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:
3,775
Avg:
4.42
pDev:
9.28%
 
 
Wants:
3,316
Gots:
1,505
For Trade:
135
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User Reviews
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Reviews: 875 | Ratings: 3,775
Photo of kitch
4.64/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A 200ml pour on draft of the 2015 version at Mikkeller Bangkok into a mini stemmed Mikkeller tasting glass.

Appearance: It was pretty much pitch black with a half finger beige head that dissipated fairly quickly, leaving sparse lacing.

Aroma: Chocolate, vanilla, roast and hints of dark fruit.

Taste: Dark fruit, plum, prune, chocolate, roast, vanilla and caramel.

Mouthfeel: Rich, creamy, full bodied with light carbonation.

Overall: This was really good. Really nice aromas and great flavours. It’s a sipper, but the dark fruit, chocolate and caramel works well.

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Photo of kingcrowing
4.65/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

750ml gold waxed bottle. 2008 vintage, poured into a dogfish head snifter. Huge thanks to UA8 for sharing this!

Pours dark, really dark. What do you expect? Nice big brown fluffy head and some nice thin lacing. Nose is sweet and strong with maple syrup and dark fruit.

Taste is fairly sweet but it's also got the nice roasty coffee flavor along with some nice light carbonation makes it really smooth. Lots of dark fruit, really complex.

This beer is totally worth the hype unlike some of the other "dark" beers that have been hyped up.

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Photo of mikevanatta
4.65/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours blacker than motor oil, and tastes of raisins, dates, figs, chocolate, and a slight tinge of booze. Incredible amount of depth for a non-barrel aged beer.

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Photo of fsvan
4.65/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2010 vintage poured into Dogfish Head signature glass.

Shared this one with Titosupertramp. A little back story...This one was given to me by a BA who I have never met. I started a thread on here about looking for beer spots to go on vacation. I got a BM from a BA that I had never (and still haven't) met, and never talked to. He left this at a local bottle shop for me out of sheer generosity and beer advocacy. Hoard not and share the wealth, basically. Anyways, a huge thanks to him for the chance to try this, and what a way to spend an afternoon. Not quite 'Darkness at the break of noon' as Robert Zimmerman sung, but only a couple of hours later.

A- Black. Black as Satan's soul. Darkness isn't just a clever name. Not even a tinge of red or brown on the edges. Just plain black.

S- Lots of dark chocolate. A bit of bourbon and oak. Not enough to confuse it with a barrel aged beer, but a nice touch. Some dark fruit.

T- Lots of dark chocolate. Roasted malts. Again a bit of an oak presence, but only slightly. Some dark fruit. Very clean. The alcohol only starts to really come into play as the beer warms near room temperature. Fantastic flavors, without too much of any one piece, or anything that doesn't belong.

M- Huge, coating the mouth. Sticky, lingering. It took a glass of water to clear the palate of this to move onto the next beer. For a stout of this size, that is a compliment.

O- I have been disappointed in the past by beers with this amount of hype (Dark Lord, I'm looking at you), but this was exceptional in every way. What a treat to be able to try, and one of the best stouts that I've ever come across. Just outstanding at every level.

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Photo of roadhouse
4.65/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had on tap at the Bavarian Lodge on 11/05/08.

Appeared pitch black in color with a thin tan head. It sank down to a thin skim but could be revived with a bit of a swirl. Not much lace left behind however.

Aroma was a lot more mild than I would have expected compared to some other RIS but there was plenty of chocolate, molasses, coffee, a sugary sweetness, and a surprising hop presence.

The taste had a huge molasses, candi sugar, and chocolate sweetness at the beginning then towards the middle it begin to dry up a bit and some coffee flavors came out but before they could really set themselves down a big citrusy and piney hop presence broke through and mingled with all the other flavors, leaving a pleasant hoppy and milk chocolate linger.

Mouthfeel was thick, full, and viscous. Very creamy and velevety. Just the way I like them.

The thing that surprised me most about this one besides the hops was just how drinkable it was. I could easily have had four more glasses of this stuff with no problems at all. I'm glad I had the chance to try it, I can only hope it's a beer that eventually gets some distribution.

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Photo of BigTomZ
4.65/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 vintage.

Pours a nice black with a nice thick tan head that left lots of lacing.

Smells roasty and sweet. Molasses, dark fruits, roasted malts, chocolate, coffee.

