Darkness | Surly Brewing Company

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DarknessDarkness
BA SCORE
4.48/5
Outstanding
3,968 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
2017 - Witch

Added by ryantupy on 10-08-2006

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#137
Reviews:
902
Ratings:
3,968
pDev:
8.93%
Bros Score:
4.5
 
 
Wants:
3,303
Gots:
1,565
Trade:
137
HISTOGRAM
 
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,968 |  Reviews: 902
Photo of mctizzz
4.5/5  rDev +0.4%

Photo of SoCalBeerIdiot
4.25/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of johnnyboy76
4.75/5  rDev +6%

Photo of kevanb
4.7/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

750ml bottle, 2013 vintage, purchased at Binny's Grand in Chicago (much to my surprise) and poured into a 2012 Darkness tulip. I've heard rumors that the batch sent to Chicago was different than the batch released at Darkness Day in 2013, but I have nothing to substantiate this, that being said, this bottle was quite different than the draft offering I had at Northdown Cafe not a few weeks earlier.

The beer pours a super deep jet black color, wonderful opacity and just a touch of cola brown color when hit by the light. A thick, taut, caramel colored head rises from the beer, not instantaneously, taking its time to thicken and settle before receding slowly and gracefully leaves a few nice spots of lace behind. The aroma is roasty, dark brunt grain with some toasted coffee bean before a rush of chocolate, also a touch charred gives way to a plethora of fruit flavors, cherry, plum, prune and fig, with a bit of brown sugar and raisin as well as some molasses and toffee. The flavors however, are on point, loads of rich chocolate, bittersweet that brings out the fruit flavors impeccably well, huge amounts of cherry and plum with some backing raisin and licorice that leads to a rich malt and brown sugar sweet finish, but boy does the roast get cut down on the tongue. I'm used to this beer exerting some bitterness and hoppyness, especially when this fresh, but this bottle is so rounded and smooth. The body on this bottle is perfection, incredibly rich, soft, smooth, velvety, all of the synonyms for those words apply. It coats the mouth so gently and eloquently that it's almost unnoticed while asserting itself so well. The finish is wonderfully creamy, soft and has a perfect level of warming as it goes down.

Verdict: I always thought of Darkness as a rather unique and inventive take on the style as it was assertively bitter and always had a distinctive piney hop flavor to me, however this bottle changes everything. It's incredibly rich, smooth and balanced. The complexity is astounding and this is deserving of all accolades. Perhaps there is some truth to the notion that the recent distribution was slightly different than the release day batch, but whatever was in my bottle was superb and I want more.

 2,233 characters

Photo of jaasen64
4.18/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2011 Darkness, 750ml bottle poured into Lawson's tulip. Thanks Jameson for sharing this during our Murda'd Out tasting.

A- Pours a dark brown that appears a jet black in the glass with a thin mocha brown head that has about average head and recedes to a flat top. Spotty lacing that slides back into glass.

S- Cocoa powder, light bakers chocolate, some faint hop, decent aroma strength.

T- Cocoa powder, light baker's dark chocolate, light hops hiding in background that I would assume is more pronounced in fresher bottles. Finishes with rich dark chocolate cocoa powder that lingers as a nice aftertaste.

M- Smooth, very drinkable, nice carbonation that doesn't dominate too much, medium bodied.

O- This was a great stout that I really enjoyed drinking however I'm not sure if I'd say its one of my favorites. The overall flavor could have been richer instead of the cocoa powder taste. I would love to compare a fresh version of this.

 942 characters

Photo of WoostaBia
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Tasted at Extreme beer fest. Awesome beer. Quite a treat: sweet, roasted maltiness, chocolate, balsamic vinegar, bitter middle and coffee finish.

145 characters

Photo of JDV
3.9/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Huge, huge thanks to miketd for his generousity in hauling this beer down to Texas and sharing it with us!! I've been looking forward to this one for many months.<Br>
Pours dark black with a short lived tan head. Smell is chocolately, some faint cake like sweetness and some really roasty sharp, bitter hops in the nose. Some dryness. Taste is dry, roasty, and very hoppy for the style, and a bit more than I'd like. Somewhat of a meaty, roasty flavor too. Slick, oily mouthfeel. Very good, for sure, with no hint of the ABV, but not my favorite Imperial Stout.

 567 characters

Photo of mattycasey
4.75/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of vrbulldog22
4.5/5  rDev +0.4%

Photo of Mikeluzzjr
3.65/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Bierguy5
3.33/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750 ml wax-top bottle. Pitch black liquid. Thich tan head that lasts for quite some time, and surrenders some great looking patchwork of lace.

