Darkness | Surly Brewing Company

BA SCORE
98
world-class
3,825 Ratings
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:
This listing is ONLY for Darkness that is NOT barrel-aged, which excludes all of the 2014 bottles, all of which were aged in whiskey barrels. 2014 has a separate entry (http://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/13014/141724/). Any subsequent years that have barrel aged variants, indicated by gold wax and lettering, also have their own separate entries.

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
Ratings:
3,825
Reviews:
878
Avg:
4.42
pDev:
9.28%
 
 
Wants:
3,306
Gots:
1,521
For Trade:
140
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,825 |  Reviews: 878
Photo of SteveB24
4.83/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Look-color of the beer is jet black, beer pours a shocking two fingers of frothy, tan head. wonderful lacing left on side of the glass.
Smell- Roasted malts, caramel molasses, coffee, milk chocolate, Raisens.
Taste- Unbelievably complex yet super smooth, roasted malts, toast, raisins, plums, milk chocolate, coffee, pink peppercorns. so much sweetness but balanced by the toasted grain taste of the malts and some fruity spiciness.
Feel- Full bodied but not quite oily. perfectly creamy.
Overall- one of the best stouts, if not the best, that i've tried.

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Photo of GScow
4.83/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Floydster
4.83/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

750 ml bottle with both red and black wax covering the cap, acquired in a trade with LeonTrotsky, one of the lucky people in Minnesota to get some of these, thanks a lot for giving me the chance to try this brew, review #475, 2007 vintage

Bottle #35, ironically drank while watching a pretty bad movie called "Darkness," took me about two hours to get through this bottle by myself, but I gave my roommate and girlfriend each about two ounces, took me a while as this is the first beer I have drank in a few weeks and I did not want it to hit me too hard, rather enjoy its distinct taste, less than six hundred were made in this first batch of bottling

Poured into my Dofish Head snifter with a pure black color and a very impressive 3/4 inch foamy mocha head that stuck around for four to five minutes, was not as thick as I would have liked but still not a thin or weak stout by any means, good retention and left sticky light brown lacing along my entire glass, appearance was nice because of the super dark color and creamy texture

Smell was pretty much perfect, dark chocolate, milk, floral hoppiness, several different varieties of fruit including citrus and berries, coffee, sweet cream, oak, wide variety of malty aromas, and a small amount of oatmeal and grains

Taste was great, the first instant of the first sip seemed like it was an india pale ale, it was such a hop bomb right off the bat that I could not believe it was a Russian imperial stout, it reminded more of Stone's 11th Anniversary with its color and taste, this was probably because I was drinking it too cold at first, the dryness of this beer was astonishing though nevertheless, once the hoppy character wore off after a few seconds, I got a lot of burned chocolate and espresso tastes, as it warmed more sweetness came to the surface that consisted of caramel, creaminess, milk chocolate, and some dark fruit, the hoppiness stayed there the whole time though, nice spiciness throughout and crazily smooth, strong oak tastes throughout to go along with the burnt tastes caused by the hoppiness and dark chocolate malt, this beer was very complex and had a lot of different things going on as it continued to get warmer and warmer, by the end it was so easy to drink, and the hops and malt were balanced out so well, very enjoyable overall

Body was thick but I expected it to be even more so, not comparable to Dark Lord in this sense, but that is not a bad thing, great mouthfeel with a perfect amount of carbonation, leaves a nice sensation on the tongue, taste lasted several minutes

Could have drank three bottles of this if I had all day to sit, and drink expensive and rare beer, very very drinkable, alcohol is hidden well and could definitely sneak up on you if you are not careful, over ten percent alcohol is strong stuff regardless, not too filling on the stomach because it is not overly sweet or strong tasting, goes down very easily because of its unparalleled smoothness

Very different from other highly rated imperial stouts I have tasted from this site, where Dark Lord is super thick and syrupy, and Kate the Great is sweet and warming, Darkness is soothing and surprisingly dry, making all of these beers very different overall, one thing they all have in common is that they are sippers or dessert beers that take a good amount of time to get through, and that they pack a serious punch as far as ABV goes, I cannot say any of these three are better than one another because they differ so much

This deserves all the hype that it has gotten and I feel honored to try a beer like this, especially after seeing how much it has sold in online auctions recently, I never would have been able to afford if it was not for this generous trader, awesome RIS that is very unique because of its in your face hoppiness, glad Surly bottled this masterpiece, I have not tasted a bad beer from them yet, Darkness was amazing and I hope to get some of next year's batch if it is available in bottles again, highly recommended if anybody wants to give up a bottle, fantastic drinking experience

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Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.83/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2011 vintage.

A: 1/2" light brown head with a nice lacing over black liquid.

S: Pine hops and toasted malt.

T: Pine and citrus hops up front with caramel, chocolate and roasted barley flavours.

M: Medium to thick viscosity and a medium level of fine carbonation.

O: A beautiful beer: bitter yet semi-sweet, great mouthfeel and very tasty and enjoyable.

