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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
DarknessDarkness

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

2,995 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,995
Reviews: 789
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.33%
Wants: 3,108
Gots: 1,140 | FT: 79
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.30% ABV

Availability: Fall

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

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

Labels:
2007-Grim Reaper
2008-Devil
2009-Mummy
2010-Vampire
2011-Zombie
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer
View: Beers (43) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,995 | Reviews: 789 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of khiasmus
4.25/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 Vintage. Thanks to Masterski.

Darkness. More than a word, it is often a chill. Associations come, for everyone a little different, but desolation is a recurring theme. The idea of emptinesss, or if there is something there, it's a nothing, a black hole, or a Presence that one does not wish to take mental hold of. So this. A monumental claim, to present oneself as a nonreality, an idea, a fearsome specter that holds the power to strike loathing into the hearts of men, for it is the Other. The Opposite. The Abssence. It does not truly exist, for it is the absence of something, the absence of The Light that creates it, and nothing else. So then this. It is not Darkness, not The Darknesss, and has little right to stake such a claim. It is, in fact, merely a quite dark brown beneath a soap-bubble and cream tan head... A head that leaves tiny spots on the glass after a swirl. It is a beautiful beer, but shows at once that it is merely a mockery, merely a distant shadow, of what it esteems itself to be.
And then of course, one must dive in to see what this Thing may hold, perhaps looks were decieving... and it hits you. There's no burnt rubber, or tar, or used oil, or the stench of something rotting, or breathing, or hissssing in the darkness, nothing to cast fear into your heart that this is a Monster to be reckoned with... Instead, it is the old standby, the familiar, the lovely grapefruit, the resin, some earthiness, perhaps from a graveyard, but could be just from a garden. That's the thing with this one... There are some soy sauce notes, some roasted grain, some few notes to remind you that this is, indeed, an imperial stout... But it is far from the normal, and also far from the Standard of true Darknesss in liquid form, for which there are two, in my estimation... Dark Lord 2007 and the original, the fresh Mikkeller Black.
And then it just gets relatively boring.... Big sweetness up front but with a huge, Dipa worthy hop profile, even lasting into the finish with grapefruit bitternesss. The underlying malt profiles are that of an excellent RIS, a sticky sweetness with a heavy chocolatey profile and some roasted grain in the finish combining with the hops to form a solid bitter finish and with a syrupy sweetnesss on the middle of the tongue. Blah, blah, blah. We've heard thisss all before. Oh sure, it'ss good... but really? How could you claim to be the abssence of Light itssself, and then be thisss.... Norrrrmality....
Ssss...
Sssssyrupy, mmmm, yessss.... and ssssticky, it warmssss the throatssss....
Itssss bubbles, they are fewsss, not sssso manyssss and thinss....
Itsss deliciousss... and sssmackssss of sssslitheringsss
ssensssouousssly ssliding and ssssnaking down the ssspinesss of the unfortunate onesss...
It iss not the besst sssstout, but there isss ssome delectabilitiesss in thisss... and it'ssss sssneaky...
ssshelpsss....itsssgotsssmesss...

Photo of billshmeinke
3.46/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip. Thanks to biniek13 for trading it to me. 2009 vintage.

Two finger beige head. Pitch black body. Great retention that leaves nice lacing behind.

Smells of tootsie rolls. Dark fruits (plumbs and raisins). Nose reminds me quite a bit of Chokolat by Southern Tier.

Taste is similar. Tootsie rolls, sugar, plumbs, prunes, brown sugar, a touch of dark chocolate, subtle black berries and raspberries, candied dark fruits, and a hint of roastiness/smokiness on the back end. Too much fake sugary like flavor for me.

Thick and full bodied. Low carbonation. Quite smooth, and luscious. Perfect RIS mouthfeel.

A bit cloying, but the alcohol is well hidden. One bottle wasn't exactly easy to put down. Really similar to Chokolat which is much easier to trade for. It also gets a bit better after it warms.

Photo of Lukafer
4.62/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

edited for vintage: 09
Split amongst friends at a tasting. Review from notes.

Pours jet black with a pinky fingers worth of tan head. Smells are chocolate, roasted malts, a lo of cocoa, dark fruits and booze! Tater are much like the nose, chocolate, cocoa, malt and booze and goddamn good! Mouthfeel is sticky and chewy, perfect. We could have easily split another bottle this was so good. Worth the hype.

