Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

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DarknessDarkness

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

3,187 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,187
Reviews: 809
rAvg: 4.49
pDev: 9.35%
Wants: 3,194
Gots: 1,171 | FT: 85
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,187 | Reviews: 809
Photo of 7ways
4.56/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

Photo of biglobo8971
4.53/5  rDev +0.9%
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.

Photo of LittleBreeze
4.03/5  rDev -10.2%
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.

Photo of crewfan16
4.3/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage poured into a snifter. high hopes for this one considering how somewhat difficult it was to get one, even in the twin cities area.

a- deep dark ruby brown with no light shining through. little khaki head quickly rises and falls

s- lots of roasted coffee and cocoa. hints of hops are there at the end as well

t- incredibly complex and delicious. coffee and chocolate with roasted malt and a light hop finish. really, really tasty

m- thick and coating on the mouth. very little carbonation is right on for the style.

overall, a great complex imperial stout. im not certain it was worth the effort it took to get my hands on it, but it is certainly very good. glad I have a couple to age and see how good this can get.

Photo of Flyer
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to Lisalucy for the Chirstmas gift, for which she waited in line for five hours. Ah, I've raised her well. A delicious and decadent imperial stout, and yet surprisingly un-complex for the style. Malty, with molasses and chocolate notes. It was utterly lacking in that soy sauce-like quality that can detract from even the best imperial stouts, which made it smooth and drinkable and yet would have to be regarded as a by-product of that lack of complexity. Not the cascade of intensity I associate with the style, but a great beer nonetheless.

Photo of jhimstedt
4.35/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured at cellar temp into a glencairn, received in trade from AdamU726.

A - almost opaque, very black with brown hints. very nice fluffy head formed thin and hung around a bit leaving tiny amount of lacing and a ring.

S - plenty of roast, dark chocolate, some hints of molasses, vanilla, slight sour cherry, coffee. odd tartness that isn't funk, but a bit acidic?

T - quite complex IS. stuff keeps developing as it warms, but mostly dark chocolate up from, little overbrewed coffee and vanilla following, with that slightest hint of sour dark fruit that cuts through the dark roasty notes nicely. became more sweet as it warmed but was still in balance with the chocolate and roast.

M - very nice. medium-full bodied for style, but great residual coating in mouth and appropriate carbonation.

D - quite drinkable. not too sweet or cloying, not too roasty, alcohol well blended. definitely recommended. with the body being so full but overall a little sweet this should age very nicely.

Photo of ucis
5/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

One of my desert island bottles. Poured from a 2008 vintage into a snifter.

A: Dark black with a black one inch head. Sticky lacing and boiling bubbles. This is one amazing looking brew.

S: Toffee, raisins, chocolate, mild coffee aroma. Has really mellowed out since 2008. Has almost a musty after smell.

T: Smooth-- the sweetness has really settled. Still nice fruity, chocolate -- very smooth malt backbone. The hops are way in the back but still nice. Sad to see this bottle get empty.

M: Still a nice thick drink. This was a perfect for the style and abv. It drinks almost way too easy.

O: Every vintage is slightly varied, but the 08's are drinking like sweet god candy. Good thing I have few more of these.

~shiver~

Photo of DwnTwnBwn
4.35/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed a '09 from a tulip glass.

A - Pours a dark black with a hunt of khaki. Head is decent 1 finger that falls to a nice ring around the glass.

S - Nice big sweet beer smell. Lots of roasted malt and dry dark chocolate.

T - The taste is a bit offsetting due to the large amount of hoppiness of this beer. The smells come through quite nicely. Plenty of dark fruits too. Wonderful.

M - Velvet smooth. Carbonation keeps the body light enough

O - Wonderful RIS, the hoppyness starts to detract from the flavor. Need to cellar a few.

Photo of bbb099
3.96/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage (Mummy). Thanks a bunch to scottfrie for sharing this with me. Reviewed on 12-18-2010.

A - Jet black color with a brown colored head. Appears to be quite viscous.

S - Strong burnt, roasted malt aroma.

T - Pure roasty flavor accompanied by some molasses and woody taste. Some chocolate and alcohol on the way down.

M - Full bodied. Very thick. Moderate carbonation.

D - Leaves some alcohol burn, but does have a great taste that keeps you wanting more.

Photo of Dawgboned37
4.99/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I love this beer! Poured 2013 (Brewcifer) vintage into a surly tulip glass. Moderate caramel head dissipated to thin layer of bubbles. The beer is very thick and viscous. The nose has complex scents of molasses, chocolate, roasted malts, licorice, and lingering vanilla. The taste follows the nose very well with pronounced dark chocolate, malt, and vanilla flavors accented by oak. Slight coffee bitterness, and even some hop flavors come through toward the end. Fantastic.

Photo of von_kaiser
4.49/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2013....this stuff is no fn joke! It's def ready.

