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

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Darkness - High West Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged (2015)Darkness - High West Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged (2015)
359 Ratings
Darkness - High West Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged (2015)Darkness - High West Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged (2015)

Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by mothman on 10-26-2015

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 359 |  Reviews: 52
Reviews by Jordy777:
Photo of Jordy777
4.85/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

More User Reviews:
Photo of maximum12
4.4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Big 750ML bottle topped with gold wax pulled out of the fridge to admire & lo! Off popped the cap. Now we’re going to drink it to celebrate my wife’s awesomeness (pending a contract of course).

The pour is darkness black. The smell is interfered with by my sipping because I just can’t wait, but eventually I notice that is smells like fire-roasted chocolate marshmallows; a mental image of our next-door neighbor's cabin pops instantly into my head. Nice.

Darkness - Barrel Aged 2015 makes my stomach sing with the happies (or maybe that was just gas). A sip turns into a pull & my lips beg to be left on the glass. Big vanilla & fantastic whiskey greets the palate - where’s the Darkness? It shows up as the beers warms: heavy chocolate syrup, great rye spicing, spike of alcohol contributes to the slow numbing of the top of the mouth, kind of like a shot of Novocain. Very light citrus hops peek out, along with a touch of bitterness. Big, smooth, smooth, smooth. The strength is the drinkability, this is stupid easy to down.

The homer in me wants to praise this to 5.0 heaven, but give me this blind & I couldn’t tell it was a Darkness variant, as a lot of the unique, fantastic qualities I love in Darkness have been obliterated by the (lovely) heaviness of the barrel. That said, I could drink liters of this & I’m not complaining. An excellent brew.

 1,378 characters

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.66/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Thanks to egrace84 for the share on this beer!

black body with thick cap. Smells like a chocolaty stout with a nice rye whiskey presence from the barrel aging. I dig that fact that all those hops in the darkness have been covered up by the rye whiskey barrel. Flavor is much the same as the aroma. Rich chocolate stout and lots of rye whiskey! Again not a hint of hop presence; thank goodness the barrel has obliterated that from this version of darkness. Thick and oily mouthfeel that is velvety smooth and silky. Not very boozey; especially considering this is a hefty stout. First opportunity trying barrel aged darkness and all I gotta say is that its about time Surly barrel aged Darkness and bottled it. I never was a huge fan of hoppy stouts anyways. I would urge most people who dig the barrel aged mid-west / great lakes region stouts to seek this beer out; it is of much higher caliber than most barrel aged Dark Lord variants.

 938 characters

Photo of WesMantooth
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.

 926 characters

Photo of Fireman_RK
4.83/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

L: Rich, dark mocha and onyx hues with a generous khaki/cinnamon head
S: A bit of barrel upfront recedes into dark chocolate, roasted malts, and black licorice
T: Big oaky rye barrel notes complemented by fudge, brownie batter, cocoa, milk chocolate, and a slight hint of coffee
F: Medium bordering on thick mouthfeel with a slight carbonation
O: For this was a huge improvement on the base beer. On occasion, to my palette, barrel aging can sometimes take away from a solid base beer's subtle and distinctive notes (e.g., Birth of Tragedy), but the rye barrel aging imparts a distinctive sweet booziness to Darkness that I quite enjoyed. Overall a very solid BA stout and one I'm glad they're making again in 2016.

 715 characters

Photo of tourdot
4.56/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black with 1/2" tan head and thick lacing. Heavy rye whiskey notes are dominate on the nose with chocolate and caramel background. The taste was the most surprising thing as it is completely morphed from regular Darkness. Had the 2 side by side and if I were to have done a blind tasting, I doubt I would have made the connection. Regular Darkness is dominated by sweet dark fruit flavor where as the barrel aging has really transformed it to have great whiskey, oak and chocolate flavor and really dialed back the sweetness which I much prefer. Little carbonation and the one thing the barrel didn't alter is the viscosity as it is a stellar thick stout. Overall, quite different from regular Darkness and/or 2014 halfass BA Darkness; and better for it.

 766 characters

Photo of KarlHungus
4.65/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Review 2000, and on my eleventh anneversary on BA nonetheless.

Black oily color. Off tan head that disappears quickly. The aroma is of rye whiskey, malt, chocolate, lots of graham cracker, some spicy rye. The whiskey is there, but not over the top. The taste is well integrated. It is not a whiskey bomb, but you know it's there. Lots of stout characteristics. Chocolate, burnt malt, more graham cracker. Less hops bitterness than standard Darkness. More along the lines of a couple year old Darkness in the bitterness. Chewy mouthfeel with fine, lively carbonation. Overall, this is a real winner.

 599 characters

Photo of Czequershuus
4.94/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer pours jet black with an impressive hed. The aromas include dark fruits, baking spice, vanilla, and dark chocolate. The flavor has a bias towards the chocolate end of things, with the vanilla and fruits notes coming in later. The mouthfel is full but not too rich. Overall this is a very impressive and balanced stout, with lovely notes coming from the barrel aging. This year this was superior to the non barrel aged version.

