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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

3,072 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,072
Reviews: 797
rAvg: 4.49
pDev: 9.35%
Wants: 3,147
Gots: 1,143 | FT: 83
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/ 

2007-Grim Reaper
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer
View: Beers (42) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,072 | Reviews: 797
Photo of browniewithnuts
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%

Photo of alpinebryant
4.34/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 Mummy edition - Thanks to Tumpster in a trade

A: Very dark brown pour that has light coming through on the pour. I hesitate saying black because it just isnt quite black but close...Healthy tan head with large and small bubbles and spotty lacing.

S: sweet malts, chocolate and cocoa mixing with a sweet brown sugar smell. Definitely some crystal malts in here to flavor and round out the malt profile. Aroma is right up my alley with the sweetness I enjoy in an imperial stout.

T: Taste is greatly rounded. I picked up a lot of chocolate and crystal malt flavors with cocoa and brown sugar flavors. There is a lot of sweetness in here and I am really enjoying it. Flavors start of strong and sweet, very closely following the flavors I find in a good barleywine. Caramelized sugars also bring out some berry and marshmallow flavors. Medium bodied for the style, some may say light but at 10.3 this really comes through without any heat at all.

Light carbonation and overall a very good Impy stout. I can see why this one gets the hype, just hope that they continue to produce it in numbers as large as they have been in order to quell all the profiteers.

Photo of 1424IpA
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of sbricker
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of Stum-pub
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of KCBeerNerd
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of KeefD
4.6/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 release.

Pours a VERY thick black color into a Darkness glass. Nice, thick and creamy chocolate milk head springs to life that fades rather quickly but leaves some lovely sheets of lacing. A quick swirl of the glass sees the return of dark tan foam. This brew is so dark, light cannot be seen through it, even at the edges. Darkness is right.

Aroma is unbelievable. Dark chocolate, booze, cherries, coffee, burnt caramel. Roasty, toasty, and inviting on this cold Minnesota night.

Taste is unlike any RIS I've ever had. Incredibly sweet, plenty of chocolate, and the biggest hop presence of any beer of this style I've yet to come across. The hop bitterness is surprising for this style, but a welcome treat for this hop-head. Cherry flavor shows up. It's almost like a liquid, boozy Cherry Mash candy bar mixed with bright citrus hop oils and bitter roasted coffee beans, although the coffee flavors are not as prevalent as I expected.

Mouthfeel is thick and creamy like no other. It almost has a melted chocolate milkshake consistency, smooth, silky, heartwarming.

The high ABV makes itself known in the nose but is well hidden on the tongue. It can also be felt in the head as the bottle slowly fills the glass and then makes it's way into my happy belly. Despite the high ABV, it's highly drinkable and dangerously so.

I don't know if it's just the hype or if it's because I'm proud of the best (IMO) brewery in my state, but this is quite possibly the best RIS ever made, or at least better than any that's come across these lips. I'm just going to have to be patient with the aging of another bottle until next year, as it will be hard to keep myself from drinking more.

Surly, you've made us proud. And it was well worth the wait.

Photo of 31Sam13
4.94/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Photo of ironchefmiyagi13
4.62/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had the 2012 and 2013 next to each other.

2013 stole the show, hands down. The grade is reflective of that one.

Great color and head on both beers.

Aroma on the 2013 was much more powerful in terms of coffee, chocolate and hops. 2012 was sweeter smelling with a lot of dark fruit.

Flavor was much of the same differentiating factors. 2013 was balanced, hoppy, smooth and delicious. 2012 had a weird metallic 'twang' to it with every sip, and was just way too fruity and sweet with no hops or coffee/chocolate to add a little bitterness.

Overall, I was very disappointed with the results. While I am now glad I traded away my older bottles, I was expecting something a little more 'badass' in terms of a vintage showdown. Oh well, maybe my bottle just didn't age properly. Either way, the fresh bottle was outstanding and on par with my favorite RIS...Stone RIS.

