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Darkness | Surly Brewing Company

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BA SCORE
98
world-class
863 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
2015 - Bat
2016 - Cerberus

Added by ryantupy on 10-08-2006

BEER STATS
Reviews:
863
Ratings:
3,687
Avg:
4.42
pDev:
19.23%
 
 
Wants:
3,307
Gots:
1,455
For Trade:
124
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User Reviews
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Reviews: 863 | Ratings: 3,687
Photo of cjacobsen
4.2/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had in a snifter out of the only keg I think I'll see in Chicago. Enjoyed this brew with sweemzander.

Poured pitch black with a quarter inch of brown head on it.

The smell was nice, sweet, chocolatey. There were hints of hops but they didn't really stand out.

The taste was also sweet, dark roasted chocolate malt, had a bit of nut and licorice in there towards the back and finished with the essence of hops. As it warmed, the taste grew heavier on the bitterness and had a raisin taste to it within the last few sips.

This beer was well carbonated and just right. No harshness on the tongue.

This was a really nice beer. I wish I could have tried some of the past years to put it up against but I'll take what I can get in trying the 2010 version. It was a great tasting brew and I think it lives up to the hype.

 819 characters

Photo of KDawg
4.2/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

had from tap and poureed into a small brandy snifter. Pours near black that is almost like a black hole

Big, bold, and pungent with very rich aromas of malts, warm caramel, spices and some bits of hops

full bodied with a great and smooth feel. Rich with powerful flavors of roasted malts, caramel, and some hops

Lived up to my expectations. This was one to savor, mostly because the alcohol was no joke either. There was a small touch of heat from it, but it wasn't too much

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Photo of AleWatcher
4.2/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage served in snifter on thanksgiving day.

Very dark brown-- looks black until backlit, then deep reddish hues make a triumphant and glorious appearance.
Wow, this is MUCH better than the bottles we opened up about this time last year of the 2010 vintage! I think I have notes from that review in which I would have given it a C- at best! This is quite different indeed;
Notes of chocolate malt turn into fudge/brownie batter as the beer warms... Some caramel malt provide a little depth and sweetness up front. A touch of anise creeps up in the dry boozy finish.

Feel is thick and viscous, oily and creamy, firm and full.

Overall-- this is a quite an enjoyable little beer to sip with turkey in my belly and football on tv. Niiice.

 747 characters

Photo of FosterJM
4.2/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

779th Review on BA
Bottle to Snifter
22oz cap/wax
2010- Vampire

@Woodshop Classix

App- This poured to mix a mix of a RIS and a quad. A darker brown but with some red/amber highlights around the edges. A big puffy one finger khaki head formed and receded with a lot of dotty cling and some streaks.

Smell- Right up front this was a sweeter smelling RIS. A big copious amount of malt was there and then went into a bit of roasty notes with touches of dark chocolate and a lot of dark fruits to continue the RIS/Quad feel.

Taste- This tasted to me like one of those chocolate covered raspberry circles around easter. A dark fruit laden stout with a paired roast note on the backend of the flavor profile. A bit of dark chocolate rounded out the edges.

Mouth- Medium bodied and medium carbonated. Again a nice mix of the RIS/Quad flavors with residual flavors coming from the roast notes and a bit of the dark chocolate/orange/raspberry notes.

Drink- I was really impressed with this beer. It had a lot going on in the glass but wasn't overdone just a bit young. I feel I opened this one a bit young but I needed to bring something to Woodshop to compete with everyone else. I will try to land another older bottle.

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Photo of dedrinker
4.2/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

As far as appearances and aromas go, it was like a lot of other Imperial Stouts that are held in high esteem.

But the flavor - after the requisite toasty/roasty/chocolate and coffee notes - surprised me with hints of cherry and old pipes (tobacco). I was impressed. This is a fabulous addition to the family of American Imperial Stouts of the first order.

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Photo of steve8robin
4.2/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Today is my 28th birthday! So in honor, I am going to do an epic Darkness tasting with some friends. 2008 / 2009 / 2010 vintages! I have been waiting so long to try these. Let's hope I'm not disappointed:

2008
A: Super dark with a small tan head that fades quickly to a small bubbly lace atop the brew. Good.
S: Smells of some awesome cocoa and vanilla upfront blended with some great boozy chocolate quickly followed by licorice and some great earthy qualities. Very good.
T: Awesome flavors! Some nice chocolate raisin upfront blended with some great boozy vanilla and quickly followed by cocoa in the middle. Some nice espresso flavors on the backend. Amazing!
M: Super thick with a great carbonation. A nice creamy finish. Very good!
D: Once you get past the booziness, this goes down. Good.

