Darkness | Surly Brewing Company

BA SCORE
98
world-class
875 Reviews
DarknessDarkness
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States
surlybrewing.com

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.30%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
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/profile/13014/141724/

Labels:
2007 - Grim Reaper
2008 - Devil
2009 - Mummy
2010 - Vampire
2011 - Zombie
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer
2014 - Harpy
2015 - Bat
2016 - Cerberus

Added by ryantupy on 10-08-2006

BEER STATS
Reviews:
875
Ratings:
3,791
Avg:
4.42
pDev:
9.28%
 
 
Wants:
3,313
Gots:
1,512
For Trade:
137
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Reviews: 875 | Ratings: 3,791
Photo of BucannonXC5
4.28/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Type: 750-ml bottle
Glass: Oversized wine glass
From: My cousin Sam
Price: N/A
Misc.: 2012 batch (Werewolf); Original art on bottle by Brent Schoonover; Beautiful bottle, but red wax (I think) on the bottle neck was tough to get off.

Poured a black color with 2-3 fingers of thick, frothy, khaki tan head. Healthy layer of the khaki tan lacing on the side all the way down. Good retention on the top, some parts heavy and bubbly, others a bit thinner.

Smelled a big whiff of alcohol first. Once the dust cleared, I got dark cherry, plum, dark red wine (sherry?), raisin, toffee, caramel and chocolate. Surprisingly just a back whiff of coffee or coffee beans. Not too strong.

Tasted better and stronger than the smell. Also unlike the smell, the alcohol was hidden. I got toffee, dark cherry and chocolate, mostly, but so smooth. Also sherry (I think), blackberries, caramel and light coffee notes. Very, very good.

Medium body (surprisingly). Sticky-to-slick texture. Average-to-soft (below average) carbonation. Long, smooth, warming finish.

A very, very good Russian Imperial Stout. Really hit the spot. Would love to try a few more of these bottles again.

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Photo of xpimptastikx
4.28/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I think subconsciously I've been saving my lone Darkness for Halloween. 2008 bottle acquired in a trade.

A - Pours an almost pitch black stream that settles like tar in the glass. Not much of a head, just a thin sheet of mocha head that lasts forever.

S - smells pretty sweet, but not as bad as fresh Dark Lord. A small bit of roasted malts, chocolate, and a touch of dark fruit rounds it out.

T - Roasted chocolaty malts with a hint of prunes. Definitely less sweet than the smell, but any bit of hops is pretty much gone. Aftertaste of cigars and coffee.

M/D - This is thick and frothy beer. A great mouthfeel, but it is way to thick to be extremely drinkable. One bottle is going to take me a while to finish, but I'm enjoying every sip.

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Photo of Furlinator
4.28/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Vintage 2013.

Pours pitch black with a half-inch khaki head that remains as a thin ring on top and leaves faint spots of lace. The smell is of cocoa and dark fruit. The taste follows with cocoa, ripe dark fruit, subtle earthy hops and faint coffee. Smooth, full texture.

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Photo of Kbierle
4.27/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2015/2014 darkness side by side comparison

Both poured in surly tulip shaped snifters glasses purchased from the brewery. One taster did not know which was which. 2014 cellared in our basement cellar with temps that range between 50-65 degrees seasonally throughout the year. Poured at cellar temperature.

Visual:
Both inky black in color. Thin lacy head on the 2014. The 2015 had better head retention - medium with fair amount of lacing. Both were a creamy tan color.

Smell:
2014 lots of dark fruits, cherry, raisin, dark chocolate overlay. Toffee and caramel.
2015 malty, coffee notes. Bourbon vanilla

Taste/mouthfeel:
2014 starts how it smells with the chocolate covered cherries. Develops in the mouth and more of a mocha. Booziness and coffee notes come out more as the beer warms. Lingering (long) mocha, chocolate finish. Big body and chewy mouthfeel.
2015: caramel and vanilla hit the palate first. Roasted malts, a slightly bitter dark chocolate hit next. Body is more medium. Does not have the booziness feel like the 2014 (is that from cellaring? Will compare next year). Medium to long finish with the vanilla coffee notes.