Loads of citrusy hops up front, big and juicy. Ripe fruit, chocolate, and alcohol come out in the nose. Interesting combo.

What sticks out to me up front is the amount of sweetness, a bit cloying for me. SOme chocolate comes in, but gets overtaken by a huge blast of citrusy hops. SOme warming from the alcohol.

Maybe a bit thin. Lower carbonation. Intesesting, but not my taste. Too much sweetness, with too much hop flavor.

 571 characters

Photo of jplopez21
4.75/5  rDev +6%

Photo of jkrug5
4.75/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Mdog
4.38/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Dark black, initially a good head but fades out, good lacing as I drank out of the official Darkness snifter.

Smell: All I could really smell was the hops in this beer. Might be my cold acting up or because this was on tap so I couldn't stick my nose in it while I poured it.

Taste: Made a good impression on me. A nice hop blast followed by bitter chocolate and a little bit of smoky flavor. Not harshly bitter to my tastes. No alcohol to be detected by my senses.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth.

Drinkability: For an imperial this goes down extremely easy. If I wasn't trying multiple beers at the Gnome, I would have had another.

Finally I have tasted the Darkness from Surly. It is an excellent beer even though I don't typically seek out imperial stouts. The only thing to make this better was if it was canned for home consumption. I'm not sleeping in the parking lot for a growler!

 897 characters

Photo of whitenads
4.75/5  rDev +6%

Photo of woodchip
4.6/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

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

I had this one on tap at the 2008 Illinois release party at the Bavarian Lodge in Lisle.

A= This stout poured a very dark brown/black color with a beautiful 3/4" creamy brown head. Retention was good, and the head eventually left some spotty lacing on the glass.

S= Naturally this was served a bit too cold, so it took a while for the aromas to open up. Eventually I found a complex yet somewhat subdued profile of chocolate, dark ripe fruits, some roasted malts, sherry, and a surprisingly large hop presence.

T= From front to back, this was one complex and satisfying beer. The huge sweet malt base started this one off in a good way with a heady blend of flavors such as dark fruits (cherries, raisins), treacle, brown sugar, and molasses. The middle was completely dominated by a surprising hop bitterness that seemed out of character in this beer, yet worked well with the other flavors. Following on the heels of the hops was a bitter one-two punch of dark chocolate and roasted coffee notes. The finish dried a bit and left a pleasant alcohol spiciness on my tongue and warmth in my belly. Each sip begged the next to follow.

MF= This is a big full-bodied brew. Mouth feel was viscous without being syrupy. Carbonation was adequate to carry the heavy load, yet soft and creamy on the tongue.

D= Though I cannot say that this has toppled my favorite beers in this style, it was a real joy to drink. I found this beer to be all about the matchup of complexity vs. subtlety. It was sweet without being cloying, bitter without being too dry, high alcohol but not too hot or astringent. A great beer and one I will gladly drink again!

 1,647 characters

Photo of ldhughes3
4.5/5  rDev +0.4%

Photo of Kopfschuss
4.5/5  rDev +0.4%

Photo of aerozeppl
4.42/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to drseamus for letting me sample this beer.

A: Pours black with no light getting through. Dark tan head with some lacing.

S: The first thing that strikes you is how hoppy this smells for an IRS. Citrus is very present. After than you get some of the roasted elements.

T:Bitter from the roasted malt at first. There is something at the middle we could not figure out. It lasts about half a second and it is wonderful. We classified it as burnt sugar (Caramel) but I do not know if that accurately depicts what is going on there. There is also a slight alcohol taste but within tolerances for the ABV.

M: Thick body that is slightly syrupy with a good amount of carbonation.

D: Very drinkable for the ABV. This beer was sampled VS some other RIS including Stone, Avery Czar, and Siberian Night and while it is a great beer I do not know if it is worth all of the hype. People at the tasting favored the Stone RIS with a year on it and I favored another with a few more years on it. The super limited availability I am sure has something to do with this. Great beer no doubt just don't mortgage your house to get it. That being said if you can get it reasonably definitely do so.

 1,193 characters

Photo of YalovaIA
4.5/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of bashiba
3.75/5  rDev -16.3%

Photo of MinorThreat
4/5  rDev -10.7%

Photo of stephensinner
4.42/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Paccamacca
4.48/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.48 out of 5 with 3,968 ratings