Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

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DarknessDarkness

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BA SCORE
97
world-class

789 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 789
Hads: 3,221
rAvg: 4.39
pDev: 9.79%
Wants: 3,208
Gots: 1,175 | FT: 84
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.30% ABV

Availability: Fall

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

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

Labels:
2007-Grim Reaper
2008-Devil
2009-Mummy
2010-Vampire
2011-Zombie
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer
View: Beers (51) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 789 | Hads: 3,221
Photo of bodhi185
4.82/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

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

Photo of vic21234
4.57/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.92/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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

Appearance - Black with nice lacing. Small khaki head.

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

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

Mouthfeel - Heavy and sweet. Medium carbonation.

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

Photo of SeanBond
4.8/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of Ri0
4.94/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

poured 750ml bottle into chalice. 2013 release.

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

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

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

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

O - I can't think of a better RIS that I have had. This is an incredible beer, but the price may keep me from obtaining more than one a year. (812 characters)

Photo of sully11277
4.65/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

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

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

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

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

Photo of kevanb
4.7/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

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

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

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

Photo of timc100
4.33/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

2013

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

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

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

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

Photo of Jaycase
4.64/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

'13 edition on tap @ firkin.

a: black. frothy, khaki head

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

t: milk chocolate pervades throughout. light roasty notes.

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

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

Photo of zhanson88
4.07/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage.

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

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

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

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

Photo of tconboy
4.94/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

BREWCIFER - Lord of Darkness

Thanks to Bru for the Christmas present.

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

Smell: Oh boy! Chocolate, coffee, sweetness.

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

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

Overall: A wonderful treat. Wish this wasn't such a rare gem. Not my favorite style, but enjoyed this beer with the best of them. (667 characters)

Photo of spinrsx
4.12/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber from the end of year Ottawa Tasting

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

Smell - Malts, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, oats

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

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

Photo of spoony
4.52/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brewcifer (2013) poured into Belgian Ale glass

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of darthvohn
4.54/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Glass Used: Snifter
Release: 2013-Brewcifer

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of JFresh21
4.68/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Had this on tap side by side with Abraxas.

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

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

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

Photo of B_Faust
4.13/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

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

Photo of ironchefmiyagi13
4.62/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had the 2012 and 2013 next to each other.

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

Great color and head on both beers.

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

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

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

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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

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

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

Vintage 2012 Bottle

A- This stout is black as night with half a finger of head. Tan mocha-ish colored head with small, tight bubbles dissipating slowly. Alcohol legs present.

S- Dark chocolate, mocha espresso, hints of vanilla, dark fruits. A very nice smelling beer.

T- Chocolatey up front, getting a lot of coffee in there as well. A slight roastiness and coconut flavor on the palate. Do not taste the alcohol on this one.

M- Very smooth and silky. Creamy on the palate. Chocolate soaked raisins coat the mouth pretty well.

O- Surly comes through once again with a fantastic stout that lives up to the hype. (615 characters)

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

75cl bottle with the Wolfman (2012) and red wax on top. Generously shared by Regen. Poured into an unlabeled snifter to begin the tasting. Also just recently had a 10oz pour in a Darkness glass at the Surly Tap Room yesterday, 11/29/2013.

Pours a very dark black body, thick and viscous with an impressive 3-4cm mocha head that retains quite well for any imperial stout. Eventually it recedes into a thick-ish brown film on top of the beer. Not much lacing to speak of.

Now this was a pretty hoppy beer with good dark fruits, lots of milk chocolate, roasty malts and some molasses-like sweetness in the nose. Smells excellent.

The taste is awesome. One of the best Imperial Stout flavour profiles I've had. Tons and tons of roast malt sweetness and flavours- chocolate, black coffee, chocolate-covered raspberries. There's a nice earthy presence too.

Mouthfeel is great. Thick bodied, creamy and smooth, well carbonated and resinous. So easy to drink, so flavourful on the back-end. Not a lot of booziness here either.

Going to call this one one of the better RIS's out there. Definitely beats Dark Lord in terms of one-day brewery-only release event beers. (1,163 characters)

Photo of MCain04
4.68/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

750ml bottle of 2013 vintage poured into Surly tulip glass at cellar temp, 54F.

Pours a dark brown, black body, beige head of creamy texture, good retention and lacing.

Smells chocolatey with roast and coffee beans, some dark fruit, and cherries.

Taste is akin to the smell but much more full. Dark fruits and cherries are quite prominent and complement the strong chocolate taste. Coffee and roasted malts present as well. Bitter with a good hop bite, but the hops don't take over at all. Sweet but not cloying. Perfectly balanced. Alcohol is almost undetectable.

Mouthfeel is smooth, creamy, and silky. Medium-to-full body. Dry sticky finish. Extremely drinkable.

This is incredibly tasty and overall is very drinkable. Dark fruits and cherried are very present and it is overall sweet, but is balanced well. This isn't the roastiest stout, but it is one of my all time favorites. (887 characters)

Photo of cwehr13
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2013 Bottle into a snifter glass.

The appearance was black but not as thick as I thought it would of been. It also had a off white head about 1/4 inch.

It smelled smokey with a hint of Chocolate and it had an alcohol smell as well.

It has kind of a bitter smokey taste, not as sweet as the 2012 that I had in the past. It coated my mouth and it was very good to drink.

Over all It was a great beer, I can not wait to try this 2013 with a couple years on it, hopefully it will get a little sweeter. (501 characters)

Photo of ZombiesAteMyDog
4.21/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

REVIEW # 666 - Darkness 2011 (Zombie)

A - The body appears thinner than I expected; the glass is not "stained" as I move the zombie molasses around the glass. Opaque black with a small, warm tan head that lasts.

S - Hmmm... rum raisin, some slight char/smoke, bakers' chocolate, and coffee... All of the somewhat usual suspects, but it seems a bit fruitier for an RIS, which I like.

T - First off, this reminds me of Black Albert a lot due to the dark fruitiness I am picking up. The taste follows the noise quite well, but the char flavor lingers on the tounge for a bit longer. Not overly sweet, and the alcohol is well hidden, but then again, this is not even hitting 11%... I'm used to having 14-15% stouts lately, so this is a nice change of pace.

M - Not overly heavy or syrupy, which is quite pleasant. Too many sought after stouts get overly thick and syrupy. Don't get me wrong, I generally like that in my stouts, but in moderation.

O - A great stout, and I'm glad I was able to trade for it. Thank you to whoever traded this to me back in the last part of 2011.

***I had CBS on Canada Day '13, and now I've had Darkness as my 666th beer... I am a beer nerd. (1,174 characters)

Photo of BrianStu22
4.75/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

2013 Brewcifer bottle, lucky to get 2 of these. Unfortunately drank it out of Days Inn disposable coffee cup. Shared with friends before Black Crowes concert. I don't rate many beers but this one deserves praise. Appearance is dark and chewy, difficult to say from Styrofoam cup. Smells awesome, chocolate, raisins, hot spicy rum. This tastes great and the best RIS I have ever had. Can't wait to try the second bottle after it ages. (441 characters)

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 789 ratings.