Darkness | Surly Brewing Company

3,825 Ratings

Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

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.

2007 - Grim Reaper
2008 - Devil
2009 - Mummy
2010 - Vampire
2011 - Zombie
2012 - Werewolf
2013 - Brewcifer
2014 - Harpy
2015 - Bat
2016 - Cerberus

Added by ryantupy on 10-08-2006

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Ratings: 3,825 |  Reviews: 878
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4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

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4/5  rDev -9.5%

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4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

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

2012 bottle courtesy of maximum12, thanks again! This bottle has been on my wants since this beer was first released in 2007.

Pours a sludge black color with a giant brown head that turned a nice tan color. Looks great.

Aromas come off as slight smokey, with hints of charred malts, molasses, bakers chocolate, and black coffee.

Taste is very similar to the nose. Slightly smokey up front, with notes of charred malts, brown sugar, molasses, and other dark chocolate. It's a sweet base, but restrained well. Finish has a nice earthy hop bitterness, and a touch of alcohol.

Mouthfeel is smooth, with plenty of body, viscous, and thick.

Overall, a superb beer. Lived up to my expectations, and might have even surpassed them a bit. Another excellent offering from Surly.

 774 characters

Photo of Kopfschuss
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.36/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 release acquired from pochman courtesy of BA Secret Santa 2009, so a big “Thank You” goes out to him. Poured from a 750ml bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color, with a large light brown head that fades very slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains roasted malts, dark fruit, licorice, chocolate, coffee and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a very hearty roasted malt character that is quickly followed by strong and sweet flavors of chocolate, coffee, licorice and dark fruit. There is no hint of the 10.30% ABV. The hops presence is very mild as you would expect but there’s enough to provide a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp, very smooth and quite viscous, heavy body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down dangerously easily, slightly filling, strong kick, very good representation of style, not only is it an excellent stout to drink for as long as you can handle it, it seems to have held up quite well for over 3 years.

 1,068 characters

Photo of atoulouk
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

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4.25/5  rDev -3.8%

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4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

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

I nearly cut my finger off trying to get that red plastic off of the top of the bottle. That wouldn't been a good way to start. Once I finally got the top popped, the beer klugged out of the opening like motor oil. It's nearly black as coal and just as opaque. Except for the bottom edge of the glass, which when enough light does pass through, glints of cola brown are noted. The Irish coffee (not the cocktail--actual coffee in Ireland) foam-colored head is a stubborn, sticky, foamy one that certainly contributes to the sexiness of the beer. The nose is nice, but, surprisingly, not strong. Chocolate liqueur, lactose, mild smoky notes, and ripe banana are all present. The mouthfeel is nearly perfect. Creamy, smooth, viscous, and delightful. It never really dries up either, not even on the finish. I love the flavor of this one! Milk chocolate out of the gate. Alcohol shows up about midway and keeps things warm even after the finish. But the alcohol doesn't take away from the beer. If anything it helps temper the sweetness. This is reminiscent of the chocolate bourbon balls my Grandma used to make around Christmas time, only quite a bit less boozy. My Grandma could get a little carried away on the bourbon in her recipe. Dark ripe fruit, somewhere between a sweet cheery and a date, emerges late. It amazes me that more aroma doesn't blast out of this thing given the big flavor. This is a really nice Imperial Stout. One of the best that I've ever had.

 1,467 characters

Photo of dogfishandi
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Photo of standardcherry
4.18/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottle served into a snifter.

A: Thick black beer with a large head.
S: Smells like dark fruits, chocolate and caramel.
T: Just like the nose, dark fruit, caramel, chocolate, molasses.
M: Thick but easy to drink. Lots of carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel.
O: Very interesting. Lots of big flavors, although fruit is not my favorite in a stout. Great beer though!

 368 characters

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5/5  rDev +13.1%

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4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

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5/5  rDev +13.1%

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4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

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3.75/5  rDev -15.2%

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4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

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5/5  rDev +13.1%

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4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

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4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

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

Photo of DaveAnderson
4.89/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I was looking for something to drink tonight, and it suddenly occurred to me that I have never reviewed a Surly beer. Which is odd enough, since I am sure I spend more money on Surly than I do on any other brewery. And on top of that, I haven't cracked a bottle of 2012 Darkness yet -- and didn't even sample it on Darkness Day. So...

...2012 Darkness it is! I chilled one down, then cut through the thick red wax, and popped the cap. I have Darkness tulips, but prefer the wider, deeper (and laser-etched) Duvel glass, so I poured vigorously into the Duvel.

It's black. Light does not penetrate this beer. The room seems dimmer, now that I have poured it. And I don't know why I'm always surprised by this, but Darkness produces rather large bubbles. The head is on the thin side, with the afore-mentioned big bubbles, but lasts a long time, and leaves little to no lacing.

Good Lord, this smells fantastic. If there's a hoppier RIS, I have never encountered it. There are tropical fruits, stone fruits, crazy levels of dark chocolate, orange, grapefruit...I just keep burying my nose in this glass.

But enough of that. This needs to be tasted. And wow. I expect this to be sweet, but it really isn't. It has all of the flavors promised by the nose, and more. It finishes with such a satisfying resin and bitterness. It's so soft, yet not sticky.

I'd like to end by offering a wholly subjective ranking of 2007-2012 Darkness, each of which I have had multiple times, and each of which I have had this past year. My order of preference is: 2007, 2009, 2012, 2010, 2011, 2008. Capsule reviews: 2007 was sublime. 2011 did not age well -- think soy sauce. 2008 was too sweet. 2009 was great fresh, as well as every year since. 2010 was super-drinkable fresh, and is still good, and 2012 is too young to know where it's headed.

 1,828 characters

Photo of gosk
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

Photo of TheKOshow
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
4.42 out of 5 based on 3,825 ratings.
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