Darkness | Surly Brewing Company

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BA SCORE
98
world-class
844 Reviews
DarknessDarkness
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States | website

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:
844
Ratings:
3,604
Avg:
4.42
pDev:
9.28%
 
 
Wants:
3,310
Gots:
1,392
For Trade:
108
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Reviews: 844 | Ratings: 3,604
Photo of ShadesOfGray
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Got from TATTORSA, thanks again! Poured from a 22oz cool looking bottle into my Corsedonk snifter. Vintage, I believe...2009. Red wax sealed. Started drinking at about 44 degrees. Figured I'd crack this one today for my B-day.

Pours a very dark, thick black with about a late building head...dark brown...and about a fingers worth. Head slowly dissapates and leaves great thick frothy lacing.

Aroma is wonderful. Lots of chocolate, maltiness, smokey coffee, and inviting bitters. Wow, the aroma is making my mouth water.

MMM. Excelent RIS. Like a DIPA meets RIS. Again, heavy chocolate flavors...followed by DIPA type sweet hops. Some sweet dark fruits are noticable, dark sugars, coffee, possibly even licorice?...finishing with a great tangy yet sweet flavor that sits on your tongue for quite some time.

What a wonderful RIS...I'll say it again. Thick, yet creamy and smooth. Very little carbonation which is ideal for this beer. Alcohol is well hidden at times, and very warming at other times which I found intriguing.

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Photo of tuo
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Jet black with a nice tan head that makes for nice lacing on the glass. Thought it would be more viscous after tasting.

S: Nice roasty malt notes with a slight hops aroma. just a touch of coffee.

T: Great roasty malt flavor with creamy dark chocolate taste. Sweeter then anticipated but very good. It also has a nice coffee flavor.

MF/D: Very thick with a low carb on it. Low alcohol taste, not much of an alcohol presence for the 10.3% ABV. As hearty and thick as this beer is I would not call it a sipper, you could drink this beer like it was 5% ABV.

One of the best beers that has ever crossed my lips. I wish they would brew this year round.

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Photo of Viciousknishs
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vampire lable

A- pours pitch bock with a finger and a half of dark espresso crema head. Decent head retention. Some lacing.

S- big Lucious dark/semi-sweet chocolate aromas burst from the glass. Some dark fruit tones of fig intermingle with a burnt brown sugar and black strap molasses. Finishes with a roasty char like aroma.

T- Bittersweet chocolate up front blends with a blackstrap molasses componet. Dark fruit plum/prune port like qualities in the middle. Licorice flavors abound with some char that brings things together nicely. Finishes with a lingering anise and rich roasty malt that lingers.

MF- thick velvety chewy mouthfeel with a heavy body. Low soft caressing carbonation.

D- very drinkable

overall an outstanding RIS. More please!

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Photo of hoppymeal
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #230. Pours black with a good size dark tan, light brown head that recedes slowly, with just a bit of lacing. Aroma is very citrusy and hoppy, oranges and tangerines, like a citrusy cotton candy. Some roasty, smoky and chocolatey notes as well, these are in the background but work extremely well with the hoppiness in the foreground. Taste is very similar to the aroma with the citrusy hops being the main player, but a very nice roasty and at times, rich chocolatey maltiness in the background. The flavors work very well together and alternate back and forth. Mouthfeel is medium to heavy in body, very soft and full feeling, creamy carbonation is soft on the tongue, some light tingling and a bit of dryness towards the end from the hoppiness. Really, an outstanding and unique beer. I've had hoppy imperial stouts before, but this particular combination works very well together. Tastes as though it will continue to age very well, though it is extremely drinkable at present.

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Photo of spacecake9
4.71/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Darkness 2015, tasted on tap at Surly.
A - Pours dark brown with a beautiful tan head. Lots of lacing
S - Aroma is sweet, molasses.
T - Flavor is Muted chocolate, raisins and a bit of cherries. Wow.
M - Thick mouth feel, more carbonation than expected.
O - This was fantastic. And I was lucky enough to find a bomber of it later in the day.

