Darkness | Surly Brewing Company

BA SCORE
98
world-class
875 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
2014 - Harpy
2015 - Bat
2016 - Cerberus

Added by ryantupy on 10-08-2006

BEER STATS
Reviews:
875
Ratings:
3,787
Avg:
4.42
pDev:
9.28%
 
 
Wants:
3,313
Gots:
1,512
For Trade:
137
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 875 | Ratings: 3,787
Photo of AgentMunky
4.38/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

2010 edition. Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a snifter. Many thanks to the guys at Ale Arsenal for sharing.

A: Blood-dark red. Viscous. No head.

S: Smell is amazing. Loads of coffee. Licorice. Aggressive bitterness. Hops?

T/M: This is nutzo good! Kinda balanced, which is shocking. Very thin bodied. Hint of coffee. Hops. Roasty. Actually tastes like a stout. Lingering aftertaste is nutty and delicate. Dry. I love the roasted malt here.

O: Great imperial stout. Delicious and highly recommended.

 505 characters

Photo of mynie
4.66/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle art looks like a D&D handbook from 1983. Maybe a zine from some kids who really, really like the old Heavy Metal books. Not to say that this kind of stuff affects my review, but already this RIS takes a distant fourth behind Kate, Abyss, and Dark Lord (which at least looks like a Magic: The Gathering card).

Pours brilliantly into a long-stemmed chalice, though. Perfectly opaque blackness (like the soul of a really evil dude) with an amazingly large and retentive head.

I was told that this was the hopheaviest of all American RISes, and even with the glass two and a half feet away from my face right now I can smell some firm, dry hops. Closer to my face, the beer smells strong and gigantically raw. Maybe this should have been left to age for a few months? (I *will* try another in early 09, and update if necessary.) Anyhow, there's an alcohol burn in there, nodes of thick red wine, tons of ultrasweet malt. Espressoish, fresh cacao, with some hints of vanilla. Really nice, lots of complexity, but the alcohol strength is just a wee bit overwhelming and it'll probably only get better with age.

Tastes perfect. Just perfect. The hoppiness is what jumps out at you, since it's so unexpected. It does such a great job of complimenting the beer's huge sweetness that it almost seems to be a part of a the sweentess. Can this be? Can black be a part of white? Can love be a part of hate? Of course. I guess.

The overall effect is less like a traditional Impy stout and more like some kind of combination of deliciously harsh alcohol and a mocha cappuccino with like ten shots of espresso in it.

You know what it's like? It's like Big League Chew. It doens't taste anything like the gum, no, but it's similar to it in that it just tastes too good that you don't let yourself enjoy it properly. I always swallow Big League Chew, since it tastes so good for some weird reason I want to swallow, and then I get a stomach ache. No stomach ache, here, but it's been like 7 sips and I still am slurping it down, unable by the force of this strange compulsion to hold this in my mouth long enough to savor it. I want to consume it. I want to pound this like chocolate milk.

The body is creamy, thick and fizzy. Never quite come across a body like this in a bottled beer. Delicious. Tastes like something that could be healthy. I--if I didn't know this had alcohol in it I could almost see myself giving it to a kid.

 2,430 characters

Photo of ccrida
3.88/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage, cellared since release. Poured into my Delirium Tremens snifter, Darkness is dark, thick, with a dark tan head leaving lots of lace.

Smell is on the sweet, malty side.

Taste is fairly sweet malt, chocolate, modest roast, nice hop bitterness as well as still some spicy, herbal hop flavor. Obviously way dialed down compared to how it is fresh, better integration by now.

Mouthfeel is pretty silky, on the thick side.

Drinkability is fine. It's a well made RIS. Certainly not worth any great expense or hassle to acquire though. I traded mine with a local for some limited release HOTD, dollar for dollar, which was fair.

 642 characters

Photo of jera1350
4.82/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at The Blue Nile.

Used motor oil color and consistency. Cocoa powder brown head that is quite thick and has staying power.

