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Darkness | Surly Brewing Company

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
98
world-class
842 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:
842
Ratings:
3,589
Avg:
4.42
pDev:
9.28%
 
 
Wants:
3,311
Gots:
1,389
For Trade:
110
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Reviews: 842 | Ratings: 3,589
Photo of bonsreeb85
4.85/5  rDev +9.7%
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!

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Photo of brdc
4.85/5  rDev +9.7%
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.

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Photo of brentk56
4.85/5  rDev +9.7%
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

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Photo of illidurit
4.85/5  rDev +9.7%
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.

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Photo of davedahl
4.85/5  rDev +9.7%
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.

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Photo of SurlyMe
4.85/5  rDev +9.7%
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...

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Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.85/5  rDev +9.7%
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.

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Photo of alexgash
4.85/5  rDev +9.7%
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.

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Photo of alysmith4
4.86/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Whoa, what a beer! Had this as part of a 30+ mini-whale share that I went to. It was the second beer I tried, and ended up being the best of the night for me. Appearance and mouthfeel are good, but smell and taste were both awesome! Definitely on the sweet side for a RIS, but still well-balanced. And it's surprisingly non-BA, as all those wonderful barrel flavors seem to come through as it warms. Would have this beer again, and again, and again.

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Photo of Mar02x
4.87/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Tasted it at a tasting organized by BA's Jeffo and Doopiedoopiedoo. So with massive thanks to Jeffo and Doopiedoopiedoo I was able to taste the Surly Darkness, and not only that! They had assembled the 2011, 2010, 2009 and the 2008 version of it!!! What a fantastic surprise this was and still is to me.

So the scores above represent the highest score I gave for each separate beer. Below I will review them a all, one by one.

We started with the 2011th version
A4 - The deepest red with a small beige head.

S4.5 - Oak, sweet, liquor, chocolate, vanilla and dark cherries.

T5 - Oak wood, chocolate sweetness and booze (so great).

M4.5 - Low to medium carbonation and what a full body.

O4.5 - A very solid RIS, what a balance!

Than the 2010 version was opened
A4.5 - Pitch black and a little beige foam ring.

S5 - Strong Chocolate and liquor smell. (so nice)

T5 - Chocolate, dark cherries and again some booze.

M5 - A soft carbonation and a light bitterness, it fits the style perfect.

O4.5 - What a great taste, unbelievable good.

Version 2009
A4.5 - A beige brown head on a pitch black beer.

S4 - A slight sour smell mixed with chocolate liquor.

T5 - Chocolate, raisins and a bit to much wood, still perfect though.

M5 - A soft carbonation and so full in body.

O4.5 - The balance is just a tiny bit off, but who's complaining.

And last, but certainly not the least; version 2008
A4.5 - Again a beige brown head on a pitch black beer.

S4.5 - A sweet liquor chocolate.

T5 - Ginger bread, sweet vanilla liquor - excellent.

M5 - A soft carbonation that is so perfect for this type of beer.

O4.5 - Excellent brew, no doubt about it.

Again, thanks guys for searing this with me.

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Photo of user0317
4.87/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I tried this on tap at Winterfest 2008, in a 4 ounce snifter.

Pours black as night with little carbonation and 1/2 a finger of head. The beer smells amazing and complex, with notes of roasted grain, coffee, chocolate, pine and hops.

I always find it hard to describe the taste of a good RIS, as there is so much character in them. Both sweet and bitter chocolates hit my palate along with subtle smoke flavors, dark grains, molasses, and a bit of hops and alcohol to finish it off.

Darkness seems to coat your mouth and throat with on the way down, and the mouthfeel is viscous and smooth. It would certainly be hard to polish off a lot of darkness in one short sitting, but when put into perspective of ones expectations for imperial stouts, this is an easy drinker. I only wish that I could have taken a little more time to enjoy darkness, but alas there were many fine beverages to sample at winterfest.

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Photo of mdwalsh
4.87/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this bottle Darkness Nigh (Darkness day was full of Smoke and Oak Bender). Paired Amazing with a triple chocolate pie.

A: Black. More opaque than me. Nice brown two finger head with beautiful lace. Needs more texture and longevity though.

S: Very strong of Molasses, some cooked sugar, but no roast. Also no hops, just carmelized malt. Phenominal.

T: Tastes. Black. No roast though. Smooth, dark, sweet. Cooked sugar again, more molasses. Dark Chocolate, no Alcohol.

M: Creamy. Perfect carbonation. Super smooth.

D: Excellent, but not something to have too many of.

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Photo of zoso493
4.87/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 2009 vintage 750 ml bottle into a Dogfish Head signature glass.

