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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
DarknessDarkness

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
99
world-class

3,063 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,063
Reviews: 796
rAvg: 4.49
pDev: 9.35%
Wants: 3,145
Gots: 1,143 | FT: 81
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 (42) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,063 | Reviews: 796
Photo of Lare453
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of liamt07
4/5  rDev -10.9%

Photo of chippo33
2/5  rDev -55.5%

Photo of johnnnniee
4.45/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a solid black with a good size tanish head that sticks with us for a while. Smell is the usual suspects, coffee, chocolate, a bit smokey, but with some grassy hop aroma in the distance. Taste is a bit hoppy with roast coffee, chocolate, some dried fruits. Full body, oily/creamy mouthfeel, ample carbonation. Left a slight ash aftertaste in my mouth. Great RIS I wish it were more widely available.

Photo of GarthDanielson
4.64/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2013 vintage (Brewcifer). Poured from a wax-topped bomber into a snifter, the beer is jet black, almost oily, with a thin, filmy, frothy half-inch head that settles into a filmy surface coating. Nose of black strap molasses, licorice, coffee, baker's chocolate, woody notes, and hints of vanilla. Flavors of rich, heavy molasses and smooth dark chocolate forward. Perfectly balanced. Oaky highlights, with vanilla notes, too. Roasted characteristics throughout, with coffee bitterness in and out of the palate, also. Very layered palate and deep throughout. Velvety smooth body, with a chocolate bitter and roasted aftertaste. Wow! The finish is slick, smooth, and fairly heavy on the linger of rich and heavy. Great beer! Wow!

Photo of Rhettroactive
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of JohnGalt1
4.47/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Jake65 for helping out the RIS tasting a couple of weeks back.. Thanks Jake!!!

'09 bottle...

Thick on the pour.. dark dark brown head.. the brew is of course black... swirls give nice dark legs... great retention

Nose has tidal waves of dark malts ... fairly abundant hops that mesh well with dark chocolate and French Roast.. Honestly, no complaints.

The bitterness from the hops is apparent and combines with some drying dark malts and moves into nice RIS characteristics.. fudgey brownies.. grassy and mild citrus hops are pretty much there throughout the flavor.. coffee remnants that have a bit of dark malt bite... dry finish has some citrus hops and drying cocoa and bits of coffee....

Body is pretty dialed in.. carbonation seems maybe a bit high.. but it may be too warm at this point..

Reminds me alot of the 110K.. but the hops seemed more aromatic and somehow balanced.... pretty damn good beer.

Thanks again Jake!!

I wish I had taken better notes.... This is the 2nd bottle of the '09 I've had.. the '08 seemed a bit muddy the couple of times I tried it before, but it also seemed like it needed some time to find the stride.

4.5/5/4.5/4/4

Photo of DrJay
4.55/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Biergotter Tasting - Day 2. Big thanks to grub for bringing out this bad boy.
Black, nearly opaque, with dark brown edges. A fluffy brown cap appeared after the pour, producing sticky, clumpy lace all the way down the glass. Great aroma, a combination of floral and citrus hops (mostly grapefruit and orange) with roast and burnt malts. Notes of cocoa and dark chocolate, biscuit, and anise wafted in and out. Solid bitterness, more grapefruit hop character, with lots of chocolate, caramel, and toffee. Quite sweet overall. Plenty of dark malts gave it a moderate roast flavour. Full bodied, kind of on the heavy side, with lowish carbonation, very fine bubbles, creamy texture, alcohol warmth, and just a bit sticky. Super delicious and much more balanced than I was expecting.

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.88/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2011 Vintage. Thanks to Spencer for this bottle! Poured in to CBS snifter.

A - Poured ink black. Half a finger of medium brown head with good retention.

S - Roasted malts, smoke and a noticeable hop presence up front. A big semi-sweet chocolate aroma and a touch of licorice round out the nose.

