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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:
3,687
Avg:
4.42
pDev:
9.28%
 
 
Wants:
3,307
Gots:
1,455
For Trade:
124
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User Reviews
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Reviews: 863 | Ratings: 3,687
Photo of muttyd
4.47/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Black pour with thick tan head that slowly fades to about one finger thick.

S: Massive hop aroma similar to a strong American DIPA. Slight chocolate/coffee aroma in the background.

T: Molasses, chocolate, coffee, caramel, and roasted malts. Very complex flavor that is well balanced by the hop bitterness. I seem to be getting new flavors in every sip as the beer warms up. Alcohol is well hidden, but still warming. Absolutely amazing.

M: Thick, rich, and very sticky.

D: One of the best beers I have ever tried. Alcohol does sneak up on you though.

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Photo of icefisherman
4.68/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First off this is some dark stuff so the name fits. Black thick liquid with a small tanish head. Smells most delicios kinda chocolaty almost like the black death coffee we get at work. Taste has so much going on it is hard to nail it down every sip is something new from caramel to dark fruits to slight piney hops. Mouthfeel was nice smooth with a little bite I liked it, it was rough around the edges. As for drinkability man oh man all night if I could and didn't have to work in the morning. Well hidden 10 percent deffinatly a beer worth tracking down on tap.

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Photo of sprucetip
4.71/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First of all, a big thank you to BuckeyeNation for the stellar trade and hand delivery of this beauty.

With a fairly aggressive pour the precious contents produced more thick, dark mocha foam than impenetrably black liquid. The head lingered for quite some time, as I admired it and inspected other aspects. Though there was nothing that so much as resembled a highlight, I did detect prodigious quantities of tiny bubbles cascading upwards along the inside edge of the glass and joining the loitering frothy top. Thick lacing was left behind by the initial froth, but there was little later on.

I found the nose roasty and smoky, mainly, with some fruity hops evident, upon early inspection. Later there were hints of licorice, relatively low levels of alcy heat, and a burst of black patent before some caramel malty sweetness that added some depth I was hoping for. It continued to grow richer and more complex. I was planning to up the score a notch, but, later yet, that blast of black patent seemed to hand on and overpower some of the other influences, and the score landed where it did. But it was a tough call.

The taste did not immediately lend itself, descriptively, to a plethora of elements. But, wow! Rich caramel malty sweetness, and strong roasty and coffee influences lead. A touch of hoppy and possibly roasty bitterness works its way in, as does vague licorice notes and vanilla. Barely noticeable alcohol. Extraordinarily rich and smooth. I struggled with the decision, and have decided to score it a 5, something I rarely do.

Well but not over carbonated, with alcy warming that stops a bit short of burn. Thick, chewy, and viscous. Luxurious texture, and finishes clean. The just barely too strong warming keeps this from being a 5.

As good as any, joins a few other in setting the bar. Wicked smooth, rich, and complex. Just plain decadent. Wow. Yum. ...Thanks again to BuckeyeNation for making this experience possible.

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

HUGE thanks to mnjeff

pour is not quite jet black but very dark cola, almost black, with a cocoa head. little to zero retention and lacing

so much going on, bourbon, cherry, molasses, light floral hops, sweet roasted malts, vanilla, and a bit of booze

even more in the flavor. this was quite complex with a mixture of so many flavors. again, herry, molasses, light floral hops, bitter citrus hops, sweet and bitter charcoal roasted malts, vanilla, a bit of booze, dark fruit, and a touch of brown sugar. mind blowing.

thick! the glass has a slick glaze in it. its almost enough to chew on.

this may be the best imp stout i have ever had. i want to drink the shit out of it but its 10.30 ABV (which is hidden well) and a 750ml bottle. it would be trouble, but "trouble loves me".

play on playa... this is it.

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Photo of hrking
4.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow popped a bottle last night for GBS#169 and wow all I can say is try this beer. The flavors just keep coming. Creamy smooth desert stout with fudge chocolate goodness.Dark Lord bow down to the Darkness. This is hands down one of the best stouts I have ever tasted! Alcohol well hidden and dangerously drinkable. This is a must try for any beer connoisseur! 98 vintage..

