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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
DarknessDarkness

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
97
world-class

795 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 795
Hads: 3,250
rAvg: 4.4
pDev: 9.77%
Wants: 3,238
Gots: 1,183 | 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 (50) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 795 | Hads: 3,250
Photo of jimmy82063
4.45/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 Version poured into a Brandy Snifter...

A) Pours a jet black, light is not getting through this. Thin head, medium lacing.

S) Chocolate, roasted malts, vanilla and a bit of bourbon, very nice....

T) The semi-sweet chocolate in the dominant taste here, supplemented by the hint of bourbon and vanilla. What is intriguing is that the coffee notes are very muted. What makes this enjoyable is that it is not a sugar bomb like other highly rated RIS's....well balanced.

M) Lightly carbonated and smooth.

O) Well deserved of its rating this is deceptively drinkable! (571 characters)

Photo of joshuaseresse
4.35/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 bottle. Thanks to my work friend who brought me a bottle since I couldn't make it. Poured into a pint glass:

A - Dark to say the least. Hard pour brings about a khaki head about an inch thick. No lacing really at all.

S - Kind of sweet like a milk stout. Sugary and a bit sweet. Tones of candy and a bit dark fruit. A bit earthy.

T - Wow! Roast but sugary and sweet. Chocolate and a bit coffee. I can't get past the sweetness though.

M - Syrup and thick. Creamy and velvety. A bit carbonated.

D - Even though its thick I can't stop drinking it. Very enjoyable. The sweetness suprises me. Good work, Surly! (615 characters)

Photo of badboyrsl84
4.28/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark as a darkness should be poured. Nice 2 inch thick mocha head.

Smell - burnt malt, smoked wood, hints of chocolate. Milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Very smooth smelling brew.

Taste - not as much smoked malt in the taste and more chocolate. Smooth chocolate with a hint of bitterness from chocolate in the aftertaste. No hint alcohol in any of this.

Overall - it lives up to the hype some what and is a solid example of RIS (439 characters)

Photo of DavidEddie
4.64/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Enjoyed on tap @ Chef Paul’s Bavarian Lodge.

Deep midnight black in appearance. Extremely thick dense brown head. Mega sticky lacing that hung around the entire time. Laid back mild aromas of chocolate, malt, and a hint of piney hops. Taste of rich chocolate, sweet roasted malt, coffee, some burnt toast, and a touch of smoke. Every sip starts off very chocolaty and semi sweet, then finishes piney and ever so slightly bitter. NICE! Mouth feel is thick, extremely creamy, and sticky. This is the thickest brew I have ever experienced. Overall drinkability was incredible. Did not detect the high ABV whatsoever. A fantastic flavorful blend of chocolate and piney hops. A real gem to make out to the Chicagoland Burbs. Well done Surly Brewing Company! This RIS lives up to the hype. Highly recommended! (805 characters)

Photo of hellbilly
3.92/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

someone opened this at bill and wendy's though i'm pretty sure everyone in the room had one with them!...

2008 with a bitchin' label... pours just lighter than black with a light tan head which lingers and leaves an abundance of spotty lacing. pine-like hops hit the nose first but soon turn to sinus numbing citrus peel... secondary scents of chocolate, malt powder, nutty/coffee, grass and leafy green hops.

the palate is quite sweet... almost to cloying but the power of the hops make it a bit easier to enjoy. the flavor shares the characters of the aroma but also has some woodiness and a distinct savory note. there is a long lingering aftertaste of malted chocolate malted milk with pine needles in it. medium to medium/full bodied with a creamy almost oily mouth feel. pine-like and leafy hops keep it really easy to drink and bring it back from the brink of sticky...8/4/7/4/17/4.0 (893 characters)

Photo of 0110x011
3.66/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black into a Darkness snifter. One finger, dark tan head lasts a good while, with spotty lacing. Nose is an interesting mix of chocolate, earth, plum, raisin and piney hops. Surprisingly sweet and fruity on the palate. A bit of chocolate and vanilla, and pine from the hops, but the overall flavor is dominated by an almost cloying, sugary sweetness. Mouthfeel is very nice, creamy and soft. ABV is nearly invisible. The sweetness makes one glass enough for me.

