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Darkness | Surly Brewing Company

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DarknessDarkness
BA SCORE
4.48/5
Outstanding
3,894 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:
#131
Reviews:
892
Ratings:
3,894
pDev:
8.93%
Bros Score:
4.5
 
 
Wants:
3,310
Gots:
1,552
Trade:
135
HISTOGRAM
 
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,894 |  Reviews: 892
Photo of Carb-Overlord
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is simply an incredible Imperial Stout. In my opinion, when stored correctly, these continue to improve with age and grow in depth.

Appearance: This is motor oil black, when swirled in my tulip glass leaves a very appetizing orange residue that slowly runs flows down the glass; very little head from the bottle, more from a tap.

Smell: This is a mixed bouquet of chocolate, coffee, licorice; just a very rich aroma.

Taste: I must say this is one of the smoothest Imperial's I've tried. There is zero bite, initial favors are chocolates, but the flavor keeps going, after taste turns to coffee/licorice. Very interesting.

Mouthfeel: This is a thick chewy imperial, again feels smooth and viscous.

Overall: This is definitely an extremely well crafted beer. I would highly recommend this to any beer connoisseur.

 826 characters

Photo of owenbrau
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of bonsreeb85
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to jera1350 for hooking this one up in a trade!

1st beer of 2010, here we go...

Opaque, tar, jet fuel, take your pick. this beer earns it's name, both thick and black sporting a large mocha head that maintains despite the high abv.

THis is what I call COMPLEX!
THe nose presents a wonderful chocolate and roasted malt base. Ground coffee vanilla beans, some smoke, dark fruits and citrus hops also come to play. honestly if I were blindfolded I would guess that this was a DIPA of Barley wine. sweeter scent than expected.

The taste mirrors the nose making for the most interesting RIS I've ever had. the hoppiness really adds an interesting element to the chocolate/cofee/roasted malt vertabrae. the alcohol content is well masked and although this brew finishes dry, it is suprisingly sweeter than i could have guessed(all for the better IMHO)

The body is slightly thinner than expected but still enough body to satisfy. the CO2 runs on the lower side of things and makes for a slick and smooth overall feel.

One of the most interesting and unique (and pleasurable) beer experiences i've encountered. If you can get your hands on it, savor every drop! i want more! more I say!

 1,192 characters

Photo of brdc
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks to stoutsnipas, his brother, and myself for this one.
Notes come from both a blind tasting and a later personal tasting.

Poured into a snifter, the pitch black brew, thick but not truly "motor oil" produces by some reverse cascade a frothy, nice looking cocoa colored head that lasts reasonably well for the ABV, and creates sticky lacing on its way down.
The rich aroma has predominant cocoa notes, but also roasted malt and smoky notes, coffee, some acidity, butterscotch, molasses, licorice, mint.
Creamy as it gets, and amazingly drinkable, with little alcohol to be noticed other than the chocolate liquor notes. Some butterscotch, caramel, mint, licorice, herbal hops, but still predominantly sweet despite some hop and roasted grain bites.
Goes down incredibly easy, and I have to say it was well worthwhile standing in that freezing line. Believe the hype.

 874 characters

Photo of brentk56
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2008 bottling

Appearance: Pours a viscous black with chocolate edges and a creamy mocha head; sheets of lace remain in the chalice once the foam has subsided

Smell: Coffee, dark chocolate, berry fruit and a hint of cigar smoke; the citrus hops are mysterious, sometimes making their presence felt and other times indiscernable

Taste: Milk chocolate and Cuban coffee up front, with a developing berry element arriving shortly thereafter; by mid-palate, however, there is a building citrus hop flavor that becomes relentless after a while; after the swallow, the Cuban coffee returns and mixes with dark chocolate; plenty of citrus on the finish as well; the cigar flavors re-appearing in the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: By far, the thickest beer I have ever tasted, with moderate carbonation; a bit of warmth in the gullet after the swallow

Drinkability: New Year's eve, and it is time to break out this special occasion beer; for me, it lived up to the hype; unlike other hoppy stouts where the bitter flavors battle with the malt, in this beer, the blending of the contrasting flavors is unique

 1,095 characters

Photo of illidurit
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pitch black color with a cascading cocoa colored head. Tons of sticky lace and retention like mousse. Aroma is extremely hoppy with monstrous fresh cut pineapple notes. Not really any stout character, but it works. Flavor is decadent chocolate covered candied pineapple with a light roasted finish. Palate is very dry and smooth. Perfect carbonation. The body is not overly thick and there's not alcohol at all. Insane drinkability.

 432 characters

Photo of LoRezDave
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I've only had Darkness once - and it was the last 2oz from a keg at Binny's in Chicago's south loop. Talk about a tease.

The apperance was dark black everywhere - not even a hint of color at the edges. Thin layer of dark black rich head of tight bubbles.

Nose is a very complex combination of malt, spice and pepper.

Taste is lots of fruit and sweet malts, even some milky creaminess to it. Aftertaste of more dark cherries and chocolate.

Mouthfeel is amazing. Milky slick coating with a slight alcohol hint.

