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Damien - Surly Brewing Company

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very good

34 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 34
Hads: 268
Avg: 3.97
pDev: 29.97%
Wants: 17
Gots: 16 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
American Black Ale |  8.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Ungertaker on 10-22-2011

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (55) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 34 | Hads: 268
Photo of deebo
4.42/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this one on tap at Darkness day 11.

A-Dark as night with frothy tan head.

S-Very fresh citrus hops with plenty of malty sweet aroma.

T-The fresh hops really shine in this beer. This beer has a significant malt backbone but the hops are up to the challenge and gives a very satisfying taste.

M-Medium bodied and carbonated.

D-Very good, could drink the hell out of this beer.

O-Excellent beer, would love to get some more of this. Great balance of an overload of hops and malts. My favorite beer on DD.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.42/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis. Served in a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Dark and black with a little bit of brownish ruby red on the edges. Decent three finger light tan head that slowly fades into a patchy layer. Moderate amount of lacing.

Smell: Strong citrus hop aroma up front. Grapefruit, orange, and pineapple. Also some hints of herbal pine resin. Solid presence of dark roasted caramel malts. The toasted malts are noticeable but the citrus stands out the most.

Taste: A lot like the smell, big taste of citrus hops with notes of grapefruit, orange, and pineapple. Hints of pine resin. Bitterness from the hops is fairly mild. Dark roasted caramel malts give some balance in the background with hints of coffee, chocolate, and bready biscuit that lingers in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Body is on the lighter side of medium and carbonation is moderate. Feels somewhat prickly and kind of light for such a heavily hopped beer. Finishes dry.

Overall: A pretty solid black ale. Lots of tasty hops with a solid dark background. Lighter body makes for a very easy drinking beer. Great option if you want a lighter dark beer with a strong hop presence.

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Photo of Greggy
4.42/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a black color with a 1.5 finger tan head. Once the cap recedes and I empty the pint, a bit of sparse lacing is present.

S- Bits of chocolate, piney hops, some toffee/nuttiness.

T- Starts with a bit of bitter chocolate, nut brittle backed with ample pine and grassy hops. The finish is slightly dry and a bit nutty.

M- Spot on carbonation and body.

D- Pretty darn drinkable. I'd definitely have this again.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: dark brown, clarity around the edges, creamy tan head, heavy lacing, great retention

S: earthy hops, chocolate, coffee, herbal notes pair nicely with roast

T: starts off with herbal and hoppy assault, roast is tame but present, well balanced

Mf: smooth, low carb, nice

O: great use of the darkness second runnings, quite drinkable.

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Photo of Ungertaker
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Darkness Day 2011, poured into a plastic Surly cup.

A- black with crimson light penetration. A fluffy, cream-colored head adorns the top.

S- Big time hops, citrus, some chocolate, very faint malt

T- Piney hops with citrus appearing at the tail end. There are some notes of chocolate that arise in the middle.

M- medium to light body with a creamy feel from the carbonation.

O- for what has been thrown out in the past, this is an awesome beer. I would buy this in a heartbeat if it were bottled.

PS- my classification of this beer came from the description of the beer on Surly's website:


Damien: A dry-hopped black ale, spawned from the usually discarded remnants of Darkness. Flavors of roasted malt and dark brown sugar suffocated by aromas of tangerine and pine. 35 IBUs, 5% ABV.

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Photo of Philly82785
4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I had it on tap last night at the Blue Nile. It poured black with minimal head. The nose was quite floral. It had a mouthfeel similar to a lager. The hop presence was pronuced in the taste but it wasn't bitter. You could also taste the roasted malts from the remenats of Darkness. It was similar to what I would expect a black IPA to taste like. I did however expect more bitterness. All in all still another good brew from Surly.

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Photo of stealth
4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this at darkness day 2011. The black ale style was new to me at the time, so the citrusy/hoppy backbone really surprised me on the first taste. The clincher for me, though, was the chocolate and roast overtones that made this one a real unique treat. I hope Surly has this on-tap next year.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.24/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sometimes a black ale is a black ale. And not a Black Ale, or American Black Ale.
And grassy hops in abundance smell so fine!
There's this thing called a small beer that no one's ever heard of, and gee whiz, it's been done to Darkness.

