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

(Read More)
Reviews: 788
Hads: 3,219
rAvg: 4.39
pDev: 4.78%
Wants: 3,207
Gots: 1,176 | 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: 788 | Hads: 3,219
Photo of jsprain1
4.84/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A- Perfectly black, with a quarter finger cocoa head. Retention is decent.
S- The aroma is so deep and complex. A touch of sweetness with some chocolate to it, but it quickly goes into coffee grounds, smoke, and licorice.
T- Really,really good. Sweet up front. Milk chocolate is quickly overtaken by coffee, smoke, and licorice. Really complex. Sweet undertones, provide a base for complex flavors.
M- Full body, actually fairly silky clean consistency to it. Low carbonation, just enough to keep it going.
I know I am buying into the hype, but this is a really, really good beer. Definitely a must try. (603 characters)

Photo of dsellers22
4.54/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

We picked up a 2013 750ml: Brewcifer Lord of Darkness. Pours near black with just a half-finger of head. Smells delicious: smooth coffee smell with fruit undertones. The taste is a wonderful stout: really easy to drink with a fruity finish.

We were able to find ours in a hole-in-the-wall liquor store in St. Paul. Only sold one per customer. Feeling lucky that we could enjoy this delicious beer--if you're lucky enough to find it, you should definitely pick it up! Not quite a perfect score, but darn good. (510 characters)

Photo of mhksuccess
4.6/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 version aged for one year
poured from a bottle into a surly snifter
dark with a nice 1/2 inch head and little lacing on the way down
smell is dark roasty chocolate
and taste is similar very roasty chocolate toffee think most of the coffee flavor has faded
this was smooth and easy drinker very tasty and definite one of the top RIS i have had
would definitely get again (374 characters)

Photo of JamesMN
4.24/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2013 vintage.

Appearance: Pitch black body sits below tan foam.

Aroma: Alcohol warmth, toffee, dark malt.

Taste: Starts with light grassy bitterness mixed with sweet dark malt and currants. The bitterness never gets intense and the malt really shines here. There's actually nothing harsh about the flavor which is odd coming from Surly but genius in that it makes for an unbelievably smooth flavor. Effortless finish and hint of caramel liqueur on the back end. Aftertaste of dark malt and hops. I was expecting a lot of chocolate and coffee flavor but the real standout seems to be a deep caramel character alongside the roasted malt. Robust and yet subtly restrained flavor all around.

Mouthfeel: Full in body, nearing the point of syrup. Super smooth with good drinkability for the style.

Final Thoughts: Had all but given up trying to get a bottle of Darkness. Pricy at $25 a bomber but worth it for a once a year release. Great example of the style. Would I drink it again? Yes. (988 characters)

Photo of JonnyBeers
4.92/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

2012 Bottle I received in trade about 10 months ago?

Really can't imagine a better RIS. I don't even think barrel aging would do this any benefit. It's just perfect the way it is. Only thing I could maybe point out is the sweetness, but compared to Dark Lord this is easy drinking in that regard. Smooth. Chocolate, toffee, roasty, smooth smooth smooth. I aged mine until it was over a year old. The abv at 10% is hardly noticeable. Well done Surly! (450 characters)

Photo of butlerj
3.85/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

If Pepsi and espresso could somehow produce offspring, (with Mr Vodka, the pizza delivery guy, showing up for a little tag team action during the conception,) this year's Darkness would be the spawn.

It's kind of rich to be drinking 24oz of it all at once, but the flavor is good. (282 characters)

Photo of jbaker67
4.44/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours jet black with a substantial mocha-colored head that dissipates pretty quickly. Nose is dried fruit, toffee and malt. Mouth is full and silky, with lots of candy-like sweetness up front, then some dates, raisins, chocolate, caramel, with a bittersweetness fading out on the back end. Alcohol is well hidden, with only a slightly detectable warmth near the finish. (369 characters)

Photo of AndyAvalanche
5/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2012 version of the Werewolf looking monster poured into a Duvel tulip style glass. Liquid comes out midnight black, can't see through it anywhere on the glass and it doesn't even seem to get lighter. During the pour there's some lighter brown edges on the stream. Coffee with cream colored head that erupts up to the top of the glass. Mostly small bubbles but a few larger ones at the top that blub up. Head stays around a long time and there's TREMENDOUS lacing here, stuff clings to the glass for life. Great looking beer, sets the standard, looks like what many wish they did.