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

This one pours almost black and totally opaque, with a one-inch tan head. Smells moderately of chocolate and coffee. Tastes of chocolate, coffee, molasses, and oreo cookie, the cookie part. A first-rate combination of flavor. Mouthfeel is outstanding, a creamy smooth feel, almost as if it was from a nitro tap. Very drinkable for a beer this big. This one walks with the big boyz.

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Photo of HopHead84
3.63/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2009 batch shared by Alex on 12/19/2009 and poured into a snifter. The beer pours black with a two finger light brown head.

The nose is aggressive green, piney, and grassy hops with light citrus notes. Beneath the hop onslaught I find a fairly standard RIS, with a moderate roasted quality and notes of dark chocolate.

The flavor is pine resin hops with an upper moderate level of bitterness. I detect chocolate and a light roast, as well as some astringency. The hops are very aggressive, and they seem to clash with the traditional RIS flavors at every turn. This is a return to the hoppiness of the 2007 vintage, but the hops seem to clash here, where they melded nicely in the older vintage. What I have before me is a rather strange beer that isn't particularly drinkable or enjoyable, apart from the hoppy novelty factor.

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

2009 vintage that I got in a trade with feloniousmonk, Thanks Al!

22oz bottle served in a standard pint glass.

Black brew with a big fluffy brown head of foam that left a heavy coat of lacing.
Roasted malt, chocolate and earthy hops.
Chocolatey taste upfront with lots of roasted coffee bean character and a good dose of hoppy bitterness mixed in.
Full bodied with a smooth, creamy feel.
Drinkable, oh yes it is!

I also had a 2008 vintage on 11/25/09 that I got in a trade with josephhaugen when he still lived in Minnesota, Thanks Joe!

22oz gold wax dipped cap served in a snifter.

Black liquid with a huge cocoa colored head that took a while to settle and left cool looking lace.
Chocolate and sweet roasted malt fill my nostrils, faint and I mean faint bit of hops.
Taste is sweet roasted malt and sweet chocolate, a light touch of bitterness on the finish but any real hoppy flavors have long since faded.
Creamy, thick and rich brew that went down fairly easy considering the high abv.

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Photo of pmccallum86
4.78/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage

Pours a deep dark midnight black with a cocoa coffee colored head. The head dissipates slowly into the night leaving lacing along the snifter.

The smell is of dried fruits, hops, roasted malts, cocoa, butterscotch and many other things I cannot identify. Very complex and pleasant.

Taste is like no other RIS I have ever tried. Chocolate, coffee, butterscotch, raisins, roasted malts, etc. As it warms a tobacco flavor becomes present. Very interesting taste that changes with the temperature.

Mouthfeel is thick and viscous, maybe a little chewy. Definitely a thick full body. Very nice on a cool winter's night.

Drinkability is good, very smooth and pleasant to slowly sip on.

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Photo of auroracrisis
3.83/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass. Got this one from Mistofminn in a trade, thanks again!

Poured black and thick with a big head. The head was probably three inches on my first pour and as the brew was drank down it had little lacing. I think the lacing was due to the glass it was in which had been in the dishwasher.

Smell was a bit underwhelming. Earthy hops and roasted coffee with sweet chocolate. I was hoping for something that just jumped out of the glass at me but it wasn't happening for some reason.

Taste was unlike any RIS I have ever had. Opened up with lots of earthy hops which moved into sweet chocolate and roasted coffee. As the beer warmed I could taste a bit of alcohol but not much.

Mouthfeel was alright. I'd say light to medium body for an RIS. Wasn't bad but wasn't great.

Drinkability was good. Not something I could drink pitcher after pitcher of but it was solid. I had no problem finishing the 22oz on my own.

Overall, I would say this one was a great beer but didn't live up to the hype. Maybe it's better on tap? Not saying it's a bad beer but it's not mind blowingly good or anything. I enjoyed it though. Thanks Brad!