Appearance: Right off the bat, I can tell that this is one of the thicker stouts I've ever poured. Immediately, the beer pours a viscous, compact motor-oil black that just sludges its way out of the bottle. Atop the beer is a bubbly two-finger head that loses its height quickly, but still retains a slight presence on top of the beer for awhile.

Smell: This is a stout? At first sniff, it seems not. The first thing you get out of the nose, at least in this 2009 vintage, is an immense and glorious whiff of hops. These are not just piny hops, however, as you would normally expect in a stout, but a whole array of piny, sugary, and even citric hops. It's tempting to just enjoy the beautiful scent of caramel-coated hops and forget about the rest of the scent, but there is even more to be found.

While the hops are blatantly the most prominent and intriguing facets of the smell, there is a delightful backdrop of syrupy, gooey dark malts lurking somewhere in the background. This dark malt is so good that if it were the only scent in the nose, I would consider awarding the perfect score. All in all, an absolutely breathtaking nose.

Taste: If the nose had somehow left you skeptical as to the quality of Darkness, the taste puts all doubts to rest. Again, the hops are the first thing I'll discuss, not because they are necessarily the mot obvious taste, but because they form the feature that make this beer like no other RIS. As in the nose, there is a wonderful citric and resinous pine sap taste that is quite unexpected but extremely welcomed by a hophead.

Enough about the hops, though. The impressive malt backbone deserves some attention of its own. Just in case you thought this was a black IPA (or whatever the hell they're called now), the malt reminds you that, yes, you're drinking an imperial stout, and a world-class one at that. The fudge-like malts are prototypical of an imperial stout, but still delicious all the same. Without typing too much, I think the taste of the malts can be summarized as a rum-soaked chocolate cake.

Mouthfeel: Upon first sip, I had reservation about awarding this the perfect score, but now I know that Darkness is well-deserving. Despite the appearance, this is not an exceptionally thick stout, though I will admit it is thicker than average. Where this beer stands out, however, is the silkiness of the mouthfeel. The flavors all tied together so beautifully that I'm certain this is one of the smoother RIS's that I've had.

Drinkability: For starters, there is absolutely no trace of alcohol in this beer, and for that, I applaud the brewers at Surly Brewing Company. Nevertheless, I've taken a good hour and a half to get through this bottle, which is the only thing keeping me from giving it the perfect score.

Surly Darkness is a magnificent beer without a shadow of a doubt. It is an immensely bold and extremely complex stout, but what sets it apart for me is the uniqueness of the flavors. I can comfortably say that this is without a doubt completely unlike any RIS I've ever had. The way the hops are incorporated into the massive malt-profile is truly a work of art, and for that I take my hat off to the brewers at Surly.

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Photo of DmanGTR
4.87/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes on Jan 30, 2010. 2009 Vintage

A - Ok, I can definitely see why it's called Darkness. That's all you see, if it's something to be seen at all. Maybe your eyes aren't worthy of seeing it. But damn, it's pitch black and nothing shows up around the edges, even in light. Tan head that refuses to go away. No lace. 4.5

S - Well now this is most surprising. It's not your typical sweet and fruity RIS, yet it's not an overly hopped and bitter one either. I pick up a touch of earthiness from the hops, followed by a blend of dark chocolate, spiced rum, prunes, coffee beans, and cream. Maybe a hint of vanilla too? Well, whatever this is, it's causing a nasal addiction and I very nearly snorted this up my nose. 5.0

T - This is a BIG beer. But you can hardly taste the alcohol. The chocolate is the most prominent aspect of the flavor. Bitterness is definitely there but is well blended with the malts, which obviously include chocolate malt and roasted barley. Lots of toastiness and roastiness. Caramel sweetness is in the background, letting everything else shine. I'm kind of at a loss to describe this baby. 5.0

M - Not as thick and viscous as it looks. It's rich and robust, yet drinks like a beer should. Nice and delicate carbonation. 5.0

D - Yes. Indeed. 4.5

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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 oakbluff
4.87/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Blue Nile, and followed up at Stub & Herb’s following day. Presented in both cases in a goblet (Blue Nile being a really nice Surly goblet). Great looking beer- black as night as expected with a chocolate milk head. Nose is heaven- spicy roasty chocolate. Taste- waves of flavours- all the usual suspects in a great imperial stout- dark roasted coffee, dark and milk chocolate, hazlenuts; plus a wallop of hop bitterness. The hops were really well done, and I think I’m lucky to have tried this fresh while the hops are still battling out with the malts. Adds a really nice dimension to the beer. The pineyness of the hops plays well with the decadent desert of the malts. Very smooth mouthfeel and absolutely no booze heat. Damn fine. If I didn’t have these at the start of my drinking day, I could have had many but stopped at two. I can’t think of any other imperial stouts that I’ve enjoyed more. I’m very happy I could time my trip to Minni and get my lips on this sucker. well done Surly- you never let me down.

