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Darkness (2006 - 2013) - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Darkness (2006 - 2013)Darkness (2006 - 2013)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

2,654 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,654
Reviews: 765
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.56%
Wants: 2,923
Gots: 1,032 | FT: 72
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.30% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Starting in 2014, Darkness will be aged in whiskey barrels.

Labels:

2007-Grim Reaper
2008-Devil
2009-Mummy
2010-Vampire
2011-Zombie
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer

(Beer added by: ryantupy on 10-08-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Darkness (2006 - 2013) Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,654 | Reviews: 765 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of GClarkage
3.5/5  rDev -22.2%

GClarkage, Jul 02, 2014
Photo of kojevergas
3.73/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served on-draught into a stemgoblet in a cafe in a suburb of Minneapolis. I was extremely excited to try this per its reputation. Reviewed from notes.

**This review largely reflects the 2011 Darkness, but I did try the 2012 Darkness as well and found it more hop-forward

A: Pours a two finger beautiful tan colour head of excellent cream, thickness, and retention (considering the ABV). Colour is a solid black.

Sm: Brilliant mix of cream, coffee, chocolate, and nuts. A light strength aroma.

T: Heavy (yet subtle) chocolate, coffee, and wonderful cream lacing. Rich and complex. The alcohol does come through unfortunately, which jabs into the otherwise well-executed balance. It's surprisingly hop-forward for the style. Dark malt and caramel heavy. It's quite well built, though I don't think its ABV is warranted. It'd be better at a lower ABV so the flavours could come out. I do quite enjoy it otherwise.

Mf: Smooth, creamy, and wet, but too thick. More dryness and coarseness would be ideal; it feels more like a porter than a stout as is.

Dr: Hard to drink due to the ABV (and more importantly, how obvious it makes itself), but the mouthfeel makes it slide down easily. I like its subtlety. It's pricey and hard to find, but I do like it. I don't know that it's worth seeking out like some other Russian imperial stouts.

B

kojevergas, Dec 19, 2011
Photo of oriolesfan4
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%

oriolesfan4, Nov 29, 2012
Photo of imperialking
5/5  rDev +11.1%

imperialking, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of InspectorBob
4.5/5  rDev 0%

InspectorBob, May 20, 2013
Photo of corby112
5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep dark blood red burgundy brown that almost black and completely opaque with a thick frothy 2.5 finger dark chocolate coffee colored head that has excellent retention, lasting throughout and leaving large chunks of soapy lacing.

Roasted malt aroma with sweet bitter dark chocolate and hints of molasses, honey, burnt toast, caramel, oatmeal, coffee bean, toffee, licorice and sweet alcohol. Possibly the best aroma I've experienced yet.

Thick chewy viscous mouthfeel with some slight carbonation and a huge roasty malt flavor. Soooo smooth with a full viscous mouthfeel. The ABV is so well masked that it's almost undetectable. Slightly dry finish with some slight alcohol warmth. Extremely quaffable with awesome raosted malt profile. Lots of sweet bitter dark chocolate, coffee bean, toffee, molasses, honey and caramel sweetness that balances out the deep roasty and burnt toast characteristics. Very subtle hops in the finish as well as some slight alcohol warmth.

This is one of the most complex, flavorful and drinkable Imperial Stouts I've ever had and possibly one of the best beers I've ever had the pleasure of sampling. All I can say is WOW. Highly recommended.

corby112, Oct 14, 2009
Photo of weeare138
4.35/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to hopdog for sharing this...
Appears a black with a dark maple brown hue. A dark tan, soapy head fades out into a gentle cap and leaves spotty lacing around the glass.
Smell is of hoppy pine, and oakiness up front followed by molasses, caramel, and cocoa. Sort of reminds me of Storm King with the hoppiness up front.
Taste is of cocoa, sugar, molasses, and plentiful of citrusy hops.
Mouthfeel is syrupy, lingering of chocolate, bitter, and mildly astringent.

weeare138, Jan 10, 2007
Photo of yourefragile
4.38/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 750 mL bottle split with a friend

