Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
DarknessDarkness

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

3,196 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,196
Reviews: 812
rAvg: 4.49
pDev: 9.35%
Wants: 3,195
Gots: 1,175 | FT: 86
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: 3,196 | Reviews: 812
Photo of tconboy
4.94/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

BREWCIFER - Lord of Darkness

Thanks to Bru for the Christmas present.

Appearance: lives up to it's name. Nice pillowy caramel head fades quickly to a surrounded light film.

Smell: Oh boy! Chocolate, coffee, sweetness.

Taste: The complexity! Rather fantastic, hence the perfect rating. The dried tart cherries and raisins are there and blend with that coffee, chocolatey (don't you red-underline me!) treat that we anticipated (see smell).

Mouthfeel: As you would expect from an RIS. Moderate carbonation. Dangerously smooth finish.

Overall: A wonderful treat. Wish this wasn't such a rare gem. Not my favorite style, but enjoyed this beer with the best of them.

Photo of Penguin3200
4.68/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Cracked a bottle of the 2010 Darkness tonight. Wanted to get a fresh review done from the bottle and try throughout the year. Will also be getting a draft or two in the coming weeks as it hits the TC pubs.

Appearance: 5.0 - Bottle rocks, and pours direct from the 57 degree cellar, thick into my snifter. Head of about 1 inch and some lacing after it settles. Dark, ominous and a thin head.

Smell: 4.5 - Loads of caramel and hot damn I would say crushed blueberries on the nose, and a some of the alcohol coming through. Some hops, but not nere what the '09 had.

Taste: 4.5 - Hits with a sweet chocolaty and caramel note, then the hops and alcohol come calling. Ends with a smokey malt and toasted grain finish. This finish keep s going...like a fine wine...Love this.

Mouthfeel: 5.0 - This eer hits it for me with the mouthfeel, light and airy almost, but still coats and leaves a finish that keep going and going. This is perfection.

drinkability: 5.0 - Not an over the top alcy bomb, and just has a finish that keeps you wanting more and more. Bravo Omar and Todd!!

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

On-Tap at The Firkin

A- A solid black wall o' stout. A brown head sits on top and isn't showing signs of leaving. Thick, spiderweb-like lacing all the way down the snifter.

S- Semi-sweet chocolate and rich spices. Good roasty malts come through as well as a slight whiff of alcohol.

T- Chocolate milk on steroids. Deliciously malty with a subtle hop spiciness. Dark fruits (black cherry?) bring up the rear. A sweetness comparable to molasses.

MF- Wow. About the same consistency as chocolate milk, too. Super creamy, low carbonation. Feels great. Did I say how creamy this is?

O/D- Really, really enjoying this. Alcohol is hidden much better in the taste than in the smell, making this drinkable with a subtle reminder. A real treat, I want this everyday.

Photo of DanOLeary
4.62/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Aroma: Very rich dark fruits fill the nose with some sweet chocolate. A trace of alcohol spice rounds out the fruit and sweetness, though the alcohol isn't as prevelant as expected. No hop aroma. 

Appearance: Black as midnight death. Head pours a billowy bread crust brown, though fairly quickly fades to a ring at the edge of the glass with some light lace.

Flavor: Initial plum sweetness quickly transitions to chocolate with an orange peel twang. Molasses lingers lightly in the middle but gives way to more chocolate, though this time it comes off as dark and bitter as the alcohol spice kicks in. Finish is drying from the alcohol, but not hot. Plum stickiness retains well in the end on the lips and back of the throat.

Mouthfeel: Full body with light carbonation. Most of the body is defined by the dark fruit character in the beer, creating the feeling of light molasses and sticky dried fruit. Alcohol bites the back if the throat with light burn in the finish. 

Overall: The aroma and flavor of this beer provide an exclusive look into the complexities of dark fruit and sweet chocolate created by a well crafted Russian Imperial Stout. The alcohol provides a nice warming and spicy presence and the orange peel was a surprising twist. While I describe the beer as full bodied, I would expect this style to hold more of a chewy character. Instead you're presented with sticky sweetness that somewhat artificially fills the palate. By the end of my review the head had completely disappeared as well.      

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

Served from tap into a snifter:

Appearance and Smell:Served nice looking black with a very inviting looking frothy brown head which had nice retention and gripped the glass nicely. Smelled of burned sweet chocolate, and caramel with a bit of floral scent.

Taste and Mouthfeel:Tasted of very roasty dark chocolate and creamy caramel with what almost seems like burned vanlla hiding inside this. Really had a sweet silky feel to it, very unique. Alot of citrus like hop pressence on the end of this thing with just a touch of ABV showing its head really kept this brew interesting to the senses. A very well crafted brew with plenty of complexity which really touched on many different levels.