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Photo of brewanddrink
4.4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

i was number 326th in line for this years darkness and i was there the year before also. Just the fact that i waited three and a half hours to get it makes it taste even better. It pours thick in the glass with little head at first then forms a thin layer that emits a lovely aroma of dark fruit, sweet malt and a little hops. The taste is bold and full of strong malt with raisins and a linger of chocolate. It is a very nice beer for a cold winter night just after a long day of snow boarding.

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Photo of hardy008
5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

When I had this on tap, it had a small tan head. When I poured the beer from the bottle into a tulip glass, it had a huge tan 2 finger head with excellent retention. Very impressive. Pitch black color, allows no light to pass through.

The nose on this is amazing. A nice combination of smeet malt, molasses, chocolate, raisins, coffee, and hops makes for a great aroma.

The flavor is just as amazing. The malt takes center stage and the beer is wonderfully sweet and somewhat hoppy at the same time.

As high as the alcohol is, it is amazing at how well it is hidden. Full bodied, rich, creamy, and nicely carbonated. Nicely drinkable for such a big beer. I wouldn't change a thing.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.67/5  rDev -17%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Chilled bottle, 2009 vintage, into a glass. Shared at a tasting. Received in a generous trade from KeefD. Thanks, Keith!

I was a little concerned about this beer being awful, since largadeer compared it to Dark Lord, which I can't stand. I expected a drainpour.

A: Pours a perfectly pitch black in the glass, letting no light through, even at the edges. The bottle is well-chilled, and a vigorous pour yields no head, but as it warms, swirling and agitation produce a nice, frothy mocha-colored head that rises to a finger in thickness. Sadly, it falls quickly into a light collar and a swirl of bubbles on the brew. No lacing.

S: Barry (bring) made a comment that this smells like stir-fry and sesame oil, and as the beer warmed, I saw great hints of that. It also had a strong burnt (not roasted, but burnt) malt flavor that imparted elements of smoke and a light ashiness. Chocolate was also quite strong. There were no hops in the nose.

T: The beer goes through oscillations as it warms. When cold, it is mostly charred and smoky. At a little higher temperature, it is burnt and acrid, with a little citrus in the finish. Slightly higher, and it develops a soy sauce / stir fry profile. As it approaches room temperature, the flavors meld into a nicer combination. Yes, there's a soy sauce / sesame oil flavor to it. Yes, there's still an acrid / burnt ash flavor in there. It's also strongly sweet, with chocolate, molasses, and a dark fruit variety (currants? Maybe figs). There is an underlying hop bitterness throughout, and it's more apparent in the finish where it manifests as a citrus burst and some earth. At room temperature, these seemingly clashing flavors merge into a pretty enjoyable profile. It's not the best imperial stout I've had, but it's quite well crafted. I have to say, though: no one in the room understood why people kept saying this beer is very hoppy; this bottle was not.

M: Full body with a velvety feel from its low carbonation. It's slightly warming, but there is no real booze to it.

D: As I said above, it's not the best imperial stout I've had, but I think it's solid. I expected it to be awful, and it turned out to exceed my expectations. I seemed to be the only one at the tasting who enjoyed it even this much, which surprised me. Normally I'm the Negative Nancy at these tastings.

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Photo of jeffthecheff
3.52/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Shared at the "Black Friday" tassting 2009. Thanks fbm115 for the bottle.

The beer is black. It's Darkness. The head is a dark brown but it dies to just a lace around the glass.

The aroma is very hoppy with only a hint of dark flavor in the back. Doesn't really live up to the Darkness title, as it it more bright and hoppy. Pine and citrusy orange peel come through with DIPA strength.

The flavor is mostly hoppy, with a syrupy, dark chocolate flavor hiding in there. There is a burnt, bitter finish from both the hops and the roast. Fruity hop flavors come through as orange and cranberry, reminding me of a chocolate covered fruits. There is a bit of a garlicy flavor as well from the overboard of hops.

The mouthfeel is thick, resiny, and oily. Slightly chalky finish. Slight warming feeling from the alcohol. This beer is hurt by the overboard of hops for the drinkability. Overall it seemed like there was too much going on, but I'd like to see how this tastes with some age on it when those hops calm down.

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Photo of surlyseth
5/5  rDev +13.1%

Saved this one for my 35th B-day.
Took it out of the fridge a half-hour prior to opening.
Poured in a Duvel tulip.

