Darkness | Surly Brewing Company

871 Reviews

Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

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/

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

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Reviews: 871 | Ratings: 3,757
Photo of litheum94
4.69/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2 for 1 review! Did a side by side of the 2010 and 2011 vintage. The 2011 definitely wins for label (the Zombie is awesome!).

2011 Vintage:
Pours a dark black, coal colored body. Tan head, not much besides some pools of bubbles.

Milk chocolate, sweet plums, slight whiskey barrel, even though this isn't BA.

Sweet milk chocolate, espresso bean and some oakiness. Smooth and creamy. Light hopping, some woodiness. Dark fruit sweetness.

This is an awesome, smooth, delicious stout. I can't believe this isn't barrel aged.

2010 Vintage:
Black body, with a small, tan head that leaves a pool of bubbles.

Aromas of dark chocolate, chicory and espresso beans. Some boozy, warming aromas.

Dark chocolate, bitter and sweet. Woody bitterness and espresso. Warming booziness, with some whiskey like tones.

Not quite as smooth, but a great stout.

The fresher vintage was a little better to me, but this is just a great stout. Do not miss this one!

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Photo of shishidojo
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this at Darkness Day 2009. The new vintage is less sweet and has a balanced finish. Not cloying like some of this ilk can be for me. It poured ink-black and had a substantial, dark-tan head. Carbonation is dead on. Rich, peaty flavor and characteristic sweetness nicely balanced by a hoppy finish. Exceptional brew. Best Darkness yet.

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Photo of CaptainNomihodai
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sepia inky dark appeance with only slight carbonation with an unremarkable nose but followed by a velvety smooth, lushous abundance of pleasantly dark slightly bitter flavors pursued by a vague sweetness, not overbearing or fruity, just a pleasant finish to a highly sip-able beer perfected for a cold winter's night: boozy without burn, sweet and slightly dry.

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Photo of kenneyho
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


A- Darkness, Black Magic, Cold Blooded.

S- Chocolate, Molasses, Toffee

T- WOW! Very robust flavors! Chocolate and Toffee!

M- Medium to thick. Some heat on it but not overpowering.

O- One of my favorites and I trade for it as much as possible!

Served in snifter.

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Photo of schellsbeer
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes taken from sampling party early December 2008.

2008 vintage.

Thanks Greggy for the chance to taste this wonderful beer.

Sorry Surly Darkness....but Three Floyd's Dark Lord has you beat...just barely though.

A - Wonderful. Dark black with bitter dark chocolate covered cherry look. Fantastic. Swirl the glass...where the beer meets the top of the glass, a wonderful red color can be noticed. Incredible.

S - Fresh. Raisins. Molasses. Black Cherries. Chocolate. There is so many things going on in this beer, who can describe them all.

T - I think this beer needs to sit for about 1 year....that is why I have my own bottle cellaring under the stairs waiting for next November to roll around. Fruit. Strong Alcohol taste. Cherries. Chocolate. Much better when served at room temperature. Fantastic brew.

M - Thick. Filling. Creamy. I want this beer to last all night but...Dang it doesn't.

D - High Alcohol. Available once a year only in Minnesota...low point but only slightly.

One of my top five beers to date. Fantastic. Almost perfection in a bottle. Close. Will re-review next November.

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Photo of IBUnit63
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From hero27 via LNBA BIF - sweet haul, man - thanks!...750 bottle #174 (2007), black over maroon wax into Reidel Vinum Cab glass...

Pours a black coffee brown with a maple/peanut butter-colored head (1 finger) that comes and goes, leaving sparse bubbles in the middle of the glass. Very viscous...sparse to decent lacing but solid trails up and down the glass.

One word...bountiful. Hearty malt candy sweetness with salty roasted peanuts and extremely deep caramel and chocolate malt. Alcohol wraps up in the thickness of it all. Is there enough room for hops? A cool bitterness of grass and slight pine detected. Aroma mellows slightly after pouring and with time.

