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Darkness - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
DarknessDarkness

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

3,075 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,075
Reviews: 797
rAvg: 4.49
pDev: 9.35%
Wants: 3,149
Gots: 1,147 | 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 (43) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,075 | Reviews: 797
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

***Update***
2nd bottle of Darkness, compliments of RustyDiamond. Bottle 445. Poured black with a thin head that sticks around. Smells of chocolate pudding, roasted cocoa nibs, and with winey notes at the end. The taste was still a bit hot, but with nice long cocoa liquor tastes. Long chocolatey taste with some bitter hop presence. Mouthfeel was super smooth and creamy. A pleasure and I enjoyed it more the second time around.

***Original Review***
This beer was a treat compliments of Cashew70 at the Brick Store Pub. I had already had Kate the Great, Dark Lord, Speedway, the Abyss, and Ten Fidy among others and I was interested in how this stacked up. I'd previously enjoyed some of Surly's other beers on tap and had high expectations. Definitely a solid beer, but given how unbelievably difficult it is to obtain, I probably won't go to quite those lengths to procure some more, but I'm extremely glad I had a chance to taste it. Like the other great Russian Imperial Stouts, this one pours black as night with a tan head that sticks around. Maybe not quite as thick and rich looking a fresh Ten Fidy on tap, but very nice. The first aromas are of burntt roasted grains, followed by chocolate, coffee, and a nice dark but fresh fruitiness reminiscent of plums. The alcohol is well hidden and the beer is well integrated. The taste is also surprisingly fruity with more of that nice plumminess, big flavors of roasted grains and chocolatey malt, and a tad of soy sauce flavor, as well as a bit of fresh cream. The mouthfeel is not as massive as Dark Lord, or as thick, nor is it as creamy as Ten Fidy, in fact, there is a bit of slickness to to the mouth here. A very good, complex RIS. Not as massive as DL nor as creamy and luscious as Ten Fidy on tap, or as assertive as Speedway, nor as complex as Kate the Great. Stylistically, I would put his somewhere between the winey chameleon-like complexity of Kate the Great, and the massive onslaught of Dark Lord. Forr me it probably takes 4th place behind KTG, DL, and Ten Fidy on tap., but at this level I really think it's probably all about the direction one likes to see a beer go and one's personal taste.

Photo of ShanePB
3.05/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Vintage 2009, black wax. Poured into a tasting glass, courtesy of an anonymous BA at Imminent Liquidation. Thanks for the opportunity!

A: Darkness is no understatement - pitch jet black with a very minimal mocha colored head. Quick dissipation, not bad.

S: Nice aromatics, some lactose, sweet notes of milk chocolate, roasted caramel malt elements. Well balanced, nothing dominating or show stealing. All in all, it's still a nice display of flavors.

T: Holy hell, this is not as inviting as the aroma. Really sweet milkiness up-front that is palate coating and sticky. It won't go away. I can't get any other flavors to compete with this taste left in my mouth. Some overly sweet chocolate notes try to break through but it's not enough. Where's the roast? The malt base? SOMETHING! Nothing. Disappointing.

M: Pretty thin for the style, definitely does not have the creaminess or full-bodied mouth feel I am looking for. The carbonation is on the lower end, which helps this from becoming a complete mess.

I'm not quite sure if it was just this vintage or if something went wrong in this bottle but it tasted soured, but I don't think there were any reports of infection, so I'm just assuming this was how it was meant to be. I'd gladly taste another vintage to see what the heck was going on here. Thanks again though to whoever brought the bottle, not your fault, but just a let down for a beer I've almost traded a lot for -- or even dropped some $$ for on the 'bay.

Photo of atrocity
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of Mebuzzard
4.7/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I've been waiting for this one.
A deep, dark pour. Close to Abyss in total darkness. Small, but dense off brown head, nice chunking action. A bit creamy.
Aroma is full of cocao and coffee. Some anise and dark plum or prune. Not overpowering in the nose, makes mouth water.
Taste focuses more on the chocolate side rather than coffee. A rich cocao powder taste, yet is smooth. Dark chocolate, some coffee and anise, roasted malt and some caramel. Hints of toasted bread in the back.
Drinks very well, alcohol isn't detected. Nice feel. Great beer.