A: Thick jet black body with a khaki-carmel-frap-looking head. The pour yields a "slow-burn" head which takes time to accumulate. Minimal lacing.

S: Hoppy, but not necessarily like an IPA. Not floral or citrusy. It's more oily and piney...Like I opened up an old chest in the attic.

T: Amazing. Drying coffee up front, sticky-sweet caramel, and finishing with a hoppy, bold tobacco. The taste of this cannot be overstated. So many RI Stouts come up dry and short. Soft and simple. Or they overdo the sweetness. Darkness has a sourness that powers through the chocolate cloying effect. This is a chocolate stout that is fleeting. It plays hide-and-seek all over the tongue.

M: Phenomenally robust. Fully festive. Hoppy as hell to balance the sticky sweetness. My lips are adhered to themselves and my mouth coated, yet the hops scream for another sip.

D: Sip it and you will be rewarded by it's hidden, sweet, dark fruits that become more brilliant as the darkness comes to pass into the dawn of inebriation!

This beer lives up to the hype.

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Photo of bmanning
4.28/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to beerdavis for this 09 bottle - shared with Traquairlover.
Pours black with a 2 finger tan/light brown head.
I'm caught off guard with huge citrus and floral aromas - is this a stout or an IPA? There are also background aromas of coffee, chocolate, licorice, toffee, and caramel.
Taste is very odd, but in a good way. This beer has qualities of both an Imperial IPA and a Russian Imperial Stout. There is grapefruit mixed with chocolate, lemon with coffee, orange with caramel. These are very odd combinations together, but they surprisingly work well together.
Mouthfeel is thick and coats very well.
Overall this is a very different stout than I'm used to because the floral and citrus notes are in the forefront right now with the stout flavors in the back. I'm going to give my 2nd bottle a year in the cellar and see how it develops.

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Photo of bsp77
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from magnificent 750ml bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Exceedingly dark brown that might as well be black with a thick mocha head that mostly recedes, but only after several minutes.

Smell: Very fruity aroma for a RIS, with a strong citrus hop bitterness. Some floral notes (roses?) are apparent as well as something akin to raw meat. The roasted aroma is quite low, with just a slight touch of chocolate.

Taste: Same as the aroma, it is very fruity, both due to the malts (plum, figs) and the hops (citrus). The citrus is especially off-putting, but in a good "wow I didn't realize that could work" way. Also notice some rich molasses, licorice and chocolate, with a nice mild bitterness at the end.

Feel: Low carbonation, full chewy body that is exceptionally smooth.

Drinkability: I really can't tell this is over 10% at all. Despite how thick it is, it is very easy to drink. Overall, not a typical RIS at all considering the lower roasted character and the citrus hops, but quite exceptional.

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Photo of trbergman
4.72/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served on tap at Prairie Moon in Evanston. 10oz pour.

A - Pitch black with a quarter inch of brown head that quickly fades, leaving nice lacing on the way down.

S - Chocolate, coffee, licorice, citrusy hops.

T - Sweet, roasted, and bitter all at once. Plenty of chocolate, caramel, and vanilla, with notes of hazelnut. There are also flavors of roasted grain, smoke, and coffee. Hops sneak through the rich malt structure with flavors of orange zest and grapefruit, as well as aggressive bitterness.

M - Viscous and rich; creamy, full body.

D - Potent, but delicious. A good contemplative sipper.

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Photo of vacax
4.11/5  rDev -7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Having a nice glass of 2009 Darkness. The pour was gloppy at first without bubbles, but then a rush of carbonation appeared and formed a large charred oak head that cascaded to the top of the glass. Rich, dark foam has good retention and leaves a good amount of lace as well. Hard to find a finer looking brew. The aroma is a heady mixture of sweet roasted malts and some sticky hoppy accents. Heavy herbal notes, soy, anise, licorice and earthy hops. French roast coffee with five sugar cubes.

Tastes of sweet grapes, prune, bit of chocolate, and plenty of roasty and herbal elements. Earthy, sticky, cookielike, and doughy finish. Full bodied, a bit chewy, silky, medium carbonation. I had heard the 2009 was a return to "hoppy goodness," but I actually prefer the 2008 version without so many herbal flavors in it.