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Photo of MNmurray
4.87/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

This beer is the reason I joined BA. I was always interested in the hype surrounding Surly and wanted to learn more about reviewing. Here now is my first review of perhaps by favorite stout.

2012 Werewolf bottle

Appearance: Dark, thick and heavy. Pours slower than normal and has a great chocolate head.

Smell: Malt, cherries, chocolate, and toffee.

Taste: Pungent and robust. Immediate taste off coffee and bittersweet fruit. Very rich and tasted better slightly warmer near the end. Absolutely awesome.

Mouthfeel: Thick and heavy, goes down smooth and leaves a chocolate aftertaste.

Overall: Incredible, one of my favorites for a reason. You can obviously taste the alcohol content but it is covered up by flavors both intense and subtle. Definitely a sipper, and one to be sought after.

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

On tap at Cafe 28. First off, I have to say my intents were to go in and slam this beer. I’d had enough with Imperial Stouts in the Top 50 (this may seem hypocritical considering my past endeavors to further a certain example of the style). My injurious intents would soon be quickly assuaged by a single glass of beer...A friend and I headed to Cafe 28, where I had called ahead to ensure the presence of Darkness and to get reservations. They anticipated my arrival with a table and a couple pours.

The beer came to the table in a narrow chalice and it carried a luxurious finger of the most elegantly soapy, soft creamy dark-oak head. It was almost mahogany itself, gently sliding around on the top with large laces following the beer down the glass. The black gold itself absorb all light and possibly other objects with gravity, with just the slighest blood red corners. Beautiful. I put the chalice to my nose and was blown away by a bold, unique aroma. It’s a tough one to finger, because it was so original and something I’d not experienced. There were lots of reduced plums, raisins, dark cherry syrup, Ecuadorian estate chocolates and toasted wheat kernels. It was rather piquant and electrifying, with a real warming phenolic nose, but it wasn’t boozy or chemical-like, instead a real refined almost sherry or perfume signature. Whatever it was, it was like no aroma I’d wafted. Unfortunately, the pour was a little on the cold side, so the aromatics were slightly restrained and my the time the beer reached warmer climes, my olfactories had been saturated.

On the tongue, the texture was immediately astounding. It was so thick and creamy, yet not sticky. Sweet, but not cloying. Smooth and drinkable, yet not watery. Warm and glowing, but not too hot. Hoppy, but was not dry and parching. Some amazing alchemical processes had occurred hear. Brewing magic under the hand of a wizard had formulated a brew so prefect and desirable I couldn’t believe I was drinking it. I kept muttering, "best beer ever" and "damn near perfect." The flavor cascaded with everything and Imperial Stout drinker looks for. Mounds of freshly brewed Blue Mountains dark roast, Dagoba fair-trade dark chocolate, charred oak barrel edges, Italian cherry skins, Tahitian vanilla beans, drops of fresh organic farm cream and Italian espresso and then the dark fruits really came in. Moist rainier cherries, dried succulent wild bog cranberries, fresh raspberries from the stem, a hint of musky Thimbleberries, a cacophony of Bilberry syrup and Blueberry reduction, with a hint of sour cherries and final bit of pomegranate arils. On top of this, an electric wave of bright hops.

Again, the character of the hops so unique as to be something I have a tough time likening it to. It had a real shining lime zest and gin quality. High, thin and mercurial. These bold citrus oils danced over the brewing cauldron of darker flavors, complementing and intertwining magically. Then, the longest draw of a smack I could imagine. It kept going and morphing, with roads of Marcona almonds, toasted earth, light goat cheese rind and ground oak dust. From the sauna floor rose juniper branches and hints of sea oats. The real phenomenal effect of this beer was the ethereal combination of every desirable effect. Each aspect played off of every other one in near perfect harmonic balance. The aroma was different from the flavor and the hops had great interplay and the texture was just plain perfect. It reminded me much of the great singular and touchable quality of Westy 12, with all the individualisms and character of the world’s most perfect Imperial Stout. This is the solar center paradigm shift of Imperial Stouts for me.

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

2011 Vintage. Thanks to Spencer for this bottle! Poured in to CBS snifter.

A - Poured ink black. Half a finger of medium brown head with good retention.

S - Roasted malts, smoke and a noticeable hop presence up front. A big semi-sweet chocolate aroma and a touch of licorice round out the nose.

T - Extremely robust flavour up front. Starts out with huge roast and semi-sweet chocolate flavours with a touch of smoke. Some sweet molasses and a fairly prominent hop profile enter in the middle. The finish is full of sweet chocolate and has a lingering bitterness. The ABV is very well hidden. The perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness.

M - Full body. Thick and viscous. Light carbonation.

