Darkness - High West Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged (2015)
Surly Brewing Company

Darkness - High West Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged (2015)Darkness - High West Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged (2015)
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Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States
Russian Imperial Stout
4.52 | pDev: 6.42%
Jan 01, 2023
Oct 26, 2015
Darkness - High West Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged (2015)Darkness - High West Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged (2015)
Notes: None
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Photo of stevoj
Reviewed by stevoj from Idaho

4.13/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
Bomber at share. Black, smooth pour, thin beige head. Aroma brings roasty malts and a hefty helping of bourbon booziness. Taste is roasty, bitter, mild sweetness, chocolate, anise, currants and more whiskey.
Jan 01, 2023
Rated: 4.5 by Eziel from Ohio

May 30, 2020
Rated: 4.17 by Dharmelink from Wisconsin

Feb 17, 2019
Rated: 4.45 by TheHopsman from Nebraska

Jan 12, 2019
Photo of aleigator
Reviewed by aleigator from Germany

4.36/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Ba darkness 2015 rye on 181127

Pours almost completely black in color with no prevailing head at all.

Offers a unique, bakers chocolate enhanced smoked oak presence, soaked into peppery, yet mellow appearing Bourbon. Offers a rustic caramel touch, melting into vanilla ice cream and old hazelnut hulls.

Has almost no carbonation left, a lighter to medium mouthfeel to it, with a bigger, warming to boozy, well balanced body.

Tastes of sweet milk chocolate, enhanced by spicy licorice, which gets toned down by cream and dried fire wood. The oak then developes an intriguing bourbon zing, gently feathered by chocolate, producing a long lasting, unique spiciness, highlighting the rye barrel very well. This offers dried plums and hard liquor grapes in the finish, cocoa nibs and soft milk chocolate, together with a great, warming oak profile.

This packs an amazing complexity, while not making any compromises as far as its balance goes. An intense chocolate spiciness gets mixed up beautifully by the profound bourbon barrel, exhibiting an old school, world class stout, which got successfully elevated to the next level.
Nov 28, 2018
Photo of Sabtos
Reviewed by Sabtos from Ohio

4.49/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
The barrel treatment here really worked well, adding maple wood accents and dark, dry charred oak to the wonderfully sharp, rich dark roasted malt. All kinds of chocolate and nutty notes are enhanced by the barrel, and one major beneficiary is the vanilla character that was already somehow present in the 2015 base.

I finally got my paws on one of these and wow was it worth it. This is a massively different, more enjoyable BA Darkness than the 2016 version. Considering the 2015 regular was my favorite, that's no surprise.
May 23, 2018
Photo of mrbelvebeer1
Reviewed by mrbelvebeer1 from Illinois

4.44/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Look: Dark as fuck. They should have named this beer "darkness". Oh. Wait...
Smell: Is that olives? Ok, i know there are no olives in this beer, but it has a hint of it on the nose. Probably the tart cherries giving that smell.
Taste: Wow. There's a lot going on in this beer. If there was any chocolate or coffee in this beer, it's gone. The cherries and raisins have dominated over the lesser flavors.
Mouthfeel: Viscous, like an imperial stout should be.
Overall: This is definitely one of the more unique imperial stouts i've had. Definitely recommended.
Apr 21, 2018
Photo of Jeffo
Reviewed by Jeffo from Netherlands

3.71/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5
Got this from claaark13 a while back.

From a 750 into a Darkness snifter
Vintage: 2015
Aged in Rye whisky barrels

APPEARANCE: Pours our clear dark brown and yields a two finger, looser looking, crackly light tan head with lousier retention. Clear bistre brown body with piles of carbonation for the style. Head recedes to a full cap. Swirly wisp and ring remain leaving touches of lacing down the glass as it empties. Far too light in color, unfortunately.

SMELL: Bold nose with plenty of barrel character, including lots of bourbon, oak, sweet cream and vanilla, toffee and butterscotch aromas. Boozy and barrel heavy.

TASTE: Piles of bourbon, wood and booze up front. Strong enough for sure. Toffee and butterscotch at the swallow with a bold and persistent finish of toffee and butterscotch sweetness, sweet cream and vanilla, milk chocolate, hints of coffee bitterness, as well as plenty of bourbon, wood and booze all over it. Bourbon soaked cherries with dark chocolate as well. Pretty flavorful and strong.

PALATE: Medium body with slightly higher levels of carbonation. A touch prickly carbonation perhaps, could definitely be creamier, enough weight though, goes down fine with a decent burn and finishes sticky on the palate. Plenty of heat lingers.

OVERALL: This is solid stuff at this point. I never had this vintage out of the gate, but the 2014 barrel aged version managed to kill off the hop character of the base beer while failing to deliver much in the department of barrel character. This one is not quite the same. While the hoppy stuff that makes Darkness so unique isn’t all that prevalent, the barrel component is much bolder and more impressive than the 2014. It works here. There’s more than enough going on and it’s definitely enjoyable and interesting. The look seems is rather less than impressive and the feel could use a little smoothening out, but the rest of the experience is good stuff. Thanks again, claaark13! Always a pleasure.
Apr 11, 2018
Rated: 4.36 by Grackos from Florida

Jan 06, 2018
Rated: 4.06 by Norvelljeff from Iowa

Jan 01, 2018
Photo of Buck89
Reviewed by Buck89 from Tennessee

4.44/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
Poured into a snifter. An opaque dark brown color with a sturdy and resilient tan head. Whiskey, vanilla, and cocoa on the nose. This was phenomenal: well-balanced bourbon, oak, vanilla, and chocolate with a phenomenal feel - not too sweet but not thin. Unbelievable how well this is dialed-in without too much booziness. Much better compared with the 2015 version.
Dec 24, 2017
Photo of Radcpa
Reviewed by Radcpa from Washington

4.52/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
After aging for years, this is excellent. Very dark appearance with slight tan head that dissipates quickly. Aroma is a solid malt with whiskey. Taste is very smooth malt with whiskey that has a solid feel.
Dec 13, 2017
Rated: 4.94 by Chrispy_Creams from Minnesota

Oct 28, 2017
Rated: 4.37 by IrishColonial from Texas

Sep 20, 2017
Rated: 4.43 by billab914 from Virginia

Sep 17, 2017
Rated: 4.04 by Rhettroactive from Virginia

Sep 17, 2017
Photo of WesMantooth
Reviewed by WesMantooth from Ohio

4.51/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
2015 "bat" edition 750ml bottle poured into a snifter. Actually consumed and reviewed on 12/17/16, but I had listed it under regular Darkness.