Oh wow, does this smell great. Take the absolute best individual parts of an imperial chocolate stout, coffee stout, hoppy stout, a fruity stout and mesh them all into one absolutely perfectly and this would be your result. Could be the slightest bit stronger, but still would rate it a 4.9999 out of 5 based on how well balanced everything is. Everything works here, huge malt backbone with both dark and sweet fudgy chocolate, black roasted coffee, some earthy dark fruits, and some floral hops. Great balance, perfect smell.

Taste is even better than the aromas if that's at all possible. Starts off sweet with more milky than bitter chocolate, but both present, coffee also isn't as strong. Then there are some nice dark dehydrated fruit flavors like fig and plum, but not overbearing. Plenty of bitter hoppy flavors there of pine and sweet clementine citrus (kind of like a chocolate orange, but actually tastes good). Hops provide a nice fresh flavor too, I'm impressed with how well the hops lasted in this one. There's also an almost minty vanilla flavor at the end. Not the burning vanilla you get from barrel aged stouts though.

Mouthfeel is, you guessed it, perfect. Full bodied because the flavor lingers for awhile, but it tastes so good you wished it would last even longer. This beer is perfectly smooth, with a nice carbonation level and no bite from the alcohol or carbonation, slightly tickles the tongue though. Starts sweet with a nice clean, fresh bitter finish. Crazy drinkable, any stout lover or beer lover could finish off a bottle no problem. A sipper, but dangerous enough to drink faster than you might intend. Thanks N-Dawg for bringing this one to me! This beer really has all the perfect qualities one would want in a beer and blends them together. (2,364 characters)

Photo of Teleweizen2
4.1/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Darkness

A - the name says it all. It is dark. Black as night with two fingers worth of dark tan foam. Leaves lots of thick lacing.

S - one word sums it up. Chocolate. But it is not that simple. All kinds of chocolate. Chocolate sauce, cocoa powder. Milk and dark. Underneath the sea of chocolate are soft notes of city roast coffee and dried dark fruit.

T - silky sweet and bitter chocolate mix. Roasty coffee around the edges. Ripe juicy dried fruit in the center. Earthy hop on the backend. Chocolatey finish.

M - creamy and slick but with a slightly watery note. medium-full bodied. High carb.

O - a great russian imperial. Definitly something i would like to get my hands on again. (691 characters)

Photo of zachary80
4.63/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Darkness, I believe this is a 2013, been in a fridge most of the time since I received it. Served at that fridge's temp, 55F.

Pours black and viscous. Very good sized brown head. Leaves great lacing.

Aroma is sweet, light alcohol, lots of roast.

Flavor follows the aroma and is amazing.

Mouthfeel is full, with a lower carbonation level, perfect for the style of beer. Alcohol is barely present.

Overall this is one of my favorite imperial stouts, despite being a little too much on the sweet size. (503 characters)

Photo of mjpolzin
4/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lined up against a few other world class stouts at Great Taste of the Midwest 2013, this was good but it wasn't as good as I hoped it would be nor was it on par with a few other heavy hitting stouts that I tried that day.

The taste was a typical imperial stout type of taste (fruit, malts, chocolate, roastiness) but the hops and roasted malts overpowered things for me a little bit. I could see this being very good with some age on it but the 2012 vintage with almost a year on it was a little too harsh for me. (514 characters)

Photo of Smurf2055
4.12/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Got from trade, got the 2011 with the cool zombie shit on it.

Pours black with a two finger billowy head.

Smell is dominated by chocolate malts. Ashy and chocolate.

Taste is sweet milk chocolate up front, roasty coffee and vanilla on the tail.

