Darkness | Surly Brewing Company

BA SCORE
98
world-class
3,815 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:
3,815
Reviews:
877
Avg:
4.42
pDev:
9.28%
 
 
Wants:
3,312
Gots:
1,520
For Trade:
137
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,815 |  Reviews: 877
Photo of mock_in
4.2/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

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

 477 characters

Photo of nut
4.2/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

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.

 1,217 characters

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.

 356 characters

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.

 2,222 characters

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

 1,109 characters

Photo of Mikestaf
4.2/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

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.

 1,195 characters

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!

 923 characters

Photo of TWStandley
4.21/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of BZero007
4.21/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from the 2010 release with the Vampire on the label.

Glad I jumped the gun on this brew as it is not what you would expect for a popular limited release RIS. This brew poured a extremly black color with the formation of a dark brown colored head. The head stuck around and graced the glass with lace, which I love. The aroma was not extremly powerfull but carried notes of a sweet malt and dark fruits. The taste was extremely interesting as I said above it is not what you would think. Most limited RIS have a extremely thick body with overly powerfull roast flavor, this brew did not. The brew carried a medium style body with a bit more carbonation then is usual with this style. Flavors jumped off the brew as balanced roast/sweet malt/Darkfruits. I was taken back as I was prepared to have my taste buds thrown back by the usual unbalanced nature of RIS. This brew was elegant and is incredibly deserving of its popularity. Will be looking for more bottles of next years release.

 992 characters

Photo of ptrck_nl
4.21/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of ThreeThousand
4.21/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of jdklks
4.21/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Steve (fbm115) for the opportunity to try this. I've been waiting to mark it off my list. It doesn't disappoint.

This is a good looking brew: dark with amber edges, and a light fluffy brown head that graces the surface as softly as silk. The smell is, well, different; different, that is, in terms of imperial stouts. The big standout here is HOPS! Hops in a major way. They mix interestingly (not badly, but not necessarily well either) with your typical RIS characteristics: dark, roasted malts, with a dark fruit sweetness (cherries), chocolate, and alcohol. The hops add a citrusy "flair" that is, as before, interesting.

The taste is as interesting as the smell, but better. It takes a little getting used to, but all the complexity of a good RIS is here. It's sweet and majorly chocolatey, with a just a little roastiness. There are hints of caramel, brown sugar, and molasses. overall, very sweet. To throw excessive amounts of hops in the beer almost seems stupid at this point, but it somehow pulls it off. there is a citrus hop flavor up front that is immediately subdued by the more traditional stout flavors mentioned above. The hops do remain present throughout, though, and are most notable in the oily mouthfeel and the bordering-on-hop-bitterness finish and aftertaste. I taste DIPA, and I taste RIS. This is a beer experiencing an identity crisis, something that perhaps a little maturation could help. overall, its very intriguing and very interesting; on top of that, its actually pretty damn good.

The mouthfeel is silky smooth and extraordinarily well-carbonated. nice and thick as well.

 1,622 characters

Photo of jolly_lynch
4.21/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.21/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 Zombie bottle.

A - Pours a very dark brown with a one finger light brown head. Great retention.

S - Milk chocolate, slight oak, slight bourbon and vanilla as well.

T - Vanilla milk chocolate, with a slight bourbon and oak finish.

D - Sweet and Oily. Average body and carbonation.

O - Very good. Smooth and delicious.

 326 characters

Photo of HOMEPL8
4.21/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of KobraKai
4.21/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Pecorasc
4.21/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2008, split two ways with Boothbeer into wine glasses. 750mL red waxed bottle with a great looking demonic character holding a skull. Not the typical Surly artwork, but impressive.

A- Pitch black at center with ruby to brown highlights when held to light. Latte colored head with large bubbles that reverse gravitate into a thick and creamy collar. Intricate lacing is formed as the heavy foam dissipates. No signs of carbonation are visible through this murky sludge.

S- Restrained licorice, dark fruits, a medley of boxed chocolates, and heat from the alcohol. Underneath these different aromas is a persistent sugary sweetness. While complex, this is lacking in intensity; I expected more.