Overall:
2014 is a fantastic example of a big bold boozy Russian imperial stout. Hard to find any fault in it. 4.75/5.
2015 is a good beer in its own right but next to the 2014 falls slightly short. Palate significantly different without the fruity flavors. Don't know how much added complexity is due to a year in the cellar, but for drinking now about 4.25/5

We have a 2015 bourbon barrel aged darkness too that we have not yet opened. Excited to see what notes the bourbon barrel adds to the beer.

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Photo of grandq
4.27/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Giving this a try from the bottle thanks to the generosity of Mully.

Glugs a viscous black from the bottle. Giving this the usual vigorous pour I give to RIS's, a dark tan head mushroom clouds into a massive, pillowy and slowly dissipating dark tan head. Great scent - west coast fruity hops and berry, mixed with molasses, raisin, and leather. Flavor is a bit of a surprise, very mild and fruity. A dash of coffee opens up to the aforementioned berry and citrus, surrounded by milk chocolate, prickly spice, and a splash of grapefruit before bittering away from the tastebuds. Concludes like I took a swig of hot cocoa and chased it with an IPA. No bad thing, might have to try that.

Thick as anticipated but not as monstrous as others. I'm actually a little disappointed in this aspect, a little thin for my liking, i think it could cling to the tongue a bit more. Sorta skim chocolate milk-esque, which I don't have fond memories of. Still, the lighter mouthfeel results in a pretty quaffable concoction, though it gets a bit cloying at warmer temps.

I had this at the EBF last Feb and recall thinking it similar to Stone RIS (a solid compliment). Not at all the case from the bottle a couple months earlier. I'd like to try this straight from the source at release as I think the hops truly make this beer. Not quite as complex as I'd hoped but still top notch.

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Photo of GJ40
4.27/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Sampled a 22oz bottle from 2012.

A - Deep black with a sturdy head. Clings nicely to the glass. The inside of the cap was oddly bubbled and spotted. Not sure why.

S - Dark chocolate, molasses and brown sugar. Inviting.

T - Moderately sweet with a dark chocolate lead followed closely by brown sugar and raisins. No significant bitterness or roastiness. Smooth and balanced.

M - Creamy and smooth with a low, well behaved carbonation.

O - A little sweet for me but tasty and worth a try.

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Photo of majorbase2
4.27/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark brown, nearly black color with a large, thick, dark brown head. One of the darker heads I've ever seen. Good retention, with moderate lacing.

Licorice, chocolate, and roasted malts.

Big, huge roasted chocolate notes that literally seem to melt on the tongue. Quite a terrific sensation. Licorice and dark fruits start to creep in as it warms. Cherry, prune, raisins. Definitely some bite from the alcohol. A chewy, viscous dark fruitiness coats the tongue following each sip. A good touch of bitterness on the back end. Very complex yet balanced.

Full bodied with the perfect amount of carbonation. The definition of a sipper. A good amount of bite from the alcohol renders this difficult to chug. The chocolate flavors work well with the beer's thick, chewy mouthfeel. Creamy, and goes down smooth. In looking at some other reviews, they comment on alcohol not coming through, which I disagree with. I feel alcohol makes itself known here.

Another excellent brew by my favorite home state brewing company. If you are a RIS fan, this is an absolute must-have.

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Photo of Chaz
4.27/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark, very dark and opaque to the eye as it is poured from the tap. Develops a dark tan head, tight, uniform, and very pleasing to the eye. The head along with the lace ("the stickiest of the icky") rings the glass and never seems to let go. The hops are definitely here in the nose, but are blanketed by notes of fruit (ripening plums, Concorde grapes) and a mildly-pungent yeast. Just a touch of lactic sourness on first sip, alongside hop bitterness, notes of green apple and iodine. A rich, smooth, oatmeal stout-like quality pervades the mouthfeel, and carbonation is appropriate for the style. The yeast character remains consistent as this warms, and there are both vegetal and medicinal qualities here as well. Very well realized: the alcohol is boozy and warming yet unobtrusive, and the hops are biting yet not overly assertive, and are woven intricately into the aromatics. Malty and full-bodied yet by no means sweet in the cloying sense. Near the end of the glass (and as near to actual room temperature as I can get without busting out my handy thermometer) I'm getting cocoa, vanilla, and a touch of sour cherry. Final thoughts: while the alcohol is stated to be 9.5% ABV, it is extremely well hidden here and Darkness drinks a little bit "lighter" than a beer going nose to nose with 10%. A very complex brew and definitely a sipper: if I get the chance to do so, I'd like to try this neck and neck with the Le Coq from Belgium some day, as it brings to mind some fond memories and notes of comparison to that brew. Reviewed at Blue Nile.

