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Darkness | Surly Brewing Company

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850 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
2015 - Bat
2016 - Cerberus

Added by ryantupy on 10-08-2006

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Reviews: 850 | Ratings: 3,637
Photo of doubleshovels
4.74/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep darkness in a tulip glass lulls one into a haze from one whiff of its very distinct dope aroma. I cracked a smile and started laughing as soon as it got close to my nose, surely love at first scent. Darkness also has a deep rainbow of flavors to back up its out of the ordering aroma and a mouthfeel that’s open to one more before we go.

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Photo of bsp77
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from magnificent 750ml bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Exceedingly dark brown that might as well be black with a thick mocha head that mostly recedes, but only after several minutes.

Smell: Very fruity aroma for a RIS, with a strong citrus hop bitterness. Some floral notes (roses?) are apparent as well as something akin to raw meat. The roasted aroma is quite low, with just a slight touch of chocolate.

Taste: Same as the aroma, it is very fruity, both due to the malts (plum, figs) and the hops (citrus). The citrus is especially off-putting, but in a good "wow I didn't realize that could work" way. Also notice some rich molasses, licorice and chocolate, with a nice mild bitterness at the end.

Feel: Low carbonation, full chewy body that is exceptionally smooth.

Drinkability: I really can't tell this is over 10% at all. Despite how thick it is, it is very easy to drink. Overall, not a typical RIS at all considering the lower roasted character and the citrus hops, but quite exceptional.

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Photo of pat61
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is the Zombie version bottled 10-22-11 and retrieved from the cellar 6-27-14. Review from notes. L: Pours pitch black under a 1” tan foam cap that slowly dissipates to a thick film. S: Chocolate, sherry, prune. T: Rich caramel, hints of sherry and prune, chocolate, espresso. F: Very creamy with medium carbonation and a full body. O: An excellent desert beer that improves and develops with age.

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4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Surly Darkness 2012

Appearance: Surly’s most exclusive beer pours a midnight black. No light gets through this beer at all. The head is a massive three fingers, and is a great-looking khaki color. As it descends, the head leaves swaths of lacing intricate lacing. Alcohol legs are present, but that is to be expected at 10.3% ABV. Really, it just looks like an especially dark Russian imperial stout, but the crazy lacing and head really push it over the top.

Aroma: Huge, roasty coffee aromas flow out of the glass from across the room. They are followed quickly by dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and a fantastic creaminess. Amidst all the organized chaos, a molasses sweetness runs under the entire aroma. The alcohol just barely comes in at the tail end. This beer smells crazy good and enormous.

Taste: Follows the nose, except with huge chocolate notes taking the forefront completely. The roasty coffee comes in as an aftertaste, but cannot quite fight off the dominating milk, dark, and baker’s chocolates, and the burnt sugar sweetness that comes with it. Thankfully, hops come in at the very end and do their best to balance the taste. They cannot quite do it, but the effort is very much appreciated. The alcohol makes its presence known along with some dark fruits at the tail end of the taste. A little more balance would be great, but as it is, this beer is off-the-charts amazing.

Mouthfeel: This beer is silky smooth on the palate, and has a great, minimalist syrupy character that makes it a joy to drink. Unfortunately, the carbonation is extremely minimal. It would really benefit the beer to be a tad fizzier, which would help separate out all the complexity going on here. The alcohol also provides a very calculated warmth that remains exactly in the realm of pleasantness. The carbonation, though…

Overall: This beer was everything I could have hoped it would be. After the first two categories, I thought this might be my first perfect 20/20. Unfortunately, it was not to be due to the slightly imbalanced taste and the almost complete absence of carbonation. Still, this is worth the hype. I cannot wait to try the bottle I currently have aging in the cellar. Things can only go up from here, as I assume it will level out the sweetness. 19/20

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Photo of Immortale25
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2013 vintage was big, bold and roasty in the front, but somehow smooth and restrained in the finish. Still some substantial hop bitterness after two years of aging. Mouthfeel was slightly creamy but not particularly silky. Very robust body though. Excellent overall and saw little room for improvement.