Drinkability:I really liked this brew, ALOT more character to this than I even expected. I'll definitely be visiting this again.

Photo of PrinceDarren
4.17/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

This is an excellent RIS that is deserving of high praise, however, I'm not sure it is on the same level as the oft-compared Dark Lord. Just to make sure, I tried a little DL later in the evening (my friend was kind enough to open a bottle). Nope, no comparison, DL reigns supreme.

I tried the Surly giant on tap last night at the 3rd annual Bavarian Lodge Darkness night. Pours "almost" black, not nearly as viscous as expected. Has a pleasant, hoppy, chocolate aroma. Tastes of coffee, dark fruit such as cherry, maybe a little raspberry and a definite hop character.

This is very dry. Almost too dry. It left a chalky after-taste on the tongue. I heard that Omar felt this year's batch was more dry than last year's. While I cannot comment on the year-to-year comparison, I have to wonder if the recipe or process was a little off in this year's batch. I didn't feel like it should be so dry.

In all, this was a great pour that I was happy (hoppy?) to try, but alas, this is more akin to North Coast's Old Rasputin RIS than the might Three Floyds' DL.

Would I drink it again? Yes, I sure hope so.

Photo of bmanning
4.28/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to beerdavis for this 09 bottle - shared with Traquairlover.
Pours black with a 2 finger tan/light brown head.
I'm caught off guard with huge citrus and floral aromas - is this a stout or an IPA? There are also background aromas of coffee, chocolate, licorice, toffee, and caramel.
Taste is very odd, but in a good way. This beer has qualities of both an Imperial IPA and a Russian Imperial Stout. There is grapefruit mixed with chocolate, lemon with coffee, orange with caramel. These are very odd combinations together, but they surprisingly work well together.
Mouthfeel is thick and coats very well.
Overall this is a very different stout than I'm used to because the floral and citrus notes are in the forefront right now with the stout flavors in the back. I'm going to give my 2nd bottle a year in the cellar and see how it develops.

Photo of bainard
4.03/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Onyx with a 1/2" tan head. Really nice look to this brew. Looks like a big RIS.

S - Smoke, fruit (grapefruit and peach, maybe?), and roast. Some coffee. The candi sugar starts to become VERY prevalent.

T - Though it opens very well, with flavors of vanilla and coffee, it starts almost too tart and too sweet, as if the candi sugar is dragging an otherwise great beer down. The warming gives you an idea of why the Belgian sugar is used in this brew. It's extremely unique and forward, but it could definitely use some mellowing.

M - The creaminess here is something most other brews would beg for.

D - The alcohol is there, of course, but it doesn't feel like a 10.3% beer. It's a really nice beer and worth every penny, but I believe this vintage just seemed too young to really appreciate right off the bat. I have a bottle that I'll be cellaring, and I'm quite sure this review will improve after I enjoy that.

Photo of JFresh21
4.68/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Had this on tap side by side with Abraxas.

Deep black, the head was less chocolate in color than Abraxas.

The thickness of this beer is incredible. It is so drinkable and smooth. It doesn't have the overly sweet flavor of a Dark Lord.

World class beer. One draft is not enough! Cheers!

Photo of Cedromar
3.95/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

C'est la vie.

2009 Vintage acquired in trade, but I can't remember with whom. If you see this and we did the trade, shoot me a BM and I'll edit accordingly.

I've been fortunate to try the '07 and '08 Darkness and am now sampling the '09.

Well, this is one is a disappointment. '07 is plain and simply, the tits and '08 is like a bowel movement after having the spiciest indian food you've ever eaten.

Appearance is good, pitch black with a two finger head that wuickly fades to small bubbles.

Smell is dark fruits with a nice hoppy backbone.

Taste is again good, not great. The hop bite is there first, followed closely by the not-as-overpowing sweetness that plagued the '08 edition.

Mouthfeel is the best part of the '09 edition. Silky smooth all they way down into my belly.

The overpowering sweetness really hurts the drinkability of this brew.

In short, Darkness and I have a love hate relationship, much like the re-launch of Doctor Who. '07 is Tennant, the 10th Doctor, arguably the best. '08 is Eccleston, the 9th Doctor, far too cheeky for its own good, and the '09 is Matt Smith, the 11th Doctor, there's promise, but right now it has some pretty big shoes to fill to be the best.

Photo of Patchmaster
3.93/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Scored this bottle thanks to newk340. This was a 2010 shared with the family over the holidays. This had been one of my top wants. I'm glad I was able to knock this off my list. I wish I could say I was blown away. Unfortunately the Darkness didn't lead up to the hype that I was expecting.

A- Pours jet black as a normal head would dark brown with a small head.

S- I expected more layers from this. I was hoping for the complexities to really show. I get a lot of malts and a faint hint of dried fruits maybe a prunes???