A much lighter body than I was expecting, very smooth and not just a sipper. Very good. (339 characters)

Photo of wordemupg
4.49/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml red waxed 2012 poured into tulip 12/6/13 big thanks Rutager for the bottle, split with alpineclimber

A lives up to the name, black with a deep edge, massive three fingers of dark mocha foam stick around long enough to leave a a few well spaced thick rings, looks decent

S shocking how well the hops stand out against all this dark malt, grapefruit, tangerine and a little pine, sweet chocolate fudge smells so rich, Hershey's syrup, molasses, and a little coffee but not much, just a hint of plum and the booze is well hidden

T much like the nose but a little sweeter and the chocolates a little darker, coffees a little burnt and the hops are still strong, crazy strong, they must have used a shitload of the green stuff making this bad boy

M rich thick and creamy from the bubbles, a little sticky on the lips and I really have no idea where the booze is hiding

O hopped to hell and rich fudge make a great combo, pretty much zero booze and my glass is already empty at this point

Its always a great thing when a beer lives up to the hype and this one did exactly that. I wasn't expecting the high levels of hops but I loved it, for a fresh big stout the booze is nearly invisible. This one could age for years but great fresh if you like a hop bomb (1,267 characters)

Photo of jaasen64
4.18/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2011 Darkness, 750ml bottle poured into Lawson's tulip. Thanks Jameson for sharing this during our Murda'd Out tasting.

A- Pours a dark brown that appears a jet black in the glass with a thin mocha brown head that has about average head and recedes to a flat top. Spotty lacing that slides back into glass.

S- Cocoa powder, light bakers chocolate, some faint hop, decent aroma strength.

T- Cocoa powder, light baker's dark chocolate, light hops hiding in background that I would assume is more pronounced in fresher bottles. Finishes with rich dark chocolate cocoa powder that lingers as a nice aftertaste.

M- Smooth, very drinkable, nice carbonation that doesn't dominate too much, medium bodied.

O- This was a great stout that I really enjoyed drinking however I'm not sure if I'd say its one of my favorites. The overall flavor could have been richer instead of the cocoa powder taste. I would love to compare a fresh version of this. (942 characters)

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

Got in trade. 2012 version with a wereworlf and red wax cap. Pours deep black with a big frothy light brown head. Big hop aroma with plenty of roasty notes to go along with a bit of sweet molasses. Flavor is very much molasses with unexpextedly strong hop flavor. Wow the balance here is excellent. Cherry and fig mixed with bittersweet chocolate coming in. Medium mouthfeel with thickness that goes with the impy. Relatively easy drinking for the style. This is unique and really good! (486 characters)

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

2011 bottle

A - motor oil black. Black the whole way through, even at the edges.. The thickness of the beer is obvious from its appearance. Small to medium amount of dense tan head.

S - aggressive chocolate, milk and dark. Coffee. Maybe molasses, some anise/black licorice. Dense and roasty.

T - wow. powerful. It tastes like someone made a great stout and then distilled it down to an extract. Really really rich. Up front there is a bunch of sweet dark chocolate, black coffee, sweet molasses. Roasted malts. The ABV is completely imperceptible.

M - this really is the perfect mouthfeel for a stout. Pretty thick, but not overly so. Light carbonation, smooth. One of the best I've encountered in this category.

O - quite simply an outstanding stout. Just an unbelievable amount of flavor. If there is a demerit, its that its so intense it is almost fatiguing. I split the beer with a friend, and we agreed it would almost be difficult to finish a bomber on your own, just due to the fact that it almost overwhelms you with the flavor profile. This is a must try for any stout lover. Easily the best non-barrel aged stout I've ever had, and one of the best stouts I've ever had period.

Excellent beer. (1,209 characters)

Photo of vfgccp
4.66/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A - Amazing looking stout. Full, thick, creamy khaki head with sheets of lace. Pitch black body with no highlights to speak of, even when backlit.

S - Raisin, booze, spiced rum, oatmeal, whoppers, vanilla malt milkshake, almond, touch of licorice.

T - Milk chocolate, oatmeal, nutmeg, brown sugar, caramel, cream, vanilla, bourbon, charred oak, molasses, rum soaked raisins, licorice, black cherry.

M - Outrageously smooth. Creamy full body.