T - Extremely robust flavour up front. Starts out with huge roast and semi-sweet chocolate flavours with a touch of smoke. Some sweet molasses and a fairly prominent hop profile enter in the middle. The finish is full of sweet chocolate and has a lingering bitterness. The ABV is very well hidden. The perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness.

M - Full body. Thick and viscous. Light carbonation.

Photo of tobelerone
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of Derek
4.63/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2000th review. Thanks Rutager!

Mummy pic, so I'm guessing 2009.

A: Very thick pour, black with a tan head, only a thin ring of retention but leaves some nice lace.

S: Black strap molasses, bakers chocolate and bourbon. Nice, but not as much aroma as one might expect.

T: Black strap molasses, bakers chocolate, espresso, salted licorice, piny resin from the new-school hopping (a bit dank), tobacco, caramelized raisins, sponge toffee. Seriously bitter, but not at all harsh. Nice alcohol warmth. It seems like it spent some time in a bourbon barrel. I really like the malts here, plenty of chocolate, a good amount of black and a restrained amount of roasted barley... it's like they brewed it for me.

M: Full, thick, creamy body has some roasted acidity.

D/O: One heck of brew.

Photo of Viggo
4.53/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Local Option, they had run out at Map Room but Local still had quite a bit, so Chicago BA's get it while it lasts! Local Option is a pretty nice spot too. Served in a pint glass.

Pours opaque black, thin red is visible on the edges, very thick dark tan head, lots of thick lacing on the glass, great retention, really sticks. Smell is awesome, pine and molasses, very rich, brown sugar, chocolate, toffee, roast, sweet fruits, some dates, very complex. Taste is similar, burnt dates/raisins, brown sugar/molasses, milk chocolate, some pine and floral hops, coffee and cream, very rich sugary goodness, nice bitterness in the finish, alcohol is very well hidden. Mouthfeel is thick and viscous, nice body, low carbonation, super smooth and drinkable. At first I wasn't sure what to think, but I can imagine this is exactly what RIS's tasted like when they were developed at the turn of the century. Fantastic stout, worth seeking out, and insanely drinkable, considering I had 3 pints!

2008 bottle: Day 2 of epic DrJay visit tasting, courtesy of grub.

Found this years to be a bit sweeter, not as much roast as the 07. Maybe a little less smooth. But still enjoyable!

Photo of Bighuge
4.78/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Inky black. Big thick crop of dark brown foam on top. Great staying power too. Spotty patches of brown lace coat the glass as I drink. The aroma is thick with raw, resinous hops. (Very similar to the way Alpha Klaus smelled the very first time I had it years ago.) Also chocolate notes and roasted malts and heavily roasted coffee bean. The flavor exhibits great complexity and depth. Baker's chocolate. Black licorice and hop oils mingle nicely. Intense coffee flavors and mocha/java notes. Fruit nuances are dark in nature....black berry and boysenberry come to mind. And there's a huge bitterness. A big double punch of roasted bitterness and hop bitterness....love this raw ass bitterness. And throughout, there's a nice charred edge to round everything off. The body is medium-full to full. Somewhere in that range. This doesn't have that "motor oil" viscosity, but it really doesn't need it. This is damn impressive the way it is. It's lightly carbonated and the alcohol really isn't that noticeable. It seems to blend in with the bitterness and is hidden to an extent in that capacity. There's a nice oily/greasy feel after drinking which I find appealing. The taste lingers long after I'm done. This is very drinkable. Growler would be no problem.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.53/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage: Pours out black, you know the story. A dark fruit aroma, plum, prune, fig, raisin.

Taste, reminiscient of dark lord, but a little thinner. Sweet, dark sugar. This really is right up the alley of a traditional RIS, sweet, not super thick, no coffee, chocolate seemed to be on the lacking side for any kind of stout. Boozy, didn't pick up any vanilla, lots of wood, probably oak, oak was all over this.

Was comparable to tenfidy also. Not my favorite RIS, but definitely solid. But I'd rather have coffee bender, abrasive, furious or wet. This would be no big deal if it was in a can.

Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.21/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 Zombie bottle.

A - Pours a very dark brown with a one finger light brown head. Great retention.

S - Milk chocolate, slight oak, slight bourbon and vanilla as well.

T - Vanilla milk chocolate, with a slight bourbon and oak finish.

D - Sweet and Oily. Average body and carbonation.

O - Very good. Smooth and delicious.

Photo of vfgccp
4.66/5  rDev +3.8%
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.

Photo of Duff27
4/5  rDev -10.9%

Photo of kscaldef
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of aasher
3.79/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage, courtesy of backfat (thanks Dave!).This beer poured a midnight, oily black that didn't allow any light to pass. It smells of deep, dark roasted malt and that's about it. The coffee is subtle, the rest of it was expected. I hoped this beer was the equivalent to Darklord but I was wrong. It is coffee, sweet, chocolate and roast. This is cloyingly sweet. The balance is questionable at best. God, I wanted so much more. It is very smooth though and drinks like a champ. It's drinkable, yet too sweet. The complexities aren't there.

Photo of drummermattie02
4.75/5  rDev +5.8%

Photo of Gobzilla
4.17/5  rDev -7.1%
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.

Photo of wordemupg
4.49/5  rDev 0%
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

Photo of Bitterbill
4.79/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got this bottle in a trade with incutrav. Thanks Travis!

This pours from the 750ML waxed bottle, close to room temp, as dark as dark can be. Pitch black and no highlights of any kind when I held the glass up to a light. I poured it rather vigorously and am rewarded with about a one finger head of tan foam. Head retention was good and there was some lacing.

The smell has all sorts of things going on. Lots of sweetness on the nose with big caramel, big notes of sherry and roasted malt, and lots of chocolate with some vanilla, maybe a touch of some dark fruits like raisin and plum. This is a great "smeller"; one of the best I've encountered to date.

The taste...can it live up to what I just experienced with the smell? We shall see.
First sip and I'll be...danged. No dryness here at all. Lots of caramel malt sweetness starts the session off followed by lots of milk chocolate, a touch of dark chocolate that adds just the right amount of bitterness, and big sherry notes along with that roasted malt goodness. The vanilla shows up mostly near the finish as does the dark fruitiness which gives me a light bit of tartness that's a plus for this RIS...man, this is one hell of a complex brew bordering on the over the top in complexity but there is nothing in the flavour that I can say detracts or is overused. It's just outstanding, plain and simple, and the abv is *very* well hidden.

It definitely has a fullish mouthfeel and the carbonation is lightly but rightly done. Silky smooth.

Drinkability? 1 at a sitting would be all that I can handle but that *1* is turning out to be a disappearing act that most magicians would drool over. I kid you not!

Big thanks again to Travis for giving me the chance to try my first Surly in a bottle. What a treat!

Photo of Hopheadjeffery
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of TurdFurgison
4.62/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at the Local Option, served in a Maudite glass. The beer was dark brown/black color with dark tan froth on top. Lots of wet lacing on the glass. The smell alone tells me this beer isn't over hyped, it smells insanely good. Rich and sweet, no burnt or roasted aromas, maybe some hops citrus but not as much as I'd have expected after hearing how hoppy this beer was last year. The taste is also nearly perfect. Huge malt sweetness, a little bitterness but not much, some citrus flavors too, I can't recall ever tasting a RIS quite like this. The body is substantial while not being as thick as Dark Lord, just about right for the flavors. Absolutely drinkable, the >10% ABV isn't noticeable from the taste. Worth the effort to find, this is great stuff.

1/02/09 edit:
I had this in bottle form, side-by-side against Sexual Chocolate, Dark Lord, and Kate the Great. In this contest Darkness came out the favorite for all 3 drinkers. The citrus flavors were the deciding factor, it seemed like this was a RIS with DIPA genes. I'll plan to attend future Darkness days to get as many bottles as I can.

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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
99 out of 100 based on 3,063 ratings.