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Photo of Back_in_the_Saddle
4.71/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Thanks Aimee.
This was poured into a snifter.
The appearance was a black color with a dark tan head. The head took its time as it dissipated. Light lacing ran around the glass.
The smell had a smooth dark chocolate, vanilla, dark dried fruit, sweet bourbon, milk chocolate and molasses.
The taste was mainly sweet with an ample amount of the dark chocolate showing some roasty and bitter edges. The aftertaste was mainly sweet through the previously mentioned flavors of the aroma. Nice quick finish.
The mouthfeel was about heavy on the body as the ABV made a big effort in affording my tongue the price of admittance. No joke with this one. Malts lay down the gamut and produce a decent stickiness.
Overall, one of the heaviest feeling beers I've ever had. I wonder if this thins out with age, hopefully my trader will get me another. Extremely good.

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

Unlike the similarly cultish Dark Lord, the Darkness is at least obtainable. Surprisingly, we have been supping it locally for a few weeks now; I was worried it would have disappeared the first tapping night.

Anyway, to the beverage. Exceptionally dark, black as night, tho tempered by a tinge of burnt umber. The head is relatively thin with slight foaminess and is dark brown.

The aroma is arresting; a warm, complex but balanced combination of hop, espresso roast, dark chocolate, malt.

The smoothness is shocking: no hard edges or strong statements, but a gorgeous, luxurious, rich but subtle concoction. Not overly sweet like perhaps the Goose Island Bourbon Stout inclines to. The espresso bite reigns it in there. You don't want to pour this over ice cream; you want to savour and sip it.

This has a complex flavour profile that would put many much more expensive wines to shame, yet we are drinking for a fraction of the cost.

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

Enjoyed on-tap w/ xsists @ the Surly Brewing Company's Darkness Day 2011 in Brooklyn Center, MN for $5. Tapped from the Black Handle into my new 12oz Surly Darkness Tulip Glass! Here's the brew we are here for!

Aroma- Tons of espresso, malt, and booze hit the nose. Strong and appropriate! Very complexed though... Alot of the aromas I couldn't pick out. No cherries like the Bourbon, Oaked version.

Appearance- Received with a .5 finger head that was dark brown. Died very quickly. Has a deep opaque and jet black color body. Light lacing is left on the sides of the glass with dark brown suds.

Flavor- Sweet taste! Roasty and has a ton flavor as well. The hop flavor is higher in this one and can tell the grains and malts make a light chocolate taste come around at the finish. Not much booze but still evident.

Mouthfeel- Full Bodied, Light Carbonation, Nice texture (from how viscous it is), and leaves sweetness and light booze. A bit lighter than the other version but perfect!

Overall Impression- As it did warm up a bit for me, I should have waited longer for my first tasting of this... The Bourbon Oaked Darkness kicked this ones ass! Too bad it was only on-cask the day of the event. The darkness with still awesome and had a great amount of richness and booze to it, but not as powerful as their bourbon, oaked cask. I'm excited to see what this bottle does in a year or so!!

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Photo of zeledonia
4.72/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A beer I've had many times, but never done a full review. 2012 vintage. Tasted 3 August 2014.

Pours black and dense, with a big, thick, coffee-colored head. Looks like old engine oil.

Smell is a little bit hoppy, heavy on the fruits and chocolate. Cherries and plums and raisins and chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. Like a box of designer chocolates.

My favorite non-barrel-aged stouts have incredibly rich and varied flavor. This has exactly that. Sweet, but balanced by hops that tend to fade with age, making this 2-year-old bottle a lot more malt-forward. Chocolate, cherries. Rich. Raisins, plums, figs. All these different deep fruity flavors. Fantastic.

Feel is so thick and chewy, but with carbonation that's almost foamy.

A fantastic imperial stout. Really sweet and rich, but balanced enough for me. And all the elements work together so so well.

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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 BuckeyeOne
4.73/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Darkness snifter at Cafe 28 in Mpls. Beautiful 1 inch head of bubbly tan that left only a bit of lacing down the glass.

The aroma is milk chocolate, espresso, vanilla, and only a bit of tart cheeries.

The taste is a perfect reflection of the aroma. Despite the 10% ABV, this is not hot in the least.

This is oily and smooth with medium carbonation. Despite the smoothness, it's a little dry on the finish, which I think is a good thing. It doesn't linger too long, which entices you for another sip.

This is the perfect dessert drink. Was the perfect accompaniment to the molten chocolate cake I had at Cafe 28.

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Photo of supercolter
4.73/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Oh baby, finally you and I meet. Had this on tap at a Surly get together at Stub and Herbs in Minneapolis.
Appearance is well, I don't think it can get much better. Blacker than coffee, nice head and a bit of lacing. Smell and Taste are pretty similar. Lots of dark fruit, fig is most prominent, but side notes of cherries, raisins and plums. Taste is a bit more pronounced and a bit of the hops come through on the back end. Mouthfeel is thick and creamy- like drinking a cappucino. Drinkability is really good for the style.

