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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

2,620 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,620
Reviews: 762
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 9.33%
Wants: 2,913
Gots: 1,018 | 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:

2007-Grim Reaper
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer

(Beer added by: ryantupy on 10-08-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,620 | Reviews: 762 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ari32


4.75/5  rDev +5.6%

11-11-2013 01:42:38 | More by ari32
Photo of lonewolfcry


4.5/5  rDev 0%

12-16-2012 05:46:45 | More by lonewolfcry
Photo of ColdPoncho


5/5  rDev +11.1%

12-31-2011 17:31:39 | More by ColdPoncho
Photo of ahbithwabm


4.75/5  rDev +5.6%

01-23-2014 14:50:45 | More by ahbithwabm
Photo of billshmeinke


3.38/5  rDev -24.9%

Poured into a tulip. Thanks to biniek13 for trading it to me. 2009 vintage.

Two finger beige head. Pitch black body. Great retention that leaves nice lacing behind.

Smells of tootsie rolls. Dark fruits (plumbs and raisins). Nose reminds me quite a bit of Chokolat by Southern Tier.

Taste is similar. Tootsie rolls, sugar, plumbs, prunes, brown sugar, a touch of dark chocolate, subtle black berries and raspberries, candied dark fruits, and a hint of roastiness/smokiness on the back end. Too much fake sugary like flavor for me.

Thick and full bodied. Low carbonation. Quite smooth, and luscious. Perfect RIS mouthfeel.

A bit cloying, but the alcohol is well hidden. One bottle wasn't exactly easy to put down. Really similar to Chokolat which is much easier to trade for. It also gets a bit better after it warms.

08-21-2010 23:13:20 | More by billshmeinke
Photo of RMoeNay


4.5/5  rDev 0%

07-15-2012 14:09:54 | More by RMoeNay
Photo of Retail1LO


4/5  rDev -11.1%

03-31-2013 13:30:45 | More by Retail1LO
Photo of Quackus

New York

4/5  rDev -11.1%

01-08-2013 19:11:54 | More by Quackus
Photo of Beeradelphia


4/5  rDev -11.1%

01-02-2013 04:30:42 | More by Beeradelphia
Photo of Smurf2055


4.13/5  rDev -8.2%

Got from trade, got the 2011 with the cool zombie shit on it.

Pours black with a two finger billowy head.

Smell is dominated by chocolate malts. Ashy and chocolate.

Taste is sweet milk chocolate up front, roasty coffee and vanilla on the tail.

A much lighter body than I was expecting, very smooth and not just a sipper. Very good.

08-08-2013 19:51:28 | More by Smurf2055
Photo of HoppyBastard2


4.75/5  rDev +5.6%

02-16-2014 11:24:53 | More by HoppyBastard2
Photo of JellyJacket


4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

09-09-2013 16:11:36 | More by JellyJacket
Photo of richbrew

New Jersey

4/5  rDev -11.1%

11-15-2011 20:32:45 | More by richbrew
Photo of Skunkdrool


4.5/5  rDev 0%

05-19-2014 17:53:02 | More by Skunkdrool
Photo of rallison


4.4/5  rDev -2.2%

Thank you Carlos for opening this one (after so many previous attempts at making this tasting happen!).

Great pour with a great, lasting head on this beauty.

Delicious grapefruit/citrus bitterness is still a large component of this beer, despite the bottle having some age on it. I've had hoppy imperial stouts before (Rogue, Victory, etc), but none that came off so citrusy....an interesting choice and one that I find to work extremely well. Great roast character with complementing dark chocolate and a lingering bitterness. Light alcohol presence on the end. Some dark fruits seem to be present as well - specifically raisins.

Huge body with medium to low carbonation - very suitable. Rich and nicely coating.

Excellent beer. Very unique (and this is not an easy thing to be in the RIS category) with the delicious citric hop presence. I'd take a keg of this ;)

07-23-2008 07:02:06 | More by rallison
Photo of bluemoonswoon


4.55/5  rDev +1.1%

Sampled on tap at the Grumpy Bulldog in Naperville. Was pretty surprised to see this on the beer menu here but very very happy that is was.

Served in a pint glass.

A: Black. One and a half inch, thick, coffee and chocolate colored head. While Darkness has Dark Lord beat in terms of head retention and lacing, both of which are very nice and rather surprising to see in a beer this size, Dark Lord wins out for sheer viscosity. I could swirl beer in the glass and could still see though it afterwards, still remains as one of the better looking imperial stouts out there today.

S: Again fantastic. Hops are a very big part of this beer but not so much so that they overpower everything else. This beer is still able to muscle across some incredibly creamy aromas that mixes wonderfully together with the sweet, chocolaty, dark fruitiness of the beer.

T/MF: This is where things get interesting. Super sweet and creamy, at once bitter, at once sweet, perfectly balanced. There are times when I want to imagine that there is bourbon and coffee in this beer but on taking another sip it just doesn't taste that way. It's like some combination of boozy chocolate and coffee and cream mixed with candied, almost over-ripe fruits covered in brown sugar and caramel. Put this way the beer sounds revolting, overly sweet and perhaps undrinkable, but an underlying bitterness keeps things from becoming a cloyingly sweet, sugary mess. Mouthfeel helps out here as well, not really all that thick, at least compared to some of the jacked up imperial stouts out there. Incredibly smooth, velvety almost, though could stand to be a little fuller, chewier, to be more specific.

D: I could drink this until my body forced me to stop. The beer was gone before I really even felt like I got to know it. The balance that this beer displays makes drinking it so easy that you almost forget about how complex it is, a beer to pay attention to, seek out, and always try again. Fantastic.