A: Pours a very thick, viscous black liquid with a fluffy, dense tan coffee colored head. Amazing retention, the head hangs around for the entire glass with sticky rings of lacing.
S: Dense, complex aroma, but not as strong as expected. Very sweet, dark fruit like raspberries, boysenberries and raisins, etc. Dark chocolate, roasted malt, faint citrus, light hops and alcohol all also come through.
T: First thing that hits me is the strong sweetness, that is slightly bitter. Dark, ripe fruits that persist through the finish, raspberry, blackberry, etc but they fade a little as the beer warms up. Then thisa much richer malty, chocolaty and creamy flavor. A light hop bitterness but most of the bitterness is more coffee and dark fruit flavored. Alcohol is very present, but not abrasive, just a friendly warming.
M: A very thick, creamy beer with very light carbonation keeps this from being too full bodied or chewy. After it warms up the finish is slightly fruity and chocolaty sweet
D: Every sip seems to tilt the flavors back and forth between slightly bitter fruitiness and sweeter malt/chocolate. Finish has a slight medicinal taste but overall the alcohol blends very nicely into the beer. An amazing RIS no doubt, but (while not the same beer) I still prefer something like The Abyss for example over this.

yourefragile, Dec 24, 2008
Photo of orangesol
4.38/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I am going to update my scores on this one. I just recently had an '08 courtesy of Deuane and I liked it a lot more than the '09 below. I have included my old scores at the bottom of the old review. Cheers!

---
Thanks to whoever brought this to the Inaugural "Imminent Liquidation Bottle Share" Event. 2009 bottle poured into a taster glass.

A - Pours deep black with a small half finger tall tan head, dissipating down to nothing at all, leaving light lacing down the glass.

S - Some sweet chocolate, a light does of hops, dark roasted malt, earthy wood, lactose sweetness, and some light smoke. It has good overall balance. Not the best I have smelled but far from the worst.

T - Lots of dark roast up front giving way slowly to a mix of light hop bitterness, sweet chocolate, dark roasted coffee, light smoke, and some astringent wood helping to dry the pallet after consumption. Finish is dry with some lingering roast. Not exactly what I was expecting. I may have to get a bottle of this for myself and revisit this one.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. A bit too thin in the feel for my liking with some lingering dark roast in the finish.

D - Drinkability was not too bad. Well this was a bit of a letdown. I am not sure if it was just this bottle or what but I expected a lot more. I will have to get a bottle for myself to make sure.

Scores:
3.5 , 4.5 , 4 , 4 , 4
Grade: A- 4.08

orangesol, Mar 08, 2011
Photo of tempest
4.55/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

When I was drinking and thinking about this beer, two things occured to me:
1) Man there's a lot of hop flavor, is this really a RIS?
2) RIS? Who the bleep cares, this beer rocks!

Got a 8 oz. goblet at Cafe 28 with dessert. While the chocolate cake was pretty good, this beer stole the show. It's a hoppy SOB, there's no doubt and that only builds as it warms. At first there's more malt, big delicious chocolate and coffee. Reminds me of chocolate covered coffee beans.

Then the hops get you. Big citrus fruit flavor ranging from the acidic rind to more mellow, flowery tastes. I've never experienced this much hop flavor in a stout, this rocks. I just wish somehow I could get some more delicious malt flavor out of it. Whatever, this beer was great. I want more.

tempest, Dec 27, 2006
Photo of barleywinefiend
3/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a deep black with decent carbonation and a small brown head. Nose is rather funky here. Dried fruits, alcohol, roastiness, cocoa. taste is dried fruits like prunes, raisines, figs and some cocoa with a subtle roasted malt. Mouthfeel is thinner than expected and I have no idea where th high ABV is? Not feeling this brew at all.

barleywinefiend, Jul 23, 2009
Photo of stakem
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to CaptinRedBeard for opening this at his tasting on 11/13/10.

2010 bottle poured into a snifter appears black in color with some lighter brown coloration around the edges. A dark creamy brown head appears and retains fairly well. As it slowly recedes, it leaves a spotty amount of lace along the glass.

The aroma of this brew includes a pleasant blend of citrus hops that are a little herbal with chocolate and a sweet grainy scent. A minor indication of some yeast character is present but is faint in comparison to the chocolate maltiness and hops.

The taste of this brew includes citrus hops that have a bit of herbal quality as well. Quite a solid base of chocolate that is more of a bitter dark chocolate than milky sweet. The hops provide a bit of mineral touch that is earthy with a light indication of yeast.

This is a super smooth brew with a creamy full feel that is lightly carbonated. A pleasant alcohol warmth hits the back of the throat but not with the intensity you would expect from something with more than 10% abv. Once this brew warms it has some coffee bean quality that is also citrusy. This is a must try stout, awesome to try right now.

stakem, Nov 22, 2010
Photo of dbrauneis
4.5/5  rDev 0%

dbrauneis, Sep 07, 2013
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

***Update***
2nd bottle of Darkness, compliments of RustyDiamond. Bottle 445. Poured black with a thin head that sticks around. Smells of chocolate pudding, roasted cocoa nibs, and with winey notes at the end. The taste was still a bit hot, but with nice long cocoa liquor tastes. Long chocolatey taste with some bitter hop presence. Mouthfeel was super smooth and creamy. A pleasure and I enjoyed it more the second time around.