Rich malt and stronger than usual hop presence for the style. Chocolate, lightly smokey with a bit of coffee. The hops are mostly grassy with just a touch of citrus.

Delicious rich chocolate malt with notes of coffee and smoke. Light vanilla presence and generously hopped. The hops are lightly citric and also add some grassy notes. Big and robust flavor all around. The sweetness is up there a ways, but it's not too much in my opinion.

Velvety feeling and full bodied. Just slithers down the palate.

I could have one of these every day for the rest of my life and die a happy man. This is surely a top notch RIS and one that I will consume as much as possible. Worth all of the hype.

 821 characters

Photo of dirtylou
4.35/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

on-tap, brouwers

I believe this was the first time I've had this outside of a festival setting - 12oz pour in a snifter, ebony body, light tan lace. Definitely sticky-sweet and less hopped than I recall from past years, but still not without some nice pine resin traces. Rich, decadent and very smooth. A good RIS, but one whose legacy seems to have faded...

 359 characters

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.97/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

750 ml wax-dipped bottle poured into a snifter.
10.3% ABV, 2010 Vampire design.

A - The thick pile of bubbles which rests on the beer displays an oily rainbow color swirling on it's surface. Coincidentally, it coincides with the thick, syrupy used oil-looking beer fills the snifter for a pitch-black darkness light cannot penetrate. Even with the high alcohol level, the head maintains its stature for quite some time, slowly lowering to leave a smattering of light bubbles on the snifter.

S - Sticky burnt molasses, lightly charred oak, and bitter dark chocolate are conjured up from a thick malt bill which incorporates more subdued notes of cold coffee, roasted malt, and cocoa. Hops provide just a miniscule drop of citrus and earthiness into the mix with an old, dusty basement sense pulling through. Even with two years on it, this beer still has some warming alcohol perception on the nose.

T - Darkness' rich malt level isn't surprising in flavor but what is, is the lack of bold roasted, almost burnt notes that the aroma exhibits. The taste compounds are much sweeter and subtler with smooth Hershey milk chocolate, a touch of black licorice, and soft molasses finishing out the back end. Dry cocoa and seemingly absent hops balance the malt sweetness' flavor as does just a hint of alcohol.

M - To describe this beer as full bodied would be quite the understatement. Smooth as black velvet (don't sue me Alanna Myles!) Darkness is almost creamy feeling with a rich, throat-coating finish that carefully teeters on the verge of sweetness and balance. All this while maintaining warming, soothing alcohol and an insatiable draw.

O - I recall Darkness having one of the hoppiest aromas of any Russian Imperial Stout I've encountered while being sweeter than all get-out. Suffice it to say, age has done this beer an incredible favor; rounding out some of the rougher edges for an insanely crave-able, lustful, sinfully delicious stout. For every bottle you hoped would age well and failed, Darkness makes up for, rewarding your patience with big dividends. This chocolaty, roasted malt-rich brew exceeds expectations of greatness and completely satisfies.

 2,169 characters

Photo of xnicknj
4.37/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750mL bottle poured into snifter - big thanks to poneill for sharing

Pours inky black with some frothed thinner light brown head with swirls of lacing and film around the glass.

Slight sweetness in the nose with cherry and raisins, charred malt creates roasted warmth, hint of alcohol.

Smack of dark fruit sweetness with cherry and raisin. Roasted malts with chocolate and molasses. Syrupy and rich and a slight char from the malty backbone. Little hop flair with pleasant juiciness and cherry fruit. Finishes with alcohol warmth and some lingering dry sweetness.

Full syrupy body, lower carbonation, sticky and chewy. Drinks really smooth and easy with a delicious silky body. Darkness creates a nice mix of fruit and chocolate tempered by alcohol heat and slight hop bitterness.

 787 characters

Photo of papat444
3.6/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

***2009 Vintage (Mummy)***

Big thanks to Masterski for getting me this rarity.

Poured from a bomber and split with my wife.

Appearance: Pours a thick body, kind of almost plops in with a thin ting that grows thicker as the pour intensifies.