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

Pours out a really dark black with no light coming through. One finger of small dark brown suds.
Raisin bread smell. Very doughy with hints of fruits, mango and pepper.
Taste is like sweet mango with sugar malts and raisin bread with just a hint of chocolate and a tinge of coffe aftertaste.
This is a well balanced and very refined drink.
Mouthfeel is wonderful and leaves just a tad of sugar behind. Love how it goes from sweet to salty then coffee bitter to dry sugar. This is a great RIS.
Drinkability is so high here because you cannot taste any alcohol or feel any in the back of the throat.

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Photo of Erdinger2003
4.88/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle 237

Poured into Darkness glasses bought at Darkness Day. Pours a great brown/tan head with a great lacing and great retention. Black in color letting no light in whatsoever. Smell is hoppy with a good coffee background. The first smell when putting glass to nose was chocolate, then the hoppy/roasty flavor balanced out. The mouthfeel was unbelievably smooth and full bodied. Overall, I loved it. Was a great experience from sitting in the cold to drinking it.

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

Sampled at Happy Gnome's Firkin Fest

A - Completely opaque pitch black color. Smooth dark brown head retains at a half inch, its darker around the edge of the glass. Thin sheets of lacing.

S - Dark roasted coffee with sharp piny hops. Dark fruits, cream and light vanilla playin in the background.

T - An oily slick bitterness with a sweet dark roasted maltiness starts out the taste. Dark malts get even darker while a sweet cream contrasts simultaneously. Lots going on here and I probably only skimmed the surface... I need more.

M - Thick consistency with a good amount of carbonation.

D - Excellent balance of sharp hoppiness and deep roasted maltiness make for a very unique and flavorful experience. More please.

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

2008 release.

Like Travloh, I couldn't wait. My friends and I waited in line for this and the reward needed to be immediate! Drank it tonight as an after-dinner sipper.

I let the bottle warm up a bit from the fridge cut open that wax, and served it in goblets.

A: A wonderful example of an RIS. It poured well and left a caramel covered head that soon settled. It was pitch black, I held it up to a light and squinted and could see nothing. The foam left no rings as it was drunk, it slowly settled back into the beer.

S: The first thing we smelled as we opened it was a strong, sweet molasses smell, combined with a fruit note. It was overpowering the other smells, but as we let it breathe, I got the chocolate smell as well. The only reason it's a 4.5 is because the sweet smell was overpowering for quite a while.

T: Great. This was aggressive, but very well balanced. The dark coffee/chocolate flavors of the malt, highlighted by a sweet molasses/fruit taste. Hops were present but well integrated into the flavor. A LOT of flavor profiles I can't even begin to describe, but I can say, it's a lot more complex, and dare I say better than the Bourbon County Stouts and Old Rasputins I've had recently in preparation.

M: Very smooth. GD Yeti was very thick and oily feeling to me, and while Darkness felt substantial, it was very smooth to drink. The best sensation of all is the warmth you feel in your throat and chest after drinking, the similar feeling I get after drinking a liquor like scotch. Very nice warmer on the coldest day of the year so far in Minnesota.

VERY smooth to drink, which leads me to...

D: I can see why people are warned on Surly's site. The ABV creeps up on you. The beer is so enjoyable, and the flavors mask the alcohol so well, that you can sip for quite a while.

I was worried I wouldn't make the cut, but was #617. I was worried the beer was overhyped, but it's not. This is incredible. I wish I had sprung for the 6 bottles instead of the 4 I bought, but hopefully someone else got the chance to enjoy it.

Cheers to whoever the lucky party is!

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

Darkness 2011 on tap at Stout's Pub in Falcon Heights, MN. Poured into a Delirium Tremens snifter (per my request).

A: Beautiful inky black with one of the most dense heads I have ever seen. Lace is a timeline of pure savoring bliss.

S: Bitterness over dark fruit. Light pipe tobacco, alcohol, candi sugar, tamarind.

T: Yes. This is what beer is all about. While it drinks like an aged port it holds up the beer end with dark malt profile. So complex in flavor, I am sure a million descriptors are necessary. Raisin, rum, merlot grape, currant, leather, charcoal, dates and figs, coffee-like bitter, pumpernickel, sherry, a little hazelnut or pecan, molasses, cherry tobacco...I keep finding new elements here as the beer warms and airs out.

M: Rich and lucious. Syrupiness isn't overbearing and carbonation is so tight that this is a physical pleasure to the palate as much as it is a (taste) sensory one.

D: Overall, easily the best of the style I've ever had. One of the best beers I have ever had. One of only a handful of brews I have ever had a guttural moan involuntarily emerge from my lips upon nearly every delicious sip. I don't give 5's easily, Surly has earned them.

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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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Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
98 out of 100 based on 842 ratings.
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