This, for all its depth and complexity, is much drier on the palate than on the nose. Grass hop profile comes about with slight pine in the back. Salty peanut brittle forward malt taste. I know the sweetness...I know there's alcohol, but it's quite contained. Bittersweet chocolate emerges and strengthens with warmth. Absolutely love the dryness of this.

After a while the alcohol gets a little warm but it works in Beautiful Chemistry with the dry, chocolate coffee texture along with solid hop wilderness. Slowly slides down the palate in its extreme viscosity. Finish is slow and sultry. In spots there's slight emptiness but the holes get filled in right quick.

Oh, it's a sipper alright, but a damn fine one at that. One of the ultimate examples of balance in overabundance and utter depth. One of the best!

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Special thanks to the SurlyMan for arranging to set aside a growler for a displaced Minnesotan. Then, my hat's off to feloniousmonk for getting said growler out to the east coast. Much obliged, gents!

First off, this one is about as dark as they come. It poured relatively flat, but then a copper and tan head crept out of the darkness to create a short creamy head. this fell after five minutes or so and left a slight collar. The bubbles that struggle up from the bottom along the sides of my tulip look like they're running in slow motion. Beautiful!

Smells of caramel and maple syrup that's effortlessly faded into grapefruit rind, pine hops. Seriously, I can barely detect the seam. In between the two comes little hints of classy dark chocolate. Nice.

The hops come through in the flavor much stronger than anticipated. They really steal the show up front with a dry sour hop snap that reminded me a bit of orange or grapefruit, but it's really in a class of its own. This is also accompanied by a glassy corn syrup sweetness. As the pine goes, it is replaced with a creamy, ever-so-slightly charred barley that reminds me of marshmallows roasted over a campfire and chocolate chip bran muffins. Finishes with a slight sting that feels more like citrus, with only a trace of a sharp lime sting. As the sting fades, I'm left with a nice espresso and a touch of smoke. Holy dynamics, Batman!

The body is medium to heavy bodied, but the viscosity traps in tons of little bubbles making this one feel like pudding. It also coats my mouth a little.

This is a very well done beer. Great for the style, and fantastically intricate. A sipper for sure, but I don't think I'd want too many of these on any given night. I'm glad I have help with this growler. Thanks again Omar and Al!

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Photo of soccerman7
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into snifter glasses. Shared with Gregc and Calise1122.

A - Gorgeous black with a healthy tan head. Bottle is fantastic with the double dip wax and devil holding the skull upside down (don't know which year)

S - Chocolate, coffee, and leather. Faint touch of smoke.

T - Truly fantastic. This was the BEST Russian Imp Stout I have head. Coffee, Chocolate, Tobacco, and Roasted notes. This just got more complex as it lingers warmer and warmer. Hops present yet compliments the flavors.

M - Not as thick as the Dark Lord, but much more of a flavor blast. Really a gem. Lingers worth the different notes.

O - Simply amazing. The most balanced and complete beer I have had. Thanks to Gregc for opening this. It was fantastic.

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Photo of DNICE555
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Halloween Bash 2010. The VIP at the party was the Surly Darkness. Shared with the LArse, Zapps, and Cpie. I cannot think of a better way to starting out an enchanted evening. This review should probably be #666 but I will probably be 666 but the time I get to that number. Shout to SpeedwayJim for this bottle.