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Photo of Maction
4.26/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: In a snifter, this has impenetrable blackness. It looks like a candle in the glass, with a gelatinous chocolate mousse head.

S: Smells sweet, some perfume-y hops, unsweetened chocolate, espresso, butterscotch

T: A huge, rich, complex flavor, sweet then dry, very long and complex. Bitter herbs, then bitter cocoa, then creamy coffee, then sweet tea.

M: Chewy but not thick, hefty but not cloying

D: Very satisfying, a tiny bit boozy as it warms. I would have to be in a special mood to get through 22oz of this... perhaps in my library, in front of a roaring fire, my pipe and slippers at hand, my faithful hound dozing by the hearth.

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Photo of alcstradamus
4.26/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

My original review was deleted due to the system crashing. I don't remember exactly what I said, but here are my general thoughts. I had the '08 a few months ago and wasn't necessarily liking it a whole lot. Thought it had a lot going for it but in the end was just too sweet. The '09 is a completely different beast though. Big and very hoppy, with the sweetness merely adding complexity rather than dominating. My original rating was a 3.9 B+, but I have updated it to reflect the '09

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Photo of NorthsideFred
4.26/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had it on tap at Jake Melnick's, (thanks to the Craft Brew Convention).

A: Looks great. Black with a 1/2" thick dark brown head.

S: Sweet and roasty.

T: Very smooth; the alcohol is very well hidden. Quite sweet. Based on some of the other reviews on here, I expected it to be hoppy, but my pour wasn't hoppy at all.

M: Not as thick as most RIS I've had.

D: Very smooth. You would never guess that this is over 10% ABV! Very drinkable; although, I suspect the sweetness would get to you after awhile.

Overall a great beer, and one that I'd order again!

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Release night at the Bavarian Lodge. 11oz pour arrives a deep jet black with an inch of creamy head and some spotty lacing on the glass. Aromas start with deeply roasted dark malts colliding with chocolate cream. Mellow coffee moves into some dark fruits and hops.

First sip brings a big roasty dark maltiness upfront with notes of sweet milk chocolate, roasted coffee and some dark fruit edges. There's a smooth creaminess here as it flows down. The hops kick in on the finish and become quite noticeable with a good bitterness. The malts win in the end though, leaving a sweet aftertaste and a slight stickiness on the palate.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a mellow carbonation. Not nearly as thick as many imperial stout's at this ABV, but that makes it somewhat more drinkable as well. While this isn't my favorite RIS, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and the fact that it's quite hoppy as well. Glad I got a chance to sample this on tap.

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Photo of cwehr13
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2013 Bottle into a snifter glass.

The appearance was black but not as thick as I thought it would of been. It also had a off white head about 1/4 inch.

It smelled smokey with a hint of Chocolate and it had an alcohol smell as well.

It has kind of a bitter smokey taste, not as sweet as the 2012 that I had in the past. It coated my mouth and it was very good to drink.

Over all It was a great beer, I can not wait to try this 2013 with a couple years on it, hopefully it will get a little sweeter.

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Photo of thagr81us
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks goes out to beeruser for sharing this one with me! 2009 (Mummy) Vintage! Served from bottle into a Mikkeller taster flute. Poured pitch black with a half finger brown head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of roasted malt, dark chocolate, alcohol, and subtle vanilla. The flavor was of roasted malt, dark chocolate, sweet alcohol, dark fruit, subtle vanilla, slight smoke, and very subtle molasses. It had a heavy feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a pretty good brew. The flavor and aroma on this one were quite complex and inviting. The booze was still present after all this time, but it was quite nice with the other notes in the flavor. I was really glad I got the chance to finally tick this one officially as I have only had very small samples in the past. A definite must try for any beer fan.