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Photo of mbudner
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2009 release, big thanks to rpohagan for this one. Poured into a delerium tulip/snifter.

A- Pours a deep black, dare I say Darkness. Deep tan to mocha 1-finger head leaving spotty lacing.

S-Very sweet smelling. Molasses and chocolate. Very different from the 2008 I sampled fresh last year, which was quite hoppy.

T-Mmmm mmm mmm. This is a fine one. Very sweet with subtle soy sauce notes (it's pretty young at this point, but I'm still getting some.) Some bitter roasted malts and definitely a fair amount of sweet molasses-like flavor. The sweetness gives way to a decent hop profile for a stout of this magnitude.

MF- Nice and creamy with subtle carbonation and very full-bodied. Really well done on the mouthfeel. The sweetness doesn't leave a cloying flavor/feeling.

D- Like I said with the mouthfeel, nice and sweet, but doesn't become cloying at all. Alcohol is completely masked and I could have probably finished the bomber no problem (but I split it with a friend because you can't just crush Darkness alone.)

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Photo of twbrewer
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Surly Darkness goblet!

A-Poured the blackest beer I have ever seen,no light could shine thru this.1" of caramel colored head reduces to thick ring around edge of goblet.

S-First smell is soft hops,then a earthy plum and raisin smell with a chocolate and fruit background.

T-Similar to the smell,plum\raisin and a soft fruit\chocolate taste with no bitterness or hint of hops.

M-Velvety smooth over the palate with a nice touch of carbonation.

D-I've heard so much about this beer that I started to believe that it was to good to be true.I was wrong.This is a great beer that given the opportunity to try this you can not pass this up.This is a very drinkable beer but becareful at 9.5% it can sneak up on you.

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Photo of cbutova
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Reviewed from notes from an epic tasting with BCBCS. Thanks to Chico1985 and whoever traded it to him. Certainly one of the coolest (painted!) bottles ever.

A- If this beer was not pitch black I think another name would be appropriate. A light tan/beige head builds up and retains fairly well. It leaves thick lacing made up of fine bubbles. A nice ring and random cloud float on the beer.

Before smell and taste, it is worth mentioning that this was one of the most complex beers I have ever had.

S- Extremely roast malt up front. A cherry/dark fruit scent blends into the nose nicely. Molasses comes in pretty strong. I also get hints of pine, cocoa, dark fruits, earthy hops, caramel and even some citrus. A tiny bit of alcohol as well. The aroma itself has nice strength. There was also something I couldnt quite identify but it reminded me of my homebrew, maybe overly roasty?

T- A great balance of a ton of flavors. Very roasty malt with dark chocolate up front with molasses. Cherries and dark fruit make the main flavor of this one like a chocolate covered cherry. A tiny hint of alcohol hits the tongue but doesn't even come close to affecting the great flavor. A lot of earthy, grassy and pine hops round out the stout flavors. Sweets come into play but it doesn't bother me. The caramel malt shines its head later on and makes this one taste a lot like a Barelywine RIS. Very complex and balanced well. It never got old after an hour of sipping on it.

MF- Very creamy but not hugely thick, reminds me of KtG in a way. A very nice amount of warmth on the palate for a big RIS. Low carbonation but that is desired in this style. Roast caramel coats the palate. Needs more straight up thickness but the creaminess saves from being way off.

DB- Obviously rare and probably decently expensive. For how many flavors and the great time I had drinking this I would say it's worth it. Very complex Barleywine-like RIS with a great balance of a many different flavors.

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Photo of garymuchow
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2009 version.
This was sublime.
Aroma was complex and enjoyable. Rich dark malts with sweetness, roast and a nice layer of hops.
Poured like syrup. Pitch black. Very dark head of black and brown.
Flavor was remarkable. Deep dark fruits. A subdued hop presence but still noticeable.
Incredibly smooth and rich without excess. Like velvet on the tongue. Just enough carbonation to contribute without being noticeable.
This was one helluva' beer. Savored well.