This badboy just went on my "wants" list. Yum.

 560 characters

Photo of GreenBayBA
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of SurlyMe
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2010 vintage poured into snifter

Appearance - Pours like used motor oil; rich, dark and creamy. A semi-hard pour yields a nice cinnamon colored head which thins as you drink.

Smell - Notes of hops just as the bottle was cracked, once poured chocolate creamy stouty goodness fills the nose, little bit of coffee scent

Taste - chocolate and roasted flavors up front that lead to a very nice lingering finish, tiny bit of smoke flavor and some hops. The sweetness is always there but not too much.

Mouth - very full in body, perfectly carbonated, extremely velvety smooth, slides right down...

Drinkability - simply amazing, want to keep on putting it down which is dangerous with the ~10% abv...

 700 characters

Photo of ductape28
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a tulip glass from a 22oz bottle.
2010 Vintage.

A - Pours a dark dark brown almost black color that lets no light through. A vigorous pour generates a tan 2 inch head that is very dense and thick and has some medium sized bubbles mixed around.

S - Aroma statts off sweet with some burnt caramel notes. Slight raisin and prunes are also present. There is some boozy heat and sweetness as well mixed in with the caramel. Slight vanilla hints mixed in with some spicy cinnamon on the nose.

T & M - Wow. I can see how this beer is so beloved. Starts off with some sharp alcoholic sweetness that isn't too overwhelming or intense but just right. There are hints of burnt caramel and some slight raisin notes. All these flavors are well represented and crafted but not too intense or overwhelming. Seems pretty balanced for such a big beer. In the middle of this sweetness there are some slight bitter chocolate hints and espresso notes. The coffee hints give this a nice roasted middle and slightly dry finish. There is a nice sweet after taste though that is mildly sticky but not sickeningly. The beer is smooth and oily and goes down easily but surprisingly and in my opinion the body isn't too heavy. It is near perfection in terms of mouthfeel with good carbonation as well.

D - Although this beer gets a lot of press here on BA I feel that it is deserving. It is quite big in ABV and complexity of flavors but at the same time not overly sweet. Quite approachable and repeatable.

 1,497 characters

Photo of piston4ikgg
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of alexgash
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Picked up this dark, inviting growler at the brewery on the 23rd. Glad I got there early enough to get one of these, because this is a terrific RIS!

Decants a dark inky black with dark brown highlights. Topped by a very dense, glass-crawling, light cocoa brown head. Complex aroma of resinous hops, rich stewed fruits, sweet smoked meats, roasted barley, licorice, tobacco, and sugary espresso. Roasted bitterness up front. Followed by sweetish raisins, figs, coffee/chocolate liqueur, sweet smoked meatiness, molasses, and dark coffee. I really like the way the smoky/meaty flavors work with the sweeter, richer fruits and chocolate. Bittersweet finish of numbing hop resin bitterness and mocha chocolate syrup.

Amazingly thick and viscous mouthfeel and as full-bodied of a beer as I have ever had! Velvety smooth on the palate and dangerously drinkable. Complex and outstanding. Not just the best RIS made in MN (ha!) but one of the best I've had period.

 963 characters

Photo of Tycoon5000
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Super dark appearance (as its name would suggest). Very smooth. A little hot to start but the longer you age it, the smoother it gets. Absolutely worth the wait and the hunt every year.

 185 characters

Photo of Smconnor
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of MasterPenguins
4.84/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of mkhartnett
4.84/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of jsprain1
4.84/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A- Perfectly black, with a quarter finger cocoa head. Retention is decent.
S- The aroma is so deep and complex. A touch of sweetness with some chocolate to it, but it quickly goes into coffee grounds, smoke, and licorice.
T- Really,really good. Sweet up front. Milk chocolate is quickly overtaken by coffee, smoke, and licorice. Really complex. Sweet undertones, provide a base for complex flavors.
M- Full body, actually fairly silky clean consistency to it. Low carbonation, just enough to keep it going.
I know I am buying into the hype, but this is a really, really good beer. Definitely a must try.

 603 characters

Photo of sendbeer
4.84/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Photo of Go4aBrew
4.84/5  rDev +8%

Photo of Flippengruven
4.84/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Zatch90
4.84/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Photo of mmcurran
4.83/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Photo of mj81
4.83/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

rating for the 2013 version. Best RIS I've had to date.

55 characters

Photo of bjohn84
4.83/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Reviewed a 2011 bottle.. cellered for 4 months.. poured into a darkness snifter

A - Jet black with a red hue towards the top. Thin tan head with excellent lacing

S - Cocoa nibs come first, berries and fruits

T - Chocolate covered fruits up front. Strawberries, cherries, Molasses, raisins. Bold burn from the alcohol numbs the tongue after the swallow, but doesn't overpower the robust flavor. Dry bitterness tends to come through on the back end

M - Fairly low carbonation and very full bodied. Quite a bit of stickiness in the mouth

O - Very complex RIS with new flavors coming through the longer I sip on it. Very filling, but drinks and goes down very smooth.

 669 characters

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.48 out of 5 with 3,894 ratings
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