T- Up front- intense sweetness accompanied by various dark fruits: prunes, dates, plums, and figs. There is a gradual progression that leads to a combination of roasted barley and dark fruits. At the end there is a only the roasted aftertaste balanced by a sugary sweetness- a combination reminiscent of molasses. Leaves a good amount of sugary residue on the mouth and lips. Moderate alcohol burn. Intense... more than made up for my disappointment with the aroma.

M- Very viscous and milky with little carbonation. The consistency reminds me of a warm glass of Ovaltine. If there was one aspect of this beer that I would equate with the name "Darkness", it would be the mouthfeel.

D- This is a sipper, but not because of the alcohol. The sweetness and viscosity make this one to be consumed in limited quantities.

Notes: Drank this side-by-side with the '09, but did not review that vintage. The intensity of the dark fruits and sugary sweetness in the '08 separated that year from the '09. Additionally, the '09 had a hop bitterness than was not present in the '08.

 1,776 characters

Photo of Eiwatts9
4.21/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Jmoore50
4.21/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Sparklepants for this awesome brew.

The appearance of this one is superb. Super high SRM, like pushing the limits on this one, dark as night. The head is caramel colored and sticks around for some fun. Great small bubbles, head foam is dense. The legs on this one are beautiful, alcohol residue as well as heavy lacing. Great look on an epic brew.

The smell is hoppy, interesting. Molasses and licorice, with HUGE roasted grains. Some ABV is present, also some burnt coffee smells as well. What is going on with the hop character in the smell? I am not liking it, gives off a citrus-grapefruit characteristic that kind of clashes with these darker fruit smells. Toffee and caramel, sweet dark candy is very present as well.

The taste is good, but not blended very well. There are very strong characteristics of roasted and black malts. There are also roasted coffee flavors as well, but not coming from actual coffee, most likely coming off of the malt. This coffee malt gives it an earthy flavor as well. Black licorice and a lot of the ABV are noticed. The ABV is nice because it brings out the roasted malts more and also some chocolate. Why are hops coming through so strong?!? Citrus bitterness is such a strong characteristic in this one that it stands out from everything else. I went to the Surly website and they say that they 'add a touch of hops to make it tastier'. NO! It makes it a totally confused RIS. Chocolate is strong in the brew as well as caramel and toffee. I cannot believe the hops in this, really misunderstanding the direction the brewers wanted to go with this one. Starts on such a good direction and the hops throw a wrench in the clogs. Weird.

The mouthfeel is great and creamy. Lots of hot ABV flavors help you out as well as the roasted malts. Perfect carbonation, really great.

The drinkability is really good for a few bumps in the road. This is still a really good beer but. . . overrated. Maybe it is just me and how I like my RIS', but this much hops in a RIS? Sure you add them for bitter aspects, but if they dry hopped this with a bunch of hops then they are very brave in doing so. I think that the hops bring the beer down and distract from the other great flavors in this beer.

Thanks again to Sparklepants for sending me this. Knocked out another 'big RIS' that I have always wanted to try.

J

 2,361 characters

Photo of ZombiesAteMyDog
4.21/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

REVIEW # 666 - Darkness 2011 (Zombie)

A - The body appears thinner than I expected; the glass is not "stained" as I move the zombie molasses around the glass. Opaque black with a small, warm tan head that lasts.

S - Hmmm... rum raisin, some slight char/smoke, bakers' chocolate, and coffee... All of the somewhat usual suspects, but it seems a bit fruitier for an RIS, which I like.

T - First off, this reminds me of Black Albert a lot due to the dark fruitiness I am picking up. The taste follows the noise quite well, but the char flavor lingers on the tounge for a bit longer. Not overly sweet, and the alcohol is well hidden, but then again, this is not even hitting 11%... I'm used to having 14-15% stouts lately, so this is a nice change of pace.

M - Not overly heavy or syrupy, which is quite pleasant. Too many sought after stouts get overly thick and syrupy. Don't get me wrong, I generally like that in my stouts, but in moderation.

O - A great stout, and I'm glad I was able to trade for it. Thank you to whoever traded this to me back in the last part of 2011.

***I had CBS on Canada Day '13, and now I've had Darkness as my 666th beer... I am a beer nerd.

 1,174 characters

Photo of peacemakers48
4.21/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
4.42 out of 5 based on 3,815 ratings.
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