or chewy, with lower end carbonation. Lacquers the mouth with a sticky, syrupy coating.

This is a damn fine brew, and I enjoyed it a little bit more than Dark Lord. But unfortunately it suffers from the same flaw of still being a bit too sweet. Darkness does a little bit better of a job taming the sweetness than Dark Lord, however. Lots of different flavors and aromas going on here, and this is a nicely crafted RIS - but the relentless sweetness (in my opinion) is holding it back from being "top of the list" for me.

EDIT: 7/19/2013

2012 Vintage shared thanks to Kevin R... Thanks! I liked this one even a bit more than the 2011 that Mike cracked with me earlier this year. Sweetness was evident, yet more controlled. Hoppier, with a better balance of ashy bitterness. More roasty, more drinkable, and even more enjoyable, even though I already like it in the first place. Great brew. (2,993 characters)

Photo of beerandcycling88
4.32/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another one from the bottle share. Part of a 2010, 2011 and 2012 vertical review is of the 2011.

A Very nice dark brown body that is topped off with a mocha head.

S Lots of chocolate both dark and milk with some smoke.

T Some more smoke with more chocolate and some slight hops and coffee. Very tasty.

M Very thick and creamy.

Overall this is an excellent RIS that I'm glad I got the opportunity to try. The 2011 was my favorite of the 3 with the 10 having a bit too much smoke and the 12 having more hops then what I prefer in a RIS. (544 characters)

Photo of MNmurray
4.87/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

This beer is the reason I joined BA. I was always interested in the hype surrounding Surly and wanted to learn more about reviewing. Here now is my first review of perhaps by favorite stout.

2012 Werewolf bottle

Appearance: Dark, thick and heavy. Pours slower than normal and has a great chocolate head.

Smell: Malt, cherries, chocolate, and toffee.

Taste: Pungent and robust. Immediate taste off coffee and bittersweet fruit. Very rich and tasted better slightly warmer near the end. Absolutely awesome.

Mouthfeel: Thick and heavy, goes down smooth and leaves a chocolate aftertaste.

Overall: Incredible, one of my favorites for a reason. You can obviously taste the alcohol content but it is covered up by flavors both intense and subtle. Definitely a sipper, and one to be sought after. (796 characters)

Photo of mnphish
4.78/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2012 edition. 750ml bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance: black as night with a big head that lasts a while

Smell: dark chocolate, roasted malts, coffee, dark fruits, cherries, and raisins.

Taste: rich full flavor of chocolate, coffee, molasses, cherries, licorice. Very complex.

Mouthfeel: smooth, creamy, heavy body. Amazing.

Overall: This beer is amazing fresh and I certainly have some in my cellar for aging, can't wait to see how these develop. If this got the barrel aged treatment it might just be the best in beer in the world. (545 characters)

Photo of mfavoino
4.32/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Another shared bottle with Treebs. 2011 bottle with Zombie artwork.

A: Motor oil black with a lingering espresso head. Perfect stout appearance.

S: Bitter chocolate, alcohol, and dark roasted malts. A slight hop presence as well.

T: Sweet chocolate bombarded my palate and the roasted malts took over. Alcohol is there along with a very light coffee taste.

M: Thick, creamy, and smooth. Booze heat as it goes down.

O: A very good RIS, just isn't quite on par with some of the others that I've tried recently. I'd like to give a fresh one a try in the future. (568 characters)

Photo of Etan
3.91/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2012 bottle shared by Oscar. Thanks!

A: Pours a dark cola color with a small tan head.

S: First off comes a sweet citric hoppiness. The hop notes mix with dark chocolate and roasted grain. It's actually smelling quite sweet, which I wasn't expecting.

T: Light charred bread, sweet milk chocolate, a bit of sticky pine resin and grapefruit hoppiness, cocoa, sugary grain.

M: Thick-bodied, low carbonation.

O: An enjoyable beer, although it was a bit sweeter than I was expecting, and a bit sweeter than I would have liked. (526 characters)

Photo of BucannonXC5
4.28/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Type: 750-ml bottle
Glass: Oversized wine glass
From: My cousin Sam
Price: N/A
Misc.: 2012 batch (Werewolf); Original art on bottle by Brent Schoonover; Beautiful bottle, but red wax (I think) on the bottle neck was tough to get off.