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Photo of Hesscabob
4.73/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Vaguely remember drinking this at Dark Lord Day 2014. While waiting in line to purchase my allottment of DL, a kind DLD go'er shared some Darkness. From what I remember, strong roasted, chocolate malts power through the nose and the taste had more body than most RIS' I've had prior. Delicious and I will try to seek out again for better review.

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Photo of MeLikeBeer
4.73/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Darkness on tap at the Blue Nile...

Darkness is a fitting name for this incredible RIS. Deep black in color, as if it were a black hole, light goes in but does escape.
The cocoa brown foam settles quietly and thickly at the top of the glass. The head does not recede through the duration of my tasting...instead it sticks along the top of the beer and sides of the glass....amazing.

Smells sticky-sweet...stinging aromas of cocoa and coffee. Cherry and molasses round out the mix. Throw in some hops and you're in scent heaven...I could also smell this stuff all day.

The first sip is still the best...tremendous malt flavor. Giant hop blast. Roasted chocolate. Very thick mouthfeel, but not overpowering. The fruity cherry flavor and sweet rum/molasses is complimented by the warming alcohol.

I could probably drink a few of these- but I'd need to be careful- that 9.5% could sneak up quickly.

Delicious! An Imperial Stout at it's finest and yet another fantastic offering from Surly.

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Photo of ATLbeerDog
4.73/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Three months old - Pours a beautiful pitch black that is completely opaque. A heavy two inch dark tan/caramel head proudly crowns this masterpiece. The large head very slowly and reluctantly recedes. Smells of chocolate, coffee, licorice, alcohol and hops complete the nose. Tastes of dark chocolate, coffee grinds, raisins, tobacco and "licorice...yeah black licorice" add to the amazing complexity. One of many amazing aspects of this beer is the mouthfeel which I can only describe as complete milkshake. An intense hop presence separates this puppy from the other top RIS's in the world. It does not get any better than this. Big, bold, beautiful...if this beer doesn't make your pecker hard, you are likely gay and need to go back to wine.

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Photo of dptaylor
4.73/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Oh man, what a delight to try such a rare RIS.

My good friend works at a liquor store in the Twin Cities, so naturally he had a 2012 "Werewolf" bottle aging in the basement for the entire winter. We spontaneously decided to crack it open after what had already been a long night of drinking beforehand, so I apologize if anything seems biased and I obviously didn't take any notes. I drank the beer. I loved the beer. The wax around the cap that looks like blood was pretty cool, but a bit of a pain to cut through. Onwards!

Poured into a 12oz mug at basement room temperature (~65-70F)

A: Flawless black opaque with below average amounts of lacing. This is not an especially carbonated beer. I definitely enjoyed it's appearance though, you will not be able to shine light through this one, and the head has that awesome darkened "chocolate" appearance which you see on other heavy stouts and especially cream sugar stouts like Tallgrass Buffalo Sweat, etc.

S: Dark, earthy, chocolate, mocha, toffee, lots of toffee at the end too. Not much hop aroma that I remember (note: remember)

T: The complete, utter lack of alcohol taste is the most notable thing about this beer. It is 10.30ABV and yet it DOES NOT taste or burn like booze whatsoever. Deep, chocolately coffee notes and a sickly sweet fruitiness (prunes? raisin? some kind of dark fruit) intermingle with caramel, vanilla, they packed almost every usable stout every flavor into this RIS and with success. My ONLY gripe, is that it is a little too sweet for me. I would prefer the creaminess to be upped a little bit and the sweetness toned down, as it's slightly too "fruity" and sweet. The beer IS hopped, despite what I'm about to say, but to me the finish has a tiny itty bitty microscopic bitter note at the beginning and end, but I'd say it's safe to say it's almost pretty much hop-free to my worn out taste buds.

M: It's a tiny bit thinner than you'd think it is, and not very carbonated. But the MASSIVE body makes up for it completely. The aftertaste is addictive, you will want another sip!

In short, the best RIS I've ever tried. Tastes better than most stouts at half the ABV I've tried!