Photo of crossovert
3.67/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of rvdoorn
2.52/5  rDev -44%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 1 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 1

2008 vintage

Shared this beer with some friends during our epic imperial stout tasting with Surly Darkness, Darklord, Kate the Great, Abyss, Sexual Chocolate, Cigar City 110K OT Batch2, Speedway stout, Stormaktsporter regular and Kaggen! in the line-up.

Look: Beautiful. Dark as hell. Very nice thick tan head.

Smell: Beautiful aroma as well. This is so complex, it is impossible to describe everything, coffee, dark fruits, tobacco, alcohol, toffee, chocolate. WOW! In terms of smell equal in quality to the Kaggen!.

Taste: Well, what shall I say, this is really the first beer I ever had I wished I would not have tasted after smelling it. What an enormous disappointing taste. Sweet toffee, molasses, chocolate and sugars. Overpowering sweet. Incredible unbalanced and dull.

Mouhtfeel: Mouthfeel is great again. Thick, dense on palate.

Overall: In terms of taste, completely overrated. Nobody from our 6 people group could finish the glass. Look, smell and mouthfeel close to perfect though. The brewers should contact the Narke brewery for a course in tasty, balanced RIS brewing! The worst one of the evening. Hopeless and hopless

Photo of jampics2
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Review #400. Never thought I'd get here so quickly. I needed a good beer to celebrate this milestone, and I also needed a good buddy to drink it with. So, I brought this to Paul's in hopes that we could toast his new bachelor pad with a great beer. Batch from 2009, opened at about 9 months of age.

Poured into a snifter, this is a dark beer. The kind of beer that would make an appearance in a new Tim Burton film complete with a Danny Elfman soundtrack and really good claymation. Maybe it should have its own music video? The beer is thick, opaque, and has a tan head that leaves great lacing.

Smell is roasted malt driven, giving great chocolate and coffee notes. Some hops do surface, adding a earthy twist. There's even some vanilla, brown sugar, raisin, and dare I say blackstrap molasses in the mix. Just shy of perfect, it's a nice take and doesn't smell that evil after all.

Taste is absolutely one-of-a-kind. This is a great beer, perhaps deserving more respect than some others that get talked about more. It tastes like velvet feels - just so smooth, luxurious, and sexy that you just want to drape yourself in it from head to toe. Tons of well roasted malt give the impressions of really smooth cocoa powder and dark roast coffee. A sweetness exudes that never becomes cloying or makes drinking a 12oz snifter feel like a chore. Raisins and brown sugar become prevalent as it warms, perhaps the raisins were even soaked in a combination of Kahlua, Baily's and Canadian Maple Cream liquor. There's so many levels, each pleasant and just nothing like the sugar and soy sauce bomb I expected based on other massive American RIS's with evil sounding names. Some alcohol is there, but it's blanketed in flavor and just helps to remind me that, no, this isn't a dream. Yes, it's real. Even a touch of hoppiness at the end feels natural. This is a world class beer!

Mouthfeel is also perfect. It's thick and viscous, but not slick, syrupy, or oily. It's sugar doesn't add to the stickiness either. The carbonation is perfect, and the aftertaste isn't totally clean, but it's not stinging, alcohol-laden, or unpleasant in any way. Like George Costanza's track suit in a glass.

This was a great choice for #400. It was a perfect beer to share with a friend. As I write more and more of these reviews, one thing is becoming apparent to me. Beer is a wonderful thing, but the most important thing in keeping a diary like this is being able to remember the good times you had sharing the beers you're documenting. That's when the power of this fascinating beverage is at it's peak.

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

Tasted at the Slaintemehor animal call tastefest 7.23.2010.

One finger light tan head, medium dissipation with some lacing. Dark brown opaque body, no visible carbonation. Big complex nose, there is a lot going on here, I picked up chocolate and cherry up front, a bit of coffee and caramel balanced against a stone fruit and bitter on the back end hop bill. Taste mirrors nose, pretty damn smooth, I picked up a milk chocolate cordial cherry taste with some bitterness on back end, not overwhelmingly so. Mouthfeel is medium, smooth, a bit sticky. Didn't want to hoard the bottle, what I had was damn good, looking forward to having this again.