Poured a black color with 2-3 fingers of thick, frothy, khaki tan head. Healthy layer of the khaki tan lacing on the side all the way down. Good retention on the top, some parts heavy and bubbly, others a bit thinner.

Smelled a big whiff of alcohol first. Once the dust cleared, I got dark cherry, plum, dark red wine (sherry?), raisin, toffee, caramel and chocolate. Surprisingly just a back whiff of coffee or coffee beans. Not too strong.

Tasted better and stronger than the smell. Also unlike the smell, the alcohol was hidden. I got toffee, dark cherry and chocolate, mostly, but so smooth. Also sherry (I think), blackberries, caramel and light coffee notes. Very, very good.

Medium body (surprisingly). Sticky-to-slick texture. Average-to-soft (below average) carbonation. Long, smooth, warming finish.

A very, very good Russian Imperial Stout. Really hit the spot. Would love to try a few more of these bottles again. (1,168 characters)

Photo of ChugginOil
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Review #500

2011 Zombie bottle

Pours very black, dark as night with an eager finger of light brown head. Stringy and spotted lacing.

The nose has a ton of anise and bitter chocolate. If I take a huge whiff, the abv comes through slightly. Cocoa and licorice.

The flavors are heavy on bakers chocolate and anise. The is some sweetness involved but the dry roasty flavors take over. Roasty, dark, slightly sweet, and full of anise. Solid for the style but I had hoped for more.

The mouthfeel is sticky and rich, mixed with those dry bakers chocolate flavors. Sweet, roasty and dry. This is the best part of this beer.

Overall, I expected much more going into this because I have had many off the shelve beers that are just as good, if not better. Too much hype behind this one. Solid top tier stout but not near the best or even near it. (841 characters)

Photo of inlimbo77
4.42/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml, 2012 vintage
The Bruery tulip

A: Pours pitch black. Finger light tan head. Big lacing. Some ABV feet.

S: Smells of sweet soy sauce. Dark dark chocolate. Cocoa puffs. Some alcohol.

T: Dark chocolate bitterness up front. Some of that cocoa puffs. Dark roast coffee. Some of that blueberry sweetness. Some alcohol burn. It's a really nice brew.

M: Full bodied. Not crazy vicous. (386 characters)

Photo of THANAT0PSIS
4.75/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Surly Darkness 2012

Appearance: Surly’s most exclusive beer pours a midnight black. No light gets through this beer at all. The head is a massive three fingers, and is a great-looking khaki color. As it descends, the head leaves swaths of lacing intricate lacing. Alcohol legs are present, but that is to be expected at 10.3% ABV. Really, it just looks like an especially dark Russian imperial stout, but the crazy lacing and head really push it over the top.

Aroma: Huge, roasty coffee aromas flow out of the glass from across the room. They are followed quickly by dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and a fantastic creaminess. Amidst all the organized chaos, a molasses sweetness runs under the entire aroma. The alcohol just barely comes in at the tail end. This beer smells crazy good and enormous.

Taste: Follows the nose, except with huge chocolate notes taking the forefront completely. The roasty coffee comes in as an aftertaste, but cannot quite fight off the dominating milk, dark, and baker’s chocolates, and the burnt sugar sweetness that comes with it. Thankfully, hops come in at the very end and do their best to balance the taste. They cannot quite do it, but the effort is very much appreciated. The alcohol makes its presence known along with some dark fruits at the tail end of the taste. A little more balance would be great, but as it is, this beer is off-the-charts amazing.