The taste followed the nose for the most part. There was a little brown sugar and licorice that was not really evident in the nose. This was pretty sweet but done in a good way.

This brew was thick and viscous with just enough carbonation to keep it pleasant.

I drank the whole bottle by myself without any problems and could have drank another if I had more.

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Photo of westweasel
4.65/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served in a goblet at Chef Paul's Barvarian Lodge in Lisle, IL.

The beer is very dark but clear, with about 1/3" tan head. Lacing was left all along the glass as the beer went down. The smell is filled with piney and citrusy hops, but it also contains some caramel and toasty smells. Very light roastiness - less than I expected. If you close your eyes and imagine the smell of their IPA "Furious" - you'll smell it. It smells like a similar mixture of hops.

The taste is filled with great hop flavor. Again nice pine and citrus hops provide a bitter bite. Also some raisin and date flavors.

The mouthfeel is nice and full. This beer is extremely drinkable for a Russian Imperial Stout. It is not too sweet - in fact it is loaded with bitterness (this keg is probably young) and quite a treat for a hop lover. The alcohol is very well hidden. I had barrel-aged darkness at the Great Taste of the Midwest - and was not that impressed. This is much better.

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Photo of sully11277
4.65/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A- Jet black with a nice brown head that sticks around for the whole thing.

S- You get a lot of an alcohol burn then you get a nice sweetness. You get a lot of cocoa and vanilla. You get a lot of roast. there are so many smells coming off this beer they blend very well.

T/M- You get a lot of sweetness upfront, you get a lot of dark chocolate then you get more of a milk chocolate and vanilla. It is very smooth which i was shocked by because of the alcohol burn you get from the smell.

O- This beer is amazing. all the flavors blend so great together I can not wait to see how this ages.

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Photo of imagineiii
4.65/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2008 vintage. poured into my duvel tulip. its quite dark, shows some deep ruby notes as the glass is emptied. head dissipates over time. nose of light chocolates, maple, and aged malty notes. if there is booze in this its entirely covered by all the candy notes. taste is mostly of sugary malts and chocolate covered raisins, and even some berry fruits. however, its balanced by just enough bitter chocolate notes and perhaps even the remnants of what was once a well hopped beer. i can pick out a couple notes that are similar to the only other surly beer ive had (ill save you the details, but it wasn't a pleasant experience). must be a house yeast. this beer is incredibly complex on the palate but extraordinarily well balanced. everything is in check, unlike darklord. mouthfeel is very pleasant. carbonation is very fine but ample. spot on mouthfeel. so unbelievably drinkable for 10.3%.

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Photo of vfgccp
4.66/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A - Amazing looking stout. Full, thick, creamy khaki head with sheets of lace. Pitch black body with no highlights to speak of, even when backlit.

S - Raisin, booze, spiced rum, oatmeal, whoppers, vanilla malt milkshake, almond, touch of licorice.

T - Milk chocolate, oatmeal, nutmeg, brown sugar, caramel, cream, vanilla, bourbon, charred oak, molasses, rum soaked raisins, licorice, black cherry.

M - Outrageously smooth. Creamy full body.

O - A killer RIS that lives up to its reputation.

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Photo of CoolJosh
4.66/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A Black as night, pours a spectacular khaki tan head disipitates to a satisfactory thin layer, unbelievably thick and syrupy
S Tons of piney hops come straight to the nose, bitter dark fruits but only subtley, some chocolate.
T Holy cow. I like to refer to a beer like this as a sock-knocker-offer. Just an amazing blend of caramel, sweet chocolate, dark cherries, plums, vanilla, burnt malts, roast, just the right amount of oats to produce a perfect creamy texture. There's just so much here and it all mixes together in an oblivion of perfection.

This beer is one of a kind, its so big and bold and flavor, yet so soft on the palate that I nearly shed a tear of sheer joy
Thanks treyrab for sharing thos one with me!

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Photo of mynie
4.66/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle art looks like a D&D handbook from 1983. Maybe a zine from some kids who really, really like the old Heavy Metal books. Not to say that this kind of stuff affects my review, but already this RIS takes a distant fourth behind Kate, Abyss, and Dark Lord (which at least looks like a Magic: The Gathering card).

