Darkness | Surly Brewing Company

3,809 Ratings

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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Ratings: 3,809 |  Reviews: 877
Photo of Hopmarc
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

Photo of Murchmac
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to PHawk for this one in a trade way back. Been cellaring it for a while, but tonight is the night, for feeling alright, we'll be making love the whole night through. 2008 Vintage. Please read the following review with Vincent Price's voice in your head.

Darkness falls into the glass, a blood letting ooze coats the side of the glass and your vision like the very dense breath of Satan himself. Thick, deep, dark, black, likes the eyes of the souless worms that feast on your flesh.

The foulest stench from the darkest depths of hades invade your brain. Chocolates, coffee, roasted breadiness with earthy hoppiness and fruits dried by the foul breath from the hounds of hell.

With every thickening taste a demonic possesion overcomes your body and soul. A ghastly haunting of malted chocolates, dried dark fruits, milky, with hops creeping up on you all the more like the bleak december, wroughting ghosts on the floor....

This beer fills me with fantastic terrors I never knew before. I hope it raps and taps on my chamber door, forever more...

 1,059 characters

Photo of bishopdc0
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of JamesMN
4.24/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2013 vintage.

Appearance: Pitch black body sits below tan foam.

Aroma: Alcohol warmth, toffee, dark malt.

Taste: Starts with light grassy bitterness mixed with sweet dark malt and currants. The bitterness never gets intense and the malt really shines here. There's actually nothing harsh about the flavor which is odd coming from Surly but genius in that it makes for an unbelievably smooth flavor. Effortless finish and hint of caramel liqueur on the back end. Aftertaste of dark malt and hops. I was expecting a lot of chocolate and coffee flavor but the real standout seems to be a deep caramel character alongside the roasted malt. Robust and yet subtly restrained flavor all around.

Mouthfeel: Full in body, nearing the point of syrup. Super smooth with good drinkability for the style.

Final Thoughts: Had all but given up trying to get a bottle of Darkness. Pricy at $25 a bomber but worth it for a once a year release. Great example of the style. Would I drink it again? Yes.

 988 characters

Photo of Beerandboards
4.62/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2011 bottle

A - motor oil black. Black the whole way through, even at the edges.. The thickness of the beer is obvious from its appearance. Small to medium amount of dense tan head.

S - aggressive chocolate, milk and dark. Coffee. Maybe molasses, some anise/black licorice. Dense and roasty.

T - wow. powerful. It tastes like someone made a great stout and then distilled it down to an extract. Really really rich. Up front there is a bunch of sweet dark chocolate, black coffee, sweet molasses. Roasted malts. The ABV is completely imperceptible.

M - this really is the perfect mouthfeel for a stout. Pretty thick, but not overly so. Light carbonation, smooth. One of the best I've encountered in this category.

O - quite simply an outstanding stout. Just an unbelievable amount of flavor. If there is a demerit, its that its so intense it is almost fatiguing. I split the beer with a friend, and we agreed it would almost be difficult to finish a bomber on your own, just due to the fact that it almost overwhelms you with the flavor profile. This is a must try for any stout lover. Easily the best non-barrel aged stout I've ever had, and one of the best stouts I've ever had period.

Excellent beer.

 1,209 characters

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

As far as appearances and aromas go, it was like a lot of other Imperial Stouts that are held in high esteem.

But the flavor - after the requisite toasty/roasty/chocolate and coffee notes - surprised me with hints of cherry and old pipes (tobacco). I was impressed. This is a fabulous addition to the family of American Imperial Stouts of the first order.

 356 characters

Photo of NWer
5/5  rDev +13.1%

Photo of Pacioli1445
4.27/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of mjw1200
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

Photo of TaborTime
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Photo of Scott17Taylor
4.29/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with small head that dissipates quickly.
I get aromas of dark chocolate, roast, fig, and piney hops.
Delicious, dark fruit, chocolate, and a pleasant hop bitterness. The dark fruit dominates with the chocolate comin throw mid palate. The hops play really nice. Just an incredible beer.
The mouthfeel is fairly thick with a nice warming as it goes down.
Overall, this is a very good, not worth $20 but good.