T- Lot of malts and again the flavor of prunes. I wouldn't consider it bad, just nothing amazing.

M- Very thick. Like drinking a milkshake. This was the best aspect of the beer.

D- Overall this is a great beer. I might just stick with the Old Raspy and not have to worry about the trade. Darkness is a great representation of a RIS. The hype train has grabbed on and won't let go.

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

HOLY COW. Had this on tap at Groveland Tap, and it was amazing. Pours a dark rich black with a nice creamy tan head, excellent lacing. Strong malt smell, amazing taste, thick and rich with a great bold body. Spectacular mouthfeel, thick and rich. Super drinkable. Really happy I picked up 2 bottles.

Photo of sully11277
4.65/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A- Jet black with a nice brown head that sticks around for the whole thing.

S- You get a lot of an alcohol burn then you get a nice sweetness. You get a lot of cocoa and vanilla. You get a lot of roast. there are so many smells coming off this beer they blend very well.

T/M- You get a lot of sweetness upfront, you get a lot of dark chocolate then you get more of a milk chocolate and vanilla. It is very smooth which i was shocked by because of the alcohol burn you get from the smell.

O- This beer is amazing. all the flavors blend so great together I can not wait to see how this ages.

Photo of pepsican
4.45/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

07 vintage on tap. Poured very dark brown, thin tan head. Has a strong hop aroma. Tastes extremely hoppy with all sorts of nice stout goodness hiding behind the initial blast of hops. Chocolate, espresso, oatmeal, roasted malts, dark fruits. You can tell there is a completely different beer hiding under everything. Hop flavor was similar to furious, which to me is a good thing. Finished thick and oily, nice and creamy. alcohol goes unnoticed. I can only imagine what this will turn into as the hops drop back and everything else comes forward. One of the most complex beers I've ever tried.

Photo of mrseano
4.68/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2010 vintage, received 11/10 from friend and opened 3/11.

A: Dark, dark black pour. No light shining through this beast. Deep color quickly surprised friends with whom I shared the beer.

S: Roasted, caramelized, hint of the strong alcohol within the beer. Smells of strong coffee.

T: Awesome chocolate-infused coffee. Strong, developed taste that lingered on the tongue.

M: Smooth and filling. Very full-bodied and felt like a meal in a bottle. Alcohol hidden within roast coffee taste and smooth mouthfeel.

O: I have just begun reviewing after many years of sampling and consuming beer, but this is currently my favorite beer I have the chance to experience. Received in beer trade from Great example of Imperial Stout and wowed me from first drink.

Photo of gorby10826
5/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

By far the best stout I have ever had. Definitely a great one if you like them on the sweet side. Tried at Firkin in Libertyville, IL.

A: Very Dark. Black.

S:Complex, Chocolate, roasted malt, sweetness, fruit

T: Very sweet. Candi sugar. Molasses. Chocolate. Fruit. Hops.

M: Very smooth. Thick. Good level of carbonation.

D: Would drink it all day long if I could! Very easy if you like it sweet.

Overall: Seriously the best I have had in the last 3 years where I have tried hundreds of different beers. Wish I could get it easier!

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

’08. Pours as black as any stout I’ve seen with a thick syrupy pour and a deep dark brown head. Smells of sweet caramel and chocolate, vanilla, oak, tobacco, and licorice. Lots of tobacco on the palate with chocolate and coffee really coming through. Honey and vanilla with some nice dark fruits like raisins and plums coming through. This is very oily, with a very heavy mouth feel. Long bitter finish.

Photo of blockdude
4.62/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Had the '012 this past night and i've been wanting to sample this for the longest time. First off, if there is any imperial stout out there that shows barrel aging is not not necessary to make a damn good beer this is it. This was medium bodied and the nose was pretty bourbon heavy. The beer had noticeable bourbon to it but did not match the amount I got on the nose. I have to say, this was incredibly smooth and had so much complexity that I could care less if it was barrel aged or not. One sip, I tasted bourbon, chocolate, and maple syrup, while another sip I tasted coconut and raisins. This beer does have a good amount of hype but for someone who is not one to seek out imperial stouts, I was impressed.

Photo of NorthsideFred
4.26/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had it on tap at Jake Melnick's, (thanks to the Craft Brew Convention).

A: Looks great. Black with a 1/2" thick dark brown head.

S: Sweet and roasty.

T: Very smooth; the alcohol is very well hidden. Quite sweet. Based on some of the other reviews on here, I expected it to be hoppy, but my pour wasn't hoppy at all.

M: Not as thick as most RIS I've had.

D: Very smooth. You would never guess that this is over 10% ABV! Very drinkable; although, I suspect the sweetness would get to you after awhile.

Overall a great beer, and one that I'd order again!

Photo of Nashvillain
3.86/5  rDev -14%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 Version, Gold Wax and a fucking VAMPIRE on the front.