A re-fermenting of the run-off malt and mash of Surly's Imperial Stout, Darkness, this one rings in at half the alcohol percentage, 5 %, but I don't know whether more hops and malt are added, or if more yeast is pitched and fermentation begins again with this old, spent mash. I suspect the latter.

Solid black, slim brown head, settles to a small ring.

Amazing aromatics, floor of a pine forest, mixed with citrus rinds. Beautiful, lively, and arousing. You want that in your IPA, you want that in your Double IPA, you'd like it in your potpourri by the bathroom sink, you want toothpaste made from it, you want to gargle with it, and sprinkle it on your oatmeal.

Taste: some gritty dark malt, some chocolate, black malt, giving the coffee flavors, the cocoa, with plenty of bitterness and hardly any sweet. Great texture, excellent play on the palate, plenty of room for calling it a hoppy porter, or black IPA, but yet it is not one. It is a reduced version of Surly Darkness, that still has plenty of potency and charm. Plenty of grassy hops still working on the tongue, pleasing the palate, and the aroma never quits, the grassy/piney hop combo mixing well with the cocoa and coffee malt character.

It's not as rich and full bodied as you might expect if you don't fully understand what they're doing. So stop expecting what doesn't exist and enjoy what does. It's not full-on ale, it's a baby imperial stout, but it still has that glimmer of madness, that gleam of it's father's eyes.

This is my kind of session ale, and one that I'd prefer above Surly Mild, or anything else with a leaner body, but wouldn't really reach for one instead of a porter, or a Bender. Good work, gentlemen, and a great idea, I'd love to see more of this tried now and then. Beer recycling, it's the way to go!

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Photo of tempest
4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Had a couple pints at the Blue Nile because it was damn tasty. The body did feel a touch thin, I'm guessing do to the nature of second runnings, but the infusion of biting grapefruit hops kicks things up a notch. The malt is on par with a great, but light porter full of chocolate roast with a dry, bitter finish. The hops are expertly balanced against the malt, and the sessionable body makes this beer stand out in a style crowded with great options.

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Photo of emerge077
4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice Omen reference, this hellspawn of Darkness is aptly named.

Two pints, one after the other. Body appears black, with a thin layer of tan foam across the surface. It ebbs away slowly, lasting long enough to leave some spotty lace around the sides of the glass.

Dry hopping is evident in the resiny hop aroma, it's fruity and earthy at the same time. Roasted malt is there too, providing an interesting contrast to the citrus element. Hop aroma is really nice and assertive here.

Mild bitterness, assertive hops, some grapefruit and orange meld with a dry coffee roast, with a lingering bitterness from the two elements combined. Light bodied and very drinkable. Light carbonation, very drinkable. Dry aftertaste. Much hoppier than this years' Darkness, it later made an interesting blend with a little bit of Darkness in the mix.

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Photo of ucis
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I wasn't sure what to expect, but I wasn't disturbed or disappointed by anything made from Darkness remnants.

Subtle rye flavor and nice big hop profile for a black ale. It was a bit thicker than other brands in this style.

This would make a great session beer. Not to sweet, but still a nice looking beer. See through dark with a small dark head.

My friend David from France said this was the best beer there. Not too overpowering yet still nice and clean.

Is there really a bad beer made by this company? Subjective I know, but I have yet to try one.

So put on your makeup and take one for the team.


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Photo of Mdog
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark brown with red highlights, good head.

Smell: Wow, this smells great, big citrus aroma. Without the visual I'd think it was an IPA.

Taste: Gives a touch of hops before going towards roasted flavor and finishing with hops. The middle kind of drops out of the beer, seems really light in body.

Drinkability: The light body makes it go down very easy. Session beer--a light stout/bitter mix is how I'd describe it.

A very interesting beer to try at the Hanger Room. It reminds me of the very light stouts like Guinness or Donnybrook from Victory, but with citrusy hops instead of a bitter roast finish. Very light body makes it easy to drink. Glad I got to try it!

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Photo of hardy008
4.09/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes from Darkness Day 2010.

