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Darkness | Surly Brewing Company

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BA SCORE
98
world-class
864 Reviews
DarknessDarkness
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States
surlybrewing.com

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.30%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
Starting in 2014, bottled Darkness will be aged in whiskey barrels. This listing is ONLY for Darkness that is NOT barrel-aged. For 2014 Darkness go here: http://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/13014/141724/

Labels:
2007 - Grim Reaper
2008 - Devil
2009 - Mummy
2010 - Vampire
2011 - Zombie
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer
2015 - Bat
2016 - Cerberus

Added by ryantupy on 10-08-2006

BEER STATS
Reviews:
864
Ratings:
3,691
Avg:
4.42
pDev:
19.23%
 
 
Wants:
3,306
Gots:
1,458
For Trade:
124
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User Reviews
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Reviews: 864 | Ratings: 3,691
Photo of zeff80
4.63/5  rDev +4.8%
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!

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Photo of oline73
4.52/5  rDev +2.3%
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.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.55/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks for Jerk44 for hooking me up with some of this at Dark Lord Day 2009.

A: Very dark with a dark head to go along with it.

S: Roasted malt and the sweetness of dried fruits. Some molasses and brown sugar to go with dried cherries mixed with some espresso.

T: Similar to the nose, with more of the espresso/dark cherry tarnish.

M: Some alcohol, but a good, warming amount. Very full bodied.

D: Excellent beer, though not quite as drinkable as Dark Lord. Very, very deserving of its high place of honor. I cannot wait for this summer to get out to Minnesota and sample all the Surly I can find.

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Photo of jlindros
4.18/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

'10 Vampire vintage, thanks to Levifunk, grub, and bsuedekum for various bottles of this awesome beer.

Awesome huge head, thick frothy and creamy, dark head, forms layers as I pour between glasses, pitch black thick beer with nice legs, tons of lacing. essentially the perfect head.

Nose brings lots of chocolate, bakers, dark, cocoa nibs, bit of roast and coffee, lots of vanilla, bit of caramel, lots of dark malts bit of bitter roast and earthy hops.

Taste starts a bit of soy sauce, lots of bitter roasted malts, coffee, syrupy, big and heavy, roasty, some light oats, slightly briny, lots of vanilla, caramel, molasses, slight booze, bitter astringent roasted malts and bit of earthy hop. Slight charred roasted malt. Finishes quite bitter, astringent, sticky and syrupy, syrupy malts, soy sauce and a bit of earthy hop bitterness.

Mouth is big bodied but not quite as big as I expected, a bit syrupy, decent carb for the style.

Overall good, but not quite what I expected. Too much bitter briny roasty astringent soy sauce flavors, big and heavy as it should, but not quite as drinkable. Reminds me of fresh Dark Lord, but this has a year of aging on it. I'll let the rest age more and hopefully the soy sauce and briny qualities settle down.

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Photo of mothman
4.6/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2009 Bottle for Halloween.

Poured into Darkness Snifter

Pours a deep motor oil black. Nice 1+ finger of dark tan head.
Decent retention with some splattered lace and a few rings.

Aroma: Big fresh earthy hop profile. Chocolate, caramel, toffee, coffee, very big and robust. I love how the hop profile is so defined with this beer.

Taste: Again, the fresh earthy hops stick right out here. Backed by a big chocolate roasted malt backbone. Nice coffee notes. Very great beer.

Mouthfeel: It is slight bitter from the hops, but very smooth. Very big, full body with a nice amount of carbonation. Ends fairly clean, but very slight sticky from the hops.

Overall, a damn great beer. I love this RIS and glad I have more. If you like hoppy RISs this is the beer for you. I am very impressed with this years batch.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.58/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml wax topped bottle into an oversized Duvel tulip glass. Thanks go to bulldogp04 for the trade. I had previously had samples of the '07 batch both from the bottle and keg (@ EBF '08) and was anxiously waiting to see what this latest batch brings to the table.

An aggressive pour into the glass yields an inky black that more than lives up to its namesake. This thing is just is an absolute impenetrable pitch dark with 2 fingers of fantastic looking thick and creamy burnt mocha colored head. This simmers down into a thin yet sturdy layer of retention that fires up magnificently when swirled, just absolutely COATING the sides of the glass with frothy swathes of lacing. This is just beautiful looking in my glass. The first thought that crosses my mind as I initially sniff this, is how exceedingly fresh, floral, and hoppy this aroma is. Fortunately, this is just the beginning of a most excellent bouquet, as the aroma's hop profile gives way to some powerful Stout qualities. Baker's chocolate, roast, smoke, coffee, molasses, dark fruits, and finally some light heat. Damn, there is a ton packed into this nose!