O - A killer RIS that lives up to its reputation. (497 characters)

Photo of Jeffo
4.13/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Originally reviewed a bottle of the 2010 only a few months after it had beer released. I found the beer excellent and scored it a 4.43. We compared that bottle to a 2009 vinatage and found that the hops had faded quickly and it had become much sweeter and less appealing. Thanks for those bottles rpstevens and oakbluff. I thought I'd re-review a newer vintage now that I've been around a little longer.

From a 750ml bottle into a snifter
Vintage: 2012
Red Wax

Note: We drank a 2012 and a 2008 back to back. The scores are for the 2012 with comparisons to the 2008.

APPEARANCE: A dark pour yields a 1+ finger, thicker looking tan head with good retention. Head slowly fades to a good cap and coats the sides of the glass. Black body with higher levels of carbonation evident. A splotchy wisp remains until the end and leaves some good lacing down the glass. A good looking beer for sure. The '08 looked exactly the same.

SMELL: Roasted aromas and lots of pure, dark chocolate too. Quite hoppy for sure, with lots of citrus and floral notes as well. This is definitely a bold and hoppy stout on the nose. The '08 smelt a bit stale in comparison, so perhaps some oxidization is starting to play a roll. Caramel, leather and soy sauce show up as well.

TASTE: Very nice stuff. Roasted and chocolate flavors with caramel and toffee sweetness at the swallow. Lots of bitterness at the fninsh, with plenty of hops as well. Citrus, floral notes and some bitter, dark chocolate linger on the palate, balancing the toffee and caramel sweetness. Bold and flavorful for sure. Good stuff. The '08 didn't have the oxidized staleness that I'd expected from the nose, but the hops had pretty much disappeared. Sweet caramel and toffee with leather and soy sauce. A touch of dark chocolate, but it's mostly sweet and soy flavors.

PALATE: Full body and medium levels of carbonation. Very creamy and full with enough weight for sure, goes down smooth and finishes rather sticky. Full, heavy, and creamy. Great feel. Like chocolate milk. The '08 is much the same, though perhaps a touch lighter. Still, this is a full, heavy, dominating mouthfeel.

OVERALL: Perhaps not as impressive as when I was just getting into craft beer, but this brew is definitely a top class example of the style. Fresh, Surly Darkness shows great balance between the sweet, syrupy malt base and the big hop profile. The 2012 was great. As it ages, however, the hops fade and the sweet toffee and soy sauce become too dominating for my palate. As such, the 2008 just wasn't all that enjoyable any more. In fact, we did a 2011-2008 vertical a couple years ago and only the relatively fresh 2011 was enjoyable while the others were simply too sweet. I would call this a top class stout, but wouldn't bother with it after the 6 month mark. Anyways, thanks to SliverX for the 2012, and to whomever sent that 2008 a couple years back.

EDIT: Had a chance to drink some of the 2007 and it to be less sweet and cloying than all the other vintages of this beer. The hops had faded, yes, but the sweet flavor was balanced by some alcohol qualities that made it much more palatable than the other vintages. Probably the best of vintage of this beer, but Darkness is still better as fresh as possible. (3,258 characters)

Photo of Knapp85
4.6/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Vintage 2011: This poured out as a deep black color with a brown head on top. There is a nice retention with a good lacing as well. The smell of the beer is of dark berries with deep roasted malts chocolate and subtle vanilla and soy. The taste is the beer is really nice, bold roasted malts, some smoke and bit of dark chocolate, there is a touch of saltiness in there too. The mouthfeel is silky smooth with a creamy body and subtle carbonation. Overall it's excellent. I had been curious how it would compare to Dark Lord and this is much better in my opinion. (563 characters)

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

This was the 2010 at an EPIC BEER TASTING at a fans house. Huge. I mean as big as a parade of elephants jaunting through the mall...and there was beer too.

This edition was strong on the nose and palate, I remember wincing on the first sip. Deep bitter cocoa and molasses with hints of vanilla and clove. It went down smooth and I was sad that my 2 oz pour was only. Rich coffee flavors with layers of toffee mirrored by sweet caramel and a tar-like drip...not perfect, but close enough. (489 characters)

Photo of VeganUndead
4.85/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Enjoyed a 2012 vintage with a friend after letting it age for 2 months, this is the second best imperial stout I've ever had imo, only falling short to Abyss. Really excited about the 2011 I've got in the cellar, going to have to think of an excuse to open that some day. Cheers (278 characters)

Photo of MNishCT77
4.99/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On-tap at Pizzeria Paradiso DuPont Circle, unknown brew date, poured into a snifter glass, drank 3/28/13 over ~one hour.