Photo of smakawhat
3.56/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

4 oz. pour into a small snifter at Churchkey DC. Vintage 2011.

A real nice dark cocoa brown head is presented, falls slowly. Manages to leave a real nice whispy puck and collar while finishing. Body color gives a slightly good oily sheen, but nothing filimy, and the body color is nearly jet black (I'll go walnut black)

Nose hits with mild char, faint milk chocolate, incredibly soft bodied and silky smelling, like whipped up mocha. Unfortunately there's something also medicinal on this as well.

Taste goes to sweetened coffee, and warming hot cocoa. A very noticeable taste of confectioners sugar, maybe even some maple. It's nicely balanced though between all these palate flavors, maybe even some faint hop bitter on the finish. Palate matches the sense of smelling velvet and rich silk. But incredibly sweet tasting though and mostly just "noticeably sweet" which makes it a bit one dimensional.

Overall though, it reminds me too much of CBS on tap but nowhere as impressive, and has that noticeable sugar sweetness which gets to me a bit. It's an impressive beer, but I just don't enjoy drinking this at all compared to others I've had.

Photo of barleywinefiend
3/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a deep black with decent carbonation and a small brown head. Nose is rather funky here. Dried fruits, alcohol, roastiness, cocoa. taste is dried fruits like prunes, raisines, figs and some cocoa with a subtle roasted malt. Mouthfeel is thinner than expected and I have no idea where th high ABV is? Not feeling this brew at all.

Photo of brandoman63
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of BillRoth
5/5  rDev +11.4%

Photo of Zaphog
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%

Photo of Cynic-ale
4/5  rDev -10.9%

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

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer has a jet black body with a milkshake head of thick coco colored foam that last and last. Is slips down the side of the glass after each sip.

S- This beer has a nice pine hop bitterness with a dark black roasted smooth quality.

T- This beer has a creamy black bitter malt flavor with a dark raisin sweetness to it. There is a note of cream flavor that has a bit of a chocolate malt note to it. The finish is a nice green herbal pine finish that has a bitterness of hops under black malt that lingers after each sip.

M- This beer has a full mouthfeel with a creamy texture and a smooth finish that doesn't really have any alcohol heat.

D-This beer is big and smooth. The hops really hold there own against the dark black malt making this a great beer for the cold months.

Photo of akorsak
3.38/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A bottle of the 2008 release, shared with Deuane and Ffejherb.

A: The stout is admirably dark, a pitch black monster that has an off-white head that doesn't linger for long.

S: The stout is bold, thick and syrupy with an ancho chile smokiness. The thick malts reveal chocolate and caramel over time.

T: Chocolate nuttiness leads off the ale, dark and thick with a graham cracker-like finish. The ancho chile flavor is present, giving the stout a buffalo wing-like taste. Syrupy flavors are intense, sweet with a near-cloying presence. Coffee and cocoa see the stout away and they may be the best features of the bottle.

M: Syrupy, the stout borders on cloying at times. The cocoa powder is nice but it doesn't last long enough to make a difference.

D: To paraphrase, did I really shave me legs for this? I am underwhelmed and ranked this one behind the Coronado bourbon RIS, Dark Hollow and Full Sail Black Gold. Don't believe the hype!

Photo of KAF
4.12/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on draught at the Autumn Brew Review in Minneapolis, MN. Very dark in color with a caramel/tan head. Aroma of molasses, liqourice, and slight creamed coffee. More flavor revealed in every sip. Sweet cocoa chocolate flavor with some dark fruits also present. This was a real treat.

Photo of HopHead84
3.63/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2009 batch shared by Alex on 12/19/2009 and poured into a snifter. The beer pours black with a two finger light brown head.