The taste is large and in charge on the palette, with a beefy mix of smoky and sticky tasting blackstrap molasses, chocolate covered cherries, brown sugar, roasted malts and coffee that blend into a firmer feeling hop bitterness in the backend. I will say that as this warms and sits and the carbonation lowers, the hop profile lessens as well, leaving behind a sweet, tangy, warm, and slightly bitter viscous mess that I'm just loving every minute of! The mouthfeel is huge and chewy feeling (definitely up there with Dark Lord and Expedition Stout on the thickness scale) with a massive creamy body up front that works itself into a more prickly feel in the middle, before it slides into a oily and viscous feel in the back. The ABV that is present in the body is hefty and warming but it never gets boozy or stinging at all. As a matter of fact, it feels just right considering the huge amount of flavors that are at work here.

This beer kind of gives new meaning to the phrase "demon in a bottle", as this beastly beer possessed my soul from the get go and didn't let go until the last drop was drained from the glass. Powerful feeling and complex, this is up there in rarified top RIS status for me. I will say that this definitely came off as much sweeter than other top picks in the style but I didn't mind at all. There was enough bitterness to keep it in check, plus I really liked how this aspect differentiated it from some of the other top Imperial Stouts out there. This was awesome stuff that I'm really happy to have finally been able to sit down and enjoy a full bottle of it.

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Photo of chinchill
3.73/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Large shared 2008 bottle. (Thanks Dan).
Similar aroma to the FFF Dark Lord I had a few minutes earlier. Seems just a touch sweeter and a bit less complex.
Thick, oily body with light carbonation.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.36/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 release acquired from pochman courtesy of BA Secret Santa 2009, so a big “Thank You” goes out to him. Poured from a 750ml bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color, with a large light brown head that fades very slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains roasted malts, dark fruit, licorice, chocolate, coffee and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a very hearty roasted malt character that is quickly followed by strong and sweet flavors of chocolate, coffee, licorice and dark fruit. There is no hint of the 10.30% ABV. The hops presence is very mild as you would expect but there’s enough to provide a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp, very smooth and quite viscous, heavy body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down dangerously easily, slightly filling, strong kick, very good representation of style, not only is it an excellent stout to drink for as long as you can handle it, it seems to have held up quite well for over 3 years.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.35/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Vintage.

Appearance: Pours an inky black body with a large, frothy, light tan head.

Smell: Roasty, burnt malt nose with strong notes of dark chocolate liqueur, coffee, smoky creosote, and pine needles.

Taste: Roasty, dark, chocolaty maltiness displays both depth and richness. A few spoonfuls of frothed cream pairs with a flavor of strong coffee. Bracing amount of sweetness present. Vinous fruity character. Touch of creosote. Strong pine and citrus hoppiness though not unreasonably so. The bitterness makes a decent attempt, but, for me, it doesn't ever even begin to overtake the malt sweetness. Darkness finishes with a strapping roastiness and more unyielding sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Decidedly full-bodied with a creamy mouthfeel. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Excellent melding of full flavors wrapped up in a dense, creamy body. I wasn't disappointed. Nice work, Surly.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.78/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #211. 2007 release. Necrosis black that crowds the sides and bowl of the glass so completely that light doesn't stand a chance in hell. Nothing is visible except... Darkness. The coffee colored cap looks as though it won't fade completely until sometime tomorrow, and there's a surprising amount of lace that can only be described as eye candy. I'm well aware that glassware shouldn't be taken into account when assigning an appearance score, but Darkness in a Darkness snifter is perfection.

Believe it or not, the hops can still be appreciated in the nose after almost a year. I guess that means they were added with a heavy hand back in '07. They're far from numero uno, though. As expected, ridiculously roasted malt is a rompin' and a stompin' all over the joint. Dark chocolate is at least twice as strong as black coffee. I've smelled better, but the nose is good. Damn good.

Believe the hype. My first impression is that Darkness tastes like no other RIS. I'm not sure I'll be able to explain why that is... but it is. My second impression is that a tremendous amount of green hop flavor and bitterness has survived. This stuff just might give Old Crustacean a run for its money when fresh.

