Darkness | Surly Brewing Company

DarknessDarkness
BA SCORE
4.49/5
3,847 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
Ranking:
#123
Reviews:
881
Ratings:
3,847
pDev:
8.91%
Bros Score:
4.5
 
 
Wants:
3,310
Gots:
1,530
Trade:
138
HISTOGRAM
 
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,847 |  Reviews: 881
Photo of Sammy
3.98/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Caught up with this at the Blue Nile in Minny. Black with huge off-beige head. Hoppy RIS.Sourness in first sip. The bitterness builds up, flows over the sugary finish. Integrated coffee, sugar to make it coffee liquor acceptable?ABove average mouthfeel. Better as warms up, was served a bit on cold side.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.23/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of acurtis
4/5  rDev -10.9%

Photo of Texasfan549
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of jaydoc
4.39/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.33/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to shrek086 for sending me this long time want!

2010 vintage with the vampire artwork.

Pours an opaque black with a 3 inch puffy dark khaki head that settles to a dense small cap. A latticework of lace lines the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, dark fruits, cocoa powder, and an alcohol aroma. Taste is of dark roasted malt, slightly sour dark fruits, bittersweet chocolate, and some roasted coffee bean flavors. A mild roasty bitterness lingers on the palate with each sip. There is a bit of a soy sauce quality in both the smell and taste but it's not at all unpleasant. This beer has a smooth and creamy mouthfeel with a lower level of carbonation. Overall, this is a very good RIS that deserves its status as a highly acclaimed beer. I am very happy I finally was able to snag one of these.

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Photo of GRG1313
5/5  rDev +11.4%

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

my first darkness, as is common with many of my lucky rare beer scores, thanks to drlovemd87 for hooking this up for us last night. an impressive example of the style for sure, but a top 50 quality beer? I don't know. its rather straightforward as they go, excellent no doubt, but it reminds me of a great many other stouts like this out there on the market. rich creamy dark brown pour, sudsy mocha head, dense but not thick, attractive. the nose is muted dark roasted barley and unsweetened bakers chocolate. no alcohol at all, extremely impressive. the flavor, and I love this feature in this style, is all about the grain. I taste a few layers of varying roasted barley and chocolate malt, but no coffee, no vanilla, no bourbon barrel, no oak, none of that stuff. I do taste some dried cherry type notes in the finish, and as it warms even more fruit comes out, but this is a no frills example of the style, and I appreciate it for that. perhaps most impressive is that its massive alcoholic content is entirely absent from the smell and taste, its just not there. a real creeper, something to look out for when drinking darkness. I loved it with chocolate cookies, and could imagine a million other food pairings for it. expert quality stuff, but not different enough from some of the others for me to rate it off the charts. great beer though, they all are from surly.

edit: some age makes this epic, just cracked a 2011, and was amazed how much more mature and integrated and evolved the beer was from the fresh version, it really is one of the best in the game, with a chocolate and raisin complex coming to the fore. improving a few scores to reflect that.

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Photo of spycow
5/5  rDev +11.4%

Photo of kjkinsey
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of djrn2
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%

Photo of Knapp85
4.6/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Vintage 2011: This poured out as a deep black color with a brown head on top. There is a nice retention with a good lacing as well. The smell of the beer is of dark berries with deep roasted malts chocolate and subtle vanilla and soy. The taste is the beer is really nice, bold roasted malts, some smoke and bit of dark chocolate, there is a touch of saltiness in there too. The mouthfeel is silky smooth with a creamy body and subtle carbonation. Overall it's excellent. I had been curious how it would compare to Dark Lord and this is much better in my opinion.

 563 characters

Photo of nmann08
5/5  rDev +11.4%

Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%

Photo of oriolesfan4
4.75/5  rDev +5.8%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.25/5  rDev -27.6%

Photo of BEERchitect
4.62/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An absolute pleaseure to finally have the opportunity to enjoy this beer. Absolute chocolatey notes with licorice and char blend beautifully in this molassas-rich Imperial Stout.