***Original Review***
This beer was a treat compliments of Cashew70 at the Brick Store Pub. I had already had Kate the Great, Dark Lord, Speedway, the Abyss, and Ten Fidy among others and I was interested in how this stacked up. I'd previously enjoyed some of Surly's other beers on tap and had high expectations. Definitely a solid beer, but given how unbelievably difficult it is to obtain, I probably won't go to quite those lengths to procure some more, but I'm extremely glad I had a chance to taste it. Like the other great Russian Imperial Stouts, this one pours black as night with a tan head that sticks around. Maybe not quite as thick and rich looking a fresh Ten Fidy on tap, but very nice. The first aromas are of burntt roasted grains, followed by chocolate, coffee, and a nice dark but fresh fruitiness reminiscent of plums. The alcohol is well hidden and the beer is well integrated. The taste is also surprisingly fruity with more of that nice plumminess, big flavors of roasted grains and chocolatey malt, and a tad of soy sauce flavor, as well as a bit of fresh cream. The mouthfeel is not as massive as Dark Lord, or as thick, nor is it as creamy as Ten Fidy, in fact, there is a bit of slickness to to the mouth here. A very good, complex RIS. Not as massive as DL nor as creamy and luscious as Ten Fidy on tap, or as assertive as Speedway, nor as complex as Kate the Great. Stylistically, I would put his somewhere between the winey chameleon-like complexity of Kate the Great, and the massive onslaught of Dark Lord. Forr me it probably takes 4th place behind KTG, DL, and Ten Fidy on tap., but at this level I really think it's probably all about the direction one likes to see a beer go and one's personal taste.

Georgiabeer, Jun 03, 2008
Photo of drewone
4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

drewone, Dec 05, 2012
Photo of akorsak
3.38/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A bottle of the 2008 release, shared with Deuane and Ffejherb.

A: The stout is admirably dark, a pitch black monster that has an off-white head that doesn't linger for long.

S: The stout is bold, thick and syrupy with an ancho chile smokiness. The thick malts reveal chocolate and caramel over time.

T: Chocolate nuttiness leads off the ale, dark and thick with a graham cracker-like finish. The ancho chile flavor is present, giving the stout a buffalo wing-like taste. Syrupy flavors are intense, sweet with a near-cloying presence. Coffee and cocoa see the stout away and they may be the best features of the bottle.

M: Syrupy, the stout borders on cloying at times. The cocoa powder is nice but it doesn't last long enough to make a difference.

D: To paraphrase, did I really shave me legs for this? I am underwhelmed and ranked this one behind the Coronado bourbon RIS, Dark Hollow and Full Sail Black Gold. Don't believe the hype!

akorsak, Nov 17, 2008
Photo of rhoadsrage
4.38/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer has a jet black body with a milkshake head of thick coco colored foam that last and last. Is slips down the side of the glass after each sip.

S- This beer has a nice pine hop bitterness with a dark black roasted smooth quality.

T- This beer has a creamy black bitter malt flavor with a dark raisin sweetness to it. There is a note of cream flavor that has a bit of a chocolate malt note to it. The finish is a nice green herbal pine finish that has a bitterness of hops under black malt that lingers after each sip.

M- This beer has a full mouthfeel with a creamy texture and a smooth finish that doesn't really have any alcohol heat.

D-This beer is big and smooth. The hops really hold there own against the dark black malt making this a great beer for the cold months.

rhoadsrage, Nov 21, 2007
Photo of duceswild
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%

duceswild, Nov 29, 2012
Photo of DoubleJ
4.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml of Darkness is coming my way! I knew one day I would be able to get a bottle of my own, but I didn't expect it so soon. I got this in a trade back in November. From a 2009 Vintage, on to the beer:

The cap has been taken off, so there is no turning back. It is black as black can be, no amount of lighting is gonna get through. The espresso colored head on top has a finger's worth of thickness and retention, and it has good retention. Thing rings of lacing cling to the glass. It's a very resiny smelling imperial stout. There's a lot of it. Some of the pure hoppiness still exists, and among other aromas are molasses, unsweetened chocolate

Unlike other imperial stouts, Darkness is plenty hoppy. Not resiny like the smell, just hop juice. Yeah, hop juice. Sweet tropical juice, orange, some citrus tang. Quite honestly, it resembles more of a yummy DIPA than a stout. But around its edges are yummy notes of chocolate fudge. More and more malty imperial stout hit the taste buds are more beer is consumed. The alcohol is buried extremely well, and it's not thick or viscous, rolls off the tongue with ease...creamy. Mmmm. It's leaving some tasty hoppy-sweet nectar as it dries around my lips.