Even though the malt backbone is massive, this beast isn't anywhere near as thick and syrupy as Dark Lord (which might make it more drinkable). Some of the bitterness could also be coming from barley that has been fire-roasted to within an inch of its life. The result is a flavor profile that includes chocolate liquor, blackstrap molasses and large splashes of Sambuca and espresso.

If Darkness was limited to those flavors, it would still be exceptional beer. The fact that candied citrus peel and resiny pine sap are added to the mix puts it over the top for this hophead. I can see how some might not like the emphasis on the little green cones, but then this is Surly... what the hell did you expect?

With each eager gulp, I am making Darkness prove every one of the final three scores. Believe me, it more than lives up to the challenge of a critical palate, especially since the flavors become even better integrated as the beer picks up a few degrees. The alcohol provides warmth (not heat) and plenty of power. This is massive beer for massive beer lovers.

My first inclination was to give the mouthfeel a less than perfect score. However, as the middle portion of the bottle approaches, it will not be denied. The melted ice cream-like viscosity that was almost there initially is now there in spades. Carbonation is on the generous side, but it's so soft and so well-buried that it adds just the right amount of energy and lift.

Darkness is a masterful creation from a masterful brewer. I allowed a few doubts to creep in prior to cracking the crown, but I doubt no more. In an amazingly short period of time, Surly has entered the upper echelon of craft breweries with such all-out masterpieces as Furious, Bender and CynicAle. Darkness is simply the shiny, juicy cherry on top. A huge thanks to feloniousmonk, the consummate BA, for the best extra in the history of extras.

*originally reviewed on 10-08-2008

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Photo of Rifugium
3.83/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2012 vintage.
*sigh* Another overhyped beer.

Looked like a stout should: dark brown-black pour, with a small tan head that sank to a ringlet and left some splashes of lace on the glass. Aroma was typical as far as stouts go, dark roasty malts, some cocoa bitterness, with notes of herbal hops and anise. Same story on the palate, dark malts, dark chocolate, herbal hops, light woody notes, and a touch of dark fruits and licorice; slightly lingering resiny bitterness in the aftertaste. Good, but not very full in flavor like a good stout should be. I'm not really understanding the hype over this beer...you get about the same effect as you would from a Storm King, and I can get that off the shelf any day of the week. Not full-bodied, but on the heavier side of medium. A decent stout, but pretty standard overall.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.92/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

What can I say really about this whole situation. I was lucky enough to acquire this bottle through a very fair trade from a good friend. When I see how much these things go for and the hype surrounding it, it is hard for me to justify it sometimes. I have found several instances where these beers are just complete letdowns. This here was not the case. It was absolutely wonderful and I really think it is worth its reputation. That being said, I new this would be the only bottle I would get so I saved it for a very special occasion and split it with a good friend at Barley's last night for my 30th Birthday. I figured it would be a fitting place, fitting time, and fitting company to open such a rare and sought after treat. Served in multiple sampling glasses at various temperatures up to room temp, this was definitely a wonderful experience. Bottle # 295.

Appearance - So we finally get to pour this one out. Opened the double dipped, wax topped cap and pour out this black as night liquid. Deep dark notes of black, to which no light could penetrate dropped into the glass with each tip. A mushrooming head of tan foam then came up over the top, reaching a height of at least two fingers before starting to break up into a rocky and cratered field. Even at its lowest mark it still carried about a fingers depth of lace with it and the side glass webbing was extremely nice. Overall this was a monster looking beer, however I cannot say it was a five, only because I have seen Dark Lord and the Abyss offer me a slightly fuller poor.

Smell - The aroma was to die for, literally. Everyone of these big RIS are much different then the one before, and everyone one is so unique, but I think once you take a whiff of this one it becomes very clear that this is in a whole different category. Gone are you rum soaked dark fruit and bourbon barrel, oak infused aromas, this was an entirely different beast. Rich and very sweet cocoa aromas are bringing themselves up to greet you first, with a gentle nudge of alcohol underneath. Wonderfully rich coffee then comes in to deliver the next blow. It was more of a roasted coffee bean aroma to be honest, like when you first open up that drawer at starbucks. A veritable assault of floral hops then comes out of nowhere. Grapefruit and pineapple hints mixing in with molasses and vanilla, what was this. As it warmed that sweet and creamy chocolate and coffee just really stole the show, with drops of vanilla just making this one drip with sweetness.