Smell: Alcohol soaked nuts, raisins and figs. Whiffs of cocoa and chunks of chocolate but much more on the sugary, dark fruits side.

Taste: Raisins, figs, nougat, discreet chocolate and a tinge of black licorice. A bit of coffee as it warms but this resembles a barleywine almost. Not exactly what i'm looking for flavor-wise.

Mouthfeel: Boozy a bit, slight;y bitter and you eventually get in a groove but this doesn't feel like the strong RIS i'm looking for.

Overall: Have to say i'm a bit disappointed by this one. Compared to DL, this one is not as good. Flavors were good but for me, not worth the hype IMO. I'll take a DL instead.

 885 characters

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

On tap at Cafe Twenty Eight. Served in its very own Darkness goblet, which I hope is a sign it will be returning year after year. It arrived at my table as black as black can be. The head is thick, and brown. It never fully goes away, and leaves a half inch of foam in the bottom of the glass when all of the beer is gone. The aroma is of chocolate, vanilla, graham cracker, plums and other dark fruits. The taste is a perfect balance of roasted malt, chocolate, and vanilla. The mouthfeel is full bodied, creamy, silky and nicely carbonated. I really like how it is so full bodied without being overly chewy and sticky. Overall, this is one of teh best beers I have ever had. I am sure I could not drink more than one or two of these at a time, but I could drink one a night for eternity and be very happy.

 807 characters

Photo of cpetrone84
4.53/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 Bottle from trade from Hayesez (thanks Erik, awesome trader!)

A-an aggressive pour produces huge espresso colored head that is extremely thick and creamy. the retention is very good and it completely coats the glass as it slowly works down the glass. the beer is just one shade from pitch black and lets a hint of a red hue through with a maglite shined on it. very attractive beer!

S-the nose is average in strength. there is a light aroma of chocolate, molasses and tobacco that is taken over by the smell of sweet dark fruits. there is some dark cherries and raisins. the end brings a fair amount of hops, it actually has quite a hop profile. mostly citrusy hops

T/M-this is extremely thick, creamy, and chewy, very good feel. the body is quite full as it rolls down the throat. the taste is quite nice and bold. it brings dark chocolate up front, the dark cherry and raisins come in to complement the chocolate, some citrus hops and light bitterness fade in at the finish.

D-this is extremely drinkable and very tasty. great feel and so creamy. it has bold flavors in the taste and really shows no presence of alcohol.

***

Review of the 2008 and 2009 side by side

2008

A-pours jet black liquid with dark tan colored head
S-the nose is nice, molasses up front, notes of dark chocolate, caramel and toffee undertones. the back has some fruity sweetness, raisins and cherries with notes of booze. still a faint citrus hop note, can't be but seems to be.
T-the taste is quite sweet, not a ton of roasted malts happening here. a good bit of molasses, notes of anise and dark chocolate. lots of sweetness in the back, cherries, plums, touch of raisin. hops aren't really present here.
M-full body, just a little thin, but so smooth and creamy, low carbonation but tight to hold the body. silky on the throat.
D-quite sweet but ever so smooth. one of the best feels on beer you can imagine. booze is gone, just present in nose, none in the taste.

2009 is pretty much the same with more hop profile in the taste. hasn't really evolved in a year.

 2,056 characters

Photo of tectactoe
4.45/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to Mike for sharing this one with me! 2011 version. Pours a midnight black color, only the very edges show some dark brown hints; thick, dark, and opaque. The head is a deep tan color, comprised of very fine bubbles and appears to be creamy as hell. It hangs around for a while before it complete vanishes, and it's pretty hard to bring any of it back by just swirling the glass. No real lacing left behind.

Right out of the gate, the aroma is super sweet. Dark currants and fruits, black licorice, toasted brown sugar, and bits of bittersweet chocolate. Some small, extra hints of vanilla reside in the back as well. Not much coffee on the nose (though there is a little bit) - the sweet fruits, sugar, and chocolate kind of steal the show. Booze is apparent, but masked well enough from the barricade of other flavors.