11-20-2008 15:09:17 | More by bluemoonswoon
Photo of Kenai4


5/5  rDev +11.1%

01-14-2012 18:29:26 | More by Kenai4
Photo of Gtreid


4.35/5  rDev -3.3%

Vintage 2008. 750 ml bottle poured into my Cigar City tulip. I think thanks go out to ditmer for this brew, if I'm mistaken, sorry.

A: Pitch black, not a hint of light shines through. Huge two fingers of mocha head appear, retains nicely, and leaves great spotty lace.

A: Super sweet. Big molasses, raisin, fig, bittersweet chocolate, and cherry. Great chocolaty and roasty malt flavor is put in balance by the earthy hops.

T: Magnificantly complex. The molasses, dried fruit, chocolate, and cherry are great. But I am really diggin the sweetness of the malt. The earthiness gives it a balance that is supurb. The perfect amount of hops give it a smooth dry finish.

M: Super viscous, velvety smooth. I can't say anything more. Just perfect.

D and overall impression: Drinkability is great. This one is about a year old, and the flavors have melded perfectly. Would really like to compare this to a fresh bottle, but couldn't wait to pop it open. Just a great example of the style. Skal.

09-26-2009 20:16:09 | More by Gtreid
Photo of KAP1356


4.4/5  rDev -2.2%

HUGE thanks to surlytwinsfan for this one. 2010 bottle poured into a Victory snifter...

A - Pours as black as expected. A really nice creamy, mocha color head forms and has excellent retention. REALLY nice lacing. Really a very nice looking appearance.

S - Sweet milk chocolate right up front; appears more of a milk chocolate than a dark chocolate. The roasted malt notes are much more subdued than I would have expected. There s a really nice earthiness in the aroma which I can only assume is from some grassy hops.

T - Wow, the dark roasted malts really come out here; almost burnt in a way. Lots of dark fruits coming through under the roastiness with some molasses flavors as well. Earthy, grassy hops come out too which is really refreshing for such a big beer. The chocolate in the nose comes out on the palate very sweet and milky. Slightest soy dauce flavor in the end which I find interesting. VERY complex and delicious.

M - Very creamy and smooth. Rich and full bodied. Slightest carbination on the end of the palate.

D - Extremely well balanced beer for everything going on in it. Was a absolute pleasure to drink and hope to get my hands on more than 1 bottle next year.

03-03-2011 04:29:27 | More by KAP1356
Photo of kevanb


4.71/5  rDev +4.7%

750ml bottle, 2013 vintage, purchased at Binny's Grand in Chicago (much to my surprise) and poured into a 2012 Darkness tulip. I've heard rumors that the batch sent to Chicago was different than the batch released at Darkness Day in 2013, but I have nothing to substantiate this, that being said, this bottle was quite different than the draft offering I had at Northdown Cafe not a few weeks earlier.

The beer pours a super deep jet black color, wonderful opacity and just a touch of cola brown color when hit by the light. A thick, taut, caramel colored head rises from the beer, not instantaneously, taking its time to thicken and settle before receding slowly and gracefully leaves a few nice spots of lace behind. The aroma is roasty, dark brunt grain with some toasted coffee bean before a rush of chocolate, also a touch charred gives way to a plethora of fruit flavors, cherry, plum, prune and fig, with a bit of brown sugar and raisin as well as some molasses and toffee. The flavors however, are on point, loads of rich chocolate, bittersweet that brings out the fruit flavors impeccably well, huge amounts of cherry and plum with some backing raisin and licorice that leads to a rich malt and brown sugar sweet finish, but boy does the roast get cut down on the tongue. I'm used to this beer exerting some bitterness and hoppyness, especially when this fresh, but this bottle is so rounded and smooth. The body on this bottle is perfection, incredibly rich, soft, smooth, velvety, all of the synonyms for those words apply. It coats the mouth so gently and eloquently that it's almost unnoticed while asserting itself so well. The finish is wonderfully creamy, soft and has a perfect level of warming as it goes down.

Verdict: I always thought of Darkness as a rather unique and inventive take on the style as it was assertively bitter and always had a distinctive piney hop flavor to me, however this bottle changes everything. It's incredibly rich, smooth and balanced. The complexity is astounding and this is deserving of all accolades. Perhaps there is some truth to the notion that the recent distribution was slightly different than the release day batch, but whatever was in my bottle was superb and I want more.

01-24-2014 04:41:42 | More by kevanb
Photo of HopsHopenstein


4/5  rDev -11.1%

02-10-2014 23:07:06 | More by HopsHopenstein
Photo of ithinkimasofa


4/5  rDev -11.1%

12-16-2011 07:48:22 | More by ithinkimasofa
Photo of fehrminator

North Carolina

4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

03-02-2013 23:05:43 | More by fehrminator
Photo of udubdawg


4/5  rDev -11.1%

11-14-2011 18:37:33 | More by udubdawg
Photo of jeonseh


4.03/5  rDev -10.4%

Bottle poured into a CBS snifter. 4th beer in my the baller blend tasting

A - Deep brown, almost black in color. Had a nice off white head that sat on top throughout.

S - Smells of cocoa, vanilla, and slight caramel. Has a strong hop, pine presence that comes through in the nose. Get a hint of the alcohol coming through as well

T - Taste at first is sweet caramel with a hint of chocolate. It is almost like a milky way at first. As the beer continues there is a stronger vanilla flavor that comes through. Near the finish we get a hint of bitter hops that reminds us that this is a surly beer

MF - No carbonation at all. There is a slight stickiness to it and it had a medium body that is not too thick or thin.

O - Solid RIS from Surly. Has a good balance between the sweeter flavors, cocoa, and hops on the backend. Nice to get if I ever get a chance to make it out to Darkness Day

04-28-2012 05:35:21 | More by jeonseh
Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,620 ratings.