Taste - Now, we dive in to get a taste of what this wonderful liquid could be hiding. The first thing you notice is uber sweet chocolate and coffee. Just that wonderful taste that you want to have in a big stout, but the second that you get used to it, it gets cut like a knife, infused with grapefruit and orange peel. Puckering the lips as fresh grass and lemon hints seal it up and dry the mouth instantly before falling down the back of your through and opening up the scarred taste buds to welcome rush of vanilla. Beautifully complex, the rich notes of smoke and molasses intermingle and marry a wonderful peat like darkness that just sits there for a second before it too passes, getting whisked away and leaving behind only the faintest hint of grapefruit like bitterness soaked in vanilla and coffee. A wonderful voyage of unexpected tastes and bright surprises, wit ha virtually hidden alcohol content that makes it oh so smooth.

Mouthfeel - An speaking of smooth, wow, this was one smooth stout. A little bit less full then the rest of the big boys, but again this was a different type of monster, something entirely different then you milk shake like consistency you would typically associate with the style. This had a light, more carbonated feel to it. A much drier beer, especially in the finish, the flavors exploded out of it more then soaked in and sat there. As it warmed up it really did get a good deal thicker, but still stuck to its roots, setting it apart from the heard.

Drinkability - As for an almost 11% ABV Russian Imperial Stout, this was something I could have drank all night long. It was just tremendous in its complexity with a unrivaled smoothness. The alcohol was nowhere to be found, and the dry, hoppy finish only encouraged me to go back and try it again, and again, and again. It was a sad moment when this bottle was finished, as I really wanted just a little bit more. It was like beer crack for me, really just that good.

Overall I would have to say this really lived up to the hype for me. It was a phenominal beer, much different then anything I had before it, and was a nice breath of fresh air in the category. I was impressed by the floral hoppiness that was brought into this, especially in the finish as it really hid the alcohol well and let you have a nice, and not super filling experience out of it. Overall would I like another bottle, absolutely! Would I travel to Minnesota to get it, if the wife would let me, in a heartbeat!

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Photo of Slatetank
4.48/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to bmoyer0301 for breaking this out recently -enjoyed cellar temp in standard pint.

This is a beautiful stout, looks thick and black as it is poured with some espresso-like crema for head with ultra tight bead. The aromas of brownie batter and baker's cocoa's semi-bitter/semi-sweet scents with mild dark fruit from the yeast which is plummy. The stout has a light sweet hop odor with more berry tinge with the dark toasted malt nose as it is swirled. The feel is rich, viscous, sweet fruit and little drying as it is moved around the mouth. The mellow spiciness of this gives some complexity and the texture is generally creamy with a pretty mild alcohol influence.

Darkness has a taste of bitter cocoa which is familiar for Russian imperial because it has a lightly bitter nutty taste up front with some astringent coffee-like dark mallt elements and raisiny dried fruit aspect. There is a earthy woody and almost light anise taste which comes forward as it warms with mild burnt malt quality as it finishes. This is an extremely drinkable beer for the abv, I found myself having to regulate my gulps and respect the big stout for what it is. I enjoyed how easy it goes down with an almost burnt marshmallow-like caramel essence that bring out a bit of concentrated dark sugar flavor. I was extremely appreciative to Brad for sharing this with us a stout worth savoring

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Photo of womencantsail
4.08/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Review #300 comes courtesy of mikesgroove. Thanks again Mike for hooking it up with this one.

2009 Vintage

A: The pour is viscous, black, and wonderful. It fills the glass with a fluffy mocha colored head on top of the thick liquid below.

S: Generally with an RIS (or any stout, really) you don't expect citrus and pine hops to be the primary aroma, but that's just what we have here. The malt and other traditional RIS aromas don't come through quite as much as I would have liked. Still, the malt and chocolate and coffee do come through at times.

T: The hoppiness is still present on the tongue, but not quite as intensely. A good roasted malt background with some hints of coffee and chocolate. Perhaps a bit of dark fruits as well, which go interestingly with the hoppiness.

M: The body is nice and full and the beer feels quite creamy on the tongue. The carbonation is at a moderate level.

D: D: The booze is hidden very well by the myriad of flavors that are present. I wish, however, that this was more RIS like and not basically a black DIPA.

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Photo of russpowell
4.36/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Cheer to Buebie, thanks Brian!

