1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Darkness - Bourbon Barrel Aged - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Darkness - Bourbon Barrel Aged
No picture uploaded.
Have one? Upload it now.

78 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 78
Reviews: 18
rAvg: 4.55
pDev: 12.75%
Wants: 267
Gots: 11 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.30% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: AdmiralDiaz on 12-23-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (43) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 78 | Reviews: 18 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of sprucetip
5/5  rDev +9.9%

Photo of carlton012
4.88/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is the best beer of the Surly entourage, by far. It's like cough syrup. I loved looking at my empty glass, seeing the residue look like syrup. The flavor and pour were my favorite. It was a perfect compliment to a spicy breakfast, specifically chorizo. It was a very smooth beer, with a great bourbon feel from the initial taste to that feeling as it's going down. Love this beer.

Photo of adrock7309
5/5  rDev +9.9%

Photo of Alpar
5/5  rDev +9.9%

Photo of thewimperoo
4/5  rDev -12.1%

Photo of biniek13
5/5  rDev +9.9%

Photo of gdhawley
5/5  rDev +9.9%

Photo of RRC87
5/5  rDev +9.9%

Photo of chicagobeerriot
3/5  rDev -34.1%

Photo of kkrez
5/5  rDev +9.9%

Photo of hoeg0015
5/5  rDev +9.9%

Photo of Yulles
5/5  rDev +9.9%

Photo of SourNotes
4/5  rDev -12.1%

Photo of millelacsmark
5/5  rDev +9.9%

Photo of Sender
5/5  rDev +9.9%

Photo of Pintofbrown
4.82/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This was poured from a wooden cask at Darkness Day into a plastic Surly cup. The review is from notes.

Appearance- It pours a syrupy dark brown with no highlights and is completely opaque. There is very little head, just a slight film of mocha-brown. There is no lace that I can see.

Smell- The profile is a bit surprising. I expected a lot more bourbon on the head. It is there, but it is subtle and mixes with the strong chocolate and toffee notes. The sweetness from dark fruit and cherries is way more subdued than in the regular Darkness. It is so complex and great.

Taste- Wow is this good! It is still really sweet, but again, it isn't as much fruity anymore as a malty, toffee sweetness, even a little bready.

As expected, the bourbon note is there, and is really oaky. I am also impressed how it isn't overwhelming and doesn't really pack that much heat.

Finally, there is some dark cherry hanging around in the finish with some chocolate and roasted malt. The barrel aging did wonders to the profiles.

Mouth feel- Being in the cask has really taken care of any carbonation that may have been there before. It is really chewy and full bodied. It is almost like drinking a syrup.

Overall- In all ways this is an improvement over regular Darkness. The barrel aging has improved the flavor profile and made the mouth feel all the more impressive.

Photo of DCon
4.89/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Enjoyed on-cask w/ xsists & his gf @ the Surly Brewing Company's Darkness Day 2011 in Brooklyn Center, MN for $5. Tapped from the Black Handle under a WOODEN Barrel into my new 12oz Surly Darkness Tulip Glass!

Aroma- Very extreme boozy and has the strongest amount of malt and grain possible! The bourbon was lighter on the nose here but great, more complexity! Has a vinous and rich brandy type of aroma too. Just great!

Appearance- Received with almost no head at all (due to cask). Has a deep and viscous black colored body. Very opaque. Does not leave any lacing either on the glass.

Flavor- A very deep malt and boozy brew once again. Awesome! Has TONS of cherries in the background and definitely has the oaky taste. Not as bittersweet as usual oaked or bourbon stouts have and I like this! Strong, rich, and almost like a barleywine at times. Has a medium bitterness on the finish.

Mouthfeel- Full Bodied, Lightest Carbonation, Chewy, and leaves awesome amount of cherries on the palate. Almost like drinking a cherry stout but then has a bit of booze on the end.

Overall Impression- This is definitely one of my favorite 2X Stouts! This cherry character that I found in here made an extreme impact in how I enjoyed this one as well! Very rich, boozy, and while its not the easiest brew to drink, you get a ton of time to get down more characteristics and descriptions of this guy. I hope the original Darkness is as good as this one! Will be tough to beat.

Photo of ucis
4.52/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Overall I wanted to love this beer like a red-headed step-child. I can't believe it has taken me this long to sip this monster. It's oily and resinous and smells so amazing, but the mouth isn't as pleasing as regular darkness. I think it's a hard formula to f- with. It kisses your lips like oily garlic bread, but the smell is what your in it for. So amazing-- So clean. It's absolutely worth a taste if your ever given the chance.

The sweetness is numb and the hops are subdued by the bourbon. Even though the pine resin is there. Don't get me wrong this is one sweet mamma jamma. It is wonderful that it doesn't taste like Darkness with a splash of bourbon. It is something entirely different.

Note to self: I love this beer and would drink it if they ever bottled it. Maybe it will be a regular staple at the new brewery--hint, hint.