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Photo of RobertDwight
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at the Blue Nile...I had it after a furious and some food so my palate was really saturated with flavors already. This brew is almost pitch black and has a really thick brownish head. This beer has so many complex smells and tastes that it is almost like an enigma. Espresso, coco-chocolate, dark fruits, balanced by a nice hoppiness. This has to be one of the best tasting beers I've ever had! This beer has the THICKEST and creamiest mouthfeel I have ever encountered in a beer, I'm serious. Its so thick that its almost like chocolate pudding. This is definitely not a session beer, but is best savored after a good meal. I really wish this wasn't a seasonal beer and was brewed all year round. Surly PLEASE give us more.

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Photo of mnredsoxfan69
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

10 oz. tap pour at the brewery. Magnificent! One of the truly great beers in the world. This is what others want their RIS to be. Black as night with a thin, tan head. Aromas of coffee, cocoa, roasted malts and molasses with more of the same in each sip. Viscous mouth feel, low carbonation and warming alcohol on the palate. Very malty, sweet but not cloying. Legendary.

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Photo of korguy123
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2010 into tulip. Special thanks to biglobo8971 for this bad boy.

A- Thick, syrupy totally opaque pour. Three finger dense foamy milk chocolate colored head. Very slowly recedes to finger width cap. Lacing is remarkable.

S- Roasted coffee, figs, bakers chocolate, molasses, brown sugar and subtle vanilla.

T- Milk chocolate, bitter roasted coffee, vanilla and molasses. Slight woody notes. Very smooth, very balanced.

M- This is a meal... And the light carbonation make it feel even heavier. It's silky, smooth and creamy. Probably the best feeling stout I've had yet.

O- This is supposed to be up there in stouts and does not disappoint. The tastes meld together in perfect harmony, it feels remarkable and the alcohol is invisible. The people that can attend darkness day are lucky sob's!

Thanks for this experience!

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Photo of Beers-es
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

On tap at the brewery. Pours classic RIS: opaque black with a dark tan head. Smell is amazing, with a rich combo of chocolate and coffee, and tons of cherries and other ripe, dark fruit I can't quite place. Taste is complex progression of what's on the nose, and is just super delicious. Many layers of flavor. Fairly sweet, but with an offsetting bitterness that is nearly perfect for the style. A huge, rich beer that is masterfully constructed. One of the best RIS beers I've ever had.

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Photo of sisuspeed
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2009 Bottle

Thanks go out to my Grandparents for this one. They managed to secure me two bottles of this release. Awesome.

Chipped off the wax and poured this into a tulip glass. Served at cellar temperature. Extremely dark body. No light getting through this one. Complete darkness. Above the body a thin tan head clings mostly to the sides of the glass, leaving spider-webbed lacing. Looks beautiful and sinister at the same time.

Aroma contains lots of earthy, grassy hops mixed with chocolate malts and anise. Hints of sticky sweet molasses. Probably one of the hoppier RIS aromas I've had the pleasure to nose.

The flavor on this heavy stout is a mix of sweet malts and grassy, sometimes peppery, hops. The hops are more aggressive than many RISs, but complement the sweetness quite well, making this a very drinkable RIS. Diving into the flavor more one can pick out a good helping of chocolate malt and molasses. Anise is present as well, giving a sweet and spiced level of complexity to the beer. What is really surprising, however, is how well the alcohol is hidden. Besides some warming and a little bit of a kick once in awhile, it is almost unnoticeable. Overall, the flavor is a good mix of hops and a ton of dark/chocolate malt.

Mouthfeel is super smooth. Thick and velvety. Almost milkshake like. Low carbonation and warming alcohol. This beer's body is dead on for a RIS.

Drinkability is quite high. Especially for a beer of 10.3% ABV. Currently splitting this bottle with another BA and it is disappearing pretty quickly. So smooth and the well hidden alcohol. This beer is a sipper, but a quick sipper.