2009
A: Follows suit with the '08. Very dark with a small tan head that fades to more of a bubbly lace than the '08. Good.
S:Very mild scents on this one. The '08 smelled to great, but this is hard to find strong scents. Some earthy chocolate blended in. Ok.
T: Not as boozy as the '08. It's kind of like a watery hop on the backend. Some mild chocolate vanilla and cocoa upfront with some great creaminess in the middle. Good.
M: A watery thickness with a little more carbonation than the '08. A watery creamy finish. Good.
D: Goes down a little easier than the '08 with the better blend of booze, but the watery taste makes it slightly odd. Can't put my finger on it. Decent.

2010
A: The best looking one of the 3 years. A 1 inch dark mocha colored head that fades at decent pace but never really goes away completely. Very good.
S:Some creamy sweet chocolate upfront with some earthiness in the middle. Not much on the backend. Good.
T: Kind of a soapy chocolate with some faint vanilla in the middle. The worst of the bunch IMO. Decent.
M: A medium body with a decent carbonation. Kind of a dry finish. Decent
D: Goes down good.

All in all, so glad I got to try these. '08 was definitely my favorite. It was so BIG and intense and boozy blended with the strongest flavors. If you hunt one of these IMO, try to go for the '08. The '09 would be my second, and the '10 would be my last. Continue brewing great beer Surly.

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Photo of angelmonster
4.2/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewing the 2010 vintage

Pours a nice 1 finger milk chocolate head, body is pitch black. Head retention was good and lacing was very good.

Smell is of rich chocolate cake batter, roasted coffee, charred oak, and slight alcohol. As soon as I opened bottle, aromas went directly in my nose. There is also some oxidation, prunes, but no hops.

Taste is charred oak, burnt chocolate malt, slightly bitter coffee, and chalky bakers chocolate. There is slight soy sauce/oxidation and prunes but chocolaty sweetness helps hide it. Hops really arent detected here. Alcohol is slightly present but for 10 percent, its very smooth

Mouthfeel is nice and rich, almost chewy. Carbonation is on the higher side but it helps to keep the body from becoming too syrupy. Small head of foam adds some nice texture to the beer.

Overall this beer was pretty good. Been waiting acouple years to try this beer and glad I finally got my hands on it. As a big vampire fan was really stoked to get this vintage but at around 18 bucks a bottle, dont know if I'd trade for it again. Tasty stout though, glad I received it in a BIF

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Photo of tpd975
4.2/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2007 version

This is one I had been chasing for quite sometime. A big thanks goes out to rate beerian ibrew2or3 for sharing this one.

A: First and foremost its one bad ass looking bottle. Pours a deep dark black hue with a nice bubbly one finger head on my pour. There were spots of lacing noted.

S: Nice hoppy aromas right from the start. There were hints of roasted malts and chocolate along with bitter coffee. It had a somewhat green aroma beneath the roast. The ABV makes itself known in the nose as well.

T: This is a hoppy ass stout. Tons of bitter hops noted as soon as it hit my tongue. Beautifully roasted chocolaty malt does come thru as does a hint of vanilla, a nice dose of smoke, and a touch of dark fruit. A slight alcohol burn lingers after each gulp. That being said it don't ever really come together though.

M: Full in body, rich and somewhat syrupy.

D: The beer is sort of sharp on the tongue. I could of had more than my 1/6 of the bottle but this is one to be shared.

Overall: It's a good beer but overall I was a bit let down. I thank ibrew for the chance to try. Would love to get a bottle of my own to age for a bit.

2008 vintage is a syrupy mess. Don't bother.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.2/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

08 vintage into a Weyerbacher tulip.

A: Black body with a thin, but present, brown head. Nice enough for me.

S: Hugely oaky, very sweet, and boozy. Good, but not quite as transcendent as I might have hoped.