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Photo of Flyer
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to Lisalucy for the Chirstmas gift, for which she waited in line for five hours. Ah, I've raised her well. A delicious and decadent imperial stout, and yet surprisingly un-complex for the style. Malty, with molasses and chocolate notes. It was utterly lacking in that soy sauce-like quality that can detract from even the best imperial stouts, which made it smooth and drinkable and yet would have to be regarded as a by-product of that lack of complexity. Not the cascade of intensity I associate with the style, but a great beer nonetheless.

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Photo of DoubleJ
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml of Darkness is coming my way! I knew one day I would be able to get a bottle of my own, but I didn't expect it so soon. I got this in a trade back in November. From a 2009 Vintage, on to the beer:

The cap has been taken off, so there is no turning back. It is black as black can be, no amount of lighting is gonna get through. The espresso colored head on top has a finger's worth of thickness and retention, and it has good retention. Thing rings of lacing cling to the glass. It's a very resiny smelling imperial stout. There's a lot of it. Some of the pure hoppiness still exists, and among other aromas are molasses, unsweetened chocolate

Unlike other imperial stouts, Darkness is plenty hoppy. Not resiny like the smell, just hop juice. Yeah, hop juice. Sweet tropical juice, orange, some citrus tang. Quite honestly, it resembles more of a yummy DIPA than a stout. But around its edges are yummy notes of chocolate fudge. More and more malty imperial stout hit the taste buds are more beer is consumed. The alcohol is buried extremely well, and it's not thick or viscous, rolls off the tongue with ease...creamy. Mmmm. It's leaving some tasty hoppy-sweet nectar as it dries around my lips.

I'm not as huge of a fan of hoppy imperial stouts as others geeks, but I do like Darkness and its hoppy profile. Needless to say, I'm very happy to have called a bottle of it my own.

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Photo of khiasmus
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 Vintage. Thanks to Masterski.

Darkness. More than a word, it is often a chill. Associations come, for everyone a little different, but desolation is a recurring theme. The idea of emptinesss, or if there is something there, it's a nothing, a black hole, or a Presence that one does not wish to take mental hold of. So this. A monumental claim, to present oneself as a nonreality, an idea, a fearsome specter that holds the power to strike loathing into the hearts of men, for it is the Other. The Opposite. The Abssence. It does not truly exist, for it is the absence of something, the absence of The Light that creates it, and nothing else. So then this. It is not Darkness, not The Darknesss, and has little right to stake such a claim. It is, in fact, merely a quite dark brown beneath a soap-bubble and cream tan head... A head that leaves tiny spots on the glass after a swirl. It is a beautiful beer, but shows at once that it is merely a mockery, merely a distant shadow, of what it esteems itself to be.
And then of course, one must dive in to see what this Thing may hold, perhaps looks were decieving... and it hits you. There's no burnt rubber, or tar, or used oil, or the stench of something rotting, or breathing, or hissssing in the darkness, nothing to cast fear into your heart that this is a Monster to be reckoned with... Instead, it is the old standby, the familiar, the lovely grapefruit, the resin, some earthiness, perhaps from a graveyard, but could be just from a garden. That's the thing with this one... There are some soy sauce notes, some roasted grain, some few notes to remind you that this is, indeed, an imperial stout... But it is far from the normal, and also far from the Standard of true Darknesss in liquid form, for which there are two, in my estimation... Dark Lord 2007 and the original, the fresh Mikkeller Black.
And then it just gets relatively boring.... Big sweetness up front but with a huge, Dipa worthy hop profile, even lasting into the finish with grapefruit bitternesss. The underlying malt profiles are that of an excellent RIS, a sticky sweetness with a heavy chocolatey profile and some roasted grain in the finish combining with the hops to form a solid bitter finish and with a syrupy sweetnesss on the middle of the tongue. Blah, blah, blah. We've heard thisss all before. Oh sure, it'ss good... but really? How could you claim to be the abssence of Light itssself, and then be thisss.... Norrrrmality....
Ssss...
Sssssyrupy, mmmm, yessss.... and ssssticky, it warmssss the throatssss....
Itssss bubbles, they are fewsss, not sssso manyssss and thinss....
Itsss deliciousss... and sssmackssss of sssslitheringsss
ssensssouousssly ssliding and ssssnaking down the ssspinesss of the unfortunate onesss...
It iss not the besst sssstout, but there isss ssome delectabilitiesss in thisss... and it'ssss sssneaky...
ssshelpsss....itsssgotsssmesss...