I made my way through the chophouse, the spider web, the grim reaper, and the bloody black roses to my beer fridge. I took the bottle in hand, scurried to the bar and quickly placed it down. There was a strange energy surrounding the bottle. As I got closer to it I felt more and more empty inside. The mummy on the front had me begging Zapps to stay close and protect me. I grabbed Jlynn's heavy duty bottle opener of the orange dish. Stabbing at the bottle cutting through the wax left me out of breath. Finally I reached the cap and quickly pried it open before I was thrown backwards by an unkown force. Looking up at the bottle I could see spirits escaping which reminded me of the micronized Ghostbusters ghost trap. I broke out my proton pack and quickly secured them in the containment unit. Cautiously making my way back to the bottle I secured some tulips. I poured the thick sludge into my tulip and noticed a low carbonation level and the consistency of a Transylvanian Moat. A tan almost brown head jumped out of the moat like vampires of the night hunting for their prey. Finding myself in a trance like state I quickly looked away. I finally gathered the courage to take a sniff with my eyes closed. Roasted bat malts, plum witches dances around my noise hairs. After two years of lifting weights in my beer fridge the hops are still going strong. I picked up this evil liquid and took a sip. Feeling slightly possesed I could sense tons of different malts. The most impressive fruit profile of any stout I've ever had. So many flavors coming through. Despite the robust chocolaty coffee notes, the fruit dominated. What an interesting demon. Very low carbonation despite the exorcism. The demons sucked the bubbles out. As with any massive 10.3 ABV stout this one is a sipper. It's not meant to be chugged like a coors light. The drinkability is amazing. Alcohol is very well hidden. Mouthfeel is smooth as a witches broom handle. Unless I go to MN on darkness Day or trade another precious KTG this will probably be my only Darkness. What an impressive brewery. Very glad I got to try this one. Happy Halloween.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I've been waiting for this one.
A deep, dark pour. Close to Abyss in total darkness. Small, but dense off brown head, nice chunking action. A bit creamy.
Aroma is full of cocao and coffee. Some anise and dark plum or prune. Not overpowering in the nose, makes mouth water.
Taste focuses more on the chocolate side rather than coffee. A rich cocao powder taste, yet is smooth. Dark chocolate, some coffee and anise, roasted malt and some caramel. Hints of toasted bread in the back.
Drinks very well, alcohol isn't detected. Nice feel. Great beer.

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Photo of Eldalonde
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

’08. Pours as black as any stout I’ve seen with a thick syrupy pour and a deep dark brown head. Smells of sweet caramel and chocolate, vanilla, oak, tobacco, and licorice. Lots of tobacco on the palate with chocolate and coffee really coming through. Honey and vanilla with some nice dark fruits like raisins and plums coming through. This is very oily, with a very heavy mouth feel. Long bitter finish.

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Photo of kevanb
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

750ml bottle, 2013 vintage, purchased at Binny's Grand in Chicago (much to my surprise) and poured into a 2012 Darkness tulip. I've heard rumors that the batch sent to Chicago was different than the batch released at Darkness Day in 2013, but I have nothing to substantiate this, that being said, this bottle was quite different than the draft offering I had at Northdown Cafe not a few weeks earlier.

The beer pours a super deep jet black color, wonderful opacity and just a touch of cola brown color when hit by the light. A thick, taut, caramel colored head rises from the beer, not instantaneously, taking its time to thicken and settle before receding slowly and gracefully leaves a few nice spots of lace behind. The aroma is roasty, dark brunt grain with some toasted coffee bean before a rush of chocolate, also a touch charred gives way to a plethora of fruit flavors, cherry, plum, prune and fig, with a bit of brown sugar and raisin as well as some molasses and toffee. The flavors however, are on point, loads of rich chocolate, bittersweet that brings out the fruit flavors impeccably well, huge amounts of cherry and plum with some backing raisin and licorice that leads to a rich malt and brown sugar sweet finish, but boy does the roast get cut down on the tongue. I'm used to this beer exerting some bitterness and hoppyness, especially when this fresh, but this bottle is so rounded and smooth. The body on this bottle is perfection, incredibly rich, soft, smooth, velvety, all of the synonyms for those words apply. It coats the mouth so gently and eloquently that it's almost unnoticed while asserting itself so well. The finish is wonderfully creamy, soft and has a perfect level of warming as it goes down.

Verdict: I always thought of Darkness as a rather unique and inventive take on the style as it was assertively bitter and always had a distinctive piney hop flavor to me, however this bottle changes everything. It's incredibly rich, smooth and balanced. The complexity is astounding and this is deserving of all accolades. Perhaps there is some truth to the notion that the recent distribution was slightly different than the release day batch, but whatever was in my bottle was superb and I want more.