Pours dark brown with a small tan head with decent retention and some lacing. Smells like grapefruit, pine, chocolate, and dark roasted malt. The grapefruit and pine aromas were stronger than the malt aromas.

The taste is just like the aroma with grapefruit, pine, chocolate and dark roasted malt. The hops are the star here, with the malt playing a supporting role.

Medium bodied with slightly below average carbonation. A nice flavorful beer, which I am glad I had a chance to try.

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Photo of Redrover
4.04/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I had a couple of these while dinning at Haute Dish.

Served in a standard pint, the beer is black with a dark tan head. It has nice lacing.

Nose of roasted malts and lots of hops, just what the doctor ordered.

There is a hint of dark coco and chocolate from the malts. It was less hoppy than I expected (given the nose), but was still nicely balanced.

A nice medium mouth (lighter than I expected give the smell and appearance) added to the drinkability.

My waitress said it was a good choice when I ordered it, know what, she was right!

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Photo of jmarsh123
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Going through my backlog of notes.

Poured from the tap into a sample glass at FFF XV party.

Pours a deep black with a wispy tan head that fades almost into nothing.

Smells of roasted malts and some piney hops.

You can tell this is Darkness's little bro from the taste. Good roasty malts with a hint of chocolate although the hop bite still powers through to make its presence known.

Mouthfeel is a touch on the lighter side, but only for those who like black beers thick like me. Fairly oily finish.

Very solid beer by Surly, but not earth shattering. Still if they canned it, I'd probably seek it out.

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Photo of AgentZero
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - An almost black beer with a khaki head that left behind some decent lace.

S - Very hoppy. Some citrus, pine, and grapefuit over a roasted malt backbone.

T - Some roasted malts, bit of dark chocolate, and enough hop flavor to make it a hop beer without obliterating the rest of the flavors. Has an appropriate bitterness to it.

M - Medium bodied with lower carbonation.

O - Really packs a flavor kick for something that's only 5% ABV. Pretty easy drinking beer that I rather enjoyed and would like to have again.

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Photo of Florida9
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: dark brown. Forms a thin but very stable ligh tan head. Some light lacing.

S: roasty malts and citrus hops

T: thinner than expected. Roasted malta, coffee, grapefruit. Coffee acidity.

M: on thinner side of medium. Mild bitterness. Appropriate carbonation.

O: a very nice, very drinkable small beer.

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Photo of jera1350
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Second runnings of Darkness grains? A "green" beer then perhaps.

On-tap at Darkness Day 2011.

A darker brown color with some clarity. A frothy cap of sandy foam with some nice lacing.

The herbal, earthy and floral dry hopping comes through immediately. In the background is a lighter dusty cocoa and coffee taste from the grains. A very tasty lighter beer.

Lighter feel and quite smooth and dry.

I was surprised at how hoppy this beer was. A nice beer, but I wouldn't consider it an American Black Ale. It lacks the body and roasty notes associated with the style. Probably fits in better as a mild/brown ale hybrid, but whatever. The beer is good, drink it.

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Photo of ndolover
3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

This Black IPAish beer was served at Darkness Eve at Stub Herbs.

A: Black with ruby highlights. No real head, with small bubbles

A: chocolate malts with black treacle. Citrus hops with spicy overtones. Plum and fig present after it warms

F: Classic Black IPA with a overt chocolate twist. A bit astrigent, but well balanced with the malts.

M: A bit thin for my taste. Low cabonation, and some electric fire from the roast.

Overall: This is a fun beer with some unique flavors. Small beer from Darkness makes for a not to style Surly signature item. However, I did not enjoy this beer like I thougt I would. It was a bit astrigent, perhaps from over sparging? I would drink it again, but I wouldn't go out of my way.

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Photo of JackieTH
3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured at Darkness Day 2011, into a plastic cup.

The beer is black with translucent crimson red highlights, capped with and inch of sisal foam.

I was surprised by the big hops in the nose. Citric orange pith and pine with faint chocolate and malt.

Taste is bitter enough to keep the beer from being sweet despite the chocolate and roasted caramelly brown sugary malts, nice chocolate framed against the citric and piney hop. It certainly seemed more bitter than its 35 IBUs.