Overall, a truly exceptional RIS. One of the best beers I've ever had and a great example of the style. I'm really glad I have another one in the cellar and I'm excited to see how it ages. Great job Surly!

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Photo of jampics2
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Review #400. Never thought I'd get here so quickly. I needed a good beer to celebrate this milestone, and I also needed a good buddy to drink it with. So, I brought this to Paul's in hopes that we could toast his new bachelor pad with a great beer. Batch from 2009, opened at about 9 months of age.

Poured into a snifter, this is a dark beer. The kind of beer that would make an appearance in a new Tim Burton film complete with a Danny Elfman soundtrack and really good claymation. Maybe it should have its own music video? The beer is thick, opaque, and has a tan head that leaves great lacing.

Smell is roasted malt driven, giving great chocolate and coffee notes. Some hops do surface, adding a earthy twist. There's even some vanilla, brown sugar, raisin, and dare I say blackstrap molasses in the mix. Just shy of perfect, it's a nice take and doesn't smell that evil after all.

Taste is absolutely one-of-a-kind. This is a great beer, perhaps deserving more respect than some others that get talked about more. It tastes like velvet feels - just so smooth, luxurious, and sexy that you just want to drape yourself in it from head to toe. Tons of well roasted malt give the impressions of really smooth cocoa powder and dark roast coffee. A sweetness exudes that never becomes cloying or makes drinking a 12oz snifter feel like a chore. Raisins and brown sugar become prevalent as it warms, perhaps the raisins were even soaked in a combination of Kahlua, Baily's and Canadian Maple Cream liquor. There's so many levels, each pleasant and just nothing like the sugar and soy sauce bomb I expected based on other massive American RIS's with evil sounding names. Some alcohol is there, but it's blanketed in flavor and just helps to remind me that, no, this isn't a dream. Yes, it's real. Even a touch of hoppiness at the end feels natural. This is a world class beer!

Mouthfeel is also perfect. It's thick and viscous, but not slick, syrupy, or oily. It's sugar doesn't add to the stickiness either. The carbonation is perfect, and the aftertaste isn't totally clean, but it's not stinging, alcohol-laden, or unpleasant in any way. Like George Costanza's track suit in a glass.

This was a great choice for #400. It was a perfect beer to share with a friend. As I write more and more of these reviews, one thing is becoming apparent to me. Beer is a wonderful thing, but the most important thing in keeping a diary like this is being able to remember the good times you had sharing the beers you're documenting. That's when the power of this fascinating beverage is at it's peak.

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Photo of HopDerek
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to BrooHa for this bottle.

Pours a thick syrupy dark brown/black with 2 fingers of thick mocha tan head into a large snifter. Great retention and lacing. Smells of citrus hops, dark fruits, chocolate, anise, roasted malt, and leather. Tastes of pineapple, chocolate, and dark fruits like plums, figs, and raisins, cocoa powder, caramel, vanilla, roasted malt, leather, and anise with a hint of coffee and herbal in the finish. Full body with low carbonation. Thick and syrupy, sweet with lots of dark fruit and chocolate flavors. Smooth and creamy with a nice bitterness but not too potent. Pretty unique even amongst the other big Russian Imperial Stouts. Very drinkable and a great sipping treat.

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Photo of BrianStu22
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

2013 Brewcifer bottle, lucky to get 2 of these. Unfortunately drank it out of Days Inn disposable coffee cup. Shared with friends before Black Crowes concert. I don't rate many beers but this one deserves praise. Appearance is dark and chewy, difficult to say from Styrofoam cup. Smells awesome, chocolate, raisins, hot spicy rum. This tastes great and the best RIS I have ever had. Can't wait to try the second bottle after it ages.

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Photo of oglmcdgl
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle split with onix1agr. Thanks to kbutler for the hook up.

A- pitch black and oily that's for sure with a finger of coffee colored creamy head. The cap vanishes into the deep after a bit. Deep ruby glow when brightly lite from behind.