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Photo of MTKATL
4.83/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of hopley
4.83/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Fatduck
4.83/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Drinking my first of the darkness at Common Roots Cafe. I cant
bring myself to open any of my bottles yet. They even have darkness goblets to present the beer.

Pours pitch black with a small head, it would be more but the sever poured very gently. Leaves a good tan lacing all the way down the glass. It smells sweet, and of roasted and burnt malts, maybe even a little maple syrup. Taste is out the window, this thing taste too good to describe. It taste like it looks and smells, great. Chewy and smooth, it warms you as soon as it crosses your lips. This beer is a must for anyone who lives or is in the twin cities area, amazing, purely amazing.

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Photo of SargeC
4.83/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Like the cover of a Spinal Tap record, it cannot be any blacker. Dense brown head that suspends liquid within it and lingers for the long haul.

Smell: Very rich character. Coffee and chocolate, rich malt and a decent hint of hops.

Taste: Chocolaty roast malt. Blasts of sweetness settle to a ripple with a great hop balance. There is so much under the surface that begins to reveal itself, and then disappears back into the Darkness. A Complex and challenging brew.

Mouthfeel: Rich, full body with a smooth oily finish. Very satisfying.

Drinkability: Extremely drinkable for such a big brew. Tasty from start to finish.

 639 characters

Photo of cokes
4.82/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Absolutely jet black under a promontory rise of dark sandstone froth.
Wet rye bread, dark rum, molasses, canned fruit cocktail, and chocolate brownie batter aroma.
Densely dark chocolately as it initially assaults the tongue. Scrapings of char and espresso. Quells some with a broader glazed donut notion fills the mouth. Spiciness hits and it's like biting into a rye loaf, and equally as mouth filling. Fruitiness washes in with burnt peaches, grilled pineapples, bruised pears, blackberries, and blueberries. Backing notes of molasses and, vanilla give it a Caribbean dark rum aura, complete with vapors of heat. Rides out with touches of burnt fruit alcohol sourness and chocolate chip cookie dough batter.
It's thick as fuck. Crazy big. But somehow still never over sweet, over big, or over boozy.
I just needed to join the choir here. So many Whales don't deliver in full. I was glad to finally track down a bottle (and then was less pleased to drop $20 for it).
But I'd do again, and again, and again.

 1,023 characters

Photo of bodhi185
4.82/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Smallbar in Chicago.
A: Jet black with a pretty thin head for the heft of the beer.
S: Raisin, molasses, with a little chocolate and a little alcohol pickup.
T: Supremely bitter black molasses russian imperial flavor that drinks pretty dry and insanely balanced.
M: Actually pretty thin for the style in my opinion, but lingers for days.
O: Bitter, biting, big big beer. Worth the wait...thank you Minnesota for sharing with Chicago again.

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Photo of Scooter1027
4.82/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A Surly gem. Reviewing the 2011 vintage. Poured into a snifter. Pours thick, viscous looking, light brown head is there, though not excessive. Smells incredible... toffee, caramel, chocolate, some dark fruit notes. Taste -- one of the best stouts I've ever had. After also trying the 2015 vintage, it's plain to see how well this one ages. Smooth toffee flavors, chocolate there too, and the dark fruit flavors shine and set this beer apart from other stouts (and from more recent vintages). Mouthfeel was smooth, a little sticky, dessert-like. Just a terrific overall stout, up there with the best of them.

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Photo of hoplover82
4.82/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I am so happy to have a bottle of this wonderful RIS. A friend of mine brought one down from MN. Thank you so much Sarah-Jane. This was the only bottle they had left in the store by the way.
A-This beer pours black with brown-ish/rudy highlights when held up to the light. The foam is huge and has amazing retention and lacing for a beer like this.
S-The aroma is huge with notes of mocha at first, yet VERY complex with toffee, chocolate, some earthy leather, some mild roastiness, woodsy, dark stone fruits, and man that sweet mocha really sticks out like no other RIS I've had. Truly an amazing aroma, (one of the most complex).
T-The flavor is just as impressive and complex with the mocha standing in the front lines. Fresh toffee follows along with prunes and sweet camamel. There is that earthiness woody-like note in the flavor as well as a mild earthy hop flavor note. Very impressive indeed.
M-The beer has such a slick, creamy sweetness but the bitterness level is just perfect to keep it from being cloying. Huge body and a long sweet, mocha like finish.
O- This beer that is called Darkness is most likely the best RIS I've ever had. I am once again so pleased to have had a chance to try this great beer. Thanks again Sarah-Jane

 1,246 characters

Photo of jamescain
4.82/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review #200

2008 vintage poured into a sniffer, another BIG thanks to Dajtai007 for sharing this one.

Appearance: Just as the name describes, Darkness, it pours a pitch black inky looking beer with a dark brown head about a centimeter thick that fades into a ring around the glass.

Aroma: Dark chocolate, vanilla, spicy notes, licorice and dark fruits, wonderful aroma, complex and not jumbled together.