Creamy medium-light body and moderate carbonation. I thought it was quite tasty, and seems right in classification.

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Photo of Pintofbrown
3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was served from a keg, waiting in line at Darkness Day. It was poured into a plastic Surly cup. This review is from my notes.

Appearance- The body is black with a finger of dark brown foamy head. I don't notice any lace on the cup at all.

Smell- That is a pretty good nose. There are definite citrus notes that make the caramel malt seem really tangy. There is also a distinct pine note in there. I like it well enough, but it certainly isn't my favorite type of beer.

Taste- The roasted malt is extremely tangy mixing with the orange and tangerine hop flavor. The finish presents more of the pine hops and dark malt notes. There's even a bit of chocolate in there.

Mouth feel- The mouth feel is a little light for the malt present here. It's just on the cusp of medium bodied. I wish it was a little smoother, but with the hop notes it finishes a little dry.

Overall- This beer was all right. It may just be the fact that black ales aren't my favorite style, because in Surly's defense, the beer is really balanced. If you ever see it, by all means try it.

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Photo of Stevedore
3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

10oz pour into a Darkness goblet at the Surly Tap Room today, 11/29/2013.

Looks like a fairly standard black ale; very pitch black and opaque. But it looks quite thin when swirled around, in comparison to Darkness right next to it. Nice 1cm white head, nothing much going in terms of lacing.

Smells phenomenal. Really smells like a Black IPA; they must hop this stuff up with the same stuff they hop Abrasive with. Lots of citrus, grapefruit, a bit of pineapple and some pine. It's a citrus bomb.

Flavour kind of falls flat. The citrus flavours come through fairly well, but I'm not so sure what to make of its interplay with the roasted malt backbone. Its there in some capacity but it doesn't mesh very well with the citrus. It's not a typical flavour profile for a black IPA either.

On the thin side, a bit watery but OK carbonation. Some bitter aftertaste from the hops.

Interesting, especially once you hear about the premise behind it, but definitely not something I'd recommend trying more than once. Its simply not that great.

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Photo of iadler
3.92/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On draft at town hall tap.

A- pours a deep black with a thin mocha head that dissipates in a thin cap. Some thin lines of lacing are left behind.

S- very grassy and piney with some grapefruit zest, coffee, unsweetened chocolate, and roasted malt.

T- coffee, unsweetened chocolate, and roasted malt with orange and grapefruit zest, grass and pine.

M- medium carbonation and a light to medium body. Finishes slightly bitter.

O- very flavorful and much more hoppy than darkness this year. Quite a light body as well as a low abv which makes it easy to have a few.

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Photo of gatornation
3.92/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

on tap in a surly pint glass

A- pours a solid black color with a tan head and a fresh collar a little thin lacing on the glass

S- is grapefruit hops with charcoal,roasted malts,some smoke and wood,lots of hops

T- nice citrus hops upfront, with roasted malts and seared meat on the grill tastes,malt finish

M- light carbonation a little thin

O- a nice offering on tap very tasty very easy to drink hops and malts with a smoke/charcoal taste

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Photo of MasterSki
3.92/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the FFF 15th Anniversary Party. Served in a plastic cup.

A - Tan foam with good retention settles to a thick collar, leaving behind spotty lace. Dark brown body with some transparency when held to the light.

S - It's hoppy! Plenty of grapefruit, pine, and a bit of cat pee as well. There's a vague cheesy aroma that suggests the beta acids are starting to break down. Plenty of roasted malt character in the background. I know Todd at Surly says this isn't a Black IPA, but it sure as heck smells like one.

T - Taste has more chocolate and roast character, and less of the citrus hop flavors. There's some sugar cookie, and a bit of smoke and char as well. Medium hop bitterness, with a bit of black malt astringency.

M - Medium bodied, smooth texture, lower carbonation, and some residual hop oils and resins that linger through the finish and beyond.

D - A pretty enjoyable hoppy black ale. I suspect this was even better a few weeks ago. Hopefully this becomes a regular offering released alongside Darkness, as it satisfies some of my hop fix that isn't met by the most recent iterations of Darkness.

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Damien from Surly Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 34 ratings.