Photo of BEERchitect
4.62/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An absolute pleaseure to finally have the opportunity to enjoy this beer. Absolute chocolatey notes with licorice and char blend beautifully in this molassas-rich Imperial Stout.

An very viscous pour of oily black liquid falls from the bottle- this is going to be one full beer. Completely opaque, the beer lathers into a thick, lightly browned, dense foam stance that seemingly never waivers. Both lacing and legging have a convincing say in the coatings left behind on the glass.

Robust aromas of both semi-sweet chocolate morsels and dry cocoa powder lead the way with a heafty sidekick of burnt cherries, licorice, rum, and fruitcake. Mouthwatering and seductive, the aromas are near flawlessness.

The chocolate-heavy tone continues in flavor, similar to fresh baked brownies and Hershey syrups. Background fruity notes of cherries, grapes, currants, and dates are accompanied by deep roasted coffee, char, and roasted marshmallows creaminess. Molassas sweetness brings these flavors together seamlessly while giving a soothing taste to the aggressive roast.

Full, viscous, creamy, and oily in mouthfeel, the beer has a slow transition from early thickness to a late sweet, warming, and bitter finish (bitterness is in form of both char and hops). This beer is obviously intended for after dinner compliments or in place of dinner alltogether.

A special thanks goes out to Shango42 for the unique opportunity to finally enjoy this beer. He gets my right arm if he ever requests it.

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

Review number 999!!! Since most everyone saves Darkness for review 666, I thought I'd flip the script a little...

Major, major thanks to mikesgroove for sending this one my way. 2009 black wax-sealed 750ml bottle into a Unibroue tulip.

Black coffee body nears utter darkness on the pour--but not quite. Still, this beer is an absolute beauty in the glass. A towering, cascading, rich head of burnt custard brown foam slowly retreats to a fat cap of mottled bubbles, draping thick webs of lace along the inside of the tulip. Quite simply, the aroma is to die for. One part floral & earthy hops, 2 parts espresso, 5 parts black strap molasses, and 10 parts dark chocolate. Complexity is off the charts, as the background notes of citrus, gingerbread, plum, black cherry, and licorice could easily stand on their own and shun other Imperial Stouts.

Darkness hits the tongue with a powerful blend of roasted chocolate malts, sweet caramel and molasses, and tons of dark fruit (black cherry syrup, mandarin orange, and fig). Sweet, bordering on cloying, but the earthy hops, bitter chocolate and coffee close the deal and save the finish from becoming too sugary. Alcohol is all but a brief burn on the way going down...very well-hidden. Chewy, thick mouthfeel that coats the palate, yet has enough carbonation to keep the body from weighing and wearing down the tastebuds. All in all, a delectable, delicious brew from the good folks at Surly. There's a reason this beer is in the top 50. As if there was ever any doubt, consider the Darkness hype worthy.

Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a large deep dirty brown color head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of roasted malt and black chocolate with some light liquorice and dry coffee notes is quite enjoyable. Taste is also a heavy mix between some roasted malt with light bitter notes with rich black chocolate notes and very subtle notes of liquorice and dry fruits. Sweetness is very well balanced and not nearly as cloying as Dark Lord. Body is full with good carbonation and warming notes are perceptible though nothing too heavy. Well done and still retaining some balance even though it is an extreme beer.

Photo of lackenhauser
4/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to scoobydank for this awesome bottle as part of the BA Vets BIF.

Jet black with a decent sized head. very tight and confined bubbles. Heavy dried fruit aroma. Very "india ink" like smell to it. Fruity and very malty flavors dominate. Again dried fruit, very plum like. Raisen quality to the flavor. Sticky sweetness and a trace of toffee. Lacks some of the heavy roasted notes and the strong hop bite I am used to in a RIS. Sticky and creamy mouthfeel. A damn good RIS. I like mine a bit more astringent overall flavor wise. Still damn enjoyable and well worth trying.

Oh my wife just commented the label would make a great tattoo.

Photo of abecall98
4.4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Opened an 09 vintage with DwnTwnBwn and my friend Kevin.

A - wow, pours a pretty black, with a small tan head. The head coats the tulip glass nicely.