If this were available for $6.99 at BevMo, I'd say it were a tasty, unique beer. But considering the acclaim and rarity, I think it strays too far from the style. (637 characters)

Photo of tarheels86
3.52/5  rDev -20%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750mL 2010 vampire ed courtesy of beeranddogs. Pour pour is clear ruby to deep brown looking opaque black in the glass. A massive mocha head erupts with infinite retention and bit webby, sticky lace. Aroma isn’t all the massive or even pleasant: salty olives, brine, lots of wood. As it warms the only thing that comes through is oxidized red apple slices. The taste is dry oak, spicy oak, slightly hot alcohol, sweet molasses and prunes. Palate is very soft, not too syrupy, ending somewhat chalky and powdery. Comes across as very basic and mediocre. How this is in the Top 100 and Midnight Sun Berserker is not baffles me. There are just so many better imperial stouts out there. 12/12/2010 6/5/7/4/13=3.5 (710 characters)

Photo of BeerNutz324
4.35/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

bomber into 2 oversized wine glasses (split with my lucky wife)

Ap- pretty much completely black with a cinnamon colored head, great lacing for a stout and the head has good retention

Ar- chocolate, cherries, oak, molasses, figs/dates some other dark fruits

T- chocolate, raisins, dates, molasses, and coffee on the end. really gets awesome as it warms, the alcohol comes through as it warms too but not in a bad way.

M- thick bodied, alcohol warms your mouth after holding it for a while. good carbonation for this style.

O- a truly awesome stout. I wish this stuff wasn't so rare (and expensive) seek it out if you want a good one! (639 characters)

Photo of ejquin
4.76/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2008 Vintage, just picked up today. Drove up from Chicago

A: Black wih a beautiful fluffy white head that fades and clings to the glass all the way down.

S: Chocolate, and coffee, you get the roasted malts of a stout with some cherries, but a really nice hop fruity spiciness

T/M: Mouthfeel is wonderful, smooth and creamy. The thing about Darkness is that for a RIS, everything is so clean, so crisp, so drinkable, yet loaded with flavor. Starts off with the dark chocolate fading to cherry liquor, and a nice dose of hop spiciness comes through right at the end, just enough so you know it's there and balances the beer perfectly (634 characters)

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

In Honor of my 100th review, I've decided to raid my cellar for a bottle of (Vampire) 2010 Darkness.

A -- An immensely dark brew, black as sin with no light showing pours into a full four finger deep brown head and recedes slowly into a hefty froth with heavy tight bubbled lacing.

S -- Smoke and earth, countered by sweet, roasty malt and dark fruits. Hints of tobacco, brown sugar, and molasses.

T -- Hugely smoky, espresso and tobacco are heady in the front, backed by molasses and spiced rum soaked prunes with tones of black cherry and charred babies. Yes, babies. Notes of anise and clove. Finishes on the bitter end with a linger that really sticks around and a very mild alcohol burn.

M -- Definitely a big beer, heavy in body and on the palate. It has retained an excellent low - to - moderate carbonation in the cellar. Slightly creamy. A little sticky which I would expect from the style and slightly resinous.

D -- Excellent brew. I've had other vintages in the past and they stack up equivalently but this is the first time I've thought about reviewing it, and I'm glad I did. Happy 100 to me! (1,111 characters)

Photo of caskstrength
4.55/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap over a few weeks in several locations, Mpls Nov 2008.

Thick, black, sticky. Got some on the outside of the glass, was sticking like syrup.

Sweet, spicy, fruity (in a good way) smell. Lots of dark fruit, dark sweetness. More sweet than spicy. Very inviting on the nose.

Did I mention sweet? Alcohol barely noticed. Smooth, velvety, perfect on the tongue. Is there a better mouthfeel than this beer? Hops are there too, for sure. Dark fruits work with the molasses type sweetness. Almost cloying in 2008, less so 2009 (and other years I've heard)

I really like this beer. First impression was it's too sweet, subsequent tastings I started to appreciate the sweetness more, didn't notice it as much. It is what it is. A sweet, flavorful monster of a beer, liquid velvet, and quite the feather in surly's cap.

2009: less sweet, more hops.

2010: May be my favorite of the last 3 years. Flavors all seem in the right place. (933 characters)

Photo of schellsbeer
4.7/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes taken from sampling party early December 2008.

2008 vintage.

Thanks Greggy for the chance to taste this wonderful beer.

Sorry Surly Darkness....but Three Floyd's Dark Lord has you beat...just barely though.

A - Wonderful. Dark black with bitter dark chocolate covered cherry look. Fantastic. Swirl the glass...where the beer meets the top of the glass, a wonderful red color can be noticed. Incredible.

S - Fresh. Raisins. Molasses. Black Cherries. Chocolate. There is so many things going on in this beer, who can describe them all.

T - I think this beer needs to sit for about 1 year....that is why I have my own bottle cellaring under the stairs waiting for next November to roll around. Fruit. Strong Alcohol taste. Cherries. Chocolate. Much better when served at room temperature. Fantastic brew.

M - Thick. Filling. Creamy. I want this beer to last all night but...Dang it doesn't.

D - High Alcohol. Available once a year only in Minnesota...low point but only slightly.

One of my top five beers to date. Fantastic. Almost perfection in a bottle. Close. Will re-review next November. (1,116 characters)

Photo of CheezyBlaster
4.78/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2011 batch.

