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Darkness | Surly Brewing Company

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BA SCORE
98
world-class
863 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:
863
Ratings:
3,686
Avg:
4.42
pDev:
9.28%
 
 
Wants:
3,307
Gots:
1,452
For Trade:
123
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
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Reviews: 863 | Ratings: 3,686
Photo of bbtkd
4.02/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Surly Darkness 2016 from a grumbler. Pours thick and black with a four finger brown head that left real nice lacing. Nose is coffee, fruit, and chocolate. Taste is bitter throughout, with a hint of coffee, fruit, and chocolate. Mouthfeel is decent. Overall - though I sought this out due to the cult status - not a fan, due to the bitterness. It did improve as it warmed. I'd like to try the BA version.

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Photo of GOGRANDE
4.85/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: pitch black. Really sticky looking, tiny head.

S: hops! what? really? thats awesome. You would Surly. You would. Sweet nose with a combo of big hops... Choc, pine,floral,little vanilla. Almost like a black IPA but bigger and thicker looking. I love Surly.

T: huge bold flavors. Just like the nose with this nice pairing of Choc big stout like taste and then a nice hop punch. Not crazy complex but sooo good. Caramel, choc, pine, butterscotch. WOW. incredible.

M: Amazing mouthfeel. Perfect. Nice and chewy and all the hop oils give it a nice silky oily feel. This is perfect. It just is.

D: great! nice and smooth. Not too hot. Just great.

Thoughts: Surly is one of the most talented brewies in the craft beer world. I have not had a ton of beers from them but everything I have had is amazing. They are quickly becoming one of my favorites. AND the awesome kick ass bottle art is just adding to it. THIS IS TRUE CRAFT BEER. CHEERS!

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Photo of lhaqq
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Coffee-colored body, translucent but black, thin cappuccino head.
S: Not too much of a smell. Some chocolate milk, malts, and brown sugar.
T: Probably the least cloyingly sweet imperial stout I've had. Gets a lot of flavor in, but finishes dry with a little bit of chocolate. Molasses, brown sugar and dark malts.
M: Smooth, not too creamy, kind of syrupy thick.
D: Can barely taste the alcohol. Had a couple of these at Pizza Lucé after 2 years of attempting to be around MN when it was released.

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Photo of codysjb
4.32/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer tasting 10/14/12
Motor oil black little head
Toffee, dark, caramel small coffe notes
Lots of carbonation, caramel, heavy very heavy.
Still just a massive amount of carbonation here almost over the top.
Good but not standing up to the cbs and dark lord were opening side by side.

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Photo of paulozanello
4.05/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 version, on tap:

Pours a really opaque dark color with a light brown head with great retention and lacing.

Aroma is of dark malts, mollasses, some coffee, vanilla and chocolate.

Taste somehow follows the aroma with a very "dark malt" profile, with dark fruits, vanilla, coffee and bitter chocolate.

Body is heavy with a silky and smooth mouthfeel at first, with mild tart and astringent dark malt notes later on. Aftertaste is a little hop bitter.

Overall a very good RIS from surly. Not the most complex beer within the style but a great beer nonetheless.

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

One of the bottles opened this New Years, pumped to try out the 2010 (Vampire) version. Poured into a snifter this beer was a deep black with no light coming through at all. Only about half a finger of a deep brown head. Some slight alcohol legs on the glass. Really getting strong roast presence in the aroma with some anise, chocolate, and molasses in the smell. The taste on this one is great. I was actually surprised to get some hop bitterness on this over year old bottle still to add some balance I don't always get in these big stouts. Again hints of caramel, breakfast blend type coffee, chocolate malt, and dark molasses in the taste. This beer was nice and smooth with a solid level of carbonation that made it fairly easy to drink for such a big beer. This is a great beer from Surly and one that I will continue to seek out.

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

Given to me by a generous soul at DLD for nothing more than the locals in my cooler. Split amongst friends for the LOST series finale. 2009 vintage I'm assuming, even though the wax looks black to me.

A: Oily black darkness fills the glass. One finger of chocolate-mocha head that retains fairly well. Not as thick as I might expect, but still very full looking.