Mouthfeel: This beer is silky smooth on the palate, and has a great, minimalist syrupy character that makes it a joy to drink. Unfortunately, the carbonation is extremely minimal. It would really benefit the beer to be a tad fizzier, which would help separate out all the complexity going on here. The alcohol also provides a very calculated warmth that remains exactly in the realm of pleasantness. The carbonation, though…

Overall: This beer was everything I could have hoped it would be. After the first two categories, I thought this might be my first perfect 20/20. Unfortunately, it was not to be due to the slightly imbalanced taste and the almost complete absence of carbonation. Still, this is worth the hype. I cannot wait to try the bottle I currently have aging in the cellar. Things can only go up from here, as I assume it will level out the sweetness. 19/20 (2,279 characters)

Photo of flexabull
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 bottle courtesy of maximum12, thanks again! This bottle has been on my wants since this beer was first released in 2007.

Pours a sludge black color with a giant brown head that turned a nice tan color. Looks great.

Aromas come off as slight smokey, with hints of charred malts, molasses, bakers chocolate, and black coffee.

Taste is very similar to the nose. Slightly smokey up front, with notes of charred malts, brown sugar, molasses, and other dark chocolate. It's a sweet base, but restrained well. Finish has a nice earthy hop bitterness, and a touch of alcohol.

Mouthfeel is smooth, with plenty of body, viscous, and thick.

Overall, a superb beer. Lived up to my expectations, and might have even surpassed them a bit. Another excellent offering from Surly. (774 characters)

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.36/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 release acquired from pochman courtesy of BA Secret Santa 2009, so a big “Thank You” goes out to him. Poured from a 750ml bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color, with a large light brown head that fades very slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains roasted malts, dark fruit, licorice, chocolate, coffee and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a very hearty roasted malt character that is quickly followed by strong and sweet flavors of chocolate, coffee, licorice and dark fruit. There is no hint of the 10.30% ABV. The hops presence is very mild as you would expect but there’s enough to provide a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp, very smooth and quite viscous, heavy body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down dangerously easily, slightly filling, strong kick, very good representation of style, not only is it an excellent stout to drink for as long as you can handle it, it seems to have held up quite well for over 3 years. (1,068 characters)

Photo of DocJitsu
4.38/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I nearly cut my finger off trying to get that red plastic off of the top of the bottle. That wouldn't been a good way to start. Once I finally got the top popped, the beer klugged out of the opening like motor oil. It's nearly black as coal and just as opaque. Except for the bottom edge of the glass, which when enough light does pass through, glints of cola brown are noted. The Irish coffee (not the cocktail--actual coffee in Ireland) foam-colored head is a stubborn, sticky, foamy one that certainly contributes to the sexiness of the beer. The nose is nice, but, surprisingly, not strong. Chocolate liqueur, lactose, mild smoky notes, and ripe banana are all present. The mouthfeel is nearly perfect. Creamy, smooth, viscous, and delightful. It never really dries up either, not even on the finish. I love the flavor of this one! Milk chocolate out of the gate. Alcohol shows up about midway and keeps things warm even after the finish. But the alcohol doesn't take away from the beer. If anything it helps temper the sweetness. This is reminiscent of the chocolate bourbon balls my Grandma used to make around Christmas time, only quite a bit less boozy. My Grandma could get a little carried away on the bourbon in her recipe. Dark ripe fruit, somewhere between a sweet cheery and a date, emerges late. It amazes me that more aroma doesn't blast out of this thing given the big flavor. This is a really nice Imperial Stout. One of the best that I've ever had. (1,467 characters)

Photo of standardcherry
4.18/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottle served into a snifter.

A: Thick black beer with a large head.
S: Smells like dark fruits, chocolate and caramel.
T: Just like the nose, dark fruit, caramel, chocolate, molasses.
M: Thick but easy to drink. Lots of carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel.
O: Very interesting. Lots of big flavors, although fruit is not my favorite in a stout. Great beer though! (368 characters)

Photo of DaveAnderson
4.89/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I was looking for something to drink tonight, and it suddenly occurred to me that I have never reviewed a Surly beer. Which is odd enough, since I am sure I spend more money on Surly than I do on any other brewery. And on top of that, I haven't cracked a bottle of 2012 Darkness yet -- and didn't even sample it on Darkness Day. So...

...2012 Darkness it is! I chilled one down, then cut through the thick red wax, and popped the cap. I have Darkness tulips, but prefer the wider, deeper (and laser-etched) Duvel glass, so I poured vigorously into the Duvel.