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

my first darkness, as is common with many of my lucky rare beer scores, thanks to drlovemd87 for hooking this up for us last night. an impressive example of the style for sure, but a top 50 quality beer? I don't know. its rather straightforward as they go, excellent no doubt, but it reminds me of a great many other stouts like this out there on the market. rich creamy dark brown pour, sudsy mocha head, dense but not thick, attractive. the nose is muted dark roasted barley and unsweetened bakers chocolate. no alcohol at all, extremely impressive. the flavor, and I love this feature in this style, is all about the grain. I taste a few layers of varying roasted barley and chocolate malt, but no coffee, no vanilla, no bourbon barrel, no oak, none of that stuff. I do taste some dried cherry type notes in the finish, and as it warms even more fruit comes out, but this is a no frills example of the style, and I appreciate it for that. perhaps most impressive is that its massive alcoholic content is entirely absent from the smell and taste, its just not there. a real creeper, something to look out for when drinking darkness. I loved it with chocolate cookies, and could imagine a million other food pairings for it. expert quality stuff, but not different enough from some of the others for me to rate it off the charts. great beer though, they all are from surly.

edit: some age makes this epic, just cracked a 2011, and was amazed how much more mature and integrated and evolved the beer was from the fresh version, it really is one of the best in the game, with a chocolate and raisin complex coming to the fore. improving a few scores to reflect that.

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Photo of tjkinate
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Was part of a 08-11 Darkness Vert! I found the 09' and 10' were my favorites, 08 was still good, but slight oxidation was detectable during the tasting.

This review will be a combo of my two favorite years.

A: Single fingered head that exhibited solid retention that slowly reduced to a thin film leaving some lacing in its wake. As the name suggests, this brew is completely black.

S: The 10' still had a slight hop profile while the 09' was full of toffee and raison scents. Molasses follows on both and was fairly potent.

T: Similar to the scent, the 10' had some bitterness from the hops and was balanced well by the sweet molasses that followed. The 09' was sweet, not too sweet for a 6 or so ounce tasting, but I would definitely struggle drinking a whole bottle. As the scent indicated the flavor was primarily comprised of toffee and dark fruits. The alcohol was not detectable in any vintage.

M: Medium/heavy bodied, nice and creamy, well carbonated.

O: A fantastic brew from my home state brewery. I suggest others do a vert if they can, was surprising how much this brew changed over time.

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Photo of brewskifan55
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2012 version. Taster glass. Thanks for the share, Shannon!

A: Rich black with a half finger tan head that lingered.

S: Molasses, dark fruits (dates, raisins, plums) chocolate.

T: Dark chocolate and dark fruit flow in like a werewolf in heat, tearing your taste buds into a helpless victim of pleasure as a light hop bitterness and smooth cherry/vanilla rip out your throat. In other words, fuckin' YUM!

M: Thick, creamy and carbonated to full moon standards.

O: Only once in a blue full moon do you get to taste something this good. An RIS with teeth.

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Photo of JamesMN
4.24/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2013 vintage.

Appearance: Pitch black body sits below tan foam.

Aroma: Alcohol warmth, toffee, dark malt.

Taste: Starts with light grassy bitterness mixed with sweet dark malt and currants. The bitterness never gets intense and the malt really shines here. There's actually nothing harsh about the flavor which is odd coming from Surly but genius in that it makes for an unbelievably smooth flavor. Effortless finish and hint of caramel liqueur on the back end. Aftertaste of dark malt and hops. I was expecting a lot of chocolate and coffee flavor but the real standout seems to be a deep caramel character alongside the roasted malt. Robust and yet subtly restrained flavor all around.

Mouthfeel: Full in body, nearing the point of syrup. Super smooth with good drinkability for the style.

Final Thoughts: Had all but given up trying to get a bottle of Darkness. Pricy at $25 a bomber but worth it for a once a year release. Great example of the style. Would I drink it again? Yes.