I'm not as huge of a fan of hoppy imperial stouts as others geeks, but I do like Darkness and its hoppy profile. Needless to say, I'm very happy to have called a bottle of it my own.

DoubleJ, Mar 25, 2010
Photo of mothman
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2009 Bottle for Halloween.

Poured into Darkness Snifter

Pours a deep motor oil black. Nice 1+ finger of dark tan head.
Decent retention with some splattered lace and a few rings.

Aroma: Big fresh earthy hop profile. Chocolate, caramel, toffee, coffee, very big and robust. I love how the hop profile is so defined with this beer.

Taste: Again, the fresh earthy hops stick right out here. Backed by a big chocolate roasted malt backbone. Nice coffee notes. Very great beer.

Mouthfeel: It is slight bitter from the hops, but very smooth. Very big, full body with a nice amount of carbonation. Ends fairly clean, but very slight sticky from the hops.

Overall, a damn great beer. I love this RIS and glad I have more. If you like hoppy RISs this is the beer for you. I am very impressed with this years batch.

mothman, Nov 01, 2009
Photo of afsdan
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%

afsdan, Mar 22, 2014
Photo of BARFLYB
4.7/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review#666. Thanks goes out to Kbutler for the bottle, one that has been on my radar for a bit. I enjoyed this with friends at The Compound poured into appropriate glasses.

Brown/black liquid shoe polish coming out of the bottle, deep space black when condensed in the glass. The name does not lie. Darkness builds a fort of dark tan, bordering on mocha brown, head on top that's kinda bubbly and not terribly together, there are nice streaks of lace on the way down. Muddled spray paint lace notches.

This has a good amount of everything that's associated with the style. First off a big bag of chocolate(bittersweet) pieces nessled in with espresso scents. A dark fruit component with some berries mixed in with a roasted malt base that does not quit. Some molasses and some bittering hops close this out.

I was worried about Darkness being to hoppy, I heard the 08' was bordering on Storm King territory which is not my bag. I get a nice amount of hops with some grapefruit and slight pine, but it's not at a killer level. The hops are actually under a sea of roasted malts(and many others) giving off chocolate, black coffee and oats from the farm. A nice amount of sweetness with brown suga & some licorice in the middle. Some molasses and blackberry finished off with a mix of everything above.

This is a thick stout, but not as thick as other heavy hitters. I would say it's full bodied but not very syrupy and gooey. It goes down smooth with a mix of sweet and bitter from the hopping. It does not coat the mouth for long but makes a lasting impression aftertaste wise. Hey wait, this is approaching 11%, I would not have guessed it if it was not printed on the bottle, expertly cloaked, but not 100% out of the picture.

Well Darkness exceeded my expectations and I had a smile on my face the whole time. I usually take my sweet time with big rizzes, but this was drank with the quickness, probably because it's not a overly gooey RIS. I wish I had more and can see why alot of people on this site hoard this beer, one that is not all that incredibly rare at this point, it's just damn fine stuff that demands some respect.

BARFLYB, May 02, 2010
Photo of superspak
4.5/5  rDev 0%

superspak, Nov 29, 2011
Photo of Wasatch
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks goes out to Buebie for this brew.

750ml
Red Waxed Cap/Gold Wax
2008 Vintage

Poured into a chalice a deep black color, nice carbonation, nice one-finger creamy tan head, which leaves some nice oil slicks and some sticky lacing behind. The nose is sweet, malty, lots of chocolate/toffee, some roastyness, vanilla. The taste is pretty sweet, malty, very nice touch of chocolate/toffe, with some slight roasty note. Medium body, the ABV is hidden pretty well with this one. Very drinkable, this is an awesome brew, glad to finally get a chance to try it.

Wasatch, Apr 20, 2009
Photo of Huhzubendah
4.72/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to ahalloin for sharing this at my most recent tasting.

2008 vintage. Eerie photo of the devil on the label. Eek!

A: Very dark, big beige head and great lacing.

S: Big roasted malts with a very present hop profile, much more so than I am accustomed to. This beer smells awesome.

T: Hops are surprisingly present and delicious. Rich roasted malt with bitter chocolates. Wow, this is amazing beer. This beer stands among the best imperial stouts I've had the pleasure of drinking.

M: Really smooth. ABV hidden extremely well.

D: I need to attend Darkness Day to really test this beer's drinkability :)

Huhzubendah, Mar 30, 2010
Darkness (2006 - 2013) from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,654 ratings.