 419 characters

Photo of TampaRainman
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Photo of kjrod20
5/5  rDev +13.1%

Photo of badboy7113
3.5/5  rDev -20.8%

Photo of _RL_
4.54/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Fireman_RK
4.43/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of rvdoorn
2.52/5  rDev -43%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 1 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 1

2008 vintage

Shared this beer with some friends during our epic imperial stout tasting with Surly Darkness, Darklord, Kate the Great, Abyss, Sexual Chocolate, Cigar City 110K OT Batch2, Speedway stout, Stormaktsporter regular and Kaggen! in the line-up.

Look: Beautiful. Dark as hell. Very nice thick tan head.

Smell: Beautiful aroma as well. This is so complex, it is impossible to describe everything, coffee, dark fruits, tobacco, alcohol, toffee, chocolate. WOW! In terms of smell equal in quality to the Kaggen!.

Taste: Well, what shall I say, this is really the first beer I ever had I wished I would not have tasted after smelling it. What an enormous disappointing taste. Sweet toffee, molasses, chocolate and sugars. Overpowering sweet. Incredible unbalanced and dull.

Mouhtfeel: Mouthfeel is great again. Thick, dense on palate.

Overall: In terms of taste, completely overrated. Nobody from our 6 people group could finish the glass. Look, smell and mouthfeel close to perfect though. The brewers should contact the Narke brewery for a course in tasty, balanced RIS brewing! The worst one of the evening. Hopeless and hopless

 1,142 characters

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

Having had 09 and 10 side by side recently, I knew that I had underrated this beer. At another tasting I got the chance to try 08 and 10 side by side and I have no doubt remaining about the greatness of Darkness.

There's nothing new to write except that the hosp eventually fade and the dark fruit character shines brilliantly. Bumping the aroma and taste scores, both, to 4.5!
9.8% ABV
85 IBUs
OG: 29° Plato
Color: 55° SRM
2010 vintage, poured into a generic 10-12 oz tulip at Acadia Cafe, Minneapolis, on 11/11/2010; a few weeks after the release.

Appearance 5/5
Jet black with a dark mocha colored head that is very slow to settle and leaves a fantastic lacing. Perfect.

Aroma 3.5/5
Sweet smelling from malts but with a strong herbal hop aroma followed by hints of dark fruit, even cherries, but no tartness. Weak, however.

Taste 4/5
Yes, there's roast, and there are a lot of hops too, and all of it rides on an excellent base of dark fruit. Begins with a strong raisin-y character, much like a well aged barleywine, but not as strong, and soon the huge hoppiness appears to contrast the initial rich sweetness; plenty of roast joins in towards the finish: the finish is remarkably clean, and astringent to some degree, and the aftertaste is all hoppy and burnt accompanied by some alcohol warming, that is not felt anywhere else. Later, towards the end of the drink, I noticed a lighter sweetness and citrus. Really?!! All of a sudden it's a "Black Barleywine" or what?

Mouthfeel 5/5
Medium to big bodied, silky and coating, with low carbonation. Perfect, again!

Drinkability 4.5/5
Very drinkable, perhaps a little too much!

A very good beer but not worth the hype and effort. But then, which other RIS's are as good? This one sure is outstanding.

 1,771 characters

Photo of freshcarl
4.78/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of nathanjohnson
5/5  rDev +13.1%

Photo of GeezLynn
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of CraftEyeDoc
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Photo of SeeingMeansMore
4.35/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of ATLbeerDog
4.73/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Three months old - Pours a beautiful pitch black that is completely opaque. A heavy two inch dark tan/caramel head proudly crowns this masterpiece. The large head very slowly and reluctantly recedes. Smells of chocolate, coffee, licorice, alcohol and hops complete the nose. Tastes of dark chocolate, coffee grinds, raisins, tobacco and "licorice...yeah black licorice" add to the amazing complexity. One of many amazing aspects of this beer is the mouthfeel which I can only describe as complete milkshake. An intense hop presence separates this puppy from the other top RIS's in the world. It does not get any better than this. Big, bold, beautiful...if this beer doesn't make your pecker hard, you are likely gay and need to go back to wine.

 749 characters

Photo of brownbeer
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
4.42 out of 5 based on 3,809 ratings.
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