This looks and smells . . . amazing! I don't even want to drink it. Perfectly toasted-to-lightly-burnt malts; let me be clear, this is the finest iteration of this characteristic I have ever encountered. Obvious bit of coffee/cocoa to go along and a small encounter of mingling dark berries/cherries.

But holy crap, this is unbelievable! Best mouthfeel ever. Perfect blend of velvet and viscous. Unbelievably creamy. I don't think the style could get better than this. Tastes like . . . wow. Just perfected; sweet, dark, whipped butter, licorice, malt . . . ohhh the malt. The malt.

I've got nothing left to say. I was lucky to get this from a friend in Minnesota. Haven't had better, can't really imagine better either. The only drawback might be the drinkability. I don't think I could have more than a bomber, maybe less . . . but that's not what I want from this style anyhow. I'll say it again: amazing! (926 characters)

Photo of fsvan
4.65/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2010 vintage poured into Dogfish Head signature glass.

Shared this one with Titosupertramp. A little back story...This one was given to me by a BA who I have never met. I started a thread on here about looking for beer spots to go on vacation. I got a BM from a BA that I had never (and still haven't) met, and never talked to. He left this at a local bottle shop for me out of sheer generosity and beer advocacy. Hoard not and share the wealth, basically. Anyways, a huge thanks to him for the chance to try this, and what a way to spend an afternoon. Not quite 'Darkness at the break of noon' as Robert Zimmerman sung, but only a couple of hours later.

A- Black. Black as Satan's soul. Darkness isn't just a clever name. Not even a tinge of red or brown on the edges. Just plain black.

S- Lots of dark chocolate. A bit of bourbon and oak. Not enough to confuse it with a barrel aged beer, but a nice touch. Some dark fruit.

T- Lots of dark chocolate. Roasted malts. Again a bit of an oak presence, but only slightly. Some dark fruit. Very clean. The alcohol only starts to really come into play as the beer warms near room temperature. Fantastic flavors, without too much of any one piece, or anything that doesn't belong.

M- Huge, coating the mouth. Sticky, lingering. It took a glass of water to clear the palate of this to move onto the next beer. For a stout of this size, that is a compliment.

O- I have been disappointed in the past by beers with this amount of hype (Dark Lord, I'm looking at you), but this was exceptional in every way. What a treat to be able to try, and one of the best stouts that I've ever come across. Just outstanding at every level. (1,673 characters)

Photo of Beerisheaven
4.57/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Feeling a little down in the dumps tonight after watching the Phillies cough up game 2 to the Dodgers in the NLCS. What better way to put a smile back on my face then to pull out this gem which has been nestled away in the cellar since Darkness Day 2008.

First off, huges props to maximum12 for passing this my way, and passing it along as an extra. Bet on your good deed being returned; however, I will be swimming upstream for some time to repay the world famous, earth shaking, legendary trading maximum12.

Pours nearly black with little light being able to pierce this lovely mixture. Not a big head.

The smell and taste largely follow each other. Big presence of bitter chocolate, a bit of smoke, dark roasty toasty malts and a huge hit of sweet fruit. I seemed to pick up a nice cherry undertone on the fruit profile. Sweet but after reading some of the ratings, I was actually expecting it to be even sweeter. I think it is divine and the other Phillies fans drowning their sorrow with me all enjoyed it as well.

Very luxurious mouthfeel, slightly slick and oily. Very pleasant.

The drinkability is also very good, but I am not sure that you can do much more than sharing a bottle with friends. Sweet profile makes you enjoy your fill, but it is more of a treat rather than something that you can drink a lot of during one session.

All in all, a great experience and I look forward to hopefully trying this one again. It is really good and thanks to Corey once again for his generous inclusion. I'll get you back, you wait. (1,536 characters)

Photo of ThePeskyDingo
4.57/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Smells of malts, raisins, coffee and chocolate.

Looks black with a deep tan head. Some lacing present. Beer is opaque, looks an amber brown color barely around the edges.

Tastes of chocolate, coffee and toffee, with earthy hops and dark fruits in the background.

Creamy smooth mouthfeel. Low carbonation, and full bodied.

Drinks pretty easy, didnt have a problem finishing this at 11AM. Could have had more of it too!! (422 characters)

Photo of drgonzo3705
4.3/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Beautiful black with a small tan colored head that hangs out around the edge of the glass.

S: Very pleasant chocolate and oat filled nose. Not overwhelming or underwhelming at all.

T: Cocoa, chocolate, and a touch of oat make this a very enjoyable tasting brew.

M: Full bodied with ample carbonation with a nice stout slickness left behind.

D: Pretty damn good. Big tasty RIS here. Looking forward to the new batch. (426 characters)

Photo of teamizm
3.78/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 bottle. Big thanks to Cardinal79 for bringing this to the bottle share.