S - smells sweet, with some chocolate bitterness. You also can smell a nice burst of hops. Malt smell is very present too.

T - starts off like thick molases. Some brown sugar sweetness hits you, and then some roastiness comes in for the fun. A sudden burst of hops finishes the taste.

M - very creamy, and sticky. The carbonation level could be a little higher though.

D - a very drinkable beer. It's flavorful without being overpowering, so I can keep drinking it. The abv is well hidden too.

O - this is a great beer. A hoppier imperial stout that has a lot more flavors to balance this beer out, well done. Should be seeked out for stout fans.

Photo of imagineiii
4.65/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2008 vintage. poured into my duvel tulip. its quite dark, shows some deep ruby notes as the glass is emptied. head dissipates over time. nose of light chocolates, maple, and aged malty notes. if there is booze in this its entirely covered by all the candy notes. taste is mostly of sugary malts and chocolate covered raisins, and even some berry fruits. however, its balanced by just enough bitter chocolate notes and perhaps even the remnants of what was once a well hopped beer. i can pick out a couple notes that are similar to the only other surly beer ive had (ill save you the details, but it wasn't a pleasant experience). must be a house yeast. this beer is incredibly complex on the palate but extraordinarily well balanced. everything is in check, unlike darklord. mouthfeel is very pleasant. carbonation is very fine but ample. spot on mouthfeel. so unbelievably drinkable for 10.3%.

Photo of UA8
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

08 Darkness

Pours a pitch black motor oil color with with a thin caramel color head.

Scents of dark molasses, dried black cherries, and cafe mocha, There's even more going on here but I'll just say that it's damn nice.

Echos the nose however it is a touch sweeter than I would have expected. Perfect blending of the flavors though likely increased by the age. Wonderful.

Viscous and smooth with a perfect carbonation that whisks the beer across the palate and conveys the flavors perfectly.

This is one hell of a RIS which I have to say is one of the few hyped beers that actually live up to its rep. Fantastic RIS I wish I could obtain more easily. Great part was everyone sharing it all agreed that it was a fantastic beer.

Photo of kingcrowing
4.65/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

750ml gold waxed bottle. 2008 vintage, poured into a dogfish head snifter. Huge thanks to UA8 for sharing this!

Pours dark, really dark. What do you expect? Nice big brown fluffy head and some nice thin lacing. Nose is sweet and strong with maple syrup and dark fruit.

Taste is fairly sweet but it's also got the nice roasty coffee flavor along with some nice light carbonation makes it really smooth. Lots of dark fruit, really complex.

This beer is totally worth the hype unlike some of the other "dark" beers that have been hyped up.

Photo of alleykatking
4.77/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 22oz bottle. Many thanks go out to Luke (Lukafer) who cracked this one open at the last tasting. Good luck in Indy Luke!

A- Pours a heavy motor oil black color. One finger light brown head that shows a little bit retention before dying down. Light lacing on the sides of the glass as I drink this gem down.

S- Interesting enough this beer has a nice hop profile in the front end. Piney and citrus both which shine. Darker toasted malts with this as well brings forth a light burnt aroma. Nice bittersweet chocolate aroma with a hint of coffee in the ending. The hops still though throw me off but not in a bad way. Interesting and make my mouth water when I sniff the glass.

T- First thing I notice off the bat is hops and more hops...both piney and citrusy. Nice roasted malts in the front after the hops. Almost a perfect roasted burnt taste. Bittersweet chocolate notes with a fudge like charater to it. Bready flavors with a coffee taste that lingers around. The alcohol in this is settle and sometimes hard to miss. Overall, great flavors!

M- Heavy mouthfeel. Carbonation is great for the beer and style. Hops and light burnt malts are left on the palate with some coffee notes and light chocolate in the aftertaste. Flavors are bright and clean. Beer blended very well but flavors pop out individually. Not very drying on the palate at all.

D- This beer is worth all the praise. I would love to make it out to Darkness Day this year. I am glad I have a extra bottle in the cellar and got to try this one out. This beer is going to become one of my favorite.

Photo of BS68280
3.59/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Big thanks to Joseph for opening this one up (finally getting the review up here). Poured into my DFH signature glass. I had this after DL and I have to say they are two different beasts, but i was fairly underwhelmed by this one.