It's black. Light does not penetrate this beer. The room seems dimmer, now that I have poured it. And I don't know why I'm always surprised by this, but Darkness produces rather large bubbles. The head is on the thin side, with the afore-mentioned big bubbles, but lasts a long time, and leaves little to no lacing.

Good Lord, this smells fantastic. If there's a hoppier RIS, I have never encountered it. There are tropical fruits, stone fruits, crazy levels of dark chocolate, orange, grapefruit...I just keep burying my nose in this glass.

But enough of that. This needs to be tasted. And wow. I expect this to be sweet, but it really isn't. It has all of the flavors promised by the nose, and more. It finishes with such a satisfying resin and bitterness. It's so soft, yet not sticky.

I'd like to end by offering a wholly subjective ranking of 2007-2012 Darkness, each of which I have had multiple times, and each of which I have had this past year. My order of preference is: 2007, 2009, 2012, 2010, 2011, 2008. Capsule reviews: 2007 was sublime. 2011 did not age well -- think soy sauce. 2008 was too sweet. 2009 was great fresh, as well as every year since. 2010 was super-drinkable fresh, and is still good, and 2012 is too young to know where it's headed. (1,828 characters)

Photo of Nugganooch
4.35/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review# 300

Darkness 2011 – Zombie print
750ml with a Goblet style glass
*Aged for one year

Thanks Allen!

A: Pours a nice lush viscosity albeit thinner than I was anticipating. Sits dark black and obsidian like in the glass with just the slightest dark almond edge. Lighter than expected as well. First pour was relatively calm in terms of head. Others yielded a good half finger of sand paper froth that settles out to just a crown within a few minutes. Nice receding legs and dots of cling upon the glass.

S: Smells of sweetened chocolate syrup, think Hershey’s, mixed with a deep perfume of dark fruits and berries. Roasted cocoa nibs, dampened wood, and some black strap molasses. An amazingly complex blend of roasts.

T: Darkness is a sweet RIS with an expressive array of deep rich roasted malt flavors. Bitter dark chocolates, dark fruits - plum, dark berries, and toffee. I get some secondary notes of dark molasses, earthy wood, and a distinct meaty soy component. This beer has a nice peppering bitterness throughout and some warming alcohol heat. Really sweet yet remarkably balanced and drinkable for that fact. Alcohol seems quite restrained here. Hops really cut through that heavy sweetness allowing for the next sip. Delicious stuff!

M: Moderately heavy feel with a smooth consistency that leaves this one slick and creamy across the tongue. A bit syrupy at first bit with a nice drying lift from the carbonation. Finishes on the wetter side.

D: A big bold RIS full of complex roast character that is just simply delicious. Drinks much on the sweeter side and should be approached almost as a dessert beer. Remarkably crafted though with enough hop bitterness and drying lift to keep this one rather quaffable. A really badass brew all around. I will be looking to try this one fresh but think this is drinking quite well right now and should stand up well for another 6-12 months with no issues.

I am very happy to have such a solid trader. Do want! (1,981 characters)

Photo of BarryMFBurton
4.39/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This year, I was lucky enough to get the hook-up: my very own bottle of Darkness. Huge thanks to the one, the only, the bearded, the recently deceased backfat for this rare opportunity.

2012 batch, brewed pretty recently; the werewolf bottle art might be the most badass bottle art I’ve ever seen.

A: Deep, thick body in a midnight black hue, propelling a head of pure brown cream up to two fingers. The head compresses to a thick, bubbly retention, like the foam you get when pour chocolate milk too fast (only darker, shining wet in the light). Layers of sandy lacing everywhere, encircling the glass in a ring of tan color.

S: There’s a very aromatic nose on this, and with spectacular complexity. Tons and tons of fruit scents waft up a profile of bright cherry and raisin, which turn out to be the main aromas of this nose. Never had a Russian imperial stout smell like this before, but I love it! Toffee cascades over aromas of icing, sugar cookie, Hershey’s chocolate syrup (dead-on), and coffee with cream for the secondary layer, filling out every available portion of the nose with complexity. The nose rounds out in a cloud of vanilla, spicy bourbon, and whipped cream. Just astounding.