Photo of Scoobydank
4.94/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

L:Thick milk chocolate colored head. The color itself is a dark black oil with not an ounce of light shining through.
S:I pick up a burnt bacon type smell, which i love. A nice hop nose, but not over powering. Very light coffee bean. Just a tiny hint of a fruity raspberry comes peeking in.
T:A big time smokey coffee pops out right away. Which apparently is where I got the burnt bacon from. A sweet chocolate covered raspberry with just a touch of toffee. The hops pops out and stick around throuhg out the whole sip.
M:Thick round and fat for a nice warming feeling. Very little carbonation makes it very easy.
D:Great rIS. Very smooth and complex. It seems like the taste comes in layers adding to the complexity. I could easily drink multiple(unfrotunately and fortunately franksandbeans has my other bottle)

Photo of MissSmisje
4.61/5  rDev +2.7%
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.

Photo of davod23
3.97/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Finally decided to open this bottle. 2008 vintage, poured into my Bruery tulip.

Surprise, surprise! Black, with a nice 2-finger tan head that retreats to a thin cap. Pour appears to be medium-bodied for an imperial stout.

Aroma... is odd. I'm not totally on board with it. Lots of malt there, looots of malt. There's a bit of a toasted character, some berry fruitiness, but malt dominates this beer, making it almost one-dimensional. I don't really care for this smell, other imperial stouts are vastly superior (IMO) in this department.

Taste, on the other hand, is really great. It's not often that you'll get such disparity between taste and smell. I'm glad for this. Malty, with slight bitterness on the back end. I am getting blackberry and cherry notes, roasted marshmallow, and a bit of toast here. Chocolate is barely a whisper, and coffee is almost non-existent. Very interesting take on the style, I've never had an imperial stout like this before.

Mouthfeel is outstanding, simply great. It's full-bodied, but doesn't quite reach thick. Perfect, medium level of carbonation. Silky, smooth, and creamy. Easily one of the best mouthfeels I've ever experienced.

Overall, this is quite good. I do wish that I had the opportunity to try this fresh, as I am guessing the hops add a lot to this beer, particularly with respect to the nose. As it is, it's still quite a nice and unusual stout. Recommended.

Photo of optiontwo
4.77/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle acquired at this years darkness day, poured into tulip glass

Appearance: Darkness. Opaque. Beautiful two finger tan head. This is exactly how a RIS should look.

Smell: Wooo. Almost makes me fall back in my seat. Such an array of aromas I don't know where to start. Roasted malt, chocolate, slight coffee, then strong sweetness of fruits ranging everywhere from orange/lemon to strawberry jam and cherries. Amazing.

Taste: This may be the drink of the devil but it tastes like it's straight out of heaven. Dark chocolate, orange, and dark cherries are the first three things that hit me but there is soo much more going on here. Earthy tones and what I have to imagine are hop flavors hit after the initial sweet and roasted flavor. This has got to be the hoppiest imperial stout I've ever had and that's a good thing, a very good thing. The combination of malt sweetness and hop bitterness in this beer make the flavors so complex that each sip is an experience. Outstanding.

Mouthfeel: Perfect. Coats my mouth with the beer but not to the point where it's hard to swallow. The mouthfeel increases the enjoyment of this beer tenfold because it helps the flavors stay in your mouth that much longer. This is also exactly how a RIS should feel.

Drinkability: Surprising. I've had a good amount of imperial stouts and it's one of my favorite styles, but even my favorites test me when it comes to drinkability. I usually want to have more than one or two but can't bring myself to do it. With Darkness though, I could literally drink this all night until I stumble to bed. Very impressive.

Overall: The very best RIS I have ever had. Do whatever you can to get your hands on this miraculous beer. I love Surly.

Photo of abecall98
4.4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Opened an 09 vintage with DwnTwnBwn and my friend Kevin.

A - wow, pours a pretty black, with a small tan head. The head coats the tulip glass nicely.

S - smells sweet, with some chocolate bitterness. You also can smell a nice burst of hops. Malt smell is very present too.

T - starts off like thick molases. Some brown sugar sweetness hits you, and then some roastiness comes in for the fun. A sudden burst of hops finishes the taste.

M - very creamy, and sticky. The carbonation level could be a little higher though.

D - a very drinkable beer. It's flavorful without being overpowering, so I can keep drinking it. The abv is well hidden too.

O - this is a great beer. A hoppier imperial stout that has a lot more flavors to balance this beer out, well done. Should be seeked out for stout fans.

Photo of sordyl
3.56/5  rDev -20.7%
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.

Photo of marksto
4.29/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

One of the triumpherant of Imperial Stouts highly rated enough to appear in the BA top 10. Sampled at the recent Tampa BA gathering, thansk to whoever brought it.

Pours jet black with a light hocolate-colored head. A small ring of foam clings to the sides of the glass. Has a very perfumy aroma. Roast malt, chocolate, alcohol, coffee, and dark fruit (cherry) all evident. Has a thick and viscous mouthfeel. Flavor has a blend of cocoa, raisins, and black coffee and roast. I find the roast to be a bit overpowering, as it leaves a tang and slight harshness on the palate.