A: Pours just as black as I have seen, with a foamy khaki tan head.

S: Way more hops than i was expecting out of an RIS. Earthy hops, with hints of dark fruits behind it. It smells alot more like black IPA than an RIS.

T: Right along with the smell. No surprises here. The earthy hops lead the way and kind of took away from what otherwise was a great RIS. Dark chocolates, and dark fruits follow, but i can't get over that much hops in my RIS.

M: Full bodied, thick.

D: Didn't really love this one, I don't think i could finish a bottle off myself.

Photo of Kadonny
4.4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle gotten via trade with NuBrewm, 2009 version. I can't thank him enough for this rare beer. Poured from 750 bottle into a snifter glass.

A: A thick jet black that yields no light. A really cool brownish orange head rises above the black liquid and leaves full glass lacing. Wonderful looking beer.

S: Roasted malts with big aroma of chocolate, dark fruits and a nice amount of earthy hops. A bit of sweetness is picked up too.

T: Roasted flavors that slide right into huge chocolate flavors. I picked up milk chocolate and fudge flavors much more so than any dark chocolate flavors. Some dark fruit flavors come in with some plum, cherry and fig coupled with the earthy pine hops. The hops get subdued by the deep caramel malt sweetness that finishes out the beer. No bitterness and the sweetness really holds in the mouth. Very complex beer.

M: Full, coating, sweet, thick with minimal alcohol heat.

D: Medium. I really had enough after finishing the 750. The sweetness started to wear on me a bit.

Overall an amazing beer that is deserving of the hype, but I found it a bit sweeter than I would have liked. Next time I'm trying it fresh. I love the hops and hopefully they will shine a bit more. Still a super complex beer that I was super happy to try. Thanks NuBrewm!

Photo of Franchise
4.47/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This offering pours a deep dark black leaving a thick tan head in it's wake. Wow the smell is super strong I haven't even put my nose to the glass and i can smell the strength of this beer.

Nose is malty, roasted nuts, coffee, very herbal deep pitted dark fruits, super sweet smelling tons of aromatics. The taste is syrupy, cherries, sweet prunes, dark pitted fruits, raisins coffee, super malty with a minimal hops presence but just enough to balance that maltiness.

I'd pair this beer with dessert or game meat like venison as the sweetness with really play with the savor aspect of the beer. If choosing dessert I'd go with something black forest cake that the bitterness would play well with this sweet beer!

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

Given to me by a generous soul at DLD for nothing more than the locals in my cooler. Split amongst friends for the LOST series finale. 2009 vintage I'm assuming, even though the wax looks black to me.

A: Oily black darkness fills the glass. One finger of chocolate-mocha head that retains fairly well. Not as thick as I might expect, but still very full looking.

S: Dark fruits, maybe cherry and fig, on top of an overwhelming chocolate and malt sweetness. Fairly complex, but not too many scents I can pull out and name.

T: Dark chocolate, roasted malts, and a sweetness that lingers around on the palette. Some coffee and raisin flavors. A little soy actually plays in, although not necessarily in a bad way.

M: Fairly thick and creamy. Moderate to low carbonation. Rich and full in body.

D: Rich, sweet, and filling. This was a great beer, but I'm glad I had friends to share this with. Would love another to add to the cellar.

Photo of mikeyv35
4.05/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Date: 05/25/2010
Type: 750ml. Bottle
Vintage: 2009
Glassware: Usual Portsmouth Tulip

Poured a nice charcoal black w/ a 1/2 finger light brown creamy head w/ minimal lacing. Nose was fantastic, w/ aromas of chocolate malts, light coffee, black licorice, slight smokiness, and a touch of earthy peat. Taste was excellent as well, w/ notes of dark chocolate, vanilla bean/marshmallow, and a finish of substantial hop bitterness. This brew contained a flavor in the middle that took me awhile to pinpoint, eventually I realized it was burnt toffee mixed w/ star anise. Mouthfeel was pretty viscous and oddly pillowy at the same time. The only negative on this brew for me was the sweetness, that got to me after only a 12oz. glass. To be honest, it kind of sadened me because it overshadowed the amazing complexity of this fine brew.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this brew, but could only handle drinking a 4-8oz. pour. The next time I crack one of these bad boys open, it will be w/ other BA friends.