A - pours a pitch black, much like the namesake with a 1 finger pillowy head.

S - roasty and dry nose with espresso and bitter chocolate. Some hops as well.

T - very roasty, surprisingly much drier than I expected. Nice floral hops as well - fairly unexpected.

M - For such a sought after beer, its a little thin. It lacks a bit of complexity, but I did enjoy the dryness.

D - It's a big beer, but fairly drinkable. This isn't necessarily a dessert beer as it isn't cloyingly sweet, could actually pair with a sweet bbq. (602 characters)

Photo of Fatduck
4.83/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Drinking my first of the darkness at Common Roots Cafe. I cant
bring myself to open any of my bottles yet. They even have darkness goblets to present the beer.

Pours pitch black with a small head, it would be more but the sever poured very gently. Leaves a good tan lacing all the way down the glass. It smells sweet, and of roasted and burnt malts, maybe even a little maple syrup. Taste is out the window, this thing taste too good to describe. It taste like it looks and smells, great. Chewy and smooth, it warms you as soon as it crosses your lips. This beer is a must for anyone who lives or is in the twin cities area, amazing, purely amazing. (651 characters)

Photo of 7ways
4.56/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2010 vintage.

This is a seriously black beer. Like buried underground black. Probably the best head retention I've ever seen on a stout, and pretty good lace as well.

Aroma of sweet heady hops in the background and chocolate cookies dominating. The smell of this beer makes me hungry. A little char, vanilla and caramel sweetness.

Perfect interplay of hop bitterness, black/roasted malt bitterness, and cookie dough sweetness. Notes of tobacco, tart purple fruit, molasses, and milk chocolate come and go in no particular progression. This does not exactly have the typical profile of an RIS. It goes beyond, and I wish it had more contemporaries/imitators. Siberian Night and Marshal Zhukov's come to mind.

Very creamy, chewy and smooth, this is what all RISs should feel like.

I was always told this was a hoppy RIS. Maybe when it's fresh, but not the case here. Good thing, because more bitterness would have ruined it for me. (934 characters)

Photo of biglobo8971
4.53/5  rDev +3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was lucky enough to be able to do a verical with the 07 - 11 being represented on Darkness Day 2011. There were several BA's that were present, and each of them had some what of a difference in opinion.
07 - this tasted like a different beer entirely from the others. Very dark and viscous, small hint of roast and bitterness in the nose, with a unanticipated smoothness betweeen all the flavors. A very accomplished balance of flavors.
08 - this was my second favorite of the night. Still a hop presence, with more of a chocolate sweetness which lent its hand to a taste of bitterness. The roast was present, just not over the top.
09 - my favorite bottle. Hop presence grew, this one had more of a spice to it, still present was the chocolate and malt sweetness, with a slight hint of roast.
10 - my favorite. I am a hop head at heart. This one had an aazing hop presence considering its age. A little sweeter than the older vintages, but not over sweet. Has obtained a great balance. Roast not as present.
11 - sampled this beer after having it multiple times over the weekend. Very tasty, I am waiting to have a bottle with just a bit of age on it. Tasted a little too sweet at such a young age, but the complexity of the beer was present. Made me extremely happpy I have several put away to enjoy later. (1,310 characters)

Photo of sordyl
3.56/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This was the 2013 Chicago distribution when Surly came into the market. Opened for a bottle share, smelled and looked great but the tastes really was not exceptional at all. (174 characters)

Photo of Hesscabob
4.73/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Vaguely remember drinking this at Dark Lord Day 2014. While waiting in line to purchase my allottment of DL, a kind DLD go'er shared some Darkness. From what I remember, strong roasted, chocolate malts power through the nose and the taste had more body than most RIS' I've had prior. Delicious and I will try to seek out again for better review. (345 characters)

Photo of MissSmisje
4.61/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

L: motor oil with a thin tan head
S: chocolate malt, bitter chocolate, dried dark fruits, particularly cherries and raisins
T: roasted coffee, bitter coffee, fidgety, dried dark fruits - cherries, raisins, dates, gently fruity tartness in the finish.
F: good chewy thick feel
O: excellent. Intense flavor. (306 characters)

Photo of LittleBreeze
4.03/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1/26/08

Thanks for sharing this one, drseamus.

I'm not sure this one "poured". It more like gulped from the bottle. Tan head.

The hops surprised me. I don't recall ever smelling a RIS that hoppy. Other tasters commented that it was a Surly smell. But it smells like a Double IPA

A nice malt bitterness sets up the caramel and chocolate. Nice bitter bite.

Dandy mouthfeel. A little dance on the tongue but not too much carbonation.

This is a very nice RIS. It didn't "win the night" when lined up against a few other beers in this category. I'll admit to expecting...more. (577 characters)

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 795 ratings.