S: Dark fruits, maybe cherry and fig, on top of an overwhelming chocolate and malt sweetness. Fairly complex, but not too many scents I can pull out and name.

T: Dark chocolate, roasted malts, and a sweetness that lingers around on the palette. Some coffee and raisin flavors. A little soy actually plays in, although not necessarily in a bad way.

M: Fairly thick and creamy. Moderate to low carbonation. Rich and full in body.

D: Rich, sweet, and filling. This was a great beer, but I'm glad I had friends to share this with. Would love another to add to the cellar.

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Photo of mnredsoxfan69
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%
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 TongoRad
4.87/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Right off the bat- dear lord, this is gonna be powerful; I can smell it as I'm pouring. Immediate sniff: holy crap, this is a hoppy stout! I love hoppy stouts!

Aroma is multi faceted with lots of complexity; I seem to get a different angle with each smell. Initially I get lots of dark chocolate roast, citrus oil and pine resin. This immediately begins morphing into prune, toffee, tobacco, smoke and ash, spices (nutmeg and vanilla), blackstrap molasses, espresso, even a touch of almond. It's amazing- all of these really heavy duty aromas taking turns with each other, yet the sum of the parts never overwhelms. If there is a constant throughout, it's the bitter dark chocolate.

And on the palate it's smooth, rich, and surprisingly tightly knit. Again, an amazingly harmonious blend of flavors for such a powerful beer. Toffee and dark fruits provide a solid platform from where the other elements nimbly move about. The spices play an incredible role as a conductor, too, seemingly present whenever I get the chocolate, espresso, nuts, citrus peel. Bitterness and alcohol are exactly where necessity deems them to be, keeping the whole thing sharp and exciting, but even not coming close to stealing the show. Great jumping crawdaddies!: power and finesse going hand in hand. This is a freakin' masterpiece of a beer, and I must admit that it bests my greatest expectations.

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Photo of MrFootstones
3.24/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

2010 Vintage

Appearance: Pours oily, dark, and menacing with a fat cocoa colored head which fades into a thin cap. Looks awesome.

Aroma: Boozy, hoppy, sweet, mildly roasty. Alcoholic esters. Dark fruit and baker's chocolate. Not tremendously appealing to be honest.

Taste: Dark dried fruit, alcohol, faint roast. Sweet and hoppy, significant but not overpowering bitterness. Smoothness mid palate. Dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Nice and rich without being heavy. Good amount of medium but not prickly carbonation.

Drinkability: My 1/3 of a bottle is a good amount. Not
loving it, but not difficult to drink by any means.

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

2010 Vintage

Pours black with a creamy brown head, it looks rich. Lots of lacings on the sides of the glass as I swirl it. Smells of roasted dark chocolate, sweet, but not overly. Tons of roasted malt, then creamy chocolate, dark cherry favor, and some traces of hops on the finish. The mouth is creamy as this beer is very well balanced. The flavor hides the alcohol perfectly. I would drink this beer again (it is a sipper) due to it's well balanced flavor. Not too dry, bitter or too sweet, this was an excellent RIS.

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Photo of sordyl
3.56/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This was the 2013 Chicago distribution when Surly came into the market. Opened for a bottle share, smelled and looked great but the tastes really was not exceptional at all.

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

Pours at EBF into a plastic sampling glass after a long wait in line. Hopefully it's worth the effort. Color is a beautiful thick dark, black. Wonderful thick, frothy, milkshake-like head.
The aroma starts with a piney hoppiness, followed by an all spice note, then leads into dark chocolate, come bitter cocoa, coffee and a strong roasted basement brings it all together. A warm alcohol presence heightens the flavor and invites more drinking.
The taste has a front palate of sweet malty chocolate cake, then moves to solid finish of hops and peppery spice from the alcohol.
The body is rather light for the depth and strength of the beer, and with a nice carbonation that creates a continuous agitation of flavors this has an overall soft and inviting feel. Well balanced and pleasing. The alcohol warmth slows down the drinking a bit but the flavors are so nice and the body so soft that this is definitely a keeper...if i could ever get another glass.