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Photo of vandemonian
4.23/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had the 2011 Darkness (I guess it was about a year old) at ChurchKey in DC at their Surly event. Darkness is a delicious bourbon-barrel ages Imperial stout with notes for coffee. As good as most of the great beers of this style.

A: Black with a 2 cm head that lasts. 4.5

S: The smell was malty with some coffee. This is a very strong smelling beer. 4

T: A strong malty flavour with come coffee. There are also some sweet, dark fruit flavours from the crystal malt. Maybe some bourbon barrel flavour too. Some burnt sugar at the end. 4.5

M: Foamy. 4

O: 4

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.23/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter at The Barley House.

Who'd've thought that one of my personal whales would beach itself 'round here? Hey, I'm not gonna argue. Its pour verifies its name, as nothing but straight darkness sits in the glass, a finger-thick tan chapeau sitting jauntily on top. The nose comprises raisins, rum, blackened oats, figs, chocolate-covered strawberries, roasted malts, light molasses, and a very slight fusel scent streaming from the base. The taste holds notes of roasted malts, chocolate syrup, molasses, maple syrup, figs, oak, brown sugar, light orange flesh, and a touch of Belgian yeastiness. Honestly, the last two were a bit surprising, but definitely can't be considered detracting, as they add a refreshing complexity to a usually brutish style. The body is pretty hefty, with a light moderate carbonation and a chewy feel. Overall, I was not at all disappointed by this, though the one thing I would note is that it's a tad lighter and fizzier than I expected. But this was a minor issue at best, smothered by the overall tastiness.

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Photo of nhindian
4.23/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into a Darkness tulip. Bottle courtesy of brian23456, thanks Brian! Split with russwbeck.

2010 Vintage (Vampire)

A - A beer has never been so aptly named until this beer. It flows out, viscous and sucking in all light, and only yields a bit of color when it builds its giant, 2-finger head, dark mocha in color. Retention is great, lasting about halfway through the glass, and even when it fades, it leaves behind a magnitude of bubbles. The lacing is fantastic as well, draping a curtain of lace over the glass. Easily one of the better looking Russian Imperial Stouts.

S - On first smell, this reminds me a lot of Oak Aged Yeti in the fact that it has a good amount of wood and oak and hops, as well as some chocolate, dark fruits, alcohol, and perhaps a slight vanilla?

T - The taste is much more subtle than initially expected, bringing smooth tastes of wood, bitter chocolate, and almost rum-soaked fruits. Slightly roasty but overall everything comes together nicely. There's a noticeable hop taste as well. Finish is long and full of chocolate and a bit of alcohol.

M - Mouthfeel is moderately heavy with low carbonation. Given the big head, I was expecting more carbonation, but as it is now it has an appropriate amount. It's very smooth and the head adds some creaminess.

D - Drinkability is moderately high. The feel and taste are good, but was looking for something a little more given how talked up this beer is. I'd like to see a bit more complexity, but its a solid beer overall.

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Photo of Onenote81
4.23/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks go out to monsterfat for this hookup in a trade long ago. Thanks so much for the opportunity, Jeff!

Vintage 2008. 500th Review!

Poured into a snifter. Wow, this is dense. Glugs out of the bottle thick and slow. This is the blackest beer I have ever seen. Held up to the light, nothing is coming through, not even at the edges. Oh man, what is this going to do to my stomach? Big warm chocolatey scents burst out of this beer. Wow! Slight sour note on the finish. Little soy sauce.

The body is my favorite part of this beer. I want to wrap myself up in this and go to sleep. This is the smoothest, creamiest beer. Carbonation is present, but it is overwhelmed by such a buttery creamy mouth. Man. The flavor reminds me of a melted chocolate bar in a drink. Seriously. This is pure chocolate. Mild tartness on the back end, but it is sweet and creamy. Bitterness is low. Slight smokiness in the aftertaste. Geez. This is good. Drinkability is very high as the alcohol makes itself a ghost in the flavor. I'm feeling its presence a bit, but I can't detect it in the flavor.

In all honesty, I didn't think I was going to like this beer. Even though it is so highly rated, I thought I would find it too much. It showed me a thing or two...

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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
4.42 out of 5 based on 3,791 ratings.
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