Many other people are calling out a big hop profile in the aroma, but I'm just not getting it. Some very faint char/ashiness that may be from the hop, but I'm grasping at straws, here. I'm just not picking up a big hop character on the nose (barely any at all, actually). This aroma reminds me quite a bit of Dark Lard, but lighter on the brown sugar and not quite as sweet.

A similar thing could be said about the taste. Darkness hits you with a sweetness first and foremost, just like Dark Lord did, but it's a little more tamed in this one. Sugary, burnt caramels, bittersweet cocoa, syrupy molasses, licorice - quite a lot going on here. There were actually a few sips that would remind me of the syrup used in fountain machines to make cola. Less dark fruit on the palate than in the aroma, but some currants and dates are there, sugar coated and sweet as hell.

I'm finally picking up a touch of hops, but still nowhere near enough to combat the sheer malty sweet intensity of this beer. The coffee comes out a little over halfway through and ride well into the aftertaste, leaving a nice roasted coffee bean flavor in my mouth. The sweet brown sugar also hangs in the aftertaste, probably for a little too long. Thick, heavy mouth, though not incredibly creamy or chewy, with lower end carbonation. Lacquers the mouth with a sticky, syrupy coating.

This is a damn fine brew, and I enjoyed it a little bit more than Dark Lord. But unfortunately it suffers from the same flaw of still being a bit too sweet. Darkness does a little bit better of a job taming the sweetness than Dark Lord, however. Lots of different flavors and aromas going on here, and this is a nicely crafted RIS - but the relentless sweetness (in my opinion) is holding it back from being "top of the list" for me.

EDIT: 7/19/2013

2012 Vintage shared thanks to Kevin R... Thanks! I liked this one even a bit more than the 2011 that Mike cracked with me earlier this year. Sweetness was evident, yet more controlled. Hoppier, with a better balance of ashy bitterness. More roasty, more drinkable, and even more enjoyable, even though I already like it in the first place. Great brew.

 2,993 characters

Photo of scottfrie
4.08/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle into Delirium Noël snifter. 2009 vintage. Split with mjyoung and bbb099. Huge thanks to thecaptain073 for trading me this one.

A: Pours jet black with a thin, dense, dark brown head that faded into a bubbly collar and left a web of thin lacing down the glass.
S: Big roasted notes of dark malts and molasses. There is a fair amount of alcohol vapor. I pick up sweet notes of dark fruits as well.
T: Very sweet and sugary with big notes of molasses, brown sugar, and chocolate covered berries. There is a sweet fruitiness to this beer that I just can't tack down. Finish is syrupy and sweet and the aftertaste is lightly roasted and bitter.
M: Alcohol adds some warm viscosity to the mouth. Body is full and thick, but not as thick as possible. Goes down sweet and smooth and is even a little spritzy in the finish.
D: Don't get me wrong, this was an amazing beer and deserves a very high score. It's one of the better RIS I've had, but I was actually expecting a little more given all the hype around it. I would drink this as often as I could if I was able to, but I think even something like Ten FIDY in a four pack off the shelf is pretty damn comparable.

 1,177 characters

Photo of Brenden
4.62/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Super-rich, heavy, thick, viscous, oily-looking; this is looking like one big beer. It's as black as darkness itself. The beer raises up a heavy medium-brown head that looks like it may be almost as thick as the liquid. It takes lots of time to recede and ends up a chunky patch resting on top and, while not clinging to the sides, is still maintained at half a finger for the entirety. Patching is almost beastly.
Every bit as robust and rich as I'd hoped it would be, this beer just pours out so much deliciousness it's scary. Working off a deep roast with just the right note of char to it, coffee grounds and chocolate come through. It's not enough just to say chocolate, though; there's every note in here from cocoa powder to nibs to baker's chocolate to creamy milk chocolate. Not to go too far, it's accompanied by some very ripe sweet/tart currant notes as well as contributions worthy of the especially rich, near-perfect Doppelbocks in thick molasses and almost anise-like notes, just for added depth. This is truly one of the best aromas one could smell from an RIS.
The taste follows suit; again, it's all about richness, depth and complexity. Robust malts contribute their drying char along with coffee grounds and the chocolate, which holds almost all the same complexity as in the nose with the exception that the milk chocolate and sweeter notes come out more strongly. Molasses and anise make their appearances as char kicks into the finish, some leafy hops as well as a boozy note running alongside.
Rich, thick, full-bodied with an appropriate heaviness, this beer hits the mark. It has just enough alcoholic heat to warm without thinning with a viscosity coating the tongue. The finish is semi-dry, some leafy hops and ultra-smooth chocolate easing the finish to linger beautifully.