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Photo of AJacob81
4.35/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After drunkenly trading a Dark Lord for this, and then this for an Abyss at DLD 2010, I'm finally trying Darkness. Poured fresh into a snifter at Jake Melnick's Corner Tap:

A - Black, with a little brown showing at the edges. Billowing beige head of 2 fingers is retained well and leaves elaborate lacing on the inside of the glass. Very unusual for an RIS, but it looks great.

S - Strong, assertive nose features fresh coffee beans, dark fruits, and molasses. A subtle hint of dark chocolate as well. I'd like a candle with this scent. Only Dark Lord and BCBCS smell better.

T - Everything from the nose, in delicate balance. A bit of anise in the aftertaste. Very very tasty.

M and D - Smooth, medium to full body, with decent carbonation, maybe a touch more than is usual for the style. A little syrupy but not cloying, this is one to sip and savor. Excellent brew.

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Photo of MPLS
4.83/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

After coming up empty glassed at 3 locations I scoured the forums and got another tap serving (had one at Darkness day in a plastic cup) of 2009 Darkness

A: The Bartender poured it marvelously, big 6 cm coffee colored head that slowly faded into Darkness...okay, a little cliche. The usual strapping black body was present too. I couldn't complain about the glassware, a brand new Darkness snifter glass that I used to own until I broke it.

S: Smoked chocolate, sweetness, alcohol masked in the nose.

T: Palate boner - delicious dark chocolate, roasted espresso beans, big citrusy hops. Seemingly much more balanced than the '08, though I question the evolution of beer geek palates. Oddly enough this serving fared better than what I had at Darkness Day. The complexity increases as it warmed and is good incentive to cup the snifter with my warm palms.

M: Thick and moderately creamy. It can keep up with the big boys without being oatmeal.

D: Oh man, deliciousness. I am tempted to find an excuse to drink another serving tomorrow, pending it's availability. It's more than just hype with the beer, a real pleasurable experience.

Watch yo ABVz

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Photo of iconoklaztor
4.56/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I couldnt resist it anymore! I would also like to say I had a pint of masala mama prior to this so take this review for what it is!

This brew pours into my official Darkness Snifter...a huge black body with a massive tan head. The head has amazing retention. But what does this beast smell like?

The smell is very sweet, boozy, and a slight woody smell. It is very very intriguing! It is very rich and complex and not at all hoppy IMO

I'm almost am afraid to try this. I'd hate for it to be a let down but also for it to ruin my guts! Fuck it...lets try it!!! Wow, my god. Its rich and sweet but not boozy. Its incrediably smooth! I cant believe its that drinkable! Holy hell! I must try more! It has a very nice cherry, plum, and slight vanilla flavor! Man this is good!

Its very drinkable and very dangerious! If possible I would drink this all the time! Now I only wonder what my 07 taste like???

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Photo of abfraser
4.39/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to waltonc for sharing a glass of this one. Cool looking bottle

A: Totally black with a smallish dark brown head.

S: This is some complex stuff. All the classic RIP aromas--roasted malt, chocolate, some coffee. But the real distinguishing factor here was a real dark fruit, almost like a fruitcake.

T/M: Deliciously creamy and full bodied. Great imperial stout flavors. Really like how the dark fruit flavors worked in here; it was very unique for the style. Everything was exceptionally well balanced, with nothing dominating or overpowering.

D: I could drink a lot of ton of this. Yet, I can barely get my hands on it, so it's gets a knock.

This was delicious, complex, and unique. Up there with the best of them.

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Photo of Shango42
4.95/5  rDev +12%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Serving type-tap poured into a tulip snifter.

A-Bold dense blackness. Dark tan head. Lots of lacing.

S-Chocolate sweetness, dark scotch-like malts, caramel, toffee. Absolutely delicious on the senses.

T-1st sip...speechless. So smooth, so sweet, so perfect. Dark chocolate and toffee, scotch-like malt with very light coffee notes. Wonderfully full body. The balance for this high octane, big stout is unparalleled. The alcohal is definitely present because it warms going down, but it is not overpowering. Some late hops make an appearance but it just continues to balance and compliment the brew. I've simply never had a better beer.

M-Thick, chewy, low carbonation, full bodied.