Photo of PittBeerGirl
4.08/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Darkness '08 and Darkness '09 side by side. Thanks Brian and Chris!

A- Body is a thick, dark, almost black hue. Pours with a small foamy off white head which dissolves to a thin collar and leaves traces of lacing behind in the glass.

S-Earthy hops, a hint of alcohol, a hint of cocoa and roasted malt, and anise. Decent balance and slightly mild.

T- There is a faint herbal/earthy hop accent initially with a mild roasted malt backbone. Chocolate and anise flavors come rushing through for the finish and are more prominent than the initial flavors. Mild impressions of the initial flavor linger.

M- low carbonation with a syrupy medium to heavy weight body that is slightly thin.

D- Overall- I REALLY like this beer. Its very good overall. The '08 and the '09 were very similar in overall profiles so I didn't comment on individual differences because I noticed few, if any. I'd still like to try this beer fresh when the hoppy notes tend to really shine. ABV was pretty well hidden here as well.

Photo of cbutova
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Reviewed from notes from an epic tasting with BCBCS. Thanks to Chico1985 and whoever traded it to him. Certainly one of the coolest (painted!) bottles ever.

A- If this beer was not pitch black I think another name would be appropriate. A light tan/beige head builds up and retains fairly well. It leaves thick lacing made up of fine bubbles. A nice ring and random cloud float on the beer.

Before smell and taste, it is worth mentioning that this was one of the most complex beers I have ever had.

S- Extremely roast malt up front. A cherry/dark fruit scent blends into the nose nicely. Molasses comes in pretty strong. I also get hints of pine, cocoa, dark fruits, earthy hops, caramel and even some citrus. A tiny bit of alcohol as well. The aroma itself has nice strength. There was also something I couldnt quite identify but it reminded me of my homebrew, maybe overly roasty?

T- A great balance of a ton of flavors. Very roasty malt with dark chocolate up front with molasses. Cherries and dark fruit make the main flavor of this one like a chocolate covered cherry. A tiny hint of alcohol hits the tongue but doesn't even come close to affecting the great flavor. A lot of earthy, grassy and pine hops round out the stout flavors. Sweets come into play but it doesn't bother me. The caramel malt shines its head later on and makes this one taste a lot like a Barelywine RIS. Very complex and balanced well. It never got old after an hour of sipping on it.

MF- Very creamy but not hugely thick, reminds me of KtG in a way. A very nice amount of warmth on the palate for a big RIS. Low carbonation but that is desired in this style. Roast caramel coats the palate. Needs more straight up thickness but the creaminess saves from being way off.

DB- Obviously rare and probably decently expensive. For how many flavors and the great time I had drinking this I would say it's worth it. Very complex Barleywine-like RIS with a great balance of a many different flavors.

Photo of Chico1985
4.15/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 bottle split between myself, cbutova and atremains. This has been one of my most anticipated beers. Also my first offering from Surly. Received in a trade from cdflem, much thanks!

Before getting onto the real appearance I will say this is my favorite bottle design ever. So awesome. The beer itself, is, yes, dark. You could say the glass is filled with...darkness. Charlie Murphy territory is indeed tread upon. The head is very thick, coffee brown, retains decently, leaves some nice lacing.

Strange scent at first, hard to pin down exactly what I'm smelling but I realize, cherries. Definitely dark chocolate and cherries. Lots of roasted malt and caramel. Smells very sweet and rich.

Taste I get much of the above, chocolate-covered cherries are the first thing that come to mind. Though this has some age on it now (7-8 months?) there is still a boatload of hops, getting more fruit notes there. A bit of booze. This is a very strange beer, almost brandy-esque. The hops and sweetness seem to take over the stoutness too much for my taste, especially towards the end. Almost feels like a chocolate barleywine.

Mouthfeel is more creamy than thick, almost in a KtG way but not near that level. A little too hoppy, dangerously close to IPA-ness. Booze is noticeable but not a problem.

I'm glad I split this because the sweetness may have killed it over time. Definitely not what I expected, I liked it but if it were a little more stout and a little less barleywine-tasting this I would've liked it more, still I love the chocolate/cherry here. A stout like no other.

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

2009 Bottle I think

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

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

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

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

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,995 ratings.