Pours a brown tinged mahogany with 2+ fingers of fluffy mocha colored head. Superior head retention & lacing

S: Hints of cherry & oak, plus cocoa powder

T: Dark fruit & chocolate & a touch of licorice up front, plus charred grains on the edge of the throat. Rich dark chocolate & dryness dominate as this warms, along with grainy bitterness on the roof of the mouth. Finishes dry with cocoa powder, a touch of vanilla, cherry, raisins & just a hint of Bourbon

MF: Slick, oily, sticky with low, near nil carbonation

Drinks a might bit, slow, the dryness & complexity slow me down some. Still, a very good RIS indeed. Well done Surly!

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.23/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter at The Barley House.

Who'd've thought that one of my personal whales would beach itself 'round here? Hey, I'm not gonna argue. Its pour verifies its name, as nothing but straight darkness sits in the glass, a finger-thick tan chapeau sitting jauntily on top. The nose comprises raisins, rum, blackened oats, figs, chocolate-covered strawberries, roasted malts, light molasses, and a very slight fusel scent streaming from the base. The taste holds notes of roasted malts, chocolate syrup, molasses, maple syrup, figs, oak, brown sugar, light orange flesh, and a touch of Belgian yeastiness. Honestly, the last two were a bit surprising, but definitely can't be considered detracting, as they add a refreshing complexity to a usually brutish style. The body is pretty hefty, with a light moderate carbonation and a chewy feel. Overall, I was not at all disappointed by this, though the one thing I would note is that it's a tad lighter and fizzier than I expected. But this was a minor issue at best, smothered by the overall tastiness.

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.47/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Shane for bringing this down to share with me. 2010 Vintage, review from notes.

A: Pours black in color with a nice two finger tan head on top. The head lasts for a little while leaving a foam cap on top. Thin lacing forms all around the glass.

S: Tons of dark fruit on the aroma, cherry and plum dominate. There is some chocolate and cocoa mixed in as well. Exactly what I am looking for.

T: This beer tastes great, more dark fruit (cherry, plum, raisin) mixed with chocolate and minimal roast coming forward. There is a touch of honey and caramel.

M: Medium to full bodied, extremely smooth with moderate carbonation.

O: Very impressed, probably my favorite non BA stout. It drinks so easy that it would get me in trouble if I had a lot of it. Definitely a beer I will try to get more of.

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Photo of orangesol
4.35/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I am going to update my scores on this one. I just recently had an '08 courtesy of Deuane and I liked it a lot more than the '09 below. I have included my old scores at the bottom of the old review. Cheers!

---
Thanks to whoever brought this to the Inaugural "Imminent Liquidation Bottle Share" Event. 2009 bottle poured into a taster glass.

A - Pours deep black with a small half finger tall tan head, dissipating down to nothing at all, leaving light lacing down the glass.

S - Some sweet chocolate, a light does of hops, dark roasted malt, earthy wood, lactose sweetness, and some light smoke. It has good overall balance. Not the best I have smelled but far from the worst.

T - Lots of dark roast up front giving way slowly to a mix of light hop bitterness, sweet chocolate, dark roasted coffee, light smoke, and some astringent wood helping to dry the pallet after consumption. Finish is dry with some lingering roast. Not exactly what I was expecting. I may have to get a bottle of this for myself and revisit this one.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. A bit too thin in the feel for my liking with some lingering dark roast in the finish.

D - Drinkability was not too bad. Well this was a bit of a letdown. I am not sure if it was just this bottle or what but I expected a lot more. I will have to get a bottle for myself to make sure.

Scores:
3.5 , 4.5 , 4 , 4 , 4
Grade: A- 4.08

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Photo of billab914
4.42/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Opening up something special for my 30th birthday tonight. Mummy vintage poured from a 22oz bottle into my Portsmouth tulip. It poured black in color with a huge, active, mocha colored head taking up nearly half of the glass. The head faded after a bit but it left some decent lacing on the glass as I drank it.

The aroma has a sweeter, fruitier flavor to it then the typical imperial stout. It almost has a chocolate covered cherry and molasses flavor to it. The roasted, bitter, coffee flavors are more in the background, but they are there. Alcohol is present as well but it doesn't feel out of place.