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Photo of larryi86
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to hockeyd for this
750 mL bottle, 2011 zombie, poured into a Tulip glass

A- Black as night with a small tan head that just sits there, great lacing.

S- Sweet chocolate, dark fruits, hint of cherries, some roasted malts, and a touch of hops, overall very sweet smelling.

T- Starts out sweet milk chocolate, getting hint of roasted malts, dark fruits, hint of hops, cherries in the finish, and just a touch of alcohol, but does not seem like 10.3%. Well balanced and a nice level of complexity

M- Smooth, creamy, full body.

O- This is a great beer I am very happy that I sought this one out. This is an easy drinking, sweet stout. I would love to get another to see what aging would do it.

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Photo of phattysbox
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

kplynch was kind enough to buy me two bottles at darkness day. We opened one of those bottles and shared among friends. Thanks Kevin!!

Poured into Corsendonk tulip glass. Jet black and very viscous, almost oily in appearance. Thick frothy coffee colored head that slowly retreats into a nice thin lace. Stickage all up and dpown the glass - awesome looking brew and dark indeed.

This is the strangest, but great, brew I have ever had. Part DIPA, porter and mostly RIMP...

Since it is a RIMP, you would expect roasted malts and chocolate in the nose. While its there, initially the brew smells like a west coast DIPA. Sweet floral hops pervade the nose - ripe tropical citrus friut and berries. This is followed by chocolate and vanilla notes. The nose is quite complex.

Tastes a smoothing sweet malt base. Vanilla and oak are very present with coffee and chocolate undertow. Of course the hops - in the back and really balance out the brew quite nicely. It changes however as it warms - reminding me of a porter in some sense. Very complex brew with lots going on. Mouthfeel is wet and velvety with meduim to low carbonation. The only thing I could say about this brew that might be considered negative - is its very sweet. This might be off-putting to some but not to me.

I still can't wrap my head around this brew - quite unique but simply fantastic!!

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Photo of Chaney
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this brew as part of a huge tasting courtesy of Lunch. This totally knocked out one of my major "Wants." Thanks Paul!

I love the new vampire bottle design!

A: Pours as dark as the name itself, with about a fingers worth of head that is only a couple of shades lighter than the brew itself.

S: Sweet and fruity (figs?), candy-like, with molasses, and charred-wood. Awesome!

T: Sweet molasses upfront, which blends in perfectly to a chewy chocolate body, and finishes with a mild dark cocoa bitterness.

M: Not boozy at all, with a honey-like texture, and dark glass lacing. Despite the high octane, this one is remarkable creamy and smooth.

D: There is no bourbon, coffee, barrel-aging, or any other gimmicks in this brew. This is just good old-fashioned brewing. Extremely memorable!

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Photo of Westsidethreat
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

JeffKrenner :worship:

A: Into the extra large Riedel snifter it goes. A full inch of the darkest, thickest foam blooms out of no where creating a firm and solid lid to the brew. The body seems thin compared to the thick head, but boy is it dark. Its like a black hole, no light gets thru.

S: Interestingly enough, the first thing I smell is cascade hops. The rest of the aromas are almost oily in nature...plums, chocolate brownies, espresso drip, chestnuts and robust brown sugar.

T: Again the first thing that hits me are the cascade hops, full and juicy. The tip of the tongue experiences milk chocolate, some sappy pine and an interesting dynamic between grapefruit and molasses. Actually I think most of the sweetness is in the realm of butterscotch. Espresso moves in allowing roasted characteristics to blossum. Then these hops pop back up! Is this the hoppiest (read: not bitterest) imperial stout on the market? Boy this beer warms well…the hops really become pronounced while the chocolate comes forth full and creamy. Finishes with buttery burnt cashews, spicy pine and bitter bakers cocoa. A heavy dose of roasted barley coast this one to fruition.

M: Full, thick and chewy.