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Photo of Domvan
4.73/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured a dark thick syrup and had a medium head
Smelled of sweet chocolate and molasses
The sweetness was overpowering of the bitterness by most RIS'
A medium bodied mouthfeel
Darkness 13

Darkness 14 - Had a very similar experience, but the barrel enhanced everything that much more, the minor whiskey addition was perfect.

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Photo of iceboi15
4.73/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

*MY FIRST REVIEW*
I was lucky enough to have one on draft @ FFF 15 anniversay party as well as to score one at Map Room in Chicago.

I am new to the Imperial Russian Stout Game, but I know what I like. Big coffee notes up front, kinda like a double brewed slightly sweetend cup of joe. Then that mocha sneaks up on you. These flavors do a great job of hinding the alcohol, especially when you let it warm up to room temp. I love looking at the rim this beer leaves behind in the glass, it reminds you of what was once there.

It's such a complex beer, but any fan of the the Russian Imperial can truely appreciate the craft that went into Darkness.

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Photo of Scott17taylor
4.74/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours black with small head that dissipates quickly.
I get aromas of dark chocolate, roast, fig, and piney hops.
Delicious, dark fruit, chocolate, and a pleasant hop bitterness. The dark fruit dominates with the chocolate comin throw mid palate. The hops play really nice. Just an incredible beer.
The mouthfeel is fairly thick with a nice warming as it goes down.
Overall, this is an outstanding stout. Put it on your list, it's absolutely worth trading for.

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Photo of doubleshovels
4.74/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep darkness in a tulip glass lulls one into a haze from one whiff of its very distinct dope aroma. I cracked a smile and started laughing as soon as it got close to my nose, surely love at first scent. Darkness also has a deep rainbow of flavors to back up its out of the ordering aroma and a mouthfeel that’s open to one more before we go.

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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 pat61
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is the Zombie version bottled 10-22-11 and retrieved from the cellar 6-27-14. Review from notes. L: Pours pitch black under a 1” tan foam cap that slowly dissipates to a thick film. S: Chocolate, sherry, prune. T: Rich caramel, hints of sherry and prune, chocolate, espresso. F: Very creamy with medium carbonation and a full body. O: An excellent desert beer that improves and develops with age.

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Photo of THANAT0PSIS
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Surly Darkness 2012

Appearance: Surly’s most exclusive beer pours a midnight black. No light gets through this beer at all. The head is a massive three fingers, and is a great-looking khaki color. As it descends, the head leaves swaths of lacing intricate lacing. Alcohol legs are present, but that is to be expected at 10.3% ABV. Really, it just looks like an especially dark Russian imperial stout, but the crazy lacing and head really push it over the top.

Aroma: Huge, roasty coffee aromas flow out of the glass from across the room. They are followed quickly by dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and a fantastic creaminess. Amidst all the organized chaos, a molasses sweetness runs under the entire aroma. The alcohol just barely comes in at the tail end. This beer smells crazy good and enormous.

Taste: Follows the nose, except with huge chocolate notes taking the forefront completely. The roasty coffee comes in as an aftertaste, but cannot quite fight off the dominating milk, dark, and baker’s chocolates, and the burnt sugar sweetness that comes with it. Thankfully, hops come in at the very end and do their best to balance the taste. They cannot quite do it, but the effort is very much appreciated. The alcohol makes its presence known along with some dark fruits at the tail end of the taste. A little more balance would be great, but as it is, this beer is off-the-charts amazing.

Mouthfeel: This beer is silky smooth on the palate, and has a great, minimalist syrupy character that makes it a joy to drink. Unfortunately, the carbonation is extremely minimal. It would really benefit the beer to be a tad fizzier, which would help separate out all the complexity going on here. The alcohol also provides a very calculated warmth that remains exactly in the realm of pleasantness. The carbonation, though…

Overall: This beer was everything I could have hoped it would be. After the first two categories, I thought this might be my first perfect 20/20. Unfortunately, it was not to be due to the slightly imbalanced taste and the almost complete absence of carbonation. Still, this is worth the hype. I cannot wait to try the bottle I currently have aging in the cellar. Things can only go up from here, as I assume it will level out the sweetness. 19/20

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Photo of Immortale25
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2013 vintage was big, bold and roasty in the front, but somehow smooth and restrained in the finish. Still some substantial hop bitterness after two years of aging. Mouthfeel was slightly creamy but not particularly silky. Very robust body though. Excellent overall and saw little room for improvement.

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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
98 out of 100 based on 844 ratings.
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