I really do think the appearance of the actual beer is amazing, but I love that label art. The beer itself pulls a pitch black into the glass and lets NO light through. Darkness is right. Head retention is decent, leaves a perfect lacing behind.

Smell is booze, licorice, faint coffee, booze, roast, a light milk chocolate, and booze.

Taste is heavy handed on the licorice with chocolate and booze providing backup. I can't say it's not good, but I just don't get as much out of this as I thought I would. Definitely thankful to get a bottle either way though. There may have been hops here at one point which would make everything that much more interesting, but they're gone now for sure.

Overall a good beer but not as great as expected. Maybe it's meant to be had fresh at which point I'll alter the review but for now the only thing legendary about this beer is the label.

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

2008 release.

Like Travloh, I couldn't wait. My friends and I waited in line for this and the reward needed to be immediate! Drank it tonight as an after-dinner sipper.

I let the bottle warm up a bit from the fridge cut open that wax, and served it in goblets.

A: A wonderful example of an RIS. It poured well and left a caramel covered head that soon settled. It was pitch black, I held it up to a light and squinted and could see nothing. The foam left no rings as it was drunk, it slowly settled back into the beer.

S: The first thing we smelled as we opened it was a strong, sweet molasses smell, combined with a fruit note. It was overpowering the other smells, but as we let it breathe, I got the chocolate smell as well. The only reason it's a 4.5 is because the sweet smell was overpowering for quite a while.

T: Great. This was aggressive, but very well balanced. The dark coffee/chocolate flavors of the malt, highlighted by a sweet molasses/fruit taste. Hops were present but well integrated into the flavor. A LOT of flavor profiles I can't even begin to describe, but I can say, it's a lot more complex, and dare I say better than the Bourbon County Stouts and Old Rasputins I've had recently in preparation.

M: Very smooth. GD Yeti was very thick and oily feeling to me, and while Darkness felt substantial, it was very smooth to drink. The best sensation of all is the warmth you feel in your throat and chest after drinking, the similar feeling I get after drinking a liquor like scotch. Very nice warmer on the coldest day of the year so far in Minnesota.

VERY smooth to drink, which leads me to...

D: I can see why people are warned on Surly's site. The ABV creeps up on you. The beer is so enjoyable, and the flavors mask the alcohol so well, that you can sip for quite a while.

I was worried I wouldn't make the cut, but was #617. I was worried the beer was overhyped, but it's not. This is incredible. I wish I had sprung for the 6 bottles instead of the 4 I bought, but hopefully someone else got the chance to enjoy it.

Cheers to whoever the lucky party is!

Photo of andreasmwatt
3.4/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance - Very dark nice looking beer. Way excited when I poured it.

Smell - Pretty bland actually. Not a whole lot of sense.

Taste- I know everyone loves this beer but I don't love it actually I can live without it. I like dark beer and this one just was not my thing.

Mouthfeel - Felt very nice on the palate.

D - Wuite Quaffable, like I said b4 just not my kind of beer.

Photo of dtmets84
3.34/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2011 vintage. Shared the bottle with DTMets84.

I have been waiting to dabble in darkness for sometime now and what is a better excuse then no work monday? Yahoo for labor day.

Appearance: Pours a dark dark black with an inch head.
Head is the color of khaki jeans?

Smell: Sweet? Black tuesday again?! Roasty as well.

Taste: Lots of something I can not put my finger on yet but it is not something that appeals to me. Its Dark Lord again.

Mouthfeel: My first surly brew ever and I am too letdown to discuss the mouthfeel.

Photo of BS68280
3.59/5  rDev -20%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Big thanks to Joseph for opening this one up (finally getting the review up here). Poured into my DFH signature glass. I had this after DL and I have to say they are two different beasts, but i was fairly underwhelmed by this one.

A: Pours just as black as I have seen, with a foamy khaki tan head.

S: Way more hops than i was expecting out of an RIS. Earthy hops, with hints of dark fruits behind it. It smells alot more like black IPA than an RIS.

T: Right along with the smell. No surprises here. The earthy hops lead the way and kind of took away from what otherwise was a great RIS. Dark chocolates, and dark fruits follow, but i can't get over that much hops in my RIS.

M: Full bodied, thick.

D: Didn't really love this one, I don't think i could finish a bottle off myself.

Photo of WonderWoman
4.18/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This poured so dark there was no penetrable light. There was a ring of golden head reminding me much of motor oil.
Smelt of chocolate and coffee.
Tasted alot like hoppy dark chocolate. Oddly it was salty when I licked the brew off my lips. There was a noticeable alcohol after taste.
It was thick and smooth with mild carbonation.
This was a bit much for me, but I thought it was nice for the style.

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
99 out of 100 based on 3,196 ratings.