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

2009 Vintage - Bottle and Tap (Little to no Difference)

Appearance:
Pours out nearly black with a beautifully creamy, short dirty brown head that leaves a huge amount of lacing, almost a sheet.

Smell:
Sweet and very heavily roasted caramel is almost completely masked by something very odd in a Russian Imperial Stout, HOPS. It almost made me put the glass back down as was a bit afraid, but I persevered and continued on. The brew is also heavily scented with alcohol. (The rating is as high as it is as the hops intervention actually grew on me as I continued through the glass).

Taste:
Huge beer. Syrupy sweet of roasted caramel, chocolate and alcohol with a very big presence of hops typical of nearly all Surly beers. Finishes slightly bitter. Unique, but good balance.

Mouthfeel:
Buttercream smoothness with a very light carbonation. One of the heaviest beers I've gotten to try. Awesome.

Drinkability:
Really strong beer, 10.30% will floor nearly anyone. I loved the experience of this beer and recommend it to anyone that can get their hands on this rarity. Split the bottle though because you really get burnt out by the end of a glass. (We split our bottle 3 ways and that was about perfect)

Comment:
Have only heard rumors of this one up until this year where my lovely wife con-ed a friend out of one of his bottles (Sorry AJ). If I had more than one of these, I would have aged it. Maybe with next year's release...

Surly is a local brewery that is known for its hop packing. I was less than thrilled with in my first experience (Furious for a non-IPA fan) but even that grew on me with it's complexity. Very solid brewery.

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Photo of mikey711
4.08/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed this one over a long sunday. Received from fbm115 and reviewed from notes. this was the 09 bottle

A: Syrupy black, with no light able to get through that had an espresso like frothy head about half an inch thick that sat atop. The head retention was great and the walls were covered with spider webbing.

S: Heavy milk chocolate aroma up front followed by a far amount of roastiness, then a super burst of citrus hops which caught me by surprise.

T: Again it starts out with the sweet chocolate then leads into a bitter roastiness and a bitter hoppy finish. Some nices mocha notes were present as well and much of the coffee and espresso flavor came out as it warmed. My main criticism was the lemon hoppiness which felt odd

M: Big bold flavors, with plenty of body to spare. It did get slightly heavy at times, but there was no booziness and lots of creaminess to rectify that.

D: I remember asking myself while I was drinking this, is this an A beer? I was able to finish the bomber myself over the course of the day, but wish that I had someone to share it with at times. I also was not super keen on the amount of hoppiness in this stout. Something I would surely have

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Photo of jdklks
4.21/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Steve (fbm115) for the opportunity to try this. I've been waiting to mark it off my list. It doesn't disappoint.

This is a good looking brew: dark with amber edges, and a light fluffy brown head that graces the surface as softly as silk. The smell is, well, different; different, that is, in terms of imperial stouts. The big standout here is HOPS! Hops in a major way. They mix interestingly (not badly, but not necessarily well either) with your typical RIS characteristics: dark, roasted malts, with a dark fruit sweetness (cherries), chocolate, and alcohol. The hops add a citrusy "flair" that is, as before, interesting.

The taste is as interesting as the smell, but better. It takes a little getting used to, but all the complexity of a good RIS is here. It's sweet and majorly chocolatey, with a just a little roastiness. There are hints of caramel, brown sugar, and molasses. overall, very sweet. To throw excessive amounts of hops in the beer almost seems stupid at this point, but it somehow pulls it off. there is a citrus hop flavor up front that is immediately subdued by the more traditional stout flavors mentioned above. The hops do remain present throughout, though, and are most notable in the oily mouthfeel and the bordering-on-hop-bitterness finish and aftertaste. I taste DIPA, and I taste RIS. This is a beer experiencing an identity crisis, something that perhaps a little maturation could help. overall, its very intriguing and very interesting; on top of that, its actually pretty damn good.

The mouthfeel is silky smooth and extraordinarily well-carbonated. nice and thick as well.

