Darkness | Surly Brewing Company

BA SCORE
98
world-class
3,825 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
Ratings:
3,825
Reviews:
878
Avg:
4.42
pDev:
9.28%
 
 
Wants:
3,306
Gots:
1,521
For Trade:
139
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,825 |  Reviews: 878
Photo of drewone
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of duceswild
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

Photo of Jason
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

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!

 4,992 characters

Photo of ZEB89
4.62/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

 1,383 characters

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.

 997 characters

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.

 1,057 characters

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.

 510 characters

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

 1,414 characters

Photo of PA-Michigander
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Photo of Zaphog
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of MarkyMOD
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Photo of atlbravsrno1
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

 1,056 characters

Photo of thatoneguymike
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

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.

 404 characters

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 :)

 612 characters

Photo of BMart
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Photo of dfhhead25
3.25/5  rDev -26.5%

Photo of InspectorBob
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

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.

 1,176 characters

Photo of jgunther71
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of JAHMUR
4/5  rDev -9.5%

Photo of chippo33
2/5  rDev -54.8%

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
4.42 out of 5 based on 3,825 ratings.
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