D: Delicious and quite original. Definitely stands out from the crowd. Its up there for the best imperial stouts but I’m not quite sure its thee best. Not as luxurious as some of the others but jam packed with flavor. Delicious beer. Thanks again to JeffKrenner and his “mystery” source. I owe you guys big time.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to ahalloin for sharing this at my most recent tasting.

2008 vintage. Eerie photo of the devil on the label. Eek!

A: Very dark, big beige head and great lacing.

S: Big roasted malts with a very present hop profile, much more so than I am accustomed to. This beer smells awesome.

T: Hops are surprisingly present and delicious. Rich roasted malt with bitter chocolates. Wow, this is amazing beer. This beer stands among the best imperial stouts I've had the pleasure of drinking.

M: Really smooth. ABV hidden extremely well.

D: I need to attend Darkness Day to really test this beer's drinkability :)

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Photo of ShadesOfGray
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Got from TATTORSA, thanks again! Poured from a 22oz cool looking bottle into my Corsedonk snifter. Vintage, I believe...2009. Red wax sealed. Started drinking at about 44 degrees. Figured I'd crack this one today for my B-day.

Pours a very dark, thick black with about a late building head...dark brown...and about a fingers worth. Head slowly dissapates and leaves great thick frothy lacing.

Aroma is wonderful. Lots of chocolate, maltiness, smokey coffee, and inviting bitters. Wow, the aroma is making my mouth water.

MMM. Excelent RIS. Like a DIPA meets RIS. Again, heavy chocolate flavors...followed by DIPA type sweet hops. Some sweet dark fruits are noticable, dark sugars, coffee, possibly even licorice?...finishing with a great tangy yet sweet flavor that sits on your tongue for quite some time.

What a wonderful RIS...I'll say it again. Thick, yet creamy and smooth. Very little carbonation which is ideal for this beer. Alcohol is well hidden at times, and very warming at other times which I found intriguing.

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Photo of tuo
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Jet black with a nice tan head that makes for nice lacing on the glass. Thought it would be more viscous after tasting.

S: Nice roasty malt notes with a slight hops aroma. just a touch of coffee.

T: Great roasty malt flavor with creamy dark chocolate taste. Sweeter then anticipated but very good. It also has a nice coffee flavor.

MF/D: Very thick with a low carb on it. Low alcohol taste, not much of an alcohol presence for the 10.3% ABV. As hearty and thick as this beer is I would not call it a sipper, you could drink this beer like it was 5% ABV.

One of the best beers that has ever crossed my lips. I wish they would brew this year round.

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Photo of Viciousknishs
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vampire lable

A- pours pitch bock with a finger and a half of dark espresso crema head. Decent head retention. Some lacing.

S- big Lucious dark/semi-sweet chocolate aromas burst from the glass. Some dark fruit tones of fig intermingle with a burnt brown sugar and black strap molasses. Finishes with a roasty char like aroma.

T- Bittersweet chocolate up front blends with a blackstrap molasses componet. Dark fruit plum/prune port like qualities in the middle. Licorice flavors abound with some char that brings things together nicely. Finishes with a lingering anise and rich roasty malt that lingers.

MF- thick velvety chewy mouthfeel with a heavy body. Low soft caressing carbonation.

D- very drinkable

overall an outstanding RIS. More please!

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Photo of hoppymeal
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #230. Pours black with a good size dark tan, light brown head that recedes slowly, with just a bit of lacing. Aroma is very citrusy and hoppy, oranges and tangerines, like a citrusy cotton candy. Some roasty, smoky and chocolatey notes as well, these are in the background but work extremely well with the hoppiness in the foreground. Taste is very similar to the aroma with the citrusy hops being the main player, but a very nice roasty and at times, rich chocolatey maltiness in the background. The flavors work very well together and alternate back and forth. Mouthfeel is medium to heavy in body, very soft and full feeling, creamy carbonation is soft on the tongue, some light tingling and a bit of dryness towards the end from the hoppiness. Really, an outstanding and unique beer. I've had hoppy imperial stouts before, but this particular combination works very well together. Tastes as though it will continue to age very well, though it is extremely drinkable at present.