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Photo of WYVYRN527
4.88/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2009 Vintage... Could not wait any longer... This has been tempting me.

A: Pours black with a tan head that doesn't want to go away. The foam sticks to every part of the glass it touches. One cannot see through this beer. This is Darkness.

S: Roasty as the fires of hell. Coffee, molasses, chocolate, licorice, and slight boozines dominate the aroma, followed by some slight hop notes.

T: At first, the malt comes with a blast of chocolate, espresso, caramel, molasses, and anise. Dried dark fruit and caramel are in the center. It finishes dry with a slightly bitter hop profile. Simply the best release of this beer to date.

M: Full bodied and viscous, this beer has it all. Body, flavor, and a mind of it's own.

D: If it weren't so limited and so strong, I would drink this all night. The best Russian Imperial Stout I have ever tasted. I can't wait to see what they taste like in a few years.

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Photo of Jmoore50
4.21/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Sparklepants for this awesome brew.

The appearance of this one is superb. Super high SRM, like pushing the limits on this one, dark as night. The head is caramel colored and sticks around for some fun. Great small bubbles, head foam is dense. The legs on this one are beautiful, alcohol residue as well as heavy lacing. Great look on an epic brew.

The smell is hoppy, interesting. Molasses and licorice, with HUGE roasted grains. Some ABV is present, also some burnt coffee smells as well. What is going on with the hop character in the smell? I am not liking it, gives off a citrus-grapefruit characteristic that kind of clashes with these darker fruit smells. Toffee and caramel, sweet dark candy is very present as well.

The taste is good, but not blended very well. There are very strong characteristics of roasted and black malts. There are also roasted coffee flavors as well, but not coming from actual coffee, most likely coming off of the malt. This coffee malt gives it an earthy flavor as well. Black licorice and a lot of the ABV are noticed. The ABV is nice because it brings out the roasted malts more and also some chocolate. Why are hops coming through so strong?!? Citrus bitterness is such a strong characteristic in this one that it stands out from everything else. I went to the Surly website and they say that they 'add a touch of hops to make it tastier'. NO! It makes it a totally confused RIS. Chocolate is strong in the brew as well as caramel and toffee. I cannot believe the hops in this, really misunderstanding the direction the brewers wanted to go with this one. Starts on such a good direction and the hops throw a wrench in the clogs. Weird.

The mouthfeel is great and creamy. Lots of hot ABV flavors help you out as well as the roasted malts. Perfect carbonation, really great.

The drinkability is really good for a few bumps in the road. This is still a really good beer but. . . overrated. Maybe it is just me and how I like my RIS', but this much hops in a RIS? Sure you add them for bitter aspects, but if they dry hopped this with a bunch of hops then they are very brave in doing so. I think that the hops bring the beer down and distract from the other great flavors in this beer.

Thanks again to Sparklepants for sending me this. Knocked out another 'big RIS' that I have always wanted to try.

J

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Photo of callmemickey
4.38/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 bottle signed by Omar and Todd. (thanks for the hook up supercolter!) Poured into a tulip glass

A: Pitch black body. Massive dark brown-khaki head. Lasted for a few minutes before crashing into a thin, frothy skim. Rather dense lacing up and down the glass.

S: So many things are going on here. Molasses, chocolate, coffee, citrus hop bitterness, caramel. With each inhale the molasses seems to grow more dominating. If that was toned down just a bit everything else would come together flawlessly.

T: Sweet milk chocolate, brown sugar and molasses are prevalent up front. Slight undertones of coffee and dark chocolate. Lively bitterness throughout. Some fig and raisin like fruityness.

M: Surprisingly thin at first. Not exactly "watery" though. But it didn't have the weight and consistency I was expecting though. No booze burn. As the beer warmed more heft was apparent.

D: I originally poured this into two glasses to share with the lady, but I stole what was left of her half after I finished mine. The sweetness, in the end, killed me as it wasn't as easy to get through the last few ounces as it was with the first dozen or so

All in all a top notch stout that shows you can do big bold flavors without making it a flammable bourbon barrel aged brew. Reminds me of an amped up Victory Storm King Stout.

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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
4.42 out of 5 based on 3,687 ratings.
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