Photo of kbutler1
4.13/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Cask. Served at ABR. Pours a very, very heady dark brown color with a reddish brown mahagony color head. The aroma is rich but isn’t as barrel and bourbon forward as I thought it may be, which is nice for me as I don’t like when BA beers get too much of the barrel. Medium/heavy mouthfeel. The bourbon is a little more noticeable in the taste along with chocolate, vanilla, and some roast. Overall, a balanced BA beer. Probably not as extreme as others would want.

Photo of jera1350
4.16/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Served on cask at Darkness Day 2011.

Very syrupy and thick looking. Just a mere handful of bubbles spot the top of the beer. Lacing? No.

A rich smelling brew. Extremely sweet and bourbony smelling. Strong notes of caramel and toffee.

The taste is very nice. Extremely sweet, almost like liquid toffee. A very nice bourbon presence that is not hot and overpowering. A bit of roasted malt coming through as well.

The feel is very sticky and syrupy. There is absolutely zero carbonation in this beer which it so desperately needs to help it open up.

Really enjoyed the flavor of this beer, but I would still take a BCS over it. Would probably be much more solid if there were some carbonation to help it breathe. Still, an good beer that is worth trying if you find it.

Photo of mothman
3.85/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2011 Cask served straight from the bourbon barrel at ABR.

Pours a big foamy tan head. Color is pitch black.

Aroma: Creamy, light roast, vanilla. The oak shows more than the bourbon. Chocolate and cocoa. Very rich.

Taste: I get a whiskey flavor here that is very dominate. It is also very oaky. Creamy and roasty with a nice amount of coffee. A little heat shows. Caramel and vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Warming and smooth. Light bodied with a decent amount of carbonation. Ends a little dry.

Overall, I like it, but I don't like it. This beer is a lot thinner than regular darkness and obviously not as hoppy. I really enjoyed the whiskey flavors, but it just wasn't like regular darkenss. If the body was fuller and it was still pretty hoppy then I would be all about this.

Photo of tewaris
3.24/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into ABR 2011 glass by the brewer himself!

Dark, rich black with a nice dark brown head. Good retention too... definitely inherits its looks from the base beer.

Aside from the looks and the raisin character of Darkness, this beer seems different on so many levels! The smoothness of regular Darkness is entirely missing, and so are the hops, obviously. The latter is not a bad thing in my opinion. However, this beer is still very sweet without being well integrated, and somewhat boozy, and yet the bourbon character is mute. Odd :/

Photo of DeschutesNut
4.97/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Tasted this at the 2011 Autumn Brew Review at the Historic Grain Belt Complex in Minneapolis. Attended the first session. Was about 10th inline for this right as the gates opened.
Aroma smelt of bourbon and dark roasted malt. Head was a dark brown that was thick. filled half of my taster.
Tastes chocolate and a slight vanilla. Bourbon was there but was surprisingly smooth. Easily top 5 of the fest.

Photo of JackieTH
4.58/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From notes. From first in line at the entry we made a beeline to the Surly tent first session at the ABR to get this. We were first in line and within minutes the line to this one single cask stretched half-way back to the gate, prompting Omar to stand up on a ladder advising anyone that didn't want the Bourbon aged Darkness to move to the other taps for bender, Four, etc.., none did of course.

Appearance was imposing, dark, with a heavy caramel-dark brown head that lasted. Smell was vanilla-bourbon, roasted malt and roasters chocolate. Taste follows the nose..vanilla, milk chocolate, molasses, toasted toffee. The distinct vanilla bourbon wood presence is lingering throughout. Its not sweet, and slightly warming. Mouthfeel is thick, chewy, rich and creamy. Overall this is an intensely rich sipper, so thick you could use a spoon.

Photo of Mistofminn
4.8/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Review from notes. Went to Mackenzie's (first time going there actually) to give this a try after finals were over (yea I had a final 2 days before Christmas...gross huh?)

I consider 2009 to be better than 2008, but it's hard to compare a fresh bottle to a year old keg, as the only time I've had 2008 Darkness was a couple weeks before Darkness Day 2009 on cask. I found 2008 to be almost overly sweet and the hops had dropped off quite a bit, while 2009 was intensely hoppy and just plain better all around.

Pours deep, motor-oil black with a brown sugar colored head. Excellent retention and awesome lacing.

No idea of the length this spent in the bourbon barrels, or even what kind of bourbon they were, but the bourbon is strong in this. Other notes include sweet and roasted malt, brown sugar and molasses and a dry hop character. It's pretty much exactly what I thought it would be, Darkness 2008 (sweet) with bourbon barrel aging characters.

Taste is just like the nose, but sweeter. Bourbon and wood characters shine, along with roasted malts and light hops. The wood character comes out strong, and I didn't pick it up in the nose.

Thick and rich, chewy and creamy. Full bodied with a low carbonation. Drinkability is dangerous, especially considering the ABV.

This puts an entirely new spin on Darkness. It adds enough to dimish the sweetness and focus my mind on other things. Excellent, and so glad I got a chance to try it! Wouldn't have missed this for the world (or another final!) so follow Surly on twitter to find out things like this!

Darkness - Bourbon Barrel Aged from Surly Brewing Company
99 out of 100 based on 78 ratings.