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Photo of spacecake9
4.71/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Darkness 2015, tasted on tap at Surly.
A - Pours dark brown with a beautiful tan head. Lots of lacing
S - Aroma is sweet, molasses.
T - Flavor is Muted chocolate, raisins and a bit of cherries. Wow.
M - Thick mouth feel, more carbonation than expected.
O - This was fantastic. And I was lucky enough to find a bomber of it later in the day.

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Photo of Back_in_the_Saddle
4.71/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Thanks Aimee.
This was poured into a snifter.
The appearance was a black color with a dark tan head. The head took its time as it dissipated. Light lacing ran around the glass.
The smell had a smooth dark chocolate, vanilla, dark dried fruit, sweet bourbon, milk chocolate and molasses.
The taste was mainly sweet with an ample amount of the dark chocolate showing some roasty and bitter edges. The aftertaste was mainly sweet through the previously mentioned flavors of the aroma. Nice quick finish.
The mouthfeel was about heavy on the body as the ABV made a big effort in affording my tongue the price of admittance. No joke with this one. Malts lay down the gamut and produce a decent stickiness.
Overall, one of the heaviest feeling beers I've ever had. I wonder if this thins out with age, hopefully my trader will get me another. Extremely good.

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Photo of sprucetip
4.71/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First of all, a big thank you to BuckeyeNation for the stellar trade and hand delivery of this beauty.

With a fairly aggressive pour the precious contents produced more thick, dark mocha foam than impenetrably black liquid. The head lingered for quite some time, as I admired it and inspected other aspects. Though there was nothing that so much as resembled a highlight, I did detect prodigious quantities of tiny bubbles cascading upwards along the inside edge of the glass and joining the loitering frothy top. Thick lacing was left behind by the initial froth, but there was little later on.

I found the nose roasty and smoky, mainly, with some fruity hops evident, upon early inspection. Later there were hints of licorice, relatively low levels of alcy heat, and a burst of black patent before some caramel malty sweetness that added some depth I was hoping for. It continued to grow richer and more complex. I was planning to up the score a notch, but, later yet, that blast of black patent seemed to hand on and overpower some of the other influences, and the score landed where it did. But it was a tough call.

The taste did not immediately lend itself, descriptively, to a plethora of elements. But, wow! Rich caramel malty sweetness, and strong roasty and coffee influences lead. A touch of hoppy and possibly roasty bitterness works its way in, as does vague licorice notes and vanilla. Barely noticeable alcohol. Extraordinarily rich and smooth. I struggled with the decision, and have decided to score it a 5, something I rarely do.

Well but not over carbonated, with alcy warming that stops a bit short of burn. Thick, chewy, and viscous. Luxurious texture, and finishes clean. The just barely too strong warming keeps this from being a 5.

As good as any, joins a few other in setting the bar. Wicked smooth, rich, and complex. Just plain decadent. Wow. Yum. ...Thanks again to BuckeyeNation for making this experience possible.

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Photo of snaotheus
4.71/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

750ml waxed/capped 2016 bottle shared at @mr-jj's house, supplied by him through whatever means of acquisition he has. Thanks man!

Pours a very dark brown, with a very small brown head, not a lot of carbonation. Looks good, but not particularly special. Smell is rich coffee and chocolate, I swear some bourbon, vanilla flavors.

Taste is anise, balanced coffee and sweet, soft chocolate and vanilla. Extremely well balanced, excellent beer.

Mouthfeel is very dry, amazing for such a strong bomb. Overall, this is an excellent beer. We tasted this alongside 7 barrel aged beers, and this goes a long way to prove that you can make an incredible, flavorful booze-bomb stout without barrels. I'm sad it's gone, I'm happy I got to try it.

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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
4.42 out of 5 based on 3,757 ratings.
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