An very viscous pour of oily black liquid falls from the bottle- this is going to be one full beer. Completely opaque, the beer lathers into a thick, lightly browned, dense foam stance that seemingly never waivers. Both lacing and legging have a convincing say in the coatings left behind on the glass.

Robust aromas of both semi-sweet chocolate morsels and dry cocoa powder lead the way with a heafty sidekick of burnt cherries, licorice, rum, and fruitcake. Mouthwatering and seductive, the aromas are near flawlessness.

The chocolate-heavy tone continues in flavor, similar to fresh baked brownies and Hershey syrups. Background fruity notes of cherries, grapes, currants, and dates are accompanied by deep roasted coffee, char, and roasted marshmallows creaminess. Molassas sweetness brings these flavors together seamlessly while giving a soothing taste to the aggressive roast.

Full, viscous, creamy, and oily in mouthfeel, the beer has a slow transition from early thickness to a late sweet, warming, and bitter finish (bitterness is in form of both char and hops). This beer is obviously intended for after dinner compliments or in place of dinner alltogether.

A special thanks goes out to Shango42 for the unique opportunity to finally enjoy this beer. He gets my right arm if he ever requests it.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.77/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served on-draught into a stemgoblet in a cafe in a suburb of Minneapolis. I was extremely excited to try this per its reputation. Reviewed from notes.

**This review largely reflects the 2011 Darkness, but I did try the 2012 Darkness as well and found it more hop-forward

A: Pours a two finger beautiful tan colour head of excellent cream, thickness, and retention (considering the ABV). Colour is a solid black.

Sm: Brilliant mix of cream, coffee, chocolate, and nuts. A light strength aroma.

T: Heavy (yet subtle) chocolate, coffee, and wonderful cream lacing. Rich and complex. The alcohol does come through unfortunately, which jabs into the otherwise well-executed balance. It's surprisingly hop-forward for the style. Dark malt and caramel heavy. It's quite well built, though I don't think its ABV is warranted. It'd be better at a lower ABV so the flavours could come out. I do quite enjoy it otherwise.

Mf: Smooth, creamy, and wet, but too thick. More dryness and coarseness would be ideal; it feels more like a porter than a stout as is.

Dr: Hard to drink due to the ABV (and more importantly, how obvious it makes itself), but the mouthfeel makes it slide down easily. I like its subtlety. It's pricey and hard to find, but I do like it. I don't know that it's worth seeking out like some other Russian imperial stouts.

B

***
2012 vintage bottle:

Aroma brings resins and pine, hitting the hops hard. Chocolate malts, dark malts.

Chewy with a chocolate/dark malt emphatic taste. Balance isn't terrific, but it's more hoppy than one would expect of a 4 year old imperial stout. Has some piney resins to counter the malts, but it isn't quite dialed in.

I do like it, and it's an enjoyable imperial stout, but it isn't amongst the tippy top beers in the style.

B / GOOD

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Photo of emerge077
4.55/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Local Option, Maproom, and Hopleaf...first pour at Maproom was brimming with foam, at Hopleaf it was gushing from the glass like a muddy volcano. Jet black with a huge cap of lacy tan foam. Over time it forms sheets of webby lacing.

Fruity hop in the nose, Amarillo maybe, tangerine or mango, even juicyfruit gum a little. Hops are aggressive, at 80 IBU's, but the aroma is definitely clean and measured.

Initial burst of fruity/spicy hops are steamrolled by a dense charred chocolate, that lingers for a long time, underscored by earthy, bitter hops. Cocoa blends with a lightly astringent roast in the finish that suggests a quality blend of exotic coffee. Not overbearing, it hides the abv well.

A viscous and velvety mouthfeel, with somewhat low-level carbonation, that still manages to be effervescent. After three, i've reached my limit, but that's a testament to an easily drinkable RIS. Really fantastic, i'm glad Surly has landed in Chicago...