D-Could drink one of these every day and I would be in beertopic bliss. It sets the bar.

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Photo of pdoran10
4.08/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Served on tap at darkness day 2009 at Hell's Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis. Have procrastinated a long time on reviewing this beer.

When I ordered it, I was presented with a 10oz goblet of very dark brown beer, with a luxurious looking half inch of head. The smell is right away of toasted malt with dark chocolate, can't quite put my finger on some of the other flavors, but very complex. I was surprised when I tasted it, very thick and syrupy. I taste toasted malt right away, much like the smell. After that passes, I get an explosion of other flavors, chocolate, expresso, I might even taste some fig in there. It took me a few sips to get a grasp for all that was going on. Good taste, but a lot of toasted malt and a bit of alchohol taste are going on. I was not a big fan of the mouthfeel of this one. I'm all for thick imperial stouts, but somehow this one was much more syrupy than I liked, it felt a little to sticky sweet in my mouth. The drinkability is good enough. Some alchohol presense, and a bit syrupy, but it can't be all bad as I still had two and considered a third. Good beer, didn't live up to my expectations though.

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Photo of stouts4me
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

darkness 2011 straight from the gates of SURLY, on saturday October 23rd.
Pours a deep dark dark brown, not black, but surely no light gets through. 1/4" light brown foam on top.
The nose is very nice, smell is smooth if that makes sense.
first sip is awesome, just as u would expect from these pro's. Nice, smooth not overpowering ; cocoa, plum a little booziness, definitely not a bad or overpowering booze taste.
Mouthfeel is very good, smoothly flowing over the tastebuds.
Overall u expect this to be great and u won't cry foul, u will enjoy each delicious mouthful.

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Photo of Gfunk720
4.43/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2009 Bottle, black wax. Out of my SN XXX tulip.

A- Out pours a thick blackish liquid. The head is a dark Khaki color, and laces the glass quite well.

S- Rich roasted malts, dark chocolate, and alcohol are the first things that hit my nose. I get some nice hoppy notes, as well as some dark fruit and raisins.

T- An initial sweetness hits my tongue, followed by notes of chocolate and roasted malt. The beer is thick and creamy, with plenty of flavor. There is a nice hoppy profile on the back end, suits the beer very well.

M- Pretty much perfect for what I like in the style. Thick and oily, without going overboard. The flavor is complex, while melding very well.

O- I had some pretty high expectations for this beer after cellaring it for the last couple years. I have to say I am pleasantly surprised. An excellent RIS to say the least.

-GFunk

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Photo of ryantupy
4.52/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This was a great beer that was a definate sipper for sure. It was a warming beer perfect for Fall or Winter. It poured a jet black hue with a nice frothy brown head and stuck to the glass the whole way down. The roasted malt flavor with slight undertones of dark chocolate and burnt malts were great. This was a smooth and easily drinkable beer I hope to get my hands on this one again

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Photo of Trevor11
5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I enjoyed the 2015 vintage at the Local Option brewpub on 1/22/2016. This Russian Imperial stout was incredibly rich with dark chocolate yet balanced with raisiny sweetness. There is a vampire bat on the front label to add to its creepy, dark aura.

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Photo of mcgwire756
4.36/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2010 Vintage

Poured pitch black with a nice 2 finger head. A great looking beer.

The smell of this beer is of dark fruit and molasses.

The taste is of smooth dark late but not overbearing. I thought it would be a little fuller than it was. Still great just not what I expected.

The mouthfeel was awesome. This beer does not taste like a 10.3% beer at all. It is without a doubt one of the easiest beers to drink (of this style) that I have ever had.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of JebBeerFish
2.94/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

2015 bottle.

A: 1/4 head on gentle pour.

S: very mild bitter chocolate, a little molasses.

T: A pleasant, mild dry, bitter chocolate rudely interrupted by hops. Does mild dark chocolate with piney resin sound yummy to you? If so, then this may be your beer. I like my Cherios and milk without salt, and my pancakes and maple syrup with out soy sauce, so sadly, this will not be a beer to which I will return.

O: unpleasant.

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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
4.42 out of 5 based on 3,686 ratings.
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