 1,803 characters

Photo of MattyG85
4.92/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 750 ml bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice glass. 2011 bottle with a great looking zombie label. BRAAIIINS!

Appearance: Pours very dark and black with only a slight tint of dark brown. Decent three finger deep tan head that settles into a thin patchy layer. Decent amount of lacing on the glass.

Smell: Very rich and darkly sweet. Dark roasted caramel malts with toffee. Big aroma of dark chocolate. A pretty bold presence of dark fruits with raisins and dark cherries. Has some notes of coffee and oak chips lingering around. Also some hints of grassy hops underneath the sweetness. Smells great.

Taste: Just as dark and tasty as the smell leads. Big taste of dark chocolate with dark toasted caramel and toffee malts. Solid presence of coffee and a strong kick of dark fruit sweetness from raisins and dark cherries. Has a hint of oak chips. Finishes with a solid presence of grassy hops adding some balance to the sweetness. Everything comes together perfectly. This is quite delicious.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a moderate level of carbonation. Very roasty, thick, and creamy. A little heat is felt but this is pretty smooth.

Overall: An incredible Russian Imperial Stout. Very robust, complex, and tasty. A perfect blend of sweetness and bitterness. Well worth the hype. This is heaven.... or better yet hell in a bottle. :)

 1,354 characters

Photo of jaxon53
3.73/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ah, Surly Darkness. Second time around. Wasn't really a big fan of the '08 and '09, but trying to keep an open mind. Served this chilled, in a sniter, from a 750 ml bottle. I allowed this to warm a bit before sampling.

Appearance: Darkness pours out a deep dark black hole black. This is one black beer! You could hold a flash light to this thing and not see through it. The name fits it perfectly. A rather gentle pour yields about three quarters of an inch of coffee brown head. Head lasts for a bit. Head slowly faded into a thickish gob of foam. A rather generous amount of webby lace was left behind.

Smell: A beast of a brew. Alcohol hammers the nose first and just about clears the sinuses. Slight hints of chocolate, cofee, and molasses. Dark fruit- Prune? maybe some fig and raisin. Some hops are noticeable. Smells like it is sweet.

Taste: Here we go. Taste somewhat mimics the smell. Alcohol seems a bit more subdued. Again, a bit hoppy. Chocolate is there, coffee isn't. Hints of raisin and prune. Somewhat sweet. Finishes with more alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Mouthfeel is chewy and thick. Full bodied with lower carbonation.

Drinkability: Notthe most drinkable beer I've ever had. Alcohol and sweetness are a bit much. Give me a Kate over this any day!

 1,265 characters

Photo of Marius
4.55/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at CBC 2016, day 2. Pitch black with a beige head. Very nice rye whiskey notes (the first beer I think, where I am able to identify the rye whiskey exactly), chocolate, molasses, coffee.

 193 characters

Photo of morimech
3.71/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 Vintage

Appearance- Not quite black but a dark brown during the pour, appears dark black in the glass. A large brown head with excellant retention. Moderate amount of spotty lacing is left on the glass.

Smell- A large hoppy nose. Resiny and citrus fruit mostly. A little dark malt in the background. Smells more like a DIPA than a RIS.

Taste- Again this is dominated by the hops. Sticky and fruity. Bitterness is high even with several months on this bottle. Malt is a secondary player giving some roasted and chocolate notes. Alcohol does not really play a major role in the taste.