Taste: Just like the aroma wonderfully complex, dark chocolate, dark fruit, prunes, molassas, coffee and roasted grains.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth with minimal carbonation and a thick body, a sipper, yet still easy and pleasant to drink.

Overall: Time has done very good things to this beer. After trying this one and the 2009 vintage, I'm not going to touch my 2010 for at least 2 years.

 800 characters

Photo of neorunner
4.82/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Blind Beer #5 - Thanks to Dougofthefuture in Round 6 of the Blind Beer BIF

Friend refurbished an old office and turned it into a man cave. Copper clad bar, recliners, two draft taps, and a flat screen TV. What better way to break it in than with a tasting. So I decided to grab a 22oz bottle from my stash of blind beers and cart it along with some other tasty for the event.

Eight participants total in this tasting and after a couple bottles we decided we should taste the blind beer before our palettes were too fatigued. Beer poured jet black with nice creamy dark tan head. Aroma is chocolate and malt with a slight fusel tinge. This is an imperial stout, no doubt about it. Pass the bottle around and everyone takes a pour. The aroma on this beer is great, I could sniff it all night long. Flavor is velvety chocolate deliciousness. I immediately start thinking its a bottle of Stone 12th Anni. I would have went with Darkness, but no wax on the bottle. Mouth feel is smooth and viscous in body and little to no hop acidity in the back of my mouth. Everyone unanimously enjoyed this beer.

The reveal: Darkness 2011! A want and a very tasty treat. I'm glad I was able to share it with a bunch of friends as I would have been under the table trying to drink that on my own. Not that I wouldn't have tried. Taking the wax off was a slick move and a great way to throw me off the trail.

 1,391 characters

Photo of jera1350
4.82/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at The Blue Nile.

Used motor oil color and consistency. Cocoa powder brown head that is quite thick and has staying power.

Rich malt and stronger than usual hop presence for the style. Chocolate, lightly smokey with a bit of coffee. The hops are mostly grassy with just a touch of citrus.

Delicious rich chocolate malt with notes of coffee and smoke. Light vanilla presence and generously hopped. The hops are lightly citric and also add some grassy notes. Big and robust flavor all around. The sweetness is up there a ways, but it's not too much in my opinion.

Velvety feeling and full bodied. Just slithers down the palate.

I could have one of these every day for the rest of my life and die a happy man. This is surely a top notch RIS and one that I will consume as much as possible. Worth all of the hype.

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Photo of Mbo108
4.81/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of RyanTheLion13
4.81/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of StoutFox
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of curtiswvu
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured in a sniffter via Fountainhead at their Exceptional Beers Night.

Appearance- Midnight black with a milk chocolate head, perfect looking RIS.

Smell: coffee, chocolate and maybe a hint of bacon.

Taste- Fantastic up front and on the finish. Very smooth ...scarry smooth...iii wannnntttt mooorrrreee.

Mouthfeel- Suprisingly not as viscous as I anticipated but a full monster stout. Could be heavier actually.

Drinkability- In a land of one and done RIS I might be able to session this one until I fell off my stool.

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Photo of MichaelNeelsen
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Drank a 2011 "Zombie" 750ml bottle after aging 3 years, 2 months.

L: Poured like liquid silk. Pitch black, no light penetration. Mocha brown head dissipates and then reappears with each sip. The beer is very reflective - you can see yourself in it.

S: Raisins. Dark chocolate. Brown sugar. Dates. Fig. Smells like bourbon even though it's not barrel aged. Dark cherries.

T: As my friend who drank it with me put it, "Rich and sweet and right down the middle. There's no smoke and mirrors here."

F: Like liquid Robert Patrick. If you could drink the liquid T-1000 from Terminator 2, it would feel like this beer. Feels like wine without the dryness or tack. Glides over the tongue. Thin in the best way.

O: A real treat. It's not my favorite Russian Imperial, but it's really damn good - and a very unique experience to drink. I'll look to get a younger bottle and drink it without aging to compare. Highly recommended.

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Photo of Eric_H
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Photo of lurpy1
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A long time coming on this one, fortunate to get 2 bottles from Four Firkins. One is being saved for a rainy day in 2013, the other to drink post-haste.

The pour is darker than a Spinal Tap album cover, with a substantial, sticky ocean-scum head that just goes and goes.

Smell...ooh la la, a lot going on here, but raisins, cherries, malt, and oats come to the fore. Goddamn.

If anything, the taste runs to the excessive, so much malt, fruit, boozy backdrop. Absolutely delicious. Why not a 5.0 for taste? Because it's almost too much, completely hit over the head with flavor.

Mouthfeel is perfect a thick, glossy sludge of a beer that doesn't coat the tongue too badly.

Awesome beer. Totally awesome. Glad I was able to get my hands on it.

 747 characters

Photo of IronTom
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%

Photo of Codycusey
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2012 drank on 4-30-15. Wow. If you have it, drink it.

53 characters

Photo of BobAshton
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
4.42 out of 5 based on 3,825 ratings.
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