The nose is aggressive green, piney, and grassy hops with light citrus notes. Beneath the hop onslaught I find a fairly standard RIS, with a moderate roasted quality and notes of dark chocolate.

The flavor is pine resin hops with an upper moderate level of bitterness. I detect chocolate and a light roast, as well as some astringency. The hops are very aggressive, and they seem to clash with the traditional RIS flavors at every turn. This is a return to the hoppiness of the 2007 vintage, but the hops seem to clash here, where they melded nicely in the older vintage. What I have before me is a rather strange beer that isn't particularly drinkable or enjoyable, apart from the hoppy novelty factor.

Photo of billab914
4.42/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Opening up something special for my 30th birthday tonight. Mummy vintage poured from a 22oz bottle into my Portsmouth tulip. It poured black in color with a huge, active, mocha colored head taking up nearly half of the glass. The head faded after a bit but it left some decent lacing on the glass as I drank it.

The aroma has a sweeter, fruitier flavor to it then the typical imperial stout. It almost has a chocolate covered cherry and molasses flavor to it. The roasted, bitter, coffee flavors are more in the background, but they are there. Alcohol is present as well but it doesn't feel out of place.

The taste is similar to the nose with the sweeter chocolate, cherry, molasses, alcohol flavors being the most present. The roasty and bitter flavors are pretty mild in it. It finishes on the dry side with a moderate dark chocolate bitterness coming through. It's definitely different then any other imperial stout I've had, but it's also very good.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side but not as thick as say Dark Lord. Carbonation is moderate for the style. Drinkability is good, I really liked the flavors it had. It really has a chocolate covered , booze soaked, cherry flavor to it that I really enjoyed. Very drinkable and delicious beer overall.

Photo of Kelp
4.75/5  rDev +5.8%

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

On tap at Cafe 28 the other day. This was the 2010 Darkness and was vastly superior, I thought, to the bottled version I had some years back.

The beer pours a blackish brown color with an impressive looking, coffee colored, long lasting head. Head retention is very good in this beer, and there is considerable sicky lacing all around. The nose is equally attractive in this beer, showcasing dark chocolage, light coffee, vanilla, cherry and light licorise. The flavor profile replicates the nose, but if anything, is even more impressive. There is some nice, light hoppy bitterness in the finish, which really blends well with the licorise, cherry and vanilla. Also, the dark chocolate really comes through on the palate, making is a very delicious, easy to drink beer. Mouthfeel is full, with a very long finish. The beer is fairly soft on the palate, but comes across as very potent as well. This was a beer that seemed to improve and become ever more delicious as it warmed in the glass. Drinkability was pretty good, though you can certainly tell that the abv. was up there in this beer.

Very imperssive and an absolute treat to have on draft. Yummm....

Photo of Axnjxn
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.92/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter. 2011 bottle. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Black with nice lacing. Small khaki head.

Smell - Roasted chocolate. Sweet caramel in there too. Fruity with some licorice.

Taste - Sweet, for sure. More than I expected. It blends well with the roasted malts, though. Licorice and dark fruits. Ashy bitter malt finish.

Mouthfeel - Heavy and sweet. Medium carbonation.

Overall - Lots of sugar in this guy. Not to Dark Lord levels, but sweet. It's what Dark Lord should be.

Photo of rolltide8425
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of Dicers
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%

Photo of iL0VEbeer
4.75/5  rDev +5.8%

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

Thanks goes out to Buebie for this brew.

750ml
Red Waxed Cap/Gold Wax
2008 Vintage

Poured into a chalice a deep black color, nice carbonation, nice one-finger creamy tan head, which leaves some nice oil slicks and some sticky lacing behind. The nose is sweet, malty, lots of chocolate/toffee, some roastyness, vanilla. The taste is pretty sweet, malty, very nice touch of chocolate/toffe, with some slight roasty note. Medium body, the ABV is hidden pretty well with this one. Very drinkable, this is an awesome brew, glad to finally get a chance to try it.

Photo of sendbeer
4.84/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Photo of PEIhop
4.56/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
99 out of 100 based on 3,075 ratings.