Overall, certainly a very good RIS, but I found Dark Lord superior to this one.

Photo of schroederm
4.58/5  rDev +2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

In a snifter:

it looks like there's a frappacino on my beer. There are seriously four fingers of thick, soapy light chocolate brown head. It had a jet black body, no light getting through on the first pour. Sheets that stick for days on the glass. This looks nothing short of fantastic. Deep dark chocolate aromas hit like a freight train and little notes of grapefruit and cherry join in. Tons of hoppy character: citrus and pine are obvious. A hint of alcohol is there, but not much. Essentially, this smells like a double imperial ipa stout.A strong malt backbone of chocolate goodness supports a ton of fruity citrus bitter. Alcohol is not obvious in the least. Notes of cherry and plum. There are no words for this mouthfeel. Well, that's a lie, there are: its like a mouth full of cream. Light, fluffy; but yet thick and velvety. Carbonated to a d. Its wonderful just to keep in your mouth. it would be guttonous to drink a gallon of this. But if I could get a gallon of this, I would drink a gallon of this. Still, it has
tons of flavor and the ABV will get to you.

This beer is just full of soul. No demonic connotation implied, but this thing has character. If you can get your hands on it, do so.

Photo of mjyoung
3.98/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Split with scottfire and bbb099. Thanks to scottfrie.

2009 release

A: Pours very dark and rich, with a nice head that seems solid enough to eat at first but recedes quickly. Gorgeous lacing as it slowly recedes. Doesn't appear to be as thick as I was expecting, but that's not a bad thing.

S: Very strong smell of roasted molasses, overwhelming any other flavors.

T: Dark chocolate, roasted malt, and molasses. Very warm, with the alcohol following all the way down. Once you get past the initial powerful hit, you pick up some brown sugar and a sweet, full-bodied fruitiness. The molasses and malt definitely overpowers everything else. It would have been interesting to try this both fresh, and with another year in the bottle.

M: A bit thinner than I was expecting, but still a slky, viscous feel that sits quite well.

D: It's unfortunately a bit hard to rate this beer as objectively as I would like (my earlier find this evening is clouding my judgment). It is quite good, although a little bit more harsh than I would like. Another year in the bottle would have been interesting. It doesn't quite measure up to the hype, but don't get me wrong. I'd drink it again at the drop of a proverbial (or literal) hat.

Photo of BuckeyeOne
4.73/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Darkness snifter at Cafe 28 in Mpls. Beautiful 1 inch head of bubbly tan that left only a bit of lacing down the glass.

The aroma is milk chocolate, espresso, vanilla, and only a bit of tart cheeries.

The taste is a perfect reflection of the aroma. Despite the 10% ABV, this is not hot in the least.

This is oily and smooth with medium carbonation. Despite the smoothness, it's a little dry on the finish, which I think is a good thing. It doesn't linger too long, which entices you for another sip.

This is the perfect dessert drink. Was the perfect accompaniment to the molten chocolate cake I had at Cafe 28.

Photo of TK5150
4.55/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2008 bottle.

A-Pours nice and thick. Black in color, with a small brown head.

S-Upon first smell I get a little bit of American citrus and piney hops. I then get a lot of chocolate, and dark fruits. Kind of like chocolate covered cherries/blackberries/figs/plums. A very nice nose.

T-Big chocolate. Milk chocolate as well as dark chocolate lead the way. Then the fruits rush in and i get the chocolate covered fruits taste which was great. I got little to no hoppiness on the palate which was a little disappointing, and not what i was expecting. In the finish i tasted robitussin...that medicinal cherry taste. It became more prevalent the more i drank, but doesnt hurt the beer too much. This was one VERY SWEET beer, which I am not usually a fan of, but the flavors mostly made up for that downfall.

M-Full bodied, nice and thick. coated the mouth very well. Silky smooth with low carbonation.

D-Good. The medicinal taste at the end without the hop balance took away from the drinkability some. No trace of alcohol helped.

Overall, this is one of my favorite beers. A little too sweet to drink a full bottle by yourself, but great to split with a friend. A great dessert beer.

Photo of cubs943
5/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I thought this beer was pretty good.

Photo of Martin2D
3.13/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

Thanks to fbm115 for sharing this one.

A - Pitch black with a smallish tan head with lacing

S - Roasty, fruity, possibly some coffee

T - I couldn't be caught more off guard by the flavor. It is super sweet, almost like unfermented wort. There are wort like malt flavors, roasty, coffee. These are followed by a huge hop bouquet. Almost IPA like in its hop quality

M - Medium-high carbonation and medium-high in body.

D - I wouldn't be able to drink much of this. Decent beer, not my cup of tea.

Photo of Hesscabob
4.73/5  rDev +5.3%
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.

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
99 out of 100 based on 3,187 ratings.