T: Bittersweet palate, emphasis on the bitter, though rich, dark flavors reach out at every turn. First tastes consist of toasty chocolate malt, cocoa powder, and toffee, but soon after, it’s an absolute bitter-fest – lemon rind, char, tart raspberry, acidic coffee, astringent alcohol, and pine, absolutely tongue-smacking in the hop taste. The astringency is almost overwhelming at times. The cherry and white raisin from the nose come in next, enveloping the palate in a genuine sweetness that overcomes the overly-present bitters; add the accompanying chocolate sauce taste that comes after and you have yourself a chocolate-covered strawberry. Finishes very bright – cherry puree is strong here – and with only a momentary, roasty notion that you just drank a 10% ABV stout. What a ride.

M: I’ve heard this year’s batch is hot, but I only got a touch of fire on the way down. Apart from that, it’s all smoothness, enough to even seem like a porter in strength – insanely drinkable.

O: Beer like this don’t come around to often; this is a stout the likes of which I don’t think I’ll find anywhere else. To be honest, it was hard to get acclimated to the Darkness at first (probably because of the hop presence), but I truly enjoyed every sip. This is worthy of a full day of celebration, for sure. (2,533 characters)

Photo of ThickNStout
4.31/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750mL bottle. 2011/ zombie. Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Pours oil black with two fingers of deep khaki head. Small pods lacing.

Nose is pretty good but seems fairly subdued. Cocoa, roast malts and burnt sugar.

Taste is a sweet blend of chocolate, soy sauce, coffee, cherry pits, rum soaked fig/dates and a dollop of alcohol heat. A fantastic blend.

Excellent heavy tongue-coating feel with light carbonation. Lingering sweet finish.

This is a great imperial stout. I think it might be too sweet to really be a Russian imperial but it's freakin good. Highly recommended and I'd definately like to get more sometime. (630 characters)

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.97/5  rDev +13.2%
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. (2,169 characters)

Photo of Scotchboy
4.35/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 Zombie bottling sent by my awesome Surly hookup (you know who you are!). Red waxed & capped 750ml split with my brother and poured into a Deschutes tulip.

A: Pours as dark as ANY beer I've seen...dense and black and opaque with a cap of brown.

S: Dark roast character with intense notes of dark fruits and chocolate, with hints of coffee as well...burnt caramel, dark raisins, cherry pit, fudge, hints of molasses.

T: Right in line with the nose, dark and sweet malty notes with plenty of roasted backbone, deep dark pitted fruits, brown sugar and molasses, dark cherries, semi-acrid coffee, brownie batter. Still a bit of alcohol on the finish.

MF: Fuller mouthfeel, sticky and viscous. A tiny complaint, but it could be 'bigger'.

O: This is a very good-to-great beer. I can see why this one gets the attention it does, and I'm so glad to have tried it. Excellent stout in a world that's full of options.

Thanks Aaron! (930 characters)

Photo of codysjb
4.32/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer tasting 10/14/12
Motor oil black little head
Toffee, dark, caramel small coffe notes
Lots of carbonation, caramel, heavy very heavy.
Still just a massive amount of carbonation here almost over the top.
Good but not standing up to the cbs and dark lord were opening side by side. (283 characters)

Photo of Gobzilla
4.17/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: poured a dark as night black in color with a half finger worth of dark brown head that dissipated quites fast but left a little bubbly lacing sticking to the glass.

S: interesting aroma which consisted of a little roastiness, chocolate malts, but with earthy hops coming through. I was able to sniff of caramel sweetness, molasses, and hints of brown sugar.

T: like the aroma chocolate malts were there upfront on the palate alongside some roastiness, pretty good earthy grassy hop profile which added a little bitterness to the flavor. Caramel molasses accents, and a touch of brown sugar.

M: the brew was medium to full in body with a fair amount of carbonation which had a sweet, roasty, chocolatey, mild hoppy, silky, and slightly bitter finish.

O: I honestly was not really digging this beer and it has been on my gots list for some time now. This is one of those that just has too much hype IMO. (908 characters)

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 788 ratings.