S- dark brown sugar and bakers chocolate. Pumpernickel bread. Dark berries and some spice. Deep roasted malts and maybe some molasses.

T- there is a lot going on in the dark. Tons of dark roasted coffee and bittersweet chocolate. Brown sugar and blackberries. There some grapefruit in there too and it really picks up the fruit aspect, balances out the peppery roast, and brightens up the dark malty sweetness. Maple pepper bacon? No, but there is a very mild savory quality and it really works for me. Touch of heat.
M- thick and chewy, oil and syrup. Coats the mouth so completely but has just the right amount of carb to cut the soup. The slightest linger, I almost want a bit more.

D- with such a complex flavor profile and abv I wouldn't say its a session beer but damn if this is not easy going.

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Photo of hero27
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Blood red & black wax drapes the neck of the 750ml.
Bottle # 185.

Consumed out of the "official" 12oz Darkness glass...

Pours a dark, burnt chestnut...nearly black. Tannish brown head sits atop the dark liquid.
Aroma of dark chocolate, fig, and heavily roasted malts..molasses, caramel, and brown sugar flavors take control with the first sip...it's worth noting that there's a suprisingly strong resiny hop profile, since it's not something most people pay attention to in an imperial stout.
Expectantly huge body...coating, velvety smooth mouthfeel. Each sip I take seems to be more satisfying than the last..it's really hard to find any faults in this beer.
Somehow..(for a Russian Imperial Stout from a brewery only a couple years old) Darkness seems refined..almost like it has been perfected over decades. An absolute delicacy in the world of craft beer.

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Photo of Pitmonkey
4.76/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I've been luke warm on Imperials in the past, I was floored tonight.

Served from tap into belgian stem-ware, don't recall which. Inky black, while the lighting at the Blue Nile wasn't exactly bright, I am confident there was no light coming through that beer. A light tan head which eventually diminished.

I didn't get a lot from the aroma, there was some malt there, and if my vocabulary was better or I was a more experienced reviewer, I might have something, but I kept trying for it and it never did become pronounced, but it may well have been overwhelmed by the intense flavors because I dove in pretty quickly.

Sweet, malty thickness, like a good 90% dark chocolate and a finish like a really well prepared espresso, bitterness lingering forever, essentially until I couldn't resist another sip.

Mouthfeel that sticky syrupy sweetness that never cloys, it dissipates into a lovely alcohol warmth and the aforementioned espresso.

I usually have an Imperial and I am done with the style but I just couldn't resist a second and was not disappointed.

I seriously have never enjoyed an Imperial more than this.

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Photo of ejquin
4.76/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2008 Vintage, just picked up today. Drove up from Chicago

A: Black wih a beautiful fluffy white head that fades and clings to the glass all the way down.

S: Chocolate, and coffee, you get the roasted malts of a stout with some cherries, but a really nice hop fruity spiciness

T/M: Mouthfeel is wonderful, smooth and creamy. The thing about Darkness is that for a RIS, everything is so clean, so crisp, so drinkable, yet loaded with flavor. Starts off with the dark chocolate fading to cherry liquor, and a nice dose of hop spiciness comes through right at the end, just enough so you know it's there and balances the beer perfectly

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Photo of alleykatking
4.77/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 22oz bottle. Many thanks go out to Luke (Lukafer) who cracked this one open at the last tasting. Good luck in Indy Luke!

A- Pours a heavy motor oil black color. One finger light brown head that shows a little bit retention before dying down. Light lacing on the sides of the glass as I drink this gem down.

S- Interesting enough this beer has a nice hop profile in the front end. Piney and citrus both which shine. Darker toasted malts with this as well brings forth a light burnt aroma. Nice bittersweet chocolate aroma with a hint of coffee in the ending. The hops still though throw me off but not in a bad way. Interesting and make my mouth water when I sniff the glass.

T- First thing I notice off the bat is hops and more hops...both piney and citrusy. Nice roasted malts in the front after the hops. Almost a perfect roasted burnt taste. Bittersweet chocolate notes with a fudge like charater to it. Bready flavors with a coffee taste that lingers around. The alcohol in this is settle and sometimes hard to miss. Overall, great flavors!