Photo of ritzkiss
4.33/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

650ml 2010 vintage, silver wax - big thanks to viggo for generously bringing this and sharing.

Pours a not quite jet black, viscous brew, a creamy finger and a half of mocha head which sticks around for the duration. Nice.

Nose initially reveals a nice roast, chocolate, coffee character blended with a fresh leafy hop kick, beautifully integrated. Then rich mocha, hints of smooth espresso (not the acrid stuff from Starbucks!), dark chocolate and milk chocolate, cocoa powder, clean earthy roasted malts, hint of molasses, vanilla. The mouthfeel on this is standout, so smooth and creamy without ever being syrupy, aided by just the right hop bite and dryness. Not too sweet, just so fine. Alcohol so well hidden. Perhaps not the most complex of the big beers but this is perhaps the most balanced, drinkable of the big RIS's I've had - which is a real talent. Thanks a ton Eric!

Photo of jarrgal
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%

Photo of birdsellam
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%

Photo of Roze
4/5  rDev -10.9%

Photo of stevec32
4/5  rDev -10.9%

Photo of Mikeluzzjr
3.65/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Devman171
4/5  rDev -10.9%

Photo of DNICE555
4.7/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Halloween Bash 2010. The VIP at the party was the Surly Darkness. Shared with the LArse, Zapps, and Cpie. I cannot think of a better way to starting out an enchanted evening. This review should probably be #666 but I will probably be 666 but the time I get to that number. Shout to SpeedwayJim for this bottle.


I made my way through the chophouse, the spider web, the grim reaper, and the bloody black roses to my beer fridge. I took the bottle in hand, scurried to the bar and quickly placed it down. There was a strange energy surrounding the bottle. As I got closer to it I felt more and more empty inside. The mummy on the front had me begging Zapps to stay close and protect me. I grabbed Jlynn's heavy duty bottle opener of the orange dish. Stabbing at the bottle cutting through the wax left me out of breath. Finally I reached the cap and quickly pried it open before I was thrown backwards by an unkown force. Looking up at the bottle I could see spirits escaping which reminded me of the micronized Ghostbusters ghost trap. I broke out my proton pack and quickly secured them in the containment unit. Cautiously making my way back to the bottle I secured some tulips. I poured the thick sludge into my tulip and noticed a low carbonation level and the consistency of a Transylvanian Moat. A tan almost brown head jumped out of the moat like vampires of the night hunting for their prey. Finding myself in a trance like state I quickly looked away. I finally gathered the courage to take a sniff with my eyes closed. Roasted bat malts, plum witches dances around my noise hairs. After two years of lifting weights in my beer fridge the hops are still going strong. I picked up this evil liquid and took a sip. Feeling slightly possesed I could sense tons of different malts. The most impressive fruit profile of any stout I've ever had. So many flavors coming through. Despite the robust chocolaty coffee notes, the fruit dominated. What an interesting demon. Very low carbonation despite the exorcism. The demons sucked the bubbles out. As with any massive 10.3 ABV stout this one is a sipper. It's not meant to be chugged like a coors light. The drinkability is amazing. Alcohol is very well hidden. Mouthfeel is smooth as a witches broom handle. Unless I go to MN on darkness Day or trade another precious KTG this will probably be my only Darkness. What an impressive brewery. Very glad I got to try this one. Happy Halloween.

Photo of juicebox
4.75/5  rDev +5.8%

Photo of jkane101
4.75/5  rDev +5.8%

Photo of sparx1100
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

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

Sepia inky dark appeance with only slight carbonation with an unremarkable nose but followed by a velvety smooth, lushous abundance of pleasantly dark slightly bitter flavors pursued by a vague sweetness, not overbearing or fruity, just a pleasant finish to a highly sip-able beer perfected for a cold winter's night: boozy without burn, sweet and slightly dry.

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5/5  rDev +11.4%

Photo of polopaul20
5/5  rDev +11.4%

Photo of Celtics76
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of dleiner
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%

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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
99 out of 100 based on 3,072 ratings.