Pours brilliantly into a long-stemmed chalice, though. Perfectly opaque blackness (like the soul of a really evil dude) with an amazingly large and retentive head.

I was told that this was the hopheaviest of all American RISes, and even with the glass two and a half feet away from my face right now I can smell some firm, dry hops. Closer to my face, the beer smells strong and gigantically raw. Maybe this should have been left to age for a few months? (I *will* try another in early 09, and update if necessary.) Anyhow, there's an alcohol burn in there, nodes of thick red wine, tons of ultrasweet malt. Espressoish, fresh cacao, with some hints of vanilla. Really nice, lots of complexity, but the alcohol strength is just a wee bit overwhelming and it'll probably only get better with age.

Tastes perfect. Just perfect. The hoppiness is what jumps out at you, since it's so unexpected. It does such a great job of complimenting the beer's huge sweetness that it almost seems to be a part of a the sweentess. Can this be? Can black be a part of white? Can love be a part of hate? Of course. I guess.

The overall effect is less like a traditional Impy stout and more like some kind of combination of deliciously harsh alcohol and a mocha cappuccino with like ten shots of espresso in it.

You know what it's like? It's like Big League Chew. It doens't taste anything like the gum, no, but it's similar to it in that it just tastes too good that you don't let yourself enjoy it properly. I always swallow Big League Chew, since it tastes so good for some weird reason I want to swallow, and then I get a stomach ache. No stomach ache, here, but it's been like 7 sips and I still am slurping it down, unable by the force of this strange compulsion to hold this in my mouth long enough to savor it. I want to consume it. I want to pound this like chocolate milk.

The body is creamy, thick and fizzy. Never quite come across a body like this in a bottled beer. Delicious. Tastes like something that could be healthy. I--if I didn't know this had alcohol in it I could almost see myself giving it to a kid.

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Photo of gatornation
4.67/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

had on tap at cafe 28 in a surly darkness goblet the pour was pitch black with a blackberry ring and a thin head it did have sticky lacing all around the goblet the smell was dark currants coffee toffee and dark fruits chocolate and vanilla bean..WOW the taste is all of the b4 mentioned but as it warmed it changed in complexity it became a delight to imbibe the chocolate and coffee and fruit and hops blended to an almost dessert RIS WOW again this is by far the one of the top RIS ever made smooth complex drinkable get and taste b4 its gone

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.67/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review#666. Thanks goes out to Kbutler for the bottle, one that has been on my radar for a bit. I enjoyed this with friends at The Compound poured into appropriate glasses.

Brown/black liquid shoe polish coming out of the bottle, deep space black when condensed in the glass. The name does not lie. Darkness builds a fort of dark tan, bordering on mocha brown, head on top that's kinda bubbly and not terribly together, there are nice streaks of lace on the way down. Muddled spray paint lace notches.

This has a good amount of everything that's associated with the style. First off a big bag of chocolate(bittersweet) pieces nessled in with espresso scents. A dark fruit component with some berries mixed in with a roasted malt base that does not quit. Some molasses and some bittering hops close this out.

I was worried about Darkness being to hoppy, I heard the 08' was bordering on Storm King territory which is not my bag. I get a nice amount of hops with some grapefruit and slight pine, but it's not at a killer level. The hops are actually under a sea of roasted malts(and many others) giving off chocolate, black coffee and oats from the farm. A nice amount of sweetness with brown suga & some licorice in the middle. Some molasses and blackberry finished off with a mix of everything above.

This is a thick stout, but not as thick as other heavy hitters. I would say it's full bodied but not very syrupy and gooey. It goes down smooth with a mix of sweet and bitter from the hopping. It does not coat the mouth for long but makes a lasting impression aftertaste wise. Hey wait, this is approaching 11%, I would not have guessed it if it was not printed on the bottle, expertly cloaked, but not 100% out of the picture.

Well Darkness exceeded my expectations and I had a smile on my face the whole time. I usually take my sweet time with big rizzes, but this was drank with the quickness, probably because it's not a overly gooey RIS. I wish I had more and can see why alot of people on this site hoard this beer, one that is not all that incredibly rare at this point, it's just damn fine stuff that demands some respect.

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Photo of madtowndmb1
4.67/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a very dark brown/black with a tan head. Smelled of chocolate, toffee and coffee. The Taste was great! This stout is very drinkable. The chocolate malt doesn't over-power the beer. And the Coffee and toffee flavors round it out perfectly! Very easy across your tongue and I could put down a bottle of this for sure. Not too much at all!