Fairly viscous looking black with a moderate dark brown head that retains a solid ring for quite awhile.

Outstanding aroma! It smells like rye, whisky, chocolate, dark fruit, tobacco, leather, and charred grains.

Spicy rye flavor and a bit of alcohol up front, followed by a bitter bakers chocolate, some sour cherry, raisin, oak, tobacco, ashy/burnt grains, some brown sugar, and a stong lingering rye bread and piney bitterness.

It has a very solid, almost oatmeal like, chewy body. Among the more viscous barreled beers I have had for sure. Reminds me of a Parabola.

My biggest knock is that this beer is a little too bitter. Not in the moment necessarily, but a very resinous, lingering hop flavor. Other than that, it is world class, and the best rye stout I have had.
Jun 28, 2017
Rated: 4.6 by robgage from Pennsylvania

May 20, 2017
Rated: 4.75 by von_kaiser from Connecticut

Apr 25, 2017
Photo of MichaelCoyne
Reviewed by MichaelCoyne from Michigan

4.68/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75
Sat on this one for a while and WOW. Very balanced, great taste, feel, etc....Highly recommend seeking this beer out and sharing it with others who appreciate a great BA stout
Apr 21, 2017
Photo of Ri0
Reviewed by Ri0 from Wisconsin

4.75/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
Poured 750ml into tulip glass. Pitch black with a thin 1 finger deep tan head that quickly fades away and leaves no lacing behind. The aroma is simply marvelous with rich malts, fudge, rye whiskey, vanilla, sweet caramel, dark chocolate and marshmallow. There is an explosion of all those dessert flavors... Massive roasted malts, plenty of dark chocolate brownie fudge loaded with caramel. Vanilla and rye whiskey move in to to finish it off. Velvety smooth and rich full mouthfeel that is slightly sweet. I unintentionally let this sit for 1.5 years, but damn if it isn't a wonderful beer that rivals my favorites from Central Waters.
Apr 16, 2017
Rated: 4.5 by Texasfan549 from Texas

Mar 28, 2017
Rated: 4.74 by YvesB from Belgium

Mar 16, 2017
Rated: 4.54 by Uconnelmo from Connecticut

Feb 03, 2017
Rated: 4.4 by PrestigeWorldwide from Michigan

Jan 16, 2017
Rated: 4.25 by rodmanfor3 from Vermont

Jan 16, 2017
Rated: 4.58 by ADG2995 from Missouri

Jan 03, 2017
Rated: 4.5 by teamwiggum from Wisconsin

Dec 22, 2016
Rated: 4.59 by TooGood from Minnesota

Dec 17, 2016
Rated: 4.62 by Powderhornphil from Minnesota

Dec 17, 2016
Photo of Treyliff
Reviewed by Treyliff from West Virginia

4.49/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
750ml bottle poured into a tulip glass

A- pours a deep black color with a one-finger creamy khaki colored head that reduces to a ring around the edge

S- smells of dark chocolate, green pepper, caramel, dark cherry, whiskey barrel, spicy rye & raisin

T- opens with dark chocolate malt & caramel, quickly turning to lots of whiskey barrel, spicy rye, earthy wood & vanilla. The finish gives just a hint of cherry and raisin, with a linger of more whiskey

M- medium body and low carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel and a slightly warming finish

O- not as much cherry notes as previous batches, but more barrel forward than 2014
Dec 17, 2016
Rated: 4.83 by SaxmanRick from Minnesota

Dec 09, 2016
Photo of yesterdayfaraway
Reviewed by yesterdayfaraway from Missouri

4.74/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75
L: pours brown, but black in the glass with no head
S: smooth bourbon sweetness but not a huge aroma. Slight chocolate, and some dark fruit juices.
T: starts sweet and ends sweet. The middle has the smooth bourbon, and more dark fruit juices than chocolate. Very good for sure, but prefer more chocolate notes.
F: medium thickness, a syrup feel, so very smooth.
O: this is the best ba stout that isn't chocolate forward imo. Usually I don't like them at all, but this is different. Very nice indeed.
Nov 23, 2016
Rated: 4.73 by dcisco44 from Massachusetts

Nov 19, 2016
Rated: 4.5 by motoxrdr21 from Pennsylvania

Nov 07, 2016
Rated: 4.31 by SP1_FLA from Florida

Nov 05, 2016
Rated: 4.22 by Futbolmanby from Michigan

Nov 03, 2016
Photo of CarlosSpicyWeiner
Reviewed by CarlosSpicyWeiner from Minnesota

5/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
I didn't think that darkness could get any better and then they made the 2015 barrel aged version. This one add notes of bourbon, oak, vanilla, and toffee to the base beer. Extremely well done. I can see why this won gold at gabf.
Oct 26, 2016
Rated: 4.64 by DevinK from Connecticut

Oct 25, 2016
Rated: 4.84 by cencless from Minnesota

Oct 24, 2016
Darkness - High West Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged (2015) from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 367 ratings