Mouthfeel- Not as big and thick as other RIS's. Still has good carbonation and texture.

Drinkability- With each passing year it seems Darkness becomes less of a style dominator. More of a Black IPA at this point. Hope Surly goes back to the 2007 recipe for 2010. I would take an Old Rasputin or Storm King over this.

 909 characters

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

A: Midnight black with a large thick medium brown head. Fades very slowly, leaving an almost solid layer of lacing.

S: Loaded with molasses, toffee and dark fruits. Lots of fig and raisin. Plenty of anise too. Roasted malt peeks through with a bit of chocolate and coffee but it's not the dominant aroma here.

T: Super fruity. Raisin, fig, lots of cherries. Maybe even currants. Toffee and caramel up front with it. Molasses in the middle with the roasted malt that starts to kick in with char and heavy chocolate mainly. Bitter roast in the finish with a bit of anise.

M: Thick and heavy. Low carbonation.

O: Interesting RIS. Very fruity, almost over-the-top compared to most. You don't even get any roasted malt until the second half of the taste. It is very tasty and I enjoyed it, but I tend to feel that the root of a great RIS is a major roasted malt aspect, and this one is more of a minority. Otherwise it is a complex, balanced and flavorful beer so I have to give it credit where credit is due. If you're a fan of sweet, fruity RISes, this one is for you.

 1,071 characters

Photo of thagr81us
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks goes out to beeruser for sharing this one with me! 2009 (Mummy) Vintage! Served from bottle into a Mikkeller taster flute. Poured pitch black with a half finger brown head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of roasted malt, dark chocolate, alcohol, and subtle vanilla. The flavor was of roasted malt, dark chocolate, sweet alcohol, dark fruit, subtle vanilla, slight smoke, and very subtle molasses. It had a heavy feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a pretty good brew. The flavor and aroma on this one were quite complex and inviting. The booze was still present after all this time, but it was quite nice with the other notes in the flavor. I was really glad I got the chance to finally tick this one officially as I have only had very small samples in the past. A definite must try for any beer fan.

 916 characters

Photo of MDDMD
4.35/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A-dark brown black color with a decent light brown head and good lacing

S-chocolate, molasses, coffee, dark fruit, vanilla

T-dark roasted malt, chocolate, toffee, coffee, dark fruit, little vanilla, little on the sweet side

F-full body with light to moderate carbonation, smooth and creamy

O-well-rounded stout, just a little on the sweet side for me

 354 characters

Photo of AgentZero
4.01/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the Darkness release part at Sheffields in Chicago.

A - In a heavy glass chalice, looked thick like oil in the dark bar. A small tan head which was barely present by the time I got to mine. Nice lacing throughout the course of the drink, very attractive beer.

S - I think this is the strangest smelling stout I've ever smelled. I half thought I had the wrong beer for a while. Get some deep coffee and chocolate, with some undertones of vanilla and a touch of raisins. The strange part of all of it was the distince hops smell on the end of the nose. Very odd.

T - Is this really an RIS? It's either a really interesting take on one or it's just not. Don't get any of the classic stoutish taste on this. Very creamy and chocolatey with a nice splash of vanilla in the middle. Faint IPA-ish taste at the end due to the hops, how very different. I like it, but not at all what I was expecting.

M - Smooth and creamy, leaves the mouth cleanly with a mild hoppy bite at the end. Full bodied, but not heavy like I would expect a heavy stout to be.

D - Can't believe it's 10%+. Way too easy to drink, sessionable stout. Even those who have a hard time drinking stouts could get this one down with no problem.

 1,217 characters

Photo of tavernjef
4.56/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On-tap at the Blue Nile: Dark pruney brown. Thickly puffed and creamy milk chocolate browned topping that stays for a good stint. After a time, a sandy skim is remaining with a firm collaring and thinnly placed sheets of lace coats the glass with immense sticking power.

Aroma is a lofty yet mild with an array of sweet dark fruity skins and juices of plum, pineapple, banana, and fig, all mixing with a dollup of chocolate cake and frosting. Ethanolic heat gets in the way as it sits and becomes the everstanding presense after a while, but stay fairly tropical and cocoa covered.