 435 characters

Photo of Umdrunner
4.98/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Just an outstanding beer. My favorite to date. Definitely worth the hype!
Strong, but not overpowering scent of bourbon and chocolate. Poured black with one inch molasses head that seemed to linger forever.
Rich dark flavors of chocolate, coffee and raisins. Hits with a little crispness, goes down smooth and velvety, finishes with a lingering hotness of bourbon! Just the right amount of bourbon that I don't feel the need to age.

 432 characters

Photo of mothman
4.45/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a different beer than 2014 barrel aged darkness. 2014 is 3rd use barrels providing a weaker barrel presence. This is 2nd use barrels.

Black with light tan head.

Flavor reminds me of bcs. Huge bourbon and oak flavor but not hot. Rich chocolate, light roast. Molasses and caramel. Vanilla with some dark dried fruits.

Medium to full bodied. A tad too much carbonation. Ends clean.

Overall, a much better version than 2014. The fresh rye barrels made a huge difference.

Bottled version review: Molasses, raisins, marshmallow, and toffee. Some chocolate and oak. Bourbon brings some heat. Different than the tap version. Not as BCS-like, but very good in it's own darkness way.

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Photo of boilermakerbrew
4.71/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A- Black as night and thick as motor oil, this one hits the glass just as a Russian Imperial should. The head that forms is a beautiful, deep chocolate brown in color with amazing retention and lacing. This is truly a beautiful pour.

S- Sweet and semi-bitter dark malts and chocolate greet the nostrils first. This one's scent is slightly on the sweeter side for a RIS. The barrel comes next and is relatively light in comparison to the malts. Just a touch of herbal rye spice and some good char and vanilla from the oak make themselves known. The back end of the scent is almost entirely chocolate and burnt malts that trail off and linger in the form of a semi-sweet chocolate chip's scent.

T- As the beer hits the tongue, the symphony of dark malts and barrel flavors greet you with a delicious embrace. Right off the bat, the burnt and semi-sweet (moderately bitter) chocolate are prominent. The combination of semi-sweet chocolate and burnt flavors provide a delicious initial impression, then the barrel aging kicks in. The barrel provides a drier, oak flavor, as well as a sweet vanilla to add to the base malts of the beer. The overall combination is an amazingly complex and delectable concoction of both sweet and bitter flavors. The lingering flavor on the tongue is mostly dark chocolate and just a touch of the barrel.

M- This baby is dangerously easy to drink, with little to no noticeable alcohol present in either the flavor or the feel of the beer. If you add in that this beer has the perfect amount of carbonation and a silky smooth feel on the palate, you get a pretty damn good mouthfeel overall.

Overall, putting Darkness is rye whiskey barrels should be mandatory, and thankfully, now it is the standard. The combination of sweet and dark chocolates, burnt (slightly bitter) malts, and barrle char, spice, and vanilla make this a truly amazing beer. It is exactly what a barrel aged RIS should be. Even in this warm, early spring weather, I am not hesitating to gulp down a dark, imperial treat. This is an awesome beer.

 2,047 characters

Photo of t2grogan
4.5/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of warlock_with_a_backpack
4.66/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of joemetric
4.69/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of googs509
4.78/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of DaftPatrick
4.56/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of MrUse
4.55/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of ryancl
4.75/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of warmbier804
4.79/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of MattyG85
4.72/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 750 ml waxed bottle into a Darkness chalice.

Appearance: Pours midnight black with a moderate amount of bubbles. Solid finger of tan head that settles into a thin creamy layer. Nice lacing.

Smell: A rich and roasty dark malt driven aroma with a scent of chocolate, rye, and dark fruit. Dark roasted barley malt with a scent of dark chocolate, coffee, toast, biscuit, caramel, smoke, and yeast. Big barrel presence with a scent of rye whiskey, vanilla, oak, and wood. Sweet hints of molasses and candied sugar. Some anise black licorice hints. Dark fruit hints of cherry, raisin, fig, and prune. Also some earthy hop hints. A really good complex aroma.

Taste: Like it smells, a rich and roasty dark malt driven taste with big notes of chocolate, rye whiskey, and dark fruit. Dark roasted barley malt with notes of dark chocolate, coffee, burnt toast, caramel, biscuit, smoke, and yeast. Lots of barrel flavor with notes of rye whiskey, vanilla, oak, and wood. Sweet taste of molasses and candied sugar along with some black licorice and tobacco notes. Good dark fruit undertones of raisin, cherry, fig, and prune. Some nice earthy hop bitterness as well. A really great taste.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Rich, chewy, and syrupy. Some heat is felt as expected but it's still fairly smooth.

Overall: Totally lives up to the hype. Great mix of dark roast and rye barrel flavors with some nice dark fruit and hop undertones. Best when it warms up. This is up there with BCBS.

 1,527 characters

Photo of boogerisu
4.56/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Cynic-ale
3.99/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of sgttibbs
4.75/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of striker2160
4.46/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of acurtis
3.65/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

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Darkness - High West Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged (2015) from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.52 out of 5 with 359 ratings