The taste is similar to the nose with the sweeter chocolate, cherry, molasses, alcohol flavors being the most present. The roasty and bitter flavors are pretty mild in it. It finishes on the dry side with a moderate dark chocolate bitterness coming through. It's definitely different then any other imperial stout I've had, but it's also very good.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side but not as thick as say Dark Lord. Carbonation is moderate for the style. Drinkability is good, I really liked the flavors it had. It really has a chocolate covered , booze soaked, cherry flavor to it that I really enjoyed. Very drinkable and delicious beer overall.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.64/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From 09/25/10 notes. Got to try an 08 and an 09 side by side; big thanks to Lunch and Huhzubendah!

a - Both pour a dark brown with one inch of brown head and light carbonation. 09 seemed a little bit more carbonated.

s - 2008 vintage smells of hops, chocolate, vanilla, roasted malts, coffee, and dark fruit. I thought the 09 vintage had more vanilla to it, and a tiny bit of alcohol. Both smelled great.

t - Tastes of roasted malts, dark fruits, chocolate, vanilla, and coffee. Very enjoyable. I thought the 2008 vintage was slightly better and did not have as much coffee.

m - Medium to full body, more towards full, and low carbonation. Very creamy and smooth; mouthfeel is great.

d - I've been looking forward to this beer for quite a while and it did not disappoint. It had a complex, balanced smell I enjoyed a lot and a great mouthfeel. It was also hoppier than I expected. I think I enjoyed the 08 a little bit more than the 09, but both were great. Can't wait to have this one again.

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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 Alieniloquium
3.92/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter. 2011 bottle. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Black with nice lacing. Small khaki head.

Smell - Roasted chocolate. Sweet caramel in there too. Fruity with some licorice.

Taste - Sweet, for sure. More than I expected. It blends well with the roasted malts, though. Licorice and dark fruits. Ashy bitter malt finish.

Mouthfeel - Heavy and sweet. Medium carbonation.

Overall - Lots of sugar in this guy. Not to Dark Lord levels, but sweet. It's what Dark Lord should be.

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Photo of stakem
4.43/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to CaptinRedBeard for opening this at his tasting on 11/13/10.

2010 bottle poured into a snifter appears black in color with some lighter brown coloration around the edges. A dark creamy brown head appears and retains fairly well. As it slowly recedes, it leaves a spotty amount of lace along the glass.

The aroma of this brew includes a pleasant blend of citrus hops that are a little herbal with chocolate and a sweet grainy scent. A minor indication of some yeast character is present but is faint in comparison to the chocolate maltiness and hops.

The taste of this brew includes citrus hops that have a bit of herbal quality as well. Quite a solid base of chocolate that is more of a bitter dark chocolate than milky sweet. The hops provide a bit of mineral touch that is earthy with a light indication of yeast.

This is a super smooth brew with a creamy full feel that is lightly carbonated. A pleasant alcohol warmth hits the back of the throat but not with the intensity you would expect from something with more than 10% abv. Once this brew warms it has some coffee bean quality that is also citrusy. This is a must try stout, awesome to try right now.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.45/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a solid black with a good size tanish head that sticks with us for a while. Smell is the usual suspects, coffee, chocolate, a bit smokey, but with some grassy hop aroma in the distance. Taste is a bit hoppy with roast coffee, chocolate, some dried fruits. Full body, oily/creamy mouthfeel, ample carbonation. Left a slight ash aftertaste in my mouth. Great RIS I wish it were more widely available.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.56/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

4 oz. pour into a small snifter at Churchkey DC. Vintage 2011.

A real nice dark cocoa brown head is presented, falls slowly. Manages to leave a real nice whispy puck and collar while finishing. Body color gives a slightly good oily sheen, but nothing filimy, and the body color is nearly jet black (I'll go walnut black)

Nose hits with mild char, faint milk chocolate, incredibly soft bodied and silky smelling, like whipped up mocha. Unfortunately there's something also medicinal on this as well.

Taste goes to sweetened coffee, and warming hot cocoa. A very noticeable taste of confectioners sugar, maybe even some maple. It's nicely balanced though between all these palate flavors, maybe even some faint hop bitter on the finish. Palate matches the sense of smelling velvet and rich silk. But incredibly sweet tasting though and mostly just "noticeably sweet" which makes it a bit one dimensional.

Overall though, it reminds me too much of CBS on tap but nowhere as impressive, and has that noticeable sugar sweetness which gets to me a bit. It's an impressive beer, but I just don't enjoy drinking this at all compared to others I've had.

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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
4.42 out of 5 based on 3,691 ratings.
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