A: 4.75 - black, no clarity (wouldn't it be ironic if there was any? ), soft vertical bubbles and substantial legs, one finger frothy tan head that resolves into subtle glass lacing;

S: 5 - chocolate, coffee, vanilla beans, some dark raisin/fruits in the background to boot

T: 5- minimal hop bitterness on the front of the tongue that quickly dissipates into rich and substantial dark chocolate and coffee flavors, vanilla bean and minor molasses sweetness on the back of the tongue

M: 5 - incredible smooth, silky mouthfeel, thickly coats the mouth and lingers for days; this is the epitome of mouthfeel for RIS

O: 5 - I never though that I would try this beer considering that it is only released one day/year in Brooklyn Center, MN with very limited local distribution but thank goodness for the CBC 2013 in Washington D.C.; like all of Surly beers, this one lives up to the extreme hype and is overall the most complex RIS that I have ever tried; I have never tried Dark Lord or Marshal Zhukov but I cannot imagine it being better than this (1,171 characters)

Photo of BrownNut
4.14/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 release. Served near to room temp in a tulip.

A - 4.25 - Pours dark brown, opaque black in glass. Substantial tan head that endures.

S - 4.5 - Wonderful malty, chocolatey, fruity nose. Like chocolate covered cherries. Also smells like some kind of candy bar element that is complementary to chocolate, whether sweet biscuit or caramel or something related, I can't place. There's a lot more going on here. It's not barrel aged but still there's a barrel liquor aroma going on. Reminds me of the nose of a scotch or a cognac just in terms of the complexity.

T - 4.0 - Powdery chocolate, mocha, cocoa, chocolate syrup. Sweet, mild, and particularly round in that respect. But alongside that round chocolate is something more pointy and bitter, which also leaves a dry finish and slightly raw tongue alongside the sweet and sticky chocolate aftertaste. Presumably it's hops given the tongue abrasion. Unexpected and interesting, that. Overall the taste is substantially less complex than the nose. The alcohol is more prevalent than in many of its ABV peers, but I'm a fan of more booze.

M - 4.0 - Creamy, yet not as thick as I've come to expect from RISs. I'd call it medium, maybe a bit north of there, though there is some stickiness in the end.

O - 4.25 - Good. The nose is fantastic and so I suppose there's just some disappointment when the body does not exactly follow suit. There's a round sweetness and a woody dry bitterness, which make an interesting pair, but it wants something more to elevate it, and a stiffer backbone to offset some of the sweetness. Still, it is somewhat unique. Probably not enough that I'd trade for it again, however. The hunt continues. (1,682 characters)

Photo of Rifugium
3.83/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2012 vintage.
*sigh* Another overhyped beer.

Looked like a stout should: dark brown-black pour, with a small tan head that sank to a ringlet and left some splashes of lace on the glass. Aroma was typical as far as stouts go, dark roasty malts, some cocoa bitterness, with notes of herbal hops and anise. Same story on the palate, dark malts, dark chocolate, herbal hops, light woody notes, and a touch of dark fruits and licorice; slightly lingering resiny bitterness in the aftertaste. Good, but not very full in flavor like a good stout should be. I'm not really understanding the hype over this beer...you get about the same effect as you would from a Storm King, and I can get that off the shelf any day of the week. Not full-bodied, but on the heavier side of medium. A decent stout, but pretty standard overall. (818 characters)

Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.03/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

the beer pours jet black with a thin tan head. the nose is caramel, alcohol, bandaid (subtle) & sugar. the taste is definitely all chocolatey malt forward with booze. the mouhfeel is definitely full bodied rich chocolatey stout, but easy drinking and smooth, very slight bitterness. this beer is definitely an approachable, drinkable ris that most people would enjoy (366 characters)

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