T: Sweet, boozy, and very, very tasty. Maybe a bit of hop bitterness, but the emphasis here is on the chocolatey malts and fruity alcohol. Again, it's very, very good, but not great.

M: Full bodied with lots of alcohol burn. I wouldn't want it to be any other way.

D: Somehow, I can't get enough of drinking this beer - even though it doesn't live up to my hopes.

Notes: What a beer to act as the capstone to a truly epic
afternoon/evening/night of beer wonderment. While I stand by my assessment of it, I will definitely rereview whenever I get a crack at a bottle that I can take my time with (and can be more sober for). Huge thanks to the Matt for pulling ths crazy beer out of nowhere. Awesome.

Cheers!

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Photo of PeprSprYoFace
4.19/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Reviewed from my notes from last night. Shared with friends

Pours a super deep black. Motor oil looking. Pretty thick. Very thin head but dissapated to nothing. No real lacing.

Aroma of dark fruits and tons of caramel/burnt sugars. Very malty and sweet smelling. Smells great

The taste is as it smells but the dark fruits are the main players in the flavor. Lots of sweet malt. Gets to be a little too much after a while.

Mouthfeel is super heavy. Light carb. A little too heavy for me.

Overall a very tasty beer in small amounts but I couldn't drink alot at all. Very heavy and very malty. But I am glad I finally got to taste this beer.

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Photo of standardcherry
4.18/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottle served into a snifter.

A: Thick black beer with a large head.
S: Smells like dark fruits, chocolate and caramel.
T: Just like the nose, dark fruit, caramel, chocolate, molasses.
M: Thick but easy to drink. Lots of carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel.
O: Very interesting. Lots of big flavors, although fruit is not my favorite in a stout. Great beer though!

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Photo of n2185
4.18/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 vampire bottle

A: pours black with two fingers of dark tan head which maintains well and leaves good lacing.

S: roasted malts with lots of dark fruit, molasses, and bitter coffee aromas. A very nice mix of sweet and roasted/bitter.

T: very similar to the aromas. Dark fruits, molasses, sweet chocolate, and dark, roasted slightly bitter coffee. On the sweeter side, but with enough roasted malts for balance. Very slight alcohol burn for the gravity.

M: thick body with low carb, this beer isn't quite creamy but is a tad oily instead.

O: Overall, a good beer. Not worth the hype or trading your cellar for, but still good. It's a bit sweeter than I prefer, but not cloyingly so.

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Photo of levifunk
4.18/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had at Madison, WI BA Tasting #2

appearance - very dark, light brown head

smell - citrus hops, much more hoppy than anticipated. caramel sweetness and coffee.

taste - very rich/dense. there are two big flavors: hops and sweetness. interesting thats these two flavors come at the same time rather than one following the other. keeps it very balanced. other flavors would include coffee and cocoa.

mouth - syrupy and creamy. very heavy

overall - great beer. This is VERY different than DL, much more hoppy and less intensive sweetness. Its somewhere inbetween DL and DORIS. Very drinkable though!

 599 characters

Photo of jlindros
4.18/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

'10 Vampire vintage, thanks to Levifunk, grub, and bsuedekum for various bottles of this awesome beer.

Awesome huge head, thick frothy and creamy, dark head, forms layers as I pour between glasses, pitch black thick beer with nice legs, tons of lacing. essentially the perfect head.

Nose brings lots of chocolate, bakers, dark, cocoa nibs, bit of roast and coffee, lots of vanilla, bit of caramel, lots of dark malts bit of bitter roast and earthy hops.

Taste starts a bit of soy sauce, lots of bitter roasted malts, coffee, syrupy, big and heavy, roasty, some light oats, slightly briny, lots of vanilla, caramel, molasses, slight booze, bitter astringent roasted malts and bit of earthy hop. Slight charred roasted malt. Finishes quite bitter, astringent, sticky and syrupy, syrupy malts, soy sauce and a bit of earthy hop bitterness.

Mouth is big bodied but not quite as big as I expected, a bit syrupy, decent carb for the style.

Overall good, but not quite what I expected. Too much bitter briny roasty astringent soy sauce flavors, big and heavy as it should, but not quite as drinkable. Reminds me of fresh Dark Lord, but this has a year of aging on it. I'll let the rest age more and hopefully the soy sauce and briny qualities settle down.