 968 characters

Photo of brentk56
4.85/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2008 bottling

Appearance: Pours a viscous black with chocolate edges and a creamy mocha head; sheets of lace remain in the chalice once the foam has subsided

Smell: Coffee, dark chocolate, berry fruit and a hint of cigar smoke; the citrus hops are mysterious, sometimes making their presence felt and other times indiscernable

Taste: Milk chocolate and Cuban coffee up front, with a developing berry element arriving shortly thereafter; by mid-palate, however, there is a building citrus hop flavor that becomes relentless after a while; after the swallow, the Cuban coffee returns and mixes with dark chocolate; plenty of citrus on the finish as well; the cigar flavors re-appearing in the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: By far, the thickest beer I have ever tasted, with moderate carbonation; a bit of warmth in the gullet after the swallow

Drinkability: New Year's eve, and it is time to break out this special occasion beer; for me, it lived up to the hype; unlike other hoppy stouts where the bitter flavors battle with the malt, in this beer, the blending of the contrasting flavors is unique

 1,095 characters

Photo of oline73
4.52/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A 2011 bottle poured into a Hunahpu's snifter.

Appearance: Pours black as night with a finger of creamy tan head that fades to a ring around the edge of the pour.

Smell: Very sweet and quite roasty. You get a nice addition to the smell from the grain, maybe even a little caramel. Roast and dark fruit with some warming alcohol. Very nice.

Taste: Sweet and roasty. This beer is extremely smooth considering how new it is. Some dark chocolate and dark fruit notes. The finish is sweet and roasty with a slight bitterness. Just a hint of alcohol warmth.

Mouthfeel: Thick body with extremely smooth carbonation and just a touch of dryness in the finish.

Overall: This beer lives up to it's hype. Better than I remember when I had the 2010 version. I'll definitely have another some time.

 789 characters

Photo of SocalKicks
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of zeff80
4.63/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2010 Edition

A - Poured out an opaque, jet black color with a two-finger, brown head of foam with large effervescent bubbles. It had good retention and left thin rings of soapy lace.

S - It smelled of rich, dark chocolate aroma. Good roasty nose with some floral notes.

T - Delicious - dark chocolate, coffee, roasted malt, molasses. A great mix of sweet and bitter.

M - It was crisp, sharp and very smooth. A medium bodied ale with a mild warming alcohol presence.

D - This one lives up to the hype. A truly delicious RIS!

 528 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a large deep dirty brown color head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of roasted malt and black chocolate with some light liquorice and dry coffee notes is quite enjoyable. Taste is also a heavy mix between some roasted malt with light bitter notes with rich black chocolate notes and very subtle notes of liquorice and dry fruits. Sweetness is very well balanced and not nearly as cloying as Dark Lord. Body is full with good carbonation and warming notes are perceptible though nothing too heavy. Well done and still retaining some balance even though it is an extreme beer.

 631 characters

Photo of largadeer
2.29/5  rDev -49%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Appearance: 2007 vintage, bottle #263, and what an awesome bottle it is; great packaging here. The beer itself has a pitch black body with two fingers of thick brown froth. Rings of lace cling to the rim of the glass as the head slowly falls. Off to a good start.

Smell: Smoky, meaty, a bit burnt actually. Make that burnt sugar. Citrusy hops are still noticeable despite the age of the bottle, almost a year at this point. This must have been a beast when it was fresh. There's an undercurrent of molasses that's fairly pleasant, but this is somewhat rough on the whole.

Taste & mouthfeel: Molasses, charcoal, pervasive roasty bitterness. There's a spiciness that appears mid-sip, bringing to mind anise or fennel. Thick as hell; this is like drinking a pint of whole milk. Whole milk that someone tossed a piece of charcoal into, that is. The finish is charred and extremely hoppy for the style, with a lingering, somewhat acrid aftertaste that sticks to the tongue even after you've brushed your teeth and gargled with mouthwash. This is certainly complex, but I can't say that I'd ever want to drink it again.

Drinkability: Interesting stuff, but finishing an entire glass is a chore.

Notes: My least favorite beer from Surly so far, I'm sorry to say. It's unique, and possibly even worth trying given the chance, but it's not worth all the hoopla.

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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.49 out of 5 with 3,847 ratings
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