M- Heavy mouthfeel. Carbonation is great for the beer and style. Hops and light burnt malts are left on the palate with some coffee notes and light chocolate in the aftertaste. Flavors are bright and clean. Beer blended very well but flavors pop out individually. Not very drying on the palate at all.

D- This beer is worth all the praise. I would love to make it out to Darkness Day this year. I am glad I have a extra bottle in the cellar and got to try this one out. This beer is going to become one of my favorite.

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Photo of mwilbur
4.77/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured on-tap into tulip.
A: Pours a thick black with 1/2 inch dark mocha head with good retention and lacing.
S: Smooth dark chocolate, vanilla, dark dried fruit, sweet bourbon, and a hint of cream.
T: Dark chocolate milk, bourbon, dark cherry, vanilla, heavy cream, raisin and other dark dried fruit, molasses, and bitter coffee and chocolate finish. The more I get into this, the more I appreciate the hop elements (citrus, bitter note, etc).
M: Velvety smooth, creamy, and sweet. Bitter note becomes apparent in the mid-palate and stronger in the finish. Moderately heavy body. Drinks lighter than the hefty ABV would suggest. Amazing balance of super heavy malt notes and yet the hops shine through (although still playing second fiddle).
D: Definitely an exceptional brew...well done Surly! Outstanding for style and lives up to the hype (which isn't always easy to do...especially since I've been waiting a few years to try this one). One of the best beers I've had with excellent complexity and drinkability.

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Photo of Luk13
4.77/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle at Iceland super tasting ’10 vampire bottle. Nice dark pour with a slight ruby tint, creamy tan head. Tons of licorice, molasses, port and dark fruits (plums) dominate the aroma. Very sweet taste, super fruity prune flavors, honey-molasses sweetness. Soft carbonation suits this one nicely, very silky and heavily bodied. One of my favourite IS.

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.77/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Shared a 2010 bottle with speedwayjim, capra12, billyshears. Thanks to speedwayjim for sharing!!!

Poured a stunning thick black with a thin tan head into a Darkness glass. This brew smells of vanilla, hops, and even licorice or good and plenty. The hops really add a nice element to this RIS. The beer is thick and wonderful, pretty sweet but the hops add such a nice element. Has a nice tingle to it, this one was my fav of the tasting.

--- edit --- 2012-01-01
vintage 2011: 4.5 - 4.5 - 5.0 - 4.5 - 5.0
decided to pop open my first 2011 bottle for the giant game. pried open the waxed cap and filled my 2010 surly snifter. poured a silky shiny black with a generous frothy mocha frappacino like head that hung out for a while after it built like a guiness. the head was milky and chunky and bubbled away slowly, but was there for the duration. looks awesome. much like last year, i get a bit of a hoppy vanilla. some roastiness, but milked over. the hops give it an almost charred smell. BAM - there's that flavor. what a fricken beer. i forgot how much i love this beer. a bit on the sweeter side than i had remembered, but the hopping gives the roastiness some balls. really enjoyable.

--- edit --- 2012-11-18 (fresh!!!)
vintage 2012: 4.5 - 4.5 - 5.0 - 4.5 - 5.0
removed the wax, decapped and filled my new darkness snifter. brew poured a deep dark ominous, yet slightly watery black. as the beer settled in my glass it embodied the name of the beer. a finger and a half of off white-acino looking head appeared on the surface. as the head dissipated it left thick foamy lacing on the glass. inviting and menacing! wonderful black malt with a solid amount of roast and a great hop to balance things out. some bitter coffee and chocolate notes on the nose as well. nice hoppy stout (actually kind of reminds me of hoppy stout from greenport harbor). a bit of char. really just a phenomenal beer. big bold and roasty with a slight amount of char on the feel. overall, one of my favorite stouts. great year after year.

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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
4.41 out of 5 based on 3,637 ratings.
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