 1,253 characters

Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
4.18/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Inky black. 2 fingers of head.

Aromas of fresh peaches. Chocolate shell. Oatmeal. Lactose

Taste is more of the same. Dark chocolate covered peaches.

Feel is numbing. Thick. Raw.

Overall, this will kick your ass. It destroyed mine.

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Photo of WonderWoman
4.18/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This poured so dark there was no penetrable light. There was a ring of golden head reminding me much of motor oil.
Smelt of chocolate and coffee.
Tasted alot like hoppy dark chocolate. Oddly it was salty when I licked the brew off my lips. There was a noticeable alcohol after taste.
It was thick and smooth with mild carbonation.
This was a bit much for me, but I thought it was nice for the style.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.18/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 bottle. Beer is black with a thick brown head of small bubbles that leaves a lot of lacing on the glass.

The aroma is sweet and some roastiness. Smells good.

The beer is sweet and has a definite chocolate bitter / semisweet flavor to it. There is a nice maltiness to the beer that is really nice. Beer overall has a medium body and as it warms there is more caramel in the palate. Drinkability high and mouthfeel is high. I'd be interested in the other vintages.

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Photo of paulthebeerguru
4.18/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: As dark as night. tan/creamy brown head. great retention rate with some decent lacing.

S:burnt malts. chocolate, toffee, light coffee notes. some bitter berries.

T: rich roasted malts, raisins, figs, chocolate and toffee. nice burnt malt flavor. light hints of coffee.

M: velvety. mellow carbonation level. full bodied.

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Photo of jaasen64
4.18/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2011 Darkness, 750ml bottle poured into Lawson's tulip. Thanks Jameson for sharing this during our Murda'd Out tasting.

A- Pours a dark brown that appears a jet black in the glass with a thin mocha brown head that has about average head and recedes to a flat top. Spotty lacing that slides back into glass.

S- Cocoa powder, light bakers chocolate, some faint hop, decent aroma strength.

T- Cocoa powder, light baker's dark chocolate, light hops hiding in background that I would assume is more pronounced in fresher bottles. Finishes with rich dark chocolate cocoa powder that lingers as a nice aftertaste.

M- Smooth, very drinkable, nice carbonation that doesn't dominate too much, medium bodied.

O- This was a great stout that I really enjoyed drinking however I'm not sure if I'd say its one of my favorites. The overall flavor could have been richer instead of the cocoa powder taste. I would love to compare a fresh version of this.

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Photo of seaoflament
4.18/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to Floydster for helping me out with a bottle of this rare beer. Split this bottle last night with a few good friends (Joey, Ryan, Tony +1). The bottle number had mostly rubbed off during shipping, I think there is a 1 and a 6. 2007 release.

Not the darkest stout I've seen but the beauty was in the inch+ of head, the excellent retention and lacing. Soapy spider legs on the sides of the glass (Surly pint glass of course!)

The beer has an impressive roasted aroma, not overdone which I like, and also has a pronounced bitterness. The bitterness is both in a roasted/smokey type and also the citrus hops which are fading into the background. As the beer warmed up there was more caramel, cocoa, and chocolate.

The taste was a little more complex than the aroma (probably because this one has been sitting for a few months already). First I get the roasted malts, dark fruits (dates, raisins), some brown sugar; then I start getting more heavily roasted flavors in the form of burnt malts. There is some coffee and chocolate near the finish and anise in the aftertaste. The hops come in near the end with some earthiness and a bit of citrus bitterness.

The mouthfeel of this beast was probably what impressed me the most, really smooth and silky. The beer just felt graceful on the palate. For such a high abv. stout monster, this beer really drinks well.

I hope to get a fresh bottle of this at the next release because I think that I might have missed some of the hop essence that makes this beer grand.

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Photo of Gobzilla
4.17/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: poured a dark as night black in color with a half finger worth of dark brown head that dissipated quites fast but left a little bubbly lacing sticking to the glass.

S: interesting aroma which consisted of a little roastiness, chocolate malts, but with earthy hops coming through. I was able to sniff of caramel sweetness, molasses, and hints of brown sugar.

T: like the aroma chocolate malts were there upfront on the palate alongside some roastiness, pretty good earthy grassy hop profile which added a little bitterness to the flavor. Caramel molasses accents, and a touch of brown sugar.