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Photo of jegross2
4.68/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Reviewing Darkness from Surly Brewing Company. I have been looking to try this one for quite some time.
Score: 97

Fresh and on tap at Kuma's Corner in Chicago, home of the best burgers in the universe, in 16 oz pint glass servings! Thank you Oddball Ilana for acting as my notetaker on this one.

Appearance: Pours pitch black. Completely opaque, like a vacuum for light. Thin brown head that mostly settles after pour. Excellent lacing. 4.5/5

Aroma: Molasses sweetness. Raisins and caramel. Creamy malts. Sweet figs, raw coffee beans, and maple. A little dark rum. 4.5/5

Taste: Incredibly complex. Sweet caramel and raisins. Dark fruit and maple syrupy sweetness. A little coffee and dark fruits on the mid-palate. Roasted malty sweetness. A little citrus becomes apparent as the beer layers on the mid-palate, as does some faint cocoa. Burnt chocolate flavors come through a few sips into the beer. A little cherry halfway through the glass too. Finishes with sweet raisin, very dark unsweetened chocolate and a little charcoal. Absolutely delicious! 4.75/5

Mouthfeel:Full-bodied and viscous. A little oily and chewy. Has a very sweet and slightly sticky finish. Despite all the sugary-sweet descriptors, the beer does not overwhelm the palate with sweetness. 10.3% ABV is absolutely hidden. 4.75/5

Overall: An instant classic! Delicious, well rounded and delivering on the hype. It's a little sweet, but nowhere near Dark Lord sweet.

Recommendation: An absolutely great beer that must be tried by everyone.

Pairings: My Neurosis burger at Kuma's Corner went GREAT with this one. Hamburgers, steak and caramelized onions are the food pairing to beat.

Cost: $10 for a pint, $20 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle.

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Photo of mrseano
4.68/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2010 vintage, received 11/10 from friend and opened 3/11.

A: Dark, dark black pour. No light shining through this beast. Deep color quickly surprised friends with whom I shared the beer.

S: Roasted, caramelized, hint of the strong alcohol within the beer. Smells of strong coffee.

T: Awesome chocolate-infused coffee. Strong, developed taste that lingered on the tongue.

M: Smooth and filling. Very full-bodied and felt like a meal in a bottle. Alcohol hidden within roast coffee taste and smooth mouthfeel.

O: I have just begun reviewing after many years of sampling and consuming beer, but this is currently my favorite beer I have the chance to experience. Received in beer trade from Great example of Imperial Stout and wowed me from first drink.

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Photo of MCain04
4.68/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

750ml bottle of 2013 vintage poured into Surly tulip glass at cellar temp, 54F.

Pours a dark brown, black body, beige head of creamy texture, good retention and lacing.

Smells chocolatey with roast and coffee beans, some dark fruit, and cherries.

Taste is akin to the smell but much more full. Dark fruits and cherries are quite prominent and complement the strong chocolate taste. Coffee and roasted malts present as well. Bitter with a good hop bite, but the hops don't take over at all. Sweet but not cloying. Perfectly balanced. Alcohol is almost undetectable.

Mouthfeel is smooth, creamy, and silky. Medium-to-full body. Dry sticky finish. Extremely drinkable.

This is incredibly tasty and overall is very drinkable. Dark fruits and cherried are very present and it is overall sweet, but is balanced well. This isn't the roastiest stout, but it is one of my all time favorites.

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Photo of dar482
4.68/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

'15 non-BA on tap at EBF: Great classic notes of the beer up front, but then an offensive amount of hops overwhelm the beer. Definitely a harsh beer when fresh.

On a '13 bottle, the beer has a really wonderful complexity for a non-barrel aged stout. Chocolate, dark fruit, umami, woody and earthy hops. A good transitioning of flavor that makes it quite different from other imperial stouts because of its substantial, but restrained hopping.

Mouthfeel is medium plus.

(2012 vintage)

The beer in the front has roasted malt, chocolate, and slight coffee flavors. The mouthfeel throughout is actually only medium plus, without being as full as other imperial stouts. The beer also begins with a heavy amount of sweetness. On the finish, there is a heavy hoppiness. It's a bittering that is still tannic, earthy, and drying.