Taste is a brigade of sweet, dark flavors; at first, as this Imp. Stout changes its way some as it goes. But this has a tropical, yet dark, sweet front side that has a good slice of dullish pineapple, some slimming banana, dried plums and figs, and a scant of spicey molasses. Then chocolate comes in and covers it all up with one creamy cake filling smoothness and slight bitterness. The palate is soothed over with a delightful stand of bold chocolate tone in a fluff of dark cocoa bitterness. Slight hints to the spice and fruits lingering in the corners. A mighty nice taster of a stout. The front part starts bright and tropical, but fades as it warms. This was served pretty darned chilly for an Impy, but patience pays off by letting it sit about 10, 15 minutes.

Feel is smoothly silken and thickly set in a grand tone of wonderfully delightful chocolate malt and brief, slippery Doppelbock dark fruityness. Firm and strong with only a slight hint to higher ABV type warmth that's not really evident in any fashion other then the aroma. It reminded my of a chocolate silk pie. Kinda fluffy with that certain texture thats melting and coating. Quite nice. The finish is lengthy in chocolate tone and blended well in dark set bitterness.

Surly have done themselves well with this treat. A true winter sipper that can be easily enjoyed fully and with more in mind once the glass has emptied.
Beware: Darkness has set across the Land of Minnesota Beerdom. Close the door and lock it behind you. It's time for drinkin' some Darkness!

 2,123 characters

Photo of Kevinpitts
4.4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had 2015 edition on tap. Very "stouty" beer. Coffee notes present, but not dominant. This beer gets exceedingly better at warmer temperatures. More so than other beers. Imagine this would age gracefully in the bottle.

Had again from bottle (2015) with about 7-8 months age. Same taste as above from tap. Very good.

 316 characters

Photo of Sabtos
4.45/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Black body with a head that, after settling from it's suspended, speckled black dark tan cascading performance, is a floating, unmoving souffle.

Smell is really sharp, rich, dark roasted malt, with chocolate syrup, brown sugar, sweet roasted nuts, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate. Vanilla liqueur makes an appearance, with a hint of cedar and a lot of earthy yet bright piney hops.

Taste is dark chocolate, maple sweetness, blueberry-esque coffee, and vanilla! That wonderful fruity coffee just pops throughout. A slightly bittering nip of cacao runs along the background.

Feel is really smooth, slick and wet with a moderate yet substantial body. This is very well made and nearing liqueur territory, with a semi-dry finish to assist in cutting the sweetness. Darkness is still overall sweet, and slightly tart with all of its acidic and slightly fruity coffee.

2015 vintage

 882 characters

Photo of gford217
4.45/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Review #400 so let's make it Darkness. Bottles courtesy of a couple of super generous traders in Surly country poured into a snifter.

Not surprising, it's dark...pours jet black with hints of mahogany as it comes out of the bottle. The head is tan and three fingers high before receding to an inch-thick cap that lingers throughout with tons of lacing.

While not typical of the style, I found the aroma fascinating. The first smell was of floral hops, especially pine, along with some citrus. As it warmed, some of the dark malts and chocolate came out, but still with a heavy hop presence. It smells damn near like a DIPA. Crazy.

The taste steers back toward an RIS, but not all the way there. The initial taste is a quick citrus hop kick that tingles the tongue before the dark roasted malts and bakers chocolate melt the tingling away to a thick malty coating. The finish is a tad dry with a slight hop bitterness as well. The sweetness of dark fruits comes out much more as it warms, but again this is probably the hoppiest tasting RIS I'be had.

The mouthfeel is truly exceptional. Very, very creamy but with the perfect amount of carbonation to help the flavors pop.

Well, this may not be the best RIS I've had, but it is probably the most original. I'd heard it was hoppy, but I just had no idea. Big thanks again to Brian and Brent for opportunity to try this gem.

 1,376 characters

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
4.42 out of 5 based on 3,787 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Subscribe