M: the brew was medium to full in body with a fair amount of carbonation which had a sweet, roasty, chocolatey, mild hoppy, silky, and slightly bitter finish.

O: I honestly was not really digging this beer and it has been on my gots list for some time now. This is one of those that just has too much hype IMO.

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Photo of PrinceDarren
4.17/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

This is an excellent RIS that is deserving of high praise, however, I'm not sure it is on the same level as the oft-compared Dark Lord. Just to make sure, I tried a little DL later in the evening (my friend was kind enough to open a bottle). Nope, no comparison, DL reigns supreme.

I tried the Surly giant on tap last night at the 3rd annual Bavarian Lodge Darkness night. Pours "almost" black, not nearly as viscous as expected. Has a pleasant, hoppy, chocolate aroma. Tastes of coffee, dark fruit such as cherry, maybe a little raspberry and a definite hop character.

This is very dry. Almost too dry. It left a chalky after-taste on the tongue. I heard that Omar felt this year's batch was more dry than last year's. While I cannot comment on the year-to-year comparison, I have to wonder if the recipe or process was a little off in this year's batch. I didn't feel like it should be so dry.

In all, this was a great pour that I was happy (hoppy?) to try, but alas, this is more akin to North Coast's Old Rasputin RIS than the might Three Floyds' DL.

Would I drink it again? Yes, I sure hope so.

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Photo of ehammond1
4.16/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bottle (2011)

Acquired via trade
Thanks, stig!

(Aged for 1 year)

This is a truly beautiful beer. The beer is black throughout with a 2-finger, dark brown head that actually has some significant staying power. The beer is somewhat thick in body, shiny, and leaves the glass messy with a sheen and spattering of lace.

A somewhat atypical aroma for a big stout, as there's some defined pine-like hop notes, along with dark chocolate, dark fruits, and strong roast. This is hoppier than most any other big stout, though it all works together nicely.

Dark roast and dark chocolate dominate the flavor, along with bit of pine-like hop character. Moderate level of bitterness and this most certainly hides its alcohol well.

Full bodied with moderate carbonation and somewhat creamy mouthfeel. Incredibly nice. A terrifically constructed beer.

A somewhat hoppy, though balanced big stout. It's probably not worth the sticker price, all things considered, but always a fun bottle to share no matter the time or place.

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Photo of TKEbeerman
4.16/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First off a huge thanks to squirpy7 for hooking me up with a brew that was proving to be more illusive than it should be.

2010 vintage:

A: Poured into my pint glass, this brew pours as dark as the vampire's soul with a dark tan, unrelenting, pillow like cloud of a head that leaves the best lacing I've seen in a stout. Without that lacing, this would be a 4.0.

S: The aroma is lacking complexity and strength right now. Chocolate and roasted malt is present. This stout has a nice hop twist to it. Not pinny, but dark fruit like. Alcohol is present in the nose as the beer warms.

T: The flavor is dominate chocolate and liquorish. The roastedness is masked by a malty sweetness, and just like I expected dark fruit tones from a mix of hops and malt. Alcohol pokes its way through as the beer warms, but is not offensive at all.

Mf: Mouthfeel is just above good. It can improve with more creaminess and carbonation. It still is smooth and uninhibits this brew's power. Viscous and syrupy.

D: At 10.3%, and in a 750ml, this brew is quite drinkable.

Overall, Darkness is a good stout. It's like a mini-Dark Lord. Almost like Surly brewed Dark Lord's younger cousin. This is definitely one to age. It stands out from the other big stouts on the top 100. It lacks notes of espresso with a heavy chocolate base that I've come to love. It can improve with a year in a bourbon barrel; this stout tastes like it was made for it. This thing has a hop bill that makes it unique. Next bottle I trade for will definitely spend 2 years in the cellar.

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Photo of trappistlover
4.16/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(22oz bottle courtesy of Alpar!). ’09 edition with Mummy. Pours near black with tan head. Aroma has soy, dark chocolate and some dark pit fruit along with a bit of green hops. Taste is sweet malt with some faded hops (my preference is NOT hopped up RIS). Full bodied with an oily texture. Finish is dry. Very nice, smooth beer.

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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
4.42 out of 5 based on 3,687 ratings.
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