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Photo of AdamGarcia
4.68/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2009 release. Decided to open this for no reason in particular. 750ml bottle served in Unibroue tulip.

A: Pours very dark, nearly black. A forceful pour yields two fingers worth of dark mocha colored head. Retention is strong. Leaves a little bit of lace. Very imposing appearance. No light getting through whatsoever.

S: Deep, rich scents. Dark fruit. Raisins, figs, plum, and red grapes. Hints of chocolate and coffee. Intense aromas.

T: Big and bold. Milk chocolate. Sweet coffee and cream. Lovely roasted flavors. Over-ripe fruits. Hops come through late and balance all the sweet flavors with a little bitterness. No discernible heat despite the abv. Quite complex.

M: Full bodied. Viscous and coating. Smooth as silk. Perfect.

O: Tremendous. Age was very kind to this one. I had high expectations and the were met, if not exceeded. This is an amazing beer that I would recommend trying at least once. Do what you need to do to track one down and you won't be disappointed. Surly continues to amaze me.

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Photo of joepais
4.68/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2008 vintage bottle split three ways in tulip glasses. It was nice and viscous coming out of the bottle. A small tan head rose form each pour then settled to a thin lace but a simple swirl of the glass would bring it back. The body of the brew was a midnight black with light maroon highlights.

The first aroma I got was a slight oxidation which was to be expected with the age. Then I got some wonderful aromas of molasses, brown sugar and some slight dark fruits.
The brew was towards the sweet side again I would expect it was from the age but it really made for an enjoyable sipping experience. Again I got the molasses, a hint of vanilla and dark fruits. I must say the roasted malts were showing up more as sweet chocolate than a roasted coffee note, Which added a bit uniqueness to the flavor. The brew was thick and viscous in your mouth with a slight carbonation for the tongue. Just the way I like a stout.

A great stout I would stand in line for it. The glass went down dam easy. I didn't get any hint of the alcohol seeing it was a 10%brew. I would gladly drink it again. big thanks to Packforever1976 for hooking me up

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Photo of Penguin3200
4.68/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Cracked a bottle of the 2010 Darkness tonight. Wanted to get a fresh review done from the bottle and try throughout the year. Will also be getting a draft or two in the coming weeks as it hits the TC pubs.

Appearance: 5.0 - Bottle rocks, and pours direct from the 57 degree cellar, thick into my snifter. Head of about 1 inch and some lacing after it settles. Dark, ominous and a thin head.

Smell: 4.5 - Loads of caramel and hot damn I would say crushed blueberries on the nose, and a some of the alcohol coming through. Some hops, but not nere what the '09 had.

Taste: 4.5 - Hits with a sweet chocolaty and caramel note, then the hops and alcohol come calling. Ends with a smokey malt and toasted grain finish. This finish keep s going...like a fine wine...Love this.

Mouthfeel: 5.0 - This eer hits it for me with the mouthfeel, light and airy almost, but still coats and leaves a finish that keep going and going. This is perfection.

drinkability: 5.0 - Not an over the top alcy bomb, and just has a finish that keeps you wanting more and more. Bravo Omar and Todd!!

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Photo of icefisherman
4.68/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First off this is some dark stuff so the name fits. Black thick liquid with a small tanish head. Smells most delicios kinda chocolaty almost like the black death coffee we get at work. Taste has so much going on it is hard to nail it down every sip is something new from caramel to dark fruits to slight piney hops. Mouthfeel was nice smooth with a little bite I liked it, it was rough around the edges. As for drinkability man oh man all night if I could and didn't have to work in the morning. Well hidden 10 percent deffinatly a beer worth tracking down on tap.

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Photo of JFresh21
4.68/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Had this on tap side by side with Abraxas.

Deep black, the head was less chocolate in color than Abraxas.

The thickness of this beer is incredible. It is so drinkable and smooth. It doesn't have the overly sweet flavor of a Dark Lord.

World class beer. One draft is not enough! Cheers!

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Photo of brew3crew
4.68/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- very dark with tan head around the edge.
S- very suprisingly hoppy. Roasted malts and deliciousness
T- suprisingly hoppy. Nice dark malts follow. Almost sweet. Love it.
M-medium body and so smooth
D-very drinkable and awesome. My top want and would love to see this with age.

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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
4.42 out of 5 based on 3,775 ratings.
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